Hey fellow photographer!
Ever been scrolling and wondering what each photographer has in their arsenal of gear? How they make everything happen? Well, I've got news for you!
EVERYONE'S BAG IS DIFFERENT.
Starting out in this business can be very intimidating- there's no lie about it. Some think, "that's so creative, I could never do that". Or, "OMG that's so expensive, I could never afford it". The truth is, for myself at least, I thought this too. But you CAN. Remember, everyone starts somewhere. So, let me show you where I started:
My first camera- The Nikon D3300. A "kit" camera, crop frame, that came with a lens- that I knew nothing about!
The D3300 introduced me to everything. I walked into Best Buy KNOWING was leaving with a camera, while knowing nothing about them. I knew the name "Nikon", so that's what I bought. The D3300 is where I learned to use Manual Mode. Before this, I photographed everything in auto mode- my dog, flowers, the usual.
It was during a mentor session with OBX Photographer, Sharon Elizabeth where I realized this could be more. She taught me manual mode, posing, business 101, and so much more in a short afternoon. I met an amazing fellow photographer in Sharon's private Facebook group, Sara Tiffany, and tagged along with her to my very first wedding in Yorktown, Virginia.
When Sharon Elizabeth highly recommended me to take the next step and upgrade my camera body, I went with the Nikon D610. This camera served me MANY years and is such a workhorse! It still lives in my bag as a backup since I upgraded, again.
Nikon D610, Full Frame Camera
The Nikon D780. My new pride and joy. it shares many features of a mirrorless setup, without actually going mirrorless. Check it out here:
Next up, Lenses. This part is going to come down to personal preference. Things to consider: weight, aperture, zoom capabilities, etc. Personally, I prefer prime lenses (that don't have zoom capabilities). In my bag I have the following:
MY FAVORITE LENS. This lens LIVES on my camera 95% of the time.
Nikon 85mm 1:1.8 G
Nikon 50mm f/1.8
Nikon 35mm F/1.8 G
For all of my detail shots, I use the 105mm macro. This also makes a wonderful portrait lens!
Nikon 105mm f/2.8g macro lens
Speedlights. Bring the light. Use speedlights to freeze motion. I use four of these. One on camera and three on stands. Until 2023, I was using basic Neewer flashes triggered with by Pocket Wizard IV triggers (which I loved and worked wonders). But when it came time to replace my flashes (because wind plus lightstands without sandbags is a disaster), I opted for flashes with BUILT IN triggers. It saves a step and EASILY allows me to add lights as needed- without having to buy extra equipment. I paired these new flashes with brand new HEAVY DUTY 118" light stands. Link below for those as well.
Yongnuo YN-560IV 2.4G Wireless Flash Speedlite (I use four of these!)
2Pack 118" /3m Heavy Duty Light Stands
A video light will allow you to "bring the light". Cloudy days, dark wedding exits, low light venues. YOU NEED A VIDEO LIGHT. I've used the video light on the dance floor at a low light venue, I've used it to provide a little more ambient light for grand exits, I've used it in low light bridal suits, and so much more! This particular light comes with a rechargeable battery and the ability to adjust the brightness.
Neewer Video Light
I decided in 2023 I was going to save my back, as well as trips to my car. I use this exact collapsible wagon with heavy duty wheels (because the ground at each venue is different) to cart my equipment around on wedding days. You can find these on sale sometimes at Walmart- I think I found mine on sale during the Spring.
Ozark Trail Wagon
SD Cards. Gotta have 'em. And if you have dual slots or second shooters, you're going to need even more. You can never have too many! This is my preferred card:
SanDisk 32GB Extreme PRO SDHC
If there's one thing you buy from this list, let it be this! You HAVE to protect your SD cards. Those SD cards are the ONLY THING carrying your client's captured memory. There is no worse feeling than a faulty memory card-whether it malfunctions in the middle of your session/event, or malfunctions when you attempt to upload. I'll be buying another this year, simply to keep used/unused cards separate. Want to feel your heart drop? Format an already used card- that's not yet been uploaded.
Memory Card Carrying Case
Okay, maybe there's two super important things you need. Number two is a backup plan! Upload your RAW images in TWO places- at a minimum. I currently upload to my hard drive, then to this exact external hard drive, and if I'm feeling extra secure, I'll backup to a cloud (but I'm also that person that thinks about the internet not being accessible, therefore, neither are your images) Backup your work!
SAMSUNG T7 Shield Portable External Solid State Drive USB 3.2
I know we're not going fishing, but do you know how many uses these little tackle boxes have?! In 2023, I created my own "details arsenal box" where I carrying extra little things to make my lay flats for details shots. Things like ring boxes, chiffon ribbon, gold trays, command hooks, etc. (I'll post links for these too). They also make great snack boxes for the busy mom, or on the go photographer like you!
I participate in the Amazon Associates program and earn commissions based on sales through my associate links. I DO buy all of my equipment through Amazon. Amazon does offer an amazing refurbished program which includes great customer services alongside a warranty on all "renewed" electronics.