Gear check: What we bring to every wedding!!!
For a bride and groom, preparing for a wedding can be quite the task! There are many details that need to be considered. Everything from style, lay out, decorations, timeline, orientation (of how things are laid out), weather, whose going to sit where and I could go on. As wedding photographers, preparing for a wedding is much the same for us. Though we come with all of the equipment you’ll see here (and multiples of some items), careful considerations are made and much meticulous thought has taken place before we ever show up the day of your wedding, about how everything is going to be used. This will be a helpful and fun glimpse into the who, what, when, where, and why when we approach your wedding day!
Canon 5D series
The Canon 5D series of cameras have long been considered the go to camera of choice for professional wedding photographers when it comes to Canon lovers! We specifically use the Canon 5D Mark III and the new to the market Canon 5D Mark IV. Scour any forum on camera for weddings and/or the Canon 5D Mark series and you are likely to see statements like ‘Canon’s workhorse’ or ‘stellar low light performance’. These trusted and true cameras come with us to every wedding and though there are a few cameras out there (some Canon, some other brands) that offer higher megapixels, or Frames Per Second shooting, and low light performance, usually you end up compromising in the end. The balance that the 5D Mark III and Mark IV offer of all of these attributes makes them so versatile in all situations that we never feel like we need something better. From detailed shots of a beautiful wedding dress, to low lit receptions, and fast moving wedding guests on the dance floor, this camera can do it all and do it all with amazing color and sharpness! As a bonus, being one of the top of the line cameras that Canon makes, they put in a great deal of time and effort into weather proofing these cameras. This isn’t to say they are made to operate submerged in water or in heavy rain for long periods of time, but a light rain or sprinkle during your wedding ceremony means we’re still good to keep on shooting! Note: We always bring an extra 5D Mark III as a back up to every wedding just in case any accidents happen! (cough cough – JOE- cough cough).
Canon EF 70-200 F/2.8L IS II USM
When it comes to wedding photography, this lens was truly a game changer for us! Though it is often touted as an amazing portrait lens (which it totally is!) we’ve also found use for it as a great photojournalistic lens as well as wedding ceremony lens. When we say photojournalistic, what we mean is a style that lends itself to capturing the day as it unfolds. Shooting everything in its most natural state with minimal interference from the wedding photographer. These shots are often referred to as candid shots or moments and are generally typified by pictures of happenings throughout the day of the bride, groom, or their wedding guests not looking at the camera. It could be a fun shot on the dance floor, an emotional moment between a bride and her father or family and friends laughing it up! Often times it’s recommended that for this style of shooting you utilize a fixed lens with range such as a 35mm lens, 50mm lens, or 85mm lens. Many wedding photographers will even stick with this lens the majority of the day. When it can become more difficult is trying to capture some of those awe-inspiring moments but also not being seen. As those of you who know, a 35mm is a relatively wide lens and requires a photographer to get up relatively close to capture some certain details. Depending on the set up, time of day, etc. this ultimately takes a chance on ruining a shot as many times people are not willing to be themselves when they ‘know’ the camera is on them, it’s just a natural tendency. Being able to zoom up to 200mm allows us to shoot moments completely uninterrupted from across the room and capture them in beautifully sharp detail as Canon does a brilliant job with the image stabilization on this lens allow you to focus fast on subjects that may be far away and shoot on the fly without worry of the photo turning out fuzzy. In fact, this is Joe’s favorite lens for capturing candid expressions and fun, during the wedding reception, truly allowing us to take the fly on the wall approach when needed. One of the other things we love about this lens (amongst many!) is that it allows us more versatility during a wedding reception to capture certain details without missing anything or more importantly, being in anybody’s way. Capturing the groom’s expression as he sees his beautiful bride walking down the aisle for the first time or zooming across the floor to see a mother’s tears of joy as her husband gives their daughter away. The overall ability and versatility of this lens allows us to capture more moments, shoot more discretely, and deliver a better final product! Bonus: This lens also allows us to get amazing bokeh, or that soft creamy blurry background that many love for certain shots! The ability to go down to f/2.8 also make this a dynamic low light performing lens!
