Wedding photography is a difficult genre to summarize, simply because each wedding is different. In other forms of photography, such as landscape or studio portraiture, you can be pretty sure what equipment you will need to get the job done. Wedding photography is more complicated; one wedding could be outside in the midday sun whilst another could be in a dimly lit church.
The need for gear to cover every eventuality is great, and in this article I want to share with you exactly what is in my bag when I shoot a wedding. Before I get into it, I want to confirm that I shoot with two Canon 60D cameras, so my lens choices below are suitable for crop body shooters.
This lens is used sparingly and is perhaps used for only one picture during each wedding! But it’s invaluable because it has an extremely wide angle of view, allowing for great shots of the venue and of unique architecture. I also use this sometimes if the wedding party is especially big, as it allows me to get everyone in the photo without standing too far away.
Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
The workhorse. This lens is practically glued to one camera for the duration of a wedding, because it is quite simply one of the best lenses Canon has ever made. Its focal range is great, and most importantly, it features image stabilization, which allows for handheld shots in low light. The 17-55 is also great for evening receptions as its focal range allows for candid photos in the tightest of venues.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II
This lens is expensive but worth it. If you can’t afford it, then I suggest either renting it or getting the 2.8 IS Mark I. Another alternative is to purchase the Sigma 70-200 2.8 OS, which is every bit as good as the Mark I. This focal range is vital for a wedding ceremony, especially when the venue or officiant demands that you stand well away from the couple as they exchange vows. It allows you to stand at the back of the church or on the balcony and still capture intimate moments with ease.
Canon 50mm f/1.4
This is a great lens which costs around $400! Its wide aperture allows low light shooting in the dimmest of receptions. It’s a fantastic portrait lens and great for grabbing shots of the wedding party and guests.
Canon 135mm f/2.0 L
This lens, a “luxury” L series lens, is in my bag to achieve only one type of shot: beauty shots of the bride. The detail, colors and vibrance the lens picks up are second to none. And the bokeh (background blur) is so creamy it almost doesn’t exist!
So there we have it. Five lenses complete my lineup when I attend a wedding. To complement the lenses, I also carry four Canon 430EX II Speedlites, which I place around the reception hall on Manfrotto light stands. I then bounce the flash units off the ceiling while the reception is underway. They allow me to get shots I would never have been able to capture in darkly lit halls. Finally, I carry an array of SD memory cards, ranging from 4GB to 16GB, and a host of spare camera and flash batteries.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about what I carry to weddings in my camera bag, and I hope this list helps you set your own gear bag in order.
About The Author
Stewart McKay is a Scotland wedding photographer who shoots a mix of classical and contemporary wedding photography designed to tell the story of a wedding in a timeless manner. He has shot weddings from Scotland to as far away as South Korea and is focused on delivering not only amazing photographs but excellent customer service.
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