I remember about 4 years ago I was reading a blog post that another photographer wrote on what camera equipment they used. It was so cool to see what he was using because, honestly, at that point, I was somewhat winging what I thought was good to have for a wedding day. That’s where I first read about and fell in love with the Canon EF 35 mm 1.4 L series lens! Ever since then I’ve thought it would be cool to give others a look inside my bag to see what gear I use on a wedding day and what I’ve seen are things that are really necessary and not so important to have.
So here we go…
Pictured above is the entirety of my bodies and lenses that I have with me on a wedding day. Just two years ago though I only had half of these and did just fine! Before expanding my collection to fit different needs, all I had was the 35mm, 50mm, 135mm and one Canon 5D Mark III. Aside from flashes, batteries and camera straps that we’ll talk about soon, those really served the purpose of all I needed for a wedding day! And for 6 years of business none-the-less! One common misconception that I hear a lot from photographers is that they have to get better equipment to be a better photographer and I just don’t think that’s true at all… which should be SUCH a relief because this stuff is EXPENSIVE! Get the main items you need to do a good job and then focus on educating yourself on how to use those well. Then and only then would I recommend continuing to invest in more lenses and bodies.
Let’s break down exactly what’s in my bag and what I don’t think you should live without and what you should hold off on investing in…
We’ll start with bodies:
– (2) Canon 5D Mark III’s: It took me a while to get to the sweet spot with a camera body, but once I shot with a Mark III there was NO turning back for me. This full frame camera has been everything I need and more! I actually have shot with the new Mark IV even and still prefer the III. For whatever reason, I like the coloring on it a bit better, so I’ve stuck with the older version. I use to only have one (and somehow got away with not having a backup camera for about 6 years) but knew I needed to have an extra on hand just in case anything would happen to mine during a wedding day. I’ve actually always bought mine used off of Ebay, but another great thing to look into is a refurbished one from Canon so you’re not paying the brand new pricetag.
Now onto lenses…
– Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM: I just upgraded to the newest 35mm from Canon and am LOVING it! This newer version has less chromatic aberration than it’s older brother and is a bit sturdier. I wrote above that the blog post I had read 4 years ago introduced me to the 35mm lenses and after shooting with one I’ve never turned back! I honestly use this lens about 85-90% on a wedding day. The reason I love it so much is that with it being a bit of a wider lens, I never find myself in too tight of a spot. Most photographers will say that the 50mm is their go-to lens, but for me, the 50mm cuts me off a little too much when I’m in a tight space. So having the 35mm on allows me to pull back enough even when it doesn’t look like I have enough room. It’s also amazing for big room shots for the reception, ceremony and dancing pics! To me, this lens is a MUST for wedding photographers!
– Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM: There’s no denying it, this lens rocks! It’s the go-to for most every portrait photographer. That 1.2 f-stop will allow for some beautiful bokeh and some awesome use of low light! I use it just a handful of times on a wedding day (since the 35mm is still my go-to) but it’s one I find myself pulling out during parts of the ceremony and the reception…. especially during the special dances.
– Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM: This was another lens that was recommended to me from a fellow photographer and it quickly became one of my favorites. It gives me that reach I need for ceremonies that I didn’t have nearly enough of with the 35 and 50mm lenses. Once I’m done with the processional at a wedding, this 135 stays on my camera for almost all of the ceremony to allow me to get those closer shots of the bride and groom. We tend to stay back during the ceremony so we’re not distracting, so this helps us keep a distance without missing any shots or emotion!
Those three lenses listed above are my must-haves! The 5D Mark III, 35mm, 50mm and 135mm are all I took to weddings for a few years. And they worked GREAT for what I needed them for!
These next lenses below are ones that are great to have but ones that I wouldn’t necessarily say are necessities right away…
– Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM: If you look close enough, you’ll see this lens of mine has been loved VERY well. So much so that it sports a nice piece of scotch tape that’s holding on the autofocus/manual focus button. Ha! I’ve kept this older brother to the 35mm II USM around because of sentimental reasons but mostly so that if I have a second shooter who needs to go do reception shots and doesn’t have a 35mm, they can use mine to still grab the big room shots!
– Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro: For a while there I actually just used these Polaroid Macro Filters over my 50mm lens to get the close-up ring shots that we all swoon over, but it was definitely more finicky to handle… but for $20 they did a pretty nice job! Once I had saved up a little though, I finally got the 100mm macro which gave me a little bit more flexibility and room for error when doing those close up shots. This is the one lens I decided not to get the L series grade for because I only use it for a handful of detail shots at the beginning of the day, and it’s done a great job for me so far!
