If your friends know you’re good behind a camera, it’s only a matter of time until you get a request for a wedding shoot—and then another and another. Aside from your eye for framing the perfect shot, you need the right lenses.
For that, we’ve surveyed professional wedding photographers to identify the best lenses for capturing couples and their special day. In this short guide, we’ll share the best lenses to stock your camera bag and say “I do” to your next wedding gig!
The challenges of wedding photography
Wedding photography is one of the most lucrative niches to specialize in. While only select clientele want wedding portraits, couples get married year-round, and everyone needs photography at their wedding.
Weddings are often all-day affairs, which can pose some unique challenges. Throughout the day, you can expect the following:
- Venue changes – You may need to prepare for indoor and outdoor locations with different lighting setups
- Changing sunlight – Even if you’re outside all day, the location of the sun will affect your lens choice. You may also need to prepare to shoot at sunset or at night.
- Unpredictable conditions – Couples hope they won’t have rain on their wedding day—but if they do, they’ll need a backup plan, and you’ll need to be ready to capture all the moments with the right lens.
To prepare for your wedding shoot, make sure you visit the venue to scope out different locations and see how the lighting changes. Make a tentative plan for the first look, wedding ceremony, and reception photos accordingly. A great app to help track your shot plans is PhotoPhills. This was just one of the best photography apps shared by our expert photographers. Another must have app? A sun/moon tracker to help you frame the couple perfectly at sunset or capture a well-lit shot of the ceremony.
Next, we’ll take a closer look at the best wedding photography lens for each lighting scenario.
While some weddings take place in smaller, cozy venues, you’ll likely need to capture hundreds of wide frame shots:
- Shots of the guest seated at the venue
- Group photos (wedding party, bride and groom’s families, etc.)
- Reception photos
A 35mm lens is incredibly versatile, and the best all-around lens to get most of the shots you need.
You’ll also need a lens for more focused pictures such as wedding party portraits or candid photos during the reception. Thanks to its large focal length, a 70-200m lens works up-close-and-personal, or at a distance (i.e. from the back of a church or temple).
This lens will come in handy for the following kinds of shots:
- Portrait photography – Use a setting closer to 70 mm to capture portraits of the bride and groom, as well as other couples and individuals in attendance at the wedding.
- Group shots – Zoom in on guests to capture intimate group moments without interrupting the action.
This is a great all-around lens choice that you’ll find yourself using for future events of all kinds.
24-70 mm lens
Some lenses are ideal for a single purpose, however wedding photographers know flexibility is key. When you’re taking candid photos, you may find yourself called to switch between a wide frame, group shot, and a focused photo of a detail in the decor.
In these cases, you’ll want a 24-70mm lens.
Zoom in for a closeup, then switch back to capturing larger action shots in less time then it takes to say “cheese!”
Choose your camera lens brand
When you’re just getting started, it can be tempting to stock your camera bag with the cheapest lenses on the market. But there’s nothing worse than an unexpected cracked lens when you’re on the job.
The photographers we surveyed gave top marks to two brands:
Both brands are known for their high-quality glass, great prices, and wide range of prime lens options.
In addition to the three lenses we’ve already discussed, consider adding the following lenses from these trusted brands to your camera bag.
- Sigma Art 35mm — This lens is perfect for small hotel rooms where you’ll capture the bride getting ready. It also excels at wide angle reception shots!
- Sigma 85mm – This is another excellent lens for portraits of the bride and groom. It also provides stunning range.
- Canon EF 50mm 1.4 – This super sharp lens has a focal length that matches that of our eye.
- Canon EF 50mm 1.2 – If you’re shooting in low light, try out this 50mm model.
- Canon 85mm – Several photographers called this out as the best lens for portrait photography. It’s also great for capturing kids as they run around!
Other wedding photography essentials
Besides your lenses, be sure to stock your kit for the day with a few other must-have essentials.
- A tripod for posed group shots and portraits to provide image stabilization
- A spare memory card and batteries so you can keep shooting all day long
- A flash gun to illuminate night time shots
- A lens cleaning kit in case of smudges or rain
- Photographer insurance in case something goes wrong on the job
While most of these items are widely available at photography stores, you’ll need insurance to help you cover your liability exposure and protect your camera gear.
As a wedding photographer, especially when you’re starting out, you need insurance that works when you do, not insurance that you pay for 365 days a year. That’s where Thimble’s Photographer Insurance comes in. It’s fast and flexible. Take out a policy for an hour, day, or month so you can focus on growing your business. Additionally, our monthly policies come equipped with an optional business equipment protection add-on. This means you can protect yourself and your camera equipment.
Have your wedding cake and eat it, too
It’s an honor to be invited to photograph a couple’s wedding ceremony. With any luck, the happy duo will remember this day fondly for years to come—thanks in no small part to your amazing photographs.
Of course, weddings are also stressful. We’ve all heard wedding horror stories. That’s why it’s so important to come equipped with everything you need to do the job right.
Thus, you should consider investing in the following:
- A 35 mm lens, 70-200 mm lens, and 24-70mm lens so you can capture a wide range of shots in a large gamut of lighting
- Any specialty lenses required for the specific job
- Everything you need to keep shooting from dawn to dusk, from a comfortable camera bag to plenty of batteries
- Insurance that ensures you can keep running your business even in the event of a client claim or lawsuit.
Once you have the right setup for shooting weddings, you can also market related services like:
- Engagement photography
- Party & event photography
- Pregnancy photography
So, are you ready to say “yes” to your next gig as a wedding photographer? We hope you and this career are a match made in heaven!
Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.