Nick & Kelly Giardina
For those of you who don’t know us… (Sorry, that’s a wedding photographer’s poor attempt at humour!)
We are Nick and Kelly Giardina, the wife and husband team that makes up Nick & Kelly Photography.
Our brand is all about bold, vibrant, “in-your-face” images that allow our clients to recall all the incredible feelings from their big day.
Dynamic lighting and the use of contrast between highlight and shadow define our work. Our style has a definite leaning towards photojournalism; posing and staging are tools that we only pull from our toolbox during couple’s portraits.
In order to deliver the highest-quality images while remaining as unobtrusive as possible, our gear needs to be flexible to the constantly changing environment that a wedding can present. Long story short, we tend to use a lot of gear in our kit!
Below is a (not so) brief description of the gear we bring on a typical wedding day shoot.
Believe it or not, we have streamlined our gear a fair amount over the past few years! Clamps have replaced multiple lightstands, and we really try to share everything we can.
That being said, neither of us would consider our gear bags “light” or “compact” by any stretch of the imagination. We use a ton of different lenses and lights during the course of a typical wedding day, and each one has been chosen to serve a specific purpose.
Why in the world haven’t we “upgraded” to mirrorless, you may ask? The answer is simple. We haven’t come across another camera body that does exactly what we need in such a light and compact package like the D750 does.
We feel that 24mp is the perfect file size for weddings in which we are shooting somewhere between 10-15k frames each day. The RAW files that come out of this little powerhouse are spectacular and allow lots of pushing and pulling before they begin to break up.
AF performance is still excellent and SD cards are cheap and reliable. (Notice I said cards… plural, because we could never shoot a wedding with a single-slot body!)
That being said, if a certain camera company were to release the same camera with even-better AF performance and a larger buffer, we may be the first two people in line to buy one or four.
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 – The first lens we ever purchased when switching to Nikon. The only way you get this to leave Kelly’s primary camera body is to steal it. The most versatile focal range of any Nikon f/2.8 zoom. Tack sharp. Near telepathic autofocus.
We have used and abused this lens in all phases of the wedding day so much so that it has been fully overhauled by NPS three times and keeps ticking.
Nikon 85mm f/1.8 – Say what you will about the 85mm f/1.4G being superior, but this little guy renders the most beautiful frame that can be had on a Nikon camera for less than the $2k+ pricetag of the 105mm f/1.4E. Half the size and weight of the 85mm f/1.4G and a fraction of the cost of either. This lens is near perfect.
Nikon 16-35mm f/4 – Kelly’s main dancefloor lens, which means it is always used up close. This lens has been doused with more bodily fluids than most porn sets. The perfect focal range for any and all closeup work.
Nikon 24mm f/1.8 – Incredible detail. Super lightweight. Minimal distortion. Lightning-quick AF. This lens is our go-to for environmental portraits of the couple.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art – Nick’s primary lens for all phases of the day. It is a heavy beast, but it produces such amazing results that the weight can be forgiven.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 – Nick uses this lens for portraits during prep. We feel this is the perfect focal length for full-length and ¾ length work.
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro – Details, details, details. Let’s be honest, we hate this lens. The AF is spotty and unreliable when working at macro distances. We manually focus this lens most of the time. It also happens to be big and heavy.
Even with those knocks against it, this is still the lens we use to shoot almost every detail during the prep phase of the wedding day. Oh yeah, BTW, when it nails focus you may cut yourself on the image.
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 – Probably the most impractical lens for a wedding reception. It is very front-heavy and that gigantic, bulbous front element just begs to be destroyed by every passer-by. If Nick is shooting the dancefloor, it is with this lens.
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To be entirely honest it is mostly locked at 14mm. The crazy edge distortion really adds to the party vibe we are trying to convey in our images.
Better in literally every metric than its predecessor. Lighter, sharper, faster, and – the real kicker – “longer”. The 200mm end of this lens is actually 200mm, which is more than can be said of most every other 70-200mm zoom.
During portraits of the couple, we are sometimes looking for the beautiful compression that only this lens can offer.
The important stuff: Lithium battery packs have saved us from having to charge over 100 AA batteries every wedding. Quick access to radio groups and internal triggers have revolutionized off-camera flash.
Godox V1 / Flashpoint Zoom Li-On X R2 – The next generation Godox speedlight. Round head for more pleasing catchlights, a powerful modelling light for assistance in aiming, a redesigned UI that makes everything faster, and a revamped locking foot. A huge upgrade all around.
Godox V850IIN / Flashpoint Zoom Li-On Manual R2 – Why spend an extra $60 per flash when you only need a manual slave? We can’t think of a reason either. This is the same flash as the V860II with most of the bells and whistles stripped out. It offers remote power control and the same lithium battery and nothing else.
Godox AD200 / Flashpoint eVolv200 – We use these badboys for off-camera lighting during the reception formalities. Packing the punch of 3.5 speedlights in an enclosure about the same size as one makes them incredibly versatile. When packing for an engagement session, the AD200 is the first item that gets loaded in the car.
