March 4, 2020
When I first started doing photography I stalked other photographer’s blogs like nobody’s business. I was so eager to learn and wanted to know what kind of equipment all the photographers I admired were using. After five years, I’ve started to pick my equipment based on my own style and personal preferences. Now each piece of equipment I own is for a specific reason. I even have some pieces of gear in my bags that aren’t photography specific! Today I’m breaking down what’s in my bag and what I use each piece for.
Nikon D750 Camera Bodies
Since the beginning of my photography career, I’ve always shot with Nikon camera bodies! Originally it was because they were the first camera bodies I was given, but as time went on and I upgraded my equipment I became a die-hard Nikon fan! While I love the color on Canon and Sony cameras, I’ve found Nikons to have their own strengths. They are so sharp and handle low-lighting extremely well. Since I shoot almost half of my weddings days indoors in low-lit rooms having a camera body that could handle low-light was a top priority for me. I take both of these camera bodies with me on wedding days. Sometimes I shoot with both at the same time, while sometimes I have the other just on hand as a back-up body!
Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art Lens
On a wedding day or at portrait session my 50mm lens is on my camera about 90% of the time! This lens is a great starting point for any photographer! It is the lens in my kit that most closely matches the human eye. I use it through out the wedding day for getting ready photos, the ceremony, portraits, wedding party and the reception!
Nikkor 85mm f1.8 lens
If I’m being honest the 85mm is my favorite lens! It is a sharp lens with an amazing depth of field. When shot using a low aperture it produces fantastic bokeh, the creamy background that’s created from out of focus parts of the photo. Although it’s a little too tight to be great for large group shots, I love using it to get closer shots of couple’s during toasts or during portrait time!
Nikkor 35mm f1.8 Lens
My 35mm lens is probably my least frequently used lens in my bag, and I rarely take it out on wedding day unless a certain situation calls for it. This lens produces a wide-angle and sometimes the edges gets a little distorted because of this! I use this most frequently for large family portraits when my 50mm just can’t fit everyone, wide photos of the ceremony that capture the whole scene, or when a getting room is small and we need just a little bit of extra space!
Micro Nikkor 105mm f2.8 lens
If you’ve ever wondered how I get such close-up photos of engagement rings and other details this is it! This 105mm micro lens is my go to for shooting all the detail photos at the start of the wedding day. It allows me to get up close and personal with all of those small pieces of jewelry, invitation suites and florals. I also keep this packed in my bag when I go to engagement sessions to capture a few shots of the engagement ring while my couple is changing into their second outfit!
Sigma 135mm f1.8 Art Lens
This was the last lens I added to my current collection and I’m so glad I have it! It is SO HEAVY, but definitely a necessity if you are a wedding photographer. I use this lens the most during the ceremony to provide a wide variety of images to my couples. Often times as a photographer during a ceremony you’re limited to where you can move around and stand. You want to get close-up photos of the couple and the close family members during the ceremony, but you don’t want to be a distraction. The 135mm lens allows me to capture these close shots from a far distance so I can photograph all the happy tears while staying subtly in the background.
Nikon SB-700 flashes and Yongnuo Triggers
Lighting equipment is ESSENTIAL to my gear on a wedding day. It’s rare that you get a wedding that is entirely outside during the daylight and so there is often situations when I need to mix in artificial light to make sure a room is bright enough. I use SB-700 Nikon flashes and usually keep one flash on my camera and two others set up around the reception space on my Manfrotto light stands. Usually one of these light stands also has a Profoto translucent umbrella to soften some of the light just a little bit!
Attached to each one of my flashes is Yongnuo triggers. These sync my flashes so that when my camera snaps a photo they all fire at the same time. It’s vital that my flashes are all going off at the same time to provide the right amount of light for the room. Some flashes do allow you to sync them without triggers, but mine don’t. It depends on the brand and model you choose!
My Magmod kit doesn’t come out very often, but when I do use it – I love it! I only have the basics, but it works wonders for certain lighting situations. Most frequently I use the MagSphere to help spread out the light to make the light source bigger (in turn making it look softer). This helps get rid of unflattering shadows in certain situations.
