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My camera gear for weddings

As a destination wedding photographer, and with all the travels for each celebration, I had to learn how to pack as light as possible.
Over the years, and after 100 weddings, I have gotten used to specific cameras and lenses that I can't live without.
Note that I am not in any ways saying this is the correct way to do it. It is just MY way to do it.
Every photographer has their secrets and gear that works best for them and I want to share mine with you!

Finding the perfect camera for me

Call me an old fashion, but I do believe the Nikon D700 is the best Nikon ever invented. It feels like it was built in an era where people took time and effort to launch really good stuff, instead of just sending newer and newer products to the market to make profit.
D700s are like war tanks. I mean, I hate it when accidents happen, but sometimes they just do. I've had my D700s hitting the floor, tables, chairs, people (hahaha, if you are a wedding photographer and use dual camera straps you know what I mean), and I have never had a D700 breaking down. I can't say the same for the plasticky D750, that with the slightest hit stops working correctly.

They survive throughout hundreds of shots taken (one of my D700s is over a million shots on its shutter count and still going), and then there are the colors... aaah... There are no colors like a D700 can do.
The only bad things I've noticed so far, are the ISO, that isn't the best in low light conditions, but that you can help managing with flash, the actual flash holder, which after a while might not survive being used so much and the fact that Nikon D700s are heavy AF.

I also need to say I haven't yet tried the new D850, before anyone starts insulting me.

I currently have 3 D700s. I use two at weddings, and always keep one at home.
They are not produced anymore, so it was important to me to have backups. I bought all of them second hand, and am always on the search for another online, and if you do too, you'll see they sell super super fast! That's how good they are.

Lens I cannot live without

My kit is very simple.

For weddings, I always keep a 50mm f/1.4 in one of my cameras (and that one stays there for the entire day), and on the other one I mainly have a 35mm f/1.8 but I can change it if needed to other lenses.
Having a 50mm and a 35mm allows me to capture a good range. I use the 50mm to do my really close shots or come back a few steps if I want to, keeping the same style and the 35mm is great for wider shots, giving me more information inside the frame, and I don't have to move much.
Other than that, I always have an 85mm f/1.8 in my bag (for detail shots in decor, for example, and beautiful portraits mainly) and a 24mm f/1.4 (for more epic scenarios, but I can go a full wedding without even using it).

I believe prime lenses are the most beautiful ones to own, and that is why I do not own any zoom. Nothing against my colleagues who love them, I love them too, but I just don't want to carry all of them in my bag.
Again, this is how I work and keep myself light.
My second shooters have all the beautiful zoom lenses.


I have a Nikon Speedlight SB-910 that in Portugal I only need by dinner time and party (aaah, those sunny summers! Light until 8pm!), and that I use a lot more in the UK ('darkness falls across the land...').


I absolutely love the Holdfast 'Camera Swagg' strap. It is comfy and most of all, I trust it. The camera is attached to it two ways, so you know it is never going to fall off of it.

I have a few accessories I also use just for the fun, like crystals, and a ring of fire (I'll talk about them on another post!).

I also always keep a small pouch with cleaning accessories, CF cards, 5 batteries for the D700s, rechargeable batteries for the flash and 2 chargers.

2 cameras, 4 lenses, 1 flash, 1 strap, 1 bag

That is how I roll these days. And I love it.
When I travel, I can fit all of this in my carrier bag + 1 mac, my clothes and toiletries and I fold the backpack I'll use for work on the wedding day.
Done. Easy.
Please feel free to comment bellow or ask any questions. I'd love to talk more about this, share experiences and even learn new things!
But don't bother if you are just going to be mean or criticise. First of all, I have feelings, second of all, this is a place to learn and share.

Listen and respect other photographers advice, but always choose what works best for you in the end

When I moved to London I remember my first talks with other photographers and feeling a little bit bad or ashamed when I shared details about how I work.
To a lot of photographers it just seemed weird that my main lens for work was a 50mm f/1.4.
I mean, what was wrong with it? The results are beautiful, the bouquet is stunning, and it gets the job done since it is so versatile... but still everyone seemed to do it differently, and it made me question myself a lot.

It was after I went to my first SNAP festival that I gained reassurance in what I was doing, and that really there are no rules.

What matters is what works best for you, and that no one should be allowed to work-shame others. 
The right thing to do is to hear, learn from others experiences, test, and then decide what is your better solution.

Let me give you two of my biggest eye-opening experiences from Snap:
Gabe McClintock, one of my all times fav photographers shared that most of his epic pics were done with a 50mm f/1.4.
Even the ones with landscapes and people in the distance. This wowed a lot of people at his workshop and just made me love him even more! There was nothing wrong with my choice, it worked for me, my clients loved it, I master it, done.

Also, last year, after being criticised a lot by shooting mostly JPEG, I learned that Andrew Billington (another big reference for me but in documentary photography) shoots his weddings that way too, and had no shame about it.
This also boosted my ego and reassurance.
I mean, both RAW and JPEG are valid. You just need to find what works best for you.

The most important lesson of all

I know this blog post is about gear. But I also want to reinforce something else. 
If you have just started doing photography and are now going through the gear I have just shown you and counting your money because, yes, it is a very expensive job/hobby, please don't feel discouraged.

It is not the gear that makes you a better photographer.

Every year I see 'uncle Bobs' (guests at weddings who shoot as much as me and who come to me comparing equipment and showing off their pictures) that have even better equipment then I do. Sometimes, guests even think they are the number one photographer and that I am his/her second shooter. 
And you know what? That is absolutely fine (as long as he/she doesn't stand in my way of getting those perfect shots). 
It actually gives me freedom to pursue even better moments!

(both done with Nikon D700 and 50mm f/1.4)

Above all, we can be here talking about gear for ages.
We can agree, disagree, agree to disagree, but there is one thing that is the key:

Emotion, love, real moments.
Capturing those split seconds that only happen once, those micro expressions of pure joy, capturing times in our clients life's that will never come back again.
It doesn't matter the gear, as long as you have the 'eye' for it, and that you capture it in a beautiful way.

Have a wonderful day!

1 comment:

  1. Olá Luísa. Adoro este teu novo cantinho. Eu quero muito muito um dia ser fotógrafa e estes teus conselhos dão-me muita motivação para que um dia isso aconteça. Obrigada e continua, vou estar sempre deste lado à espreita. Beijinhos, Ana.