Aloha from Maui. I began shooting weddings in Vancouver, Canada back in 2001 while still in art school. Just a couple of years ago I decided it was time for a change of scene and it was time to escape the housing crisis plaguing that city.
I now live with family (including two little boys) on Maui's salt-blasted north shore and I love it. I fly back to Vancouver for weddings a few times a year and it's lovely to get in a dose of city life and see old friends. I appreciate differences in light and setting too, now that I go back and forth.
I have been shooting Canon since my first digital wedding in 2004 shot on a Rebel. In 2005 I decided to get serious and got myself a used 5D Mk I on Craigslist and felt sick at the $3K in cash that I handed over at a Starbucks, but it turned out to be a good investment. I'm not terribly interested in gear per se (only in making good images) but I have managed to collect a bit of it and unfortunately find a lot of it useful.
I've broken my gear into two categories, essential and then extras, what I also take for a full event. The full wedding extras obviously don't come with me in my Thinktank (Streetwalker Pro) backpack on lava cliffs when I'm doing a sunrise portrait session, just for a full wedding.
I really wish I could be a super minimalist as I am with other aspects of my life, but I shoot a fair amount of high-end events and so macro shots are expected as is proper lighting on details at night and impressive super wide shot (like 16mm) of the venue on a tripod I can't just crank my ISO or shoot these things with a 50 and call it a philosophical choice.
When I'm shooting a full wedding I also bring along my Thinktank Airport International roller bag (v.1) to contain the lion's share of gear which has followed me around since 2005 and is still going strong. Thinktank bags have been a great investment as has been the Spider Holster Pro (double) system. I've tried every other strap including the hipster ones and I have to say, keeping the weight on my hips has been a game changer and my only agony at the end of a 16-hour day is in my feet and not my neck, as it used to be.
It's hard to see them but my cameras are each sporting a spider holster hand strap too. They're very comfy. I'd love to have the newest version of the Spider system but I'm still on the Mk I – you'll also see the card holder attached to my belt – it's shredded now but an essential part of the kit. One should always have their cards on their body- not in a gear bag that could possibly go missing.
If I had only three to choose from I'd go 50 / 85 / 35.
I love the 50 for its practical, all-purpose length, its ability to flatter humans but feature a decent amount of context, its handling of back light.
I love the 85 for its compression, bokeh and flattering portrait length and sharpness ratio.
I love the 35 for its sharpness, context grabbing capability and lovely colour. One of my go-to bridal prep lenses and my ‘action' lens all day.
The rest are just bonus. Heavy, expensive, unwieldy bonus, but often necessary for big weddings.
Canon 5D Mark III x2
Canon 135mm f/2.0 (gorgeous but not always used – location dependent)
Canon 85mm f/1.2 my tack sharp workhorse
Canon 50mm f/1.2 second most used
Canon 35mm f/1.4 (Mk 1- still awesome) excellent for shooting prep in dark rooms
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 (MK II)
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 (MK II- not pictured as I'm using it)
Canon 100mm macro f/2.8
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT x3
two lume cubes on Manfrotto pixie tripods (think dessert table at night)
two larger LED panels on light stands (not pictured)
tripod (not pictured)