June 14, 2023

The Essential Wedding Photographer’s Checklist | Bang Images

FILED IN: Couples, Information

You may be a wedding photographer or someone planning a wedding, either way, this should be an interesting read for you! As a portrait and wedding photographer myself, I photographed my first wedding in 2000. These twenty-three years of experience have led me to share The Essential Wedding Photographer’s Checklist. This information will also give you a look into my personal preferences.

Photographers have supplies, accessories, and camera gear, and all are important when preparing for a wedding. Supplies and accessories include some items that are necessary and some that will simply make your life easier while photographing. I consider camera gear as the actual equipment producing photographs. First I’ll discuss supplies and accessories; (you’ll notice that some items on the list are weather dependent). In the week leading up to a wedding, take inventory of your supplies and accessories.

Supplies and Accessories for The Essential Wedding Photographer’s Checklist

  • Camera bag(s) or case
  • Lens cloth
  • Business cards or whatever form you use to share your business information with potential clients; you will meet many people at a wedding and you never know who your next client will be
  • A charged phone
  • Addresses and/or directions to all wedding locations (preparation, ceremony, reception-multiple locations are possible)
  • Batteries for your flashes
  • Battery operated fans and/or cooling towels
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Gum and/or mints
  • Hair ties and possibly a brush
    • Sometimes it’s nice to freshen up before the ceremony after a long day of portraits
  • Great, supportive shoes
    • Even the best shoes can be made better with gel inserts
    • I recently purchased my first pair of Hoka shoes and they did not disappoint after being on my feet for nine hours
  • Comfortable, temperature and wedding appropriate clothes
  • Advil or other pain reliever
  • Feminine products for those that need them
  • Belt bag a.k.a. fanny pack or shoulder bag
    • Having keys, phone, batteries, extra SD or CF cards, lip balm, gum, hair ties, etc. on your body so you’re never searching for them is a real time saver on a day that time is absolutely of the essence

Supplies and Accessories (cont.)

  • If you’re a creative photographer who uses prisms, lights, or other items to shoot through, locate them
  • Umbrellas in case of rain
    • Clear umbrellas are best not just because they’re neutral and kinda cute, but also because they allow light to come through
    • Take one for yourself and two for your couple
  • If you’d rather have a hands-free approach on a rainy wedding day, you may want a poncho or rain jacket for yourself
  • Water resistant, protective shell/cover for your camera
  • A nice hanger, possibly wooden (if your couple is interested in photos of the clothing before they dress)
  • Suction cup hooks for hanging the clothing if needed
  • Styling board, fabric, or other items that may accentuate the details of the wedding day, such as the rings, bouquet(s), invitation and/or announcement, traditional “borrowed and blue” items, etc. if photographed
  • Clipboard and your photography timeline with a pen, unless you prefer to keep this as a digital reference
  • A stepstool or small ladder
    • This may not be important to someone 5′ 6″ and taller, but for others, it’s really helpful, especially during the posed portraits portion of the day
  • A wagon or other wheeled apparatus for hauling your camera supplies, accessories, and gear

Most photographers will use their cameras in the days leading up to a wedding so preparing your photography gear usually isn’t possible until one to two days before a wedding. If you’re like me and you sometimes loan photography gear or rent it to local photographers, you may want to account for the things you’ll need several days before a wedding.

Camera Gear for The Essential Wedding Photographer’s Checklist

  • Camera(s)
    • Multiple cameras on a wedding day serve different purposes-as a back up, but also shooting with two at a time with different lenses is really helpful
    • My cameras
  • Camera strap
    • Do you want to photograph with one camera at a time or two?
    • The benefit of photographing with one camera is wearing less weight and movement is freer
    • Photographing with a double camera strap allows you to have two different lenses available in an instant with double the available battery and image space so you’ll change your batteries and cards fewer times if at all
    • My single camera strap by Peak Design
    • My double camera strap by Wraith

Camera Gear (cont.)

  • Lenses of varied focal lengths
    • A wide angle lens is great for large groups with limited space, small preparation rooms, and getting those skewed perspective, fun portraits
    • A macro lens isn’t absolutely necessary but if you like close-ups of the wedding details like the rings or flowers, this adds a nice touch
    • Some photographers swear by prime lenses and others love the flexibility of a zoom lens; a zoom lens will allow you to stay positioned in relatively the same place no matter the size of the group you photograph during the posed portraits time of the day (assuming your couple wants posed portraits)
    • Also speaking to long lenses, such as up to 200-300mm, they’re incredibly helpful during a First Look and a wedding ceremony; both situations are intimate and I choose to stay a decent distance away to not interrupt too much

Camera Gear (cont.)

  • Lens hood(s)
  • Multiple SD and/or CF cards
    • The cards depend on the type of camera(s) you use
    • I use these SD cards by SanDisk because of their quality and size for my DSLR cameras
    • I use these CF Express cards by SanDisk for my mirrorless camera
    • Remember to save anything already on the cards and then format them (which will erase the information) before each wedding
    • I put two cards in my dual card slot cameras and have at least 10 others with me
  • Charged camera batteries
    • You should have at least one extra battery per camera so while you’re charging it, you will still be able to use your camera
  • Camera battery charger
  • Tripod
    • Some photographers use one during the ceremony to prevent camera shake if it’s gong to be a dimly lit environment
    • You may also position your camera on a tripod during the posed portraits (again, assuming your wedding couple desires them and if you’re using a zoom lens)

Camera Gear (cont.)

  • Camera flash(es)
    • If you like to photograph with one camera at a time, you should have at least one backup flash
    • If you like to photograph with two cameras at a time, you should have at least three flashes
    • My flashes
      • Nikon SB 700
      • Nikon SB 800 (possibly the best Nikon flash ever made; I’ve had this flash over a decade with zero problems)
      • Nikon SB 910
      • I haven’t purchased a flash in about five years because I am primarily a natural light photographer and only use flashes for evening events and weddings; the flashes noted may not be easy to find
  • Strobe(s)
    • If you are planning posed portraits indoors, you’ll want to consider an artificial light source
    • I use these Alien Bee strobes
  • Receiver(s) and transmitter(s) for your lighting equipment
  • Light stand(s)
    • If you plan to set up strobe lighting, you’ll need a stand or stands for your strobe(s)
    • I use this C stand, but I’m currently researching something lighter and easier to transport and set up
  • Light Modifier(s)
    • I use this 60″ foldable octabox by Paul C. Buff and typically only set up one strobe and modifier because it is so large
    • Some photographers prefer to have two lights sources, which would require two light modifiers

Final Thoughts

All of the items mentioned are important, but something else that you must have to make your wedding day successful is a plan. If your couple has a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, work with them to create a photography timeline. Your wedding day will run more smoothly with a plan in place. Yes, there will likely be delays beyond your control, such is the nature of a wedding day, so control the “controllables”. You will gain your couple’s confidence and respect through good planning and communication.

Wedding photography is some of the most challenging, yet rewarding photography work I do. If you’re a wedding photographer, you know the intense amount of love and energy we pour into every wedding. Weddings are exhilarating!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this information about The Essential Wedding Photographer’s Checklist. If I’ve helped even one photographer by writing this, it was worth the effort! For all of the engaged couples reading this, please reach out if you think we’re a good fit. I’d love to discuss your wedding day with you!

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