Since this year is super different as far as weddings and events for us photographers, I thought it’d be fun to talk about what gear I am using at micro weddings.
I haven’t photographed a wedding with more than 20 people in a long time. I’ve been doing a lot of these smaller events, and I’m packing a little bit differently as far as the cameras, the lenses, and the gear that I bring along to these weddings.
I have shared what’s in my camera bag in the past, but that was a few years ago. I have made some changes to lenses and camera bodies, but I still am using the same pelican case. You can actually watch a video here on how I organize my case, which is largely the same as when I created this video.
The system that I use to set up that bag is helpful for finding everything that you need quickly. I am still using my pelican case, but I’m doing some things differently this year just because working with smaller weddings and working shorter days has changed the way that I work, the way that I shoot, and what I need on a wedding day. I’ve been trying minimize the overall gear that I’m bringing.
One thing that has really changed for me this year is that I’m often working alone. Not with a second shooter and sometimes not even with an assistant. It’s different for me because I usually work with a team. Working with a team means big weddings and a lot of moving parts and locations. So I have help for all the different gear in the moving parts of the day. Now moving into more of this micro wedding and intimate wedding setting is a little bit different as far as what I have to do to prepare photographically. I can’t rely on a second shooter’s images or having an assistant to carry things around. With all that being said here is what I bring to a micro wedding.
Like I said I’m still using my pelican case, the rolling bag, but what I like to do is use that as a home base in my car with all the same gear. I don’t bring along my full lighting stands, umbrellas, and everything for most micro weddings. This is because there isn’t space to set up this kind of lighting at most of the weddings that I’ve been doing. Also, they’ve been largely outside and during the day, which makes it a totally different ballgame, especially when you’re dealing with something a lot smaller, both in length of time and the amount of people. I’m not bringing my full lighting setup but I do still bring flashes.
When I get to the wedding I set myself up with two camera bodies even for a small micro wedding. This is just how I shoot and it’s how I get the variety of shots as quickly as I can, especially considering the fact that I don’t have a second shooter with me. I need to be able to quickly move back and forth between focal lengths and lenses, and having two camera bodies allows me to do that. I have a hold fast strap. This allows me to wear two camera bodies at the same time.
On one side I have the D4 by Nikon, and on the other side I have the D610. I will set myself up with the 35MM 1.4 by Nikon and the 58MM 1.4 by Nikon. These two lenses have been my go-to to pair because they’re different enough on the camera bodies that I’m getting totally different results, even when I’m shooting the same thing from the same location. It’s giving me a good variety and getting that editorial look with a 35MM 1.4 and that really dreamy fine art look with the 58MM 1.4. So, between those two lenses I’m pretty much set with what I will need for most of the day.
I am still using a small camera bag. I love this bag. It’s called the Kamerette bag. I load this with two other lens options. I will put the 70 to 200 so I can get some distance from what’s going on. With these more intimate micro weddings I’m finding that because there are less people I stand out more. I can’t just blend into the crowd because there isn’t a crowd. I’m using longer lenses, so the 70-200 has come back on my camera this season, which has been fun! I use a macro so I have a 60 MM 2.8 macro in here as well. That will be obviously just for ring shots and details if I am going to be doing details. Other than that, that’s all the lenses that I’m bringing.
Then I load this up with memory cards, a flash, and some extra batteries. It has the perfect amount of space in here. I will have lens cleaning wipes, extra memory for my cameras, extra batteries, flash batteries, and then I’ll put my keys, phone, and wallet in here as well.
One suggestion I have for you is if you don’t shoot on two camera bodies, and you want to be able to switch out your lenses quickly to get a good variety of those focal lengths and just get good variety in that final gallery, I suggest using an on the body bag (my fav is the Shootsac). This is super helpful because it stays open on the top so you don’t have to take off the backpack, unzip, and open it up, which could interrupt your shooting. This way you can reach in and get whatever you need. For example, the back caps and the front caps back in here and then carry on shooting. It molds to your body and I’ve had one since 2013 that is still going strong. It’s a little bit beat up, but has held up well for being so used for the past seven years.
Anything more than four pieces of equipment in the Shootsac and it starts to get bulky, at least in my opinion, but I recommend this if you’re not able to shoot on two camera bodies. It’s a good option for getting quick lens changes throughout a day.
Beyond gear, I still do bring a styling tray and a reflector. Sometimes these are going to stay in my car and sometimes they’re going to come with me. This is going to largely depend on my conversation with the couple prior to the day. If I know that they’re going to have more traditional details I still want to bring some styling things, but I’m not going to bring my full styling set up. Especially, if there’s not going to be a dress that I’m photographing before the bride gets into it.
What I have found is that I am shooting more around three or four hours of coverage, and it’s around 20 or so guests, and because of that they’re really most of the time. The timeline doesn’t begin at the getting ready, it begins more at the first look, and then it ends at the beginning of the reception instead of the send off. Totally different timelines, but each and every one of these weddings are really specific and different to each couple which makes it fun and different for me as a photographer that’s worked 200 person weddings every other weekend for the past seven years.
The biggest difference is that I’m not rolling around my large case of every piece of equipment that I have. I’m not using light stands, video lights, or off-camera flash for the most part. I’m really trying to stick with using two primes and then, if necessary, switching out those lenses as needed. I have found that I can get away with shooting in almost an entire wedding on just those two lenses because those lenses are so versatile. As long as I don’t have to do anything macro for ring shots or super distant far away shots, I can get away with shooting an entire event on those two lenses and deliver a lot of variety in the galleries.
What’s interesting is I have found while micro weddings and intimate weddings are pretty different on the actual day the actual preparation is very much the same as if I’m preparing for a traditional 200 person, eight hour day.
I’m still using my prep checklist that I gave you guys a couple years ago, so if you haven’t gotten your hands on that yet you can get it here. It’s a free checklist for you to use that has what I do to prepare for every single wedding. This guide helps you make sure that you have prepared your lenses, prepared your memory cards, and charged all your batteries. I’ve been using this even for micro weddings and it’s really come in handy, especially with me being a little bit rusty after a couple months of COVID-19 shut down. Then things starting back up again, it’s been a minute since I photographed a wedding. It’s reassuring to have a list that I can go through and make sure that I am ready, that I have all my backup stuff, and that I feel prepared for the day.
I hope you guys have enjoyed seeing what I bring to micro weddings. I would love to hear what you bring and if you have any tips to share please leave those in the comment section below as usual!