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What's in My Bag - Laura Pope Photography - Northern Virginia Family Photographer

This is hands down the most frequently asked question that I get from clients and other photographers. I too love knowing what other photographers are using during their sessions, so I've been wanting to write this post for a long time now!!

Let me start off by saying that I love gear. I absolutely love it and I've been collecting it for years now. Lenses to me aren't just for my business, but for me personally. So please know that if you are just starting out, you certainly don't need to go run out and buy everything that I have pictured here!

I'm a Nikon gal for life. In high school, all of my friends were artists and I was stuck without any talent in the drawing or painting department. I went home and told my dad that I wanted to do photography and he pulled out a gorgeous Nikon F2 from a shiny silver box. I remember feeling elated that he'd trust me with this! I had no idea how to use it, but I was determined. I carefully loaded film into it, and then my journey started...

From left to right:

70-200 f/2.8 : I rented this lens for a wedding that I shot and instantly fell in love. It's quick, it's sharp, it produces some beautiful bokeh and it goes great lengths. I bring this to almost every portrait session that I do because it's such a flattering lens. In the picture below I was standing about 75 feet away from her. I love how it compresses the background.

24-70 f/2.8 : This was my first real investment for my business. My husband helped me research for hours and hours about the best lens to buy, and we came up with this. It's focal length is really versatile because at 24mm, it's very wide and can capture a great deal. Zoomed in all the way to 70mm lets you get some great detail shots. I rarely use this lens anymore because I just think prime lenses (only one focal length/doesn't zoom) are far superior. I will bring this lens with me to most sessions to get that "wow" wide angle image. Here's a perfect example because I was standing in the same place as the last image. You can see just how wide this lens is:

*Update! This lens sadly met the pavement and it's death and was replaced by the Sigma Art 20mm 1.4 which is currently my favorite lens right now. It includes so much of the environment and tells such a wonderful story. I love it for personal and client work and mainly use this lens indoors.

105 f/2.8 : This lens only goes with me to newborn sessions. It's a macro lens which means that it can take SUPER up close pictures. Think: sweet little baby toes!! This is probably my least used lens, but I love it when I need it! See how close I got to this sweet baby's lips?

35 f/1.4 : I bought it to use indoors and that's exactly what I love it for. It's great for lifestyle sessions, or for my own personal use inside. I also find it to be a great "walking around" lens because it's not too wide and it's not too long either. It's close to what your eye would see naturally, so it's great for street photography. I'm actually looking to sell this lens since my 20mm basically replaces this. It's super fast and tack sharp, and someone will get more use out of it than I will!

85 f/1.8 : If I had to choose one lens to keep it would be nearly impossible, but this might be it. I adore everything about this lens. It's so sharp and it produces the most gorgeous bokeh. My version is the D series which means I can use it on older Nikon bodies. Because it's long, it produces the most beautiful and flattering portraits. Subjects just pop out of the background with this lens. I can't wait to upgrade this lens eventually!

LensBaby Edge 80 : This was a fun purchase and I love how special it is. It mimics a tilt shift lens for a fraction of the price. Because you can move the lens around, you can blur out sections of the image in camera. I recently got to use this lens for some engagement photography in Alexandria and it was so fun! It takes some getting used to and extra special attention to nail focus, but it creates incredibly unique images that I really love.

The main body that I use is my Nikon D810. This is hands down my favorite body I've owned, and I've had several Nikon bodies. It produces gorgeous images with it's full frame sensor and the only complaint that I have about the thing is the file sizes seriously bog my computer down. All of the above photos (with the exception of the gear photo) were taken with my 810. I use my Nikon d700 as a back up body. It was my first full frame camera that I've put quite a few miles on. I also have the 50 1.4 which hardly gets any use since I prefer the 35mm to it. They weren't pictured because I used them to take the gear photos. ;)

I have a few other cameras that I use regularly:

A Mamiya 645 which is brand new to me! It's a medium format film camera. I'm currently waiting for my first scans to be sent back to me from this camera. I absolutely love shooting film since I have to put so much more time and thought into each shot. It forces me to slow down and study each frame. A roll of 120 film only has about 12 frames on it, so it's a good reminder to slow down and make sure you nail it. I'll update this post when I get my scans back! *Update! Since writing this post, I've gotten my film scans back from this body and love them!!

My beloved Nikon f2 and where it all started. This is a 35mm film camera. I've been enjoying this camera a lot more recently. It has an 85 f/1.8 that never leaves the body. There is something different about film that is so beautiful and different than digital. A certain depth or quality that not even the most expensive digital body can get you. This year, I've been doing some practicing with film and I plan to incorporate film into my client sessions later on in the year.

Lastly, I bought this little Fuji x100t for times when I didn't want to lug a big dslr camera around. I really enjoy it's size and capabilities. It has a fixed focal length of 23mm which I think is just perfect for indoor or street photography. It's great to carry with me in my bag, and I love it's wifi capabilities which lets me take a picture and then use the Fuji app to upload it to my phone. *Update! I ended up selling this camera since I didn't use it enough to justify keeping it.

And there you have it! My entire gear collection minus a few odds and ends here and there. I love talking about gear, so if you have any questions, please let me know!


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