I have a confession. The first wedding I photographed I used an entry-level Nikon DSRL and a 50mm lens with the kit lens as my backup. That was my entire kit.
I was lucky enough to not have anything go wrong with my camera or lenses (and I didn’t need a flash because it was a daytime wedding). However, I would NOT recommend what I did.
Why? Because I was playing with fire.
If my camera or lens stopped working, I wouldn’t have been able to finish photographing the wedding. And well … that would have been awkward and pretty terrible, don’t you think.
I get it. When you are chasing your dream and trying to grow your biz, money is freakin’ tight. You might not be totally sure where to spend the little money you have and what gear you really need to photograph a wedding.
So, I’m breaking it all down for you.
If I was to start all over again, I wouldn’t photograph a wedding (no matter if it is a daytime wedding or not) without everything below.
Here are the SIX pieces of photography gear that you need to have to photograph a wedding.
+ PROFESSIONAL CAMERA x 2
Yes, you NEED to have two camera bodies to photograph a wedding. I would suggest 2 full-frame cameras, but if you can’t swing that, start with one full-frame camera and snag a crop-sensor camera as your backup body.
You literally never know what could happen to your camera, so it is so important that you always have two working cameras with you. Because if you only have one, and it stops working / a memory card gets stuck / the shutter won’t release …. what would you do? Photograph the wedding on your iPhone? Yikes ….
I have had all of the above happen to between wedding days and shoots, but guess what, no one EVER knew because I always had backup gear.
Save yourself the possible anxiety and upset client, and don’t photograph a wedding unless you have two camera bodies.
other options : canon 5D IV
+ LENSES x 2
I would start with a portrait lens like a 50mm lens and a long lens like 70-200mm (especially if you photograph weddings in churches).
If you can’t afford to buy a 70-200 mm right away, go ahead and rent that lens. I used to rent this for the first year of my business when I didn’t have the money to own this lens. But this was the next lens I invested in. I use it for the ceremony, first dance, toasts. My second shooter uses this when we do candids off the wedding party and the bride and groom.
Tip : If you can’t afford to buy the Nikon or Canon lens, look at a Tamron or Sigma lens. These lenses are much more affordable and they are a great way to add this to your bag without spending a ton of money.
+ FLASH x 2
I know what you might be thinking? Isn’t one flash enough, Brittany? But here’s the deal, you NEED to have two flashes no matter what.
The reason for this is because if you only have ONE flash and something happens to it — it falls, it stops firing, a guest knocks it over (…and yes … all of these things have happened to me), then you are SOL. You won’t be to crank up your camera to ISO 6400 and get professional quality images at the reception.
So go ahead, and have a minimum of two flashes (especially if you are using one as an off-camera light). I personally keep 3-4 flashes with me on a wedding day.
Other options : canon 600ex II-rt
TIP : If you cannot afford to purchase all of this gear, look into renting what you don’t own. I used to rent the Nikon 70-200 F2.8 for the first year because I wasn’t ready to see a $3,000 lens on my credit card.
You might be thinking that this is a lot of gear to photograph a wedding, but I promise you that you will feel calm no matter what happens on the wedding day knowing you have backup gear should something happen to your gear.
Interested in more photography tips + advice? Learn which cameras and lens I bring with me when I travel out of the country for personal projects.