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Inside the Bag of a Wedding Photographer: What You Know (and may not know) I Have at Every Wedding

Updated: Mar 15, 2019

When I first started wedding photography, I had no idea what I was doing. What gear do I need? Which lenses are the best? What the heck are speed lights, radio triggers, battery grips, and diffusers? I scoured the internet for equipment list and recommendations. And now I'm here! Hopefully this list will help you as your start your quest to become a wedding photographer.

Now, before I get into the exact gear I own, let me give you my list of BARE MINIMUM ESSENTIALS that you must have before you start shooting solo weddings.

A versatile zoom lens

- This is going to be your best friend right in the thick of things. When you're shooting a ceremony, reception, etc., you won't have time to fumble around for a second lens. Get something that will cover all the focal lengths you'll need in a split second.

Your go-to prime beauty

- Find an incredibly crisp lens in your favorite focal length and cling to it like your life depends on it. I recommend something with large aperture capability, like a 1.4.

Speed lights

- "Do I really NEED to have a flash for my camera? I'm a natural light photographer." YES YES YES, a thousand times YES. I used to think this until I shot my first wedding in a dark reception hall and had huge amounts of grain and the photos turned out terribly. Get a speed light. Maybe 2 or 3 or 4. Learn OCF (off-camera flash) and make it your best friend. (Make sure to remember your radio triggers! Check out Strobist for some great tips to start out with OCF).

So many extra batteries

- Camera batteries AND flash batteries. You can never have too many.

So many extra memory cards

- You'll never forgive yourself if you run out of space on your memory cards during a wedding.

A second camera body

- This doesn't have to be the most expensive or the best, but you MUST have a back-up camera body. I shot for a long time with a Nikon D7100 as my backup. I never had to rely on it, but if my D750 had failed, at least I would have something!

Optional - A dual-camera harness

- If you're shooting with two cameras (very handy if you want to use more than one lens and now have to constantly exchange them on your bodies) you have GOT to get a dual camera harness. You can find them on Etsy (I got mine here) and I couldn't survive a wedding without it.

Now, let's jump into my personal full equipment list! And would you believe that my collection has already grown since I took the above photo? I can. Oh, I can. I looove getting new equipment and finding new favorites! A little look into my collection:

- Nikon D750 DSLR

- Fuji X100t Mirrorless

- Tokina 11-16mm Lens

- Nikon 28-300mm Lens

- Nikon 35-70mm Lens

- Sigma 35mm Lens

- Nikon 50mm Lens

- Nikon 85mm Lens

- Tokina 100mm Lens

- Yongnuo YN560 Speedlight (x3)

- Gary Fong Flash Diffuser

- Nikon MBD-16 Battery Grip (x2)

- Prolite Tripod

- Amazon Basics Light Stand (x2)

- 6 (and then some) Batteries

- Battery Charger (plus about 5 more)

- 5 (and then some) High-Speed Memory Cards

Like I said, I love my gear. Below are some better photos of my faves, as well as how and what I use them for. On any given wedding day, you can find most of these in my bag, but my fave wedding lenses are:

- Nikon 28-300mm Lens

- Sigma 35mm Lens

- Nikon 50mm Lens

- Tokina 100mm Lens

You will find these in my bag on every wedding day!

My baby, the Nikon D750. I will never let go.

Yongnuo YN560 IV Speedlight. I use these for all my indoor receptions with Cowboy Studio remote triggers and my Amazon light stands. Literally a lifesaver for those dark reception halls.

Nikon 28-300mm 3.5-5.6G Lens. This is my Big Mama. The most versatile lens in my collection, it's perfect for wedding ceremonies, receptions, and events of all kinds because of its wide range. However, it doesn't provide a wide-open aperture like my favorite lenses. Still, it's incredibly useful, sharp, and perfect for variety.

Sigma 35mm 1.4G Art Lens. Oh, my love. This is on of my favorite portrait lenses and is perfect for wide shots and large families.

Nikon 50mm 1.4G Lens. Now THIS. This is my portrait holy grail. The Nifty Fifty. This girl (yes, it's a she) is a beautiful focal length and is tack sharp. Always. I will love this lens until I die.

Tokina 100mm 2.8D Macro Lens. Want amazing detail shots? Buy this baby. She will give you crystal-clear ring shots you never thought possible. I've never been so excited about my detail shots.

In addition to gear, I also have a myriad of emergency items in my wedding-day bag. You really never know what a bride (or groom, or bridesmaid, or MoB, or aunt, or cousin) will need on the wedding day. For these just-in-case moments, I carry a container with:

- Small mirror

- Dental floss

- Sewing kit

- Scissors

- Hair ties & bobby pins

- Bandaids

- Toilet seat covers

- Breath mints

- Dress tape

- Pen & paper

- Oil blotting paper

- Chapstick

- Q-tips

- Tampons

- Eye drops

- Safety pins

- Rubber bands

- Eyeglass screwdriver

- Tweezers

- Nail clippers & file

- Antiseptic

Most of these are in a cute pack I got from In a Pikle - a great website that lets you customize a cute little emergency kit with some travel-size essentials. I'm able to fit a huge amount of items in a small package, and it takes up a camera-body-sized space in your bag. Check them out!

I also carry a full styling kit to help make my brides' detail photos pop, but that's for another blog post - I'll update this post when that one is available! Until then, I hope this is helpful for anyone looking for a place to start when putting together their wedding day essentials. Of course, your selections and favorites will probably differ from mine, but this should give you an idea of what to start looking for.

Happy shooting!


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