Portrait pro photographer Masha Parkhomenka reveals her top photo kit

Portrait of child with toy plane
(Image credit: Masha Parkhomenka)

Masha Parkhomenka is an award-winning photographer specializing in portraiture and has honed her fine-art style with her three wonderful children as they’ve grown up.

Based in Edmonton, Canada, Masha has been taking pictures for more than six years, starting out as a hobby but quickly turning into a professional portraiture business, using her three children to practice her photography and build up a stunning portfolio of portraits. Check out her Facebook page to see more of her lovely work. 

• Read more: Best lenses for portrait photography

We recently caught up with her to find out how she got into photography, her approach to photographing portraits and the kit she couldn't live without.

"I have always admired the Renaissance era art and worked on my own paintings for some time. Once my life changed with the appearance of three beautiful kids, I stopped painting as it was time consuming and too messy! But my artistic nature demanded a way to get unleashed, so I developed an interest in photography. 

(Image credit: Masha Parkhomenka)

(Image credit: Masha Parkhomenka)

"It began as a hobby but quickly transformed into something more serious. My youngest daughter Mia with her charming and bubbly personality inspired the name for my brand – Mama & Mia Photography. I mostly work in fine-art portraiture, because of the tasteful dramatic combinations of rich colours, textures, looks and, of course, the magical light."

"Despite being a photographer for six years and counting, I always find room to grow, overcome ongoing challenges and learn new techniques. One part of my work I enjoy is the ability to show my vision of a moment. 

"I have always used Canon systems from the beginning, with both modern AF and vintage manual lenses. But I tend to have a preference for prime lenses over zooms. Some of my favourite optics include the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM and Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM paired with my 5D Mark IV, for both studio and outdoor sessions. I also plan to upgrade to a mirrorless Canon EOS in the future.

"I hope to travel more and work from remote locations for inspiration and fresh ideas. But Edmonton also has so much to offer, from green space, to urban views!"

01. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

(Image credit: Canon)

"I chose to upgrade to this camera, as a logical move, from my full-frame Canon EOS 6D. It has been a huge step up in my experience! The AF is fast, the colour reproduction is excellent, the 30Mp image resolution is ideal for large prints and I find the button layout to be very intuitive. My EOS 5D Mark IV has been the workhorse that I can always rely on."

02. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

(Image credit: Canon)

"I upgraded to this lens from Canon’s EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. I work in a low-light studio and dusk or dawn outside, the low-light levels aren’t a challenge with this fast pro prime lens – it’s very quick and sucks in loads of light at f/1.2. Bokeh is creamy, yet still catches fine details like skin texture and eyelashes. I’ve not found a better 50mm prime lens for my Canon!"

03. Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

(Image credit: Canon)

"This is one of the Canon’s classic must-have prime lenses! It’s my go-to telephoto lens of choice for outdoor sessions because it’s sharp, fast has fantastic bokeh and allows me to work from further away, which helps my models feel less timid. It’s equally great in ideal natural light conditions as well as cloudy, gloomy days because of its wide maximum aperture."

04. Helios 77M-4 50mm f/1.8

(Image credit: Masha Parkhomenka)

"Working with vintage lenses is often a meditative experience, requiring time and patience! But the reward can be astonishing. My Helios 77M-4 is a 50mm prime lens capable of unique swirling bokeh. It has an M42 mount, so needs an adapter to be fitted correctly with the EF mount. It’s completely manual, so achieving sharp shots takes some practice and a good dose of luck too!"

05. Godox MS300 studio strobe

(Image credit: Godox)

"I am a one-light-portrait-setup fan and currently use a monolight Godox MS300. It’s small, light and has enough power for my needs: I’m yet to be in a situation where I’ve needed its maximum power. The flash recycles quickly at lower power settings, which means my shooting and flow in the studio isn’t slowed down. It also has a modelling lamp which helps you position the flash correctly."

06. M42-EF mount adapter

(Image credit: K&F Concept)

"One very small but significant piece of kit that I use is a smart M42 to EF mount adapter that enables me to enjoy vintage manual lenses with the modern EOS DSLR. The adapter has a robust build, precise fit and ability to provide focus confirmation due to presence of a built-in chip. They cost about £20 on online retailer sites and are well worth picking up if you like using vintage glass."

Read more:

Best Canon cameras
Best Canon lenses
Best professional cameras

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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.