– Canon EF 70-200 f/4L USM: This lens we added to our arsenal last year. This bad boy is the only zoom lens I have. Prime lenses are definitely my favorite because of their stability and the fact that they’re amazing in low-light and also help me move my feet to get different angles and shots. But I do have to say having the 200mm reach is nice! This lens is a lot cheaper than it’s much newer and cooler younger brother the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 II USM but if you don’t need the low light capabilities that the f/2.8L gives you, then paying $1,200 less for the f/4L seems like an ok trade-off. This is one that I don’t use too often, but when we need that extra bit of reach, it comes in handy!
That’s it for the lenses! Now let’s chat about some other essential items for your bag for a wedding day…
– (2) Canon Speedlight 430EX II Flashes: These flashes aren’t the coolest in town but they have done the job for me over the years and I’ve never even looked into anything else because what I need them for is exactly what they give me! If you find yourself in a dim lit ceremony or getting past the point of relying on your low light abilities for your camera body during the reception, you’re going to need an off-camera flash. This is another MUST for any wedding photographer. You need the ability to create light when there isn’t enough given to you. This flash is super easy to use and has manual or auto settings that allow you to have complete control over it! I have two for if a second shooter needs one at any point during the day. I don’t do any light stands yet 🙂
– (2) MagSphere Flash Diffuser: Oh man! My friend Bekah told me about this flash diffuser and it has been a game changer!! I’ve tried different diffusers and they would either fall off the flash super easy, not give quite the coverage that I needed or be so bulky that I hated putting it on my flash, but this MagSphere has been nothing but amazing! Using a diffuser helps your flash go a long way. It helps so that you don’t run out of battery as fast because your flash isn’t having to work as hard and it covers more distance with the light you’re given. Do yourself a favor and grab one of these if you’ve been on the lookout for a good flash diffuser!! And make sure to grab the MagGrip that attaches onto your flash so that you can actually put it on your flash. It acts as a magnet to the diffuser and a SUPER strong one at that! You have to pull to get that thing off of there. Which if you’ve ever battled with a diffuser constantly coming off, you know what a blessing that is!
– (2) BlackRapid Cross Shot Sling Camera Strap: THIS STRAP YA’LL! I have tried so many different straps from the regular canon strap to the cutesy straps and even no strap at all… but this BlackRapid strap has been a game changer! No more sore necks at the end of the day and no more camera getting in my way. This strap allows the camera to go around your back or by your hip and hangs across you so it alleviates any sore neck or back you might be used to having on a wedding day! Again, I have two so that my second shooter can use the second one so we are uniform 🙂
– Energizer Rechargeable AA Batteries: I use to go through a pack of batteries so easily during a wedding day. It took me way too long to figure out that there’s probably a better option. I finally got some rechargeable batteries for my flash and it’s been a lifesaver! I have about 16 (4 sets so that I have two sets fully charged for each flash for the day).
– Canon Battery Pack LP-E6N: I carry about 6 fully charged batteries with me on a wedding day. Only half of those are actual Canon batteries though. There are other off-brand batteries out there that are much cheaper, but they don’t hold a charge for near as long.
– Lexar Professional SD + CF cards: I have 2 128GB SD memory cards, 1 128GB CF card and 1 64GB CF card. I have both a 128 CF and SD card in my camera and I give the 128 SD and the 64CF to my second shooter so that they can use those for their camera. One of the awesome things about the Mark III is that you have a dual card slot so you can have a back up for your images right there in your camera! I like to have larger memories for my cards so that I don’t have to worry about changing them throughout the day. Your writing speeds do make a difference for the speed at which you can take a picture and have it record to your cards, so make sure to research that and get the writing speed that’s right for you!
And last but CERTAINLY not least…
– The Libby Kelly Moore Camera Bag: What would all this equipment be if it didn’t have the perfect home for it to be carried around in? Pictured above is the first version of miss Libby (which I actually like more) but the link is to the new 2.0 version since this baby isn’t in stock anymore! There are not many camera bags out there that can carry all this gear but this beauty does it in style! Kelly Moore has a huge array of bags that are all amazing and great quality that will last! I’ve had her for about 3 years now and I don’t see giving her up anytime soon!
Well folks, there ya have it! All my gear for a wedding day! Obviously, there’s much more to be said about each individual item and what exactly it does, but I just wanted to give you a quick overview of what’s in my camera bag! Maybe just like I was introduced to my favorite lens from a blog post like this, you’ll find your new favorite here too! If you’re not ready to upgrade to this type of equipment just yet and want to check out what I recommend starting out with, head on over to see what My Favorite Beginner Camera is!
Feel free to comment below with any questions about any of the gear I’ve talked about!! We’re all in this together!