What’s in my camera bag?

Meredith Hodge Photography Chesapeake Family Photographer, Chesapeake Maternity Photographer

As a photographer, I often have clients or other photographers ask what kind of kit do I keep in my camera bag.  I’ve finally decided to open up the bag and give you a look inside!

What You Will Find In My Camera Bag


There Are Usually Two Cameras

I’ve owned several DSLR cameras between brands and recently I’ve fallen in love with older antique cameras when my dad gifted my his fathers camera (see the story here, it’s such a good one!!!).  Currently, I use a Nikon D750.  It’s a full frame body.  For those of you that don’t know what the difference is between a full frame and a crop sensor, basically speaking it is the size of the cameras sensor.  One utilizes the full sensor and the crop only uses 2/3 of it. The D750 has served me so well since I bought it. However –  it will soon become the backup body.

Right now, I am looking to upgrade to a mirrorless body. I currently own a D7200 that is in need of an upgrade 😉.  I’m still deciding what I want to get. Many people in my industry and jumping from Nikon and Canon to the Sony family.  I’m still deciding on which way I want to go. Maybe when I finally pull the trigger and purchase it, I’ll write on all of the decision points when it came to picking it out! (Or maybe I will procrastinate and put it at the bottom of my list of things to do)

The Lenses in My Camera bag 

I have tried many different lenses over the years.  When I started to learn photography, I had was a Nikon D3200, with the 18-55mm kit lens.  The first lens I invested in was what we call the nifty 50mm.  I still use today from time to time.  From there I was so caught up in thinking I needed a different lens to get better shots.  I bought a 70-300 f4, which at the time I LOVED! That is, until a taxi driver in Paris broke it.  Now it’s just a paper weight.

I eventually bought a 35mm because I heard it was better than a 50mm for portraits.  Over the next few years, I researched everything I could about lenses to find what’s best for me.  I was convinced that a prime lens is better than zoom.   I’m not 100% sure they are these days provided you invest in quality glass. (a prime lens has only one focal length. It doesn’t zoom in or out.  You have to move to get the shot you want).   I bought a 105mm, and a 135mm f2DC.  After using them for a while, I knew they weren’t exactly what I wanted.

When I Came To My Senses

I was truly excited when I ordered the 105mm.  Same with the 135mm.  I couldn’t wait to go out and shoot with them.  For a while they were ok, decent and fast lenses, I shouldn’t have had a complaint.  But there were some things about them I wasn’t thrilled about.  I won’t go into specifics as I know plenty of people that use and love them.  They just weren’t right for me.  It would have been smarter to rent them first before spending money on them. So, right then and there I decided to make these work. I wouldn’t allow myself  to buy a new lens, unless I would use for years to come.

Enter My Dream Team

Eventually,  I found my dream team and I sold the prime 105mm and 135mm.  Months were spent agonizing over it.   I was like Wayne drooling over the Fender Stratocastor in Wayne’s World.  The Tamron 24-70mm G2 and as well as the Tamron 70-200mm G2. I finally decided to live in the now.  I still have and use the 35 and the 50, but I now have a full range of focal lengths to go with.  

 

Out of the two, my hands down favorite is the 70-200.  She’s a workhorse.

 

And I can’t live without it.  

To Recap the Lenses I Use:

  • Nikon 35mm fx 1.8 prime lens
  • Nikon 50mm dx 1.4 prime
  • Tamron  24-70mm g2
  • Tamron 70-200mm g2

Flash

While I carry flashes with me, I schedule my clients so I don’t have to use it unless I want or need to.  I own two Godox V860II Speedlights.  They are an optical flash system meaning they don’t need additional triggers.  I have a multitude of flash stands and several soft boxes and light reflectors as well.

Other Gear In My Camera Bag

Along with the standard kit, I carry lots of other things in my camera bag.  A grey card to ensure proper white balance. Extra batteries for both my cameras and flashes is a must. I also carry extra SD cards as well. You can also find lens cleaners and cloths, a blower for sand, and anything else I think I may need for the day. I carry alongside it a mefoto bluetooth tripod.  Top it all off with my favorite thing ever – my spider holster.  Carrying around that much weight is terrible for your neck.  A few years ago for Christmas, my husband surprised me with one, and I now carry my camera on my hip.

