Family portrait pro Caroline Allington shows us what's in her camera kit bag

Child Portraiture
(Image credit: Caroline Allington)

Caroline Allington is an award-winning family lifestyle photographer and has also shot corporate headshots as well as weddings. She loves photographing her own four children, documenting their childhood along with memories to immortalize and treasure. She’s also a member of the Wallingford photographic club and has been published by the BBC. 

• Read more: Best Canon portrait lenses (opens in new tab)

We recently sat down with her to find out how she got into photography, learn her tricks for photographing children and family portraits as well as the essential camera kit that she couldn't live without.

"My photography journey began a long time ago, when I was a childcare provider, back in 2004. I would photograph the kid’s daily adventures, so their parents could see what they’d been up to while they were at work. But it wasn’t until my own fourth child was born many years later that I learned how to use a camera properly. I took it upon myself to take full control of my settings and forced myself into manual mode to get better pictures.

(Image credit: Caroline Allington)

"The real game changer for me was prime lenses (opens in new tab), as they enable me to shoot very wide open and, in turn, have a fast shutter speed. This is a must for sharp shots of children who are constantly on the move! I also love the creamy soft background they give that draws the attention to my subjects. My Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L Mark II USM (opens in new tab) is a stunning piece of glass and I take most of my portraits with it. About a year ago I bought a Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM (opens in new tab), which is also now a lens that I cannot live without.

"I’ve also upgraded my main camera to the Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab) and I use an adaptor, so I can still use my EF lenses. When I go out on a shoot I take both my 5D Mark IV and my R5, usually with the 85mm on one and the 135mm on the other.

"I love to shoot lifestyle photography, which is to capture a very natural-style portrait either outdoors, in your home, or chosen venue. I particularly like to capture genuine emotions and connections within families as we go out and explore and have fun together!"

You can find more of her Caroline's beautiful work on her Instagram (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Caroline Allington)

01. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Canon)
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"This is what I upgraded to after shooting with the EOS 6D for several years. For a while I would have both these bodies with me on a shoot, each with a different prime lens. My go-to aperture is usually f/2.8, sometimes wider if I’m photographing a group of people. I also use back-button focusing and AI Servo AF to keep sharp focus on my subjects as they move."

02. Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab)

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"Canon’s EOS R5 is super light and I love how you can see the changes in-camera when you adjust your exposure. I got a bit too used to this, though, and forgot when I switched back to my 5D Mark IV, so my metering was all over the place! I have to remember when I switch cameras… The image quality is lovely and I feel like I can push the Raw files much harder and still retain the high quality that I look to maintain."

03. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

(Image credit: Canon)
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"When I started shooting, this was the lens that was glued to my camera. It’s such a perfect go-to lens, especially when you are starting out. It’s so flexible for most situations, as it pretty much shows the world as you see it yourself. It’s razor-sharp even when shooting wide open and delivers beautifully buttery soft bokeh backgrounds."

04. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

(Image credit: Canon)
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"To say that I am in love with this lens is an understatement! The bokeh it creates is just stunning and is always on one of my cameras for this reason. The 85mm focal length creates a truly magical feel to images. It took some getting used to, as I usually shoot at 50mm, which means I have to stand a bit further back. But I prefer the compressed perspective that it provides me with."

05. Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

(Image credit: Canon)
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"The 135mm is a stunning lens and another one that I couldn’t live without. It’s my latest addition and creates a beautiful creamy bokeh background with lovely separation from my subject. Although I own a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L (opens in new tab) it really doesn’t get much use – I find the quality and fixed perspective of primes fits my style much more. I prefer to zoom with my feet!"

06. Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

(Image credit: Canon)
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"I’ve just upgraded to Canon’s EOS R5 full-frame mirrorless, but I don’t have any of the new RF lenses and I love all of my current EF optics far too much to get rid of them just yet. So I use Canon’s EF-EOS R Mount Adapter, which means I can use my EF lenses with the R5 mirrorless body. It has electronic contacts that allow a connection from lens to camera so that autofocus can work properly."

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Read more:

Canon EOS R5 review (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review
(opens in new tab)Best Canon cameras
(opens in new tab)Best Canon lenses
(opens in new tab)Best professional cameras (opens in new tab)

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Dan Mold
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Dan also brings his technical wizardry and editing skills to Digital Camera World. He has been writing about all aspects of photography for over 10 years, having previously served as technical writer and technical editor for Practical Photography magazine, as well as Photoshop editor on Digital Photo

Dan is an Adobe-certified Photoshop guru, making him officially a beast at post-processing – so he’s the perfect person to share tips and tricks both in-camera and in post. Able to shoot all genres, Dan provides news, techniques and tutorials on everything from portraits and landscapes to macro and wildlife, helping photographers get the most out of their cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, tripods, and, of course, editing software.