What’s in my bag?

I’m not a massive tech-geek. I love spending some money on new lenses but it’s not something that myself and my photography friends spend time chatting about when we meet. At our recent Shoot & Hustle workshop we had a little section about what’s in our bag. I didn’t think it was going to be one of the most popular parts of the day – I was so flipping wrong! There were so many questions from the attendees and loads of interest about the different things we all carry around with us on a wedding day. Hence this blog post!  Here’s my absolute must haves for a wedding day.

Camera bodies

I’m a Canon girl and shoot a wedding day on a 5d MKIII and a 6d. For quite a while the 6d was my main camera but the lack of dual card slots was alway a worry. It’s still a beautiful camera and I love using it. I also have a spare 6d with me at every wedding too. Just in case one camera goes down, I can carry on working as normal.

Batteries

I may have gone slightly overboard on buying spare batteries. But I always feel better knowing that I’ve got more than enough with me on a wedding day. It’s also great when I have two weddings back to back and know I won’t necessarily have time to charge all my batteries overnight. There’s a mix of original Canon batteries in there and some third party ones.

Memory Cards

Most weddings will see me use a 64gb SD and 64 CF card in the 5D MKIII and a 64gb SD in the 6D.  I get very twitchy carrying around used memory cards on a wedding day. I think the likelihood of loosing a card outweighs the likelihood of a card going corrupt. So using large memory cards is important to me. It used to be rare that I’d fill those cards during a day but this year I seem to be shooting a lot more and changing cards mid wedding. Might be time to invest in some 128gb!

Lenses

This is the bit us photographers get overexcited about isn’t it!? Who doesn’t love a lovely new lens arriving and all the possibilities it offers!

I’m as bad as the next person and usually buy a lens or two each wedding season. As my photography journey has progressed I’ve found that I’ve moved away from zoom lenses almost entirely and now shoot mainly on primes. I just love the way they look.

Here’s what I have with me on a wedding day

Sigma Art 24 mm 1.4  –  It doesn’t get a huge amount of use on a wedding day. But it’s a cracker for large group shots, up close documentary and those occasional ‘epic’ landscape/couples shots. It’s not great for portraits and can often make people look distorted if you get too close with it.

Canon 35 mm 1.4 – My absolute workhorse of a lens! I had the Sigma version for about 3 years and it was a cracker. But it kept going soft and needed a lot of calibration. I decided it was time for a new one and decided to opt for the considerably more expensive new Canon 35mm. Worth EVERY penny. It’s a gorgeous lens. Usually on one of  my cameras throughout the whole wedding day. 

Sigma Art 50 mm 1.4. – My new baby in 2017 and it’s still getting a lot of use. I used to shoot weddings almost exclusively on the cheap Canon 50mm 1.8 but replaced that with the 35mm and the 50mm focal length was forgotten about. I’ve rediscovered my love for it this year and use it for lots of the documentary shots, portraits and when possible group shots – that extra bit of compression makes for a lovely shot!

Canon 100 mm 1.8 – I debated for a long time whether or not to splash out on the more expensive macro version of this lens. Glad I didn’t because I never bloody use macro settings! This is a great lens for use in the ceremony to get that little bit closer and also good for portraits too.

Canon 135 mm f2. – This is a gorgeous bloody lens and I definitely do not use it enough! Great for ceremony shots when you’re that little bit further away. Also good for documentary shots when the guests are a little more aware of your presence than you’d like. It also gets a lot of use during speeches to pick out guests reactions.

Canon 17 – 35 mm f2.8 – This is a brand new addition to my camera bag and one that I picked up second hand from another photographer (this is a great way to get new gear without spending lots of cash!). It may be because it’s a bit of a novelty having a zoom lens again but I’m really loving using this lens. It makes for some cracking dance floor shots.

Lighting

It’s safe to say I’m not the most technical/crazy flash/off camera wizzardry photographer out there. But I appreciate the importance of being able to use flash and the benefit of being able to get more creative with it. So I’ll take this kit to every single wedding – rain or shine, summer or winter – because you just never know when it might come in handy!

Flashes – also known as speed lights. I have 4 of these in total. One Canon one which I bought when I first went all pro. And 3 Yongnuo flashes. Which are bloody fantastic and you can pick them up from £50 -80 depending on which spec you choose. They’re easy to use and set up and if you drop one and it breaks (as I have done more than once!) the fact that it cost £50 as opposed to £500 ensures much less crying at weddings!

Triggers –  Sometimes I use my flashes on camera, bounce off the ceiling, job done. But for dancing and night time shots a bit of off camera flash can really make a difference. I use these very cheap and inexpensive Yongnuo triggers. Pop them on your hotshoe, make sure the trigger and the flash are set to the same channel, set flash to RX mode and away you go. This is a very simple manual set up, you can’t change the settings on camera. Other more complicated and expensive set ups are available if this is your bag.

Video light – A cracking little piece of kit that cost me about £30. This is so useful for adding a little bit of extra continuous light. Great for interior group or portrait shots and can also be used creatively for portraits at night. My big tip for this one – night time sparkler shots. I use the video light to illuminate the couple which makes it easier for the camera to focus on them in the dark without killing the ambient light of the sparklers. Update – I’ve added a new video light to my kit. Another Yongnuo. It’s basically a cheap copy of the ice-light and you can pretend it’s a lightsaber. Very satisfying. 

Other bits and bobs

Harness –   When I moved over to shooting on two cameras a harness was a must. It takes all the weight off your neck meaning no pain and it frees your hands when you’re not shooting. I’m too tight to fork out on the big brands like Holdfast or Money Maker so I opted for a locally made harness from a small Etsy shop called (it’s a good one!) Pretty Dead Cow. I’ve attached a little pouch from Amazon to the harness in which I keep some little essentials like my car keys, spare batteries, business cards and some money. If I ever do have to change memory cards during the day they go into a card holder and I keep them in this pouch.

Drugs kit – well not quite! But I always have a little bag with some paracetamol, upset stomach tablets, plasters and lip balm in my camera bag. There’s nothing worse than feeling unwell on a wedding day!

And that my dearies is pretty much it! That bag of tricks goes with me to every wedding. I’m sure I’ll add to it next year and I’ll be sure to update the list! 

For more hints, tips and photography chat visit my Photographer’s page.