The kinds of cameras you need to have in order to photograph a wedding, the plethora of lenses you need to carry with you at all times, and the lighting accessories that are essential for a wedding day. Not this, though; that's not one of them.
When getting ready to photograph a wedding, it's easy to forget that in addition to the necessary camera gear, there are a few other essential "must-haves" that you should bring along. The following items are essential for any wedding photographer to carry with them on the day of the wedding.
Here is a basic rundown of what you'll need to bring new dimensions to your wedding photography or to fill in the gaps in your current outfit.
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Digital single-lens reflex cameras with full-frame sensors, such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D850, and Nikon D750, are the go-to choice for the vast majority of seasoned wedding photographers.
Their larger sensors provide superior definition, detail, and sharpness, allow for a greater degree of enlargement or cropping without loss of image quality, and provide outstanding performance at high ISO settings, allowing higher shutter speeds and reduced depth of field, which creates striking pictorial effects. These advantages allow for the creation of striking pictorial effects.
Other advantages include a sturdy body construction, dependability even when subjected to extreme use, superior weather sealing, advanced multi-zone autofocus (AF) and autoexposure (AE) systems, the ability to record Full 1080p HD video at a variety of framing speeds, and the availability of high-end accessories such as power grips and battery packs.
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Nikon D500, and Sony Alpha a77 II are just a few examples of the APS-C format DSLRs that are used as primary or backup cameras by a number of the industry's most prominent wedding photographers. They provide images of sufficient quality for use in wedding applications by utilising image sensors with resolutions ranging from 16 megapixels and above. When using your full-frame lenses, they offer a more extended reach by a factor of 1.5X or 1.6x (Canon), although this comes at the expense of a reduced coverage angle for wide-angle shots.
Variety of Lenses: Faster is Better
After the camera itself, having a selection of lenses from which to choose is the next most essential piece of equipment. When photographing weddings, you should bring a wide-angle lens, a zoom lens, a portrait lens, and any other speciality lenses that you believe you will require or that are compatible with your artistic vision.
For instance, if you know that you will be photographing inside of a beautiful church or a confined space, you might want to bring a fisheye lens with you. If you want to get close-up shots of the small details on the wedding dress, bouquet, or shoes, you might want to invest in a macro lens. You should also bring a prime lens with a wide aperture if you want to achieve a pleasing bokeh effect in your photographs.
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Lighting Makes the Difference
The bare minimum is two high-powered dedicated flash units plus a backup, either to use as a spare or for three-light portrait setups. Many wedding professionals pack four or more flash units in their bags for multiple lighting setups. However, the bare minimum is two high-powered dedicated flash units.
Small Location Monolights and LEDs
Monolights are high-powered flashes that come with their own modelling lights built in. The kits for monolights include one or more heads in addition to reflectors and a battery pack. When taking formal portraits or lighting up a dance floor, certain photographers will use two or more moonlight AC units. LEDs are continuous light sources that can also be used for still photography or videography. In addition, LEDs are more energy efficient than hot light sources and maintain a cooler temperature than those sources.
Flash Brackets allow you to position the light high enough above the lens to drop shadows behind the subject for a more professional and natural look, while still allowing you to hold the flash and camera as a well-balanced and easily manageable unit. This is accomplished by extending the length of the flash bracket.
When taking portrait photos, having the ability to position the camera either vertically or horizontally on a rotating platform is a definite advantage.
Wireless Radio Slaves
The ability to remotely trigger flashes and cameras, as well as synchronise multiple flash setups, is one of the many benefits offered by radio slaves. There are some that are merely triggers, while others offer i-TTL or E-TTL flash control in conjunction with dedicated speed lights. Non-TTL systems are typically used in conjunction with a light metre that has flash-metering capabilities. One example of such a light metre is the Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L-478DR-U, which has the ability to connect to Pocket Wizard units and use PocketWizard ControlTL technology to control the power output of your flashes.
Light Diffusers and Modifiers
The use of diffusers and light modifiers can make a significant difference in the quality of light that is cast on the subjects of your photographs, giving them a more natural appearance. Some also offer a stunning variety of colour effects to choose from. Umbrellas, reflectors, diffusers, and modifiers are all available in a mind-boggling assortment on the market today.
High-Speed, High-Capacity Memory Cards
Because recording in 4K resolution at more than 10 frames per second (fps) is now the standard, you will need memory cards that are both quick and large in order to protect the information you record. When shooting stills, we advise using SD cards because they are the most common format. For SD cards, we recommend UHS-II cards that are rated for U3 speeds. This not only ensures the quickest write times possible but also makes the process of transferring data to a computer using a card reader go more quickly.
Extra Memory Cards
Always make sure you have some spare memory cards on you. Because you will probably take thousands of pictures in the span of just a few hours, you should come prepared with as many blank memory cards as you possibly can.
