Great Lenses for Wedding Photography
You can ask ten wedding photographers what the best lens or lenses are for shooting weddings, and you’ll likely get ten different answers! Everyone has an opinion, and most every photographer has a favorite lens.
Consider our tips for selecting a lens before you either reach into your bag or run out and buy one. Then, we will discuss which lenses are suitable for various wedding shots. You might find that you have a new favorite lens! And, remember, you don’t have to run out and purchase a lens. You can always rent one first, try it out, and then take the plunge to buy one.
Consider this before selecting a lens for wedding photography:
Light and Space Matter: If you’re shooting in low lighting conditions, go for a faster lens. Space matters and significantly influences lens selection. A 24-70mm is great if you have enough room to back up from your subject or a 50mm lens.
Tip - Scope out the place ahead of time. So you know what to expect.
Coordinate: You’ll probably have another photographer there as well. Coordinate so you aren’t shooting with the same lens from the same perspective. The beauty of two photographers working in tandem is that it affords you two varying perspectives. Take advantage of that. If it’s just you, make sure your second camera is ready to shoot with a different lens.
Tip - It’s rare these there’s only one photographer at a wedding unless the wedding is small. Even then, it is a huge advantage to having a second set of skills, eyes, and equipment!
Restrictions? Be sure to know well in advance of the wedding if the venue has any restrictions on photography. You want to walk in ready to compensate for any rules. Some indoor venues restrict a photographer’s movement to a certain distance or section of the site. For example, some historical sites will not allow flash photography.
Tip - An experienced photographer calls ahead and doubles checks the information to be confident they arrive prepared.
Be Safe not Sorry: Needless to say, always carry a second camera with you - and maybe even a third if you’re a bit paranoid! You don’t want to be the novice photographer who takes one camera and finds half way through an event that the camera has stopped working.
Tip - Check both cameras before you leave to the event. Carry extra batteries and memory cards with enough storage space.
Lens Suggestions for Wedding Photography.
Here are some ideas for which lenses to use:
Portraits: Depending on the space you find yourself in, you can use a 50mm and a 24-70 mm for smaller spaces or an 85mm for larger areas.
Tip - For portraits, especially, it is always a good idea to outfit two cameras ahead of time. You don’t want to be fiddling with lenses in front of an already nervous wedding party!
Ceremony: Assuming there aren’t any restrictions on access or movement on you as a photographer during the ceremony, try a 50mm (for lower light), 24-70mm, and the 70-200mm tend to work well.
Tip - Keep one wide-angle lens handy to take a few shots from the back of the church. If there’s balcony shoot from there as well.
Reception: Again, there are always variables to consider ahead of time. If you aren’t already familiar with the venue, visit it in advance of the wedding! You want to know what to expect. A good wedding photographer always plans ahead and leaves nothing to chance. Inside portraits: 50mm (24-70mm for tight spaces) Candids: 35mm first dances, cake cutting, etc: 50 mm or 24-70mm
Wedding Details: Centerpieces, flowers, programs, rings, or other macro shots: 105mm
Tip - Ask if you can receive a list of wedding details for the receptions such as how many people, tables, what types of flowers, etc. The more you know, the better.
Practice makes perfect! The more you try different lenses in different places and for different types of shots, the more you’ll recognize your “go-to” lenses. Eventually, it becomes secondhand to know which lenses to grab and when. Everyone has to shoot their first wedding at some point in their career. The more pre-planning you do, the easier it will go. Make yourself a little cheat sheet you can keep tucked discreetly in your pocket on which lenses to grab and when. Also, important to have on the cheat sheet is a list of must-have shots such as the bride getting ready, just before she walks down the aisle, first dance, a list of macro shots not to forget, etc. You will be nervous. Do not rely on memory! Last piece of advice when it comes to selecting a lens? Practice, practice, and carry that cheat sheet!
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