Wedding Photographer Blog

Essential equipment for a photoshoot

Deevo Tindall - Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Essential equipment for a photoshoot
Camera Body - Canon 5D Mark 3

Do I need to actually add this? I think so, because believe it or not, many years ago, I got halfway to a session and realized that my body was back at home – DOH!

Extra Camera Body

How can I stress this enough – always have a backup body! Let me tell you a little story. Three years ago, I was shooting a wedding about two hours away from my studio. My assistant shooter was with me and she dropped her camera. Cracked the lenses and destroyed her body. Luckily, I DID have my second body and she was able to continue shooting with me. Now if she dropped my second, then of course I would have had to go stormtrooper on her!

Lenses I typically carry four lenses to every session, and use at least two of them every time. My go-to lens for family sessions is the Canon 50 mm f/1.2 and the Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8.I also carry the Canon 24-70 mm 2.8 and the Canon 24-105 mm f/4.0 just in case something happens with my go-to babies. And since I tend to be, how we shall say a bit adventurous, in where I go and how I shoot, the chances of something actually happening to my lenses is VERY, VERY real. 

photographer lying on ground and standing on railing to capture photo
Cases/Bag

I use the Pelican 1510 Waterproof Ultra High Impact Copolymer case and my Tenba backpack. I see a lot of photographers with all sorts of gear on their person. Backpacks, lens cases, extra bodies. Sometimes they look like a stormtrooper prepping for battle. I prefer to go light and robust. I climb trees, wade in water, and crawl on the ground. I actually AM a stormtrooper, so all that gear would just weigh me down and constrict me. So instead, I bring an assistant and make her carry everything. :)

Batteries, batteries, batteries

I set a personal reminder in my calendar right before bed the night before an event, to charge all my batteries. I use a battery pack so I always have at least four rechargeable camera batteries with me. Additionally, my camera packs can use standard AA-batteries in a pinch. The recharge rate per shot is slower, but they will do in a pinch. Therefore, at any particular time, my car and/or gear wagon have at least 50 AAA and AA batteries as backup – oh, and these also power my strobes if needed. So my point is, get a membership at COSTCO or BJ’s, if for nothing else than stocking up on batteries.

Memory Cards, more memory cards, and extra memory cards

I always have backup memory cards and use the high power version. Don’t scrimp on these. Invest on some high quality high speed cards. I use varying sizes for specific times during the session. For detail shots I use 4 GB. For ceremonies, 8 GB and for reception, I use two 8 GB cards. I never fill up the entire card. I don’t know where I read or learned this, but never allow your cards to get full, because it can corrupt the data. Can someone validate that for me? Additionally, I use multiple cards instead of one really large card. That way not all of my pictures [eggs] are in one basket. If something happens to one of the cards at least I have other images on other cards.

Photographer using Sun Swatter and on ladder above wedding reception

Cell Phone

Who really leaves their house without their iPhone anyway? This really just winds up with my assistant anyway, even though I have pockets. Stormtroopers don’t like to be weighed down with excess.

Client's Phone Number

I program every client’s phone numbers in my phone after they book. You never know when you will need to speak to them to run a brilliant idea by them as you sit in traffic or when you are waiting for them to show up an hour late. GRRRRR.

Diffuser

I use a Sunbounce Sun Swatter diffuser. It stands 7 feet tall when open and 4 feet wide, plenty of space to block out all the sun you need to diffuse.It also folds up into a one foot by 2 foot package for easy storage and flexibility.

Sweat towels

I sweat – a lot. So you will always see me with a sweat towel hanging from my pants. Sure it may look tacky, but what would you rather have, me sweating in my clients face as I demonstrate a pose or a small white hanky hanging from my hip?

White Balance Filter

Yes the camera has an auto white balance detector. And most of the time it works – outdoors just fine. But I prefer to control my light and we don’t always get to shoot indoors. For some weird reason, hotels have not always taken into consideration that photographers don’t like orange or yellow walls when they hire their decorators. Consequently, I need to properly white balance when faced with these potentially unflattering situations.So in cases like that I use this.

Blanket

I was at the Depot at Gibson Mill a few years back and picked up a type of rugged blanket that looked perfect for a picnic. I use it at least once every shoot. Brides in a white wedding gown + wet grass or dirty steps = unhappy bride. Addendum to this paragraph:  I wrote this post early this week and on Thursday, I lost the blanket - seriously, It fell off my car since I was using it as padding for the canoe that was strapped to the top of my truck - the same canoe that I fell out of in the lake and nearly destroyed my camera and lens, but due to my cat like agility (right Stephanie?) I saved it.  But I digress, back to the blanket, I lost it on the freeway and thought it never to be found.  Well guess damn what?  Mandy, our studio director randomly found it on the side of the road two days later.  I shi* you not, I can't make this stuff up! The blanket is with me for life. 

Reflector

I use a 5-1 reflector to bounce light when I don’t want to set up off camera lights and just need some subtle lights or shadows here and there. I really only use the Gold and the White, but I have three other colors should I need them.

photographer with sparkler in mouth and on ladder

Duct Tape

I mean, come on, it’s duct tape.You never know when you will need to pin something to something else, fix something, or jerry rig something… hello?

Lights, Lights, Lights and a Ray Gun!

We all love to photograph in natural light, it's the best light, but often times, scratch that, a lot of times, we need to embellish, overpower, or compensate around light.  After all, photography is literally just that, controlling and manipulating light.  We we bring lots of options.  If we had to narrow it down to just a few options, they would be our strobes (580/600's) and our ProFoto off camera flash system.We also have a secret weapon that we have been using for a couple of years and that Mandy has already broken once [Mandy's editorial note: NO she did not break it. The battery pack was not properly secured into the device by our owner and lead photographer, and therefore it went crashing into the middle of the intersection on the Las Vegas Strip at no fault of said Studio Director]. We call it our secret sauce, aka "Ray Gun" aka Lowel GL-1 Power LED (isn't Ray Gun more fun to say?)  You've seen the images we have captured like the one below when everything else is dark except the focal point?  That's our Ray Gun in action.

Bride and groom kissing on the deck of the rooftop overlooking the skylineAnd that's my bare bones equipment in a nutshell, even though it would have to be a large nutshell to fit all of my kickass gear into it. Photographers, what are your essentials and can't-live-withouts?


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