Capturing the magic of the holidays can be challenging for a photographer – much of what makes this time of year so exciting are the festive smells, tastes, and sounds, which don’t translate well to a still image. But using rich color, masterful lighting, and a bit of creative storytelling, Michigan photographer Meg Loeks creates images that exude the spirit of the season.
After falling in love with shooting and developing film two decades ago, Meg’s exploration into the art of photography sees her merging various genres together to build a style all her own – often combining elements of Dutch Masters light, natural environments, and children’s portraiture. Featuring soft, low light and vivid tones, Meg’s captures tell the story of her life with her husband, her four young children, and their Saint Bernard with an evocative sense of timeless nostalgia.
To capture both everyday moments and the spirit of the holidays, Meg relies on a variety of gear. Today, she takes us inside her camera bag to see how she uses her equipment to create atmospheric portraits.
Can you tell us how you go about deciding which gear is essential to your work?
I prefer to shoot with prime lenses because of the wide apertures, so all of my lenses are primes. My favorite type of light is low light, so having an aperture of f/1.4 is going to help me keep my ISO low. Typically, I’m shooting with a telephoto lens outside, because I’m drawn to the stronger compression and separation of my subject from the background.
Canon 5D Mark IV
30.4 MP full-frame CMOS sensor, Up to 7.0 frames per second continuous shooting speed, 4K video recording
Canon Mark IV: This camera is known for working beautifully in low light, which is generally when I’m shooting. It’s also incredibly fast, which is something I need with four very little and quick-moving children.
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
Aperture Range: f/1.4 to 16, Two Low Dispersion Elements, Hyper Sonic AF Motor
My go-to lens outside is usually my Sigma Art 85mm, because I find this lens to be the most versatile – and it’s my fastest and sharpest lens. It rarely leaves my camera. Indoors, I prefer wide-angle lenses since I’m often working in tight spaces. My favorite lenses are my Canon 35mm f/1.4L and Sigma Art 24mm. My 35mm works great in low light, and I love to use my 24mm for birds-eye-view shots.
Li-Ion Battery: 350 Full Power Flashes, High Speed Sync, LED Modeling Light
Nothing beats my Profoto gear, in regards to created light. I shoot mostly natural light, but in the winter months, our days are very short and my time with natural light is limited. My Profoto A1s and B10 are easy to use and always give me beautiful, natural-looking light.
I just work with available light.
I love my Burton F-Stop Camera Backpack. We hike a lot and this bag can carry a lot of gear – and it’s comfortable. Plus, it has a cooler, which is great for long hikes.
I love editing as much as I love shooting. I prefer to use Adobe Creative Cloud, because I use both Lightroom and Photoshop when I edit.
When she isn’t building her own portfolio, Meg is a mentor and instructor to those learning the art of photography – and spends time behind the camera as a volunteer for the Gold Hope Project, a non-profit organization that gifts pediatric cancer families a free photo session. Her work can be seen on Instagram or on her website.
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.