I get asked quite a lot by potential clients if I have the right equipment to photograph their wedding, especially when it comes to the UK weather. So I thought I'd put together a little post whilst it's sunny in the garden about what is in my kit bag and why it is in there. So if your already a client or your thinking about becoming one you can see exactly what I carry in my bag of tricks, hopefully explained without too much technical jargon and camera wizardry!
This is what I turn up with on my back for most shoots. I have a few little other emergency items which stay in the back of the van but the small person with the huge heavy bag on...that's me!
So open it all out and it looks like this. 2 digital camera bodies, 5 lenses, 3 flash guns, 3 radio transmitters, 2 memory card cases, batteries (lots of), 2 honeycomb flash adapters, 3 flash diffusers and feet, 2 flash clamps, 2 flash stands and umbrellas and my Granda's old film camera!
The first and I guess most important piece of kit I carry are my 2 Nikon D600s. A perfect wedding photographers camera, full professional capability contained within a small discrete package. Why 2? In my opinion every wedding photographer should carry 2 cameras as a matter of course. The most important reason is just in case 1 goes wrong. As annoying as it would be for me to have to change lenses all day long it's not going to be as bad as you missing out your wedding photographs. The second reason is the extra versatility it gives me with lenses. I can have two different lenses fitted meaning I can be photographing the same part of the day with lot's of creativity and variety.
Lens choice is something that is personal to every photographer and there is no right or wrong answer as to which ones to use. Some choose to shoot on 'prime' lenses only with no zoom and some can shoot the whole day on just 2 zoom lenses. After a bit of experimenting I find a combination of the two approaches works best for me. I find when things are a bit more static in the morning of a wedding I get the most out of my prime lenses (an 85mm 1.4 and a 35mm 1.4 if your photographically inclined) which give me the chance to capture both candid and portrait work in pretty much any space and light. Once things start to get a bit fluid then the versatility of the zooms is usually what I'm craving and I will almost always swap over to them from the ceremony onwards. (70-200mm 2.8 and 17-35mm 2.8, if your interested!) I can now let the camera do a lot more of the moving for me so I can be discrete and a bit more flexible as people move about. So that only accounts for 4 of the 5 lenses. The 5th is my macro (makes little things look big), something which I guess I could manage without if I wanted to. However, it's something I choose to carry even though it only ever takes those few shots every wedding, the details just wouldn't be the same without it!
So let's talk light. There are purists out there that won't use flash, it would be great to take the moral high ground and only use natural light, (my kit bag would be half the size and loads lighter for starters!) but I'm afraid sometimes it gets a bit dark and rainy in this country and with the best will in the world I can't control the sun (however much dancing I do). So even though I do prefer to use natural light whenever I can sometimes there is no avoiding it, I have to get a bit flashy!
I carry three flash guns. One I use on my camera and two of them to use off camera. As well as the need just to light things in a simple and effective way because it's just a bit dark or there aren't any windows taking the flash off the camera means I can get a bit creative with it as well. That night time shot, with the rain drops all lit up? Thats off camera flash. It's all done through the magic of Pocket Wizards, unfortunately I don't carry a miniature Gandalf around with me to ward off demons, just some radio transmitters to fire my flashes.
I also like to make use of some honeycomb grids to keep the light going just where I want it too. Spillage is just embarrassing! With my stands and clamps I can pretty much put my flashes wherever I want them so if you see me standing on chairs clipping things to window frames and curtains that's what I'm doing. Last but not least a couple of umbrellas come in handy on rainy days just to make sure everything is nice and bright when the photography has to move indoors. Nobody wants a dull group shot after all.
There's a few other emergency items in the back of the van, real umbrellas (not flash ones) to keep off the rain, great if your willing to embrace the weather and go for a rainy shot. A blanket for you or sometimes me to sit or lie on and lot's of spare batteries on top of the ones in my bag, you can never have too many!
So if you were wondering if I had all the right equipment to photograph your day, whatever the weather then I hope you will agree with me that the answer is yes I do.