PHLEARN MagazineHalloween-Inspired Kids’ Costume Photography by Courtney Bowles

Halloween-Inspired Kids’ Costume Photography by Courtney Bowles

When she isn’t busy snapping pictures of weddings, newborns, and families, Virginia-based photographer Courtney Bowles turns her lens on her own children. While she’s been working as a professional photographer for the past decade, she credits a more recent side project with helping her refine her voice as an artist – the near-daily images she’s been capturing of her kids over the last three years.

When her oldest son was born, Courtney decided to start a second Instagram account focused entirely on showcasing the fantastically whimsical shots of her children, often in the cutest costumes, even when it’s not Halloween! Dressed up as everything from ghosts and cowboys to favorite characters like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Power Rangers, we’re not sure who’s having more fun, the adorable models or the photographer!

Today, Courtney lets us take a look inside her gear bag and tells us about her preferred equipment to capture these magical and precious moments.


Canon 5D Mark IV

30.4 MP full-frame CMOS sensor, Up to 7.0 frames per second continuous shooting speed, 4K video recording

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Canon 5D Mark III

DSLR camera with 22-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and wide range ISO setting of 100 – 25600

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Canon 6D Mk I

20.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps

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I shoot with the Canon 5D Mark IV and 5D Mark III and have a Canon 6D as a backup. I love the color and clarity in my images taken with these cameras. My first DSLR was a Canon and I’ve continually upgraded to better models as I’ve continued to shoot.


Canon 85mm F1.2

Aperture Range: f/1.2 to f/16, Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System, Weather-Sealed Construction

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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L

Aperture Range: f/1.2 to f/16, EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format, Super Spectra Coating

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Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Micro UltraSonic Motor (USM), Ultra-low Dispersion glass with Fluorite elements, inner focusing ring, telephoto lens

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Canon 24-70mm f/4

Aperture Range: f/4 to f/22, Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System, Weather-Sealed Design

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Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift

EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format, Aperture Range: f/3.5 to f/22, Locking Tilt-Shift Mechanism

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Canon 90mm Tilt-Shift

Aperture Range: f/4 to f/22, Ring-Type Ultrasonic Motor AF System, Weather-Sealed Design

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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L – This lens is my workhorse, always my favorite and first pick. The compression and bokeh combination gives me the dreamy look I love.

Canon 50mm f/1.2L – I love this lens for everything. It’s used almost as often as my 85mm, and for the same reasons.

Canon 135mm f/2L – This lens I love for portraits and when I need to be farther away from my subjects, like with shy children. The compression and sharpness are unmatched.

Canon 24-70mm f/4L – I use this lens primarily for newborn studio sessions. It is sharp and quick, and has a built-in macro function.

Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift and 90mm Tilt-Shift – I typically use these on wedding days for a different version of the bridal party shot or to add some dreaminess in portraits. I also love the 24mm for landscape and wide-detail shots.


Canon 600EX

2.4 GHz Wireless Radio Transmission, Compatible with Canon E-TTL / E-TTL II

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Canon Speedlite 600EX – This is the flash I use at every wedding. This, along with the MagMod diffusers and Yongnuo triggers, make using off-camera flash extremely easy.
Paul C Buff Digibee 400 – This is my studio light. I love it, because it provides beautiful and consistent lighting conditions and is easy to use.
PixelStick – I use this rarely, for light painting and fun effects.


Pelican 1510 Case – I love this case for wheeling around all my gear on wedding days.
Kelly Moore Jude Bag – I take this bag to every session. It fits two camera bodies and two to four lenses easily.
Holdfast Gear Moneymaker two-camera strap and a solo strap – The most comfortable straps I’ve ever worn. They take all the stress off of my neck.

Courtney’s delightfully inspired portraits of her children capture exactly what it feels like to be a kid – learning, discovering, and creating. You can see more photographs of her children on her personal Instagram, or visit her professional Instagram account to see her wedding and fine art portraiture. Her work can also be found on her website.

Jessi Gowan

Jessi Gowan is an award-winning writer and photographer who specializes in rural landscapes and fine art abstracts, with a focus on form and composition. Her photography has been included in a variety of publications, as well as in exhibitions in Canada and the United States.

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