With wedding season upon us I thought I'd share what I pack and take with me when I shoot wedding photography.
I carry a LowePro Versapack 200AW which, in my opinion, is an awesome and extremely practical camera bag. It serves as a camera bag and rucksack in one, is really comfortable and still small enough to be able to tuck away somewhere whilst I'm shooting the bulk of the wedding. Plus it’s side loading, which means when I do have it on my back with the camera packed away, all I have to do is slip one arm out of the strap, swing it round, and I can unzip and remove the camera in a matter of seconds.
Vital items: Cameras!
I take two cameras with me; My Nikon D7100 and my old reliable beat-up Nikon D70. The D7100 is my main camera and to it I attach my go-to lens, the Nikon 50mm f1.8, which I love for all-round use and is great for portrait type shots (it's also small and unobtrusive which helps when trying to capture more candid moments through the day); and on the D70 I attach a wide-angle lens - the Tokina 11-16mm for capturing more of the action and helping to get some real context shots. Wedding photographers rarely shoot with a wide-angle lens like this but I really fell they're missing a trick as it helps me get some unique shots I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. The second camera also acts as my back-up or spare camera should something go wrong with the primary. I attach standard Nikon straps, which I ordinarily wouldn't do, to both cameras so I can be hands-free when I need to but also have both cameras easily at hand. I also don't then have to spend time changing lenses around crucial moments.
My flash is an old Minolta - certainly not much to look at, but really does the job on the rare instances I need to use it, which tends to be during the reception. Also, as well as my flash I pack a Manfrotto MKC3-H01 tripod - just incase.
It goes without saying that I pack several spare batteries and also my Nikon battery chargers, just to cover every eventuality.
And again, another obvious one is spare memory cards - just incase.
So that's the most important stuff; but what else can I not do without while photographing a wedding?
I always pack a bottle of water and something to eat, even if it's just a small sandwich. Most couples are more than generous with buying drinks and making sure there's a plate of food set aside for me while the guests eat, but you never know, and with the chances that I'll be on my feet for 12 hours or more it's important to have something I can just take out of my bag quickly when I get a spare moment.
Penknife/multi-tool. I've yet to need it, but if something did crop up it will be useful.
Paracetamol / headache tablets. Squinting into the viewfinder all day can really give me a headache. Combined with constant standing up, carrying heavy cameras around, and having my brain "switched on" all day and I always need these at some point during proceedings.
Lastly, a pen and my diary so that I can check any last details or look up a specific shot list for family members the couple might have supplied. And it's always useful to be able to make a note - you never know when a wedding guest might turn out to be your next client!