We are Matt + Tara Theilen, two people who have fallen in love with each other and with photographing weddings. We are based out of the Lake Tahoe area in the Sierra Nevada, but dig traveling all over to photograph people in love. We’ve been photographing weddings together since 2008.
For gear, we try to keep it light and only carry what we can fit in our Lowepro Pro Trekker 450 AW backpacks. We like backpacks vs. roller bags because we can move easily over any terrain with all of our gear with our hands free to photograph as we go.
2- Nikon D4s bodies: These cameras are our workhorses, they are admittedly heavy but are bulletproof and really fast and can photograph in pretty much any type of weather which is really helpful since most of our weddings happen in the mountains where inclement weather is fairly normal.
2- Nikon D750 bodies: We’ve just updated our Nikon D3s cameras to these. We love them for their lightness and their fast autofocus—even in live view. They have fantastic ISO performance and they produce images rivaling the Nikon D4s at 1/3 the cost. The articulating viewfinder is also way more helpful than we originally thought it would be. These are amazing cameras for sure.
2 x Nikon 35mm f/1.4: The 35mm is our most used lens, we shoot with it 90% of the day because we like to be in close where the action is.
2 x Nikon 85mm f/1.8: These we mainly use when we can’t be in too close, like the ceremony for example. We also use these for portraits. We found that these lenses are pretty much just as sharp at the f/1.4 versions at the apertures we use them at so we opted for the smaller lighter and cheaper version.
1 x Nikon 105mm f/2.8 macro: A great lens that has a little more reach if we need it and to photograph the little details like rings, etc.
1 x Nikon 24mm f/1.4: We love the landscape and many of our clients get married in places with beautiful views, so a 24mm lens is really useful to bring in the entire scene. We also use this lens to get in close during the dancing.
1 x Nikon 16mm f/2.8 fisheye: This is a small, light lens with limited usability for us but when you need a fisheye, you need a fisheye.
Lowel GL-1 Power LED Light: We use this light a LOT. It’s great for adding quick “what you see is what you get” lighting to a scene. Despite some reviews we think this light is worth every bit of it’s cost.
4-5 x Nikon SB-28 flashes: We shoot our flashes on manual mode so we just buy the older SB-28 flashes because they have the same output as the newer ones but are about a hundred bucks. Our flashes get blown over by the wind, fall into lakes or streams, get soaked by rain—just take a beating in general so we don’t spend a ton of money on the latest and greatest flashes.
4 x Pocket Wizard Flex tt5: We use these to trigger our Nikon SB-28 ’s remotely. We like them because we can shoot with one flash on camera and multiple flashes off camera without having to resort to the Velcro attachment we had to use with the old Pocketwizards.
Magmods: We love these and use the honeycombs to direct the flash a bit more and the warm color gels to warm up the color of the flash.
Holdfast Moneymakers: Over the years, we’ve tried nearly every strap configuration and these are the best camera straps so far. They keep the cameras in a handy spot and keep the weight on our shoulders and not across our necks. Plus they make us look like gangsters which is a bonus.
Cable release: For the night photos.
Polarizing filters: We’ll sometimes use these to reduce glare on water, or bring out more separation between the sky and clouds. This typical tool for landscape photographers and they’re easy to pack so we just keep them on hand.
Eneloop Pro rechargeable AAs: Rechargeables save us so much money each year and are hopefully better in the long run for the environment.
Safety pins + scissors: For dress malfunctions…every wedding photographer should have some of these in their bag.
Kind Bars: We need to eat all the time so we always have some sort of nutrient-packed bars.
Burts Bees: Only the minty kind touches our lips.
Glue dots: Can be handy for ring shots.
Yoda Pez: So the Force is always with us.