Weddings are vibrant and full of emotions, making it all too easy to have a purely romantic view of the day. For the couple and guests, that is very true. However, if you are a supplier on the day, it can be a very different experience. All the more if you are the wedding photographer! The pressure is on, and you have a huge responsibility to capture the day. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
When you first begin photographing weddings, it is essential to love marriages and connect to the occasion. If you hate weddings – which some people do – I suggest you steer clear of wedding photography. It is also beneficial to have a creative eye. If you lack both, it will be apparent in the images you capture.
When starting as a wedding photographer, it is quite understandable that you may not have the full arsenal of cameras, lenses, flashes, etc. Often we start with only the necessary equipment in our bag and plenty of creativity (and for some, a healthy dose of confidence).
Suppose you’re just getting started in the wedding photography industry and don’t know where to begin when it comes to filling up your camera bag. In that case, we are here to show you what gear you’ll find helpful and necessary to have when running a photography business.
Gear doesn’t make the photographer; however, having excellent quality equipment will allow you to service your couples well and will prepare you for all sorts of shooting environments and scenarios. This list will enable me to get the job done without breaking my back lugging gear. We hope this list of wedding photography gear for beginners will act as a guide to help you get on the right track!
Equipment Essentials For Wedding Photography
Owning a camera body might be an obvious thing to have when starting your business, but what kind of body you choose can enhance or hinder your ability to grow as an artist and business owner. Having a camera body that performs well in low-light and a fast shutter speed will set you up for the best success.
A full-frame professional camera is ideal, but if you only have a crop-sensor camera, there’s no reason you can’t shoot a wedding. The main impact of this would be the lenses. Unless it is a dedicated crop-sensor lens, a crop-sensor only uses a lens section, causing some loss in light and sensor use.
Newer cameras are equipped with better technology to handle noise, especially in low-light conditions. This technology is crucial because regardless of season, weddings will always involve low-light. Often very little natural light. The pixel size of images from newer cameras is also generally more extensive, allowing more room for adjustments like cropping. It also allows better enlargements of your photographs in print. 24MP is now average for a newer camera, whereas it was around 12MP 10-years ago.
It also is essential to have a backup if something goes wrong with your primary camera — and there are so many things that can go wrong. Our exclusive range of Melbourne wedding photography will help you not miss a thing on your wedding day.
Different quality levels of camera lenses vary from the quality of glass, aperture range, and mechanics. Higher quality glass and mechanics allow for sharper images, and the aperture range affects the amount of bokeh and focus on the image. There are more cost-effective lens brands, such as Sigma, but performance consistency isn’t always there.
Lenses are a must. If you want to shoot weddings, at least have the 50mm or 35mm prime lens. They open to larger apertures than the kit lenses (the ones that come with the camera body). A maximum aperture of f/1.8 will do, but even better is f/1.4 and f/1.2. However, these lenses can be pricey, though. If you tend not to use a flash unit, the advantage of these lenses is made clear.
A zoom lens is a massive help when capturing unfolding events during a wedding day. You don’t have to zoom with your feet as you do with a prime lens. In my opinion, you can get away with using a zoom kit lens for candid captures and don’t have to shell out for a pricey f/2.8 zoom when starting. I must also add that these f/2.8 zooms are unique pieces of glass and are worth the investment if you can afford them.
Top tip: Use a hood or a UV filter to protect it from knocks and breakage on your lens. Some people say filters affect the sharpness. That may be so, but I’d rather have an intact lens and a 99% sharp photo than a broken lens and a 100% quick photo. The difference is pixel-peeping minuscule.
Prime lenses are lenses with a fixed range. This means that you cannot zoom in and out with prime lenses but only has one distance.
For instance, your natural eye sees its surroundings the same as if you had a 43mm lens on your camera. So anything under 43mm will seem further away and possibly a bit warped, such as a 35mm lens, and anything above it, such as a 50mm and 85mm lens, will seem closer in the distance.
