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Starting a Wedding Photography Business - Photography and Office

Photography Equipment and Your Home Office

Setting up a wedding photography business entails you have the appropriate gear to get the job done, on location and at home. But it doesn't mean you have to go into debt to get it done. I've seen photographers buy brand new top of the line gear spending over 10 grand only to find that they weren't able to make the business work. I started with 2 Rebel EOS cameras and some moderately priced lenses. In fact you might already have these or better. I'll go over briefly some items you'll need just to get started. I'm not going to cover top of the line items, just the minimums. You can upgrade as you go along. In my business I've moved on to Canon 5d's, Canon L series lenses and the whole shebang, but it didn't happen overnight. While the gear may be similar to other types of photography one major difference is the amount of backup items a wedding photographer has to have.

Backups

The most important lesson that I can't stress enough is to have backups of everything; back up cameras, back up lenses, back up computers, back up images, back up memory cards, back up everything. Because while you may never need any of them, the one time you don't have a backup camera, your shutter will lock up and you will have just cost a bride and groom their images. Even with photographer's insurance at this point you'd be hard pressed to justify the failure to the insurance company, not to mention the bride and groom. I've had memory cards fail, hard drives dropped, cameras lock up, images deleted, and computers crash. Luckily I heeded the advice of wedding photographers before me and had backups in place. So in closing, backup, backup, backup!

Photography Equipment

If I was posting in a forum I'd get flamed for telling you this next bit. When starting off don't go out and buy the top end camera gear. There are three different categories camera gear falls into. Consumer (average joe), pro-sumer (avid hobbyists) and pro (for people who do this for a living). The problem is when you start off in wedding photography you're not doing this for a living yet. You're trying to do this for a living. So live within your means and purchase gear that will work for your price range.

I started with Rebel EOS XT cameras and while I wouldn't want to go back to using them I see nothing wrong with them. Cut your teeth learning on a Rebel EOS and you'll be that much better when you can afford a 5D. When it comes to lenses there are lots of options, but if you're on a budget most Canon lenses won't be on your plate and that's ok. There are other lens makers out there that put out quality products. I'm also only listing a workhorse lens and 1 fixed lens. I'm not going to go into the telephoto lenses because in my opinion they aren't a requirement. I didn't get one for a year until I could afford the Canon 70-200 IS L series lens. I'm also only listing Canon gear but if you're a Nikon fan the go for it. Here is a listing of some essential items, remember double what you see here and backup, backup, backup.

EOS Rebel XTI or XS without the Kit, the lens in the kit isn't worth the money

Sigma 24-70mm F 2.8 EX Dg lens, less than half the cost of its Canon counterpart and to be honest I still use it as my workhorse lens. I'd be hard pressed to pay over double for the slight gain in quality that you'd get for the Canon 24-70 L series lens. There is also the Tamron SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD lens which is close in quality to the Sigma and a bit cheaper. I used it for awhile and now it is my backup lens.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, very inexpensive and great for low lighting. But it is fixed so if you haven't shot with one before remember, there is no zoom, your feet are the zoom.

4 GB memory cards, as many as you can afford. Regardless of what some might tell you the brand doesn't matter. I've had the most expensive ones fail and some of the cheapest ones are still going strong, backup often and change your cards often. Don't buy larger than 4 gigs or you'll be tempted to put a lot of the wedding on one card, BAD IDEA.

Canon 430ex II flash. You could go with a cheaper flash, but to be honest I wouldn't. Lighting at receptions requires at least the power of a 430ex II flash. Your backup can be a Sigma or something similar. Later on upgrade to the 580's.

Tripod and Monopod. You may not like shooting with these but in low light conditions they can help to limit camera shake and help to sharpen your pictures.

Camera Bags.

Backup batteries for you camera and flash (as many as you can afford)

Office Equipment

Your office will need just as many redundant (backup) items as your photography gear. I'm not going to go into specifics about processors and such, because they change too often. Needless to say you'll need a computer that can handle Photoshop or whatever graphics program you are using. I'd say you need a second computer in case yours crashes but if you can't afford that you'll at least need to be able to gain access to another PC if yours dies. You'll need a large amount of hard drive space within the PC/Mac and at a minimum one external hard drive with a large amount of space. If you can't afford an external hard drive then you'll need to back everything up to DVD's.

After every wedding you should backup all your images onto the computer's hard drive and a second external hard drive or DVD set. Then whatever you do don't leave your external drive or DVD's in the same location. I keep mine at a close friend's house. If your house burns down your customers will only care if they get their images or not. There are lots of other things for your office that you can buy for your wedding photography business but this should cover the essentials.