Bry Cox (www.brycox.com) is a PPA Master Photographer, PPA Photographic Craftsman, and teaches workshops to professional photographers throughout the US and Canada. His compelling images are used by Capitol Records, CMT.com, Billboard Magazine, Fuji Film, American Photo Magazine, TV Guide, and American Girl. He owns and operates a studio in his hometown in Utah. Cox has photographed filmmakers, TV anchors, musicians, and politicians, including people like Natalie Cole, Olivia Newton-John, Ryan Shupe, Ann-Margret, Donnie Osmond, Steve Forbes, and various politicians.
Bry: "Being a wedding photographer is about constant problem solving as issues arise – things like bad weather, difficult locations, control of lighting as the environment changes, working inside short time schedules, and of course solving equipment failures quickly. When it comes to my wedding equipment list, I have two rules:
1) All equipment must be professional quality.
2) I need at least three pieces of equipment or solutions for every item. This gives me at least two backup options for every item.
BRY'S RULE OF THREE
"For new wedding photographers, having at least three of everything may sound like an overzealous, unneeded, and unattainable standard, but in my opinion, preparedness is what separates a professional from an amateur wedding photographer. Weddings are full of risk and it’s your job to manage that risk as a professional. Having three of everything does not mean you have to break the bank and buy three of the best cameras, three of the best lenses, etc., but you do need three options of everything.
NEWEST EQUIPMENT FIRST
"Here’s how I do it. I carry my newest and best camera as my main camera. My next oldest camera is my backup, and my next oldest camera is my next backup. My favorite zoom lens is on my main camera, my next favorite on my backup, and so forth. I then have at least three off-camera flashes and at least three ways of syncing and firing them in case a set of radios fail including multiple sets of radio syncs and even cords as a backup for those. You don’t have to constantly carry all of this on you at all times, but at least one backup needs to be close and the rest can be back in your vehicle for instance, where you can quickly go swap out some gear.
"Some may say that this system of being prepared is great for a pro, but can’t be done for a new photographer. Let me tell you that even when I shot my first wedding 17 years ago, I arrived with two sets of equipment that I personally saved up and owned, plus a complete third set of equipment that I rented and kept in the car, just in case. I never needed that rented gear that day, but I had it because I considered myself a pro and took responsibility to be prepared for problems even then. So you don’t need the best equipment as your backup, and you can rent what you don’t have. But be prepared.
"Having said that, here is my essential list of equipment for a wedding. There are other things I take as well, but this is my barebones list:
- Three camera bodies
- At least three sets of charged batteries for each body
- Plenty of CF cards, all empty and ready
- About six lenses (three zoom, one 85 mm prime, at least one Lens Baby and one fish-eye)
- Expodisc for constant custom white balance measurements
- Light meter
- A professional point-and-shoot camera (like a Canon G12 or Fuji X series. This has to shoot RAW, expose manually, and have a hot shoe on top to fire flash syncs. This makes a great extra backup for a camera body, lens, and even a flash, all in a small package.)
- Two hot-shoe flashes on portable stands, and plenty of batteries
- Radio flash syncs for these (at least two camera transmitters and four flash receivers) and backup batteries
- Two A/C studio flashes with stands (with extension cords and their own radio syncs)
- Umbrellas large and small
- Lightweight tripod
- A few reflectors, large, small, silver, gold, and white
- Shooting vest with plenty of zip up pockets, all black
- Three various Black Rapid camera straps, that I may change out depending on setup
- Small roll of black gaffer tape
- Toys to get kids to smile
- Laptop and equipment for immediate backup of downloads