What’s in my bag? A Detailed List of What Comes With Me to Each Wedding and Why I Change Lenses Throughout the Day

March 31, 2020

The inspiration for this blog post is two-fold. For starters, a common question I am asked by other photographers is “What lens did you use to get that shot?” And various other questions regarding why I chose the camera I did, etc. The other reason is for when potential brides/grooms ask about my equipment. Couples deserve to know that they the person they are choosing to capture their most important day is prepared with the highest quality of professional equipment.

In this blog post, I discuss how and why I change lenses multiple times throughout a wedding day, and which lenses are used throughout specific parts of the day.

THE ACTUAL BAGS

Kamerette backpack: This is the bag I bring with to portrait sessions. The irony here is that I get so many compliments on this bag by people who are not photographers. They are usually shocked when I open it and show them all of the different components for a camera body/lenses. Click here for the link to this bag.

Think Tank: This rolling camera bag comes with me to every single wedding I photograph. It is the perfect size because I can fit everything I need for a wedding day, but it is small enough to be a carry-on when traveling. Click here for this bag.

CAMERA BODY

Canon 5d Mark iii (times 2!) I LOVE my camera body so much! I photograph weddings with two camera bodies. One of the most important factors for me in choosing a full frame camera body was for it to have dual card slots. With the Canon 5 d mark iii, I can double write each image that I take, meaning there is a copy of the raw file on a CF card as well as an SD Card.

When making big purchases like a camera body or lenses, I love using the website MPB. You can also sell and trade equipment. I’ve also made a number of purchases on Canon Refurbished.

CF Cards AND SD Cards: I always keep lots of extra on hand, and I like to shoot on 64gb cards because I rarely have to change cards during a wedding.

LENSES

100 mm 2.8L – This is my macro lens! I use this at the beginning of every wedding for detail shots. This lens allows me to get nice and close for gorgeous ring shots and various other wedding day details.

50 mm 1.2L – A 50 mm lens (the nifty-fifty; aka the 50mm 1.8) was how I first learned how to shoot portraits. It allows for beautiful bokeh without having to be too far away from the subject. Some would argue this is the most important lens. Others might tell you they can shoot an entire wedding with a 50 mm lens. Regardless, this was my first investment into L-series lenses. (Canon L-series, or “luxury” lenses are the highest quality of professional lenses). I find that this lens has been my biggest go-to in any number of scenarios.

35 mm f/1.4L II - The 35 mm is my wide angle lens. I will always choose prime lenses over zooms anytime I can. I find the focus is much better with primes over zooms. Once I finish photographing the detail shots, I switch to the 35 mm for some getting ready candids. The 1.4 is perfect for a wedding day because I can photograph large groups and still have the option for wider apertures (another advantage of prime lenses).
This was photographed with a 35 mm lens.
85 mm f/1.8 
Hands down - My FAVORITE lens! The compression is so buttery and beautiful while still being a prime lens. I take this with me to every session, and unless I don't have enough space to back up I try not to take it off of my camera.
Photographed with an 85 mm lens.

24-70 2.8L – This zoom can come in handy in a variety of situations. I will sometimes use this instead of the 35 mm prime if I’m in a particularly tight space (like for the getting ready shots). But I especially LOVE using this lens at the reception during open dancing. It allows me to zoom out to capture the full dance floor, or zoom in to catch expressions and all of the awesome moves on the dance floor.

70-200 2.8L – This telephoto zoom lens is an absolute NEED for a wedding photographer. I almost always pull this out during the ceremony. For example, it allows me to zoom in for a shot like the one below while still keeping a distance from the couple.

FLASH SYSTEM

Yongnuo Flashes: I like the Yongnuo brand because they can do everything the Canon flashes can do, only they’re significantly less expensive. I own four of these speedlites: Two for on-camera and two for off-camera. Click here for the link to the exact ones I purchased.

Magmods: I use both the magsphere and the magbounce during a wedding day. These things are total game changers for controlling any light situation. I love to use these if I need to use flash during a the morning getting ready photos, especially if there’s not a lot of natural light. These diffuse the light beautifully to create that soft, natural light look (even though it’s not!).

Tenergy Batteries: Using rechargeable batteries is the only way to go! They outlast regular batteries by a long shot. Click here for the link to purchase these.

Cheetah Light Stands: I like these because the legs are collapsable; therefore, they are easy to move around at any location. This brand also offers a variety of different heights for the stands. Click here to view or purchase these.

ACCESSORIES AND EXTRAS

Holdfast Gear Moneymaker Multi-Camera Harness: This might be the best investment I made in wedding equipment, and I cannot imagine shooting a wedding without this! It makes it so easy to shoot with two cameras and switch between the two without hesitation. Click here for the website.

Style Boards: I have been accumulating a number of these over the years, but the one I find myself bringing to every wedding is by Simply Rooted. I love the texture, but also that you can roll it up to make it easy to transport.

It allows me to take bright, clean detail shots like these:

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