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What's In My Bag: Mike Colón For Weddings...And Then Some!

Mike Colón is a world renowned celebrity wedding photographer based in Southern California. For more than twenty years now, Colón and his team have traveled the world shooting the most extravagant and luxurious weddings for the biggest names in film, music, fashion and sports. He gives us a look into his bag of gear for weddings from cameras and lenses to sweatshirts and even snacks. (Also, be sure to scroll to the end to see how Colón got the shot of his gear...it's well worth it.)

Cameras:

1. Sony α7RII camera body with vertical battery grip: 
My main camera body for practically everything. Best camera on earth. Period. I shoot my entire wedding day with this camera. The high resolution sensor gives me 42MP of cropping power! I love to shoot on primes so this helps me create diversity in my work later with crops and still have printable resolution. It’s also a beast at AF tracking with Face Detection and Eye Autofocus which work like a dream. The silent mode is the icing on the cake. Although I don’t need to be quiet around the cake... during an intimate ceremony it’s genius! 


2. Sony α6300 camera body: 
Compact, light, beast at Autofocus tracking and video work. I keep this in my bag for every wedding as a secret weapon. 


3. Sony α7SII camera body with vertical battery grip: 
The low-light king! Video in low light is second to none! I use it for capturing video, and for any super low light shooting I need to accomplish in my stills. 


Lenses:

1. Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens: 
Great for close-up macro shots of jewelry, menus, flowers. Also a beautiful portrait lens! 

2. Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens: When you need wide... this one gets the job done! 

3. Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Planar T* Telephoto Prime Lens: 
My favorite A-mount Sony lens! Super image quality, creamy backgrounds, and drool- worthy bokeh! I use this for stealth candid shooting in low light and for some portraits when I have the space. 

4. Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens: 
My go-to ceremony lens. It’s got amazing separation and bokeh for an f4 lens. And it’s so light! I can shoot on this all day without getting tired.

5. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens: 
One of my favorite lenses by far! It’s like the Otus 85... only with AF! Sick bokeh and unbelievable image sharpness and color across all aperture settings! Sharp edge to edge even wide open at f/1.4!

6. Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens: 
My main lens for family formals, bridal party, and dance floor shots. Super sharp and accurate. I’ve got a lot of trust for this lens. 

7. Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens (mounted on A7s): 
Compact, lightweight, awesome street photography lens. Also great all-day carry lens for outings like Disneyland with the family. I carry it as a backup wide lens in my wedding case because it’s so small. 

I also use a few Nikon F-mount lenses from before my switch to Sony. I use these on my Sony cameras with a Nikon F mount to Sony E mount adapter

8. Nikon 200mm f/2G ED VR II Lens: 
Ok, not the most practical lens... especially when paired with my Sony bodies because I lose AF capability. Still, I just can’t seem to kick my addiction to this lens! I use it on occasion to shoot those sneaky paparazzi looking images during a low lit ceremony or reception. Also this is a pretty sweet headshot lens!

9. Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* ZF.2 Lens with Metabones Nikon F to Sony E- Mount Adapter: 
One of my most used lenses. It gets the job done in almost ever situation. Sharp, wide throw manual focus, no distortion... Love it for those getting ready shots of the bride and bridal party.

10. Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar T* ZF.2 Lens with Metabones Nikon F to Sony E- Mount Adapter: 
This is a favorite wedding portrait lens. I also use it for family sessions and engagement sessions.

11. Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 ZE Lens with Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-Mount Adapter: 
I use this for wider shots of the bride putting on her gown. Its handy for landscapes, reception room shots, and any larger group photos. Also a good lens for the cake- cutting action photos.  

Accessories:

1. Manfrotto Air Cushioned Light Stand Quick Stack: These are awesome! They stack up nicely so they don’t make noise rolling around in my car on the way to weddings. Easy to transport but somewhat heavy, which is actually good since they don’t tip over in the wind or when someone accidentally bumps one near the dancefloor. I wouldn’t travel with these... I use them for my local SoCal Weddings. (Added tip: When I travel, I just bring some gaffers tape and tape those little plastic speed light feet to the tops of the speakers around the dance floor.)

2. Gitzo G1578L Monopod with Acratech Panoramic Head with Lever Clamp: 
I mainly use this monopod while shooting bridal runway in New York. It’s extra tall - over 7’ - for shooting from a riser in the pit. The Acratech long-lens head holds up to a 600mm f4 lens and is amazingly smooth keeping it easy to follow the models and tilt down for close up detail shots. It also doubles as a panoramic head for for my tripod when I’m stitching landscapes in the outdoors. 

