What's in the bag...

Wedding photography gear list

 

Overview of most of my "essentials" for a wedding.

 

A very important question to ask when considering your wedding photographer is what gear do they bring to a wedding. While it's not a surefire way to determine the competency of a photographer, it's a good starting point. Professional photography equipment is high quality and, usually, expensive. There's a reason why a professional wedding portrait looks A LOT different than your iPhone pic! :p

Here's a list of what I have in my gear locker and why I own it. While I don't bring everything on this list to every wedding I shoot, I do bring most of it! The variety of lenses, cameras, and lighting equipment allow me to quickly adapt to changing lighting conditions, cater to my client's style, and stretch my creativity... 

  1. Nikon D750 DSLR Camera x 2
  2. Nikon D500 DSLR Camera
  3. Fujifilm INSTAX Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
  4. Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens
  5. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens
  6. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Lens
  7. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens
  8. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Lens
  9. Auto Focus Macro Extension Tube Set
  10. NEEWER 160 LED CN-160 Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel
  11. Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight x 2
  12. Yongnuo YN685 Wireless TTL Speedlight x 2
  13. Yongnuo YN-622N i-TTL Wireless Flash Transceiver & TX Controller
  14. HoldFast Gear Money Maker Two-Camera Harness
  15. Various light modifiers and reflectors
  16. Lots and lots of batteries and memory cards :)
  17. Newest Addition: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

1. Nikon D750 Camera (x2): The D750 has been the standard for wedding photographers since it was introduced. It may not be built like a tank, but it has one of the best, if not THE best dynamic range of any camera on the market. What does this mean? This means I can shoot in dimly lit rooms, or after the sun goes down without having to use a flash. This allows me to be more discreet and shoot more naturally without intrusive or distracting lighting. I spend the majority of the day with one of these on each hip! Bonus: It's smaller and lighter than the flagship cameras which is a big deal when I'm carrying two of them (With lenses!) for up to twelve hours at a time.

2. Nikon D500 Camera: This camera is a beast! It's not a full frame camera like the D750 (It has a slightly smaller sensor), but the performance more than makes up for the sensor. The D500 has the same autofocus system as Nikon's flagship, $6k, camera the D5! It also shoots 12 frames per second with a nearly unlimited buffer. This means when there's fast-paced action (Think: bouquet toss, grand entrance, first look...) I can nail the focus AND the perfect moment without waiting for my camera to transfer photos to the memory card. #gamechanger

3. Fujifilm INSTAX Wide 300 Instant Film Camera: Yup. I bring an instant camera to weddings. I love the reactions I get when I pull this thing out. I put it up to my face, ask people to smile, and when the photo pops out of the top they lose their minds! I usually shoot 10-20 instant photos per wedding and deliver them to the bride and groom before I go home for the night. I love being able to share something tangible with the couple the night of their wedding. It can take weeks to deliver a fully edited wedding gallery, so it's nice to know they've got some fun, REAL, photographs to share in the meantime. :)

 
  Instant photo taken with Fujifilm INSTAX 300.

Instant photo taken with Fujifilm INSTAX 300.

 

4. Nikon D5300 Camera: This little guy is by no means a professional camera and it doesn't come to every wedding. I use it as my photo booth camera. I put it on a tripod, connect it to studio flashes and a remote and let the guests click away! It captures beautiful photos and I don't have to worry if someone kicks it over :p While it's not a truly professional camera, with my pro lenses, I could use it as a backup in a pinch.

 
  Photo booth shot taken with Nikon D5300. 

Photo booth shot taken with Nikon D5300. 

 

5. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens: This lens is part of Nikon's "Holy Trinity." It is by far the best and most versatile portrait/event lens I've ever used. This is the long lens I use primarily during ceremonies and portrait sessions. It's razor sharp and renders those super creamy out of focus backgrounds that make portraits POP! It also allows me to stand back from a moment and zoom in allowing for a natural, uninterrupted moment.

 
  Candid pre-ceremony portrait taken with70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens.

Candid pre-ceremony portrait taken with70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens.

 

6. Nikon 85mm f/1.8 Lens: I use this lens a lot during cocktail hours and receptions. The f/1.8 aperture allows a lot more light to hit the sensor, meaning I can shoot at faster shutter speeds with less light. This is awesome for dimly lit rooms and environments. This is also one of my go-to portrait lenses for portraits. It's super sharp even at wide-open apertures. Love, love, love this lens!

