Essential Gear for the Working Pro


As a working photographer, the center of the universe is your camera bag and its contents. Your cameras and lenses are the tools of your trade. As you may have noted, both are mentioned in plural because just as you wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a backup parachute, you shouldn’t attempt to photograph an emotionally spiked, non-repeatable event armed with only one camera. The same applies to lenses, too. The many aspects that comprise shooting weddings—portraits, the ceremony, dimly lit environs, tight, crowded quarters and bright outdoor settings—can push both the creative and practical limitations of the most experienced photographers.

Cameras and lenses aside, there are other items that should be part of all wedding photographers’ war chests. Having these items on hand and knowing how to use them can make the difference between a great wedding album and one that’s mundane.


It is essential to have a sturdy tripod at your disposal when you are photographing a wedding, for situations in low light, or when you have to compose formal group shots. If you place a remote-triggered camera in the chapel balcony, you’ll need to mount it on a tripod, or perhaps use a Super clamp or similarly adjustable clamp, with 1/4"-20 or 3/8"-16 camera threads. It’s a great idea to have a small tabletop tripod with you, as well, which can help you steady a shot atop a table or other horizontal surface. One of these can also help when you need to brace the camera vertically against a wall or other architectural element to obtain images free of the blur associated with operator movement.

Oben TT-100 Table Top Tripod

For more information about choosing a tripod, please refer to our Tripod and Tripod Heads buying guide.

Light Meters

For ambient light readings, the meter in your camera can be quite sufficient. Flash metering is another story, especially if you are using flash to fill backlit subjects or darken background areas to place more emphasis on the subjects in the foreground. You can always shoot test exposures and review them on your camera’s LCD, but a more professional and certainly more precise method of establishing accurate flash exposures is by using a light meter.

Sekonic C-700-U SpectroMaster Color Meter

One consistent characteristic of flash meters is that even the least expensive of them can establish ambient and flash exposures—reflective or incident—down to 1/10-stop in accuracy, wirelessly or tethered. When you are dealing with the broad contrast range presented by traditional western men’s and women’s wedding clothes, it is important to consider the benefits of taking incident readings with a handheld light meter. Incident readings measure the amount of light falling on the subject, rather than the amount of light reflected from the subject. In most cases, incident readings, which read the light in terms of neutral, 18% gray values, will provide you with accurate average exposures regardless of whether your subjects are wearing white gowns, black tuxedos, or brightly colored bridesmaid dresses.

Sekonic goes one step further by offering the option of incorporating PocketWizard wireless triggers into many of its flash meters, which enables you to “walk the set” in order to establish flash and ambient exposure readings from any position within the frame. At B&H, we stock a variety of flash meters from companies including Sekonic, Gossen, Shepherd/Polaris, Interfit, Wein, and Kenko.

PocketWizard FlexTT5 Transceiver Radio Slave for Nikon i-TTL Flash System

Wedding-Friendly Straps and Camera Holsters

If you find camera bags or conventional shoulder-worn camera straps an inconvenience when working a busy room, you should take a look at Cotton Carriers, a one-size-fits-all, holster-style camera support that takes the weight off your shoulder while making it easy to access up to two cameras.

Available for light to medium use on standard DSLRs (Cotton Carrier Endeavor Belt System) as well as for extended use with full-size DSLRs (Cotton Carrier Camera Vest), Cotton Carriers are manufactured of 1680 denier polypropylene, and feature Lexan, stainless steel and high-density rubber components along with a quick and secure camera locking system, mounting plates included. Another holster system that has gained a large following among wedding photographers is Spider holsters. If, for whatever reason, you’re not too thrilled about the camera strap you’re currently using—for weddings or otherwise—you should most certainly check out BlackRapid’s lineup of camera straps.

BlackRapid YETI Slim Dual Camera Harness

Wireless Remote Triggers

When it comes to taking pictures in crowded environments, the fewer cables you have strewn about the floor, the better. Every cable you can eliminate is one less worry about a guest tripping and falling. Wireless remotes can be used to trigger your main and fill flashes and your cameras. Many wireless remotes feature multiple channels or frequencies, which is a valuable feature if you’re shooting near other photographers using wireless triggers or when you need to trigger different groups of your own lights. By coordinating channel selections, everybody can perform their duties without interfering with the other photographers’ agenda.

