Wedding photography is a unique combination of every type of photography. Fashion and portrait photography, architectural photography, product photography, macro photography, family and children photography, and sometimes even travel photography are all included under the required knowledge umbrella of wedding photography.
In order to deliver a complete wedding photography product, you’re going to need lenses that allow you to capture each of these aspects with artistry and creativity. In a perfect world, we’d have the finances and manpower to haul every available lens to the venue; but in reality, we’re limited to a handful of accessible, high-quality, and versatile lenses.
Here is a subjective list of 6 must have lenses for any given wedding. It should be noted that we, the authors of this article, have a bias for shooting wide open (low apertures) in most situations. Also, we list Canon lenses, as the authors of this article shoot with 5D Mark II’s, but each lens listed should have an equivalent for every other brand name DSLR producer.
This is my favorite lenses. It creates a beautiful bokeh (blur) at f2.8, and the compression you get when you’re zoomed in from 150-200mm gives your image a look that’s hard to achieve with any other lens. It also allows you to get in close on the moment without disrupting the moment, such as the following image:
It also allows you to capture candids, from the tears at a wedding ceremony (pictured below) to the laughs at a wedding reception.
This is another one of my favorite lenses. It can save the day when the light starts to drop and allow you to bring out the backgrounds. It also, makes you less reliant on your flash, creating a softer, more natural look for your subjects, as illustrated in the following outdoor dance floor picture.
The 50mm also allows you to create stunning portraits, as the low aperture creates the shallow depth of field that makes your subject pop off the page and softens your subject’s skin.
This is a critical lens for smaller spaces. For example, a tea ceremony in a Chinese wedding is commonly held in a living room. The 70-200 would be too close for this situation, and the 50mm would not provide enough versatility, as you typically don’t have too much room for movement.
If your bride and groom are spending thousands of dollars on the details of a wedding, they are sure to appreciate you capturing the event in detail. With the 100mm Macro, you can capture detailed shots with the same quality and detail as product advertisements in magazines. Add in your touch of lighting and creativity, and you get ring shots like the one below.
5. 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye (Note: This is for full-frame sensors. For crop frame, research 8mm or 10mm fisheyes)
The fisheye is important for capturing the moment with a unique perspective. This perspective pulls everything from the edges into the center and creates a surreal, ultra-wide view of a venue or ceremony site, as pictured below.
Using the fisheye to capture dance floor shoots at a reception or, for example, an Indian Baraat (as pictured below) creates a interesting and exciting image, as the distortion on the edges focuses your attention on the subjects in the middle, yet the composition of the frame still allows you to see the smiles and emotion of the crowd.
Sometimes the 24-70mm lens just isn’t wide enough to capture everything you want. The ultra wide angle helps you capture your surroundings, such as this shot of our wedding party in the streets of San Francisco.
Venue and landscape shots are also a great addition to your wedding day coverage, as it sets the scene for the day and allows you to take full advantage of amazing scenery.
1. 85mm f1.2L II USM
This is a great lens, but not a necessity if you’re happy with the results from your 70-200mm.
2. 24-105mm f/4 L Lens
The major advantage of this lens is its versatility. But, as stated before, we are partial to lower apertures, and sometimes the f/4 just isn’t fast enough, nor does it create our desired bokeh.
I hope you enjoyed this article, if so, please share the love and feel free to comment and add additional insight below!
By: Lin and Jirsa Wedding Photography, Los Angeles and Orange County Wedding Photographers
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