Extra Batteries: Be Prepared!
Battery grips are dedicated accessories that provide additional battery capacity for shooting many more frames per charge and also have a secondary set of controls (including a second well-positioned shutter release) that make shooting verticals much more convenient. Battery grips can be attached to a variety of different types of cameras, including DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and compact cameras.
Be sure to bring along at least one additional set of fully charged batteries or a power pack (or more than one of each), as this will ensure that all of the battery-powered devices in your kit, such as cameras, flash units, lighting equipment, wireless remotes, and flashlights, can be powered. In addition, power packs offer faster recycling times, which is a significant benefit when shooting action. Be sure to bring the appropriate cables for each of the battery packs you pack.
Tripods and Monopods: Stability Equals Sharpness
Both a sturdy tripod with a middleweight capacity and a monopod are standard equipment for wedding photographers with experience. When you only have access to natural light and are forced to shoot at slow shutter speeds, there is no other way to guarantee the quality of your photographs. Monopods offer an advantage at wedding venues due to their increased mobility in addition to their increased stability.
In the event that you are working with low light and want to minimise the amount of camera shake as much as possible, using a tripod during the ceremony will prove to be extremely helpful.
You might also want to consider bringing a monopod or selfie stick with you to the wedding venue so that you can take pictures from awkward angles or from above.
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Super Clamps: Hold those Lights and Cameras in Place
You don't need an assistant to use super clamps because they can hold cameras, lights, and virtually anything else in place securely. In addition, super clamps can frequently be attached to a handy bannister, railing, or table edge, which means you won't need to deploy an additional light stand or tripod. Super clamps are super because they are super.
Common applications include securing lights or flash units above the corners of a dance floor to achieve wide-area coverage; positioning a spotlight, key, or hair light while you concentrate on composing the shot; holding a remotely triggered camera in place in the chapel balcony; and holding a spotlight, key, or hair light while you compose the shot.
Let's talk about the camera bag itself now that we've covered the essential equipment that you need to have in your camera bag in order to photograph weddings. You will find that a simple bag is not going to be adequate for wedding photography, and you will be required to make an investment in a high-quality camera bag.
This is a very individual decision, and you should go with the case that feels most comfortable to you. Just make sure that the bag you choose has distinct compartments for each of your items so that it is easy to find what you need when you need it.
The professionals who photograph weddings use a wide variety of carrying techniques for their equipment. These techniques include lens bags, cases for flash packs, light stands, accessories, and various sizes of task-oriented cases, camera shoulder bags, and backpacks for transporting what they require while working on location. How you work, where you work, and whether or not you have an assistant all play a significant role in determining what works best for you.
Essentials for Every Wedding Photographer On the Wedding Day (Besides Equipment)
Good Communication Skills
Prior to the day of the wedding, you should make sure that you have talked with the bride and groom about their expectations as well as your own. Along with my contract, I send out a lengthy questionnaire in which I ask for the names of all of the wedding vendors, the bridal party, the parents, and any special issues regarding families that I ought to be aware of. (I'd rather know that Mom and StepMom don't get along before you try to get them in a "one big happy family" photo than for punches to start flying when you try to get them together in the picture).
I also ask the bride to circle adjectives that describe the atmosphere of her wedding day and her personal style in the questionnaire so that I can get a better sense of her personality and the kind of things she is hoping for.
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Another proactive step you can take to ensure everything goes off without a hitch is to introduce yourself to all of the wedding vendors on the big day. If you all work together, not only does it make life easier, but there is also always the possibility of future weddings together as well as referrals. Not only that, but it also makes life easier. It's true that having a good time with the people you work with can always make a job more enjoyable, and photography is no exception.
- The Coordinator:When I first arrive at a wedding, the first person to whom I introduce myself is the wedding coordinator (or, in the absence of a coordinator, the person in charge of the venue). They will be able to assist in making the day go off without a hitch and figure out a way to steal your couple away during the reception in order to get those amazing photos of the sunset.
- The Videographer: Becoming friendly with the videographer is also very important because they will be right by your side for almost the entirety of the day, and it is highly likely that you will end up in each other's shots at multiple points throughout the day.
- The Officiant: I also make sure to pull the officiant aside before the ceremony and ask him if there are any requirements or guidelines that I need to follow (which in the light of this recent viral wedding video when the officiant interrupts the ceremony to tell off the photographers, is an excellent idea). At this point, I would like to make a request to the officiant that when he declares the couple to be husband and wife and gives them permission to share their first kiss, that he step to the side so that I can get a good picture of my bride and groom.
- The DJ:The DJ is usually very cool about helping you work with the schedule for the remainder of the day. In particular, the DJ is usually very cool about giving you warnings about surprise speeches during your dinner break when you're trying to shovel a plate of food into your mouth in less than one minute.
