📷 The Photoshoot Packing List

A brief guide to all the gear I use to capture and edit the shots I share on Unsplash.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

One of my favorite things about Unsplash is all the incredible people I get to meet. I’ve received Instagram DMs, emails, and Facebook messages from people wanting to learn, wanting to encourage me, or just wanting to connect.

The two most common reasons people contact me, though, are to ask:

  1. “What gear do you use?”
  2. “How do you edit your photos?”

Everything I know I’ve learned from others, so I love being able to pass that knowledge along to those who are motivated to learn. I’ll focus mainly on answering the first question in this post, but I’ll share more regarding my editing process in future posts.

🎒 The Bag

Things to consider: capacity, durability, accessibility.
  • Capacity — will it need to carry some of your gear or all of it plus extra?
  • Durability — will it need to be weatherproof or at least weather-resistant?
  • Accessibility — will you need quick access to some or all of your gear?
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Peak Design Everyday Backpack

This bag is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

I don’t go anywhere without it because I know all of my gear that I carry in it is comfortable to carry, easily accessible, and well-protected.

I have the 30L version of this bag, and it can hold everything I list in this post with room to spare. My favorite features, though, are the weatherproof 400D nylon canvas shell that keeps all of my gear nice and dry, and the zipper latch system that allows me to easily lock the side zippers shut to protect my gear from being stolen.
Price: $290

📸 Cameras + Lenses

Things to consider: weight, purpose, and compatibility.
  • Weight — do you plan on carrying your camera for long periods of time?
  • Purpose — landscapes or portraits? hobby or profession?
  • Compatibility — will all your lenses fit on your camera?
Photo by Greg Tockner on Unsplash

Canon 5D Mark III

This is the camera I use for all of my shoots.

My only issue with the 5D Mark III is that the dynamic range isn’t as great as the backup Canon 6D that I have (it significantly outperforms the 5D anywhere after ISO 1600) so it’s not the best in low-light situations. Other than that, though, it’s one of the best full-frame cameras available.
Price: $2850

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART Lens for Canon

This is my go-to lens 99% of the time.

For a 35mm lens, this Sigma lens is hard to beat. It’s half the price of the Canon equivalent and is tack-sharp when it’s in-focus. It does need to be calibrated fairly regularly (at least my lens does), but for half the price, that’s a small inconvenience in my opinion.

I love this prime lens because of its diversity. It’s wide enough to capture stunning landscape shots from a distance but has a wide enough aperture to still capture beautiful portraits when moving in closer. It’s also a relatively small lens, so it’s not super bulky and inconvenient to carry around.
Price: $900

Photo by James Bold on Unsplash

Canon 6D

This was my first full-frame DSLR.

I love the wifi capabilities, and it’s performance in low-light situations. Since purchasing my 5D Mark III, I mainly bring this camera along just as a back-up on shoots, but it’s still a great camera.
Price: $1000

💻 Additional Gear

There’s a lot of gear outside of just cameras and lenses that I incorporate into my workflow to help me maximize my time and mobility.

Photo by Aidan Hancock on Unsplash

15" MacBook Pro

This is where the magic happens.

While it only takes an instant to capture a moment, it can take hours of editing to get the final, perfect photo. When I was a full-time wedding photographer, 90% of my work was done here, in front of my computer screen and not behind my camera.

That’s why it’s so important that you use a computer that not only has a large screen but is also fast enough to run multiple editing programs like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and has enough storage for all of your photos.

I love to work in coffee shops and need to be able to edit in any environment, which is why I do all of my work on a laptop instead of a desktop.
Price: $2800

LaCie Rugged External Hard Drive

After I lost all of my photos when my hard drive fell off of my bed, I’ve been very picky with the hard drives I use, and I have yet to find a better option than the LaCie Rugged.

I’ll buy cheaper hard drives to use as backups, but I only trust the LaCie Rugged enough to carry it around with me. It’s protected against drops of up to two meters (6.6 feet) and has IP 54-level protection against dust and water. Although I have yet to have any problems with this hard drive, I always recommend purchasing a Data Recovery Plan just in case.
Price: $128

🎞 Editing

Even though I’ll touch on this more in a future post, I consider presets a part of my gear and they are a key element in how my photos look.

Nicole Mason Lightroom Presets

If you’re not familiar with Nicole Mason, stop what you’re doing and go check out her iconic work (some of it is even available on Unsplash).

I’ve loved her style of shooting and editing for years, so I immediately bought her preset pack bundle when she released her presets a few years ago and haven’t looked back. Of course, I’ve tweaked them to fit individual shoots, but her presets are always my starting point when editing my photos. You can buy her 4 presets individually or all together as a discounted pack.
Prest Pack Price: $65
Individual Prest Price: $25

This definitely is not a comprehensive list of all of my gear, but it is all of the gear that significantly impacts how my photos look and my ability to capture the shots I take.

You can check out a full list of my gear, though, as well as specific kits for different types of photography on my Kit profile.

And if you’ve got any questions for me regarding photography or anything at all, you can find me everywhere: @andrewtneel.

Note: I don’t make any commission off of these links, but I did intentionally direct them to AmazonSmile.
If you didn’t know, when you shop on AmazonSmile instead of just Amazon, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. It’s a great way to give to a good cause at no additional cost to you.
If you’re unsure of what charity to select, I’d recommend charity: water, which uses 100% of your money to bring clean water to people in need.