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Inside My Digital camera Bag | Sheena Shahangian

I’m Sheena Shahangian and I’m a Colorado-based elopement photographer specializing in documenting adventurous elopements within the Rocky Mountains and the western US.

Consider it or not, I didn’t at all times love pictures. Actually, rising up I used to be that lady who would actually run away from the digital camera at any time when anybody tried to take my photograph. So, I utterly get it when {couples} inform me they get nervous across the digital camera once they first attain out to me.

I wish to joke that one in all my favourite issues to do is convert camera-shy folks into individuals who truly actually love being photographed. One of the necessary elements of my job helps my {couples} perceive that having your elopement documented must be enjoyable, and by no means like a stale, ‘required’ merchandise in your marriage ceremony guidelines.

There are many photographers on the market who knew pictures could be their ardour from the second they picked up their first digital camera. For me, that wasn’t it. I found my love for pictures whereas in faculty, working as an intern for a neighborhood tech start-up that helped {couples} plan dates through an all-inclusive app.

My job was to go to the perfect eating places and doc my expertise to share with the app builders. I rapidly fell in love with the immediacy of all of it: take a photograph, edit it, maintain onto that second eternally.

My love for documenting folks, and particularly eloping {couples}, wasn’t precisely a straight path. I truly fell in love with elopements once I was planning my very own marriage ceremony.

I knew that the entire ‘huge marriage ceremony’ idea didn’t fairly really feel like me. I didn’t take care of the entire fluff and particulars, and the concept of studying my vows in a room full of individuals completely terrified me. So I started planning an journey elopement in my favourite nationwide park as a substitute.

I actually took a yr’s price of marriage ceremony planning and threw it away in trade for saying my vows in a teeny tiny non-public ceremony on a sand dune in Colorado, and that have fairly actually modified my life.

At this level, I had transitioned into photographing folks and weddings, however after my very own elopement, I knew in my intestine that I wished to specialize solely in elopements. So I up to date my web site branding and went all-in. You can say I’ve by no means appeared again.

I do know firsthand the pressures {couples} expertise when planning their very own weddings. I do know the nagging feeling that comes with being hyper-aware of the truth that the marriage business doesn’t give {couples} numerous choices.

I do know what it’s wish to really feel like I’m purported to be following these ‘marriage ceremony guidelines’ that don’t resonate with me. The essence of what I do as an elopement photographer is to allow and empower {couples} to ditch these guidelines in the event that they don’t resonate with them and craft an journey elopement day that actually feels prefer it’s custom-made to them.

I truly began out capturing Nikon however ended up switching very early on to all Canon. Personally, I like the colours I get with the Canon household, which is why the change was a no brainer for me.

I’d say my gear assortment is on the heftier aspect, however what I carry to journey elopements undoubtedly varies primarily based on the kind of day I’m capturing. I wish to arrive at elopements over-prepared, so I find yourself bringing extra gear than I do know I’ll use.

So far as my view on gear, performance is all the things. I don’t imagine in shopping for the following cool factor just because it’s available on the market. My precedence is having gear that serves my {couples} in one of the simplest ways attainable. I undoubtedly child my gear, however I believe that’s an necessary a part of making certain that it lasts.


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – I’ve three of those, and they’re my infants. I exploit two of them on elopements days and have the third for back-up. I particularly selected this digital camera as a result of it may well deal with the intense climate that’s a giant a part of residing and capturing within the nice outside in Colorado (though I do have rain covers for every digital camera physique – did I point out I child my gear?!).

The twin card slots have been additionally important for me. The considered dropping somebody’s elopement photographs as a result of a card corrupts is my nightmare. Twin card slots are like an insurance coverage plan. I additionally love the dwell view on this digital camera. I’m 5’1”, which implies that I’m shorter than virtually all my purchasers. The dwell view permits me to carry my digital camera increased than my head and lock in focus with out trying by means of the viewfinder.


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM – For the reason that journey elopements I {photograph} usually contain fairly large, expansive landscapes, the 35mm permits me to seize extra of them and get these basic ‘tiny folks, huge world’ photographs. This lens is principally at all times glued to one in all my cameras.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM – This lens can be virtually at all times on one in all my cameras (my commonplace setup for elopements is my 35mm on one digital camera physique and my 85mm on the opposite). I like to pair this one with the 35mm due to the number of photos they offer me collectively.

I get these shut, intimate photographs with the 85mm, and the compression is completely beautiful. After I need the photographs to really feel just like the world is falling away and the persons are all that’s there, that is the lens I exploit. It additionally permits me to stand up shut and private (particularly throughout ceremonies) with out bodily being up shut.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM – This lens is the last word portrait lens. I principally use it for preparing photographs, but it surely undoubtedly doesn’t come out of my bag as a lot as my 35mm and 85mm. These are my workhorses.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM – This was one of many first lenses I bought, so it’s an outdated one. It’s a complete steal, although, for the photographs it takes. I don’t use it fairly often now, however I maintain it in my bag as a back-up in case one thing ever occurs and my different 50mm ever falls and breaks. You’ll be able to by no means be too ready.

