When I was first starting off as a photographer, I was constantly searching for what types of equipment my favorite photographers used…and what they used it for. It can feel a little overwhelming to see all of the cameras and lenses and then look at the price points and wonder how you’ll ever get there! BUT it’s totally possible and doesn’t have to happen all at once.
We can get into it more later but purchasing equipment is really about figuring out what works best for you and your shooting style and then prioritizing what you need the most.
Here’s all of the equipment I use on a wedding day!
My Canon 5D Mark iii camera is my go-to, my baby! I’ve had it for maybe two years and I love it. It makes me sad that they aren’t making them anymore because I really feel like it’s the perfect camera. I’m not super technical when it comes to cameras but I love the focal points and the way it handles light.
I just bought the Canon EOS-R at the end of last year because it’s Canon’s new mirrorless camera. Technology is starting to head that way and after doing research on the Canon Mark IV I decided I would try out the EOS-R. My brother had rented it prior for filming a wedding with me and loved it so I was excited about the video capabilities too.
It took me a while to get used to it because it’s pretty different from the Mark iii. I had to make some adjustments to the white balance because I shoot in Kelvin and it does handle light a little differently (at least on the screen).
Once I figured those things out and just PRACTICED, I loved it!!! Having the touch screen is super helpful. It flips out and rotates so I can shoot from high up and still see what I’m doing –– this also helps with video so I can see myself while filming.
The low light capabilities are also amazing for receptions and sparkler exits because I can actually see what’s going on if the space has limited light.
I’m also excited about using it more because it’s really simple for non-photographers to use. Because it’s completely digital, even the viewfinder shows exactly what the photo will look like before you take it. You can also focus by tapping on the screen. This means I can more easily hand my camera to other people to take photos of me without worrying how it will turn out.
I mean, I still have to set it up for them because I’m picky but it really helps!!!
My Canon 50mm 1.2 is my most used lens of all time. It rarely leaves my camera because it’s really versatile, super sharp, and allows me to be close enough to my couples without having to be completely in their bubble. I love the compression it gives and honestly it’s the one I’ve had the longest so it’s my tried and true lens that I’m most comfortable with.
I use it for almost every part throughout the day, mainly portraits.
My Canon 35mm 1.4 was surprisingly one of the last lenses I added to my collection but the day I bought it I was so glad I did because I wouldn’t have been able to do the wedding without it. It’s super helpful in the mornings with getting ready in small bridal suites and for any wide shots needed throughout the day, like at the ceremony and with big family photos.
I also use this lens almost exclusively for reception coverage because it’s easier for me to get up close to everyone dancing without having heads in the way! It has a super fast, accurate focus which really helps with that too.
Even though I have friends who use this for almost all of their photos and some don’t use it much at all, it’s one you’ll want to have because when you need it, you NEED it.
I rented the Canon 85mm 1.4 first and let my second shooter use it throughout the day before I decided to just keep it. It was perfect for them to hang back and get either the tight, up-close version of what I was capturing or fun candids.
I will be honest –– it took me awhile to really learn how to work with this lens. I love being up close and this focal length requires a different angle to get what I want…but when I did learn it, it was magic!!!
This the main lens I use when I really want the “wow” factor and need them to pop off the background and have a lot of bokeh. I also love it because it handles bright light really well without giving me a ton of haze. I have really challenged myself to use it more and more and I am so thankful every time I do because it allows me to create something different that I’m really proud of. You just have to have a lot of space or get really creative!
The Canon 100mm 2.8 is a macro lens, meaning that it’s meant for shooting smaller items like rings. I tried to get by without this in the beginning by using some of the other lenses for ring shots but this one is definitely king. You can see every detail and it makes your smaller items like jewelry and details stand out.
Sometimes my second shooter will use this lens in a ceremony to get up close shots but it’s mainly reserved for details!
For receptions, I use 3 Canon 600 Ex-rt flashes for my off-camera flash setup. One stays on my camera as the “master” that controls the other two that are placed in the room. I went with these because I wanted everything to be a Canon brand and because they instantly sync to each other. This means every wedding I just set them up, turn them on, and we’re good to go!
I have them set up on light stands and one sometimes has an umbrella. I also did recently buy a MagMod sphere and MagMod MagGrip for the on-camera flash but I’m honestly still figuring out how much I like it. Stay tuned!!
I just recently started building my styling kit for wedding details and have been slowly incorporating it. This includes things like my mats, which I use all the time for a clean, flat surface, and different items to bring in extra color and texture. I do try to use mainly the items my brides bring with them so it remains consistent with the day but I like having these just in case we need a little extra to spice it up.
I got all of these ribbons, stamps, and fabrics on Etsy and Amazon after asking my brides what colors they would be using this year.
(Read more about my styling kit in this post!!)
I have three camera bags I bring with me to carry all of this stuff. My Kelly Moore Libby 2.0 bag is my main camera bag and keeps everything I’ll be using at the moment. It’s held up really well considering I basically drag it through the sand and grass multiple times a week! I love all of the compartments and that it can hold the weight of everything.
I just got the Kelly Moore Weekender for my everyday laptop bag and I’m obsessed with it. I use this to bring my laptop to weddings and carry a few of the extra cameras and styling details. It stays inside but it’s huge to it has the space for the things I will need throughout specific parts of the day.
My LowerPro backpack is the first camera bag I got and while it isn’t as cute as the others it’s SUPER durable. I use this when I’m traveling with my equipment because I know it will all be safe. I normally keep the flashes and an extra camera in here since I only need those for the reception and by that time I’m really throwing things around so it helps to keep them in something sturdy, haha!
Alright, that was a quick but long explanation of everything I bring and use to photograph a wedding day! Like I said, I know it can be a lot when you’re first starting out but I highly recommend investing in one or two new pieces at a time so you can really take the time to learn them.
For everything else, you can rent! I use LensRentals.com and they are the BEST. They also have the option to keep the equipment you rent at a lower cost if you decide you like it!
If you want to get $25 off your order, you can use this link: https://share.lensrentals.com/x/POK5zj
I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.
Looking for Something Specific?
How to Choose Your Senior Photographer
How to Plan a Proposal with a Photographer
The Conversation You MUST Have With Your Bridal Party