What's in My Bag : Wedding Photography Lens Choice • rebeccaellison.com
What’s in My Bag : Wedding Photography Lens Choice

What’s in my bag : My wedding photography lens choice

the lenses i use for photographing weddings and why
Last week I opened up my camera bag and explained why I use the camera bodies I do. I am sharing this info not because I think many of you even really know what the gear I am talking about is, but to share with you, as a wedding client, the thought process behind the tools I use to capture your wedding.

To let you know it’s intentional  that I have specific gear with me at certain times of your day. And why I do what I do, and how it relates to making the beautiful images you will cherish through your life.

If you missed it, hop on over to see the camera bodies I choose to work with and why post from last week.

The next most important part of my bag is my wedding photography lens choice.

While the cameras themselves allow me to photograph in very dark scenerios as well as produce large images with beautiful color, the lens I choose to shoot with is what decides the tone of the story I tell.

If it were a painting, my camera would be the canvas I’m painting onto, and the lens would be my brush. And just like brushes, the lenses have unique aspects about them that make them great for certain things.

I use all really fast lenses. What that means is that I can be extremely selective of what is in focus and what blurs out in my photo, as well as it affords me the ability to photograph a scenario in lower light while still holding the camera still (not having such a long exposure that everything is blurry). The 1.4 and 2.8 by the lens names are what makes them “fast”. And also a main factor in changing a $300 lens to a $1800 lens. That speed and selective focus is so important and we pay dearly for it at the cash register.


wedding photography lens choice.  85mm 1.4 lens

 Sigma 85mm  F1.4 Lens 

I L.O.V.E. this lens. It’s by far my favorite lens. It’s a prime (which means it doesn’t zoom), which means it’s super sharp (less moving elements = sharper picture) and the separation you get from your subject to the background is distinct and beautiful.

The type of blur you get in the background is aesthetically pleasing, and the control of what’s in focus (because of the 1.4 aperture) gives great control. It’s an amazing portrait lens as well because the compression of the lens makes subjects look just a little bit leaner and it’s so appealing.

Wait.. did I just say a lens will make you look skinnier??? Yes, yes it can. So, to be technical for a quick sec…
Essentially a 50mm lens is what our eye sees. Anything wider than that (wide angle lens) is pulling an image from side to side to make it seen (which can make you look larger than you are if used incorrectly), and anything longer than that (a telephoto lens like the 85mm) is compressing the scene to be shown (which in turns compresses people making them look a little leaner as well).
It’s called lens compression and it’s a major thing photographers think about when they are choosing lenses for the job at hand.

I probably have the 85mm lens on my camera for 75% of portraits, and a large portion of the day in general. Not only because it’s a beautiful lens, but also because it is a light lens, and after 9 hours at a wedding, I need to think about saving my wrists.

Examples from the 85mm 1.4 lens : wedding photography lens choice


nikon 70-200

Nikon 70-200mm F 2.8

My other go to portrait lens. This has more of the compression than the 85mm, so it can make a city scene behind a subject feel like it’s RIGHT behind them even if it’s a mile + away.

It’s also a fabulous reception lens because i can be on the other side of a room, and get a close up photo of some people talking, and they have no idea I did it.

The down fall of this lens is that it’s HUGE… like over 12 inches long which can be intimidating to people in front of it, and it’s also heavier than anything else I carry…. and I have to keep my wrists in mind on a long wedding day. If I use this lens too much through the day, I am feeling it by end end of the night.

Examples from the 70-200mm F2.8 lens :


nikon 24-70


Nikon 24-70mm F2.8

This is a great lens and a major work horse for me. This is considered a wide angle zoom as it can get pretty wide at 24mm, which is great for photographing in tight spaces, and can also zoom making for a beautiful portrait at 70mm. It’s a truly versatile lens!

The 24-70 is fast, light and a good range. While it’s not as great at separation from subject to background as the 85mm or 70-200mm, it’s amazing for a wide to mid range lens. On my camera a lot during getting ready, and reception.


Examples from the 24-70 F2.8 lens :


nikon 60mmNikon 60mm F2.8 macro

This lens is a great lens for all details. A little bit of compression, fast enough, and most importantly a macro. So I can get super close to what I’m shooting and show *just* the details I want to show. I’d say 90% of my ring shots, invite shots, and detail shots are with this lens. I used to use it for portraits a lot as well until I got the 85mm 1.4 — it’s the perfect backup if my 85 were to break mid shoot too.



Examples from the 60mm F2.8 Macro lens :


nikon 35mmNikon 35mm F2.0

This is a great, fast prime lens. I love how fast it is, but I find I use my 24-70mm more often because of it’s zoom versatility. It is a faster lens though, so in lower light, this is a lens I go to a lot. I probably use this lens 10% or less of the time. Great backup option though in case the 24-70 were to go down.




Examples from the 35mm F2.0 lens :

wedding photography lens choice


Obviously these samples were mostly just some weddings and sessions I had near at hand when making this post, and there are tons more examples I could create to show all the different ways these lenses help me tell the story of your wedding day.

Would love to hear what you think and any questions you may have 😉

p.s. Need your wedding photographer still? I have a limited amount of weekend dates still available for 2015, so please email me if you’d like to learn more 🙂 rebecca@rebeccaellison.com

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