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What equipment do you need to photograph your first wedding?

Many new photographers view weddings as an easy way to get into professional photography while making big bucks with a minimal investment of time, labor, and equipment. As a professional wedding and portrait photographer, I can tell you that part of it is true.

However, there are a few things that you should have before tackling a wedding. The first is an understanding of what you are actually photographing, but a lot of people ignore me when I talk about the five types of photography you need to do at a wedding and perk up when I talk about equipment. So let’s talk about equipment without all of the judgment and ridicule that this type of question would bring you in any type of Facebook group or forum.

What equipment do you need to photograph a wedding? You don’t actually need a lot of equipment. Before photographing a wedding on your own, I would highly recommend going to at least one event with a professional. Use only a 50mm camera or equivalent for this learning experience. Most of the time, watch the professionals do their thing, do what they ask, and stay out of the way, but also snap some pictures when you have downtime.

If this is your first time photographing your own wedding, be sure to have spare equipment. The event you photograph is a one-time commitment for most people. If you drop your camera and lens into a pool or balcony, can you still provide them with pictures from their wedding?

Many years ago I photographed a wedding with my Pentax 645 with my 135mm L / S lens. I felt a bit of a problem with the usually extremely soft feel when focusing. A few minutes later, it was no longer focusing on a close-up that I had taken, so I kept turning the focus ring. Then the front half of the lens came loose in my hand while the back half was still attached to the camera. I looked at it for a second, saw the bride and bridesmaids looking at me, stuffed it back up, put the whole mess in my pocket, and said, “This is interesting.” Then I grabbed my Canon 35mm system and kept shooting.

In more recent times I’ve shot with two cameras: a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 6D. When I was shooting the portraits on the beach, the shutter on my 5D Mark III blew. It was the first time I’d used a camera so often that I had to replace the shutter. I just continued to shoot with the 6D, I just had to change the lenses more often. About 15 minutes later, as we approached cars, I took a picture of them walking and holding hands. Then the lock of the 6D also broke. I finished recording with a digital Rebel that I bought for an occasion like this but never really expected. The moral of the story is to always have a backup and a backup for your backup.

Please note that all of my recommendations will assume that you are using a full screen camera. I realize that a lot of people, especially those starting out, are using APS-C systems. Simply select the appropriate lenses for your system.

There are really three ways to gear yourself up for a wedding anniversary. There is the standard zoom method where you mostly use a single camera with a good 24-70mm f / 2.8 zoom for most of the day and then around 85mm or 135mm for some portraits and general tastes pull out. Or sometimes the 16-35mm and 70-200-200mm zooms are added for the holy trinity of readiness. In that case, you would rarely use a second body unless you are a punishment glutton carrying two huge weights.

The second is the Prime Shooter with 35mm on one body and 85mm on the other. This requires the wearing of two bodies, but allows the use of some amazing lenses with stunning bokeh. Many of the wedding photographers I admire most take photos this way.

The third way, or Prime Shooter version two, is the way I work. That means having two full bodies strapped to me. One is 25mm and the other is 55mm when I go into pretty much any shooting situation. Each of these is slightly different from the 24mm and 50mm that are considered the norm. I also have an 85mm in my belt pouch. I could and could have photographed an entire wedding with exactly this and all available light. However, I also have a 16-35mm and a 70-200mm with a 1.4 extender and some extension tubes with me in case I need them, and I use them quite a bit. I also bring quite a bit of flash with me.

Now let’s address lighting. With the new cameras that are available, it is quite possible to take photos using just the light that is available in a venue, which is fantastic. Just because there is enough light doesn’t mean there is good quality light. For example, the dreaded raccoon eyes of the ceiling lights are inevitable (and unattractive) at many wedding venues. In which case, you can use a small flash to make a big difference. I recommend at least a flash and a concept for using bounce flash.

The quick version

To sum it up for those who thought this was too long, you’ll need at least two bodies, three lenses, and a flash. A minimum focal length range is between 24mm and 85mm, but I prefer at least 20mm to 200mm.

Below is the equipment I take to a wedding. As a hint, I prefer small, light equipment. I tend to have small hands and have had problems with my wrists in the past. Therefore, the weight in my hands is a very big factor for me and is reflected in my choice of equipment. I also find it more convenient to shoot with a smaller, lighter kit.

Body: Two Sony A7 III, one Sony A6000 as backup

Lenses: Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f / 4, Zeiss Batis 25mm f / 2, Sony Zeiss 55mm f / 1.8, Sony 85mm f / 1.8, Sony 70-200mm f / 2.8 GM , 16-50 mm kit lens, 28-70 mm kit lens

Flashing: Godox AD200, three Godox V860II, Godox V350S

Accessories: Tripod, MagBox, MagSphere, MagGrids, MagGels, Godox trigger, batteries, SD cards, polarization filter, Swiss Army Knife, glasses repair kit, BlackRapid Strap, light tripods, umbrellas, various brackets, cliff poles, business cards and other things that are in mine Equipment bags have accumulated.


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