The tools for capturing love: inside a wedding photographer's kitbag

Take a look inside French wedding photographer Alison Bounce's kitbag to find out what camera and lenses she chooses, and how they help her catch those magical moments.
Photographer Alison Bounce looks at the rear screen of a Canon EOS R5 camera to capture a bride and groom as they embrace in the foreground.

Alison Bounce uses her Canon kit to help bring creativity to her wedding photography. She has used Canon cameras throughout her career, and her most recent setup centres on the Canon EOS R5, which balances performance and weight, speed and accuracy – perfect for capturing all the memorable moments of a couple's special day.

The demands of wedding photography are many: you need reliability, fast autofocus, low-light capabilities and durability. But more than that, you also need the equipment that's going to become an extension of your hand, kit that allows you to capture the fleeting moments of joy, laughter and tears that come and go in seconds – without a chance for reshoots.

"It's a privilege for me to be the most intimate witness of my couples' day," says Alison Bounce, who has been a wedding photographer for more than a decade and shot hundreds of ceremonies. "It's amazing to know people trust you. You are the closest person with them – you see everything during the day. For me, it's all about love and it makes me very happy."

But Alison doesn't just document her couple's day. Her portfolio is full of creative magic: a bride seemingly levitating above a hedge, a groom's silhouette emerging from the shadows, a spoon being comically used as a shoehorn. She's telling the story of the day, but with joyful glimpses of the easily missed moments that create visual mementos that last forever. But there are no secret props behind the scenes – "I have nothing!" she insists. For the most part, she credits the pursuit of capturing every opportunity that unfolds in front of her, which means shooting, shooting, shooting – and not just on wedding days. "You need to train your eyes," says Alison. "To see the light, to see them. You need to photograph all day, every day."

She may not have props up her sleeve, but capturing the moment does mean Alison requires reliability, durability and accuracy from her carefully selected kit. As part of the Canon Learning Series on YouTube, we spoke to Alison to hear what tools she shoots with and why.

A group of people look at the back of a Canon EOS R5 camera, held by photographer Alison Bounce.

The Canon EOS R5 allows Alison to see exactly what a photo looks like in the viewfinder as well as on the rear LCD screen, which she uses to share images on the spot with the bride and groom.

The mirrorless Canon EOS R5

"When you choose your gear, it's about it being comfortable for you and what you want to do," Alison reflects, and wedding photography requires a balance between weight and performance. Alison has always shot with Canon cameras. "I started photography with a Canon EOS 550D – not a pro camera. Next, I purchased the EOS 6D." The menu systems and layouts have stayed familiar as she has upgraded.

Most recently, Alison has upgraded from the EOS 5D Mark IV – "I loved that camera so much, because it took my photography to the next level" – to the EOS R5. The mirrorless EOS R5 delivers the speed and accuracy ideal for wedding photography – 45MP, full-frame images at 20fps in complete silence and with full autofocus tracking – alongside a wide dynamic range, selectable AF positions covering nearly 100% of the frame and deep-learning AI face/eye detection autofocus, all in a 738g body.

"What I use the most is eye tracking," says Alison. "For example, during the ceremony, when the bride or the groom are coming in, you can fix the tracking on the eye and just follow them and be sure you are focused. It makes it much easier." The other feature she relies upon is the silent shutter, particularly during the ceremony. "I like to be discreet and to be invisible, so I use the silent shutter and I can move around without distracting people from what is going on."

The move to mirrorless has given Alison both performance and weight benefits, but it also gives her peace of mind. "For the focus and the exposure, you can see directly in the viewer what your photo looks like. So you save time and can be more relaxed knowing you got the shot with the EOS R5."

A man holding a Canon camera smiles and talks to another man.

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In a photograph taken by Alison Bounce using a Canon EOS R5, a smartly-dressed man leans casually against the wall of a house, while the much larger silhouette of a woman walking while carrying a pair of heeled shoes looms next to him.

Portrait sessions are where Alison can be more creative and experimental. She edits the exposure, the contrast, the light and the colours – but doesn’t retouch. "I want to keep the authenticity of my photo," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM lens at 1/200 sec, f/11 and ISO 100. © Alison Bounce

Canon prime lenses

When it comes to lens choice, Alison prefers primes. "I see a lot of photographers using big zooms to get beautiful portraits. They do take incredible portraits, that's true, but it's too heavy for a wedding day," she says. "You can choose a smaller lens and it will provide you with a beautiful portrait too."

It's about weighing up quality and practicality. "You have to balance what you want to do with comfort. You have to imagine that during the day, you have two cameras, plus two lenses, so it could be super heavy."

Alison uses two prime lenses, usually over each shoulder: a wide-angle for contextual shots on one side and a portrait lens on the other side. "I wear the Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM on my right and the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM on the left," she says. "It's cool because my whole setup isn't too heavy."