This lens is actually an incredible one, and in case you don’t have the finances for the f/1.2, it is a nice possibility. I’ve additionally heard fantastic issues concerning the f/1.4, however haven’t used it personally.

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM – My 35mm is the large angle I exploit essentially the most. To be sincere, the 24mm doesn’t typically depart my bag, but it surely’s there in case I’m working in a extremely tight panorama the place the mountains are tremendous shut and I’m making an attempt to suit all the things into my shot.

Throughout one in all my elopements this yr, there was this epic switchback within the highway that I wished within the background of my shot. It was completely framing my couple, however the curve within the highway was so large and I didn’t have house to again up. My 24mm was good for this.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – This lens is one in all my absolute favorites in my bag. It is extremely hefty, to say the least, but it surely’s 100% price lugging round. I like this lens for its wonderful compression. After I’m in a location the place I can again up so much, I like pulling this lens out as a result of it makes mountains within the background look big. It may be slightly gradual to focus, but it surely’s definitely worth the effort to lock it in.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM – My macro lens is my favourite for element and ring photographs in rooms the place I’ve a strong supply of pure mild. It permits me to stand up shut and private in a approach that no different lens can, and I like that change of perspective. A lot of what I seize is epic mountain views, however I imagine the small elements of the day are necessary too, and this lens permits them to shine.


Profoto A1 – I’ve two of those. I particularly selected the A1 due to the wonderful recycling time. I don’t wish to miss moments, and these flashes assist make sure that I don’t. I like that it additionally comes with magnetically attachable dome diffusers and bounce playing cards. Every flash additionally has slightly stand so it may well simply be arrange as an off-camera flash if I wished it to.

One other perk is the mannequin mild, which permits me to make use of the flash form of like a lantern. This function is wonderful for outside evening photographs (which I like to take!) the place I would like a steady mild supply.

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp – Technically not a pictures mild, however my headlamp is essential with what I do. Journey elopements normally require evening mountain climbing, and this headlamp is an unbelievable mild supply. I additionally use it to assist lock in deal with my {couples} for evening photographs, so it serves a twin objective.

Ozark Path lantern – Additionally not technically a pictures mild, I carry my lantern with me for evening elopement photographs once we’re not mountain climbing very far and headlamps are overkill. This lantern simply clips to my backpack, but it surely does add slightly weight, which is why it’s reserved for very brief hikes or drive-up mountain overlooks.


Holdfast MoneyMaker – I maintain two digital camera our bodies on me on elopement days, and the Holdfast provides me easy accessibility to them. I like that there are two factors the place you safe the digital camera physique, making certain that if one fails, my gear received’t simply crash to the bottom. I like that it has little rings on it too, so I’ve hooked up a carabiner to one in all them the place I both dangle my keys or a cardholder case.

Ona Presidio – For my third digital camera physique, I exploit the Ona Presidio. I selected this strap due to the additional cushioning it has, which helps keep away from intense marks on my neck after carrying the digital camera round for some time.

Vinta Kind II Forest Backpack – My Vinta pack is nice for storage. It holds two digital camera our bodies, three lenses, two card instances, and all of my spare batteries and rain covers. The bag can be waterproof, which is tremendous necessary to me. Plus, to entry the principle compartment, you must take the bag off, so it’s much less inclined to gear theft.

It additionally slides completely beneath the seat in entrance of me on airplanes too (these of you who journey often know what a game-changer this may be!). The Vinta carries most of what I would like, however some elopements do require extra gear, and that is the place my second backpack is available in.

Abonnyc DSLR Backpack – The Vinta was a splurge, however this backpack is a complete steal. It truly shops greater than my Vinta and holds any further gear I would like together with location permits, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, my Garmin inReach, and my water bottle.

Mine got here with a water-proof sack that I can wrap across the bag, which isn’t essentially the most handy, but it surely does the job, which is what issues most. It’s a bit clunkier than the Vinta and doesn’t at all times match beneath airplane seats, however for the value, it’s 100% price it.


Aluminum Albott Tripod – I actually solely use my tripod for daybreak, nightfall, and evening photographs. So to be utterly sincere, splurging on a brilliant expensive one didn’t make a lot sense. I’m a giant believer that a part of being enterprise proprietor is figuring out when to splurge and when to finances, and that is the proper instance of that.

The truth that my tripod is aluminum makes it good and light-weight, that means it’s simpler to carry with me on mountain climbing elopements. I do should watch out about that in tremendous windy alpine areas, although. I usually use my further snack backpack to weigh it down so it by no means blows away or falls down.

{Hardware} & Software program

I edit with Lightroom and use Mastin Labs Portra Pushed as my base, with fairly heavy modifications. On the subject of photographing journey elopements, landscapes fluctuate fairly a bit, so whereas presets are nice, I normally should make vital modifications to account for mountain-specific parts.

