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An Essential List of Equipment Every Beginning Wedding Photographer Needs

I have been asked many times what equipment should one get: lenses bodies and e.t.c. I myself was spending hours and hours on comparing and looking at tiny little details about qualities of lenses. What Canon or Nikon can do or cannot, prices and you name it.  After weeks of research you bought that  piece of glass or a camera body and you start finding that this is might not be the exactly what you need e.t.c. Waste of time and waste of money. I want to mention that I have made all the mistakes one can make in search of something that suits my needs. I wasted money and time because I had no one to tell me what is good and what is not. I never assisted to anyone and I never had any idea what kind of equipment exists out there since all I knew is my Russian made Zenith. I even had to learn all the terminology since English is not my native language. So here I am after all the mistakes done I do not want you the beginner or even the intermediate wedding photographer to repeat something I did and something I saw through the numerous forums.

I’m writing this article for those who wastes their time in searching the ultimate solution. I have met and heard about many photographers who try to shoot with just one lens. There are some most weird combinations. I even saw a wedding that was shot entirely on “lens baby”. This is all great and if you can do that then you probably know what you are doing and your client pays you exactly for this look. However, I strongly believe that a commercial photographer (and wedding is a pure commercial assignment) should be a professional.

Maya Plisetskya once said  that she prefers a professional that can create an art according to the clients request then an artist that creates something substantial once in a while. So lets put away a notion of one lens guy for  later and let’s give our couple a portrait, a candid, a detail, an emotion, an abstract, a classic, and a simple beautiful family shot. Again, if you are a one lens guy I would like you to comment if you don’t agree that a nice 200mm at f2.8-f4 shot of a couple talking to each other is not worth having in their album of shooting a family formals with something longer than 80mm is preferable.

So here is the wedding photograpger’s list:
You should have a backup for everything you carrying to a wedding.This means the backup for the body , the lens, the flash. Choose something very cheap but have a backup. DO NOT LEAVE without it!! Buy a simple 200-300 dollars SLR on e-bay. Basically you have to have something that is capable of taking pictures in case your camera is malfunctioning.  If you have an assistant use his camera as your back up.
2. The body: Canon or Nikon will do. Basically anything will do as long as it is DSLR. When choosing the bogy look at how it perform in low light. A low light capability is the most important thing. All the other parameters are pretty much equal if we are talking about low end bodies.
3. The lens: It must be 24-70 F2.8.  Don’t eat and don’t go to movies. Save for this lens. If you deciding about several primes it will be ok as well but I find that 24-70 much more versatile although it is very heavy and some people might not be able to handle that weight.
4. Save for a year or 2 and get 14-24 F2.8 or something similar.
5. Save for one more year and buy 70-200 f2.8 with VR
6. Flash: buy the best one you can(it must be practically the same as the top of the line but just less powerful) Save for a year and buy
the best one.
7. Very important!!!! Exercise:) With all that equipment running all day long you better be in shape :)
8. Get insurance. Some sort of professional insurance MUST HAVE. Ensure your equipment and ensure yourself from accidents. Do not leave to shoot without it! PLEASE!

The beginner wedding photographer check list

  • 2 bodies
  • 2 lenses
  • 2 flashes
  • great stamina
  • insurance

Stop wasting your time in search of perfect lens. Simply buy the one the was recommended and you will be good to go.  Once you start shooting and time passes you will understand yourself what else you need and what gadgets you want to buy in the future. I have almost any lens upto 200 mm, 8 flashes, pocket wizard, radio poppers, sync cord, every camera body Nikon produced in last 5 years e.t.c. I didn’t buy all that in one day it took me years. So don’t worry, grab this little advice and it will serve you well.

Until next time,
Educational blog

  • February 4, 2010 - 1:32 pm

    Gabriel - Hi Michael!

    Thank you for this post. One thing I would like to know though. What insurance broker do you recommend? Do you have a local one, or one from abroad? I’ve been trying to find a solution with this problem and I found a few brokers but none of them are from Montreal.

    Thank you for your help!


  • February 6, 2010 - 12:08 pm

    admin - Hello!
    There are plenty of them in Montreal. Do not look for insurer that is specific to photography. Look for business insurer.
    I don’t know who is mine since this is in the hands of my manager. I just made sure I have it.

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