But there's a second reason Alison prefers primes for weddings. "I don't want to be too far from my couple," she says, "and if I had a zoom, I'm pretty sure I would stay in my comfort zone and not move. With primes, you have to go into the scene to capture the moment."

For those who aren't yet ready to invest in two lenses, Alison suggests choosing one prime with more flexibility. "If I had to choose only one lens, it would be a 35mm because it's more flexible, so you can do both portraits and reportage."

Mostly her approach is reportage, and the creativity is in response to what's in front of her – but the exception to this is that for shooting portraits, Alison likes to shoot through filters for creative effect. Sometimes this means screw-on lens filters on compatible lenses, but more often she improvises with objects she finds on location, such as glassware, CDs or chandeliers. "You can create something special for your couple during the portrait session, but you can use anything – shooting through objects to make some creativity happen."

A bride in a long, flowing white dress stands on a rocky coastline, with her back to the camera, as the sun sets over the ocean.

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Tech content creator Tomi Adebayo and photographer Alison Bounce stand on a stairway landing. Alison has a Canon EOS R5 hanging on one shoulder, and we can see two Canon Speedlites on stands to either side of them.

Canon Speedlites

"I'm still learning all the time!" says Alison. Just five years ago, she started using Canon Speedlites, sometimes with diffusers or grids fitted to shape the lighting. "I decided to challenge myself. It was super difficult the first time, but now it's one of my go-to approaches for the party and the prep. I also use them for portraits of the couple – I can use them for everything."

Alison now has four in total, including two Canon Speedlite EL-1s, but she is wary of using them for every wedding. "It brings something creative to my work, which I like," she says, "but I try to keep things different each time."

A bride and groom stand holding badminton rackets in front of their faces as they are photographed by Alison Bounce.

To capture those interesting and memorable shots, such as this couple photographed through the strings of two badminton rackets, you have to constantly train your eye. "You have to photograph everything in your life to get better compositions," says Alison, whose work demonstrates a wide range of fun and unusual shots.

Photographer Alison Bounce stands on a stairway in an orange dress, holding up a camera to photograph a couple kissing in the foreground.

As part of her kitbag, Alison uses the Canon Speedlite EL-1 off-camera, controlled wirelessly, during the pre-wedding images to capture intimate behind-the-scenes shots, and then also to catch memorable moments on the dance floor. "It brings something creative to my work," she says.

Alison is prepared for anything on the day even with her minimal kit – an extra battery, sometimes a laptop, "and that's it!" But whatever your choices, she has some key takeaways: "Get a wedding camera that you are comfortable with. Do not buy a camera before the wedding and bring it the next day, if you have never tried it before – that's a big mistake!"

No amount of kit, though, will help you catch a moment you're not ready for, if you're distracted by hunger or thirst – especially on a hot summer's day. So Alison completes her kitbag with a bottle of water and snacks. On long and active days it allows her to stay hydrated and, more importantly, stay focused.

"I don't like to ask for anything during the wedding, as I don't want to disturb the moment. I prefer to be autonomous," she says. That enables Alison to concentrate on hunting for the moments as they unfold. "You never know what's going to happen during the day, and that's what I like," she says. As a wedding photographer, that's the appeal: "I like adrenaline and letting life do what she has to do."

For more inspiration and advice from content creators, check out the Canon Europe Learning Series playlist on YouTube.

Emma-Lily Pendleton

Alison Bounce's kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their photographs

 Photographer Alison Bounce stands holding a Canon EOS R5, with another camera hanging from her shoulder.


Canon EOS R5

The EOS R5 offers sensational 45MP photos at up to 20fps, or cinematic 12-bit 8K RAW video using the entire width of the camera's sensor at the flick of a switch. Advanced AF is programmed using deep-learned AI, which helps Alison lock in on her subjects at important moments, such as walking down the aisle.


Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM

For crisp, clear ultra-wide views this lightweight and super compact full-frame 16mm prime will inspire creativity at every opportunity. Weighing only 165g and measuring just 40.2mm in length, with its STM lens motor offering refined, quiet focusing and great smoothness, it is the perfect choice for comfortable, subtle wedding photography.

Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

Its f/1.2 maximum aperture is the widest available in the Canon EOS line-up. It gives photographers the ability to shoot with extremely shallow depth of field – a great way to emphasise an important wedding subject against a complicated background.


Canon Speedlite EL-1

For those unrepeatable moments, when you can't ask your subject to simply 'do it one more time', the Speedlite EL-1 offers high performance and reliability. Its rechargeable battery can provide up to 2,345 flashes from a single charge, which makes it ideal for a long day of wedding celebrations, from the vows to the disco.

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