This behind the scenes blog is reviewing the 7 things I bring to every wedding! Over the course of several wedding seasons I’ve learned what items are must haves for wedding photography. As a wedding photographer my amount of time on the job is usually 8-9 hours (although I’ve shot everything from 4-12 hour weddings). What I’ve found is that regardless of how long I’m on the job, there are essentials I need to have onhand in order to do the best possible job. Here are the 7 things I bring to every wedding:
1. APPLE WATCH
This thing is a Godsend on so many levels. Here are the key ways I use it on a wedding day:
- Set reminders that align with the wedding day timeline. For ex: reminder goes off 5 minutes before we need to leave for the first look.
- Coordinate with the wedding party. When you’re managing the shuffle of the groomsmen arriving at the venue and wanting to ensure that the bride and groom don’t see each other prematurely, using this to send texts or make calls from my wrist is too easy.
- Keeps me off my phone. Let’s be honest, while I may have actual business-related things that I need to do on my phone, being on my phone during a wedding day is just not professional. The apple watch keeps me informed and present.
- BONUS: Tracks my steps for the day! I really love this! On longer wedding days it’s not unusual for me to walk between 5-7 miles, and you bet your butt that I’m going to track it!
2. BLACK FANNY PACK
I know it’s far from trendy, but I LOVE fanny packs (here’s a link to the one I purchased)! I always fly with them (having your passport, phone and headphones handy makes travel so much smoother). During weddings I commonly stowe away the following:
- For Me // Phone, Chapstick, Hand Sanitizer, Extra SD Cards and Pen.
- For Couples // Their phones, touch up makeup– anything they want on hand while we’re taking photos!
3. SUPPORTIVE SHOES
Like I mentioned earlier, weddings can range from 8-12 hours, which is a long time on your feet! Comfy + supportive shoes are a total game changer. I always plan to dress for the occasion, so my shoe choices vary, but these are my go tos:
- Olive Tieks // I’m amazed at how supportive they are for being flats
- Dr. Scholls Sandals
- Leather Sandals // I got them in 2015 at a market in Israel and they are AMAZING.
Want to see my shoes and outfits that I wear to weddings? Check out this blog post!
4. WATTER BOTTLE, COFFEE & CLIF BARS
Time for real talk, you guys. Weddings not only require creativity as a photographer, but also direction. If the wedding were a film, the credits would read: “Director of Photography: Alexandra Bowman,” because lemme tell you this job requires providing a lot of guidance!
Don’t get me wrong, I love this part of the job, but I can’t do it well if I’m drained. Getting a good night sleep (anyone else shoot for 8 hours every night??) and eating a hearty breakfast are some of the ways I prepare prior to showing up to a wedding.
Here are a few of the items I bring with me to stay energized throughout the actual wedding day:
- Water Bottle // If you see a blue Hydro Flask with an “Easty” sticker on it, that’s mine!
- Starbucks // For me + my brides if we’re starting the morning together with prep photos. And of course a Venti water for both of us, because HYDRATE OR DIE.
- Protein CLIF Bars // Oftentimes we’ll be doing first looks, or pre-ceremony formals around the lunch hour, so everyone will eat at random times when they’re not taking photos. These protein CLIF bars taste amazing and are a great grab and go option.
5. BACKUP GEAR
God forbid this ever happen, but if my equipment were to be broken or fail while on the job, I want to be prepared. Just to err on the safe side, I bring backup equipment with me to every wedding (and I require that my hired second shooters do the same). Here’s a quick summary of the extras I bring along with me to every wedding:
- 3 Camera Bodies // All full frame, DSLR cameras I have shot complete weddings on
- 5+ Lenses // Everything from zoom to portrait lenses
- SD Cards // Seriously, I could fill a small lake with SD Cards
- Batteries // All charged + ready to go so that no key moments are missed
6. PRINTOUT OF FAMILY GROUPINGS
Prior to every wedding, I have my couples fill out a questionnaire that goes over ALL the things, including family formals. I then use that info to create a list of groupings for family photos, arranged by side of the family, working from the largest grouping to the smallest (I’m all about dismissing folks as we go!).
While this grouping list is totally something I could put on my phone, I prefer to print out for two reasons:
- If there’s a day of coordinator or second shooter onsite, I can easily hand off this list with a highlighter, and they can manage the groupings. I don’t have to worry about the phone locking up, or getting it back from them after the ceremony.
- It prevents me from missing requested groupings. When you’re coordinating between 20 and 75 people, it can get overwhelming fast. Having a list that can be crossed off as we go is much easier to manage than a phone. Call me old school, but I’m low key paranoid that I would accidentally mark a group complete that wasn’t, or erase a grouping. Can’t do that with a good old pen + paper and highlighter!
Of the 7 things I bring to every wedding, this is by far the most important artistically! This is a little lighting hack that goes a LONG way in how photos look! Don’t underestimate this guy! While it folds up small (making it easy to transport), it is a total game changer. It helps me bounce light and can create an amazing fill light for otherwise flat lighting scenarios. Here are a few of the ways I use it for wedding photos:
- Portraits // Golden hour portraits are some of my favorite images from every wedding. However, while the setting sun is gorgeous, it’s also a bit testy at times. A defining aspect of my style is using backlight to get those images with the sun coming in from behind the couple. I use the reflector to bounce the light back onto the couple’s faces, which creates a soft, golden glow that is SO GOOD.
- Ring Shots // Those of you that know me know that these are some of my favorite photos to get creative with on wedding days. However, shooting diamonds can be tricky. You need consistent light to shine from all directions to get a clear + bright shot of the rock because it’s clear and absorbs all of the light around it.
For ex: The first ring shot below was taken on a windowsill. The light was soft, but only coming from one direction. This resulted in those nasty shadows and a less than impressive photo of this ring. The second photo had a reflector on the other side of the ring, which bounced the light onto the other half of the ring that was previously in shadows.
Backlit photo with no reflector Backlit photo with reflector Ring shot with no reflector Ring shot with reflector
That’s a wrap on this month’s behind the scenes blog! These are the 7 things I bring to every wedding, and they’ve served me well. Now you know not to judge me TOO hard if you see me sporting a fanny pack at a wedding