Hey! What's in your Camera Bag?

I get this question a lot so I figured it was finally time for me to sit down and write a blog post about it!

I shoot pretty light in comparison to a lot of photographers I know; I take a storytelling approach to weddings and so I shoot with prime lenses, only. I find that having to physically move to compose my subjects encourages my frames to be more deliberate and intentional. I shoot most of the wedding portraits with my 50mm and the rest of the day with my 35mm (see specifics below.) I've found that shooting the in-between moments and the documentary portions of the day (the getting read, ceremony, and reception) with my 35 allows me to capture and tell more of a story. Instead of focusing in on one moment, up close, I catch the background motions + events, too, which gifts the viewer (and the couple!) more details of their wedding day. Of course, there's no one, right way to shoot a wedding; some of my favorite photographers shoot absolutely stunning weddings solely with zoom lenses. Like the old Canon versus Nikon debate, it's just a personal preference that works well for my particular approach. 


I shoot with two camera bodies simultaneously using my Money Maker from Holdfast. I love the invention of the Money Maker but I will say that when I'm wearing short sleeves and I have to bend down at all, sometimes the hook catches my arm and it's pretty painful. (If anyone has an alternate strap that doesn't do this or a way to fix the issue, I'd love to hear about it!) I shoot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark iv and the Mark iii. I shoot with these two bodies over other bodies like the 6D because these have the option to shoot to two cards at the same time; one SD and one CF. Cards fail ALL OF THE TIME! Knowing that I have a back up of all my images on both camera bodies let's me sleep at night.  


Like I mentioned above, I shoot with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 and the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. I do get both lenses calibrated with my cameras bodies probably around twice/year. I also use the Hoya 72mm Macro Filter set for all of my ring and detail shots. We also love the Canon EF 70-200 for zoomed shots and the Canon TS-E45mm Tilt Shift lens for super fun, creative shots! 


I only shoot with my speedlites during the dancing portion of the reception; the rest of the day, including the getting ready portion, is all taken with natural light. When I'm using flash, I have the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT on my Mark iv and the Canon Speedlite 430EX III Flash on my Mark iii. 


At every wedding, I carry at least 6 SD cards and 6 CF cards in a water resistant memory card case. When I've filled up an SD and a CF card, I always keep the SD card on me, in a zippered pocket, and the CF card in a case in my camera bag. I never leave both copies in the same place just in case my bag gets stolen or damaged. 

I always come prepared with 6 camera batteries charged and 2 chargers to charge the used batteries at the reception. I also charge 16 Eeneloop Rechargeable Batteries the night before and bring that charger, as well, to re-charge the used batteries at the reception. 

rain/weather gear

In case of rain or snow, I always bring a Ruggard Cold and Rain Protector to put over my camera and lenses. The camera body, your lens, and your arms slide right through and there's even a clear screen that allows you to see the back of your camera screen. I also always keep at least 5 clear umbrellas for my couples and their bridal party in case its drizzling and the couple wants to take their portraits outside! I also ALWAYS bring my North Face Thermoball Hoodie. It's light weight, it has a hood and it keeps me super warm during those fall and winter weddings/shoots. 


All of my equipment listed above fits in my Vinta.Co Travel + Camera Backpack. It's super compact and really comfortable. It has a removable pouch that's accessible from both the front of the bag and the larger zipper in the back. 

Still have questions about my gear? No problem! Shoot me an email!

How to Post Quality Images Online | Washington DC Wedding Photographer

  Jonnie + Garrett  | Phoenix, AZ

Jonnie + Garrett | Phoenix, AZ

I'm constantly asked about how I get my images to look so sharp on social media platforms and my website. Here are four things you can start doing right now for tack sharp, beautifully displayed imagery! 

Posting to Facebook 

In order to minimize Facebook's image compression, you need to resize. When you're exporting your images from Lightroom, resize the image to fit the long edge to 2048 px and adjust the resolution to 72. I also sharpen the image upon export on low. 

This size works great for Instagram, too!

 Screen grab of what my export process looks like in Lightroom for an image for Facebook. 

Screen grab of what my export process looks like in Lightroom for an image for Facebook. 

Posting to Squarespace | The Blog 

The optimal image size for images on your blog is 1500 px. All images uploaded larger than 1500 px in the long dimension are automatically downsized to this resolution. When exporting your images from Lightroom, resize the long edge to 1500 px and adjust the resolution to 72. I also sharpen the image upon export on low. 

Posting to Squarespace | A Slideshow

The optimal image size for a slideshow gallery is 2880 px. (See the scrolling images on my homepage as an example.) When exporting from Lightroom, resize the long edge to 2880 px and adjust the resolution to 72. I also sharpen the image upon export on low. 

Do you use Squarespace? Join the Squarespace Photographers Facebook Group for lots of great info!

JPEGmini Pro

Before posting images to my website or my blog, I use JPEGmini Pro in order to optimize my images for a faster load time. The software reduces the file size of your photos (up to 80%), while preserving their full resolution and quality. 

The software also includes a plug-in for Lightroom and a Photoshop extension. When you export your photos directly from Lightroom or Photoshop, they will be automatically optimized by JPEGmini to the lowest file size possible without sacrificing quality.

