What Gear Does a Wedding Photographer Need?

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

dslr for wedding photography

A Bridezilla and her prey 🙂

Gear isn't everything.  We all need to recognize that a truly great photographer could do 95% of his work with a point-and-shoot.  However, shooting a wedding is mission critical work.  If a photographer has any respect for her client, she will show the courtesy of using the proper gear for the job.  I wrote this post in response to several readers who asked what gear they should buy as they slowly improve their skills to the point where they are brave enough to shoot a wedding.

Wedding photography gear #1: A mid to high-end DSLR. I cringe to write that a Canon Rebel or Nikon D3100 would not be suitable for a wedding.  I know perfectly well that I could shoot a wedding with those cameras without any problem.  The trouble is that nearly everyone these days has a Canon Rebel or entry-level Nikon DSLR, and it doesn't instill any confidence in the client if their camera is nicer than yours.  The fact is that lay people simply don't understand that the quality of the photo is determined by the photographer, and not the camera.  If the couple doesn't have confidence that the photographer is competent, they won't like the pictures and they won't feel comfortable being photographed.  It's an unfortunate fact of life.

Wedding photography gear #2: Proper lenses. Whether you shoot Canon or Nikon, the two most popular lenses for wedding photography are the 24-70mm, and the 70-200mm.  There are lots of other lenses that would be handy and suitable for wedding photography, but thousands of wedding photographers can't be wrong in choosing these lenses.

Wedding photography gear #3: At least two flash units. I really don't care what brand of flash it is, but a decent speedlight is essential.  If you know how to use manual flash and want to save some money, a YN-560 is a popular choice among strobists.  If you prefer ETTL/iTTL, then you'll probably want a Canon 580EXII or a Nikon SB-700.

Wedding photography gear #4: Some type of lighting equipment. There are so many choices here that it is almost impossible to even make a recommendation, but I would say there are two basic approaches: (1) If you'll be shooting with an assistant, then I would recommend you choose a studio strobe with a softbox and battery pack.  (2) If you want to save some money or you don't have an assistant, go strobist style and use speedlights with softboxes or umbrellas.

Wedding photography gear #5: Lots of reliable memory cards. You might want to check out this post on memory cards if you're in doubt about which one to buy.

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About the Author

Jim Harmer

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Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast. More than a million photographers follow him on social media, and he has been listed at #35 in rankings of the most popular photographers in the world. He blogs about how to start an internet business on IncomeSchool.com..