What's In My Camera Bag

What's in the Camera Bag of a Pro Food Photographer -- Will Frolic for Food blog

My Equipment

I’ve been doing photography professionally for about 5 years now. Professionally I’m mostly shooting for my blog, client product campaigns, cookbooks, portraits and the occasional event (fancy chef dinner, parties, weddings etc.). I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been asked about my camera gear, the apps I use and how I edit my photos. Before I dive into sharing all of the equipment and tech I use on a day to day basis, I think it’s important to note that I like to keep my kit minimalist while still having the versatility I need to run my business. When I first started shooting I was inspired by the idea of keeping gear simple and not letting my desire for shiny-objects distract me from developing my own style with what I had. I stand by that when I recommend anything, gear-wise. You can shoot with just your phone and create amazing imagery. I’ve built my whole kit over many years, and I usually only invest in a few new things a year and I rent other bits and bobs as needed.

Alrighty, with that out of they way… here’s a run-down of everything I use to shoot, edit and more.

Camera — Canon 5D Mark IV

This is the camera body I use every day and I love it to pieces. I shot on a Mark II for years — the IV has some great updates like built-in wifi, fast and accurate auto-focus and touchscreen. The wifi allows for transfers of images directly from the camera to your phone via the Canon Connect app. The wifi makes it easier to take self-portraits and distant shots too because you can use your phone to focus the lens, release the shutter and see what’s happening in-camera from a distance.

Primary Lens — Canon 50mm f/1.4

This has been my go-to lens since the beginning. I started with a very cheap version and this was the first upgrade I made. A solid lens every photographer should have in their arsenal. The low f stop makes a huge difference in getting that dreamy, artful film look.

Secondary Lens — Sigma 50mm f/2.8 (discontinued) — Sigma 105mm f/2.8 is the other macro I would invest in

The Sigma 50mm used to be the best and most affordable macro out there for the quality. Unfortunately it’s discontinued but the 105mm is a great option, and still loads less expensive than the Canon version. I think everyone needs a good macro in their kit — they’re versatile, great for the macro look but also make excellent portrait lenses.

Alternate Lenses — Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art Lens for Canon, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens for Canon

The 24mm is a wide angle lens that is brilliant for environmental shots — landscapes, crowded markets, epic nature scenes and events. It’s great for capturing food in spaces like open-air markets, big event dinners or outdoor cooking. The 24mm creates distortion up-close for portraits so I shy away from using it for that unless I’m going for a specific, wonky look. The 35mm is not a lens I own yet, although I’ve rented it many times. It’s my next buy — it’s wider than a 50mm which means it can capture larger styled flat-lays without having to stand on a ladder. But it has little to no distortion up close — perfect for food, events, portraits… just about everything.

Batteries, memory cards, charger, microfiber cloths

Every photographer needs a million of these! Buy more batteries than you think you’ll need, and always keep a 2nd charger around. I use 32gb memory cards so I never have to think about changing them out on a shoot day. And I’ve lost so many microfiber cloths over the years… I can never have enough.

Tripod — Manfrotto Tripod with Horizontal Arm

This is one sturdy friggin’ tripod! It’s a good one for your home studio, where you don’t have to lug it around. It can take a beating and keep on ticking. Comes with a horizontal arm, which is especially nice if you do flat lays. If you need something lighter, this travel tripod from Manfrotto is the way to go.

Tripod Accessories — Tripod Camera Ball Mount Head with Quick Release Plates, Horizontal Arm

The ball head is necessary for smooth shifting from horizontal to vertical shooting on a tripod, all tripods are useless without ball heads imo. Comes with quick release plates for easily popping your camera on and off the tripod — make sure you get the right screw thread size for your camera. The horizontal arm is important if you shoot a lot of wide flat lays and need space from the tripod so that the legs of the tripod don’t get in the shot.

External Hard Drive and CF Card Reader

I own multiple. I want more.

5-in-1 Reflector

A simple and versatile way to add highlights, shadow or diffusion to a shot. Packs away tightly and fits in most camera bags.

Desktop Apps — Adobe Lightroom for Desktop, Dropbox

The pure and simple basics. Editing in Lightroom is where it’s at — efficient, professional level edits. Dropbox is how I deliver client files, store my photos for transfer to Instagram and generally share every file that needs sharing.

Presets — My Dreamy Food Photography Presets for Lightroom

Gotta plug my presets, y’all! I use these presets every day for everything from food to product to lifestyle, portraits and even weddings. Lightroom presets are easy to tweak to your liking too, so you an adjust them to find your style without having to spend years figuring it out for yourself. Find them here and check out my F.A.Q.’s for more info.

