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To be clear up front, I love photography, always have.  It was my hobby long before it was my career.

I also love acquiring new gear (many call it GAS or Gear Acquisition Syndrome).

I consider myself very fortunate in that my career necessitates buying new and better things that I used to only dream about owning.  This does mean I have to practice a huge amount of restraint when I come across a new lens, camera or accessory which promises to improve either the quality of my photos or my experience whilst taking those photos.

Since I cannot buy everything that I want straight away (sad face) I like to live vicariously through other photographers, reading about what they own and love (I am a regular reader of ShotKit which is a site I would recommend if you enjoy reading this post).

So today I would like to give something back to the community and share my own what’s in my wedding photography bag post.

I know this will probably be more interesting to other photographers rather than my usual readership, though maybe if you are facing the prospect of me photographing your wedding then maybe you will find it interesting to find out what I will be bringing with me to capture your special day.

Remember that this is just what I use, it is not necessarily a definitive guide to wedding photography gear and is probably not suited to all styles of photography.

If you have any questions about my gear please feel free to comment below or contact me directly, I am always happy to talk about photography!

My Wedding Photography Gear

Cameras

Camera number one and my pride and joy is the Nikon D750.

This beauty has never let me down, it locks focus in the dark, the tilty screen is so much more useful than you might think and it’s light and reasonably compact.  This isn’t a review of the Nikon D750, the internet is full of those, I just want to convey how much I love this thing.

My second camera really should be another D750.  To be honest I can’t justify the expense when there is actually nothing at all wrong with my trusty Nikon D600.  It is not as slick and sharp to use as the D750 but the photos are, as far as I can reasonably tell, just as sharp and clean as I get from the D750.

Lenses

I shoot entirely using prime lenses.  I actually don’t own a zoom lens.

There are times when the versatility of a zoom would really come in handy, it’s just that I very much prefer shooting wide open on an f1.4 or f1.8 lens, you just can’t beat that look as far as I am concerned.

The Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art wide open is just exquisite.

Yes it’s a pain when I’m in a cramped hotel room and have to climb over suitcases and makeup bags to get the right composition.  Yes I know how much easier it would be to have a 24-70 zoom lens at the ceremony.  I’m just so used to the fixed focal length at this point that I don’t really think about that anymore.

The Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art spends it’s life permanently attached to my D750, together they hang by my right hand (it helps me to be consistent with sides, we all have our little systems).

In my left hand is the D600 which is usually sporting the Nikon 85mm F1.8.  I have my eye on the new Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art, it looks very promising and may well be permanently glued to my D600 in the very near future.

The 35/85 combo is what I use for 90% of the wedding day.   Chances are if you look through my recent wedding photos, the wide shots were taken with the Sigma 35 and the tighter shots with the 85mm.

From time to time I will switch the 85mm for either my Nikon 50mm F1.8 or Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro lens depending on whether I need more mid-range or tighter secondary shots.

The Tokina is also handy for rings and detail shots when switched into macro mode.

Flashes & Lighting

Most of the way through the wedding day I use natural light.

Once the light starts to fade away I pop my Nikon SB-700 onto the D750 and one of the Yongnuo YN568EX speed-lights onto the D600.

During the first dance I like to add some rim-light by putting a light source behind the couple.  To achieve that I use a pair of Yongnuo YN622N triggers to fire a second Yongnuo YN568EX which will be on a light stand on the other side of the dance floor.

To be honest those triggers aren’t the best.  They work most of the time but I really would prefer something that works all the time.  If you have any suggestions for decent triggers please feel free to leave a comment.

Closing out the lighting category I also use MagMod MagGrid and MagGel for the reception.  These are by far the most versatile light modifiers I have come across, so much so that I only use one between two cameras and flick them between cameras when I change.

I also have a MagMod MagSphere.  I’m sure this is a great product but in all honesty I haven’t invested the time to figuring out exactly how to get the best out of it.  Either that or it isn’t actually that good.  Either way, I would recommend doing some decent research before investing in the MagSphere.

How do I carry all this stuff?

My cameras are suspended from my body using a tan leather Holdfast Money Maker.  Up until last year I was using a SpiderPro dual camera system.  Whilst I enjoyed the SpiderPro I eventually decided to give it up because I didn’t like how the cameras were basically unsupported when not in the holster.

I love how great the Money Maker looks along with my navy blue suit (shout-out to Marc Darcy for the suit, highly recommended).

I also like how the Holdfast Money Maker hides nicely underneath my suit jacket so I can blend into the wedding party.  The vicar at my last wedding actually thought I was the best man when I first approached him!

