Professional wedding photographers in the U.S. charge from $1,150 to $3,000 for a wedding, while an average price is around $2,000. This is why many beginners and experienced photographers at some point start wondering what gear they need to use to earn money on taking wedding photos.
The first thing that aspiring photographers need to know is that a wedding is a difficult object to shoot. For newlyweds, this day is extremely important, and you don’t have any right to cast a damp over it by taking poo-quality photos. Read on to discover what essential wedding photography gear you need to use to take great photos.
You can buy a starter wedding photography kit on Amazon to avoid selecting a camera, lenses and other equipment. For instance, I believe that this kit for beginners from Canon has everything that you might need:
If you follow our tips and buy this universal photography kit for beginners, these pieces of equipment will be paid off after the first wedding.
When you already know a wedding schedule, you can select the wedding photography equipment that you might need to use. Outdoor photoshooting requires different equipment than shooting a wedding reception. Experienced photographers know exactly what wedding photography equipment they should include in their kit.
If you are a beginner, there are several pieces of essential photography equipment that you need to take to a wedding, including a camera body, several lenses or one universal lens, a tripod for stabilizing your camera, in-built or external flash, light sources, memory cards, rechargeable batteries, and a special bag for storing your equipment.
If you don’t have a lot of experience in photoshopping portraits and other wedding photos, you can contact our service and entrust this task to professionals. They will quickly process hundreds of wedding photos for a budget price and send you the edited pictures back in no time.
Recommended cameras for wedding photography:
Since a camera is the most important piece of your photography equipment, you need to consider several things to make the right choice. For reportage shooting, it’s better to select a DSLR camera or mirrorless camera. Point-and-shoot models have significant shortcomings, which makes them hardly suitable for taking wedding portraits.
When selecting wedding photographer gear, it’s better to buy a full-frame camera that can be used with different lenses. A good model should allow you to take photos in RAW, have a resolution of at least 20 MP and be easy to use. Besides, the noise level at ISO 800 should be minimal.
Even if you buy the most expensive camera for portraits that supports the highest image quality, it will be of no use to you if you don’t know how to take photos like a pro. Professional wedding photographers most often use models released by such camera brands as Nikon, Canon and Sony.
Pay attention to menu controls and the available features. For instance, you should be able to quickly switch between different modes and adjust the white balance without looking on the menu screen. You need to adjust settings when taking photos and arranging guests for a group shot. If you know what settings work best for what situation, you will be able to take great pictures for your clients and get good reviews.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that there is no need to carry two camera bodies with you everywhere. However, it’s important to have a second full-frame camera body at hand since you won’t be able to take photos if something happens to your main camera.
Recommended lenses for wedding photography:
Professional wedding photographers know all too well that the outside conditions, weather, location, lighting, and even the mood of the guests may change during the shooting. A good photographer should be able to take these changes into account and act accordingly. For instance, you might need to take photos of a wedding ceremony and reception in a room with poor lighting.
If you are a beginner, it might be difficult to take photos outdoors since weather conditions might be unpredictable. While you won’t be able to take lenses for every occasion, it will suffice to take with you 1-3 lenses for capturing beautiful shadows and highlights. There is no need to buy expensive lenses if you don’t have a lot of experience. Even professional photographers rarely take a lot of cameras for outdoor shootings.
For taking photos inside the house, you can use a 50 mm lens, since you won’t be able to use a long-focus lens in such spaces. This lens allows you to take photos even when it’s getting darker. With it, you can capture all the details of the background.
Besides, you won’t need to use flash. It allows you to take softer and more natural photos that look as if they were taken outdoors. This focus distance also allows taking great portrait photos at a wide-open aperture. Thanks to the small depth of field, you can emphasize your subject and make the skin of the model look softer.
If you have some cash, it’s better to take with you a fisheye lens, a telephoto lens as well as some lenses for portraits. A camera lens is one of the most important pieces of equipment needed for wedding photography. It will be easier for you to take great shots if you have several lenses at hand.