3. Gitzo GT2940LVL Tripod with Acratech GP Ballhead with Lever Clamp: 
This one is light, compact, and stable as an ox. The Acratech GP Ballhead is so precise and fun to use! Great for those low-lit reception room shots, night shots of the wedding 
 venue to set the scene, and of course doubles as a great astrophotography tripod when I’m in camping under the stars.

4. Giottos Rocket Blaster: 
This is mandatory for mirrorless shooters being that our sensors are exposed. Sony did a great job with the built-in auto cleaning feature in the a7 series of bodies, but even those stubborn dust specks can’t stand up to this blaster.  


5. Sunpak Readylite 20 Super Battery Light: 
Oldie but a goodie... I’ve had this forever and it still holds a charge for months. I bring this along to my weddings for a little kiss of 2700K rim lighting on the cake or tabletops shots. Also great for mounting on my camera and running a little B roll video on the dance floor. 

6. Sony HVL-LBP LED Battery Video Light: 
Another oldie... Sony was way ahead of their time with this lightweight LED piece of genius! This is a beautiful soft light that is daylight balanced (more like around 4000K) for soft fill when shooting the bride’s getting ready shots. 

7. Lowel GL-1 Power LED Light: 
This light, no matter how much it looks like a drill from Home Depot, has made all the difference in my reception and low-light work! I use it as a kicker light to add that punch to my images. I have my assistant rim light my subjects to help separate them from the background. Ever get dark suits or dark hair blending with the dark backgrounds? Trace them with the warm goodness of full spectrum lighting this tool puts out. I travel with it too.. and usually get questioned at TSA for bringing on power tools. 

8. 15” MacBook Pro with Retina: 
It goes with me everywhere and is my main editing machine. Photographers... the world is our playground... and our office! Take advantage. Get outside! Check my description for my Seaport standing desk below.

9. LaCie 4TB Rugged RAID Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 Drive: Super fast, super reliable, super durable. 

10. MPS Sticky Filters: 
Use these sticky little buggers on my speedlights to gel them to match the incandescent lights in the room. 

11. Yongnuo YN560-IV Speedlites (x4): 
I set up these on all corners of the dance floor at receptions to fire remotely 

12. Yongnuo YN560-TX Manual Flash Controller: This is what I use to fire my YN560-IV Speedlites 

13. Yongnuo RF603N II Wireless Flash Trigger (x2): 
These are for my assistants... so they can fire the YN560-IV Speedlites too! 

14. Sony HVL-F60M Speedlight: 
Great little daylight balanced video light... super soft light source that is great for illuminating my subjects in dark rooms for focus assist. I sometimes set in on a chair near the dance floor and throw a kiss of light which really helps my AF in low light. 

15. Seaport i-Visor Hard Case SEIV1440K3 (converts into a standing desk for tethered laptop): 
This is the case that you see holding my YN560-IV Speedlites and Sony Flash. I had a custom foam insert made at MyCaseBuilder.com to keep it all tidy. The rad thing about this case is that it doubles as my tethered laptop stand for studio work... and triples as a laptop editing station when I get tired of my home office and Starbucks and need to be outdoors. I’ve actually found that I’m way more productive when I’m feeling happy... which is usually in outdoor adventurous locations. Next office goal... rim of the Grand Canyon. 

16. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern & USB Power Hub: 
Super bright 400 lumens rechargeable lantern that I take with me camping. It will give my iPhone a charge or two also! I like bringing this to wedding dark receptions to light up my case when digging around for lenses. 


17. Pelican Waterfproof SD/miniSD/microSD Memory Card Case: 
I love this little case. I have a system that I use... where I flip the card over until it’s double backed up. 

18. Lexar 2000x 300MB/S 128GB (x6) & 64GB (x6) SDXC memory cards: 
I have front and back of my cards labeled with my phone number and “reward if found” along with a sequence number to keep me organized. 

19. Sony A-Mount to E-Mount Lens Adapter with Translucent Mirror Technology: 
I use this one to adapt all of my A-mount lenses when needed... like the 135mm listed above.

20. Assorted Lens Hoods: 
Did you catch the happy face with the banana in the photo? 

Other Stuff...Not Necessarily Wedding Gear:

1. 64oz Hydro Flask in Matte Black: 
Hydration is life! I leave this one in my car all day and refill my smaller one when needed. It’s so nice to have ice cold water even after it sits in a burning hot car all day. On a road trip, this can be a thermos for soup, hot chocolate, red bull... or whatever you like that needs to stay hot or cold! 

