It doesn’t get more stressful than wedding and event photography. You have one chance to get it right and do so in front of hundreds of onlookers. There are all sorts of things that can go right - gorgeous natural lighting, guests that strike a natural pose when photographed, and gear that works flawlessly each and every time. But there are lots of things that can go wrong, like gear that doesn’t work, which is why so many wedding and event photographers end up packing absolutely every piece of equipment they can fit into their car.
This guide won’t explore every possibility in terms of the equipment you should have. Instead, we’ll provide some insights into the gear you need to have to take gorgeous photos and make it an enjoyable experience for your clients and a profitable one for you.
Note that we’re speaking in the plural - you’ll need at least two cameras. Use one as your primary and the other as a fail-safe, or if you have a second shooter, give one to them.
Many wedding photographers utilize crop-sensor cameras and get great results. However, if you have a full frame option, go with that. Full frame cameras produce sharper images, have a larger field of view in the viewfinder, and have much better low-light performance than their crop-sensor cousins. They’re bulkier and more difficult to handle than crop sensor or mirrorless options, but the quality of the images will be worth it in the end.
Your second camera body can be a crop sensor camera, if you so choose. Its role as a backup means it doesn’t have to be the latest, greatest camera on the market. If you have two full frame bodies, great! If not, you will definitely be able to get by with a full frame body and a crop sensor backup.
Your lens selection will need to run the gamut from wide-angle to telephoto so you can account for various types of shots throughout the wedding or event. A 35mm lens is likely the widest you will need at a wedding or another event - it will give you distortion-free, wide portraits and the ability to take photojournalistic shots of the venue. You can even get close up and take portraits or action shots of attendees as they mingle, dance, and otherwise have fun.
Another must-have lens is a 50mm prime. This lens closely approximates what the human eye sees, so it is extremely easy to use. It’s also a highly versatile lens - use it to capture moments like the first dance at a wedding, portraits, or speeches given during an event. And if you spring for a fast 50mm lens, it will have excellent low-light shooting capabilities for photos taken later in the evening as the light begins to fade.
For the best portraits, you’ll need an 85mm lens. Without a doubt, an 85mm lens will give you the most flattering portraits. It does an excellent job of keeping the subject sharp and clear while isolating the subject against the background, even when you’re some distance away. Use an 85mm lens during the wedding ceremony when you can’t get right up next to the action, or during an event when your subject is on stage or in front of the crowd, but you can’t be up there with them.
To get more discrete images, you’ll need the power of a zoom lens like a 70-200mm. These lenses are perfect for weddings and events because you can hang back in the crowd and still get up-close images of your subject. The flexibility of the lens also means you can open it up for wider shots that give context to what’s going on.
There are tons of accessories you’ll need to make the magic happen. Some are plainly obvious choices - a tripod, multiple SD cards, multiple batteries, flashes, and flash diffusers. Other accessories might slip the mind of even the most seasoned veterans - microfiber cloths to clean smudges off lenses, a memory card wallet to keep your memory cards organized, safe, and on your person, and a blower to remove dust from your camera sensor. You might even need protective gear, like a rain cover, depending on the type of event you’re shooting and the weather conditions.
There are other accessories you should strongly consider as well. Where those listed above are on the practical side, accessories like a portable photo booth are essential for another reason: they make you more money. Set up a booth like the T12 Photo Booth by EZPhotobooths and guests at weddings and other events can line up and get their portraits taken without you even needing to be there. While you’re out and about taking photos of the day’s events, you can keep guests entertained as they make their way into the booth to capture moments on their own. It’s essentially like doubling your money without having to double the work!
The T12 Photo Booth is lightweight, made of high-grade aluminum, and is easy to set up - just add a tablet, a DSLR, and a ringflash, and it’s ready to go. Between the photos you take and the images captured by your mobile photo booth, you’ll have all the bases covered and will be able to provide long-lasting memories for those in attendance. It’s an easy way to add some fun and whimsy to the event while giving you a practical way to increase your photographic output without adding loads of extra work on your shoulders. That’s a situation that’s tough to beat!