When I was first trying to break into wedding photography, the main thing I was worried about was whether or not I even had enough gear… or the right gear… to do an awesome job for both my clients AND the work I provided for other photographers. The last thing I wanted to do was to work alongside another professional and have them say, “Oh, just grab your ‘X’ lens for this part of the day,” and freeze in a panic because I didn’t own that piece of equipment. I didn’t always own all of this wedding photography gear when I shot my very first wedding. I started off with some basic pieces and slowly built up my beloved inventory.
Want to see EXACTLY what I have in my bag? Check out the Amazon links at the end of this article so that you can go straight to each piece of equipment!
As I go through my wedding photography gear list with you, I’m going to point on which gear I think if vital and which gear is more of a “nice-to-have” piece. In my last blog post geared towards Photography Education, I went over which lenses I recommend purchasing first (depending upon what you photography the most of) and what I mainly use them each for.
Here is just a nice, organized (because that’s just how I am!) list of all my wedding photography gear! Now I’m going to go into each of these categories and explain to you what each piece of equipment is, what I use it for, how significant I think it is, and if I know of any alternatives. As I expand my gear collection, I’ll be updating this Professional Photography Equipment page that shows everything I use: both shooting AND behind the scenes of running my business!
As you can see from my pretty gear list above, I shoot with two Nikon D850 camera bodies. The D850 is a full-frame, professional-grade camera body. If you aren’t sure what the difference is between an entry-level crop-sensor camera body and a full-frame, look at this handy dandy article linked here. Now I want to warn you, carrying around two camera bodies with lenses attached for a full 8 hour+ wedding can get really exhausting. During the first part of the day when things are a little slower-paced, like when I’m photographing the bridal details, I’ll stick to just using one camera body to save my back some stress.
Plenty of photographers use different models of camera bodies throughout the day, but I personally love sticking to the same model. I find that I can adjust my settings more quickly (since the buttons are in the same place on both cameras). Different camera bodies also have different color profiles. I want to make sure that if I take one bridal portrait with a camera body and then switch to the other body that has a different lens attached that I’m still getting the same type of colors in my images. Consistency is key!
Also, remember that you don’t have to carry around two bodies the whole day. This is just a shooting preference of mine. If you are crazy fast at changing lenses you could probably swing using one body just fine. BUT, please remember this: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have a second full-frame camera body with you. You are photographing a bride and groom’s wedding day. This can’t be re-done. You’ve got one shot. Camera bodies can and do fail unexpectedly. Be sure that you have another camera body with you in case this were to happen. You owe it to your clients to be prepared!
Don’t forget to have spare camera batteries with you, too! Honestly, I go to every wedding with fully-charged camera batteries in both of my cameras. It’s rare that I even have to change one throughout the day. BUT things happen. Batteries go bad. Or maybe I forget to fully-charge one. Always have a backup.
I need a way to carry around both of these camera bodies with me. When I used just one camera I would use a sling strap that went across my body. It was great. Now that I’ve upgraded to using two cameras I invested in the dual camera harness from Holdfast. I wanted a harness that would last a long time as well as look professional. I have not been disappointed! And this system is incredibly secure! The initial attachment to my camera body is great, but there is a backup clip too just to be extra safe. Love it!
If you missed my last Photography Education blog post, be sure to check it out! I go into detail about what I use each lens for and why!
You’ll notice that I don’t have strictly all Nikon-brand lenses (referred to as Nikkor) for my Nikon camera. I had to make very careful purchases with my money as I was slowly building up my wedding photography gear collection. After tons of research on my options, I looked for what I thought was the best value. I couldn’t afford to buy the absolute best-of-the-best, but I didn’t want to get something sub-par either. I’ve really been happy with all of the lenses I’ve chosen and haven’t regretted a single purchase so far.
Right now I don’t feel like I’m in need of any other lenses. I may upgrade some down the road, but I feel like I have every lens necessary for my style to cover the wedding day in the best way possible. Here’s a quick breakdown for what I use my lenses for throughout the Wedding Day:
35mm: wide portraits to capture the surroundings, large family groups, full reception room shots, reception dancing, portraits in really small spaces
50mm: portraits of family/bridal party/groups, full body bride & groom portraits, wider ceremony shots, portraits in small spaces, ceremony/reception details
85mm: portraits of smaller groups (2-6 people), bride & groom portraits, tighter ceremony/reception detail shots
105mm macro: bride & groom details (rings, cuff links, other jewelry, etc.)
70-200mm: First Look and ceremony time. I want to be able to shoot super fast and not have to swap lenses/bodies
135mm: almost exclusively for bride & groom portraits. I’ll use it for darker/smaller ceremony spaces, too.
I know starting to work with artificial lighting both on and off camera can be SUPER intimidating. I know I felt that way. But, in my opinion, in order to capture your client’s wedding in a high-quality manner, you need to know how to use it. You may be fortunate enough to where you have ample daylight throughout the whole day and don’t need to use any lighting. And that’s awesome! BUT you need to be prepared for days when that just isn’t the case. The only way to get more comfortable with On and Off-camera flash (commonly abbreviated as OCF) is to practice with it.