7. Nikon 50mm f/1.4 Lens: This lens is a good "walk-around" lens. If I'm roving between events this is the perfect lens to make sure I can be ready for anything. The 50mm lens has been a favorite of street photographers for decades for this reason. If I want to capture the room, I take a few steps back. If I want to capture a portrait I take a few steps in and fire away. This lens is a must have for most photographers. If I had to shoot an entire wedding with ONLY one lens, this would be it. Luckily, I won't ever have to do that... :p

8. Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens: This is a wide angle zoom lens.  This lens makes me happy every time I put it on my camera for two reasons. 1. It means I'm probably going to take a sweeping landscape shot of the ceremony site, venue , or with the bride and groom. I love landscape shots!  Or... 2. DANCING!!! When the party kicks off and everyone hits the dance floor, this is my lens. Why? Because I'm not the photographer who shoots from the side of the dance floor. I'm ON the dance floor shooting the action. This lens combined with a flash lets me shoot up close and personal to capture all the night's shenanigans! 

9. Auto Focus Macro Extension Tube Set: I carry this extension set with me almost exclusively for ring shots. It attaches between the lens and the camera and effectively turns any lens into a macro lens. This means you can focus really close to little things, making them big. Why spend over $1k on a macro lens when these little guys do the trick for less than $40?! 

 
  Dancing shot taken with 14-24mm lens and Nikon SB-800 speedlight with MagMod MagShpere. #partytime! :)

Dancing shot taken with 14-24mm lens and Nikon SB-800 speedlight with MagMod MagShpere. #partytime! :)

 

10. NEEWER 160 LED Panel: This light is cheap, but powerful! I mainly use this for detail and ring shots in low light. It's quick and easy to hold in one hand and shoot with the other. It allows me to quickly shoot beautiful detail shots then get back to the action. I've also used it to light exteriors for long exposure night shots. This is a nifty piece of gear. 

 
  Ring shot captured with NEEWER LED Panel handheld camera left and extension tube. Rings are in a pizza oven. I like to think outside the box :p Disclaimer: No rings were harmed taking this photo.

Ring shot captured with NEEWER LED Panel handheld camera left and extension tube. Rings are in a pizza oven. I like to think outside the box :p Disclaimer: No rings were harmed taking this photo.

 

11. Nikon SB-800 Speedlight (x2): This is my workhorse Nikon speedlight. It's compact and powerful! I will often set a pair of these up on the edges of the dance floor to capture moody dance shots. This is the lens I attach to my camera when I'm shooting dance shots. It's completely reliable and works like a champ.

12. Yongnuo YN685 Speedlight (x2): Similar to the SB-800. Depending on the size of the scope and the wedding, I can link these up with the SB-800's for even more light in bigger venues! 

13. Yongnou YN622N Wireless Flash Transceiver & TX Controller: These things are awesome. I attach the TX Controller to my camera and the Transceivers to my flashes (Up to four) around the room. I can change the flash power/settings from my camera without having to run around to each flash. Again, huge enabler for speed and creativity. 

14. Holdfast Money Maker Harness: As much as I hate to admit it, this harness get's me more compliments than anything else I bring to a wedding. That's funny, because I bought it for function, not fashion. It just happens to work even better than it looks! The Money Maker allows me to carry two cameras (With the possibility of holding a third) all day with little fatigue. This is HUGE for a wedding photographer. The harness is made in the USA of genuine leather and bullet-proof hardware. It allows me to switch from one camera/lens combo to another in seconds! This is vital when shooting fast-paced weddings.

 
  I can't say enough good things about the Holdfast Money Maker camera harness. Looks great, works even better! 

I can't say enough good things about the Holdfast Money Maker camera harness. Looks great, works even better! 

 

15. Light Modifiers and Reflectors: I bring a variety of flash diffusers, modifiers, and reflectors to weddings. Whether I need to soften my flashes on the dance floor, block the sun for a portrait, or reflect some light into shadows, it's good to know I've got these tools at my disposal! My most-used light modifier is my MagMod MagSphere.  I attach this to my speedlights to make the flash look a lot less harsh. I also bring along a couple 6 foot LED light strips for fun and romantic effects. 

16. Batteries and Memory Cards: This is a no-brainer. I bring A LOT more cards and batteries than I will ever need to every wedding I shoot. If there is ever a time to be paranoid it's at a wedding! I treat every wedding like it's my own. So yeah, I'd be pretty bummed if the photographer at MY wedding had a failed memory card or dead batteries. Luckily David was a true professional an nailed it!

Well, now you've seen inside my bag! What is your favorite piece of gear for weddings? What is the one thing you can't leave home without? Comment below and share!