What You Should Know When Looking to Upgrade

“Wow, your camera takes great pictures!” and “You have a really nice camera. No wonder your pictures look so  good!” are two phrases I commonly hear, whether it’s from clients or newer photographers. I usually laugh a little and agree, because I do love my camera. It IS really is a nice one.  In addition to my camera, it comes down to all the learning I’ve done in my career.  I can confidently tell you a few things if you are thinking about upgrading your gear.

My Most Commonly Used Phrase With New Photographers:

Don't Spend Money if You Don't Have To!

Learn What You Have

When you’re starting out, you’re going to think you will NEED to get a better lens or you need to get a better camera to take better pictures.  I’m going to tell you now, your mind is playing tricks on you.  Look in your camera bag.  What is most important is learning how to use what you have now properly.  Learn how to get your pictures right in the camera before upgrading to a new piece of equipment.

Do Your Research

Do your research and find what your dream camera/lens combo will be.  Then rent it to get a good feel before actually buying. Most importantly if you can’t afford to buy your dream lens now, don’t go out and buy something cheaper just because.  Save up a few months first.  Live your photography journey buy the phrase “buy cheap, buy twice”.   It will save you so much money  in the future when it comes to other business/hobby expenses.

Learn Your Craft

Lastly, it’s not the camera that makes a good photographer.  It’s the amount of learning and training and understanding of what it takes to get and compose the types of pictures I want to deliver to my clients. Yes, I have invested in quality equipment for my business. I’ve also invested in training my eyes for the right shot.  A good photographer will be able to get beautiful pictures in any type of location. 


Maternity Photos at First Landing State Park

Maternity Photos at First Landing State Park,  Virginia Beach

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman expecting her first child.  Or even her second. Or third.  I love the glow of a pregnant woman, her skin, her smile, her eyes…You can see the life breathing into her by just thinking of the little one growing inside of her.

I met Tiana by complete chance.  We both use the remarkably talented Leslie Dina Hylton as our hair stylist.  Tiana and Leslie spoke of having maternity pictures done and looking into newborn photos.    I told her that I wasn’t a newborn photographer,  but I would give her few tips on what to look for for hiring one.

We chatted for a while, and I gave her my card.  I offered help in looking for one that would be suitable to handle her baby if she wanted or even some tips on flattering poses if she wanted.  A little time went by and she ended up calling on me to take her maternity photos.   As soon as we talked I was so excited to work with her.  I had a vision.

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First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach is such a unique location for your maternity photos. On the east coast, there are few places to enjoy the sunset dip into the waters along the horizon.  It’s a beautiful spot where you can just make out the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the water.  It can be a very popular spot for families beaching as well as for photographers around sunset.

 

Tiana is such a beautiful woman to me, and a dream in a blue maternity gown.  I instantly knew what I wanted the end result of her session to look like!  Which, as a photographer is so key to working with a client.  I hope you love the photos from this session as much as I do.  I am so proud to say that one of the photos from our session together has been featured in Vogue Italia.  With such a beautiful location and a dazzling mother-to-be, it’s no wonder. More on that in a future post!

maternity sillouette taken at sunset in Virginia Beach

In order for your maternity session to be as successful as Tiana's, here are a few tips to keep in mind!

  • Talk to your photographer about what their vision for your images are. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for and see if their creative vision fits along yours.  These are pictures documenting your pregnancy and you want to be confident in how they turn out!
  • Ask your photographer if they provide dresses or if you need to yourself.  If you choose your own, go for solid colors and stay away from anything with stripes on it!
  • Schedule your session for sometime around 30-32 weeks.   After the 32-34 week mark, you really start to FEEL heavy and your baby starts doubling in size.  You want to feel beautiful, and I know it’s hard to feel so when you are carrying around a little person inside of you.  So by planning ahead you get images that show off that gorgeous round bump, and your beautiful figure, BEFORE baby starts doubling in size!
  • Drink lots of water the night before and of course during your session.  Especially if you are outdoors.  You should be doing this anyways, but hydrating the day before will help with your skin tone.
  • Wear a neutral strapless undergarments to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.  Nuff said.

Hope you found these to be useful to you.  If you want to know more about booking a maternity session fill out the form below and I would be glad to help you plan yours out!