I edit on my 15 inch MacBook Professional. Sooner or later, I’d like to get an iMac, however I simply can’t justify it, since I hate sitting in a single place whereas modifying.

For exhausting drives, I exploit a mixture of Seagate drives together with SanDisk Excessive SD drives. The Seagates are all mechanical drives, that are wonderful to be used at house. The SD drives can take extra of a beating, so these include me once I journey. SD storage generally is a little pricier, however they’re definitely worth the peace of thoughts, so I combine it up.

Cloud storage works for some folks, and I’ve tried it earlier than, however till it may well sustain with the amount of photos I’ve to again up, it doesn’t make sense for me. I attempted it for years however ended up canceling for that motive.


I at all times have Clif bars in my bag (I like their coffee-infused ones), and I additionally love bringing alongside their power chews too. I additionally at all times have a Nalgene bottle on me, particularly for elopements at elevation, the place it’s very simple to get dehydrated. Apple sauce squeeze pouches and lupini beans are additionally a few of my favorites to carry together with me on elopement days.

Usually, I’m not one to drink power drinks, however the elopements I doc normally contain a couple of hours of driving within the mountains, and there’s nothing that retains me going fairly like throwing again a can of Sambazon whereas singing on the high of my lungs to my favourite playlist (I make one for each season!).

Sunscreen is a should in Colorado, particularly at a better elevation. Given my olive complexion, I’m not one who simply burns, however put me on a mountain at 12,000 ft on a sunny day and also you wager I’ll go house with a sunburn. Bug spray can be useful, particularly once I doc elopements by alpine lakes. I at all times be sure to get a DEET-free bug spray, although. I at all times advocate my {couples} carry alongside sunscreen and bug spray too.

I additionally be sure to obtain offline Google Maps, that are essential for safely arriving on the trailhead once I’m venturing into distant areas. I even have the professional model of AllTrails that I exploit when mountain climbing. It permits me to obtain an offline model of my route and see the place I’m on the path.

One other important for mountain climbing elopements is security gear. I carry my Garmin inReach when documenting elopements in locations with no cell service so I can name for assist in emergencies. I additionally carry a primary support package, too, and advise my {couples} to carry one as effectively. You’ll be able to by no means be too ready.

For footwear, I put on my Kodiak Surreys for elopements with 4 or much less miles of mountain climbing round-trip. They’re waterproof and insulated, which is wonderful when it’s chilly at dawn and sundown. For longer mountain climbing elopements I put on my Ahnu mountain climbing boots.

As a result of the mountains may be fairly chilly earlier than dawn and after sundown, I just about at all times carry alongside one in all my fleeces. I swear by all issues Patagonia and love the corporate’s mission in direction of sustainability. Their sweaters are tremendous heat, give me loads of vary of movement, and the corporate is one I imagine in.

I additionally carry alongside a couple of useful issues for my {couples} too, like ornamental ribbons, a rose gold hanger, and a velvet ring field for preparing photographs. Whereas many {couples} carry alongside issues like this, in the event that they by chance forgot their good hanger for his or her costume, for instance, I like to have the ability to assist out.

And final however not least, I at all times be sure to slip further copies of elopement timelines and site permits. Many elopement places are on public lands that require particular use permits earlier than {couples} can get married there. I like to carry onto copies of those permits on me all through the day.

The very best piece of recommendation I may give is to know when it’s price splurging on gear and when it’s not. Investing in a digital camera physique with twin slots is extra necessary than having an in depth lens assortment, for instance. After I take into consideration shopping for new gear, I keep away from taking a look at what different photographers assume is the ‘subsequent cool gadget’. As a substitute, I take into consideration what would make my workflow extra environment friendly and what’s going to give my {couples} a greater expertise.

Each buy I make is with my {couples} in thoughts. For instance, I’d completely love a tilt shift lens, however as a substitute, I just lately opted to get the 70-200 as a result of I knew that it might serve my {couples} higher by offering them with a better number of photographs.

The lean shift is epic and would make for some wonderful photographs, however I knew I wouldn’t use it as often because the 70-200, so the choice was apparent for me. If there’s a lens that you’re dying to make use of however know you received’t want often, renting is a superb possibility.

On the subject of journey elopements, I do know I’m not going to be in a room stuffed with visitors with cameras and cell telephones, and that makes my job as an elopement photographer much more essential. I’d simply be the one different soul current on my couple’s marriage ceremony day, and it’s necessary that I’ve a group of drugs that does justice to that.

All of that mentioned, I don’t use each digital camera physique and each lens I personal on elopement days. I select my lens primarily based on the locational constraints of a pair’s elopement location, together with the story their day is telling me. No two elopements are the identical, and I imagine it’s necessary to acknowledge that in your gear alternative too. Select the gear that tells the story greatest. | @sheenashahangianphoto

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