It’s summer time, and you’re the friend with a camera. You’re the buddy who’s “into” photography. It’s likely that you have, or will be, asked to photograph a wedding. When I was in school pursuing my artistic passion (*ahem*), I scoffed at wedding photography. My thinking was, “if I can’t get a real job, maybe I’ll shoot weddings or something.” To me, weddings were the photo-equivalent of flipping burgers. I was wrong. You can earn some decent money, but they are a lot of work, and a big responsibility. You may make weddings your life’s work, your side business, or just shoot one once for a cousin. In any case, if you find yourself shooting a wedding, here are a few practical things you should consider having in your kit.
Sure, you’ll pack some gear, but being a wedding photographer can be a little like being a turtle (or a European backpacker); you carry everything you own for the day on your shoulders. And I suggest being prepared with the following:
1. A spare camera body with charged batteries. It can be the same body you already own, a lesser model, or even a point and shoot. No matter how serious you are about making weddings your business, you have committed to capturing this day for the couple. It is one of the more important days in their life, and you owe them the courtesy of taking your job, for the day at least, seriously. It is unacceptable to have an equipment incident that means you can’t photograph the whole day. Professionals have backup.
2. Deodorant. Seriously. You’re going to be working hard, usually in the hot sun. And you don’t want to show up at the reception smelling like a gym bag.
3. Baby wipes. Useful for cooling down (see above), washing hands (you’re going to handle a camera all day and then eat bread rolls?), blowing noses, and wiping marks of wedding dresses. A small travel pack of wipes will cost about $1.50, and they’re very worth it.
4. A GPS, map book, or printed mapquest directions. You don’t want to have to follow the limo; it will, inevitably, lose you.
5. A watch. There’s going to be a lot to be on time for.
6. A granola bar, or equivalent. Weddings are long days, and though the groomsmen will be snacking throughout, you will be working. Sometimes you just need to eat a cliff bar in the back pew of the church. (Just do it quietly).
7. A pen. Someone will need it. You want to be the guy who has it.
8. Earplugs. You may end up sitting next to the speakers all through dinner, or you may just not care for hip-hop. Either way, they don’t take up much space and they’re worth tucking in your bag.
9. Tylenol, aspirin, or ibuprofen. You can’t really leave a wedding job just because you’re feeling bad or have a headache. It’s a long day (can I say that enough?), you won’t be eating properly, you won’t drink enough water, and you’ll be on your feet. Whatever your anti-inflammatory or painkiller of choice, throw a few tablets in your kit in case that migraine hits.
10. Good shoes. Standard wedding coverage seems to be 6-10 hours. With the exception of driving from location to location, you’ll be on your feet that whole time. Cute shoes are good, but good shoes are better. If you’ve ever worked in retail, you know what I mean. This can get tricky if you’re a wedding photographer/guest, but if you have to wear those little patent flats, consider some Dr.Scholl’s inserts.
If you’ve shot a wedding, what other life-supplies do you take in your kit?