Aaron Taylor's Gear

Canon 6D

I've had the 6D since May 2016. The 6D is a great camera. It gets the job done. The low-light performance is great, though I don't often push it to its ISO limits. I wish the 6D had more auto-focus points (the 6Dmii does), but I've never missed a shot because of the lack of focus points. I don't blame my gear for missed shots; I miss shots due to human error. The 6D is a great camera for the price. For portraits, weddings, and product photography, I love my 6D.

Canon 100mm f/2.8 L

I've owned the 100 macro since August 2016. I wanted to dive into macro photography. A used 100 became available, so I grabbed it. Little did I know that it would become my go-to portrait lens as well. For almost a year, this lens did not come off my camera body. It's a great focal length for portraits and headshots, and it does well for family group photos, too. I used to photograph portraits with the Canon 85mm f/1.8, but I stopped grabbing it once I saw the difference in quality with the 100. The L glass really does make a difference in tonal quality and tonal transition. While the 100 sometimes has trouble focusing, I've never been so frustrated that I regretted using it for a session. I will take the slight focusing troubles for the ability to focus from inches away to infinity during a session. Since I photograph mostly families, I'll inevitably have a kid who walks right up to the lens. With the macro capability, I can continue to focus as the child gets closer and closer, which often results in a unique photo. The 100 macro is a great lens, one I can't do without.

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L ii

I've had the 24-70 since May 2017. I began to photograph more events and lifestyle, so I needed the focal length flexibility. My 100 macro just didn't work for the situations I was now photographing. I rented the 24-70 a few times, and I loved it. It focuses quickly, and the lens is tack-sharp. (If it was a 24-100 f/2.8, then it'd probably be the only lens I ever used!) The 24-70 is a workhorse lens for most photographers, and I can see why. The focal range is wide enough at 24mm to create great environmental photos or landscapes, and the lens is long enough at 70mm to use for portraits and headshots. I wish the lens had Image Stabilization, but I haven't lost too many photos without it. As I've said before, I blame myself more than my gear when I miss photos. The 24-70 is expensive. But if you need a quality lens with a flexible focal range, this is your lens.

 

Canon T3i Rebel and Canon 50mm f/1.8 

These two pieces make up my current backup camera. I photographed families for the first year in business with this setup. The 50 acts like an 80mm lens on the Rebel, so it's great for portraits. Plus, at f/1.8, you can create a shallow depth of field with good bokeh. The camera's sensor won't blow you away, especially in low light. But if you begin to use flash, there's nothing wrong with an entry-level crop sensor body. For anyone beginning to experiment with portraiture, you can't go wrong with this relatively inexpensive setup.

Yongnuo 560iv flashes

I own three of these flashes. I've been working with these since about July 2015. The YN560iv speedlights are bare-bones manual flashes, so you don't get any fancy features like TTL or High-Speed Sync. (And with my Canon camera body, I can't even do rear-curtain sync in order to play with motion blur in my flash photography.) Without the fancy features, these flashes forced me to learn how to manually control my flash exposure. I'm so glad I couldn't rely on automatic flash settings. I have such control and understanding of speedlights thanks to these basic flashes. The build quality isn't great, but you won't break the bank buying them, especially if you need another when one falls from a light stand and breaks. I'd much rather drop a $70 Yongnuo flash than a $500 Canon flash.

Yongnuo 560TX wireless transmitter

To buy a YN560iv and not also buy a YN560TX is like buying a car without a steering wheel. You have the engine, but you just can't get yourself where you need to go. The YN560TX will allow you to remotely trigger your flashes. (Okay, the YN560iv can actually act as a trigger, but then you need two 560iv's. Just start with one flash and one trigger.) The TX is simple to use and inexpensive, too. Owning a flash is fun. Owning a flash and a trigger is way more fun. When you learn off-camera flash, the possibilities are endless.

Passport Colorchecker

While I don't remember use this very often, the Colorchecker is an amazing way to ensure that your photos have accurate color and white balance. For as many hours as I've played with white balance, the Colorchecker makes accurate white balance about as easy as it gets. No more guessing. Now you just use the white balance eye-dropper and click on the neutral gray. What could be easier? You can also set a custom white balance in-camera and create custom color profiles for your specific camera. As you begin to pay more attention to the finer skills of post-processing, the Colorchecker will become an invaluable tool in your workflow.

