For Photographers: How to Start a Wedding Photography Business: First Wedding Kit Bag

In my experience, less is more when it comes to photography equipment.

  • More kit doesn’t necessarily mean better photographs. I’ve always found it a good policy to master the basics first
  • Having a small amount of kit allows you to be mobile
  • If you don’t want an assistant, you can easily manage it by yourself
  • You have less stuff to organize and worry about going wrong

Having said that, it’s important that you choose the right tools for the job. With your first wedding booking secured, it’s time to assemble your camera bag.

My suggested starter kit:

2 x Canon EOS 5D Mark II/Mark III (with spare batteries and charger)

Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM

Canon Speedlite 580EX/600EX Flash (with spare batteries)

4 x 32gb Compact Flash Memory Cards

1 x silk cloth

 

Canon EOS 5D Mark II/Mark III

  • You really need your DSLR to be full frame so that your lenses are the correct focal length and not made too tight by a cropped sensor.
  • I use a pair of Canon 5D Mark IIIs. They are awesome but so is the Mark II that is now very reasonably priced.
  • Just one camera body is a big risk. I made this a mental ‘note to self’ as I sprinted to Jessops through Oxford town centre one Saturday morning after a shutter failed on me with the first shot of the day!

Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM & Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM

  • The 24-70mm is wide enough to capture a scene or group of people and also allows you to zoom in for detail shots.
  • The 70-200mm allows you to be really unobtrusive, capturing the candids from a good distance.
  • I wouldn’t consider a lens slower than F2.8. Without a wide aperture, you just don’t have enough control over the depth of field and even with the higher ISOs available on the 5Ds, I’d still get a little nervous if the light was low.

Canon Speedlite 580EX/600EX Flash

  • If you are using the 5D there is no built-in flash.
  • With a flash gun you can bounce the light off white surfaces for a softer, more natural effect.
  • I always use the flash in manual – many lower-end models don’t always have this feature.

32gb Compact Flash Memory Cards

  • Take double what you think you need. You don’t want to miss a shot because there isn’t enough room on your cards.

Silk cloth

  • I always find there’s at least one occasion during the day when I want to wipe the screen for a clearer view.

Buying New

  • Warehouse Express is consistently the cheapest supplier in the UK
  • Even with the cost of a flight and hotel, you may still it cheaper to go to NYC and buy your kit from B&H

Buying Used

  • If you go for the Mark II, you can find everything you need on the used pages at Fixation and Warehouse Express for around £2k less than buying all new kit. There are plenty of used Mark IIs available since the release of the Mark III

Hire

  • If you set an account up at Flash Centre, you can hire the full kit with Mark IIs for £314.40 inc. VAT for the weekend, and only a little more for the Mark IIIs. This is a great option when you are starting out.
  • There are Flash Centre in London, Birmingham and Leeds, but once you have an account set up, you can have the kit posted to you and collected.

You can view my full camera bag in this previous article.

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  • January 23, 2015 - 2:33 am

    Camera and Laptop Bags - Great tips. My photography is definitely something I need to work on, so I will definitely be using some of these tips on my next adventure!

  • June 27, 2013 - 6:53 pm

    Charley - Hey Graham, there are two occasions during the day when I use direct flash, and I set it manually for both.
    1. Bride walking up the church aisle – If the ceremony is in a church I will use direct flash as the bride enters and walks up the aisle. Generally churches are badly lit, and the bride will often be back-lit as she walks in the door and down the aisle. This throws the ETTL off a little, causing it to underexpose.
    2. First dance and party – I have a very specific style for the first dance and party that requires a consistent output from the flash. Disco lights can really vary the ETTL metering.

  • June 23, 2013 - 2:31 am

    Graham - Good post, exactly same setup I use during the ceremony. One question though, you say you use your Flash in manual mode, don’t you recommend ETTL?

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