Canon EF 24-105 F/4L IS II USM
The 24-105 is a brilliant lens which offers just about everything you could want in a lens! Being able to go all the way down to 24mm allows this lens to capture a fairly wide angle to give you a picture of the whole scene. On the flip side, by being able to zoom to 105 in an instant, you are able to transition to close up details! Throw in the image stabilization previously mentioned with our last lens, and the ability to go down to f/4, this lens really can do it all! In fact, we often joke, that this is “Jenny’s lens” as there are many weddings where this will be the only lens she uses (with a few exceptions) because it can literally do so much and do it all quite well! This is quite the contrast to Joe who is constantly switching lenses working on different angles and looks. Throw all this together and it gives us our unique style throughout the entire wedding day!
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
The 50mm lens is often referred to in photography circles as the ‘nifty fifty’ and for good reason! Generally the 50mm lens is pretty darn good at just about everything. While it does have its limitations with certain aspects of photography, it’s a sharp and fast lens and it’s particularly great for low light shooting being able to go all the way down to f/1.8 which can also provide quite amazing bokeh at the right distance. This is by far my favorite dance floor lens because it’s a little on the smaller side so I don’t have to worry about it poking out and hitting anybody. At 50mm it also allows me to get up in the actions, but also show the scene. You feel like you are right in there on the dance floor with some pretty fun angles, but not too close where you can’t tell what’s going on. . It’s also a great portrait lens and often when we take the bride and groom for their couples’ portraits, Joe will use this lens for some up close intimate detail shots at different angles which is great because it really gives a completely different feel to the photos.
Canon EF 100mm F/2.8 Marco USM
Have you ever seen those up close shots of the ring or other elements of the wedding that you were in awe at the level of sharpness and detail and how up close it was? Us too! Which is why we got this bad boy! Without putting you too sleep with technical mumbo jumbo, the macro lens is able to fit the image of whatever your taking a picture of onto the full frame without loss of focus or detail, which lets you really pull out all of the details of whatever your focusing on. In our case it’s usually wedding jewelry, keepsakes, and in some cases table décor, but many nature photographers use these for up close images of bugs and flowers pulling out colors and details not usually visible to the naked eye. Though this is probably our least utilized lens in terms of time it actually spends on our cameras, we definitely would not leave home without, as the difference in quality for the handful of shots we will take with it, is that noticeable!
Sigma 17-35mm f/2.8-4 EX DG IF HSM Aspherical
Wow, that one was a mouthful! (lol) This is without a doubt one of our favorite lenses to work with during the wedding day and many of our engagement sessions. This is a wide angle lens and its use is just like what it sounds like, for wide images! When we utilize this lens, we are trying to not only capture the couple we are working with in the frame but also, the entire scene to really help paint the picture of the day. This lens allows us to pull more into the picture on each side which often times will create a more visually aesthetic image. For instance if I want a great picture of the bride and groom but I also want to pull in a beautiful background or landscape element to the photo as well, this would be my go to lens. On top of that, it also allows you to capture more of the architecture of your surroundings if you are in a more urban setting as well as the entire inside of the reception. This lens is also super fun for dance floor photos pulling just about everybody into one shot and in a pinch, I can zoom to 35mm and have a solid portrait lens for on the fly action! Fun Fact: We love taking shots from a balcony with this lens of everything below, especially in chapels or churches as it really helps highlight all of the beauty of the scene from the bride walking down the aisle to the architecture of the church!
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
This lens is our trusted back up for just about anything! When we were first starting out with the Canon 5D series lenses, this was our first lens and helped us hone in on a lot of our skills. We always keep this lens on our arsenal as it can be used for many different reasons fairly well! It doesn’t zoom quite as far as the 70-200 but 135 is a good amount of zoom. It doesn’t go as wide as the 24-105 but 28 in many cases is wide enough and it’s not a true macro lens but it’s macro-capable, so in essence, this do it all lens many times ends up being our back up for just about everything, or our ‘insurance policy’ if you will! It’s also great when you need to switch from wider shots to a close up. That dynamic range really lends itself to being flexible with many aspects of wedding photography, especially wide open outdoor receptions.
Canon 600EX II-RT
These are what you’ll often hear us refer to us speed lights! They are small, quick and easy to use, and very versatile to many different situations. These flashes will often be mounted to our camera and depending on the situation or the lighting, we may use them or we may have them off, but we are always ready with a little extra light when needed (or a lot for that matter). For certain situations we will also mount these up off and away from our cameras for creative shots, we use them to ‘paint’ with extra light and to create a more dynamic lighting for certain images like dance floor photos. Many times we will utilize 2 or 3 on the dance floor and 1 or 2 on our cameras depending on the look we are trying to create. For us and our style, speed lights are a must and even on a well-lit day, you can still find good use for them. NOTE: Even on a nicely lit day, we may still utilize these to help warm the tones and fill in shadows on the face.
