I get asked every year for ideas on what to get photographers or what gear I can recommend for photographers to buy while things are on sale. While the items can vary depending on what you shoot, this is a list of my must-have items. These things are in my bag at every single shoot and I couldn’t create the images I make without them. While these things may not be “cheap” gift ideas, they are tried and true and are well worth their price tags.
This light is the staple to all my lighting setups. It’s the best bang for your buck product that I own. It’s small, light, and super powerful. The battery also lasts way more than I have ever needed on a single shoot. The reason I think you need the pro version is that you can go to a lower power setting, which is nice for lower light situations.
This is my on-camera flash of choice. It has a super-fast recycle time and the light it puts out is beautiful without any modifiers. But the main reason I love it is that it makes it super easy to also control my off-camera lights while using it. It has shortcut buttons to control different groups of lights and it also doubles as a backup trigger in case I ever need it.
For when the power of the Evolv 200 just isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to really overpower the sun, light up a larger modifier, or throw your light a long distance. This is the light for the job. I have used this strobe to light up houses and even a forest. The fact that the battery is built into the device instead of having to hang an external unit on your light stand like other lights is also a huge bonus. I also love that it plays so nicely with all my other lights and triggers.
This tiny little video light packs some really awesome features. Not only does it give you the cool and warm colors of regular light, but you can also select from any color. From pinks to blues to reds and everywhere in between. What I love about this light is how small it is. I can easily keep it in my bag, but most of the time I have it in my back pocket. Then when I need it I can just hold it in my hand and put light where I need it.
One thing you definitely need when using off-camera lights is a way to control them. And this trigger is the best option. It has a huge assortment of shortcut buttons so that you don’t have to dive into the menu system. You can quickly control the power of multiple groups of lights as well as quickly turn individual groups on and off. This really comes into play when I’m shooting the reception. I’ll have multiple lights set up, but really only need one or two depending on the angle I’m shooting. As that angle changes, I can power off the lights I don’t need anymore and turn on the ones I do.
This video style light is a photographer’s dream video light. So rugged and sturdy that you can just leave it on out in a rainstorm (and I have). It also has 8000 lumens of power and works with a host of modifiers.
Magmod makes some of the best and easy to use modifiers. They quickly and easily attach with magnets and are made from silicone so they are extremely durable. You can also stack the different modifiers to really dial in your creative vision. I would be really hard-pressed to find an image where I use flash but don’t use Magmod. It’s essentially on my lights in form or fashion any time I use a light.
My camera of choice. The reason I love this camera so much is because of the silent shutter. I can document all the intimate and sweet moments between a couple and never be heard or distracting. This allows the couple to really be in the moment and not be conscious of me clicking away.
I have long been a strictly 35mm and 85mm shooter. In fact, those are the only two lenses I used for more than 5 years. But this 24 is my new love. The distortion is so well controlled that I’m not afraid to get close up portraits with it. It’s also extremely light and fast. The f/1.4 also allows me to work well in those lower light situations as well as still get some depth of field with a wide-angle of view. If I leave the house with one camera and one lens, this is the lens I’m taking.