Oooooowee, friend! Did you just book your first wedding? Maybe you’ve done a couple, but you’re ready to buckle down and do this thing, right?
Either way, congratulations!
Someone is trusting you with the precious memories of their wedding day, and you’re here figuring out how to deliver (pats you on the back).
So, where do you start when you want to take lit photos your couple can brag about? Well, do you have the right equipment?
Having the best equipment does not mean you’ll get the best images, but you need some equipment!
Here are a few things you should think about so you can feel prepared to capture all of those special moments.
If you’re going to call yourself a professional wedding photographer, there are some essential pieces of gear that you shouldn’t be caught without:
First up is a camera body. This one is a bit obvious because I’m not sure where you’ll be pulling photos out of without a camera.
Ideally, you’ll have at least two cameras on you when you’re shooting a wedding. Why two when one will do the job? Well, you’re going to need a backup.
You don’t want to get caught with an error screen right as your couple gets ready to have their first kiss. Yikes. Let’s not even think about that.
So two camera bodies. Check. But what kind of cameras are we looking for?
Full-frame cameras are gorgeous because they are workhorses in low-light, but they come with a hefty price tag.
Crop-sensor cameras are totally fine if you’re not looking to drop a few months’ pay-checks.
Either way, make sure to bring a camera body that rocks low-light situations. It’ll save your butt.
Don’t already have a fantastic low-light camera? Rent one.
You can go two routes when it comes to lenses for wedding photography – prime or telephoto.
Prime lenses provide crisp, clear shots with a depth of field that’ll make you drool. They’re also fabulous in low light. But, since prime lenses are fixed, you’ll have to buy (or rent) multiple lenses to make sure your bases are covered.
A 35mm, a 50mm, and maybe an 85mm would all be helpful to have on hand during the wedding day. And remember, with prime lenses, you’ll have to use your feet to zoom, so don’t be shy about moving around.
If you decide prime is your thing, you may want to consider using a second camera so that you can easily access two focal lengths whenever you need.
Zoom lenses are your other option. Some photographers swear by them, so it all depends on your preference.
Although zoom lenses are not quite as crisp, you could get by with just one – the 24-70mm.
If you’re new to wedding photography, any kind of lighting outside of natural light might scare you. But, it’s time to get comfy with some flash power because sometimes it’s necessary.
At a minimum, you’ll need an external flash mounted to your camera’s hot shoe. You’ll also want to invest in some kind of diffuser for that flash because, by itself, it tends to flatten out a photo.
Learning to bounce your flash is also a fantastic idea, but that technique doesn’t work in all circumstances.
I’d highly suggest investing in an off-camera flash set-up with triggers and a light stand. And don’t just buy them. Learn how to use them, please.
The only reason you could skip lighting is if the wedding is outside during the day, and you know you’ll be able to use the natural light.
Otherwise, buck up and learn lighting. It’s just part of the gig.
And lots of them.
Bring plenty of memory cards and have a safe place to store them. A waterproof memory card case isn’t hard to come by, and it’ll save you plenty of anxiety.
Let me say once again, get lots of memory cards! It can be surprising just how many photos you take on a wedding day, and you don’t want to be faced with a full card before all the festivities are over.
Make sure to get high-quality memory cards as well. The better they are, the faster they are, and you want them fast.
Extra camera batteries and extra flash batteries. Plus any other kinds of batteries you think you may need. Just bring a ton of batteries.
You’re going to need something to carry all of this stuff, so get yourself a nice camera bag.
Some photographers swear by a rolling bag. Others love to have it all in a portable backpack. Think about the kind of wedding you’re shooting and the kind of wedding you’d like to shoot, and buy a bag that’s suitable for that.
If you are chasing after adventurous couples on their elopements, a backpack might be a better choice. If you’re more of a church or golf club kind of wedding photographer, a rolling bag could be perfect.
Figure out what works for you.
If you’re freaking out, summon your alter ego a la Sasha Fierce, and fake it ’til you make it, friend.
You can do this!
You may not need this, but you might want it!
If you want to mess with exposure in low-light situations, then a tripod is a must!
Think about creating a wedding kit and sticking it in your camera bag.
A wedding kit might include anything from tissues and tampons to bobby pins, super glue, safety pins, and sunscreen.
Think about anything that might go wrong or anything your clients might need during the day, and include it.
This isn’t necessary, but the moment you produce that stain pen that saves the day, your couple will love you forever.
Now, get out there and create photos that will make your clients thankful they hired you.