Having the right event photography equipment is one of the first steps to becoming an event photographer. I’ve been making a living as a freelance event photographer since 2012. Over that time, I’ve learned that events can be extremely diverse, unpredictable, very tiring. As a result, the ideal event photography toolkit should be both flexible and portable. This blog post will highlight some essential pieces of the event photographer’s toolkit.
Event Photography Camera Gear
Many events such as weddings or even corporate conferences will have moments that can’t be repeated. As a result, your photography gear kit must have an assortment of lenses and always a backup just in case.
Before you gear up…
1) Cameras bodies (2)
You don’t need to carry both camera bodies on you, but you should always have a spare just in case something happens to your primary camera. If you choose to shoot with two camera bodies, use a dual camera strap such as the HoldFast Moneymaker leather camera strap. In cases where you’re planning to use a piece of gear you haven’t tried before, spend a few days getting used to the equipment before using it in a professional setting. Check out the Popular DSLR Cameras post to find the best one for you, or browse Popular Mirrorless Cameras for more options.
2) Zoom lenses
Depending on the pace of the event, you may not have time to change lenses often. Thus, zoom lenses are generally more practical for event photography than fixed prime lenses. The mid-range lens is your all-around workhorse, while the telephoto lens is essential for getting zoomed-in photos of speakers. Finally, the wide-angle is best for atmospheric shots.
3) Prime and/or Macro lens
A prime lens is ideal for creative shots and focusing on details. Depending on the event, I’ll usually have a 50mm prime lens or my 100mm macro lens in my bag. I’ll save it for lulls in the event when I can afford to spend time on creative shots.
Not sure which lens to buy? Check out the Popular DSLR Camera Lenses post for ideas.
4) Speedlight flash or LED light
Sometimes, you’ll have the flexibility to bring your own off-camera flash lighting setup. But in most cases, you won’t have the time or space for the extra lighting gear. At the very least, use a single Speedlight flash or LED light to photograph guests in low-lighting scenarios. Always check with your client to make sure that it is ok to use flash. Some scenarios, such as concert photography, never allow flash.
5) Flash Modifier
For event photography, direct flash from a Speedlight is often too harsh. To soften the flash light and produce more flattering, professional-looking photos, use a flash modifier. There are many options on the market today. The most affordable option is the Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce Flash Diffuser, a small plastic rectangle that attaches to your flash. If you have a bigger budget or are investing in photography for the long haul, consider investing in the Mag Mod. This flexible system allows you to attach flash diffusers of all kinds to your camera using magnets.
6) Spare batteries and memory cards
Always have at least two extra camera batteries and memory cards on hand. Also, consider carrying a battery charger with you, and a memory card wallet to keep your data safe. For a Speedlight flash, rechargeable Eneloop batteries are the most dependable. If you’ll be relying heavily on your flash, find an external flash battery pack useful for extra juice.
7) Ergonomic camera strap
It’s no secret that camera gear is bulky and heavy. Consider replacing the stock camera strap with one that is more ergonomic. Black Rapid R-Straps are a good option, as are HoldFast Gear leather straps if you’re looking for a more sophisticated look. These straps aren’t cheap, but they will save you from back pain.
8) Camera bag
Event photography tends to be fast-paced, so it’s vital to have a lightweight yet efficient camera bag to hold your gear. Think Tank makes several camera bags that transfer the weight of your camera equipment from your shoulders to your waist. The Think Tank Change Up camera bag is a great option, as are their belt systems with modular components. If you have a lot of equipment, the Think Tank Airport Takeoff is among the best roller bag options to easily carry heavy gear around.
9) Business cards
Arguably one of the most important parts of your event photography equipment is your business card. Every person you meet while shooting an event presents an opportunity for networking. Always have a stack of business cards on hand for potential clients.
If the event has any concert or entertainment, don’t forget to bring earplugs. These will help you maintain a position near stage speakers to take stellar photos without sacrificing your hearing.
Extra Event Photography Equipment
Creative Photo Opportunities
In most event photography scenarios, you won’t need to have a tripod or monopod. However, these tools can help you capture more unique images. Consider bringing a tripod and remote cable release to shoot artistic long-exposures, or a monopod and step stool to elevate your camera for a bird’s eye view. In a world where everyone is a photographer these days, it’s important to offer unique imagery to distinguish your services.
Tools for On-Site Photo Transfers
Speaking of offering unique services, take advantage of built-in Wi-Fi if it’s a feature of your camera. Offer to send your client a few images on-site during the event that they can use for social media promotions. This simple service can really set you apart as a photographer, and it can be an extra line item on your photography invoice.
Event Photography Equipment Checklist
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What’s part of your essential event photography equipment? Let me know in the comments below!