Wedding photography: What's in my Bag?


I am really excited about this post!  I've been wanting to do an In My Bag post for a long time now, but I am only starting to feel finally that my bag is complete enough to do one--so here goes!  Please also know that this post will include a fairly lengthy rant—however, I strongly implore you to read it, especially if you are a photographer who, like me, has a tendency to look for the best prices on things.  Trust me. 

When I first started in photography and wedding photography specifically, I totally blog stalked tons of other photographers, pouring through their In My Bag posts to try to see what I would want to have in my bag.  Building a bag is a long, long process and I feel very grateful to have as complete a bag as I have at this point in my career.  Let me emphasize too, before I get too far into this post, that this is what works for me--in no way am I saying this is the only bag configuration for any photographer out there, it's just where I'm at on this specific day--in a year, it might be different!  I'm also going to do this post in parts--I'll take on another lens each week, but today I'm starting with my camera bodies. 

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I learned photography on a Nikon.  I shot Nikon and Canon throughout college and while I love Nikons, I feel so much more comfortable with a Canon.  When I decided to take the plunge into the professional world, I knew I needed to upgrade from my trusty Canon 50D which had served me well--it was time for a Canon Mark ii.  I bought this camera right as it was being discontinued, but I wasn't worried--I knew the Mark ii would last me a long time, and it definitely has.  It's full frame which is a HUGE advantage when I'm shooting a wedding all day--I have a much better feel for the images I'm creating right from the start, rather than stressing during the editing phase.  The Mark ii has been a workhorse and I love her.

Now, recently the Emily Alt Photography family has purchased a Canon Mark iii.  I actually had not planned to purchase this body for quite awhile--I had an original 5D that Ian used as his body that I had bought off of Craigslist and it was great--no problems whatsoever with that puppy.  But I wanted a second body that was interchangeable with grips and batteries, and while the 5D was great, it wouldn't use the same equipment as the Mark ii and it was just annoying to be shooting a wedding and have to deal with different accessories. So, I sold the 5D (again, on Craigslist to a really nice professor from Hyde Park) and planned to just buy a used Mark ii.  Or so I thought--it was almost impossible to find a Mark ii--used or new.  Since it was discontinued, I looked everywhere---online, on Craigslist, at Dodd, at Calumet and I was met with the same answer--"It's discontinued, why not upgrade to the Mark iii?"  I was reluctant and didn’t' feel I had enough money (HUGE price difference here, folks) and I just loved the Mark ii--I was determined to find one.  

Here begins the rant: Fast forward a few weeks of fruitless looking and I finally came across one on Primotronix. For a great price! Bonus! Primotronix is an online company (though I hesitate to even use that word to describe them), where I have ordered small items from before such as CF cards, however, after my latest experience with them, I can safely say they are, by far, the WORST company that is operating for camera equipment.  Seriously, the WORST.  

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I ordered my Mark ii, and within 20 minutes of clicking "purchase", "Dan" from Primotronix called me---to "confirm my order".  At the time, I was driving.  I told him this and that I had no reason to be on the phone—I had ordered the Mark ii, which is what I wanted.  He then gave me a whole run around about how I didn't want the Mark ii, I wanted the 6D and how the 6D was only $50 more expensive if I got it from Primotronix.  This is not true. I told him it was not true. I told him I wanted the Mark ii. I told him I did NOT want him to change my order.  He assured me he wouldn't.  

10 minutes later, I received an "updated invoice" with my order changed to a Canon 6D (still a great camera, but not at all what I wanted).  I immediately called Primotronix.  They were "closed for a holiday for 5 days.”  Keep in mind, this is in the middle of May. Where there are no holidays.  At all.   This point is when the cold sweats set in.  I started to panic.  I now had a camera being shipped to me that 1) I didn't order 2) I didn't want and 3) didn't use any of the same accessories, which s why I sold the original body in the first place.  

This is only when I decided to look online at the Better Business Bureau’s review of Primotronix--this is when the cold sweats got even worse and I started having full on panic attacks.  Their grade?  An F.  The reason: "switching orders without approval", "weeks to ship items", "refusal to answer phone calls", "nearly impossible return policy.”  Excuse my language, but SHIT is what came to mind.  I was screwed—and there was a wedding we needed this 2nd body for in two weeks.  Over the next few days I tried to get in touch with Primotronix to no avail. I filed 3 complaints with the BBB and finally after 5 days of panic, I got in touch with a person at the company—I begged him for information on my product, which he couldn’t provide, claimed it had been “shipped awhile ago” and when I asked for a tracking number, he put me on hold, then hung up on me.  I called back and was put on hold for 45 minutes.  Then hung up on.  Then put on hold again…and hung up on again….when I FINALLY got through to someone nearly an hour later, I was told I needed an “RMA number to return the product.” When I asked how to get one, he said, “Well, why do you want to return it? You’re getting a great deal.” At this point I realized that if I were to say anything that might in any way be construed as rude, he would hang up, so I tried, as politely as possible, to explain that I just didn’t need the camera anymore (lie, in my mind I’m panicking about how I will find a second body before this wedding) and then he stated, “I’ll email you an RMA number by the end of the day.” I asked again about the tracking number which he said, “You’ll get the camera in a few days.”  I asked why he couldn’t just give it to me then or the RMA number either, on the phone, and he snapped, “Because.  The longer I’m on the phone with you, the less likely it is for you to get this number today.”  Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  Deep breathes, “Great, I understand, thanks so much, I’ll look for that information in my email.” Hang up. Cross fingers. Breath deeply.

Continue cold sweat panic.  However, about 3 hours later, in my mailbox was an RMA number….and the camera arrived, Ian shipped it back immediately, yet I am still waiting for my refund.  Hopefully I should see it in the next few days, though at this point, I am not holding my breath.

ANYWAY, I still needed a 2nd body, so off to Dodd Camera I went and was greeted by a very friendly gentleman, Robert, who set me all up with the (gulp) new Canon Mark iii—Robert is from Traverse City, so we bonded over that, and he sent me on my way, the proud owner of a new Mark iii, if only a few months earlier than planned.

Now….let me just say, as a girl who has loved and cherished her Mark ii for nearly a year…WOW. The Mark iii is….amazeballs.  Amazing.  I would marry this camera if I could—clarity, speed, responsiveness, huge LCD screen, lighter—it is beyond the best piece of equipment I have ever owned and I am so grateful to have her.   Ian has now upgraded to the Mark ii, which is awesome for him as it’s much more responsive than the original 5D he was using, and I am toting around this lovely Mark iii.