Vello Wireless ShutterBoss II Remote Switch with Digital Timer for Olympus Cameras Kit

For shooting in “photographer-rich” environments, such as catering halls hosting simultaneous weddings, each with its own photographer—or such as when you and your assistant are capturing alternate views of the same wedding with two cameras—the Vello Wireless Shutterboss Remote Timer offers 99 channels. You can also use the multiple-channel feature to trigger multiple sets of electronic flash units independently from each other, which is particularly handy when those setups are being used simultaneously. Available individually or in sets, radio transmitters, receivers, and transceivers are available from PocketWizardQuantum and Elinchrom. Keep in mind that a remote trigger can become almost as useful as an assistant when used to trigger a tripod-mounted remote camera with a wide-angle lens in the church balcony, for example, capturing aerial views of the ceremony.

PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver

In addition to the radio-slave offering from Elinchrom, Quantum, and Pocket Wizard, B&H also stocks the Impact PowerSync 16 DC Radio Slave System, a very affordable battery-powered (AC optional) wireless trigger system that offers a choice of 16 channels and a range of up to 590' (180 m) indoors and up to 200' (60 m) outdoors.

Dedicated and generic wireless camera triggers are also available from Hahnel and many of these remotes are also available in multi-channel models. Dedicated wired and wireless remote controls are also available from Nikon and Canon.

Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3

Battery Grips

Battery grips are advantageous for several reasons, but are primarily valuable because they sport secondary shutter-release buttons and command dials, which make it ergonomically easier to orient your camera vertically. Battery grips also add an extra measure of grip-ability, which is an especially welcome feature for ensuring a positive hold on your camera. Because battery grips hold dual batteries, you can expect to make twice as many exposures before having to replace your camera's batteries. Depending on the make and model, many battery grips also offer the option of powering with standard AA batteries, which can prove to be a lifesaver when the party is still raging on and all your rechargeable batteries are spent. Vello offers a range of battery grips to suit many popular DSLRs, such as the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D, as well as the Nikon D7000 and D5100.

Vello BG-N15 Battery Grip for Nikon D750


Even though the White Balance controls are built into every digital camera, not to mention the fact that the post-capture color-correction tools found in almost every photo editing program have reduced the need for color compensating (CC) filters, there are some filters that simply cannot be dialed-in from the comfort of your camera’s menu selections. Included among these filters are PolarizingUV (ultraviolet reduction), Neutral Density (solidgraduated, or center ND) and diffusion filters.

Polarizing filters, which in terms of wedding photography are primarily used for outdoor scenes, are designed to eliminate glare, reflections in polished surfaces, glass, and water and make clouds pop from darkened blue skies. They are great to use if your wedding party is posed beside a body of water or a glass-walled urban structure. To eliminate stray light from striking your lens, always use a lens hood. Do take care when using a polarizing filter on a wide-angle lens; the amount of polarizing effect is directly influenced by the lens’s angle to the sun, and this combination of lens and filter can cause your sky to vary unnaturally from light to almost navy blue.

Without Filter (left); With Filter (right)

UV filters serve their purpose indoors and out. Indoors, UV filters temper the degree of UV radiation that might be generated by your electronic flash tubes. Though invisible to the human eye, UV can leave a bluish cast in your images under certain types of lighting. 

Hoya 58mm alpha MC UV Filter

Regardless of whether you are shooting indoors or out, using UV filters is an effective way to protect the front element of your lens. Another option for protecting the front elements of your lenses is to use clear protection filters such as the Hoya Clear Pro 1 Digital Multi-coated filters and Nikon’s NC Glass filters. There are several electronic filters on the market that allow you to layer filter effects in your photographs, post capture, and many of them work quite well. The exception are software-generated Polarizing filters, which only serve to saturate color, but cannot remove reflections and glare, which can only be achieved at the time of capture.

Nikon 67mm NC Glass Filter

Neutral density (ND) filters are essentially neutrally tinted filters that enable you to reduce the amount of light entering your lens so you can alter your shutter or aperture settings in the same light. ND filters come in handy when you need to reduce the output of your lighting system beyond its existing low-power setting. ND filters are also an easy solution for shooting at wider apertures in bright light to take advantage of selective-focus effects.