- Everyone Else:Because the banquet/catering manager, florist, and make-up artist are all potential referral sources for future weddings, I make it a point to introduce myself to each of them during the wedding.
One more thing before I let you go: when it comes to communication, make sure you have tact. There will be times when you will need to be firm (and a little bossy to corral all of the family members for the formal portraits), and there will be times when you will need to use tact (so that you can politely ask the man that keeps jumping in front of you to get the shot, to move, or else).
You would never forget your backup camera and lenses for a wedding day, but here are some things you might not think to pack:
- Snacks: About five pounds fall off of me during wedding season. I usually don't get to eat lunch, and then I have a speedy dinner at about 9 o'clock in the evening during the reception. This is in addition to following the bride around everywhere she goes. The only way I can make it through the wedding season is by eating protein bars, almonds, and whatever else I can cram into my mouth in under five minutes.
- A Change of Clothes: In order to get the shot, I would sometimes have to contort my body into strange yoga positions, which gave me the opportunity to double as a gymnast. On other occasions, there are wardrobe malfunctions, and on rare occasions, a participant may fall into a murky swamp-like body of water (this has only occurred on one occasion). Okay. Maybe twice).
- A Wooden Hanger: How many times have you gone to hang up a wedding gown while you were doing the detail shots, only to find that it was resting on an ugly plastic hanger? Put a few wooden hangers in your trunk, and you'll always have access to a nice hanger when you need one.
- Lately, brides have been providing their customised hangers, which adds a nice touch.
- An Emergency Kit: You'll find that you'll need Kleenex, blotting paper, scissors, double-sided tape, a small sewing kit, breath mints, and a little sewing kit when you're surrounded all day by gaggles of bridesmaids and other ladies. There will be times when the coordinator will have one, but if you are prepared, you will be the hero.
- Ear Plugs: It's possible to have a great time at the reception. On the dance floor, where everyone is having a good time, people start shooting each other. Despite this, I find myself in front of speakers (and sometimes even on top of speakers) quite frequently, and the volume can reach extremely high levels. Your hearing will suffer if you continue to expose it to noise like that nearly every weekend (and probably your sanity).
I always send a wedding day photography schedule to the bride and groom approximately one month before the big day, regardless of whether or not there is a coordinator for the event. On it is listed everyone that I am anticipating appearing in the photographs (by name, if at all possible; in my questionnaire, I ask for a list of essential people to appear in portraits).
I will ask the bride and groom to make sure that this list is distributed to everyone on the schedule so that they are aware of when and where they are expected to be. After that, I work on being as adaptable as possible.
If it's a location I've never been to before, I make it a point to go there either the day before the wedding or a few hours before my shift is scheduled to begin in order to scope out the most photogenic spots.
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A Solid Contract
It would appear that everyone is eager to file a lawsuit, so you need to protect both yourself and your company. You should make sure that your contract is solid, and you should review it frequently in order to make any necessary changes. I think you should have it reviewed by an attorney just in case something goes wrong. You can use this sample as a guide to help you get started.
An Assistant or Second Shooter
I never, ever shoot without a second shooter, just in case something goes wrong. When I was shooting a wedding once, my camera suddenly stopped working right as the bride and groom were entering the reception hall for their first dance. My spare equipment was located across the room. I was unable to get to it in time, so I looked to my backup shooter, who ended up coming through for us. A second shooter is useful because they can help you capture candid moments and detail shots that you might otherwise miss. It is not only beneficial but also enjoyable to have someone work alongside you throughout the day and provide an additional pair of hands and eyes when necessary.
It is all too easy to have a purely romantic view of the day when attending a wedding because weddings are so vibrant and full of emotions. That holds very true for the couple as well as the guests. On the other hand, if you are a supplier on the day of the event, your experience may be quite different. Even more so if you're the one taking pictures at the wedding! You are under a great deal of responsibility, and the pressure is mounting as you attempt to capture the day.
When you first start out as a wedding photographer, it is absolutely necessary to have a connection to weddings and a passion for the occasion. I wouldn't recommend getting involved in wedding photography if you have a strong aversion to the ceremony, as some people do. Having a creative eye is also very helpful in this line of work. In the event that you are lacking either, it will be obvious in the photographs that you take. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
It is reasonable to expect that, when you first begin working as a wedding photographer, you will not have access to the complete collection of cameras, lenses, flashes, and other photographic equipment. Most of the time, we begin with nothing more than the bare necessities in our bag and a lot of imagination (and for some, a healthy dose of confidence).
This article is ideal for you if you are considering becoming a wedding photographer and are interested in discovering what you are capable of accomplishing with a basic kit.