Wedding Photography: An Inside Look (Part One)

It’s been a while since I wrote much about photography. While I love to show-case newlyweds and recently betrotheds, one of the goals of this blog is to talk a bit about photography. So, with that goal in mind, I thought I might write a bit about the profession of wedding photography.

Many amateur and student photographers seem to have the impression that wedding photography is easy money. The fact being that professional wedding photography is hard work and requires a significant investment. Lets explore the investment part first.

No matter how you look at it the beginning of a marriage is a significant event. As such, you cannot afford to take chances with recording it for the happy couple. What that means is, at a minimum, you need two quality camera bodies. (I carry a third camera just in case things go really, really far south).

In addition to a pair of cameras you need a complement of lenes to go with them. The “kit lens” you may have gotten when you purchased your camera isn’t going to cut it either! Weddings tend to take place in venues with subdued lighting, and the reception hall will likely be darker yet. You need “fast” lenses capable of capturing crisp images in the worst of conditions.

Now some of you may be thinking that a decent flash will solve most of your low-light problems. While it’s true a good flash (you’ll need two actually) can bring bright light to a dark room, flash frequently isn’t allowed during the ceremony. And, even if it is, most true professional photographers avoid using it during the main event out of respect for the ceremony.

Others may be of the “ambient light is better” school of thought. I hate to break this to you but wedding photography is more a matter of dealing with “ambient darkness.” You’re going to need a good flash and a good back-up flash at a minimum. Of course your artistic control will be pretty limited if you’re stuck with on camera flash. Better add a couple of off-camera cords to your shopping list. And if you really want to get some interesting lighting during the first dance, group shots with interesting lighting, etc., you better plan on investing in a light stand, umbrella and some kind of portable light/flash fired by a radio remote.

Well that’s it for Part One, a look at equipment. I’ll do a Part Two sometime in the future and provide a look at the labor involved before, during and after the event. Until then, here’s a list of minimum equipment requirements to keep in mind:

  • 2 Quality SLR Camera Bodies
  • 2 or more rechargeable batteries per body
  • 1 Wide angle zoom or prime, f2.8 or faster
  • 1 Mild telephoto zoom or prime, 2.8 or faster
  • 1 Telephoto (300ish)zoom or prime. 4.0 or faster
  • Slower back-up lens for each of the above
  • Good quality tripod with ball-head
  • remote release (wired or wireless)
  • 2 Quality Speed Lights capable of TTL with your cameras
  • 3 changes of rechargeable batteries per flash
  • 2 Off-Camera Cords
  • 1 or 2 Flash Brackets
  • 1 or 2 Modifiers for your flashes (I use Stofens)
  • 1 Light Stand
  • 1 Light Stand Adapter/umbrella holder
  • 1 38″ or Larger Umbrella
  • 1 Manual flash or portable studio flash
  • Radio Remote flash controller (such as Pocket Wizard)
  • 6 or 8 Large capacity Memory cards.
  • Misc. lens cleaning devices
  • Waistbelt system for carrying extra lenses and memory cards
  • Bag(s) for transporting all the above

3 Comments

  1. Fred Allsop February 8, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    Good tips. A professional photographer always understands about the lightning and takes correct angles to capture great snaps.

  2. Sergey April 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Very informative, thanks!

  3. WolfTeam May 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Thanks for this article!

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