ND filters can be handy for adding suggestions of movement in an otherwise static photograph. As an example, with a 3- or 4-stop ND filter in place, you can pose the newlyweds in front of a waterfall and turn the waterfall into a creamy blur by slowing your shutter speed, while the couple holds stock still and remains tack sharp. This technique can be used with any moving background or foreground, with striking results. This is also a handy way to eliminate otherwise distracting moving elements in a picture.

Without Filter (left); With Filter (right)

In addition to standard ND filters, Variable ND filters are also available, which allow you to change the degree of neutral density by 2-8 stops, simply by rotating the outer ring of the filter. This can be a huge time saver while shooting under the gun.

Diffusion filters should be part of every portrait and wedding photographer’s outfit. Designed to soften skin tones and create a dreamy haze, diffusion filters are available in numerous degrees of textures and patterns, which can flatter the complexions of people who don’t resemble the high-fashion models we’re used to seeing on magazine covers. If you want to soften facial features, smooth lines and wrinkles without the dreamy haze-like effect, try a soft-focus filter. These are especially flattering for portraits. When using diffusion and soft-focus filters, it’s always a good idea to go easy on the amount of softening you employ, as too much diffusion can be as distracting as none. So be judicious. Tread softly.

Soft Focus

Tiffen FX-series diffusion filters are available in a number of configurations, including "black diffusion" filters, which soften the image without reducing the overall contrast levels of the photograph. Many Tiffen FX-series filters are also available in a choice of warm tone and neutral tone.

Filters are available in a range of quality levels and possibly, except for diffusion filters, you should always use higher-quality filters on your lenses to maintain the sharpness levels of the lenses you paid hard-earned money for the pleasure of owning and using. 


When it comes to photography—especially digital photography—batteries make the world go ’round, and when you run out of juice, your world basically comes to a halt. This is not a good thing when you’re out on a job, wedding or otherwise. For this reason, it’s obligatory that you have, at the very least, a complete set of back-up batteries for every item in your bag that uses batteries.

Although most cameras are powered by dedicated lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, accessories such as flashguns, transceivers, etc., still rely on AA, AAA, 9V, C, D and any number of button-type batteries. At the very least, you should always carry a minimum of one spare set of batteries for each of your battery-powered devices.

At B&H, we stock an extensive assortment of dedicated rechargeable camera batteries for most popular cameras and dedicated flashguns. If your batteries are rechargeable, make sure the chargers are also packed and readily accessible. An appealing option for efficient charging is the Pearstone Duo Battery Charger, which allows you to charge two batteries at a time and mix and match types or brands of batteries.

Watson NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack

Easy access to AC power outlets is another big concern, and to ensure you’re never caught short, it’s highly recommended that you carry at least one AC extension power cord for each AC-powered device you will be using during the course of the day. Though available in many colors and lengths, it makes the most sense to stick to 25' or 50' lengths, available with triple outlets that enable you to tap up to three packs or devices into each cord.

Depending on your gear and the state of the electrical system you will be working with, it’s not a bad idea to include a few surge protectors, which are available in several configurations, as well as a few multi-voltage adapters/converters, if your plans include shooting across international borders.

APC SurgeArrest Home/Office Professional Surge Protector

Gaffer Tape

Sometimes a simple strip of gaffer tape can make the difference between a minor hiccup and total disaster. Available in a number of widths (3", 2", 1" and ½") and colors (black, white, gray, red, yellow, blue, fluorescent green, fluorescent orange, fluorescent pink, fluorescent yellow), gaffer tape can be used for taping cables securely along the floor, quick repairs of gear, securing cases for shipping, and many other uses. Gaffer tape in colors can also be used to identify your gear quickly for packing up, or in the case of shooting with multi-channel lighting systems, color-coding individual channels and related gear for syncing purposes. Gaffer tape is a thinking photographer’s solution.

Impact Gaffer Tape

As we mentioned in the section above on wireless triggers, even though we live in an increasingly wireless universe, we still have to deal with cables. To ensure that nobody trips over them, we suggest that in addition to gaffer tape, you include a few rolls of Permacel/Shurtape Cable Path Gaffer Tape in your kit. Available in 4" and 6" widths (x 30 yards), this extra-wide yellow gaffer tape features a glue-free center channel that allows you to secure long runs of lighting and sound cables to the floor, without the hassle of wrestling the tape from the cables when you’re finished for the day.

