What's in My Camera Bag for Every Wedding

As I was preparing for my first wedding of the season, I thought it would be a good idea to show you exactly what I carry and wear to every one of my weddings. These are things that over the years as a wedding photographer, I know I need to function and work efficiently throughout the course of the day. These are simply my must have tools and I hope you find these tips helpful!

What's In My Camera Bag for Every Wedding

1 - Shootsac Lens Bag and Shoulder Pad - I absolutely could not function without my crossbody camera bag. It carries my lenses, batteries, memory cards, lip balm and much more... I've had a Shootsac from the very beginning of my wedding career and highly recommend it. It's made from scuba material so it's very soft and comfortable on your body. There are six pockets (3 on each side) that allow me to carry all of my gear. I usually will have 3 lenses on me - two in the Shootsac and the one on my camera - at all times. I also created a system by dedicating specific items to certain pockets because it can also become a "black hole" where everything and anything will get lost :) I would strongly suggest buying the additional Shoulder Pad to keep the bag comfortable on your shoulders throughout the day. The crossbody strap is adjustable and I wear it at hip height to easily switch out my lenses and grab my memory cards. If anything, this is my MUST HAVE item for every single wedding photographer out there.

2 - Memory Card Holder - I always have my memory cards on my person the entire course of the wedding. I never want them to get out of my site and chance being lost or stolen. I bought one a Think Tank Pocket Rocket to clip securely on to my Shootsac and I can easily pull out the pouch and switch cards in a hurry. 

Quick Tip: Every time I change my memory card in my card pouch, I turn it backwards before tucking it away in the pocket. This way, I can visually see that it's been shot on and will reach for another card when I'm in a hurry which is all of the time on a wedding day!

3 - Lens Cloth Clip - I like to keep a lens cloth on me at all times and love this clip on lens cloth from Nikon. I also use the Zeiss disposable lens wipes (not pictured) throughout the day. I usually by a box each of 100 each wedding season.

4 - Extra Batteries for my Camera & Flash (not pictured) - I use the Storacell Battery Caddy to organize and store my AAA batteries. These great plastic caddy's hold my loose batteries all in one spot. I put one in my bag at the start of each reception just incase my flash dies in the middle of the dance floor. I also keep an extra set of batteries for my digital and film camera's in my Shootsac as well. You never want to be in the middle of session or important moment and have your camera turn off because you are out of power. I always like to be prepared!

5 - Portable Phone Charger (not pictured) - It's no secret that I like to story on my Instagram (hey, this is how all of this happened, right?) so I carry a small portable iPhone charger. I like this Anker Portable Phone Charger in white. Also, I feel as if you can never find a power outlet inside the reception venue so it's a good idea to have your own.

5 - Ear Plugs - I started wearing earplugs during receptions because I damaged my right ear at a wedding several years ago. I walked past a huge speaker during the ceremony and caught a loud sharp sound in my ear resulting in a damaged ear drum. I had to go to the Dr.'s and after a few tests, he said my ear drum was damaged and would heal on its own. I had a bit of vertigo for almost a year but it eventually went away. Now I always wear earplugs and have several pairs on me at all times.

6 - Protein Bars - I always say photographing a wedding is like running the marathon. You need to keep your energy up! I recently discovered RxBars and I'm in love with them. They have very few natural ingredients and are super yummy. The sea salt chocolate are my favorite (not pictured because I ate the last one!!)

7 - Wedding Photography Timeline & Pen - I always have a printed copy and working pen on me throughout the day. This also helps get through family photos very quickly because I can start right away since I already have the list on me. Smart!!

8 - Everyday Necessities (the must have's) - Bobby Pins, Band-aids, Breath Mints, Advil, Contact Lens Solution and container, Tide-to-Go Pen, Hair Ties, and LIP BALM. I seriously could not photograph a wedding without lip balm :) 


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How to Plan Your Wedding Photography Timeline

As a wedding photographer, one of the best things you can do to ensure your couples get the most photos out of their wedding day is help plan their wedding photography timeline. Your experience and thoughtful insight are invaluable assets to your couples. Mostly likely, this isn't your first wedding and for your couple, it probably is, so they are looking to you for guidance and advice. I wanted to share with you how I help each and every one of my couples plan their wedding photography timeline with or without a planner. 

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No. 1 - Educate Your Couples - Approximately 90 days before each wedding, I send all of my couples my "Tips for Your Wedding Day" email and a link to fill out my Wedding Prep Questionnaire online via 17 Hats. I include a list of my recommended timing for their wedding day and request detailed information about their wedding inside my questionnaire. Giving them this information 90 days in advance gives us enough time to plan accordingly and make any timeline modifications and overall photography coverage. Below is what I usually suggest for each part of the wedding day. 