Canon 430EX II
There are times during a reception, especially if it’s dark, we will utilize all of our 600EXs for off camera flash. When this happens, we will usually throw the 430EX on one of our cameras as a back-up flash when needed because when it comes to a dark reception or dim lit venue, you can never have too many flashes. Though this flash is technically our back up, it still provides the perfect amount of light for some of those darker areas and when used in conjunction with our entire flash set up, it can really help to create some creative images!
Canon LP-E6N Lithium-Ion Battery Pack
We always come to every wedding with 6 of these bad boys just in case! We could probably get away with 2 each, but the assurance of having that 3rd one is always comforting! We always have one in our camera, one in our bag, and one usually on us in our pocket because you never know! Generally the moment they reach less than half power, we will change them out when the action slows down in order to avoid a dying battery when things start picking up at your wedding. For all day weddings we will bring a charger and always throw one of these on charge while we are shooting with the others in order to ensure we always have a back-up available.
SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro CompactFlash Memory Card & Extreme Pro 64GB SDXC UHS-I Memory Card
No memory cards, no pictures! Thankfully our cameras carry one of each of the above so we are always shooting with two memory cards available. This is important because if one memory card fills up, it will simply start transferring data to the other without missing a beat. Though rare, but it can happen, sometimes a memory card will even go corrupt (sadly it’s one of those facts of life, but we are thankful this has not ever happened to us), in the event that the card goes bad, your camera will switch to the good memory card! In addition to this, we always bring 2-3 extra SD cards, especially for longer weddings. High quality digital images can take up a lot of space, so you will fill up a card faster than you think!
Westcott Rapid Box - 26" Octa Softbox
Though we prefer natural light when we can, there are times when our rapid box is completely necessary and highly desirable. This allows us to place light exactly where we want it, from whatever direction we want it. By using the soft box, it also allows us to spread the light giving it that soft look that most brides desire for their portraits. It also allows us to use extra light in addition to our on camera flash depending on the effect we are going for. Many times you’re trying to create a more dramatic image where the subject really pops from the back ground. For example, in the case of the photo below with Trisha and Jeff, if we set our exposure for them, we would lose that beautiful purple sky just after sunset which would really leave this image flat. On the other hand by just exposing for the sky, we would keep the fun color, however our couple would be lost in dark shadows. At this point we expose for the sky (actually underexpose for a slightly more dramatic image,) and use the power of our off camera flash to off set Trish and Jeff being underexposed. Once the flash power is dialed in, you have a fun beautiful image that highlights our beautiful couple but still keeps that beautiful Asheville sky! Fun Fact: We will also use our rapid box set up stripped down as simply a tripod when needed to give a different look to the photos, depending on the set up and ambient light available.
Westcott uLites Constant Light Head w/Collapsible Soft Box
Probably the least used item in our wedding arsenal is our set of hot lights. These lights we use only when the room/space is VERY dark and the bride/groom do not prefer us using flash, or if the venue does not allow it. These lights give off a constant light (think about a high powered version of a lamp in your house). These can also help provide more light to the dance floor for those couples that have a particularly dark dance floor area for their venue but would prefer photos that are more lit. Flash can accomplish this as well but the effect tends to be a bit more contrasted where as these lights can help brighten more area vs. just the subject. NOTE: These are also great in a pinch! Think inclement weather striking and you’re forced to do your group photos inside. These can also help light up a larger space indoors to fit multiple people for group photos!
AA Rechargeable Batteries (lots and lots of AA batteries!)
We usually bring around 32-36 fully charged double A batteries to every wedding! The Speed lights we mentioned earlier love to eat double As for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so we always bring plenty especially for venues with indoor receptions in low light!
Our smiling faces :)
The last and most important thing we promise to bring to every wedding to ensure you have an amazing wedding day is a positive, solution focused, creative outlook! Working with couples, and their friends & family on their wedding day is our passion! Every wedding is it’s own unique opportunity to create something special. As the day begins, it takes life and presents priceless moments. It is our mission at every wedding we attend to capture these moments, even when no one else sees them.
We hope this blog has been a fun look behind the scenes to see what goes into prep for a wedding day!
-Jenny & Joe