Wedding photographers have an enormous amount of pressure on them. They have to perform at their absolute best every second of the day, and there are rarely any chances to do something over again, especially during the ceremony. Plus, ambient lighting conditions vary not only from day to day, but from room to room in the same day. You could be going from outdoor shots under an overcast sky, into a dimly lit church, back out to a now sunny street, into a dimly lit limo, off to another dimly lit reception hall, and then maybe outside for nighttime shots.
This is why, as a wedding photographer, you absolutely have to pack the right gear and be ready for anything.
Lens Cleaning Cloth and Blower
Making sure to clean your lenses and camera sensor before a job is important, but always be prepared for sudden smudges or specks on your lens during a shoot as well. Be sure to carry a microfiber cleaning cloth and a high-powered blower to blast away any dust before it ruins your photos.
Most people carry at least two batteries. However, for a typical wedding job, you’re looking at a minimum of a 12-hour day, which means two camera batteries may not cut it, especially if you’re carrying more than one camera body.
To harness natural light when a location won’t allow for flash photography, use a white, silver, or gold reflector. This will allow you to give much-needed fill light in shadows. And it will produce a soft wrapping effect that’s perfect for any bride.
Multiple Sync Options
If you’re going to be using flash photography at any point during the wedding, be sure to use more than one syncing option. Pocket Wizards are the industry standard for radio transmitter syncing devices, but in the event the batteries die or you experience strange interference, it’s always wise to carry some sync cables.
Although star trails can be added in post, it’s always nice to get the effect in-camera for a more authentic look. Star filters come in different sized grids for various looks to add a romantic, dream-like effect to photos. Try it with a bride and groom surrounded by candles!
Multiple Memory Cards
This may sound like a no-brainer, but a rookie mistake is to bring only one or two large capacity cards for convenience. The truth is, cards can fail. And while nobody wants that to happen---especially during a wedding---it’s better to only lose, for example, 300 photos, rather than several thousand that you’ll never get back in the event of a corrupt card.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a place with ceilings that are too high to bounce your flash off, so you’re stuck shooting direct. Even if you lower your flash settings, the look of direct light can be rather unflattering, so always keep some inexpensive snap-on diffusers in your bag. Your bride will thank you for it.
Sounds like another no-brainer, but with the selection of zoom lenses out there, it’s very easy to think you’ll pack just one lens for the whole day and won’t need anything else. Aside from zooms not being as sharp as prime lenses, you can’t rely on one lens having every focal length you’ll need for the day.
Packing three lenses, at a minimum, will help ensure the right shot every time. If you’re worried about the time it will take to change lenses on the go, take an extra camera body with you and keep two lenses mounted at all times.
A super-wide, perhaps 15-20mm, lens is great for dramatically wide shots. A regular 50-85mm is just right for most of the shooting for the day. A telephoto in the range of 200-300mm should have you covered for those one-of-a-kind shots you spot from across the room. Remember, playing with various focal lengths can give you some really creative results, so make sure to go beyond that 18-75mm kit lens and pack some extra glass.
Keep in mind this list isn’t intended to be the final word on what to bring with you. Know your clients and the locations you’ll be working in ahead of time and consider if you’ll need any extra tools. And for more tips on shooting events, sign up to become a member of the PT community.
Are you a wedding photographer? What challenges have you overcome by carrying the right gear to every event?