The camera gear you find in a wedding photographer’s backpack will largely depend on their affection toward a renowned industry brand (or several!), as well as style of shooting.
Whatever their preferences, you’ll nearly always discover that just a select few lenses make up a photographer’s trusted arsenal to get the job done. And there are some popular ones at that. Here are some of the very best, as well as personally tried and tested, lenses for wedding photography.
But, first, the camera
While this post is all about lenses, let’s take a step back, as it’s necessary to start with the all-important camera body. After all, the lens is its limb, and the two have to work together seamlessly!
I shoot with two Canon 5D MkIIIs, which are with me at all times during weddings. This provides a backup camera, and also enables me to have a short lens on one, and a long lens on the other. This results in easy and quick access to each so that all bases are covered for capturing a variety of shots.
Many wedding photographers fall in love with a camera brand and remain loyal to it. Which, given the subject matter, is quite fitting! For me, Canon ticks all the boxes in terms of both functionality and usability. So, it’ll come as no surprise that all of my preferred lenses are Canon too.
Here’s a little summary of what makes each one so special, and some of the photos they’ve allowed me to create.
35mm and 50mm lenses
The 35mm and 50mm lenses are both prime lenses, or ‘fixed’, meaning you can’t hang back and rely on zoom to get the details!
Firstly, I love the 35mm lens because it encourages me to get really close to the action and people, and results in images that give an intricate viewpoint and feeling of being in the heart of it. For me, it’s important to shoot a wedding from the inside out and not the outside in, and this lens is great for achieving that. The 35mm, in particular, makes lots of appearances when I’m shooting because it does a wonderful job of capturing the true intimacy of a wedding, while remaining unobtrusive due to its compact nature.
The same goes for the 50mm, which is a popular choice in many photographers’ kit bags as its fixed focal length is considered to be the equivalent of the human eye, while mounted to a full-frame body, making it perfect for fly-on-the-wall style photos.
A super-wide lens that’s ideal for capturing venue and landscape photos. This lens not only helps to photograph the unique atmosphere and environment at a wedding, but is also a saviour when working in tight spaces. To paint the picture a little, such tight spaces can include me standing in a bath with this lens while the bride is getting ready in a bathroom!
The 16-35mm lens zoom capabilities also give you the best of both worlds, allowing you to capture wide group shots and also candid portraits without needing to switch camera bodies.
This lens is a brilliant all-rounder, and essential in my kit. The 70-200mm lens lets you photograph the action from a distance, which is an important quality when shooting an intimate part of the day, like the ceremony or speeches, especially when your movement is restricted. This is also perfect for ‘natural’ portraits; the ones where guests don’t realise you’re there. Capturing different facial expressions, or a funny dance move, really helps to showcase the character of a wedding.
The versatility of this lens is what makes it so great. Being able to document tighter spaces as well as intricate details, such as wedding rings or a pair of shoes, adds a whole new element to wedding photography. This lens stays fixed to one of my camera bodies for the majority of the day as it gets so much use. As an added perk, the 24-105mm also has an image stabiliser (IS), which is perfect for wedding videography.
To see more examples of the wedding photos these lenses have allowed me to create, check out my galleries.