Here’s the list of gear you must have to run a wedding photography business
I’ll talk about wedding photography businesses today because -usually- portrait businesses are easier to run and they involve less items in order to be able to do your job.
Let’s cut to the chase.
There are things you might want to have, and others you absolutely need. I’ll make a list of mandatory items, and a list of optional -but helpful- ones.
The ones you absolutely need are:
Two camera bodies
Even though you can shoot weddings and elopements with a single camera, you should always have a second body just in case.
In case of failure, in case of rain, in case of overheating, in case of anything. You must have a second camera because some things can be reproduced, but fleeting moments will be gone forever if you weren’t able to capture them as they happened.
If you’re like me, you know that you can get 1300 photos with a single battery, and you only need two.
Well, maybe that day was colder than usual and your battery drained faster. Maybe you left the live-view running in your backpack and you didn’t notice. Maybe you needed to shoot twice as much because the bride or groom were blinking in half of your images.
You need to have spare batteries.
Extra memory cards
Just like the batteries, you can’t ever have enough memory cards. Keep them safe, and keep them with you.
If you’ve been shooting long enough, you already know that you should always have a spare on your wallet or somewhere accessible in case you need it with extreme urgency (aka first kiss during the ceremony!).
At least one backup lens
On my first paid job as a photographer, my lens got stuck at f18 and never opened again.
Luckily I had my nifty fifty (Canon 50mm f1.8 back then) and I was able to save the day.
Sometimes shit happens and you need to be ready.
Have a backup lens.
An external light source
Please be aware that I’m not saying a flash, or a speed light because it really depends on your style and the way you capture your images.
For my particular style, a speed light is a must and I always bring one to every single event.
But your shooting style might be different and you might not need one.
But you will always benefit from having an extra artificial light source such as a speed light, studio flash, led light, or even a portable CFL lighting kit.
And here are the “optional” but very useful tools you might want to have on your photography kit as a wedding photographer:
Wireless flash trigger
If you use flash in your photography, learning OCF (off-camera flash) will change your life and how you approach photography.
A wireless flash trigger of good quality will allow you to create unique shots and fire your flashes even if they’re behind walls, in another room, or far away.
A mirrorless camera
Even though I love DSLRs, mirrorless are the way to go these days. The technology evolved so quickly that we have an amazing autofocus system in every single mirrorless camera launched after 2019.
The difference in autofocus is day and night, and the amount of sharp pictures you’ll get at the end of the day is simply worth the investment.
Great quality camera straps
As soon as you start shooting with better gear, you’ll notice that great cameras and especially great lenses are heavy.
If you’re able to afford expensive glass, it tends to be much heavier than its cheaper counterparts.
Having great quality straps will allow you to survive long shooting days without an uncomfortable back pain that will only increase over the years.
The strap that comes with your camera is definitely not the best option. You can look at Spider Holster, Hold Fast Money Maker, Black Rapid, or similar brands. Almost all of those solutions will be better than your camera-branded strap.
Lightweight light stands
Unless you work with one or more assistants, carrying heavy light stands can be a difficult task.
The moment you invest in lightweight, quality light stands, you’ll notice the difference. Your back will feel lighter, and your set up time will be shorter.
If you shoot OCF, investing in quality modifiers will give you much better results. Some things can be very expensive (think big soft boxes) while others can be really cheap (like a snoot, or shoot-thru umbrellas).
In every case, think about your shooting conditions before buying anything. If you’re shooting in tight spaces, bringing an umbrella might be a terrible choice because you won’t have room enough to set it up. The same happens if you shoot outdoors in windy environments, like I do for my destination weddings
A good backpack
I know I said it before. Back-pain. I used to have it.. then I started exercising more often and I decided to purchase lighter equipment.
Having a great backpack will prevent a lot of problems, and a good system will help you optimize the process of changing lenses during a shoot.
To summarize, the list of mandatory items are:
- Two camera bodies
- Spare batteries
- Extra memory cards
- Lenses + At least one backup lens
- Artificial light source
And the optional -but helpful- ones are:
- Wireless flash trigger
- Mirrorless camera
- Great-quality camera straps
- Lightweight light stands
- Flash modifiers
- A good-quality backpack
You can probably start a photography business without some of these items, but the ones you cannot miss are extremely important. Don’t make the mistake of ruining your reputation because of gear failure or lack of extra items that might cost $10-30 each.