One of the first question people ask when starting a wedding photography business is…
What type of Equipment Do I need for wedding photography?
The short answer: You need at least 2 camera bodies, 2-3 lenses, about at least two 64GB memory card (or more if you like to shoot lots of photos), at least 2 spare batteries, at least two flashes with batteries and spare batteries as well.
You don’t need fancy equipment to be a wedding photographer. You can get by with about $2000 if you’re really on a budget and want to get the business up and running right away. You can get everything on the “shot answer” above for about $2000 if you buy the low end components, which will make you thought the wedding day, but not recommended if you want to quickly learn to take better and better photos. You can “get by” with low end equipment, but better equipment certainly makes it (1) easier to take sharp/accurate photos and (2) higher end equipment actually opens doors to creativity shots that low end equipment simply cannot capture (we won’t get into these details now, but you certainly don’t need high end gear to start your business).
You technically should already have most of the gear you need. Since starting a wedding photography business without a photography hobby is certainly not suggested.
So in addition to what you already have, you always want to make sure to have backup equipment. You’ll need at least two camera bodies, at least 2 lenses, and at least 2 flashes. You should have spare batteries (at least two batteries per camera). And I recommend having at least a 64GB memory card in each camera and a few spares.
PRO TIP: If you can, try to get a camera that has dual memory cards slots, that way you can save each photos on to both cards at once and avoid the heart attack of corrupted memory cards.
Every photographer has their own style which means the equipment they want to use may be different. For example, you may want to shoot with primes lenses and focus mainly on using natural lights, or you may want to have lots of strobes and focus on amazing studio quality lights, or you may want to be more of a ninja photographer and shoot from far away with a telephoto lens. You’ll adapt this as you go on, but the best way to start out is with the standard recommend lenses and body below:
You’ll want at least a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (or something equivalent). And you’ll want a zoom lens like a 70-200 f/2.8 IS (or equivalent). Then if you have extra money, get a Canon 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 lens (or equivalent) for creative low light shots.
Recommended Camera Body:
The camera body that has dual memory cards that does everything a wedding photographer really wants is a Canon 5D Mark IV, this is a beast of a camera. If you can’t afford it, then buy a used Canon 5D Mark III for much cheaper and start there. When I started our wedding photography business I used a Canon T3i and quickly moved up to a Canon 50D, and then to the 5D Mark II, and then to the 1Ds Mark III, and then over to the Canon 5D Mark III, and then over to the canon 1Dx, and now finally to the Canon 1Dx Mark II.
The Canon 1Dx Mark II is the king of Canon camera for wedding photography. But if you can’t afford that, you can considered a used Canon 1Dx Mark I.
Honestly, the camera doesn’t make the photographer, but it REALLY helps when you have a camera that can focus quickly (and reliability) and won’t break down on you.
In order of preference. I would rate the cameras: 1Dx Mark II, 1Dx Mark I, 5D Mark IV, and then 5D Mark III.
You can’t shoot a wedding without having a flash or two on you. You can save money by buying used flash units, but if you can’t find used one, the new ones aren’t terribly expensive: Look into the Canon 600EX-RT Mark II.
Thoughts about buying used equipment:
I recommend buying used if you have the experience and time to shop for them. You’ll save LOTS of money. But you’ll also bring on extra headaches when they fail and you don’t have warranty. The best equipment to buy used are the lenses because you can test easily how it operates and make sure it can focus and capture clear photos. And again, if you are not very tech savy, I would avoid buying used Camera Bodies and/or Camera flashes because you really need to check out all the operations.
Thoughts about buying after market brands:
I always stick with Canon branded lenses because they are more consistent in terms of focus speed and focus accuracy. I honestly haven’t tired using an aftermarket brand because the cost savings isn’t worth it in my opinion. If I was tight on a budget, I rather buy a USED Canon Lens over a new after market branded ones. For flash, you can get away with using after market brands, but I haven’t used them myself since I like having the peace of mind of using Canon Branded ones that come with tested/trusted compatibility and warranty.
Lastly, what type of wedding photography accessories would you need?
I started out just using the included camera straps that came with the cameras. But I quickly upgraded to using the Spider Holsters (I use the dual version, and Kim uses to Single version), we also like to use the Canon E1-Handstraps (or E2 handstraps); this combination of spider holsters and hand strap makes for a very efficient and quick operation during the wedding day.
If you want to carry spare batteries and lenses, you can throw on some lowe pro lens cases to your spider holster belt, or other accessories to the belt.
When you are ready to take it up a step. You’ll want to get an extra portable light stand to mount an extra speedlight to capture some unique photos that none of the wedding guests can! Also, you can add an umbrella to your off camera lighting setup for some awesome family portraits too!
Hopefully this guide gets you started! Let me know if you have any questions! – David
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