A reusable alternative to taping cables to carpeted surfaces is the Safcord Cord & Cable Protector, which is available in a choice of 3" x 6' and 4" x 30'. Made of industrial-grade Cordura Nylon, Safcord Cord & Cable Protectors use hook-and-loop touch fastener instead of adhesive to hold cords and cables securely to carpeted surfaces. When you’re finished, all you need to do is pull the strips from the floor, roll them up, and tuck them away until your next gig.

Safcord Cord and Cable Protector; hooks to carpet

Memory Cards

You can never have enough of them, and the faster the read/write speed, the better. Hi-speed memory cards keep shrinking in price while growing in capacity. If the read/write speeds of the newest cards are faster than the read/write speed of your current camera, this only means it will be an ideal match for your next camera, which will undoubtedly outstrip the camera you currently own in terms of processing speed. Certain cameras are now compatible with CFast and XQD cards, which offer faster read and write speeds and can better handle data-heavy 4K and RAW imaging.

The same school of thought applies to the storage capacities of your memory cards. Today’s cameras capture larger file sizes—and sometimes multiple files simultaneously—not to mention video, which eats up memory like there’s no tomorrow. So, when contemplating your next card, remember it wasn’t all that long ago a 1GB card was a big deal. Make sure to use cards with as much memory as is compatible with your camera. Except for portraits, capturing rapid-action photo sequences without missing a beat requires using cards that can process large image files as fast—or faster—than your camera can capture them.

Sony 128GB XQD G Series Memory Card

Some of the fastest CF cards we currently stock at B&H include the SanDisk Extreme Pro-series CF memory cards and Lexar 400x and 600x Professional-series CompactFlash cards. For cameras using SD series memory cards, the fastest of the lot currently include Lexar Professional SDHC/XC memory cards and SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC and SDXC memory cards.

JPEGs are fine, but if you are going to present a finished portfolio of images with as much color, dynamic range, and detail as possible, you’ll want to shoot and process RAW files, which take up a great deal more space and beg for larger-capacity memory cards. JPEGs, which don’t contain as much visual information, take up less space but leave off where RAW files begin.

Storage Devices

With the speed and storage capacities of memory cards steadily increasing, incessant card-swapping and data backup may not be as critical as it was not too long ago. It’s comforting to know your back is covered if anything should happen to your cards during or after the ceremony and reception. Once you fill your memory cards, you must do something with the image files each one contains before you reformat a card and pop it back into your camera. For storing these image files, you have several viable options, some of which require the use of a laptop, netbook, or tablet containing a built-in card reader that’s compatible with the card format you are using (i.e., SD, CF, Memory Stick, etc.). You can also use a USB or FireWire port for attaching a storage drive or a receiver. You can even transmit image files to your drive or laptop wirelessly.

WD 2TB Elements USB 3.0 External Hard Drive

USB and FireWire-enabled portable storage drives, which currently sell for as little as (or less than) $100 for 1 terabyte of storage space, are quick and easy solutions for backing up or archiving images. Your files can also be stored temporarily on your laptop, netbook, or tablet’s hard drive.

One company that’s been gaining attention in the world of on-the-fly data storage is Nexto DI, which manufactures a nice selection of high-performance portable storage drives in capacities of up to 750GB, many of which contain LCD screens for reviewing and editing image files downloaded from your memory cards. Depending on the model, Nexto DI storage devices are shock- and drop resistant, can transfer data to other devices and burn data to Blu-ray Discs, recover bad sectors, and support a number of memory-card formats, including Panasonic P2/P2E cards, UDF and FAT32 memory cards.

NEXTO DI ND2901 500GB HDD Portable Memory Card Backup Storage

If you think you are going to be really piling up the megabytes as you photograph the wedding, and your cameras of choice include certain Canon DSLRs, you also have the option of using Canon Wireless File Transfer transmitters, which enable you to upload image files to a notebook computer for backup and extra storage space, as you shoot. Another option favored by wedding photographers is to upload captured image files to any number of cloud-based servers, which can be edited and made accessible to the clients for their enjoyment even before the festivities have ended.