// 1.5 hour for details & getting ready photos *not always possible, but I request it
// 30 mins for final prep & getting into the dress
// 1 hour for First Look (15 mins), Bride & Groom (45 mins)
// 30 minutes for Bridal Party photos *depending on size
// 30 minutes for Family photos *depending on size

No 2 - Create the Photography Timeline -  Once my couple completes their wedding prep questionnaire, I create their wedding photography timeline first draft. This is a complete breakdown of their wedding day from start to finish including their locations and photography requests for the day. With a well organized document, my couple can visually see how the day is scheduled and make timeline adjustments if necessary. For instance, if they have a lot of family photos requests, some couples might opt to move some pairings to cocktail hour or their even their reception to save some time during the beginning of the day.

Quick Tip: Be sure to include the travel time to each location. From the hotel, to the First Look, to Ceremony to Reception Venue. It all adds up and can eat up a lot of their wedding photography coverage which sometimes get lost when wedding planning.

No 3 - Work with the Planner (*if they have one) - If your couple has hired a wedding planner, I highly recommend introducing yourself and saying how excited you are to work with them. Next, I would send them your wedding photography timeline draft and coordinate with their master timeline. Wedding planners are scheduling the wedding day from start to finish and know all the little details that maybe your couple hasn't shared with you just yet. Having great communication with the wedding planner is so helpful for you, the photographer, and the couple to ensure get they get the best photos on their wedding day.

No. 4 - Plan for the Season and Sunsets - Another great tip is to plan for the season and sunset on your couples wedding day. With a quick google search you can find out when the sun is scheduled to set on their wedding day. Winter weddings usually means less light and Summer weddings have longer days with lots of sunlight. Letting your couple know when the sunset will occur is helpful in planning their ceremony start time and taking photos outside before it gets dark, especially if you prefer to photograph your couple in as much natural light as possible.

Everyone wants great wedding photos on their special day and being organized is the first step in ensuring a happy outcome for each and every one of your couples!


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Top 3 Wedding Photography Software Recommendations

Saving time means that your are saving money and I'm all about saving money, especially when it comes to your business!! Over the years, I have discovered some amazing software applications that have significantly sped up my wedding photography workflow and I wanted to share my top three resources with you. I hope they help you in your business or spark an idea on how to streamline your own workflow!

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No. 1 - 17 Hats (Client Management Software) I put off upgrading my "system" of how I managed my clients for a long, long time. How long? Embarrassing long! I was using several different apps from Apple (iCal, Mail, Notes, Pages and Numbers) to keep track of my inquires, weddings, booked sessions, invoices and expenses. It was becoming very overwhelming and I would wake up in a panic because I wasn't sure if I had crossed all my "T's" and dotted all my "I's". With a in-depth demo from one of my closest friends, I began to see the light and 17 Hats was about to become my main squeeze. I decided to tackle setting up my client management software in January (a relatively slow time for wedding photographers) so I wouldn't be rushed or in the middle of a deadline. I watched several "how-to" video's, made some emergency texts to my friend, and within two weeks, I was ready to go. I easily integrated 17 Hats Leads Form into my website and I can now track all of my new inquires. I created several workflows for each type of session I photograph and setup my calendar to sync with my iCal (sorry, Apple, I can't quit you ;) My questionnaire's are finally easy to use and I can eventually use 17 Hats for my invoicing and billing but I'm not there just yet. Baby steps... 17 Hats has made my life so much easier and way more efficient that I want to kick myself for taking so long to do it. So, take my advice, if you have more than 5 weddings a year, offer mini-sessions, photograph a ton of families, look into a CRM that is right for you! 17 Hats was the easiest for me to setup myself. I tried Tavé (too difficult) and I've heard wonderful things about Dubsabo. I should mention that 17 Hats is not perfect and missing some features from their competitors BUT they are implementing reporting soon, which is really my biggest complaint. However, you can easily export your data and make your own reports using a pivot table (PIVOT! Hello Ross Gellar Fans ;) so for myself, it wasn't a deal breaker. I signed up at the end of the year with a full two year subscription when they were running a promotion which saved me money! Oh, and if you use my referral link, you will save 10% OFF your year subscription.

