When I first started out as a new wedding photographer, I was super anxious about making sure I had everything I needed to actually do the job. As I always say; it always pays off to be organized, so I decided to make a fail-proof checklist that I use every day before a wedding. I think this is so important to make sure you don’t forget anything. You can write your own, print it out and keep it in your wedding equipment bag. You might not have the full arsenal of cameras and lenses that you want just yet, but you can make the most of the basics that you do have and potentially rent additional items. The pressure and responsibility is definitely on for you to capture the day and having the confidence in your gear means you’ll be more prepared on the wedding day. So if you’ve just got your first wedding booked and you need to make sure you have everything sorted and prepared for the big day, then you can use my comprehensive checklist to get yourself organized.
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These days I bring three Canon 5D Mark IVs: two I shoot with actively (using my Holdfast Moneymaker) and a third camera to use as a backup body. When I first started out though, I had my main crop-sensor camera body that I could afford and I rented an additional camera as a backup. It gave me peace of mind to know I had it in case anything was to go wrong with mine. If you end up in a bad situation and you don’t have a backup, it would be catastrophic on a wedding day.
This may be limited, depending on what equipment you have, but I would highly recommend you have at least one wide lens and one Zoom lens. For a wide lens, a 24-70mm, 35mm or 50mm prime lens would be the bare minimum and for a Zoom lens, either a 135mm or a 70-200mm lens. Remember that having lenses that open to larger apertures means you’re shooting mainly without using a flash unit; it will be better equipped for shooting in low-light locations. I would then have a zoom lens (again the best you can afford), which means you’re able to be versatile in shooting key moments during the ceremony and candid shots as they unfold throughout the day.
At minimum, you should have two flashes so that you can shoot with one on camera and one off-camera. However, three is preferable so that you can use two off-camera flashes, and also have a backup off-camera flash in case one of them stops working. Even if you aren’t allowed to use a flash during the ceremony, you may find it useful for family photos at the altar after the ceremony, or it will come in handy during bride prep if the room doesn’t have natural light, or during the reception and night shots. I use the Canon 600-EX RTs paired with MagMod Accessories.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having backups of everything. Extra memory cards, camera batteries, flash batteries, and triggers (if your flashes don’t have one built in). Of course, you also want to make sure everything is fully charged in advance.
You’ll want light stands for your off-camera flashes. Check out Manfrotto lightstands here.
Using filters and lens hoods protects your equipment from knocks and breaks. There’s always the possibility of your equipment getting wet or dirty throughout the day, though, so it’s good to have a lens cleaning kit, to ensure your gear is clean of dust and dirt.
I like to call this my magic little bag for non-essential items such as bobby pins, scissors, tissues, etc. Having this helpful little big is something your bride could be so grateful for when you magically produce things they didn’t expect you to have. Helping your bridal party with any styling adjustments, putting on jewelry etc. Those little things make such a difference to your clients’ experience.
Lastly, make sure you have a good quality camera bag to protect your gear. Personally, I use a messenger camera bag for the gear I’m actively shooting with and a Thinktank suitcase for the rest of my gear.
Have a printed timeline and family shot list on hand at all times. Don’t rely on your cell phone, because if it ever gets lost, or malfunctions, or you simply don’t have reception, you won’t have access to the digital timeline.
Wedding days are long! Have plenty of snacks and water. Personally, I like to have snack bars on hand because they’re quick to eat when I don’t have a lot of time.
By having this list you can also make sure you tailor it to what essentials you need, so your bag isn’t any heavier than it needs to be. I hope you’ve found it helpful, good luck with the first big day!
Hello there! I'm Alex! I teach hobbyist photographers how to take better photos and professional photographers how to build a thriving business. Here I share tips and resources to help you grow. Thank you so much for visiting my blog!