Canon WFT-E8A Wireless File Transmitter

Posing Stools

Posing stools are worth considering because they are less obtrusive and easier to use for posing purposes than the chairs you’re likely to find at the catering hall or the local VFW. Narrow in profile, swivel-based and adjustable in height, posing stools allow you to pose individuals and couples with a great degree of fluidity and flexibility. Most of these posing stools can be broken down for easy transport.

Impact PS Posing Stool

Camera Lens/Sensor Cleaning Kits

The truly important guidelines of proper camera maintenance involve keeping your camera’s lenses, imaging sensor and LCD smudge free, all of which involves checking your gear before, during, and after every assignment. Happily, B&H is your source for cleaning cloths and LCD screen protectors.

Maintaining smudge-free lenses—specifically the front and rear elements—is a relatively effortless affair. To remove incidental dust articles, a camel-hair brush is often sufficient, and assuming the brush is clean, camel-hair brushes don't leave any residue behind. You can also use an air blower to remove dust particles and grit. Most lens smudges can be easily eliminated by simply breathing on the lens surface and wiping it clean with a microfiber cloth. Repeat the breathe-and-wipe process once or twice if needed, or if the smudges are more tenacious, go the heavier-duty route with a lens-cleaning kit. For more stubborn smudges, a good lens-cleaning kit can be a lifesaver. Apply the lens-cleaning solution to your cloth and wipe in gentle, circular motions—never apply lens-cleaning solution directly to the lens surface. A few drops applied sparingly to a microfiber cloth should be more than sufficient to remove almost anything. Cleaning kits like these are indispensable for ensuring clean lenses and crisp image capture, and are available from a few manufacturers.

Zeiss Lens-Cleaning Kit

For cleaning smudges from the harder-to-reach edges of the lens elements, try applying a few drops of lens-safe cleaning solution to a cotton swab and gently swipe the dirt from its hiding place. Many kits also contain baster-like air blowers, which are also handy for clearing dust off your camera sensor. Never use canned compressed air to clean your sensor!

Even if your camera has a built-in dust-reduction system, inevitably a bit of dust or two will find its way onto your camera’s mirror or imaging sensor. If you see fuzzy dark spots when you peer through your camera’s viewfinder, the villains are on the mirror. These particles can usually be blown away easily by removing the lens and, with the camera pointed face-down, blowing the dust off the mirror's surface with a few blasts from one of the squeeze-y rubber air blowers we sell at B&H. Follow up by cleaning the particulate matter from your camera sensor—carefully—with any one of a number of comprehensive sensor-cleaning kits.

VisibleDust EZ Sensor Cleaning Kit DUALPOWER-X Extra Strength with 5 MXD-100 Green 1.0 x Vswabs

If you are going to use sensor-cleaning kits, it is imperative that you read the instructions thoroughly and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid damaging the camera’s imaging sensor. It’s a good idea to clean your gear after every event, followed by a quick check before the next job, because you have better things to do the day of the event. And don’t forget to hold your camera with the sensor pointing at the floor when you’re changing lenses. Dust tends to descend more often than it ascends. You should avoid touching the mirror surface with your fingers, cotton swabs, or anything else at all costs, because unlike the mirrors in which we admire ourselves when nobody’s looking, the mirrors in our cameras are surface-coated and as such can be easily scratched and otherwise permanently damaged. Keep fingers away from the camera sensor, too, which is sensitive to abrasion as well as the grease and oils on your skin.

Often overlooked, but important nonetheless, is cleaning the contacts of your memory cards. Grit and work-a-day greasy stuff can render your memory cards undependable, and when you’re shooting a one-time happening, you don’t want your cards to hang up on you. To minimize the chance of compromised data transmission between your camera and memory card, it’s a good idea to clean the card contacts regularly with a memory card cleaning kit, such as the Kinetronics Memory Card Contact Cleaning Kit.

Ladders and Stepladders

One of the tricks of grabbing successful photographs at crowded events, such as weddings, is to rise above the occasion, which is easily accomplished by climbing a few steps up a ladder or stepstool. B&H stocks a number of ladders, both single-sided and double-sided, in 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12' heights that enable you to catch imagery you probably couldn’t get standing flat-footed on the floor.