Because prime lenses are at a fixed distance, the lens can have a wide f-stop range. The lower the f-stop, the higher the aperture, which allows for more light to enter the camera. And that creamy blur in the background? That’s all thanks to the focal point – the higher the focal point, the more blur in your photo due to the compression from the lens.
Okay, that’s a lot to take in. Are you still with me?
If there’s anything you take away from prime lenses is that they make a great portrait lens! And not only that, prime lenses are a great way to teach you to not rely on a zoom lens to get closer to your subject, but rather have you move around to get various shots. Although zoom lenses have their place (we’ll get into that in a bit), they can make for a lazy photographer if relied on them too much.
Zoom lenses do precisely what you think they do – they get closer and further away from the subject by twisting the lens from left to right. Zoom lenses are incredibly excellent for photographing large wedding ceremonies, ceremonies in churches with strict photography rules, and receptions.
Camera Flashes And Stands.
If you are currently a “natural light” photographer and want to take your wedding photography to the next level – you will need to learn how to use flash. During a wedding day, particularly the reception, a moment is essential for producing quality photographs. Relying just on your camera’s ability to shoot in low light (by upping the ISO) is not going to be sufficient, as, at a certain point, even the best camera bodies will output a lot of grain in low light and dark environments.
Indoor lighting can be unpredictable, and there’s always the chance of photographing an outdoor wedding at night. Rather than relying solely on your camera and ending up with grainy and blurry images, invest in flashes and light stands so you can control your lighting situation.
Having flashes with a wireless signal will allow your beats to “talk” to one another. For instance, when you’re on the dance floor and photographing wedding guests get down to Cupid’s Shuffle, the flashes that are fixed on a stand will flash when you take a photo – the moment on your camera talks to the others, and they all flash simultaneously.
Having more light will allow you to avoid photos that can’t be saved due to excessive blur, grain, or slight loss.
Many people call themselves natural light photographer. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if you want to shoot weddings, I encourage you to be open-minded and explore the possibility of learning to use flash. Weddings, especially evening receptions, can be notoriously dark and having a flashgun will serve you well.
Top tip: Use a diffuser or bounce card. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Using an external flash can be a lifesaver when you need to get a shot that is just too dark to get otherwise. You can use Speedlight photography techniques for nighttime weddings and dark churches. The alternative is dark or grainy images.
Tripod and Light Stands
A good tripod will get you out of a pinch if you are low on light and need a little more stability. It’s also helpful if you are working in low light or compositing images together. The light stands are useful for placing your speedlights on and allowing you to adjust the lights’ placement. Shoot-through umbrellas are also helpful to have with the light airs and speedlights for portrait work.
You can bring a diffuser to put on top of my flash. It helps diffuse the light and make for better portraits on the fly when you don’t have time to set up lights.
Studio Strobes and Umbrellas
Some people may disagree that this is essential, but you might want to have powerful strobes (more power than speed lights) to use on formal portraits. Sometimes, if it rains or is too cold, you will be forced to take formals in a dark church. In this case, you would want to have the speed and power of strobes to light up a large group of people evenly.
Memory Cards, Spare Batteries, Remote Triggers or Transceivers (If You Use Off-Camera Flash)
These are self-explanatory. Have spares and spares of spares! Always bring more cards and batteries than you think you need. Make sure the batteries are all charged up in advance. Looking for a Yarra Valley wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Memory cards may not have crossed your mind when it comes to wedding photography gear for beginners, but trust us, it’s super important to have the correct cards.
Not all memory cards are created equal. Now, go back and read that again. While you may be tempted to go the inexpensive route and choose a cheaper card, you might be tempting with fate, and it could come at a high cost.
Memory cards with a higher mb/s rate copy images more quickly than those with a lower mb/s rate. What does that mean? Well, while you’re photographing the couple’s first kiss or the father of the bride’s tearful speech, you’ll be trigger happy in trying to capture every moment and not miss a beat. Well, if your memory card isn’t up to speed (literally), it could be slowing you down and not copying every moment you “click.”
