Wedding photography is a very lucrative business, and if you can get a good reputation in it, you’ll be working hard for a very long time. That’s why it is one of the most desirable areas of photography to break into. But with this industry also comes a huge and terrifying responsibility: you have to be the one to capture the most special day of two people’s lives. You have to do them justice.
Getting the right results is down to experience, training, know how, and also equipment. No matter how good a photographer you are, you won’t be able to get the best possible results if you do not have a kit bag set up with everything you need! This list of items is by no means everything you will ever need while you photograph a wedding, but it should be enough to set you up for most eventualities. If you’re looking to start out as a wedding photographer, make these things your priority.
Alright, so you need your camera of course – the one item you could never shoot a wedding without! But what goes along with it? Well, first of all, you will want to make sure that you have a spare battery on hand. This is really important because charging opportunities can be limited, especially if you have a packed day of going from the preparations to the ceremony and straight to the reception. If you run out of battery, that’s it – you may not even be able to find a plug to start charging, let alone have the time. Don’t let a lack of preparation run the day. Always keep both your main battery and your spare fully charged up, and test the spare regularly if you don’t normally get to use it.
As for your lens choice, there are a few that you might want to slip in your bag. A 50mm, 85mm, and 70-200mm lens will be the main staples of your kit. You may choose to add more lenses to your repertoire as you go, but these will be the good solid options both for getting those detail shots and close-up portraits and the wider ceremony or family group shots. You’ll need to be adept at changing quickly and knowing which lens is suitable for which situation. If you haven’t used a variety of lenses before, try playing around with them in your spare time and testing what results you get from each on different subjects.
You should also carry a spare body. This does not have to be something as highly upgraded as your main DSLR – most photographers will just keep hold of one of their previous models. The point of this back-up is to save your bacon if the worst happens. Should your camera completely fail, you will have another option to carry on shooting with. Otherwise, dropping the body, breaking part of it, or simply having a system failure will result in missing the rest of the day.
Spare memory cards are also a must. You don’t want to take so many shots that you fill up all of the available space before the end of the day! Keep far more storage on you than you think you’ll need -even double. This will save the day if you happen to take more photos than usual, or if you forget to clear down a card before the event starts.
For bright weather, a lens hood is also a good bet. When you are shooting outside, the weather can cause havoc! Add a rain bag or sleeve to your camera bag in order to protect all of your equipment, both for fitting over the camera and for protecting any bag you carry around with you on the day. Come rain or shine, you’ll be safe to carry on!
When your camera is sorted out and ready to go, you need to start thinking about the other accessories that you will take with you. One of the things to consider is a tripod, mostly for the large formal shots of the family, but also perhaps for during the ceremony if you can find a good place to set up. This will save your arms and back on a long day of shooting, and will allow you to more easily corral everyone into the right place without losing patience. You might be waiting a while for all of the moving and swapping out to get the right people in each photograph, so be kind to yourself!
For dull lighting situations, a flashgun might just save the say. This will help you to maintain a good level of detail in your images without having to compromise for low light. While you are packing that into your bag, remember to pack some spare batteries too – if you have never used a flashgun before, you may be surprised at how quickly they can burn through power!
You may also want to take an umbrella, for those days when the rain doesn’t stop coming down. You might be able to find a sheltered place for your bride and groom to stand, or you may just take a few quick pictures of them walking out of their ceremony – but where does that leave you? Standing outside in the driving rain, of course. This could shelter both yourself and your camera, and you may even end up lending it to one of the wedding party to get across to their next location without ruining their hair, make-up, and clothes.
A blanket could also be a great consideration. Make sure it’s clean and looks nice – a plain design is best. You can then place this down on the ground for any photographs that involve someone sitting or lying down. This prevents grass stains on expensive or special clothes! Your bride will definitely thank you.
Can you think of anything else that you consider essential? What about the non-essential little bits and bobs you keep in your wedding kit? Tell us in the comments!