2. QALO Outdoor Collection Silicone Wedding Bands: 
Safer for climbing and they look cool too! My favorite is black (not pictured since its on my hand.) 


3. Assorted Petzl Climbing Devices (Carabiners, Ascender, Belay, Pulley): 
If you’re a photographer, you most definitely have an appreciation for precision/ trustworthy mechanical devices! I trust these with my life. I haven’t found a need for them at my weddings yet, but I’m sure I’ll think of something soon.

4. Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody: 
Packs super small, yet can keep you warm in blizzard! It’s saved me more than a couple times. Highly recommend! 

5. Black Diamond Locking Carabiners: Lock it up lock it in... let me begin...

6. Sterling SuperStatic2 Red Climbing Rope & Edelrid Blue Webbing: 
This is for my tree adventures and soon to come big wall climbs. I’ve thought about using this at a wedding and zipping across the skyline between two trees for an aerial shot of the first kiss. It would be quieter than the drone shot for sure. It would fit perfectly into one of my classic marketing lectures “Be First, Be Bold, or Be Forgotten”! haha!

7. Eno Doublenest Hammock System: 
Love this hammock.. and bring it everywhere. You may even catch me in my hotel room swinging from this hammock as it’s more comfortable then most beds.

8. Alite Designs Mayfly Chair: 
Lightest, packs up small, holds up to 250lbs... perfect for camping, hiking, beach, and those concerts in the park. I never leave home without it.

9. 40oz Hydro Flask in Stainless: 
Keeps my drinks cold! Awesome for when I leave it in my car in 100 degree weather and still come back to ice cubes in my water.

10. American Kami ApocalypSpork: 
Forged out of medical grade titianum sourced from USA made military and aerospace scrap, handcrafted in the good ol' USA! Berry compliant. Won't rust or corrode. Non- magnetic. Bottle opener/pot lid lifting hook. Oxygen bottle key/small 'biner hole. 9.3" long. Emergency hex driver key. Want flat wear that will last you through the apocalypse? Want something that you can ram through a zombie skull? Here you go, baby. You know you want one! Get it here: http://www.americankami.com/swag

11. CRKT® Eat'n Tool: 
Not as cool as the ApocalypSpork but they’ll let you take this on the airplane.

12. iPhone Sim Card Tool: 
Can you find it? It’s so small! I need this for changing out my sim card when traveling abroad.

13. Bose® Quiet Comfort 3 Noice Cancelling Headphones: 
Only thing better than these headphones are the wireless versions that just came out. These cut out ALL airplane background noise!

14. Business Cards in GoBee Leather Memory Card Wallet: Letter-pressed biz cards in a leather case always makes a good impression.

15. Bluewater Ropes Accessory Rope in Orange: 
A rated rope I use for a tether/anchor while climbing.

16. Jetboil Mini Propane Canister: 
Use it for the Jetboil Flash Cooking System listed further down... but don’t try to get it on a plane... TSA will confiscate it.

17. Polarized Rayban Original Wayfarer Sunglasses RB2140P: Gotta protect the hand (or eye) that feeds you.

18. Jetboil Flash Cooking System in Multicam: 
Boils 2 cups of water in just 2 minutes! Awesome for camping and picnics!

19. Nestle Vanilla-Caramel Coffee-Mate Creamer & Instant Coffee: 
Don’t judge me you coffee snobs! Mix this with Maker’s whisky for instant Falcon Coffee.

20. Black Diamond Climbing Harness and Gloves in Blue: 
I heard first hand from a friend that gloves can mean the difference of life or death when rappelling large cliffs or canyons. If your gear fails you can slow yourself down enough to survive just by grabbing the rope. No gloves, your hands burn, you let go, and free fall to the bottom. And that my friends, is a fact you didn’t even know you needed.

21. Banana (brand unknown): 
Was perfectly ripe. I ate it immediately after this shoot.

22. Goal Zero Light-a-Life 350 LED Light (x2): 
These go with my Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Battery Pack which I forgot to bring for the shoot. You can daisy change a bunch of these lights to light up your campsite.

23. And Last but not least... the backdrop that made this all possible.. - The edges light up for a very cool effect at night. We have concerts in the park every Friday in Ladera Ranch. This blanket is easy for our kids to find in the sea of people & blankets.  

Also, here's a little Behind The Scenes video I made to show how I got the shot of all of my gear spread out:

Editor's Note: Talk about going the extra mile to get a shot...When Mike Colón said he needed a little extra time to get the shot of his gear that he wanted to show, we told him to go climb a tree...but we didn't mean it literally! Yes, that's Colon dangling above his assortment of cameras and lenses. Watch the BTS video to see more.