Pearstone PSL-3S 3-Step HD Photographer's Ladder with Wheels

Folding Reflectors

Folding reflectors for bounce lighting, which allow you to fill shadows and perform a variety of lighting effects using ambient or studio light, are invaluable indoors and out. Available in a number of shapes and sizes (circular reflectors 12 to 60" and curved, rectangular reflectors measuring 24 x 36", 36 x 48", 41 x 74", 42 x 72" and 48 x 72"), folding reflectors are configured in color combinations of gold/silver, gold/white, silver/white or gold/silver/white. Depending on the tone of the reflector, you can open shadow details with soft-neutral, contrasty-neutral or warm-toned illumination.

Raya 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector Disc

For softening harsh, overhead midday light, try placing a translucent diffuser panel (also available in circular and rectangular formats) between the sun and your subjects. Because folding reflectors and diffusers are extremely light and fold down to about a quarter of their full size, they’re easy to pack and transport. Don’t leave home without one… or two!

Reflectors and diffusers can be invaluable lighting tools on the big day, but there isn’t always a spare set of hands available to hold them in place. An effective substitute for an assistant is a reflector holder. Available with and without an accompanying light stand, reflector holders are available in a few designs from close to a dozen manufacturers. Two popular (and quite affordable) models are the Impact Telescopic Collapsible Reflector Holder (holder arm only) and the Impact Multiboom Light Stand/Reflector Holder, which includes a 13' stand.

Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder


Small, pocket-sized flashlights are essential for retrieving small accessories that inevitably find their way into hard-to-find creases in the corners of your camera bag. This is especially true in the bottom of a black bag when the lights are low, which at many weddings, is par for the course. Make sure everyone assisting you has a flashlight tucked away in easy reach. LED flashlights are extremely bright for their size, and drain batteries much more slowly than incandescent lights do.

Vulta Hurricane 216 Lumen General Purpose LED Flashlight


Stuff happens, and when it does it’s nice to have a tool handy that can help rectify the problem. Because it’s not practical to haul around a wheeled, four-drawer Craftsman tool chest, many on-site glitches can often be remedied with the aid of a multitool. Available in many configurations, your investment will have paid for itself the first time you need it… and as any seasoned pro can tell you, sooner than later, you’re going to need one.

Novoflex Multi-Tool With 8 Functions

Two-Way Radios

When it comes to weddings, it’s not unusual for two or more important photo ops to occur simultaneously, and often with little or no warning, which makes communicating with assistants extremely important. To make certain that one-time photo ops aren’t missed, it’s a good idea for everyone on the photo team to be issued a two-way radio to keep communication flowing, which at wedding speeds is a top priority.

Motorola MH230R Talkabout Two-Way Radio

Essential and Incidental

To complete your gear checklist and possibly even save the day, make sure you always pack other items in your bags, such as a sewing kit, a first-aid kit, a notepad and pen, safety pins, straight pins and bobby pins, snacks, water, umbrellas, even hairspray—should a windy day threaten a bride’s hairdo.

What are some of the essential items you pack in your kit? Feel free to let us know in the Comments section below.


This is a great article. I always learn something when I read them. I am however a little confused by the pictures associated with the light meter and memory card sections. The meter pictured is s color meter which can be really helpful but not a great choice for exposure. I use one all the time, but shoot architure. And the memory card is a QXD. I'm not familiar with still cameras using this type of card. Are there things I'm missing about these items? 

XQD cards are used in high end DSLRs like the Nikon D5, D4s, and D500 and can provided some of the fastest read and write speeds available. 
In regards to the light meter shown,  it will still provide readings for Incident Metering for Ambient and Flash but has the added ability to measures LED, HMI, Fluorescent Light, and Tungsten color for when color reproduction is critical. 

A soft focus filter? REALLY? Are we reverting back to 1993 photography?

We stiil sell them and folks still use them.

Some people still film... would you believe it?



I appreciate the article on being prepared, its just common sense to have backup plans in case of equipment failure. I find it comical indeed for people to be putting each other down based on what is the supposed "acceptable" way a professional photographer should go about shooting an event. Its like telling someone exactly how to paint a picture. There is no right way for our artform. For the poeple that insist on their own way, its merely an opinion and nothing more. The one universal truth in photography is that being creative will get you places.

