Howdy fellow photo nerds! Looking to have a good nosy through my camera bag are ya? You’re in the right spot, thanks Mark! My name is Todd Laffler and I shoot weddings here in the Garden State of New Jersey; the armpit of America! Our state bird is the mosquito!
I got started in photography when I was 17. My mother showed me how to develop and print black and white film in her makeshift darkroom which was actually our laundry room. By day she was an unassuming housewife, but by nigh she turned into Dorothea Lange!
I was blown away with the whole process and marveled that you could do this “sorcery” in your basement. After high school I went on to earn my BFA in photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art. I started photographing weddings in 2005 and it’s been my primary focus since then.
2X Canon 5D Mark III
I bought these bad boys when they first came out because the focus on them is much better than its predecessor. I also like the dual memory card slots. I shoot with two 64GB SanDisk Pro cards in each camera, writing full sized RAWs to each card. Between the two cameras, I can usually shoot a whole wedding without ever having to switch any cards. I also really like the silent shutter option on these cameras as well. It’s great for staying stealthy!
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L II
This is my most frequently used lens from my bag, and I love it! I tend to shoot at the extremes of the “mm” spectrum, either fairly tight or fairly wide. I use this lens almost all day long; prep, portraits, ceremony and occasionally during the reception too. Honestly, I’m a fan of zoom lenses! I don’t like feeling “handcuffed” with a prime lens. I typically have a clear vision of what I’m trying to do and simply zoom to the perfect focal length.
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Canon 24-105mm f/4L
This lens is typically regulated to doing portraits only. It’s great for family formals and those wider “landscapy” shots with just the couple.
Canon 24mm f/1.4
For the most part I primarily (ha, get it, cause it’s a prime lens), use this guy during bridal prep. I don’t enjoy fussing with flashes during prep, so prefer to shoot with just the ambient light in the room. This lens excels at low light photography. I like to get close to the action as well, so this one fits the bill for that too.
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L
This is my PARTY lens! This guy sees the most action during the crazy reception dancing. I love holding it up over my head and back down onto the dance floor. I like being super close to the fun, and because of the wide angle of this at 16mm, I feel it transports the viewer into the action rather than being just an observer on the outside.
I will also use the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L a bit when the bride is getting her dress on, in nice and close as well. The nice thing about this lens is that I can shoot at 16mm (be careful of distortion though, yikes), but if I feel like getting a more “normal” focal length I can zoom it to 35mm without switching lenses. Which is also great on the dance floor when someone asks for a quick photo.
Canon 85mm f/1.2L II
This big fella doesn’t get much “out of the bag” time. Sometimes I’ll use it for head shots of the just the bride, or sometimes during the speeches during the reception, focusing on the bride and groom’s reactions. It’s a great lens, but I just don’t need it that often.
Sigma 15mm f/2.8
This is my “wacky” lens! I use this when I want some crazy distortion on purpose. Used in very close, it can seriously exaggerate features. I use it a lot for shooting fun pictures of the bridal party from above them. Or it can come in handy when you have a cool looking church and your other lenses just can’t quite fit it all in the frame.
Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro
This little guy is strictly for close ups – usually the rings and a few details of the ballroom decor.
2X Canon CPE3
I’m a big bouncer! Not like the bouncer who throws you out of nightclubs, but the kind that shoots his flash off the ceilings and walls. I will try to bounce my on-camera flash in just about every reception space. I ask a lot of my flashes, so I need to help them out by using these battery packs. They plug into my flash and act like a shot of steroids for them when it comes to recycle times. I carry one battery pack and the other one is worn by my assistant.
4X Canon 600EX-RT’s
My typical set up with these during a reception is one on camera used as a bounce flash, and another one that my assistant holds for backlighting purposes. I really like being able to control the power of my assistant’s flash remotely from my camera position, which the 600’s allow me to do. The other flashes are there in the event that I can not bounce my flash, in which case they will be used for cross lighting.
Rogue Flash Bender
This easy-to-use device gets mounted to my assistant’s flash. The reason I use this flag on that flash is to keep the light coming out of that flash off the ceiling. I hate the way it looks when the backlighting flash also lights up the ceiling, creating a distracting hot spot. The flag keeps the light from that flash from going up too much.
Induro Carbon BX Monopod
This guy practically never sees the light of day, poor fella. It’s made of carbon fiber and it’s super lightweight. So, it’s not a big deal to always have on me. In the rare situation where I want to get an extra high camera angle, or cantilever my camera over a balcony, I can attach my camera to the monopod, and use a long shutter release cable to trigger the camera.
Photoflex 30” White Umbrella
Just a basic small white umbrella shoved in the front pouch of my ThinkTank. I use this as a quick and easy way to knock out family photos when I have to do them indoors. My assistant holds this and a flash pointing through it, shoot-through style.
Is it in you? On a wedding day, it’s definitely in me! I usually tote 4 of these suckers in my bag. For summer weddings I chuck one in the freezer the night before so it turns to ice and late in the day it’s ice cold and yummy in my tummy. This stuff keeps me hydrated all day long.
This doesn’t get much play, but it’s there if I need it – or I should say, if my assistant needs it. It’s used for hanging the wedding dress from if you can’t find somewhere naturally to do it. By removing one of the rubber grips from the handle, you expose a little hole that you can hook the dress into. It’s great when you’re in a pinch (get it, pinch, cause it’s a clamp!?)
This is some sticky stuff I carry around in a CF card holder. I use this to stick on wedding rings when I want them to stand straight up. The nice thing is that it comes right off and doesn’t leave any residue.