Inside My Camera Bag | Jaakko Perälä

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Hey, nice to meet you!

My name is Jaakko, and I’m a European elopement photographer based in Finland.

I became a wedding photographer in 2015, the same year that I was traditionally married. I had already photographed a few weddings before it was our turn to get married, but it still surprised me and changed my life.

I thought I was going to throw a party with my friends and family, but everything felt different when I woke up on the morning of our wedding day.

It was much more emotional than I expected, and I couldn’t be close to my wife because of the guests. I finally understood that I get self-conscious in front of crowds especially when I’m not the one who is in charge.

So, the experience of our own wedding was the reason I slowly transitioned into elopements.

I wanted to allow couples to experience their wedding day the way I wished we had done.

At the beginning of 2023, I started offering elopements at select European locations on set dates throughout the year as full-day or multi-day experiences.

This way, I can show the couples you need to feel truly present on your day. In my chosen places, nature’s force sets the rhythm, and we humans are only a tiny piece of it all.

They are the best settings to empty your mind of the ordinary and put your attention on your loved one.

Regarding photography equipment, you don’t need the fanciest gear to create beautiful art.

When I started, the limitations forced me to be creative, and I learned to do things because I had no other chance. It’s been almost annoyingly popular to take blurry photos recently and I had to learn how to take them a decade ago because my gear was so limited that “normal shutter speeds” were out of the question.

I think the best thing you can do to learn more is to take photos with a fixed-lens camera. It forces you to move and think about different perspectives and how to use depth if you don’t have the fastest lens on the market.

I started my photography journey with the original Fujifilm X100, a compact camera that has been super popular in the 2020s.

Then I slowly updated to Nikon full frame cameras and then to Canon and Leica. Last year, I decided to continue solely with Canon because I was photographing in very rainy conditions and had to baby my Leica M10‘s too much.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II – is probably the best current camera for wedding photographers. It has fast autofocus; it can shoot stills and video, and it’s super light with Canon’s smaller lenses.

It just works, and you can forget about it, which is essential when creating art. I love that you can make double exposures in the camera.

Canon EOS R6 Mark I – I like some things about the Canon EOS R6 Mark I, such as the autofocus system. I can keep the facial recognition on and take photos of details even though people are in the background.

With the Canon EOS R6 Mark II I have to change the focus mode because it easily focuses on people’s faces that you may not want.

Canon EOS-1N – my inspiration to shoot film comes and goes. This camera is a workhorse, and I love that I still have many Canon EF lenses to shoot with it.

Olympus Mju-II – this is my best buddy when spending time with my family or friends. I don’t have to worry about it, and I know it won’t last forever, so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

When working, I always take photos with two cameras simultaneously. It’s mostly because I don’t use zoom lenses, but taking a backup photo on another camera is also great.

Especially with the Leica M10, where you only have one SD-card slot, I used to take backups of every important moment.

Canon EF 35mm F/1.4 L II – is my most used lens. I bought this brand new in 2017, and I’ve taken over 200K photos through it. I’m unsure if I even want to update this when the RF version comes.

Canon RF 50mm F/1.2L – I love this lens, but to be honest, I would’ve survived with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L I had before. It sometimes feels more clinical than the EF-version, but I still use it on every elopement.

Canon EF 85mm F/1.4L – I’m not the biggest fan of the 85mm focal length, but this lens gives me the extra reach I often need. It’s sharp and fast enough, and I haven’t even considered upgrading it to the RF version. I could replace this with the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 someday.

Canon RF 28mm F/2.8 Pancake – this lens is Canon’s hidden gem! It’s so tiny that it almost makes your camera disappear.

It’s perfect when I’m trail running with my Canon R-system. I’m so happy I bought it, and it’s the perfect lens to shoot some opening scenes on an elopement day.

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 – although this is officially my backup lens, I use it regularly when taking images and videos of my family and friends. It’s completely fine to use it professionally as well.

Canon EF 45mm f/2.8 TS – I use this lens when I am feeling inspired. I love that it gives you a completely different look and draws your attention to your desired place. Sometimes, it can be a bit of trial or error, but that’s when the most cool photos happen.

I rarely use artificial light, but I know how to use it if needed. Some things I recommend for other elopement photographers are mini-LEDs. They are super helpful when it gets dark and if you want to light your couple just a bit, for example, when shooting the Milky Way or Northern Lights.

Peak Design Everyday Sling 6L – is a perfect bag for situations where you don’t know about the weather and don’t want to bring too much gear. I also love some special things about it as you can add your water bottle or camera using Peak Design’s Capture or a jacket, even if they don’t fit inside the bag.

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L – is my carry-on bag and the one I use during my elopements. It’s big enough to carry all my gear including a laptop, but not that big that it wouldn’t fit inside the plane. Also, I can add Peak Design’s Capture to it.

Peak Design Travel Duffel 65L – is the bag I usually check in when travelling to destination elopements. It’s big enough, and it doesn’t matter if it’s raining or muddy. I do wish it had wheels or rolled.

Gunslinger Dual Camera Harness – this brand is owned by a superwoman who makes super-special harnesses. I originally bought it because I didn’t want the harness to be too big, and I wanted it to match with my leather shoes!

I’ve had it for several years now, and I’ve sold my other dual harnesses.

Lightroom and Photoshop – I use Lightroom to edit all of my images. It’s fast and affordable. I rarely use Photoshop and would rather correct how I take images instead of cloning things later on in Photoshop.

Imagen AI – I’ve used Imagen AI for several years now, and I love it. It gives me much more free time, and the results are much better than any real human has ever edited my images. I highly recommend using it. I have my own profile.

Pic-Time – I’ve used Pic-Time for a few years now, and it’s better than the alternative online galleries. I love that now you can also blog through Pic-Time, even though I have yet to give it a go.

For clothes, I’m a big fan of Arc’teryx, Patagonia, and Satisfy Running. These are the brands I usually use for trail running and sometimes for my photography work.

For shoes, I love my Hanwag Grünten and Red Wing shoes. If you’re looking for new shoes as an elopement photographer, choose shoes with enough grip on the outsole.

I think that I never exactly wanted to be a photographer, life just happened, and I was sucked into this lovely job.

I have met many lovely people during my years as a photographer and am thrilled to meet more this year!

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