No. 2 - Planoly - Oh, how I love Planoly, let me count the ways! Instagram is one of the biggest and best tools for my business. It's how I get my work out there the fastest, interact with clients, vendors, viewers and just about ALL of my couples. However, using Instagram can feel like a full time job and figuring out your grid layout can become challenging. It's a visual tool so it really does need to look visually pleasing. Enter Planoly! A cloud based visual planner for Instagram. It's amazing and so easy to use. It's a paid service ($84 per year) and you can schedule, plan, and post all of your images. Recently, Instagram allowed third-party applications, such as Planoly, access to Auto-Post images directly to your feed without your approval. For me, this was a game changer! I love being able to schedule & auto-post my images in advance. I do, however, have to go back in and tag images with locations, vendors, and clients because you cannot automate that process but since I'm on Instagram every single day (let's be honest!) it's not a big deal. There are other Instagram programs you could use - Later is free - but it's really what works best for you. Also, you can use several of Planoly's other features such as shopping links, reporting and analytics. So fancy!!

No. 3 - Calendly - This might be one of my all time favorite applications ever! Calendly is a cloud based online scheduler and it rocks my world! Why do you need an online scheduler? Because scheduling phone calls with potential couples can take forever trying to find a date and time that works for everyone. It can also be very frustrating for the couple and I want to make things as easy as possible right from the beginning. By using Calendly, I send out a link to my calendar that has my availability for the next two weeks. Next, the Bride can easily see when they are available to chat and choose a date and time that works for them. Last, they click the time, book the appointment and I get an email confirmation - BOOM - we are all set!! I have to admit that once I implemented this system into my New Inquiry process my meeting rate increased 10 fold. The best part, Calendly is FREE for the first calendar. They offer upgrade features that you can pay for (email & text confirmations) or you can simply leave it as is with one event type and keep it free. 


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Want more tea? Contact Jainé about her one-on-one mentoring sessions for wedding photographers!

Top 3 Tips to Culling Wedding Photos Faster

It's true what they say about being a wedding photographer, it's 10% photographing weddings and 90% everything else. You spend a lot of time in front of the computer vs. behind the camera which can be frustrating. Over the course of my wedding photography career, I've picked up a few helpful tips and tricks on how to cull and edit my photos faster which I'm so excited to share with you! Here are my top 3 tips on how to cull your wedding photography faster.

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No. 1 - PHOTO MECHANIC by CAMERA BITS - This is hands down my NUMBER ONE recommendation for ANY photographer who photographs events, weddings or simply takes a large amount of photos at one time. The magic of Photo Mechanic is that it processes your RAW files instantly and loads the previews on your screen faster than you can blink. This makes the process of selecting your best photos incredibly fast and efficient. If you were to import your photos using Adobe's Lightroom, you'd be sitting there waiting for the files to render before you could even start your cull. You'll be waiting a painfully long amount of time before you can even start to select your photos - it's incredibly slow. Photo Mechanic is 100% worth the financial investment because it will speed up your workflow by hours and you need that time to get back out there and photograph your clients!

No. 2 - SHUTTLExPRESS by CONTOUR DESIGN - I know, this looks a bit intimidating but trust me you will learn to love it. The ShuttleXpress is a keyboard extender with programable buttons to help speed up your workflow and edit as fast as possible. I used the ShuttleXpress with Photo Mechanic and Lightroom. Since it's a programmable device, you can set it up with multiple software profiles which is amazing! For culling in Photo Mechanic, I use the ShuttleXpress to pick (T key) my selects which saves me time and my hand from cramping up by using my keyboard. In Lightroom, I use the ShuttleXpress mostly in the Develop module to copy & paste my settings, crop and rotate images, pick and flag my photos and so much more. Using the ShuttleXpress allows me to use keep one hand on the mouse and the other on the ShuttleXpress without ever having to touch the keyboard. I never have to look down to find a key to use a keyboard shortcut, which slowly eats away at my editing time by taking my eyes off of my screen. I've been using this device for several years and by now, it's second nature to me. I simply cannot work without it. 

No. 3 - START BACKWARDS - This is a tip I picked up from another wedding photographer and think it's absolutely genius! For wedding photographers, the end of the wedding usually means reception photos. LOTS and LOTS of reception photos which may or may not be your favorite part of the day :) To quickly get through this section, I suggest starting at the end of the wedding and moving your way backwards through each part of the day. This will speed up your culling time and you'll also move into the ceremony, portraits, getting ready sections more quickly. Also, specifically for digital photographers, you might take a few shots until you are happy with the final photo, which means you might have 2-3 images before you get to the final shot. If you start backwards, you will see the best image FIRST and skip over the rejects so much faster. This is such a simple tip but has efficient impact on saving you time in your culling process.

I hope you found these tips helpful but I want to hear from you! What are some time saving tips you've discovered while culling your images? Please share in the comments below!


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Want more tea? Contact Jainé about her one-on-one mentoring sessions for wedding photographers!