Let me preface this post by saying two things. FIRST – YES, having good quality gear is always preferred, but you don’t need ALL of these items I’m about to list out in order to shoot a wedding! This is just what I’ve accumulated and like to use on a wedding day. SECOND – There is SO MUCH GEAR out there that is available, I will just be going over what I have, use and love for my particular style of shooting! This is not by any means a be all end all list. If photographing weddings is something you’re interested in doing but don’t have a lot of gear, I would recommend renting different camera bodies and lenses to see what feels natural to you before dropping hundreds of dollars on equipment that may not suit you the best! Renting is a great way to “test drive” equipment you may be interested in purchasing down the road and it’s what I did when I was first starting out!
I started Erin Marie Photography with a Canon Rebel T3 camera body and a 50mm 1.8mm lens, approximately $500 worth of equipment (give or take), that was it! I shot my very first wedding with that crop sensor camera body and lens and guess what? My couple LOVED their images! Not only did they love them, I was getting compliments along the lines of “Wow, I can’t believe this was your first wedding!” “Great job!” “These are gorgeous!” You don’t need super expensive gear to get the job done. Sure it helps, but it’s not necessary! The photographer makes the images, not the other way around 😉
That first wedding was shot back in December of 2017. Since then, I’ve saved and saved and saved some more and have grown my collection to everything you will see below. Of course I still have a fairly long wish list of items to add to my collection, but that’s further along down the road and I know everything I have now is everything I need to achieve my style of photography. Some of these items I use more than others, but it all gets used at least once throughout the day!
So lets get to it! First and foremost, I carry all of my gear in my Think Tank V3.0. This guy has been a lifesaver for my back! It fits every piece of equipment I bring to a wedding (batteries and all…plus snacks!) The only things I have to carry are the light stands. Before I got my Think Tank, I was using my Kelly Moore Oxford bag to carry all of my camera gear but it was getting to be to heavy on my back and shoulders and the more gear I got, the heavier the bag got! This is why that is now my official engagement session bag. You’ll only see it with me during engagement sessions!
As far as camera bodies, lenses, and all of my other equipment goes, here is what gets used on a wedding day:
- Camera Bodies: Canon 6D & Canon 5D Mark III – I upgraded from my crop sensor rebel body to my first full frame camera, my 6D! From there, I upgraded to the Mark III because it has the option of recording on two memory cards at once which gives a huge sense of comfort on a wedding day in case one of your memory cards corrupts, which can and has happened!
From Top to Bottom: Canon Rebel T3, Canon 6D, Canon 5D Mark III
- Lenses: Canon 100mm f/2.8L, Canon 85 f/1.8, Canon 50mm f/1.2L, and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 – So to break these lenses down a bit further, I use my Sigma 35mm for those wide epic shots, or if I’m in a small getting ready space and don’t have the option of backing up to fit everything I need into my frame like for large flat lay detail shots or when the bride is getting into her dress with the help of all of her girls! My 50mm lens stays on my camera for a huge part of the day. It sees what your eye sees so for example, if you were to look through your viewfinder with the 50mm lens on your camera, you would see almost a mirror image to where you are standing if you were to look without a camera. I use this for everything from flat lay detail shots, to the ceremony. My 85mm lens is my absolute FAVORITE lens in my camera bag. It gives images that creamy bokeh background that I love so much so because of that, it’s my go-to lens for the portrait time on wedding days. Last but certainly not least, my 100mm lens is my go-to detail shot lens. It’s how I’m able to get those larger than life ring shots you may have seen on my blog or Instagram. I’ve also used it for ceremony shots if I want to get a close up shot but don’t want to get in anyone’s way!
- Speedlites: Canon Speedlite 430EX-III RT – I have 3 of these! One for on camera and two for off camera! I like to try and mimic the light setup I prefer in natural light with my artificial light setup for receptions and in order to do that, I need 3 speedlites. The thing I love about these particular ones are that they all have the ability to talk to one another through radio transmission, meaning, I don’t need any extra equipment to get them to fire together. I just put one on my camera body (that’s the “Master” flash) and then I set up my other two on light stands (those are called the “Slave” or “off-camera” flashes), and anytime I press my shutter button, my master flash tells the slave flashes to fire as well which gives my reception images the dimension I prefer and aim for! I included an example of that below 🙂
That flash burst in the background of this image makes it more visually appealing than if I was just relying on the windows. It brightens up the background and helps it not look so much like a dark hole. Sure, the windows help make it look not so dark, but you can’t rely on windows always being there! This is why it’s so important to know how to use flash!
- Light Stands: I have two lightstands. One is a Westcott 8ft lightstand and the other is an Impact 10ft lightstand. These are what I use to set up my off-camera flashes.
- Umbrella: 33in Umbrella by LimoStudio – This guy only comes out during the reception. What I’ll do is set it up on the flash that is in position to expose for the front of my clients during entrances, special dances, toasts, etc. It allows for softer more diffused light to hit them so they don’t end up being over exposed.
- Batteries: Eneloop AA Rechargeable – Before I got these life (and money) savers, I was using regular ol’ Duracell AA batteries for my flashes. I was finding that the life of them was draining incredibly fast during receptions (it doesn’t help that I’m an over shooter and take way more pictures than necessary, I just want to make sure I get the shot!) There’s nothing more annoying than having to change out some batteries in the middle of a moment you don’t want to miss! So I did some research and found Eneloop rechargeable batteries and haven’t looked back since!
Shown Above: My eneloop batteries in my Think Tank battery holders. The grey Think Tank holder is used to hold my camera body batteries!
- Memory Cards: SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SD & CF – I have a lot of these, like A LOT. I never want to run out of memory cards and if for some reason one starts acting up, I don’t want to be put in a a situation where I don’t have a memory card to use. Can you imagine?! The more the better in my book and the SanDisk Extreme Pro memory cards have a fast read speed (to keep up with my over shooting tendencies) and are highly rated! You can’t beat it!
- Memory Card Holders: Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rockets – These are the newest little additions to my bag and I love them! I’m a fairly organized person so when I found out these existed, I immediately put them on my growing “Wish list of items” and ended up getting them for my birthday and Christmas this past year! I have one for my SD memory cards, one for my CF memory cards, one for my camera body batteries, and 3 for my Eneloop batteries.
And there you have it! My wedding gear checklist! I like to print off a physical checklist before each wedding, that way when I’m packing all of my equipment the day (or two days) beforehand, I’m 100% sure I have everything I need! I won’t lie, there have been too many times I’m willing to admit that I had to run back home (or texted my husband in a panic!) and get something I forgot whether that be memory cards, a camera body, heck I forgot a whole separate bag with my backup camera body and speedlites one time! Obviously the couple never knew but that could have easily been avoided if I had just taken the time to make sure everything was good to go way ahead of time. I learned the hard way that’s for sure! Now two years in, I like to think I’m a little more prepared than I used to be 😉
If you’re a photographer just getting into photographing weddings, or even if they are just on your radar, I hope this blog post serves as a helpful tool for you and your business! If you have any questions about my gear list, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll answer them as best I can! 🙂 Happy Wednesday friends!