5 Critical Items You Need For A Successful Wedding Photoshoot

5 Fundamental Items You Need For A Successful Wedding Photoshoot

Professional photographer Erica Kay has put together a list of absolutely necessary things for a wedding photographer.

There are tons of equipment that could be useful when shooting a wedding but if you can’t bring everything, make sure you have at least these items with you. There is nothing worse than missing a perfect shot because you have the wrong gear!


It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter extremely crappy light at some point on a wedding day.  Most churches have dull lights that cast a yellow hue on everything in site.  The majority of reception venues are dimly lit spaces with sometimes not even enough ambient light to be able to lock focus (that’s the WORST).  Because of this, it’s absolutely crucial for all wedding photographers to have a camera that will produce beautiful images even in dark situations.

I personally use the Canon 5D Mark III and have the Canon 5D Mark II as a backup.  Both of these cameras can operate at a super high ISO with minimal grain.  I’ve found that using even an ISO of 5000-6000 on my Mark III isn’t a recipe for disaster, which is great news since almost every time I step foot in a church I have to crank the ISO


Flashback to the dark reception situation and you should be able to understand why a reliable speed light system is so necessary.  Speed lights are a saving grace for most wedding photographers, as they’re the only way you can produce well lit photos in dark venues without cranking your ISO.  By combining a solid speed light system with a solid understanding of the system, you can create beautiful images with interesting lighting while allowing the beautiful ambient light to also come through.

My speed light system is somewhat of a cluster, but it works well for me.  I use Phottix Odin triggers and receivers with one Phottix Mitros + speed light, one Canon 600 EX speed light, and one Canon 580 speed light.  I’m a huge fan of this system because it’s a wireless system that allows for full functionality control directly from the trigger on my camera.  Gone are the days of having to adjust power on the actual flash.  It’s so convenient to be able to change my settings on all flashes directly from the camera.


While I don’t typically shoot in rapid fire mode, you never know when you might need to, so it’s important to have a memory card that can handle fast shooting.  You also need to make sure you have enough storage space, so keep in mind that multiple cards are necessary for a full wedding day.  And, finally, make sure you use a reliable brand.  The WORST thing that could happen to a wedding photographer would be to lose a client’s images because of a corrupt memory card.

I personally use the Sandisk Extreme Pro cards.  I shoot on dual cards (1 SD card and 1 CF card) just to make sure everything is backed up.  My SD cards are 32 GBs and my CF cards are 8 GB and 16 GB.

Oh, and one final note on memory cards, be sure to replace your memory cards every once in awhile to avoid corruption.  The older the card, the more susceptible to issues it may be.


Going back to that church scenario mentioned above, it is also inevitable that you’ll encounter a church that restricts photographers.  I’d say that in at least half of the church weddings I photograph, I am restricted in some way.  Most often, this restriction is in the form of where I can move during the ceremony.  Some restrictions are more harsh than others, but I have been in some churches where I wasn’t even allowed to move out of the back row!  If I had not had my 70-200 lens, the couple would’ve looked like ants in every single photo!!

Another reason why I love my zoom lens is the compression is creates due to the focal length.  This compression allows you to create beautiful bokeh behind your subject without worrying about losing sharpness on your subject due to a super wide aperture.  My recipe for beautiful compression on my 70-200 is:

  • shoot at 200 mm
  • shoot at f/2.8
  • pull your subject as far away from the background as possible

The further your subject is from the background and the more you zoom in, the more beautiful compression bokeh you’ll get.  This is the main reason why my 70-200 is on my camera 90% of the day.  Which, in turn, is why my right arm resembles that of Popeye.


A year ago, I wouldn’t have included this lens on this list.  When I first started photographing weddings, I had a Tamron 24-70 mm and did not like it at all.  I ended up selling it and went a few years without owning a wide angle lens.  If I ever needed a wider shot, I either stitched together a few photos in post-processing or moved reaaalllllly far away from the subject.

However, about a year ago, I experimented with a Canon 16-35 mm f/2.8 lens and fell in love.  It has such a unique look and even the distortion that you can sometimes get from shooting so wide looks awesome if you do it right.  Today, I use this lens for large bridal parties, in areas where I want to capture a lot of the natural environment, and for open dancing/party photos at receptions.  This lens has actually allowed me to enjoy photographing dancing at receptions because if you shoot at 16 mm and immerse yourself into the party and dance floor, you can walk away with some really interesting and/or hilarious party photos.  Also, you get bonus points for being the cool photographer who gets down on the dance floor with the guests.

Read the full article over at Improve Photography.

Source: Improve Photography

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