A 24-70mm lens is a must for restricted spaces. This all-in-one lens will be useful for taking photos in different lighting conditions. You can use it for taking reportage, wedding photos, capturing the details, objects, or small portrait photos.
A fisheye lens will come in handy for taking photos under unusual angles. In such photos, a viewer’s attention is focused on the center, which creates a surreal feel. It allows taking wide-angle photos to capture all the wedding venue. You can also use such a lens for capturing mass events, including dancing guests.
With a 70-200 mm lens, you can capture all the details of the weddings and make your photos worthy of glossy magazines. Using such lenses, you can stunning photos of wedding rings, capture beautiful highlights and shadows.
Recommended tripods for photography:
To stabilize your camera and take long-exposure photos, make sure to use a tripod. It might be impossible to replace it with other budget devices as it might affect the quality of your photos. If your want to ensure that your services will be in high demand, a good tripod is a must.
A reliable tripod should hold the weight of your camera with the heaviest lens you use. Its legs should keep it stable on any type of surface if you are going to take photos outside.
Another thing that you need to remember is that the fixture mount should allow you to move your camera in different directions.
If you have never used lighting sources, it might be difficult for you to set up lighting for the first time. It’s more convenient when you can use natural light. However, on some days, it might be impossible. To ensure that your subjects are well lit, you can use several light sources when shooting wedding photos, namely flashes, monolights, and softboxes.
Flash is one of the most important pieces of equipment for taking wedding photos. However, you should have several good batteries with a minimum of 500 charges each and quality chargers. The success of your photo sessions will greatly depend on this piece of wedding photography gear.
I recommend you consider the recycling speed of your device since it affects the minimal interval between your flash going off. Manufacturers usually indicate it in seconds, however, this value is true only for devices with new batteries.
In some cases, you might see two different numbers on the specs sheet, such as 0.1-6 seconds. The lower number indicates how quickly you will be able to use flash if you use it at the lowest power. The higher number shows how long you need to wait until you can use flash at maximum power.
Monolights are high-powered flashes with built-in modeling lights. Your wedding photography kit should include a battery charger, a reflector, and several heads. Monolights are most often used for portrait photography. Since they require a lot of power, they are mostly suitable for studio shootings. However, you can also use some portable models for taking photos outdoors. In this case, make sure to consider their features, parts availability, and price.
Softboxes are also extremely helpful when it comes to capturing photos of the dance floor. Keep in mind that the closer they are to the subject, the better. When purchasing a softbox, remember that it should be portable. If you need to select the best softbox for your needs, pay attention to how powerful it is.
LED softboxes are energy-efficient and can work even when they are powered by a portable power source. The power of a softbox depends on the type of lamp. It can range from 85 to 150 W, depending on the type of shooting.
Recommended drones for photography:
Similarly to other wedding photography gear, drones allow you to rise to a new professional level and increase your pricing. Drone wedding photography is very popular and in high demand; you will have many orders, despite its cost. Professional photographers add $500-$800 to the price tag if a client wants to get drone photos of a wedding. The total price should depend on the wedding day schedule and the location.
If you are interested in drone and birds eye view photography, make sure to learn more about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations as you need to adhere to them. A photographer who wants to take aerial wedding pictures needs to have a license to avoid possible fees and operate a drone legally.
Thanks to the license, you will be allowed to use a drone in public areas. To get it, you need to pass a Part 107 test at any test center nearby. Then, you need to print your FAA registration certificate or use its digital copy. It will allow you to fly your drone without breaking the law.
Keep in mind that while drones are quite durable, it’s better to avoid using them on a rainy or windy day. However, you are free to use them when it’s cold. Such devices are fitted with batteries that are resistant to low temperatures. When it’s cold, your drone will work several minutes longer.
Pro Tip: Remember that shooting is prohibited at private properties according to the US laws. If you need to take photos at a venue located not far from a military base, state border, private beach, house or other similar objects, private guards or police might ask you to destroy footage taken by your drone. To avoid such conflicts, it’s better to select wedding venues that aren’t located near the restricted areas.
