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Inside My Digicam 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 all the time love images. The truth is, rising up I used to be that lady who would actually run away from the digicam every time anybody tried to take my picture. So, I fully get it when {couples} inform me they get nervous across the digicam after they first attain out to me.

I wish to joke that one in every of my favourite issues to do is convert camera-shy folks into individuals who truly actually love being photographed. One of the vital 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 wedding ceremony guidelines.

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

My job was to go to the most effective eating places and doc my expertise to share with the app builders. I shortly fell in love with the immediacy of all of it: take a photograph, edit it, maintain onto that second without end.

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

I knew that the entire ‘huge wedding ceremony’ idea didn’t fairly really feel like me. I didn’t take care of the entire fluff and particulars, and the thought 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 value of wedding 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 completely in elopements. So I up to date my web site branding and went all-in. You may say I’ve by no means regarded 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 trade doesn’t give {couples} lots of choices.

I do know what it’s wish to really feel like I’m imagined to be following these ‘wedding 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 taking pictures 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 swap was a no brainer for me.

I’d say my gear assortment is on the heftier aspect, however what I convey to journey elopements undoubtedly varies based mostly on the kind of day I’m taking pictures. 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 every part. I don’t consider 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 best ways doable. I undoubtedly child my gear, however I feel that’s an necessary a part of guaranteeing that it lasts.


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – I’ve three of those, and they’re my infants. I take advantage of two of them on elopements days and have the third for back-up. I particularly selected this digicam as a result of it will probably deal with the intense climate that’s an enormous a part of residing and taking pictures within the nice outdoor in Colorado (though I do have rain covers for every digicam physique – did I point out I child my gear?!).

The twin card slots have been additionally important for me. The considered shedding somebody’s elopement images as a result of a card corrupts is my nightmare. Twin card slots are like an insurance coverage plan. I additionally love the reside view on this digicam. I’m 5’1”, which signifies that I’m shorter than virtually all my shoppers. The reside view permits me to carry my digicam greater than my head and lock in focus with out wanting via the viewfinder.


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

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM – This lens can also be virtually all the time on one in every of my cameras (my normal setup for elopements is my 35mm on one digicam physique and my 85mm on the opposite). I like to pair this one with the 35mm due to the number of photographs they provide me collectively.

I get these shut, intimate images with the 85mm, and the compression is totally beautiful. After I need the pictures to really feel just like the world is falling away and the individuals are all that’s there, that is the lens I take advantage of. 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 largely use it for preparing images, nevertheless it 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 previous one. It’s a complete steal, although, for the images it takes. I don’t use it fairly often now, however I hold it in my bag as a back-up in case one thing ever occurs and my different 50mm ever falls and breaks. You possibly can by no means be too ready.

This lens is really an amazing one, and in case you don’t have the price range for the f/1.2, it is a nice choice. 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 extensive angle I take advantage of essentially the most. To be trustworthy, the 24mm doesn’t usually go away my bag, nevertheless it’s there in case I’m working in a very tight panorama the place the mountains are tremendous shut and I’m attempting to suit every part into my shot.

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

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – This lens is one in every of my absolute favorites in my bag. It is rather hefty, to say the least, nevertheless it’s 100% value lugging round. I like this lens for its superb compression. After I’m in a location the place I can again up rather a lot, I like pulling this lens out as a result of it makes mountains within the background look big. It may be just a little gradual to focus, nevertheless it’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 pictures in rooms the place I’ve a stable 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 consider 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 superb recycling time. I don’t wish to miss moments, and these flashes assist be sure that I don’t. I like that it additionally comes with magnetically attachable dome diffusers and bounce playing cards. Every flash additionally has just a little stand so it will probably 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 kind of like a lantern. This function is superb for outside night time pictures (which I like to take!) the place I would like a steady mild supply.

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp – Technically not a images mild, however my headlamp is essential with what I do. Journey elopements often require night time mountaineering, and this headlamp is an unbelievable mild supply. I additionally use it to assist lock in concentrate on my {couples} for night time images, so it serves a twin objective.