A checklist... hmm. I pack my gear in a specific order. Each item in turn and it a specific place. This tends to make it obvious when I have forgotten something. However, I do have a checklist handy, for those times when I can't shake that feeling that I've forgotten something. At those times, I pull out the checklist and it does one of two things. It: a)Let's me know what I forgot or, b)proves that I have forgotten nothing. Either way, I'm off with all of the gear that I need.

Note: At the top of my checklist is... and I quote:
"Never, ever, ever... shoot a wedding! DON'T DO IT!"

I stand in awe and salute those who can shoot a wedding. But I'm not one of those people. Give me something safe and relaxing like shooting race cars from track side any day and I'll be happy.

As for what you should carry. It depends on the photographer. Some can shoot a Royal wedding with 2 camera bodies; 5 batteries; 4 different lenses; and a six pack of coke. Others couldn't shoot a hand fasting without a truckload of gear. It is up to the individual if you ask me.

As for sewing kits, hairspray, and other items. Let me just say that one event I was at, a young girl that was working on her race car slipped with the wrench and cut her fingers. I gave her two "Fairie Healing Band-aids", and her parents were devote customers for the rest of the time I shot at the track.

It seems that anything that goes wrong at a wedding is a catastrophe. And while it may not be a big problem to an observer it IS to those involved with the wedding. So be the one who hands the bride's maid a can of hairspray, a sewing kit, a bit of tape, or whatever it takes to solve that particular crisis, and she will remember you. And the next time a photographer is needed, you name will probably come up.

Now, how much of what to carry extra is, Like I said, up to the photographer. I don't believe that it is how much gear you have. But rater how you use the gear that you do have.

My 2¢

All points taken and between you and me I tend to shy away from wedding assignments... the emotions of the day wear me down.


This guy is a retailers dream. I bet he bought a used UPS truck just to carry all his gear to a shoot. he acts like he is a muti-millionaire possessed on buying everything on the shelf. This obsession to have everything does not make a photographer; a good eye, some knowledge, patience and dedication do.

Traveling light and keeping things simple is often the best way to go... except when you're shooting a once-in-a-lifetime event that simply cannot be restaged or rescheduled.

When you have to get it right the first time it makes great sense to be prepared for ANYTHING, and if you've ever shot a wedding you already know ANYTHING will and sooner-than-later DOES happen.

And that's whyyou see so many professional wedding photographers driving UPS trucks.


Just for reflection:

The most expensive photographic project in world history (yes! re-read that) was foiled by the simple fact that top-notch professionals forgot to check their checklists against each other. As it turned out, this great, catastrophic disaster (yes! re-read that again) cost hundreds of millions of dollars to fix or, the alternative, lose everything invested (millions upon millions of other dollars) to that point.
And all because some 'professional' on Team A didn't check his notes against another 'professional' on Team B. One was using metric measurements in designing a lens and the other was using inches in designing the same optics. Outcome: The Hubble Telescope was nearly a classic FAILURE of EPIC proportions!
Next time, Mr. Professional, take that checklist with you and USE IT.
You're welcome.

Well that was well said. Let me NEVER forget that checklist!

What defines a true professional from a scared wanna be is being prepared for anything that is thrown at you. Something as simple as a small sawing kit can save the day for the Bride and result in a generous tip as well. We are after all, by the definition "professional" doing this for money as well as artistic expression.
Enough said whinny B!

I assume you meant 'sewing kit' and not 'sawing kit', unless of course you're photographing a magicians wedding...


I really appreciate B&H providing this information! I enjoyed reading all of the articles!

Seriously no camera flash brackets?

Here's the reality, if you need a list of gear to shoot a wedding professionally, then you ARE NOT A PROFESSIONAL photographer!!! I am so sick of people buying a bunch of camera gear and then start calling themselves a professional photographer!!! Ask yourself, do I need this list to know what I'll need? If the answer is yes, just put down your camera and get a job at Wal-mart!

While I agree the gear doesn't make the photographer I disagree about check/gear lists.

Ever fly in a plane?

If you see the pilot skiping the preflight checklist I strongly suggest you take your chances and book a seat on Amtrak.