Phone — Iphone XR

Great quality built-in lens. Clear, crisp color. Less degradation on zoom than ever. Shoots in RAW. Portrait mode. Shoots 4k video. Audio quality is great. I love mine, and it’s even better with external lenses / audio (see below).

Mobile Photo + Video — Moment Case, Moment 58mm Telephoto Lens, Moment 18mm Lens

For mobile photo and video I use Moment gear — case and lenses. It’s the closest to shooting DSLR on you’re phone that you can get, with the extra advantage of being insanely easy to travel with. The 58mm is best for portraits, food photography and is equivalent to a 50mm camera lens. The 18mm is a wide angle lens I use for shooting video primarily.

Mobile Photo + Video Accessories — GorillaPod 3k Kit, Phone Clip, Rode VideoMicro Mic

Shooting using lenses on a camera is awesome but it would be v awkward without my gorillapod (flexible tripod) with a ball head (easier swivel) and a phone clip (necessary). When I shoot video on my camera I prefer to use a tripod, it’s way more fun and less tiring on my arm. The mini rode mic is nice for video work, especially with the wind cover. It amps the quality of the audio up a pinch, which is important to me (hopefully also to you).

Phone Apps — Color Story, Moment App, VSCO, Lightroom CC Mobile, Snapseed, Kinemaster

Everything I use to shoot and edit on my phone. Kinemaster is a masterful video editing app, the best I’ve found. It’s the closest to Final Cut Pro you can get on a phone.

Carry — F-Stop ICU (Internal Camera Unit), Mobile Lens Carry Case, Everyday Backpack, Thinktank Sling Bag

The F-Stop ICU is like a little protective carry-all bag that you can insert into any other bag to make it a camera bag. Brilliant! The mobile lens carry case is great if you get into the moment lenses and want to protect their preciousness. The everyday backpack is the ultimate awesomeness in photo backpacks, which for the price I think is pretty awesome. I usually use my Thinktank Sling bag for events, portraits and weddings where I’m running around a lot because it’s less bulky and has lots of pockets.

Extras — Everon Lip Balm, Earplugs, Headphones, CBD Balm, Altoids Case, Metal Pen, Tea Packets, Macro Bars, Organic Biodegradable Tampons, Hair Ties and Bobby Pins, Chopsticks

I’m obsessed with the everon lip balm by Weleda — I give it to everyone for birthdays and holidays! I try to travel with earplugs and headphones everywhere; I don’t use them in my home studio but for client shoots where I can’t control the environment I like to know I can have silence or my own playlists at my fingertips. CBD balm is a must for me with shoulder / neck pain that photoshoots aggravate — I use 150mg hemp extract balm from Charlotte’s Web. The Altoids case is what I store my memory cards in under the dum dum impression that maybe it’ll throw off thieves.

I like to have a sturdy metal pen around, always — less likely to burst and it’s a nice pro detail. I always have tea with me — Soothing Caramel Bedtime and Lavender Vanilla by Yogi or Ginger and Cup of Calm by Traditional Medicinals are my go-to’s. Out on a shoot I carry macro bars because I never know when food breaks will happen. Tampons — I mean duh, gotta have ‘em — I use organic compostable ones by NatraCare. Hair ties / bobby pins are more for my clients when we do portraits. Chopsticks are great to have around for detailed food styling in a pinch.

Last Thoughts

I don’t carry all of this with me when I’m shooting on a day to day basis. My most lean daily kit is my camera body, my 50mm lens, batteries, battery charger, memory cards, phone and 58mm moment lens with my moment case. If I’m traveling and can’t bring a lot with me I’ll bring my gorilla pod tripod kit and a quick release plate for the base of my camera. Or I’ll just bring my phone, moment lens and case.

On big shoots, say for a cookbook, I bring almost everything. I also bring extra props like neutral linen hand towels, metal and wood utensils, ceramic mugs and bowls. They usually come in handy even when I’m not the official stylist or prop-handler.

I hope this gear list is helpful to you. Best of luck to you in your photography adventures!

xo — Renee

p.s. There are lots of affiliate links in this post, which kick me a few cents for any purchases made through these links. I spent many hours finding the best deal on everything listed so that you don’t have to. Thank you for supporting my work by using these links when you purchase!

the ultimate gear list every food photographer and blogger needs to go pro - will frolic for food blog