What's In My Camera Bag

kids photographer 50mm lens

Kids headshot using the 50mm f/1.8

Well, let me restate that — what’s in my three camera bags! I am often asked what lenses I use, especially for my pet photography. I thought this would be a great blog post to answer those questions.

The Body
2 Nikon D300’s
Two, yes two camera bodies. Why do I have two of the same camera? There are a few reasons. When I am second shooting weddings, it is great to have a second camera with a different size lens on it. That way I am able to capture the same image with two completely different lenses and I do not have to worry about switching my lens and missing the shot. Another reason, I never know when my camera may just flake out. I have had to go for the backup on two different occasions when my main camera body has just died on me for different reasons. If I would not have had a second camera, the session would have been cancelled on the spot.

I love my Nikon D300 and it really works well for me. I have considered upgrading, but then I would have to also upgrade a few of my lenses as well. My gear works well for me and while full-frame will be in my future at some point, I’m content with my cropped sensor camera and the results that I achieve with it.

The Glass
Nikon 50mm f/1.8
The most inexpensive prime lens out there is the only prime in my bag, the “nifty fifty”. I probably use this lens for about 20% of my portraits. I love the creamy bokeh it produces at a shallow depth-of-field. And when you’re in a super tight area for portraits, you cannot beat it.

senior portrait 70-200mm nikon 2.8

Senior portrait using the 70-200mm f-2.8

Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8
I have had this lens since I purchased my camera back in 2008. And for a really long time it just sat in my bag. But then I decided to start using it at the shelter, in place of the 50mm and I fell in love. It is perfect for the adoptable images I create at Pets Without Parents. I love being able to zoom in and out because those little buggers just do not sit still. Then I decided to start using it in clients’ dog sessions. For those dogs that basically want to sit on my lap, it’s perfect and I can be very close to them.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
Ah, the love of my camera bag. This lens is a beast, but it produces amazing images. 75% of the (people) portraits that I photograph, I use this lens. I have even used this in many dog portraits, as well. I try to stay closer to the 200mm range to produce an even shallower depth-of-field. Yes, my arms get a great workout after using this guy!

Tokina 12-24mm f/4
This is a pretty new purchase for me. I was looking for a wide-angle lens that was inexpensive , yet produced great results. I plan on using this for pet portraits, but the main reason for the purchase was after researching real estate photography and which lens to use. Our house recently went on the market and I wanted to create some stunning images to get those buyers in the door. I cannot wait to play with this lens during a dog photo session!


Tokina 12-24mm interior real estate photograph

Interior real estate photograph using the Tokina 12-24mm

The Bags
Three bags for three different needs. I have the ThinkTank Airport Airstream for traveling. This bag is great for traveling and not checking your camera bag. I can get all the must have gear in this rolling bag and it fits in the overhead bin (even on a commuter flight). For sessions, I have the Kelly Moore B-Hobo bag. I have had many bags in the last few years and this one works really well for me. The best part of this bag is I can fit my camera body with the 50mm on it, the 17-55mm and the 70-200mm, all at once. Plus all my other goodies, like dog treats, keys, memory cards and extra batteries. My last bag is the Lowepro Passport Sling – I purchased this bag for travel as well. When I am shooting out of town, this bag folds down into my ThinkTank, taking up minimal space. Then I have a second bag for out on shoots.


off camera flash pet photography

Dog adoption photograph using the 17-55mm with off camera flash

Off Camera Flash Gear
Nikon Speedlight SB800
Nikon Speedlight SB600
PocketWizard Plus II Transceiver
28” Octabox Tri Coast Off Camera Flash Box

The off-camera flash (OCF) gear is mainly for my shelter work. I occasionally take it along for portrait sessions, but try to shoot natural light as much as possible. My combination of OCF items are inexpensive compared to purchasing strobes and easier to take with me to the shelter and setup.

If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around! That was a long list, but I
thought it would be helpful to explain why and when I use each item. Let me know
in the comments if you have additional gear questions!

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  • St Charles Baby Photographer | K Thaemert August 31, 2012 - 7:47 pm

    We could be twins. Sounds like my bags! I enjoyed reading this. Love your pet photos.

  • Ellen | Portage MI photographer September 1, 2012 - 9:30 am

    Fun reading- I have the 50 and 70-200 and love them, and now you’re making me want a wide angle lens! You get beautiful results with your selection of equipment, and I always look forward to seeing your photography!

A Dog Loving Photographer Living In Buckeye Country