Demb Flash Products Flip-It 

The Flip-It is essentially just a bigger bounce card for your speedlight. I use this to fill shadows in a pinch. I'd rather use a reflector or a big light modifier, but the Flip-It works when portability and ease-of-use are necessary.

Pixel Oppilas wireless remote

Want to take self-portraits? Want to take photos of your family and actually be in them? This wireless remote is your answer. No more setting the ten-second timer and waiting for the shutter. Now you can click away. No cords get in the way, either, and the whole set runs on AAA batteries. At around $20, this device is a steal.

Some super cheap colored gels and flash grids

For extra creativity and control with your speedlights, you need gels and a grid. You can turn a wall a different color, you can change the color of your light, and you can focus the beam of your flash to become even more narrow. Some projects require a little more fun. Gels and grids help with the fun.

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB tripod

The Vanguard Alta tripod is my first substantial tripod. I owned a $30 piece of junk prior to this tripod. It's a sturdy tripod with a decent ball head. While the ball head doesn't lock perfectly into place, it's way better than what you might be for cheap. I changed out the ball head plate with this arca-swiss clamp so that I could accommodate this L-bracket. For anyone getting into product or landscape photography, an L-bracket is a must. And the upgraded clamp is big and secure. Truth be told, I haven't used my tripod much for portraiture, but I'm beginning to experiment with it more and more. Since the Canon 24-70 doesn't have image stabilization, a tripod will help me with big group photos. 

Lumopro 48” octobox

I absolutely LOVE this light modifier. It is huge and beautiful. The two layers of diffusion soften the light tremendously. Headshots are a cinch with this modifier. And this thing creates catchlights with such a great shape. Setup isn't instant, but it's not difficult, either. I've used this inside and outside, too. It's big and heavy, so it requires some counter-weight, but it's well worth it. The light from this modifier is fantastic.

Lumopro 1’x3’ stripbox

This modifier is similar to the octobox, but it's smaller and it's a rectangle. The light is just as beautiful. I use this for table-top photography or as an accent light when the octobox is my key light. This one easy to set-up, too. I've even used this for headshots when I couldn't bring my big octobox. 

Lumopro lightstands and boom arms

I owned a few cheap lightstands before buying some nice stuff. As with just about everything related to photography, you get what you pay for. My upgraded lightstands are beefier and much more sturdy. And the boom arm is a must-have accessory. The flexibility a boom arm gives you when positioning light will alleviate frustration and allow you to put your light exactly where you want it. 

Black and white foam board

Good for small backdrops. The white can also be used as a reflector.

White and thundergray 53” seamless paper

Perfect for headshots and table-top photography. The thundergray is great because you can turn it darker in post, coming close to black. If you've been using makeshift paper backdrops, do yourself a favor: spend the $30 or so and get some seamless paper.

Gaffers Tape

This stuff is the best. It's basically fabric tape. You can reuse it. It comes in a million colors. It comes off without leaving residue. Gaffers tape is duct tape's amazing big brother. Never buy duct tape again. Buy gaffers tape. Then tell all of your friends to buy gaffers tape, too.

5-in-1 circular reflector

I use a reflector for two reasons: 1. To fill shadows with light, or 2. To diffuse light. There's nothing more complicated about a reflector. Buy one and experiment. You'll have an inexpensive way to shape your light.

Impact Large Clip Clamp with Ball Head Shoe Mount

This thing is a beast. It allows you to clip your speedlight to a tiny ball head and then clamp the speedlight just about anywhere. And the clamp is heavy-duty. For a long time, I had a speedlight clamped to a bookshelf just so I could always have off-camera flash for random photos at home. The clamp costs a little more than most people would probably want to spend, but it is a solidly-built accessory.

 

Think Tank Airport Essentials camera bag

I can fit all of my essential gear in this carry-on sized bag. The construction is high quality. The bag allows you to change its configuration using fabric-covered plastic dividers that velcro to the insides. I can fit my camera body, both lenses, two speedlights, all of my accessories and batteries, and a wireless external hard drive, which you can read about here. As my gear collection grows, I'll end up needing something bigger. For now, this bag is perfect. I can carry it during a family photo session, and I can stow all of my gear at home in one compact bag. 

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