wedding photography tips

What's in my camera bag? by Camera & Kit

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or the bag I use

for my cameras …

What's in my camera bag? It may not be wise to take a peek in there, I'm known for rogue lens caps and random film canisters but in the spirit of learning and sharing, I'd thought I'd share with wedding photographers what is actually inside my camera bag, which may or may not be a good thing. So, if you are a little on the voyeuristic side or if you are a newbie to wedding photography, a wedding photographer just wanting advice, here is what is my camera bag:

1) Of course, I should say that I don't use a camera bag. I don't carry my kit in a bag that screams expensive camera gear. The main reason for this is security and safety, I don't want to look like I'm walking around with £10,000 worth of kit to and fro weddings. I invested in some foam blocks and turned an ordinary bag, sometimes I use vintage suitcases into a camera bag. It works a treat although strutting around with ice lights tends to give me away, but people just think its a light Lightsaber.

2) Business cards like it's 1999! This may sound obvious and a little old fashioned but its a must. I carry some in my pocket and the rest in my bag, and depending on the size and type of wedding, I have cards specifically printed with the wedding in mind that has a link to a gallery for them to buy photographic prints from.

3) To feed your photographer or not to feed your photographer, it's an ongoing debate and even though I request meals be provided, I do carry food. I get super hungry at weddings, and sometimes they forget to feed us. It's true and being hungry leads to tiredness which leads to you being off your game. I carry a combination of super healthy bars and well, some downright unhealthy sweets. I'm a sugar nut from way back. I also find those slim fast drinks helpful.

4) Deodorant and wet wipes, ideal for when photographing a wedding in summer, I learnt the hard way when I shot a wedding in the middle of summer in Lake Como and stupidly wore a fitted black dress.

5) Bottles of water, a refillable one for me and two mini bottles of water for the couple when doing couple shots.

6) Needle and thread and safety pins. You'd be surprised how many times you will hear the question, does anyone have a needle and thread, and don't forget the scissors. Tissues, for when peeps get emotional, I also carry a few tampons, plasters to help out wedding guests in need, trust me. It happens at times.

7) Battery charger and two spare fully charged batteries plus batteries for flashes and film cameras.

8) Three camera bodies with a collection of lenses and hoods to go with them, all prime lenses. 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 100mm plus filters, speed lights, with diffusers and I don't shoot with a tripod anymore nor do I use video lights but I do use ice lights. I honestly cannot remember the last time I used a tripod.

9) Lens cleaning kit, with camera raincoats just in case it rains, lens pens, a dust blower etc

10) A pouch for used memory cards, one for unused. I shoot with two memory card slots acting as a backup, so one goes in the bag, the other stays on me in a little clip bag on my belt.

11) Print outs of the wedding itinerary for the day, including key phone numbers; I do not rely solely on an electronic version just in case.

Phone and/or tablet charger.

12) A bit of cash stashed in away just in case I need it for emergencies.

Fifteen Tips for Destination Wedding Photographers .... by Camera & Kit

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Helpful Hints & Tips

Fifteen Tips for Destination Wedding Photography

1) Take a spare pair of shoes, I learnt the hard way when photographing a wedding in the deserts of Egypt and my sandals broke in the sand so I was walking around barefoot until someone got me slippers from a hotel.

2) This may sound obvious but take the appropriate electrical currency converters for the country you are shooting in. For my first destination wedding, I was shooting in Lake Como and it took me ages to find a little shop that sold them.

3) When I travel I actually don't carry my kit in bags that look like camera bags, this is a security move on my part, especially if using public transport, taxis or transport means not provided by the couple.

4) Learn some of the languages if you are going to a non-English speaking country, not all the guests may speak English and it's a brilliant way to fit in. I'm not saying become fluent but greetings and a few photography terms help a lot.

5) Double your kit, yep. Seriously, especially so if you are travelling to destinations where you just can't nip out and pick something spare up.

6) Trust your second shooters, I mean seriously trust them. I once had to take five photographers to a lavish event abroad and was short a shooter, so I agreed to let her come not realising that her understanding of the basic principles of photography was woeful, by way of example, shooting below 1/60 secs which is why now I only travel with a trusted team.

7) Be prepared to catch taxis in some dubious places, carry print directions as well as on your phone/tablet. Getting taxis in Dubai can be a nightmare especially finding one that knows where you are going, is not going to rip you off and does not have an issue with sole women travellers.

8) Decide how you are going to charge your travel fee, for me, mine is included in the price and then I find travel/accommodation within that budget. I don't go fancy when I travel.

9) Arrive a couple of days in advance, this avoids any last minute freak out in case of flight delays and gives you plenty of time to scout locations and sort out charging kit just in case you ignored my advice in dot point tw

10) Be organised, yes! Have everything printed out in case of no coverage. Book your flights and accommodation as soon as you can, get a detailed plan of the day from the couple or wedding planners. You can never be too organised for an international wedding.

11) Get on the internet and research the destination, venue and other locations for photo opportunities, also weather conditions (pack plastic bags and little raincoats for your kit)

12) Don't work to rule. Seriously, don't. If you are booked for 8 hours don't finish right on 8 hours, I know this may be controversial to suggest but you are in an international destination, take all the opportunities you can get to photograph. When I book destination wedding photography I don't have a set number of hours, I also suggest when I am out there photo shoots for the following day or whilst we are doing a venue walk through. Destination wedding photographs pack more punch in your wedding photo portfolio so use all the time you can to capture those moments.

13) Double check your gear, and then check it again! Extra batteries, memory cards/film, card reader, backup cameras, etc. Also, if you shoot digital, bring an external hard drive to backup your cards before you travel home.

14) Hang out with the couple and guest prior and after the event, this makes for some wonderful candid photographs.

15) Be proud of yourself, take any mistakes you may make as lessons as learnings and move one. Remember to enjoy it, your surrounding and have faith in your abilities. You got this!