Let’s face it: professional camera gear is heavy! And after a long day of running around, standing on your feet and the inevitable emotional stress that comes from making sure you capture all the photos you need to get at a wedding, you will be sore and tired. It is a feeling I affectionately call the "wedding hangover". The way you carry (or don’t carry your gear) can make a huge difference in how you feel the next day. Having a wedding photography kit can be the answer to your prayers.
Here are some tips for carrying your gear on a wedding day, so you not only survive but also get all the right shots.
All photos via Alison Emerick
1. Get a roller bag.
When all of my cameras and lenses are in one bag, the weight exceeds 50 pounds; that's not something I want to be carrying for long distances. My roller bag has saved me a lot of energy, whether I’m in an airport, using public transportation or just walking from my car to the reception venue. Having a roller bag for all your gear is a must. The same goes for lighting gear; get a small dolly or cart to help get your gear from place to place and reduce the risk of injury to yourself and damage to your gear.
2. If you carry your gear on your shoulders, limit what you have on you at any given time.
Having cameras and lenses hanging from your shoulders can quickly make you tired and sore. Think through exactly what you need for any given time of the wedding day. Can you keep the majority of your gear close by in your wedding photography kit and just use what you need? I usually use two camera bodies for the ceremony only, when the action is fast and I may need a long lens and wider one, to get the shots I need. Otherwise, I try to limit myself to one camera body on my person, and change out the lenses, as needed. I use an over the shoulder bag with sleeves for lenses. It is easy to use, the lenses are right there when I need them and it is not heavy.
3. Carry your gear around your waist.
Some photographers prefer a carrying system that fits around the waist. This takes the pressure off the shoulders and onto the hips. The different pockets around the belt are made for specific lens sizes, so if you are in a rush and put the lens into the wrong pocket, it can lead to dropping the lens, which is never good.
4. Get an assistant.
One of the best ways to limit the amount of gear you are carrying at any given time is to have an assistant with you to carry the gear you are not currently using. He or she can quickly hand you another camera body or lens as you walk around getting just the perfect portraits or dance floor pictures. This option is more expensive, as you need to pay the assistant, but is also allows you more freedom and options.
The most important thing to remember when carrying your gear is to both protect your body and to protect your gear. Figuring out a system that works best for you when shooting wedding photography may take some experimentation. Maybe budget a massage for the day after the wedding into your cost!