Shooting your first couple of weddings can be intimidating – you’re capturing one of the most important days of someone’s life, and you don’t want to be fumbling to find the right lens or fighting with a full memory card the moment they lean in for their first kiss.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of our wedding kit must-haves. Of course, certain occasions require some additional gear to be added in – like a telephoto lens at a mountain elopement or a towel for a particularly hot summer day – but we’ve gleaned our list here down to the basics.
The Right Camera Bag
Finding the right camera bag to suit your needs is no easy task. Often, it requires buying a bag, trying it out over the course of a few shoots, and then realizing it doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head. Through (lots of) trial and error, we’ve come to recognize our non-negotiables in a camera bag. Our bag needs to be made of a durable fabric to hold up to all the things we cart around with us – you’ll see. We also need a bag with lots of pockets to help keep us organized. One big pouch, though seemingly the simplest choice, makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for.
2 Camera Bodies and 2-3 Lenses
We like to bring two camera bodies, each equipped with a different lens so that we can quickly toggle back and forth, and a camera strap that lets us carry the two bodies at once. The camera bodies in your kit should be bodies that you are intimately familiar with – the point of having more than one camera with you is to make shooting more efficient, not slow you down! Make sure you’re really comfortable with all the controls on both bodies, and know what you want to use each body for.
For the lenses, we usually opt for a 35mm 1.4L II and a 50mm 1.2, but also typically carry a short telephoto lens as well depending on the venue. We use a 85mm 1.4 lens to capture the first kiss during the ceremony and during speeches at the reception.
Batteries and Storage
Always pack more batteries than you think you’ll need, and always pack more SD cards too. Our rule of thumb is to pack three-times more storage than you anticipate using – it’s way better to have extra than to run out! You’ll also want to invest in a waterproof card holder for your storage cards to keep them protected.
We typically use the dual card slot to make sure we have an instant backup and use 128gb cards. We also regularly pull our images throughout the day onto a laptop or external hard drive as a backup, and don’t delete any photos from the SD cards until everything is edited and the gallery is delivered to the client.
Wedding Party Touch-up Kit
Like Laurken mentioned in her Behind the Lens blog post, when you’re the wedding photographer, you’re relied on for a lot more than just taking photos. People often look to you for advice on everything from timing to the way they look. So, we like to pack a few things to help the wedding party look their best – bobby pins, stain remover, Kleenex, hair ties, and sewing kits have come in handy more than once.
Almost all weddings extend into the night, where you lose all your natural light. So, having a flash that you love becomes key for capturing all the smiling faces at the reception. Whether you opt for an additional flash bounce or a pop-up bounce card, you need to find a system that works for you and for your style of photography.
And don’t forget to pack extra Lithium batteries for your flash!
Lens Cleaning Kit
When you’re shooting elopements or destination weddings, your camera may get dirty and need to be cleaned – things like mist from the ocean or a waterfall, sand or dust, or even rain are not uncommon to come across. In our kit, we like to pack a lens blower to dust off our lenses and camera, and a microfiber cloth with a lens cleaning solution.
A Schedule of the Day
We always give our clients suggestions on when to schedule certain events for the wedding based on when the best lighting will be. Closer to the wedding, we create a photo-specific schedule to send to the couple using Honeybook, and confirm the timing of the reception events with the wedding planner or DJ to make sure we’re in the right place at the right time.
Snacks and Water
Keeping yourself (and your second shooter) fueled for the day is essential. Typically, a wedding day ends up being anywhere from 9-12 hours long for the photographer and while you’ll often get a plate of dinner, we recommend packing snacks just in case. Something easy and quick to eat during downtime, like a granola bar or beef jerky, is a good move so you aren’t removed from the action for long. We also opt for snacks that are not super sugary, because crashing off a sugar high during the middle of the ceremony isn’t good for anyone.
What are your wedding day must-haves for your kit?