Coming from a social background where weddings are considered as much a union of two souls as of two families, I have been brought up in an environment where people see weddings as the cultural extravaganza of the season. To be honest they are just that, at least in my culture, with lots of singing, dancing, rituals and customs.
As a wedding photographer you have to be both skillful and innovative, bordering on the extremes, even stretch your style to shoot beyond your comfort zone and make the most of a tight, hectic and rigorous schedule in order to come out smiling with the images you had planned for.
To be fair, wedding photography goes beyond just the camera and the lens, but you cannot take either of them lightly. When you shoot with the wrong lens you limit your creative options. It is like choosing to put with a 9-iron. It simply does not work that way. Sure, a good photographer can do better than an amateur in a similar situation, but there is a limit to what even a good photographer can do with humble equipment. It does sound like a Catch 22 situation but at the end of the day photographers do have to realize that they are shooting for clients who have paid them a lot of money to document their wedding day. That’s a big responsibility and they owe it to them.
So without further ado, which are the absolutely must-have lenses for shooting at a wedding? Honestly there is no one single lens that is perfect. You have to decide first what your style is and what you intend to shoot. The following are a list of lenses that I feel is a must-have for shooting wedding photos.
The Standard Prime
The standard prime is an interesting choice but one that is an acquired taste when it comes to wedding photography. You can’t zoom with a prime. Plus the focal length of 50mm is ‘standard view’, meaning, the angle of view is similar to what the human eye sees. That means you will need to do a lot of moving around in order to get the perspectives that you want to shoot.
A 50mm prime may not be the first choice for all some photographers. This is simply because the focal length is not quite flattering for portrait type shots, something that you would be doing quite a lot during any wedding. Having said that, there are journalistic style wedding photographers who have built their entire photography career around a 50mm prime. They simply cannot leave home without one.
The Wide Angle Lens
Even before we delve into the benefits of a wide angle lens, you need to decide which wide angle lens would be ideal for the wedding you are going to. It all depends on a number factors really. One of them being how much working space you have. The second factor is the largest group of people you are likely to shoot in a single frame. At a typical wedding you would be expected to photograph anywhere between 10 and 20 guests plus the couple in a group shot. Another important factor is your shooting style.
The Ever Dependable 24-70mm Lens
I mention the 24-70mm by name and not just any standard zoom because it covers the essential focal length that is ideal for any wedding photography requirement. Canon has an excellent 24-70mm f/2.8 lens that is just perfect for weddings because of the wide maximum aperture. For weddings the 24-70mm gives you a better versatility especially when you have to maneuver amidst a lot of guests and tight spaces to shoot from.
The 70-200mm Lens
A slightly longer lens allows you to be more creative. The 70-200mm lens is ideal in that regard. Plus the 135 to 200mm focal length range is ideal for portrait images. Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 lens compliments the 24-70mm f/2.8 perfectly. The fact that this lens has a wide f/2.8 aperture means you can really blur the background even when shooting at its tele-end. It is the ideal lens for the second body on you.
The Macro Lens
Macro lenses are one of the specialty lenses that I prefer carrying to weddings. These lenses gives you a creative edge which you cannot hope to get with any other lenses. The wedding rings for example, are one such subject that can be photographed very up close and with a lot of detail only with a macro lens. Then there is the wedding dress. A macro lens can help you capture all the little details an accessories.