As a Professional Indian Wedding Photographer, the question I get MOST often is…”So, what camera do you use?”. I’m not even going to begin with the entire “it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer” spiel, but I’m more than happy to share what my standard kit looks like when I’m headed out to photograph a wedding!
Unlike the weddings in the west, Indian weddings go on for days (and nights) and you are expected to shoot in every situation no matter how bad the lighting is. My natural temptation is the carry everything but the kitchen sink, so choosing what to carry is an art in itself! Some of the main things I think about is:
- Travel: We tend to travel by air a lot, so it’s imperative that what I carry (a.) fits into the overhead luggage bay, and (b.) is within airline weight limitations
- Comfort: During a wedding, you tend to have to move about a lot…walk long distances to board an aircraft, climb LOTS of staircases and so on. If you’re bogged down by 50 kilos of equipment, you’re going to get dizzy – and fast!
So…without further ado, this is what I usually carry for a wedding, as part of a wedding photography gig:
Of course, all this needs to fit into something, and this is how we normally take them.
I get a lot of questions about why I choose these particular cameras and lenses, so here’s a little more on why I chose these lenses, and what they do.
MY CAMERA BODY(IES)
My choice of camera is Nikon D4. It is my personal opinion that this is the fastest and most rugged camera in the world. It just doesn’t get better than this. Ridiculously fast autofocus, stellar low-light performance and insane speed – you could carry this camera into war if needed. I also carry two back up cameras with me which are generally, D750 (also used by Praerna when we’re shooting together) and the trusty D700. Back up cameras are very important as you never know when your luck runs out!
NIKON 24-70mm f/ 2.8:
This baby is so wonderfully general purpose. You could shoot an entire wedding without ever changing gear. Meant for full-frame cameras (35mm equivalent, referred to as FX on Nikons) – this lens is brilliantly wide at the 24mm end (perfect for that sweeping wide angle shot) and decently tight at the 70mm end (great for getting closer for that special moment you don’t want to miss) – and ALWAYS OPEN at f/2.8 all of the time!
If there ever came a time where I was only allowed ONE lens on my camera — this one would be it. Brilliantly sharp, with a crisp creamy bokeh that no other lens can ever deliver – this is my go-to lens for just about anything. This lens loves being shot wide open – bang away at 1.4 as long as you want, the brilliant auto-focus ensures you’re locked on to your target for as long as you heart desires. With a open aperture of 1.4, you can shoot literally in darkness — as this lens lets in more light that anything else you’ve probably seen.
The 70-200 is a perfect focal length at a wedding — and like the lens above this, it’s 2.8 all the time. Yaay! The f/2.8 comes in even more handy when you’re shooting something that’s far away and need to zoom in and have an appropriately fast shutter speed: and that’s where the f/2.8 shines!
Prime Lenses offer superior bokeh, and in some cases are relatively inexpensive compared to other zoom lenses. Prime lenses need to be used well-as you need to maneuver for the lens to be effective. Shooting a wedding is all about flexibility. 35mm can sometimes be a little ‘too wide’ and 50mm can sometimes be a little ‘too close’. The two focal lengths are great but it probably wouldn’t be my first port of call had I to shoot a wedding with it.
This isn’t a lens you’re going to be using all the time at a wedding. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably only mount it a couple of times. But at the end of the day, it’s the ring shot that’s your bread and butter. And there’s nothing better for a ring shot than this lovely macro. I personally prefer a longer focal length for macro shots (there are other versions of this lens with wider focal lengths, but a longer lens really lets you get into the meat of it).
NIKON 14-24 f/2.8:
Nikon has one of the best lenses of this type ever made- sharp and crisp performance. Super wides allow for creative photography- but need to be mastered. It can cause severe distortion-never a good idea if you’re shooting a bride.
FLASHES & ACCESSORIES
Off-camera flash is my bread and butter. I really believe that the ability to shape light well makes you a much better photographer. I carry a bunch of flashes, currently three Nikon SB700s or SB900s which I use in a variety of manners, the last of which is actually “on” the camera.
I use both Yongnuo and Pocket wizard radio triggers and I carry around 8 Yongnuo triggers and 4 (two sets) of Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 triggers. I still carry my ancient Yongnuo triggers because I mostly use my flashes in manual off-camera mode. I like using manual flash – it allows me to control the light, and in my experience the Yongnuos are cheap and very reliable. When I really want to exploit TTL or HSS (high speed sync), then I use the PocketWizards.
I carry a LOT of memory cards. I have two memory cards wallets full of memory cards and I carry them all, all the time. The last thing you want while shooting a wedding is running out of memory especially when you are shooting in RAW. Tip: invest in mutiple “medium” size memory cards (like 16 gigs) instead of one large one (like 32 gig). In case you ever lose a card (!), you’ll limit your loss this way.
My lightstands go through a lot of abuse. I put them in water, they fall over, they get perched at precarious angles and get thrown about in airline checkins. I use simple (cheap) local unbranded stands because they do what I want them to.
I use all sorts of light modifiers, but I try and choose the ones that are easy to carry and move about with. I would love to use my 150″ octa everywhere, but sadly that’s not possible. I use a couple of Gary Fong light domes (yes, they’re actually worth it) and a bunch of cheap white shoot-through umbrellas. They spread the light very nicely and I don’t worry about throwing them away if they get damaged.
Here’s everything all together once again.
There you go. Next person who asks me what camera I use gets this link as a response! Questions? Ask away!