There are lots of different options for what type of delivery system you want to use for your lighting (speedlights, strobes, etc). When I decided to invest in OCF wedding photography gear, I had a few things at the forefront of my mind: 1. I don’t want to spend a TON of money on gear when I’m still new to OCF and will ultimately develop a lighting style over time. 2. I want something simple to use and that will allow multiple flashes to communicate with one another.
I am a part of more than a fair share of Facebook groups. Within those groups I would watch for people to post OCF-driven images and when I found a style that I really loved, I would just reach out to that photographer. How many flashes are you using? What is the brand and model? Do you need triggers to have them work together or are they built in? There was one speedlight that seemed to be extremely popular and well-loved. The Yongnuo 560 IV. I’ve owned these flashes for over a year and have NEVER had a problem with them. They’re reliable, easy to use, and don’t break the bank. Win!
These speedlights use AA batteries. I own about 4 sets of the white Eneloop batteries from Panasonic. There are black ones as well that are a tad more expensive; those are the “pro” version. Again, I consider myself as intermediate when it comes to lighting. So I didn’t go for the more costly option. I make sure all of my batteries are fully charged when I go to a wedding. I’ve never had an issue with batteries dying too quickly and leaving me with no light.
As I start to get more and more involved with OCF, I realize that sometimes I just don’t like the way my bare speedlight with the bounce card up looks. It just looks… well… too much like flash. So I started looking at light modifiers. I have a white translucent umbrella that I use periodically throughout the night. I also use different light modifiers on my light stands as well as with my on-camera flash. These other modifiers are all by a company called MagMod. I am completely hooked on all of their equipment and have purchased the majority of what they offer. The build quality is incredible and their system integrates soooo smoothly. The two featured here are the MagBounce (center) and the MagSphere (sides).
Now I wouldn’t say that light modifiers are an absolute necessity. There are countless wedding photographers that don’t use anything. Using them helps me get lighting that I find more appealing for my style. You may not ever use one and that’s ok!
There are a few things both on and off of my list that I think deserve a quick mention. I do own an ExpoDisc. There is a detailed article on how to use an ExpoDsic for a custom white balance (and save time on editing!) here. I used it very frequently when I first started with photography and I think it’s a wonderful too. Now I don’t use it as much on wedding days and instead use a custom Kelvin temperature setting. I do, however, think it is great for newer photographers as well as to get a more custom white balance for tricky lighting situations.
My camera body (the Nikon D850) uses two different types of memory cards: SD and XQD. During all of my sessions, both portraits and weddings days, I have every image copied to both cards just in case one card becomes corrupted. Better safe than sorry. In terms of storage size, I use mostly 64GB cards. I own a few 128GB cards, but they are a bit more expensive. For my SD cards, I stick to SanDisk and get the Extreme Pro version. It has the fastest read and write speeds available. The last thing I want to happen to is to be shooting a fast-moving part of the day only to go to take another shot and have my camera tell me it’s “busy.”
Having amazing images to show to your clients is an awesome feeling, right? But there’s one thing that you’ll need to actually be able to send these files to your clients. See, your camera will record your images in a file type (if you’re shooting in RAW– which you should be!) that cannot be viewed or edited without special photography-related software. That means all your cool wedding photography gear is useless without photo editing software! When I’m ready to start editing my clients’ images, the two programs that I use most are Lightroom and Photoshop provided by Adobe.
Since expanding my business over the years, I also use Adobe programs like InDesign and Premiere Pro. For those of you that are just starting out, the Adobe Photography Plan is a GREAT place to start and have the big tools you need!
Have a question about a piece of gear that I didn’t mention? Leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you with all the details!
And a special shout out to Luna for letting me play with my new softboxes.
I purchase almost all of my gear through B&H Photo Video and have NEVER received faulty/damaged equipment. Their prices are competitive and, most importantly, the shipping is super fast!
CAMERA BODY: Nikon D850 Full-frame DSLR
50mm Nikkor 1.4 for Nikon
85mm Nikkor 1.8 for Nikon
Suitcase Rolling Bag | Think Tank Photo Airport Security V3.0 Carry On
Side Camera Bag | Peak Design Everyday Messenger
LIGHTING & ACCESSORIES:
Yongnuo 560IV speedlight (I use 3 of these on a wedding day)
Impact Heavy Duty Light Stand (I use 2 of these on a wedding day)
PERSONAL FILMING EQUIPMENT:
My CLIENT Management Software: Honeybook (get a free trial + 25% off your first year when using this link)
My Photo Editing Software: Adobe Creative Cloud— beginners, start with the Photography Plan to get both Lightroom and Photoshop!
My Photo Delivery Software: Cloudspot (get 20% of your first year on any monthly or annual plan)
I am not paid to talk about or endorse any of these products. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means, at no cost to you, I may make a small commission when you click the links and purchase.
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Seattle, Washington.
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