In addition to the contents already listed, my emergency kit also includes small scissors (quality kid's rounded tip, the folding ones can't cut butter), spare corsage pins, 'Hollywood Fashion Tape' to keep dresses from slipping down, Shout Wipes for stain removal, Chapstick, a small roll of antacids for upset tummies, couple of feminine protection items, a few bandaids, and makeup blotters for shine removal.  Didn't think of hairspray, I'll be adding a tiny can to my kit.  I've rarely shot a wedding in the last 20 years that I didn't need 'something' from this kit.  And when I've mentored other photographers, I put together a starter emergency kit for them to keep...   

It's nice to be able to help someone out in a little emergency, and invariably, I hear, "WOW! You're REALLY prepared!"

Looking back over 50 years since I photographed my first wedding, the most useful addition to my wedding pack in the past decade is the Travel Smart by Conair, a LadderKart combination stepladder and hand cart, B&H #TRLSHC. Since a radio-controlled umbrella monolight with a couple of remote flashes are necessary along with backup camera and other gear, this makes it a one-trip move from the car to the altar or reception.

Another item worth mentioning is a product I've just recently purchased called the POVHD made by VIO. I've used this to capture in vehicle shots on the way to/from the wedding along with more intimate moments during the reception. Kinda pricey at $600 but have found it to be very useful. Video quality is outstanding

Excellent article! I think I need to get one of those tiny storage devices to clear off my flash cards! I didn't know those existed - I like that Idea much better than dragging my laptop around.

Additional items I always pack for weddings:

As others have mentioned: water, powers bars, and apples are a must for me. I don't think I've ever done more than pick at a buffet table. My assistant and I like to take the opportunity when all of the guests are seated with their food to make our way through the room and photograph them table by table.

Umbrellas! As a Seattle photographer, I MUST have umbrellas ready. I have a collection of about 20-30 umbrellas in all different colors and patterns. These are both functional and can also make fun props for photographs of the weddign party.

A sheer white cloth: I use this for everything from filtering bright light coming through a window during the "getting ready photos" to laying it down on the ground for a photo of the bride and her flower girls sitting in the grass to using it cover some distracting elements showing up in the back ground of a photo. While I can get through a wedding without it, I still find it very handy.

Good info and advice.

Thanks Evi...


Another item worth mentioning is a product I've just recently purchased called the POVHD made by VIO. I've used this to capture in vehicle shots on the way to/from the wedding along with more intimate moments during the reception. Kinda pricey at $600 but have found it to be very useful. Video quality is outstanding. 

Surely this article was not written by a wedding photographer!  Essentials?  Ladders?  Gaffers tape?

A good wedding photographer does not arrive with gadgets and truckloads of stuff.


If the wedding party consists of 14 people on an 8-foot rowing boat I agree with you - leave it all home.

If however you're shooting in a wedding or catering hall and you don't want to find yourself in a situation you can't shoot youway through - or fix with a piece of gaffer tape, I beg to differ with you.

And thanks for the feedback.



Does Nikon have something like this for the D90?

What I envision is a way to transmit pictures directly fom the camera to my Kodak Pulse Digital frame.


Definitely a snack and some water. Been there, done that. Here' some other stuff I throw in as well: plenty of extension cords, notepad and pen, super-glue, OFF, Tylenol, Tide to go stick, wet-naps, tissues, hairspray, umbrella, and business cards. 


On another note, I don't pack a UV filter as I understand that the low-pass filter on the image sensor itself already does the UV filtering......

The UV Filter is there as a piece of $50 glass protecting your $1000 or $2000+ dollar lens.....

More like a $10 piece of glass protecting your lens. A Fine Art Photography prof. in college once explained to us the only reason to not have one on your lens is if you're removing one that has broken before cleaning the lens and putting on the spare. These things have saved me more than once due to my inborn clumsiness and tendency to wear leather jackets and leather camera straps + rain :( . One thing I would add that I found made my life easier, less painful, and less stressful is investing in a good camera bag (I have a backpack style one that I love a lot and it gets fawned over by other photographer friends whenever they see it too) the ones that come standard are just so awful (I'm looking at you, unergonomic square lunch box -looking Canon camera bag).

I've found that, as nice of a gesture as it is, dinner at the reception isn't always in the cards. This can be the only opportunity to process your top ten shots from the ceremony for a day-of slideshow or offload your flash memory to a backup. I'll pack a 32 oz water bottle and a couple cereal or protein bars just in case.