Ozark Path lantern – Additionally not technically a images mild, I convey my lantern with me for night time elopement images after we’re not mountaineering very far and headlamps are overkill. This lantern simply clips to my backpack, nevertheless it does add just a little weight, which is why it’s reserved for very brief hikes or drive-up mountain overlooks.


Holdfast MoneyMaker – I hold two digicam our bodies on me on elopement days, and the Holdfast offers me quick access to them. I like that there are two factors the place you safe the digicam physique, guaranteeing 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 connected a carabiner to one in every of them the place I both hold my keys or a cardholder case.

Ona Presidio – For my third digicam physique, I take advantage of 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 digicam round for some time.

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

It additionally slides completely beneath the seat in entrance of me on airplanes too (these of you who journey incessantly 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, nevertheless it does the job, which is what issues most. It’s a bit clunkier than the Vinta and doesn’t all the time match beneath airplane seats, however for the worth, it’s 100% value it.


Aluminum Albott Tripod – I actually solely use my tripod for daybreak, nightfall, and night time images. So to be fully trustworthy, splurging on an excellent dear one didn’t make a lot sense. I’m an enormous believer that a part of being a great enterprise proprietor is realizing when to splurge and when to price range, and that is the right instance of that.

The truth that my tripod is aluminum makes it good and light-weight, that means it’s simpler to convey with me on mountaineering elopements. I do need to watch out about that in tremendous windy alpine areas, although. I sometimes 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. In relation to photographing journey elopements, landscapes range fairly a bit, so whereas presets are nice, I often need to make vital modifications to account for mountain-specific components.

I edit on my 15 inch MacBook Professional. In some unspecified time in the future, I’d like to get an iMac, however I simply can’t justify it, since I hate sitting in a single place whereas enhancing.

For arduous drives, I take advantage of a mixture of Seagate drives together with SanDisk Excessive SD drives. The Seagates are all mechanical drives, that are advantageous to be used at house. The SD drives can take extra of a beating, so these include me after 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 will probably sustain with the amount of photographs I’ve to again up, it doesn’t make sense for me. I attempted it for years however ended up canceling for that cause.


I all the time have Clif bars in my bag (I like their coffee-infused ones), and I additionally love bringing alongside their power chews too. I additionally all the time 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 convey together with me on elopement days.

Usually, I’m not one to drink power drinks, however the elopements I doc often 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 prime of my lungs to my favourite playlist (I make one for each season!).

Sunscreen is a should in Colorado, particularly at the next 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 also be useful, particularly after I doc elopements by alpine lakes. I all the time be sure to get a DEET-free bug spray, although. I all the time advocate my {couples} convey alongside sunscreen and bug spray too.

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

One other important for mountaineering elopements is security gear. I convey 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 equipment, too, and advise my {couples} to convey one as effectively. You possibly can by no means be too ready.

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

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

I additionally convey alongside a couple of useful issues for my {couples} too, like ornamental ribbons, a rose gold hanger, and a velvet ring field for preparing images. Whereas many {couples} convey alongside issues like this, in the event that they unintentionally 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 all the time be sure to slip further copies of elopement timelines and placement permits. Many elopement areas 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.

One of the best piece of recommendation I may give is to know when it’s value splurging on gear and when it’s not. Investing in a digicam 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 suppose 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 lately opted to get the 70-200 as a result of I knew that it could serve my {couples} higher by offering them with a higher number of pictures.

The lean shift is epic and would make for some superb images, however I knew I wouldn’t use it as incessantly 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 good choice.

In relation to journey elopements, I do know I’m not going to be in a room filled 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 wedding ceremony day, and it’s necessary that I’ve a set of substances that does justice to that.

All of that mentioned, I don’t use each digicam physique and each lens I personal on elopement days. I select my lens based mostly 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 consider it’s necessary to acknowledge that in your gear selection too. Select the gear that tells the story finest. | @sheenashahangianphoto

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