Remember, you are capturing precious and once in a lifetime moments, so make sure you have the best memory cards in your camera. The price of paying for more expensive cards that will keep up with you is nothing in comparison to losing or missing images of someone’s priceless wedding day.
Top tip: think about dating your memory cards and buying new batches each year. It’ll help you keep track of what cards are more unique and which ones might need to retire.
Batteries And Chargers
As for batteries, well, this is even more simple. There will be batteries to power specific things like your flashes/receivers. As for camera batteries, buy name brand or well-reviewed brand. With that said – stock up. Unfortunately, batteries sometimes can die due to temperature and other conditions.
Don’t be caught with a dead camera battery at a wedding. Instead, invest in extra batteries and chargers so you can always be prepared and not miss a beat! Having an abundance will allow you to prep for weddings more quickly (the more chargers you have, the faster you can charge batteries), but you can also bring a charger with you to a wedding and charge a battery then if needed.
If you have to borrow extra equipment for backup, do so. You never know when something will unexpectedly pack-up! You may not be able to use it, but having it with you could give you peace of mind.
Lens Cleaning Kit And Lens Hoods
The lens can get dirty or wet throughout a quick-moving event, so it’s good to keep a cleaning kit or lens wipes with you to keep streaks from ruining your shots. Lens hoods are an excellent way to keep lenses from getting dirty in the first place and serve to keep sun flare down.
Other Helpful Equipment But Non-Essentials
The following can come in handy, but in my opinion, you can do without them:
You shoot at a fast pace in various lighting scenarios during a wedding – indoors, outdoors, tungsten, LED, natural lights, etc. It would be crazy to use a grey card every time you moved! You can shoot in Kelvin or use Auto White Balance. The important thing is that you plug in Raw so you can adjust the white balance in post.
A reflector can be handy.
Tripods can be too cumbersome and heavy! Alternatively, you could cover a wedding with a monopod. They are easier to lug around!
Non-Essentials That Add Value to Your Service
Brides are often grateful when you magically produce things that they did not expect you to have—for instance, bobby pins, hair grips, scissors, or tissues. Likewise, if you help in other ways, such as putting the buttonholes on, helping with jewellery, etc., as they say, it’s in the little things. At Wild Romantic, we have the best wedding photographer in Mornington Peninsula to capture every single moment on your wedding day.
Artistic accessories such as copper piping, prisms, suncatcher, etc.
Of all the things on our list of essential wedding photography equipment, these are fortunately some of the cheapest – and can make your photos stand out for sure. Copper piping can be used to get the “Ring of Fire” effect during Golden Hour portraits, while prisms and suncatchers can be used to add exciting splashes of colour; really, the list of options for these sorts of things are pretty much limitless. Please find a few things that work for you, and implement them into your wedding day photography!
Lastly, invest in a fair, well-padded camera bag. Now that you have the best wedding photography gear for beginners, it’s time to find a durable and versatile bag to put everything in. You will need something to put all your gear in. Make sure it’s big enough and comfortable enough to haul around with you as you’re moving throughout the day.
Depending on your preference, needs, and specific shooting location, you will want either a camera backpack or messenger bag.
Photographing weddings can be a lot of fun, and come with their fair share of challenges, too. Bringing along the right gear for the job is one way to make sure that you will get all the shots you want (and need), and more importantly, get the ones the couple you are working for want!
As a wedding photographer, it can feel like an uphill challenge to get all the photography equipment you need and create the best art possible for your clients. Unless you are a lucky person who has an infinite amount of money to spend, it will become necessary to determine what items are “essentials,” what things would make life a little easier, and what items are more novel. For sure, we have a mixed bag of equipment ourselves – some that we continuously use, while others we only use in particular instances.
The essential gear for wedding photography is those products that allow you to capture the images you need to charge. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
While starting your photography business may have many costs involved, once you have the core gear, you can concentrate strictly on honing your art and learning how to take advantage of quality equipment better instead of fighting with cheaper gear. We knew this ourselves with some early purchases, and while we are not made of money, we have had better luck since updating to higher-end, professional gear.
We hope that this article has been useful to you.