One of the most overwhelming things when you’re starting to take an interest in photography is the equipment. What camera? what lenses? what bag? what memory cards? Thankfully there were lots of photographers out there who took the time to blog not only what they used, but WHY and what they used it for! Of course everyone is going to have a different opinion on what works best for them, so this is just what I’ve found works well for me! Can you get a good picture with less expensive equipment? Sure. But these lenses are what I love using and give me the flexibility that I need to shoot all aspects of the wedding day or portrait session!
So here’s my starting lineup! These are the ones that I keep in my camera bag at all times and are guaranteed to make an appearance at every wedding I shoot. Starting with lots of extra batteries! Typically I can shoot an entire 7-8 hour wedding on one fully charged battery, but its SO important to keep multiple backups juuust incase! Same thing with memory cards! You can think you will only use so many, but the last thing you want to have to do is stop shooting because your cards are full and you don’t have any others! I always make sure the night before a wedding that my batteries for the camera and the flash are totally charge, and the cards are formatted and wiped clean. I have a system in my camera bag which i’ll talk about in a minute so I know what pocket everything goes in so i’m not having to dig through them all to figure out where my extra memory cards are when I have a client standing there waiting on me.
The first lens up there is the 50 mm 1.2 L series and it is my go-to lens, what I shoot with 90% of the time. Its amazing in low light, and perfect for portraits! If you want a really nice lens, you want to make sure it has that red line around it. That means its an L series lens and essentially the best quality they make! No, all lenses are not the same quality, and i’ve found that thats what really gives the shot that extra umph! If you can’t afford the 1.2, there’s also the 50 mm 1.4 which is what I recommend to anyone who wants to start building a portfolio, or just take better portraits of their kids.
Next up is the big one! That huge 70-200 mm 2.8L USM lens that lets me get those up close moments during the ceremony! This is always the one that I use for the majority of the ceremony so I can stay out of the way but still get shots as if i was sitting in the front row! I also use this one sometimes when I’m photographing kids. If they’re having some trouble warming up to the camera, I’ll encourage them just to run and play and this lens gives me the zoom and speed that i need so I can still get great shots of their natural smile as they’re playing with their parents. Its nice to not have to be right next to the family, so they have room to relax and be themselves, but still get shots as if i was.
The 580 EX II speedlight flash is also a must have for those dark receptions. I didn’t use one of these the first few weddings I shot and hardly ANY of the reception shots came out well! Its really important to still be able to get a great shot, even if the reception venue seems like a dark cave :0) I definitely don’t know as much about that flash as I could, and one of my goals is to someday take a class to really be able to understand it better and use it to its full potential!
That little guy on the end is the 24mm 1.4L II USM and its the best wide angle lens without making it look like a fisheye. I use this for family formals, big wedding parties, or for portraits when I want to be able to get a lot more of the surroundings in the picture, but I don’t want the couple to be teeny tiny from me having to back up so far! I also use it a lot during receptions to photograph the dance floor since it gives me a chance to capture more of the whole scene, not just one couple like the other ones would.
These are the two that I keep in my big camera bag as backup incase something were to happen to the others. That little one is the 50 mm 1.4 lens that I already talked about, and the other is the 24-105 f/4L IS USM lens, which I don’t love because it only lets you bring the f stop down to a 4.0, but its still a great lens if you’re shooting in natural light to capture wedding parties, family photos, or any sort of large group! Its good to have a lens with a little bit of zoom, so if you’re not ready to carry around the big 70-200, this one would be okay for you too. I got the 50mm 1.4 before the 1.2, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the larger investment was definitely worth it! See the difference in how they’re made?
last but CERTAINLY not least, shootsac has made my job SO much easier by giving me a bag that is easy to function, cute, and durable! The first year I lugged around one of those huge black camera bags that weighed a million pounds and was super bulky. The shootsac has 6 slots of all t he stuff you need to carry while you’re actually shooting, and doesn’t weigh me down too much! They have all kids of cute covers you can pick from too.. definitely a necessity! If you’re still on the fence about any of these, try www.borrowlenses.com. I’ve heard so many positive reviews about how they work, and that way you can try a lens out and make sure you love it before you go ahead and invest in it yourself. Hope that was helpful to some of you! Happy Monday! :0)
Jessie, I just stumbled across this in your archives and I’m so excited that you wrote this! I’m just getting started and this was SUPER helpful!
Thanks, Jessie! I have a fire burning inside and want so badly to get started, but I’m so terrified! Reading your advice helps more than I can say.
Thank you Jessie…I just bought the 50 mm 1.2 and I can’t wait to get it. I love my 50mm 1.4 but have heard the L lens is the way to go. Thank you for this post. It’s photographers like you who share information and knowledge that is very refreshing.
Thanks Jessie! This is great! :)
This post is so helpful! I was unsure of what lens I really wanted to invest in next and this has definitely helped me narrow it down! Thanks Jessie for being so open to how you run your business and for all the advice!