When we got started in photography, we read a lot of information from a lot of different people about what equipment to buy and when. We did some things right and we did some things wrong. And we want YOU to be able to learn from what we did so that you can do it better! This series is mainly geared towards wedding photography but is certainly applicable to other types of photography as well! Hopefully this will help you if you are just getting started or need a little bit of help wherever you are in your journey! We want to help! You can read more of our lens series here:
Getting started always seems like the hardest part. Whether you’re talking about getting up in the morning, working on that 30 page research paper, or becoming a photographer. Knowing where to start can be difficult. We have been there. Which body do I buy? Which lenses do I need? What do I buy first? So many questions when it comes to the equipment you need when you are just starting out.
But before we dive into the equipment we recommend, can we give you one piece of advice that has nothing to do with equipment? If we could say one thing that was most helpful to us as we started out it would be simply this: shoot as much as you possibly can. Shoot anyone who will get in front of your camera. Even do some shoots for free. We did it. Use your family. Use your friends. Trust me, they will be glad to help! And don’t limit yourself. You may want to be a wedding photographer like we did and someday you may be able to limit yourself to just weddings. But when you first start out, don’t limit yourself to just one thing. Be willing to do families and seniors and everything you can, because that experience will be invaluable later on down the road. Weddings are amazing. We love them. But weddings are sensitive. Weddings are a one-time deal. You can’t miss anything and you can’t go back. So it’s very important to get your basic skills down before you dive into weddings. And shooting everything you can will help you to do that!
Now, when it comes to equipment, it’s important to remember this: the equipment does not make the image, the photographer makes the image. And while it is great to have the latest and greatest out there, you don’t need to spend your life savings to buy it all. In fact, if you are just starting out, you can actually make it with 1 lens. That’s right. 1 lens. And you want to know a little secret? Sometimes that’s actually the best way to start. When we started out, we had one lens. It was a Canon 50mm 1.8. 2 pieces of tiny glass wrapped in cheap plastic. You can get one for less than $100. But you know what? It got the job done for a while when we started out. We still have it to this day as a memory of where we started.
All that to say, start small. Grow steadily and build your fundamentals with the equipment you have.
We already talked about our first lens. Our little 50mm 1.8. And truthfully, a 50mm lens is a great starter lens. The 50mm 1.8 also has bigger sisters that are better (and more expensive) like the 1.4 and the 1.2 (which we will talk about later on in the series). 50mm is a good focal length to start out with because it sees the subject as the eye sees it. So for example, 24mm sees your subject much wider than your eye. And 200mm sees your subject much tiger than your eye. But 50mm is a perfect length because it sees your subject naturally. And since it is a prime lens (it doesn’t zoom), it teaches you a little bit about composition and creativity because you actually have to move around to get the shot you want.
But when we first got into weddings, we quickly realized we were going to need another lens. We needed something that could be a little more versatile. A lens that could go wider than 50mm but also tighter than 50mm. And that led us to our first “big boy” lens: the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L.
This lens was exactly what we needed. It gave us a wide lens for tight spaces like a getting ready room, but it also gave us a little more length for things like ceremonies where we needed to get a little closer to the action.
We have other lenses now in our bag that get a little more use than this one, but a wedding day never goes by where the 24-70mm doesn’t come out several times. When we are dealing with tight getting ready rooms Ryan uses this one while Alyssa uses our 50mm 1.2 that we will talk about later on. Alyssa also uses this lens for ceremonies. For ceremonies, Alyssa usually stays in the front as much as possible and she is able to get some wide shots and some tight shots of the groom’s reaction as the bride walks down the aisle or dad crying as he gives his daughter away. We also use this lens for wedding party or family photos when there are large groups. And Ryan uses this lens most of the time at receptions to get wide shots of the room as well as tight shots of the toasts or the cake cutting. All of these shots were taken by the 24-70mm:
So, as you can see, we definitely get a lot of use out of this lens and we love it! And as we were starting out with weddings, this lens was a must-have for us. We could honestly shoot a whole wedding with just this lens if we absolutely had to. It’s extremely versatile and we would never go a wedding day without it!
In the next installment we will be discussing Ryan’s favorite lens and one that he uses ALMOST 90% OF THE TIME! Come back to see the next one!