Friday, September 9, 2011

Essential Equipment for the Wedding Photographer

One of the first questions a photographer that is entering the wedding field will have is what equipment is needed in order to cover the day in full. That is a very good question and an arbitrary one at that. I am going to do my best to name some of the equipment that I find to be most useful. I will also try and name some equipment that is helpful, but not a necessity. Let's get started!
The first item that you need is obviously a camera. And not only one camera, but two cameras. Murphy is walking around and looking for his next victim and you do not want to have to explain to your clients why you cannot continue to cover their "once-in-a-lifetime" event. If you do not have two cameras, no problem. You can rent good quality cameras online for a very reasonable price. There is no reason that you should not have a backup camera. My suggestion is to get a camera exactly like the one you have and set all of the settings the same so that you will be able to work seamlessly. Another advantage to having an extra camera is that you will be able to equip it with another lens and have it handy for fast shooting.
The second item(s) on the list is, of course, are lenses. Notice that lens is plural, meaning that you need more than one. I have bought many lenses trying to get the perfect combination. The truth is that you can cover a whole wedding with two lenses, no matter what the size, or location, or condition of the wedding. The two lenses of choice are the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8. Most every manufacturer of lenses makes these two focal lengths. The wide aperture is very important in wedding photography because of the low-light situations that you WILL encounter. You will use f/2.8 a lot. These two lenses will cover everything from a wide shot to a really zoomed in shot. Another reason that two lenses is good is because you only have to keep up with two lenses. When I use prime lenses, it seems that I am always having to retrace my steps and look for a lens that I hid somewhere think that I would remember to get it. (I guess I should add an assistant to this list so that you have someone keeping up with your gear.)
Third item on the list, a camera flash. I understand that most cameras have a flash built into them, but sometimes (and most of the time) they just don't put out the power that is needed. I recommend that you get a flash that you can tilt and swivel the head. This will allow you to bounce the light off of the ceiling and walls and give a much more natural look to your photos. Not only can you tilt and swivel the head of these flashes, but they also put out a lot more power than a built-in flash. In wedding photography, there will be times when you will need a substantial amount of flash power, like the reception when most of the lights are dimmed. You can pick up a decent flash for around $200.
And the fourth and final item on the list is a combination item. Memory cards and batteries. Be sure to have enough memory cards and batteries. These things are cheap and you should have plenty of them. It would be bad to run out of battery power and/or storage space. Here is why: My first wedding I only had about 20GB worth of storage space. I brought my laptop in order to dump my files that way I could format my card and never run out of space. I filled up a card and then started to dump the files. When I got back to my laptop, I found that someone had managed to step on my cord and unplug my laptop from the wall. It was off... Thank goodness I did not format that card. All of my images were there, but it was a big enough scare that I promised to always be prepared from then on. Batteries are the same. You cannot rely on charging batteries at the venue. Things happen unexpectedly and you have to account for those things beforehand.
This list is a bare minimum that I would carry to any wedding. It always helps to have backups of every item. For instance, a couple of flashes, a few lenses, tons of batteries and memory cards. I understand the cost associated with photography equipment and that is precisely why I wanted to compile a needs list of equipment for wedding photographers. I hope this article was informative and stay tuned for more tips in the near future.


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