Have gear like a photographer - the most geeky post I will ever write
DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) camera + a lens
Really. At minimum, those are the only two pieces of equipment that you need to start second shooting.
Icing on the cake? A prime lens and a flash.
To prove my point, I'll be vulnerable and post a few photos from one of the first weddings I ever second shot with Chloe Giancola Photography - using a Nikon D3000, 35mm f/1.8 lens, and a SB600 flash at the reception.
So, let’s cover some of what that is, your options and how expensive these thing tend to be.
The most popular camera bodies are going to be Nikon, Canon, and Sony has recently started making some really great cameras and is becoming a contender in the DSLR game.
Don’t stress too much about which one you need to get. Mostly it’s preference, but once you choose, stick with it because all your lenses will be interchangeable. I personally shoot Nikon, but I think mostly that has to do with the fact that that’s what my dad and grandfather had. It's genetic. :)
I'll be using Nikon for my example because that is what I am the most familiar with.
Entry Level NIkon DSLR - D3200 - D5500 ($450-$800) - Great cameras for learning without spending a fortune.
Prosumer Level Nikon DSLR - D90, D7000-7200, D300S (~$1200)
Professional Level Nikon DSLR - D600 - D4S (~$1400+) - These are "full frame" camera bodies which allow for higher quality in all areas of the image.
kit lens - The lens that usually comes with a camera body. It’s very versatile because of the ability to zoom, but not the most ideal for portraits because the aperture is usually f/3.5 or 4 ($200-500)
prime lens - usually a 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm lens with a aperture of f/2 or less. My workhorse kind of lens. It’s ideal for portraits or if you want the blurry background known as “bokeh”. ($200-1600)
telephoto zoom lens - for really close up zoom. good for a large ceremony space. (~$400-2000)
macro lens - (Nikon calls it micro) allows you to get really close to an object. Great for getting those ring shots. ($250-1000)
wide angle lens - ex. 24mm - great for large bridal parties or small rooms so that you can pack more into a photo. Too wide and it becomes a fisheye. ($250-1700)
As you can tell, lenses come in wide varieties of sizes and prices depending on your needs.
flash attachment - more powerful than the flash that’s built into your camera. Used if the reception or ceremony space is dimly lit.
off camera flash - the flash is not attached to your camera, but on a stand (usually multiple flashes) set up around the room and controlled by a remote. Great for allowing more light on your subject so that there aren’t crazy shadows, but you have to be careful not to point your camera at the flash otherwise your image will be blown out.
"But I don’t have the money for all that equipment. What do I do?"
Renting is an option if you’re not ready to buy or you want to try something out before you make the big purchase.
A couple options: www.borrowlenses.com
PPR in Atlanta also rents equipment.
Buying equipment used is also an option to save some money.
Memory Cards & Shooting
Learn how to shoot in manual and shoot in RAW. RAW images allow for better editing capabilities because all the different levels can be manipulated if necessary. Think of it like a 3D image as compared to a flat image. JPEG pre-applies colors and is less desirable for editing. JPEG is better if you are going to shoot and share immediately.
Memory Cards - some photographers may ask you to shoot on your cards or they may have you shoot on their cards and just have you turn them over when the event is finished. If you want to keep your photos for your portfolio, I would suggest bringing your computer along so that you can upload them immediately after the event in case you have to give the cards back. Or, if your camera has dual memory card slots consider making a copy on the second as you shoot.
I hope now you're ready to pack your camera bag and go shoot some amazing photos no matter what equipment you have!
Part 3 comin' at ya soon!