Business + Branding Education for Fearless Boss Ladies
This post is part of the series, The Ultimate Guide To Being A Wedding Photographer — advice for running a successful wedding photography biz. Click here to view a list of all the posts in this series.
“Oooooh — great photo! What camera do you have???”
How many times have you heard that one?
If you’re a professional photographer, like me, I’m guessing it’s a lot.
The thing is, do you think anyone ever said to Michelangelo, “Great ceiling! What kind of brush do you have?”
Or to Emily Dickinson, “Love that poem! Which pen did you use??”
I highly doubt it. But for some reason people seem to assume expensive camera = amazing photograph. Which can be true, but not always. It depends on the artist behind the camera.
I got caught up in the “expensive camera myth” myself. I thought if I got all the latest and greatest gear, I’d magically become a pro. And because of this idea, I spent way more money than I should have, first starting out.
I had just launched my new wedding photography biz, and I was starry-eyed and optimistic. I thought because I had my new gear people would be beating down the door to work with me… and as you can probably guess, it didn’t quite work out that way.
My business grew slowly, and looking back, my gear list should have matched it’s growth. I don’t think you need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment right away. (If you do have that kind of money in your budget you should probably spend it on stuff that’s gonna get you clients — i.e. marketing, branding, advertising, etc. — then as your biz grows, grow your gear list with it).
But you also can’t show up to a wedding with just your iPhone.
Unlike a portrait session, which you can re-shoot if you have equipment failure, etc., a wedding is quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime event.
You NEED to show up prepared and with reliable equipment. Whether you’ll be paid a lot, a little, or not at all, shooting a wedding is a huge responsibility. And it’s an honor that you should treat with the utmost respect.
So, I’m going to share my Wedding Photography Gear List with you today. These are my favorite pieces of gear for the wedding day — a list that I’ve curated over 9 years. It’s changed as my shooting style has changed. Yours probably will too. So, even though I’m sharing what my kit looks like now, remember you can start small and add as you grow!
Obviously, you’re gonna need a camera. In fact you’re going to need at least two. Cameras can fail. They can be stolen. You can drop and break them. Any number of things can go wrong with a camera, so you need to have at least two whenever you show up to a wedding.
If budget allows I would suggest a full-frame digital camera. My main camera is a full frame (Nikon D750), and my backups (Nikon D300 & D300s) are crop sensors.
Weddings are kind of crazy because there are so many different types of shots you need to get (portraits, details, landscape, etc.). So you’ll need a variety of lenses to get the shots you want.
I personally prefer to shoot with only prime lenses. They are a fixed focal length, so instead of “zooming” the lens you actually have to move your body closer or further away from your subject.
I like that because it makes me more aware and engaged with the image creation. You also can’t beat the image quality of a prime lens.
However, regardless of whether you want to shoot prime or zoom, you’ll need a variety of lenses that cover a range of focal lengths.
Here is what I carry:
I spent the first half of my wedding photography career as a “natural light” photographer. Really I was just scared of Off Camera Flash. However, once I started learning about it, I fell in love!
Whether or not you want to get into OCF, I’d suggest you still invest in at least one flash for those tricky reception lighting situations.
Here’s what my lighting kit looks like:
Here are a few other necessary items I like to keep on hand for the wedding day:
And there you have it! Remember that great photographs come from great photographers, not expensive cameras — start with the essentials and grow your gear as you grow your biz!