Equipment to Bring on a Photo Shoot
I get asked frequently by wedding guests who are also photography enthusiasts what I bring with me to a wedding photography session. I, generally speaking, have the same gear with me at all of my weddings, give or take. I also have an extensive equipment wish list that grows longer every time I get my monthly issue of Shutterbug, so feel free, readers, to donate any of the items on that list.
First things first, I have two camera bodies. I only shoot with one camera at a time, but I keep the other one around as a back up in case my first one has a melt down, refuses to work, gets dropped in a swimming pool, etc. None of these things has actually happened yet, but I have nightmares about them often. I use a Canon 5D as my primary camera, and I have a Canon 20D as a back up. I love the 5D, it is an amazing camera, but as the first item on my wish list, I would like to include the Canon 5D Mark IV because of its low light capability, plus I love anything shiny and new.
I always include my workhorse lens, my Canon 24-70 2.8 L lens. If I had to choose only one lens to bring to a wedding photography session, that would be it. I love the wide angle for big group shots, I love the nice crisp images it produces and I like that it isn’t so hefty and long that I can’t interact with my subjects.
I also bring my 50 mm 1.8 lens. I got this lens used from a classified add for $50 bucks and I have loved it since day one. It is such a great little lens for such a small amount of money. That being said, (and I say this with the utmost respect for the little guy) the second item on my list would have to be the Canon 50mm 1.2 L lens. I have rented and secretly coveted this lens for some time now. I love shooting that guy wide open, and the super low aperture means I can shoot in darker spots without any fill flash! Small word of warning? I have not been able to find that lens used or otherwise for $50 or anything even close. If you must own this lens, beware, he ain’t cheap.
The newest addition to my camera bag is my Canon 100mm macro lens. I love, love this lens. I can get amazing detail shots of tiny things with it when I am doing wedding photography, think wedding rings and words on invitations. It is incredible.
I also have been known to rent the Canon 70-200 lens from time to time depending on the wedding I am photographing. I have a lot of photographer friends that use and love these lenses, especially when they are doing children’s portraits. I like to have it around in case I can’t get close to the altar during a wedding. I don’t use it often enough to buy, and I can usually rent them from my local camera rental place for around $40 dollars.
Other Equipment Goodies
In addition to these lenses, I also bring a Canon Speedlight 480 EX. I don’t use it often, but it certainly does come in handy in those low light situations, or times when everything is backlit. I also have a transmitter, which fits in the hotshoe on my camera. I use this to photograph the first dance, the reception guests having fun, etc. I love setting the flash up on a tripod somewhere else in the room and seeing what kind of effects I can get while firing it from the transmitter.
I always bring all the memory cards I have, I like to buy mine to hold no more then 4 gigs at a time. I have a pathological fear that I am going to have a card go bad or get lost before I can dump it, and I would much rather lose 2 or 4 gigs worth of raw images, then 8. Yes this does mean a lot of switching and storing, but as I may have mentioned before, I am a little nutty and this helps me sleep at night.
I also have a reflector disk that I bring if I will have an assistant to hold it up when I need light, and carry it around when I don’t. If not I don’t bother, although it does seem like every time I don’t bring it, I find that I really could have used it.
Unrelated to the camera, I also try and bring gum, some sort of snack and water to a wedding photography session. If my assistant is with me, she brings water also. It can be somewhat exhausting on a long shoot and staying hydrated is a must. I also have a pack of baby wipes, a pen, a pad of post it notes, and some business cards. Once I found a “littlest pet shop” pet in my bag, and although I am not sure how it got in there, it helped to quiet a fussy flower girl when we were nearing the end of the photos that day.
So that’s it. That is what I bring with me. You may notice that I am partial to Canon, but that is only because Canon lenses are awesome. ( I once owned a lesser brand and became extremely dissatisfied when the macro/micro button got stuck in the wrong position and there was no way to fix it. ) The key to a good bag of equipment is having things in there that you are comfortable using, so practice and get good at using what you have.