Must Have Lenses for Wedding Photographers
Okay, that was clickbait.
It's not that I’m not going to tell you which lenses you need. It’s clickbait because there are no must-haves when we’re talking about photography.
There are lenses that will simplify your life when you’re shooting a wedding or any other event, and lenses that are good-to-have, but not strictly necessary.
Let’s break them down
You can go for the “traditional” route, or for the modern-artsy alternative (the one I prefer).
TRADITIONAL LENS KIT FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS:
It looks something like this:
Ultra-wide zoom lens (for dramatic/group shots)
All-rounder zoom lens (for every possible scenario)
Telephoto zoom lens (for the ceremony and photoshoot)
In photography-specific terms, this is pretty much all you need to solve any situation that comes up at a wedding:
12-24 f2.8 / 16-35 f2.8 / 17-40 f4
24-70 f2.8 / 24-70 f4
70-200 f2.8 / 70-200 f4
PRIME LENS KIT FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Now, here’s the alternative that many modern photographers are choosing instead:
A few large-aperture lenses (low F number)
One or multiple specific-use lenses
Translated to photography terms, it would look something like this:
24mm f1.4 / 24mm f2.8 / 35mm f1.4 / 35 mm f1.8
50mm f1.2 / 50mm f1.4 / 85mm f1.2 / 85mm f1.4 / 85mm f1.8
100mm f2.8 Macro / 90mm f2.8 Macro / 105mm f2.8 Macro
TS-E or PC-E 24 f3.5 / TS-E 45 f2.8
Some photographers choose a 35 and 85mm combo, while others prefer the 24 and 50mm alternative. I personally prefer de 35/85 but I shoot most of my weddings with a Canon RF 50mm f1.2 these days.
The macro lens can be exchanged for Extension tubes or similar alternatives. The results are not the same, but they’re great anyway.
The Tilt Shift lenses are absolutely optional and NOT necessary. They were trendy a few years ago, and some people still love the look of those unique images.
WHICH LENSES DO YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY?
None of these kits is better than the other.
With both of these alternatives you can get amazing results, but they will definitely affect the way you compose your images.
Having every single focal length in your backpack might some great for some people, but it is a nightmare for me.
The possibilities are endless and I’d always want to reach out for a different lens.
Having a fixed focal forces me to compose things differently and add layers of depth to my images.
The only thing I’d recommend you to have in every case, is a wide-aperture lens for extremely dark situations such as a 35 f1.4 or a 50 f1.4 and a telephoto lens for those situations that won’t allow you to step closer to the bride or groom.
WHAT LENSES DO PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS USE?
Even though this looks like a straight-forward question, there is no simple answer to it.
Some people shoot an entire wedding day with a 70-200 and only change it for the reception, while others shoot a full wedding day from start to finish with a 35mm f1.4 lens.
Make sure that the lenses you choose allow you to express your creative vision of the events unfolding in front of your eyes.