Wedding Photographer - Equipment Needed

Peggy Farren 2016-11-29

Wedding photography is often the fastest way to go full-time as a photographer. It's fun, challenging and very rewarding! If you haven't yet, please read my post geared toward brides on How to Choose a Wedding Photographer:

As a photographer, you'll find a lot of good information in that article.

So..... you are just starting out. What equipment do you need and how much will it all cost?

Let me start out by saying this: please have backup equipment and assist other photographers on weddings before trying one yourself. It's such an important day - you need to take every precaution to do a good job!

From polling several wedding photographers, here is the minimum equipment you will need:

Two DSLRs: Budget a minimum of $2600. It would be nice if one was full-frame such as a Canon 6D or 5DMarkIII or a Nikon D610. Budget $2000 Canon 60D or Nikon 3300 $600

If your budget is tight, purchase your backup camera used. You can get a nice little Canon Rebel or Nikon 3200 or 5100 used for about $300.

Two good lenses: Budget $4800. The consensus seems to be these two lenses: Canon 24-70mm F2.8 L Series II $2300 70-200mm F2.8L Series IS II $2500 Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 $1800 70-200mm F2.8 G ED VR $2400

Can you get by with lesser lenses? Probably but lenses are where you don't want to skimp. I am still using the two lenses I purchased when I started my business in 2001. If you buy the high end lenses, it's easier to take fabulous photographs and they will last a long time. Cameras come and go, lenses stick around!

Two good flashes: Budget $1000. I suggest purchasing as much power as you can. Right now that's: Canon 600ex $500 Nikon SB910 $550

You may have good luck purchasing a Canon 580ex or Nikon sb800 used and save yourself some money.

You can purchase a less powerful flash but it will be much tougher to do a good job without adequate power.

Miscellaneous: Budget $300 Extra camera batteries. I suggest having at least one backup battery per camera. I buy off brand camera batteries. Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries and a charger. Eneloops keep their charge longer than most other batteries. You will need at least 16 AA batteries per wedding but I always bring way more. Plenty of memory cards. Have about 4 times as many as you think you need! A good camera bag or two. Buy used for sure to save money! Make sure the camera bag is easy to use as you will always be rushing while you are working a wedding. A fanny pack or some way to keep your extra batteries right on your body at all times.

Do you need a tripod? I rarely use my tripod during weddings unless I am using it as an off camera flash lightstand. You will probably want a tripod as a pro photographer, but you can skip this as an initial investment in my opinion.

Computer and Software: Budget $1500 Adobe has a $10 a month program for Lightroom and Photoshop. That's only $120 a year! The rest of the cost will be for your computer and a decent monitor. Eventually you will want to purchase monitor calibration software and extra hard drives. You will probably want more software as well. But you really only need Lightroom and Photoshop to start out.

large bridal party understand photography dot com

Summary: If you are buying everything new, you can invest as little as $10,000 to get started as a wedding photographer. As you progress and start making a profit, you can invest in more equipment.

You really need to invest in education as well. My first few years in business, I budgeted $7000 a year for training. Training is much less expensive now and you should be taking every class you can to improve both your photography and your business skills.

And now for the shameless plug; join me for "Wedding Photography 101 with a "real" fake wedding". This 5.5-hour class covers business, marketing, managing people, and poses, and includes a model shoot with a gorgeous model (or two depending on class size) in a wedding gown. February 19, 2017. Early registration is only $99. Regular price is $129.

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About Peggy

Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, instructor, writer and speaker.

With over 17 years as a full-time professional photographer, Peggy offers photography training through her training center, “Understand Photography”.

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