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Essential Gear For Your Wedding Photography Business

Photo by THEMACGIRL* on Flickr
I guess everyone needs a basic gear list to start up your wedding photog business. So, I'm going to give you some minimum recommendations for camera gear that you need in order to begin your photography business and look like (or at least pretend) that you are a professional and have spent time and a little bit of effort finding gear that will get you and your clients professional results.

Camera Bodies

You need at a minimum two camera bodies. I would recommend two DSLRs instead of film SLRs or point and shoots, but if all you can afford right now is a film camera instead of another $700 DSLR then bring what you can get by all means. I myself am not to the point of two DSLRs just because I can't afford another right now. So, I'm using my old Nikon F-4s film SLR for my backup. I always carry a decent point-and-shoot as well, as a 3rd backup.
If you are going to go ahead and get two DSLRs, I recommend that your backup body have the same sensor size and lens compatibility as the primary - it's too easy to get tripped up by moving between different pieces of equipment. This is a risk you don't have to take. You also need something that has a high megapixel count (10 Mpxl or better) (for enlargements that the client might want), quick handling of knobs and buttons, good low light (high ISO) handling, and the ability to shoot in RAW (for easy post processing). Some minimum suggestions are below for a few different brands of camera bodies:
As you can see most pros go with either Nikon or Canon. Both of these brands have the widest choice of options, lens options, flash and accessory options. They also handle better, last longer, and in my opinion are better made than the Sony, Olympus or Pentax bodies out there.

Lenses ("glass")

This is were most inexperienced photogs go wrong. They shell out the bucks for the body and then use the kit lens or buy the cheapest zoom that they can find. Do your own research but be sure to pick up some of the below lenses and know their characteristics and when to use them:

  • 50mm f/1.8 - this is your low light (fast) essential lens that needs to be in everyone's bag. You can get close to macro shots with this (as close as 10 inches) if you don't have a macro lens, and the depth of field is amazing on a good one. Great for low light weddings where you can' use flash.
  • ? - 300mm zoom - these usually start out at about 70mm so you can use them for your standard portraits and not get deformed faces then you can also use the 300mm side for your extra long shots in the church or from the balcony so your couple won't look like specks in the distance. Try to get the Vibration Reduction or image stabilized version to reduce camera shake.
  • 10 - 24mm ultra wide - these are awesome for grabbing shots of the WHOLE cathedral if its a big church or outside in a large open area. These also allow some creative photojournalistic shots with their fish-eye effect.

At a minimum you want an iTTL flash that has fully configurable manual settings as well and buttons that are quick and easy to see in the dark. The i TTL will just make your life easier and you need to be able to do manual settings for creative effects. Here are some great suggestions that will last a while and won't totally break your budget.

A good heavy and steady tripod is also essential for your formal and family portraits to ensure nice tack sharp photos. Listing these could be a whole blog in and of itself. Get one that tightens up and head that is versatile enough for your needs (ball head, quick release for vertical shots). I use a Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod. I would spend no less than $100 on a good, tight, stable tripod.

Other than these essentials, I would consider anything else an optional enhancement or upgrade to save time. (Which is another blog also... ;-)

Renting is also an option if you are just starting out for your first or second gig. Most top of the line professional gear can be rented from local independent camera stores for $100 - $200 depending on what you need. That way you can get some great quality shots for your portfolio and then save up to buy that Nikon D3 (mmm... yummy!)

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