Godox AD360 / Flashpoint Streaklight R2 – The best lighting purchase we have ever made. Now we are getting into real power. Like glueing six speedights together into one compact housing. Nick punishes these lights during family formal photos and reception formalities. More than enough juice to overpower high-noon sun and maintain a respectable refresh rate.
Godox A1 / Flashpoint M1 Pro – The Mini-Me of off-camera flash. This little guy is the perfect head table light. Small enough to hide almost anywhere and still packs a punch. Did I forget to mention that it enables all our Godox X lights to be controlled via Bluetooth through an app on our phones?
Yongnuo YN360-II RGB LED Video Light – Here’s the deal. Details need to be shot and they just get done faster when you can see where your light is falling in the frame. This wand-style light offers infinitely adjustable color temperature adjustment and even RGB LEDs for creative colors. The internal rechargeable battery lasts longer than we have ever needed on a triple-wedding weekend.
MagMod MagGrips – The most important part of the MagMod system. We have one for each of our speedlights.
MagMod MagGrids – If there was one lighting modifier we wouldn’t live without, it would be the MagGrid. Controlling spill is a crucial part of delivering our style in our imagery. The MagGrid makes it so fast and easy to corral our lighting and keep light away from where it shouldn’t be.
MagMod MagGels (Corrective and Creative) – COLOR!!!!!! For us, the difference between a forgettable image and a mind-blowing image is color! MagGels give us the ability to add a pop of whatever color we can think of to take an image to the next level.
MagMod MagSphere – Full disclosure, we really only use the MagSphere in conjunction with the MagGrid to soften the edges of the hard, gridded light. For that purpose, it is invaluable and really creates the aesthetic of a small softbox.
MagMod MagBox 24” Octa – Yes. Softboxes have existed well before the MagBox came along. They have always been compromised, though. The MagBox gives us two features lacking from all other softboxes. First off, the ability to gel a softbox quickly and easily cannot be understated. No other product has figured this out.
Second, and equally as important, is the Focus Diffuser. Installing a grid on a softbox is a loud and cumbersome affair involving lots of cursing and Velcro. Installing the Focus Diffuser on the MagBox is a 30-second process that is almost silent.
Holdfast Moneymaker Hand Tooled Dual Camera Straps – These were gifts to each other. Would a regular old brown or black Moneymaker suffice? Of course. The secret though is that when you are married and you call something a gift, it gives a solid excuse to spend too much money on stuff.
Kelly uses the “Southern Charm” and Nick rocks the “Old Glory.”
Lastolite LS2452 Extending Handle – The ultimate lightweight boom pole for placing lights in hard-to-reach places.
MagMod MagShoe – Literally changed the game for attaching lights to lightstands.
Manfrotto SuperClamp – Big, burly, and can support a ton of weight. Used to clamp lights in locations where stands can’t fit.
Manfrotto NanoClamp – Smaller, lighter version of the SuperClamp.
CheetahStand C10 Air Lightstands – The greatest lightstands in the history of ever. Pick them up and they instantly collapse instead of getting caught on everyone and everything in their path.
TetherTools RapidMount PowrGrip 4.5 – Need to get a flash mounted on a wall? Like gigantic suction cups? This is the piece of gear for you! We have tested this thing on a mirror, and it held a speedlight for a 4-hour wedding reception.
Hardware & Software
Apple Computer iMac Retina (2014) – It’s a computer.
G-Technology G-Speed Studio XL 64TB – Big and bad. Our primary storage location for all digital media. So fast that you would think you were working off an internal SSD.
OWC ThunderBay4 – ThunderBolt housing for all our miscellaneous drives.
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual – Our backup storage device.
Lexar Professional Workflow HR1 4-Bay Thunderbolt Card Reader – Why sit there and swap cards for hours on end when you could be sleeping? Four SD cards at a time go into this thing and get ingested into our system. So fast.
SanDisk ExtremePro UHS1 128GB SD Cards – We ONLY use SanDisk cards as every other brand in existence has failed on us at some point. 128GB enables us to not have to change cards during a wedding.
Adobe Lightroom Classic – (Said in a monotone voice…) It is photo processing software.
Adobe Photoshop – Let’s get down to pixels!
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CameraBits PhotoMechanic – PM cut our culling time for a wedding from multiple days to multiple hours. Images load in less time than it takes to make a Hot Pocket.
Fundy Software Designer – Fundy is like PhotoMechanic for album and wall art design. So incredibly efficient that we can complete a fantastic album design in under an hour.
Dubs Acoustic Filters Earplugs – When you spend as much time as we do on the dancefloor, hearing protection and preservation becomes paramount. Dubs block out all the stuff that hurts while still allowing us to carry on conversations with each other.
Big shoutouts to ShotKit for giving us this opportunity to share our insides with the world!
www.nickandkellyphoto.com | @nickandkellypix