I feel like this post is long overdue – now you’ll know what I have in my bag (as of Spring 2017)! I use a lot of photographer jargon in this post, so if anything is confusing, just drop me a line at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to answer any questions! This is all the gear I have found to be very helpful while photograph weddings, people, and small businesses. The links lead to the product’s pages on Amazon and B&H Photo – both great paces for buying gear – quick shipping and easy returns when needed.
Camera bodies! I use currently use a Canon 5D Mark IV and a Canon 5D Mark III as backup, or my second camera body. I am very happy with the Mark III. It does well in low light (but apparently not as well as the 5D Mark IV – I just bought it and have yet to shoot enough with it to judge it). Both models have a dual card slot. I consider the dual card slot essential for professionals, because it ensures that you’re keeping your clients’ photos as secure as possible by always having the files in at least two places, from the very moment you snap the photo!
Lenses! Lenses are one of the most important parts of my gear collection. I chose prime lenses for their low aperture capabilities and sharpness. My core lenses are the Canon 50mm 1.4, Sigma 35mm 1.4 (apparently sharper and definitely less expensive than its Canon counterpart), and the Canon 135mm 2.0. I sometimes use the Sigma 24mm 1.4 for extra-wide shots and the Canon 100mm 2.8 for macro shots.
If I had to only use one lens on a shoot, it would be the 50mm 1.4. Its length is great for causing little distortion and for creating a blurred background to help keep focus on the subject.
The 35mm 1.4 is a close second-favorite lens. I often shoot with two camera bodies, especially at weddings, and some combination of the 50, 35, and 135 are usually on my camera bodies! The 35mm is great for couples (or larger groups) because it deepens the focus plane a bit without loosing the beautiful, blurry background.
I don’t know what I ever did without the 135mm 2.0. I always, always use it during wedding ceremonies and during parties/receptions to be able to take authentic candids without people feeling like a camera is invading their space. I love to compose a shot around an person or two and just wait for them to laugh! This is one of the ways I get natural candids. Not to mention, the 135 makes beautiful couple portraits too and gives them a little extra space to just be with one another, since I’m farther away.
Flashes! I use Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes. They are awesome because they sync wirelessly, which makes it easy for me to photograph receptions more naturally by having one flash on my camera, pointed at 45 degrees to bounce off the ceiling and walls, and another flash on a stand, high enough to not be too invasive to the guests’ experience when it flashes. I’ll write a full post about why I am so thankful I started bringing an off-camera flash to weddings soon!
Bags and accessories! On wedding days, I use an Ona backpack (for cameras and lenses, and smaller things like extra batteries and memory cards, both SD and CF), a small Ona shoulder bag (for water, medicine, snacks, and other personal essentials), and a long, narrow Manfrotto bag (for my flashes, flash stand, rechargable AA batteries, and other lighting accessories). For small business or portrait sessions, I usually use my smaller Ona bag and pack 1-2 bodies, my 3 favorite lenses (50, 35, and 135), and no flashes, since I schedule these shoots around the day’s sunrise and sunset times.
A few of my favorite accessories are the Magmod flash diffusers and the Holdfast double strap. The Magmod gear lets me bounce my off-camera flash widely without an umbrella (which I wouldn’t mind, but they are much more obvious and bulky). The Holdfast strap lets me wear one camera on each side and balances out the weight, which definitely helps my back on long wedding days!
I also use two 128GB memory cards per camera. They are expensive, but I love them because by having all the day’s RAW files go to two 128GB cards, I never have to switch cards, miss a beat, or worry about the photos all being in one place. I normally don’t even open my camera’s card slot until I’m home from a wedding and about to put the photos on my hard drives!
Speaking of hard drives, I work off of Transcend 1TB portable drives from my Macbook Pro (hooked up to a monitor when I’m in the office), and back each of these 1TB drives up to 3TB Lacie drives. This system has consistently worked well for me! I also end my photo workflow by uploading each final set of edited JPG photos to Smugmug, where my clients can view their gallery and easily share the photos with family and friends. I also send wedding clients a pretty custom USB from USB Memory Direct so that they have another copy of the files.
I hope this post was helpful to you! Again, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more questions, and I’ll be happy to answer ASAP!