When I thought about shooting weddings I always held myself back because I didn’t think that I had the best camera or lenses in the business. There’s nothing that’s sets the pressure high than when you see the Bride’s “Uncle Bill” seated at the wedding and he pulls out his big zoom lens and massive camera- you know, to just take a couple shots. (side note: don’t show up an be that guy. It’s insulting to the photographer and the bride and groom hired, paid, and put trust in who they hired).
Even though this intimidated me in the past I have definitely changed my thought process on this. Just because someone has amazing gear doesn’t mean their images or work are amazing. The bride and groom hire their photographer for a lot of reasons. Hopefully the main one is because they love his or her style of work. I’ve shown up to many weddings where someone has asked me what gear I have, what f-stop I would shoot something in, or better yet, they show you some of the stuff they photographed. If you’re here and you are an aspiring photographer let me tell you this most important thing (because I know someone needs to see this). Your work is your work. No one can create it like you. Put on your big girl (or boy) pants and do the job you were hired to do. Stay in your lane and don’t compare to others.
Before I dive into the items I bring with me to a wedding I need to make sure you read this correctly. Learning how to use a camera is an art form. Some people think that expensive cameras mean they could just take over and shoot amazing things but I can honestly say that is not true. If someone were to hand me a Nikon camera I could turn it on and click the shutter but I wouldn’t have a clue how to do any settings. Not only are the settings important but also the lighting, color balance, and more. Think of it like you’re getting into a friend’s car. All the settings aren’t right, you might not know where all the right adjustments are. Yeah you can drive it but are you comfortable and doing it well? Also in order to drive a car in the first place you have to take a course and have practice.
Let me start off by saying that I’ve been shooting for nearly 12 years and I just purchased my first full frame camera and lens- and it wasn’t cheap. Now you might be thinking, “Well if you only have one lens how do you shoot weddings?” It’s easy. I rent lenses. I do not recommend to anyone that they should purchase their camera gear on credit. Save up and then purchase what you need. I’ve also been known to rent camera gear so that I can try it out and see if I like it. If I feel that I would shoot with it often enough to make the purchase then I will work to save and get what I need. So with that said, Here is what I use on a wedding day.
WHAT I OWN:
Not pictured are batteries and lots of them!
WHAT I RENT:
I should start off explaining that I love to shoot with prime lenses. I am constantly changing lenses throughout the day. I love how each lenses brings a different element of beauty.
For those of you who don’t understand what different lenses are used for I’m going to break things down a little bit for you.
CANON 35MM 1.4 L USM: I use this lens as my go to for an instance where spaces are extremely tight. It allows shorter distances and can open enough to capture a lot of light. I also love to shoot family formals with this lens.
CANON 100 MM EF MACRO F/2.8L IS USM: This lens gives me the ability to get as close of a detail shot as possible. Some photographers might say that it’s not totally worth it to get this lens but I will tell you that this lens is second on my list to purchase. I’m a sucker for shooting details and this specific lens can focus and stabilize on the tiniest of details such as rings, beads on a dress, flower petals, jewelry, and more.
CANON 50 MM EF f/1.4 USM: This lens is certainly one that can provide a beautiful amount of light while also blurring the background. Especially if you’re in a not so great location. It can also be great for detail shots and portraits of the bride and groom in closer distances.
CANON 85MM EF F/1.4L I USM: Now if you have are someone that owns a 50MM you might be wondering why this lens is even necessary. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. But if you add this to your collection you are going to get the most amazingly soft dreamy portraits you’ve ever taken. I actually was able to rent this one this past year for some of my senior sessions and I totally fell in love. This is one I will most likely rent for years and years because it is a lens I don’t need but want. It lets in an incredible amount of light while also softening the edges. The only downside is that it needs the subject to be very still. I wouldn’t be shooting kids on that dance floor with this one.
CANON 70-200MM EF F/2.8L IS USM III: Let me start off by saying that this lens is quite a beast. It’s heavy and uncomfortable to shoot with. I don’t use it for a lot of the wedding but it’s important to have for the ceremony and reception. My second photographer will pull this lens out for when the groom is watching his bride walk down the aisle. I’ll also have them use it to capture the bride and groom exchanging rings, and for their first kiss. We then put it away until the reception when the speeches are happening. If I’m shooting alone I will use it on my second camera body to grab quick shots but otherwise I have my second shooter use it. Which brings me to the next item.
Second Camera Body: No one wants the fear of a camera malfunction during a wedding. Believe me, sometimes for no reason at all my camera can lock up and then I can’t do anything. This is why I recommend a second camera to any wedding photographer. It also allows me to have two cameras with go to lenses on to quickly grab multiple shots of the same thing but from a different prospective. I also recommend a second shooter because they can focus on the groom all day while I can focus on the bride. Not to mention during the ceremony they can grab shots of the family while I’m photographing the couple. Who doesn’t want a photo of mom in tears during the wedding?
CARLEEN CREATIVE BAG: It was difficult finding a bag that I could lug around a wedding day. Some photographers prefer a shoot sack but I like to have my bag open and ready to switch a lens as well. This is also where I keep my shot list so I can check it off throughout the day. This specific bag is designed for 1 camera body, and two lenses. However, if I’m holding my camera all day I can store 3 go to lenses and switch out as needed.
This concludes my gear for a wedding day. If you’re a photographer or enthusiast I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite lenses or cameras to shoot with. Or better yet, what are you currently using right now or hope to have?