Trying to figure out what gear to purchase for filming a wedding can be pretty daunting. I spent a ton of time researching, watching YouTube videos, and reading countless blogs to see what other people were using, and then with my knowledge and experience in wedding photography thought through what would work best for our team and our wedding day workflow.
I have four Sony A7III camera bodies, yes FOUR. I talk more about why I have four camera bodies in this post, but to keep the story short: I use one for the gimbal, one for quick handheld (which later becomes a wide baseline shot at Ceremony + Reception), one for the Bride during ceremony (which captures the speakers during toasts), and one for the Groom during ceremony (which captures the couple during toasts). When trying to figure out what cameras to use for filming these were the standout choice, plus they double for our photography when we do both at weddings. Great little 4k, lightweight cameras that shoot 60fps or even more more slow motion options at 240fps.
I also love to enhance the storytelling of the wedding with drone videography. I’ve used both the Mini’s and the DJI Phantom Pro, but currently, I’m using the DJI Mini 3 pro. For me, I want the ease of size, usability, and love how compact and cute it is. I can travel anywhere with it, and get fun personal video footage too!
The Sony cameras already have built in image stabilization but the DJI Ronin Camera Stabilizer Handheld Gimbal is an added bonus for buttery smooth shots. You could technically go without a gimbal and shoot things handheld but in our experience we have always loved the shots more that were filmed on the gimbal. So one of our Sony’s spends most of the day on this gimbal.
For Ceremony and Receptions, I bring Heavy Duty Tripods as well as Compact Tripods. The reason is probably obvious, but I’ve needed both in a variety of situations. Sometimes, we have to walk pretty far or through sand to set up, and the heavy duty are just way too heavy so we use the Compact. Other times, it’s too windy for the Compact, and we need the Heavy Duty so they camera doesn’t shake. We’ve also seen people dancing shake the dance floor before enough to notice in camera, so the heavy duty tripods help with that too. I always typically keep one camera on the gimbal to be able to move freely with stabilization in case their are surprises, as well as keeping a zoom lens on my Video Monopod so that I can also walk around easy, but set it on ground for more stabilization.
Throughout the day, I’m using a variety of lenses to achieve different looks for my client’s wedding gallery. Some of these make the image prettier, while others make my job easier 🙂 First, I love the Sony 55mm 1.8, which is my primary that sits on the gimbal. This lens is perfect for a super close shot and details for when you don’t need a wide shot. I use two 70 – 180mm 2.8 Zoom lenses for Ceremony and Reception Toasts. I love that I can choose the focal length on these to compose a beautiful shot of the Bride, Groom, or speaker at 2.8 from almost anywhere in the environment, which is super helpful when trying to avoid obstructing anyone’s view. For tight spaces, the 35mm 1.4 Art Lens is my go to, and is the second lens that I use for my primary that sits on the gimbal also. It’s a great alternative for the super close 50mm because this offers a nice wider shot. These wide shots are perfect for when you don’t need to get that close up shot like the 50mm. Lastly, I keep the Sony 24-70mm on one of the Sony A7III at all times, so if I’m in a crunch and need a wide shot or a closer shot, I can just handheld this set up and it will get the job done quickly.
Once the sun goes down, I use the Aputure on camera video light when I need it to move around with me, but also bring external light for difficult lighting situations during the reception and dancing. I love the Aputure Light for when I need more light, and put it on this Light Stand. Sometimes the DJ has the space lit up with their lights, but this will make sure that when you get up close to the people they are exposed properly.
Okay, now on to audio – this was the scariest part for me when I was first learning videography as a wedding photographer! I always so afraid of messing up what I feel like is my favorite part of watching wedding videos – the voices of the couple! Now, most of the time, audio is a breeze, because I capture MANY different ways with lots of back ups 🙂 First, I use rode mic‘s for the tripod cameras. The only real purpose for this is to sync up the audio in post. Sometimes you can get away with just using the in camera mics, but this ensures the audio sync will go smoothly. Next, I use Tascam Lavalier Mic Digital Recorder‘s – and alot of them! One wedding ceremony we captured in a church had no sound board to plug into, no microphones, and SIX priests who would be talking during the hour long ceremony. I literally don’t know what wedding cinematographers did before these devices. After that wedding, it’s my opinion that you can never have too many! Typically though, we use one for the Groom during First Look. We use two for the ceremony, one for the groom and one for the officiant. Occasionally, we will also lay one up at the front of ceremony hidden or on the sweetheart table during the reception, or near any speakers so we have different versions of the audio as well. I always set these to record way earlier than needed, and end them way later, just in case there are any surprises or last minute changes, we still have audio rolling. My primary audio usually comes from the Zoom H5 Recorder which I use this to capture any audio from the ceremony and reception through the sound board. You’ll have to work directly with the DJ or band to plug into. I always bring two different cable options for connecting to the DJ’s sound board, both a Dual 1/4 Ts to Dual 1/4 Ts and XLR3f to XLR3m Microphone Cable. This will ensure you get clean audio to use in your final film. Lastly, I use a Sony Pen Recorder as a backup audio always too. You can get a custom sleeve on Etsy to put it in, and attach it to any microphones that speakers will be using as well.
I carry EVERYTHING in my Think Tank Rolling Camera Case, because it actually all fits! It saves my back, and allows me to carry my styling tools for flat lays in my free hand at the start of the day.
Once the wedding is over, I back everything up to the Seagate 16TB External Hard Drive which holds my client archive. I have several organized by dates. Then I back up to the SanDisk Extreme 4TB solid state drives for easy portable editing. Everything current also gets backed up to my Dropbox, and everything delivered is available for download through Pic-Time and Vimeo. I also upload previews to my client’s personal gallery in Pic-Time. I love Pic-Time not only because it displays my images in a gorgeous platform for clients to view, share, and download images; but because it automates product and album sales directly from their gallery to my chosen photo lab. I used to spend endless hours designing wedding albums, only to have to re do proofs over and over. Now my client’s have complete design freedom to choose how they want their album to look. Now I get surprise deposits all the time from client orders, and my album orders have continued to increase each year! If you want try Pic-Time out, you can use code LRRM82 for a free month.
I use 17 Hats for my client management software. It’s an online platform that allows me to automate and organize my business while I’m at my office on my computer or using my phone through their app on the go. This is who I send invoices, contracts, timeline questionnaires, schedule consults, mini sessions… everything. I swear my business wouldn’t be where it’s at without 17Hats!