Every wedding day I pack a styling kit with some of my favorite small details to help serve my couples better. Extra styling details help to elevate the wedding day details (jewelry, shoes, invitation suites) and capture them beautifully. My favorite styling detail to add in is fresh flowers that match the bride’s bouquet, but the florist doesn’t always arrive at the same time as me! Because of that I pack these extra tidbits to help elevate the items. My styling kit includes The Mrs Box ring boxes, ribbons (you can find these on Courtney Inghram’s Ribbon Shop and Honey Silks), vintage post stamps, and cheesecloths. I also pack a styling mat depending on the couple’s wedding colors to have a clean backdrop to capture everything on.
There are a some photography gear essentials that I keep in my bag that are a little bit smaller, and may seem like a given. However, these are vital to a successful day! This includes lots of fully-charged batteries (for my camera bodies and flashes), plenty of cleared memory cards (I prefer Sandisk Extreme Plus in 32 GB or higher), and a reflector.
It may seem silly, but I love having a camera harness! Wedding days are fast-paced and I often want to capture a moment with more than one lens. It’s rare that there is enough time to switch though! A camera harness is an essential piece of wedding photography gear because of this. After I’m done capturing the details, I hook both of my camera bodies up to my Holdfast Harness and wear them the rest of the day. I can keep two very different lenses on at the same time and provide a more varied gallery to my clients in the end. I usually take off the camera harness and just shoot with one camera body once dancing starts at the reception.
A few years ago I was coming home from every wedding with battered feet. I’m not joking! On most wedding days I’m on my fee about 8-11 hours and with the wrong footwear I was often leaving with bruised and bleeding feet and too many blisters to count. It made wedding days unbearable to shoot and the rest of the week uncomfortable.
That all changed when I found Rothy’s! These are the most comfortable flats I’ve ever owned, and I almost never get blisters even after working long days! The best part is they are machine-washable so I can quickly clean them off and have them fresh and ready to go for the next weekend. I ended up loving them so much that I purchase two more pairs in their sneaker style for vacations and running errands! Grab a pair for $20 off here!
It may seem goofy, but I love wearing a fanny pack on a wedding day! I even got one of my second shooters hooked on it! I keep a copy of the timeline, the family formal list and some batteries for a quick swap tucked in mine. It’s also a handy pocket to tuck my phone in so I don’t loose it on the wedding day! This one I have is from Teddi Joelle. They have tons of modern and stylish options!
As much as we don’t like to think about it the unexpected often happens on wedding days. After just a few weddings I was often asked for lots of small items I never seemed to have on hand. That’s when I created an emergency kit. This is something any wedding photographer can add to their gear with a quick trip to Target. I keep a little makeup pouch stocked with tissues, bandaids, Advil, bobby pins, a lint roller, toothpaste, mints, safety pins and a sewing kit among other things. The most valuable and most asked for item? A Tide To Go pen – I can’t count the number of stains my team has removed. It even made a bright red stain disappear from a bride’s dress once!
Finally, I would be leaving out a huge piece of my photography gear if I didn’t mention the bags that help me haul all of this around! I would be hopeless without my ONA Capri shoulder bag. I purchased this bag a few years ago and it has come with me to every single session or wedding since! It’s roomy and can easily fit my 13-inch laptop, one camera body and three lenses. Bonus the little dividers are removable so it can easily be rearranged. I’ve even brought this bag as my carry on for flights around the world!
The other bag I take with me to weddings is my Think Tank. It’s essentially the size of a carry on suitcase and can fit almost all of my gear! It rolls easily around most venues and if I ever need to fly with it will fit easily in an overhead compartment. If you’re looking for a way to cut down on the number of bags you bring on a wedding day. It’s worth the investment!
And that’s all the photography gear I pack for a wedding day! In the beginning I was quick to buy whatever I saw someone else using, but now if you’re just starting out I’d encourage you to explore a little bit. If you’re thinking about purchasing new lens take time to rent them from Lensrental.com (get $25 off here!) and make sure they’re the perfect fit before you invest!
I'm a Virginia wedding photographer serving the DMV and worldwide. I strive to balance the composed with the candid and capture vibrant, timeless images for my couples.
Six years of wedding industry has taught me a lot! This quick guide is designed for you two to get your wedding experience started with just a few easy steps!