Recommended camera bags:
There are five most popular types of camera bags:
If you are wondering what makes a camera backpack different from a regular camera bag and whether it could fit all your camera gear, the answer will depend on the price of your gear and your budget. A regular camera bag is divided into 2 compartments, which allows you to keep your lenses away from the rest of your gear.
You can move Velcro dividers inside your camera bag to create compartments of different sizes. Depending on the design and size of your bag, you can use it for storing your lenses, replacement batteries, filters, memory cards, flash and the camera body.
Both camera bags and backpacks are essential wedding photography accessories for keeping your equipment safe. A backpack is more suitable for longer shootings since it allows you to avoid muscle strain and back pain. Camera bags are usually bigger, which makes them suitable for photographers who use tripods.
A reflector is a must for every wedding photography equipment checklist. It is used for portrait photos and also for photos of wedding rings, flowers, and other accessories. A 5-in-1 reflector allows you to create conditions for a favorable photo session because it has white, black, silver and gold sides, as well as a diffuser.
Additional memory cards should be also included in your essential photography kit. If you want to save your photo as a RAW file, keep in mind that a single image be about 30 MB. Memory cards with a storage capacity of more than 16 GB might get too slow when you save too many photos. This is why it’s better to use 10 16 GB flash drives instead of using a slow 64 GB flash drive. In general, during one wedding day, a photographer should take 1000-1500 photos. Unless you want to shoot fireworks using your phone or backup camera, make sure to take several memory cards.
Wireless radio triggers allow you to control the camera and flash remotely. Thanks to them, you can configure your flash so that it goes off when you take a photo. Most flash triggers feature a transmitter that should be mounted on the camera and a receiver that should be mounted on the flash. They are compatible with different types of cameras.
Spare batteries are essential for your photography kit. The more spare batteries you have, the more confident you can be. Usually, wedding photo sessions take a whole day, and you take pictures almost without breaks. Each camera must have minimum 2-3 spare batteries. It is also important to take the charger and spare batteries for flashes and other accessories. If the battery run out and you don’t have a replacement, try taking the following steps:
Super staples are pieces of wedding photography equipment that hold cameras, lights, and the rest of the photography kit. If you don’t have an assistant, super staplers are a must. You do not need to take a tripod or other stand additionally. It is used to fix lights or flash.
A camera strap is a really reasonable investment. With it, you can capture lots of important moments, and it will give your hands some rest. There is a great variety of camera straps, so choose the one you really like.
Nikon cameras are perfect for beginners since this brand releases models with intuitive controls. Such devices are also suitable for budget-conscious people. However, if you want to purchase a pro-level camera, both these brands release great cameras that support high image quality and can be used with various accessories. Besides, many photographers nowadays use mirrorless Sony cameras with interchangeable lenses that support impressive image quality.
Most people use their cameras for 5-10 years and then replace them with a newer model. You might need to replace your camera earlier only if it gets damaged.
While some photographers don’t use flash when taking photos at weddings, you always need to think about the venue where the wedding will take place. If it’s too dark, you might benefit from using flash.
Most photographers buy a camera bag that can fit all their equipment. You can buy a bag that comes with or without a neck strap. Thanks to the bag, you can keep your camera and lenses safe without worrying about damaging them. Before a photoshooting, you just need to take the camera body and lenses out of the compartments and then carry the camera on a neck strap to keep your hands free.
It’s important to consider lighting if you want to take a professional-looking photo. It allows you to take stunning pictures with well-balanced light and shadows. By considering lighting, you can capture a happy atmosphere of a wedding reception. You might need to experiment with different light settings to capture textures, bright colors, and beautiful highlights.
If you have been hired as a wedding photographer, think about the venue, the number of people at the wedding and the time that you have. It’s important to discuss all these details with your clients beforehand. Most professional photographers send their clients 60-80 photos per hour of a photoshooting.