By Marianne Chua
I first became interested in switching to using Fujifilm mirrorless cameras for my professional wedding photography because I wanted to lighten my load and ever since then I’ve taken a similar minimalist approach to my whole kit. I believe wedding photographers should always have enough kit to cover all lighting scenarios, and enough back-up equipment to continue shooting a wedding if they drop any camera and lens combination! For example, if you shoot mostly on an XF23mmF1.4, you have to make sure you have a similar or usable focal length stashed in your bag! With that in mind, let’s dive right into my kitbag!
1. Vanguard Havana 41BL rucksack.
I shoot a lot of city weddings where travelling between venues, often via public transport, is an essential part of the wedding story. In these situations, I can’t use a trolley style bag as I need to keep both hands free whilst carrying my equipment! Because the Fujifilm bodies are so much smaller than my previous DSLR kit, I find that my old Venque campro bag now has too much weight and excess space, so I keep it for destination weddings and use this Vanguard rucksack where everything is perfectly, neatly tucked!
2. Spider Holster Light
As a wedding photographer who shoots an average of 40 weddings a year, on top of other events, I need to protect my back and arms as much as possible! Putting the X-T2’s on my hips frees up my arms to make herding gestures during group shots and for climbing onto awkward couple shoot vantage points!
3. 2 x FUJIFILM X-T2 camera bodies in black
After trialling both the X-Pro2 and X-T2, I personally settled on the X-T2 but I feel it really is a horses for courses choice. I love the X-T2 for wedding photography because the tilt screen helps me capture more creative compositions and I don’t require the OVF of the X-Pro2; I find the benefits of having a EVF that shows me the final image much more beneficial for the way I choose to shoot.
I dual shoot the bodies as I use prime lenses, so it saves me from lens changing too often!
4. 1 x FUJIFILM X-E3 camera body in black
The X-E3 is both my travel camera and the third reserve chute! I chose it over the X-T20 (even though the X-T20 has a closer style to the X-T2), simply because it is flatter and smaller to stash in my rucksack, whilst still producing the same high quality RAWs that would match whichever X-T2 I hadn’t smashed!
5. FUJINON XF23mmF1.4 lens
This is my go to lens. I shoot with prime lenses rather than zooms because I love how Fujifilm cameras work in low light, and I want to be able to shoot natural light for as long as possible. The XF23mmF1.4 is equivalent to 35mm in the 35mm format and it’s perfect for general storytelling documentary across the day as it helps you include the context of the moment. I usually shoot at least 85% of the wedding day on this focal length.
6. FUJINON XF56mmF1.2 lens
I keep this lens for close ups during the ceremony, group shots, couple shots and speeches when I can’t move around the room as much! It’s better to shoot group shots with a longer focal length to get a nice separation from the background, but I often find with city weddings there’s not a lot of space to step back, so instead I find a 56mm is a nice balance between creating the desired effect and being practical!
7. FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 lens
This is my wide lens that dominates my dancefloor shots and is also handy for some epic venue details! I occasionally use it for general documentary if the space is tight or if I want to bring in even more into the frame.
8. FUJINON XF18mmF2 lens
This is the lens I use for travelling and also as that back up lens which is closest in focal length to my main workhorse, the XF23mmF1.4. I chose this lens because it’s super flat and light, and chose it over the pancake XF27mmF2.8 because I would prefer to go wider over going narrower!
9. 2x Godox TT350F flashes
I have these lower power mini flashes to keep down the weight on my cameras and use it for situations where I only need a small, natural amount of bounced light. They’re perfect for the reception candids, or to use as on camera triggers on the dancefloor.
10. 2x Godox 860ii flashes
These lithium ion powered flashes are the main ones I use for heavy duty work like rapid firin’, crazy dance floor action! They work wirelessly and interchangeably with any of the other flashes in the Godox system.
11. 2x Manfrotto Nano 5001B lightstands
These lightstands are the perfect weight for carrying around on my back whilst still being durable; I’ve bashed these around for at least a good year!
12. Magmod system of Maggrids and Maggels
I find the Maggrids invaluable for shooting off camera flash in tight dancefloors when I want to make sure the light stays focused on the couple, and the Maggels are good for both correcting lighting and for adding some funky colours in couple shots!
13. Thinktank Pocket Rocket wallet
Keeping your memory cards in good order is essential. I make sure all my cards are turned sticker side out and once I’ve shot on a pair, I flip them over and put both cards into the same wallet slot.
14. Fujifilm charger and batteries
I always make sure I pack a charger alongside numerous batteries, as I prefer to change batteries in my cameras before they fully drain so I’m not given any red empty battery surprises!
15. Some kind of lens cleaner – either a Hama lens pen, some kind of cleaning cloth or a rocket blower!
If you’re pushing the boundaries of wedding photography you’ll often find yourself in non-camera friendly environments! Always carry something to clean the mud/rain/general muck off your lens so you aren’t left with troublesome spots all over your photos!
16. Throat sweets and water
Sod’s law says you’ll get a tickly cough about 2 minutes before a ceremony starts, so I always keep some kind of pastille sweet in my bag. Also staying hydrated is key for avoiding the post-wedding hangover (as is staying generally fit and active!) so I keep a reusable bottle in my bag that I can refill throughout the day without having to waste precious time queueing at the bar.
PLEASE NOTE: This list comprises Marianne’s preferred kit, however there is a wide variety of tripods, bags, lights and other third party accessories available.
More from Marianne Chua
4 thoughts on “A wedding photographer’s essential kit”
Nice work and article, Maria! Though I’m not a wedding photographer, I did do my son’s wedding (along with a “Professional”), and my go-to lens was the awesome Fujinon XF16-55mm f/2.8 Zoom. I realize the 16mm f/1.4 prime beats it in terms of sheer image quality (although not by much!), the 16-55 is so much better In terms of versatility!
What is your view on the results of the 18mm XF lens ?
I like to read that report. I mostly shoot weddings in black and white, with available light. And for that I use a Xpro1, a Xe1 as backup. The main lenses are the Fuji 35 1.4 and Canon Fd 50 1.4SSC, 85 1.8, 55 1.2, 17 3.5, 28 2.8, all of which I use with a Metabones adapter. The clients (as well as me) love the atmospheric photos created with this equipment. My other Fuji lenses I sold as the results where to clinically clean to me.
I carry all of this around in two Domke bags (f2, f1). For Color Prints the Leica m6 with 28 2.8, 35 1.4, 50 2.0 lenses, loaded with kodak portra 160 or 400 is in one of the bags as well.
M5 as backup.
Always good light…& regards
Great article, very informative and helpful. It lead me too look at your website which is awesome and hilarious in equal measure. You are a pioneer in wedding photography and have moved the genre on. Keep up the good work. Ps. Don’t you just love Fujifilm gear, I ditched Canon and haven’t looked back. Fuji rocks!
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