Your images will load quickly and beautifully to your blog! 

Styled Shoots: The DO'S and DON'TS | Washington DC Wedding Photographer

 Bouquet Design by  Port + Palm Co

Bouquet Design by Port + Palm Co

You guys, I have a serious love/hate relationship with the ever increasingly popular "Styled Shoot." So, last week when I was contacted by a venue about putting together a team for a styled shoot, it got me thinking about why I actually feel this way. 

The amount of time and effort that goes into a well-planned and well-executed shoot is immense, and unless every single vendor does their big BIG part, they can become a totally, disorganized mess. It's why I choose to shoot only one or two styled shoots per year. I want the best venue with the best vendors that are going to work as a team to achieve a common goal, whatever we decide that is. 

So here's a list of Do's and Don'ts I came up with that not only encourage you to create something awesome, but enourage you respect your time and talent, too! 

XO Lauren 

DO plan ahead.

Before you start asking vendors to share their talents, respect their time by emailing them prepared and ready to answer their questions. Have a vision in mind and be able to communicate that vision both textually and visually. Show them a mood board and explain to them exactly what you're looking for, and what the shoot will entail. Don't waste your time (or their time) by reaching out to vendors that don't have a vibe that will enhance the ideas for your shoot. Do your research, know the vendor, and ask for their input. 

PRO TIP // Your Tuesdays Together Facebook group is a great place to find vendors for your shoot. Pinterest is also a great tool for bringing together a mood board for the prospective vendors to see. If you're a Photoshop wiz, you can create style templates, too! 

DO have all vendors involved sign an agreement. 

Styled shoots take up a ton of time, direction, and effort from the vendors, some more than others. Be sure to outline the responsibilities of each vendor in an agreement that everyone signs. Include how and when to give vendor credits, as well as how the images may be used across social media platforms, websites, blogs, etc. 

PRO TIP // I use Tave, my studio management software, to send out agreements and keep them organized. Don't have Tave, but want to try it out? Use my custom referral link to get a free 60 day trial, instead of the usual 30 day trial! 

DO talk to the vendors about the end game. 

What is the purpose of the styled shoot? Is it to showcase local vendors in the area? Is it for future referrals? Is it to get published? If so, where? Make sure everyone has a common goal to work towards together.

PRO TIP // We use Two Bright Lights to submit styled shoots and real weddings to publications! 

DO stay organized. 

Keep a list of all the vendors involved in the styled shoot in a Google Doc that is editable by those you invite. Include a column for their first and last name, email address, phone number, website, Instagram, and Facebook business page. Before the shoot, create a Timeline that includes everyone's start times and important events and locations for the day. 

DON'T get taken advantage of.

I can't tell you how many times a vendor has reached out to me asking for a quote for visual branding images for their website, turned around and said they were hoping to spend less, and then a week later ask if I'm interested in photographing his/her styled shoot. Know your worth and understand the value of your work. If someone is only asking you to photograph a styled shoot for their own benefit, it's okay to say "no." Styled Shoots should be about fostering community! 

DON'T tag the shoot as a styled shoot. 

I can assure you that no bride is searching "styled shoot" in Google when searching for a wedding photographer. When naming your blog post and the images within the blog post from the shoot, name them something that's actually going to get you future business. For example, if the styled shoot took place at a winery in Virginia and you were the wedding photographer, name it that way: The Winery at Bull Run | Centerville Virginia Documentary Wedding Photographer

Have some advice for executing a Styled Shoot? Email me at lauren@laurenlouisephotography.com or leave a comment! 

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Photographing Food | Washington DC Photography Classes + Tips

So you’ve finally decided to splurge on that fancy new restaurant downtown (in my case, it’s Thally) and you want all of your Instagram followers to know about it…you whip out your iPhone (or android) and start snapping away only to be wildly disappointed with the results. The lighting is wonky and your gorgonzola pear salad is not looking as appetizing as it really is (because, let’s face it, you took a bite before taking the picture.) You want to dig in but not before you document, and tag, this beautiful creation.


First thing? NIX THE FLASH. Not only is it bothering your dinner guests and neighboring patrons, but it’s making your photo look BAD. The flash on the iPhone creates wonky colors and awful shadows and highlights.


You also need to think about how you’ll frame your images with COMPOSITION. If you’re taking a picture of something flat, like a pizza, hold the camera directly above the plate and shoot down. If you’re taking a picture of something a little more three-dimensional, like a dish of ice cream scoops, hold the camera to the side and shoot at a 45 degree angle.


Even though you’re taking these images for Instagram, you don’t necessarily have to use their filters. Your barbecue pulled pork sandwich accompanied by homemade mac and cheese does not need to look like it was created in 1975. If you want a clean or matted look, I suggest using VSCO or AFTERLIGHT, both apps you can find in the apple app store. I also like these over Instagram's filters because they give you more options to edit the image’s exposure, contrast, and add other effects like vignettes and grain.


I also suggest using an app called INSTASIZE that ensures the full size of the image gets uploaded to Instagram, not the square-cropped version.

Be sure to check out some of my favorite food photographers on Instagram (below), and if you have any other tips for photographing food with your iPhone, leave them in the comment section!

My Favorite Food Photographers on Instagram