New to your career as a wedding photographer? Here’s what you’ll need

New to your career as a wedding photographer? Here’s what you’ll need

If you’re just starting out as a wedding photographer, you may not know quite what to take with you to your first few shoots.

Whether you’ve studied an online photography course with Shaw Academy, or you have amassed experience elsewhere, a new career as a wedding photographer needs planning. Before you begin booking any weddings into your diary, it’s a good idea to make a list of essential equipment for the job.

As your career develops, you’ll find yourself adjusting this list to suit your own style and needs. And while keeping equipment to a minimum is a good idea for transportation purposes, it’s important to include everything you need to take the best possible pictures.

Wedding photographers need the skills and the equipment to be a success

Professional wedding photographers must balance a number of skills. As well as the technical knowledge required to take high-level pictures, it’s vital that you also have excellent customer service level skills. Having empathy for the client and understanding what they want to get from their photographs is important.

Weddings are among the most important life events for most people. Who they entrust the role of capturing the day is significant, and the work you produce as a wedding photographer will last for a life time.

Before you can develop the technique and artful style that will make you stand out from the crowd, you need to have all of the right equipment. Here are some of the essentials:

1. Cameras

The most obvious equipment, of course. But note that we say ‘cameras’, rather than just one camera. You should take at least two and preferably three cameras with you to the wedding.

It’s absolutely essential that you have back-up equipment so that if your primary camera fails you at the last minute, you’re prepared. Deciding on wedding photography equipment is about looking ahead at all the many things that could go wrong and making sure you have a plan.

2. Medium zoom lens

A medium zoom should be on your camera for the majority of the time, due to its ideal focal length. It’s ideal for wedding portraits and the kind of unrehearsed photojournalism that brings life to wedding photographs.

The lens offers both tight and wide perspectives, and because of the relatively wide aperture, you have some flexibility even in dimly lit areas.

3. Telephoto lens

The longer lens is obviously for capturing photos of events at a distance. For most weddings, this is most useful for the ceremony itself. You need to strike a balance of getting all the shots the client wants and staying as unobtrusive as possible.

Standing at the sides or the very back of the ceremony while using the appropriate lens is a good way of making sure you don’t block anyone’s view while you capture the big moment. This lens is also great for taking closeups of the happy couple later in the celebrations, such as the first dance or cutting the cake.

4. Prime lenses and a wide-angle lens

Some photographers would say these aren’t essential equipment, and it is largely down to your personal style. However, we think it’s best to be prepared for anything and having the ability to capture different kinds of photos is only going to work in your favour.

A wide angle will ensure you get ideal shots of big groups of wedding guests, or perhaps the beauty of the grounds or architectural detail of the venue. Tailor the number of lenses you take to the job you’re doing. If it’s a quick wedding registry job then you’re unlikely to need a wide-angle lens.

The prime lens will help you create some arty, dreamy pictures as it allows you to shoot in dark spaces too.

5. Speedlights or flashgun lights

Any photographer faced with shooting indoors, in environments with little light or against a strong contrast has a challenge on their hands. Whether it’s simply not enough light, or exactly the wrong type of light, these issues can cause real issues and compromise the quality of the final image.

A speedlight can help you to master the light available and take a better picture. While most cameras obviously have a built-in flash, an external flash can be the difference between getting the perfect shot when you absolutely need to or telling the client it can’t be done.

If you’re shooting in the evening or against a dark backdrop, or you need to get great shots in a dark church, speedlight techniques will make sure you can. The alternative is presenting grainy, dark shots to the client.

6. Batteries, chargers and memory cards

This kind of back up equipment is absolutely essential. Take more batteries, chargers and memory cards than you can possibly need. It’s always better to be over, rather than under-prepared.

Charge all of the batteries in advance to ensure they’ll last, but it doesn’t hurt to take a charger too. Expect to shoot around 60GB of pictures for a typical wedding and burn through at least two sets of batteries per flashgun and camera.

7. Light stands and a tripod

Again, if you’re low on light or you need more stability for your camera, a tripod could come in very useful. Light stands are ideal for placing your flashguns and speedlights on and adjusting their placement.

For the all-important portrait shots, using a shoot-through umbrella along with all of the above will help you capture the best pictures possible. This depends on the brief you have from your client. If they want formal, portrait style shots then this is your best option, while if they prefer more relaxed, reportage style shots you may not need to take this extra equipment.

Always work to the specific brief you have and ensure you talk with the client way before the ceremony to find out exactly what they want out of these pictures.