I shove all my wedding photography gear into a Peak Design Everyday Backpack, the 30L version.  This is a backpack that is superbly comfortable to carry around all day and endlessly flexible.

I also have a Peak Design CaptureLENS which I literally cannot recommend enough.  As a prime lens wedding photographer there are times when I need a quick lens change, with the CaptureLENS I can switch lenses in a matter of seconds.

Without wanting to sound like I’m gushing over Peak Design and their amazing products, I also have an Everyday Sling for when I don’t need to carry quite as much gear.  To be honest I use that more for day trips rather than weddings but it is still worth a mention.

Oh, and I have a surprisingly useful Peak Design Field Pouch too.  This beauty carries my batteries, business cards, cleaning kit, pens, tissues, wallet…..

Everything else

Less exciting but still crucial is the ThinkTank SD Pixel Pocket Rocket which keeps my SD cards safe and attached to my belt loop at all times.

I also carry a battery tester with me so I can keep an eye on my AA batteries, and an Aukey portable power bank to keep my mobile phone charged all day.


UPDATE: September 2017

Well, it has been a busy wedding season and I have made a few acquisitions since I wrote this article earlier in the year.

My Three Camera Wedding Setup

Yes, I now actively use 3 cameras at a wedding.

In the original post above when I was talking about my cameras I said I felt that my second camera really should have been another D750 rather than the D600 I was using.

Well, in August this year I took the plunge and ordered that second D750.

The original idea was for the D600 to come out of service, maybe stay in the bag as a backup but leave all the heavy lifting to my 2x D750s.

Whilst I was packing for my first wedding after taking delivery of the new camera I realised that I now exclusively use just 3 lenses throughout the day, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.

I started to wonder how revolutionary it would be if I could have all three lenses attached to a camera at all times.

No more lens changes mid-way through a moment.

That was it, I became a three-camera wielding wedding photographer!

How to carry three at once?

The HoldFast Money Maker strap system actually has a solution for a third camera.

I just had to buy a pair of the HoldFast Leash straps in matching tan leather, attach them to my existing harness and off I went.

The problem, though, was that the straps would not arrive in time for my next wedding so I needed to use what I already had.

That was when I realised that I already had a solution sat in my drawer.

The Peak Design Capture clip.

I only actually own this because it forms part of the CaptureLENS system I mentioned earlier in this article.

I never intended to use it to carry a camera.

Turns out that this is a perfect setup to have my lightweight Nikon D600 plus 50mm f1.8g lens setup in front of me whilst the twin D750s hang by my sides.

Perfect!

Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art

Here’s another one that I alluded to earlier in the article.

When I started the 2017 season I was using the Nikon 85mm f1.8g as my portrait and tele lens.

That lens is fine, but I found it a little soft when wide open.

My experience with the exceptional Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art gave me complete confidence in its 85mm big brother and, wow, it does not disappoint.

Yes it’s heavy.  Really, very heavy indeed for someone used to smaller prime lenses like me.  I thought the 35mm Art was heavy until I got hold of this thing.

I am used to the weight now though and it feels perfectly natural.

Now that it is sat on a D750 the photos I am getting at 85mm are improved 100%.  The colour, the sharpness…. let’s just say I am happy now!

Pocket Wizard Plus IV

The last complaint I had earlier in the year was my less than reliable Yongnuo flash triggers.

They were ok, but not flexible enough for me.

I am only just starting to experiment with new ideas when it comes to off camera flashing.

My current first dance setup is to have a flash on my camera pointed upwards with another on the opposite side of the bride and groom creating a rim light.

I felt like I was time for more freedom than the 2x transceivers were allowing me.

So I picked up three Pocket Wizard Plus IV transceivers.

I wanted to add a third transceiver so that I could either trigger the same light with two different cameras, i.e. change perspective without losing the rim light.

I also liked the idea of adding a second remote light to add extra dimension and to help on larger dance floors.

With these new Pocket Wizards I can now do one or the other of those.

Three flash setup

I may add a fourth Pocket Wizard some day so I can do both at once, two cameras two flashes.  Or maybe I’ll stop spending so much money on gear!

Interestingly I struggled to find any reviews of the Pocket Wizard plus IVs out there at the time I made my investment.

I am no expert on remote triggers but I can assure you they are high quality and really easy to use.  They are also, thus far, very dependable.

That’s pretty much all I’ve added recently, no doubt there will be more updates coming soon.

See ya next time.

James

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All the photos in this article were taken by JLM Wedding Photography.
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