Let me start off this post by clearing something up - a photographer is not made by their equipment! All of these things are extremely helpful when photographing a wedding, and allow me to do my job in the best possible way. But at the end of the day, I started out with much less than what I have now, and I am still proud of those pictures. Photography is part technical, but mostly art - I can get correct exposure, white balance, and everything else with the best camera out there, but my work will not stand the test of time without a great balance of the artistry behind it.
At the same time, I'm extremely grateful for the camera and lenses I have, and they do allow me to be much more versatile during portraits or a wedding day. For all those non-photographers out there, I'll explain what I have and why I have it. I do have a backup camera and lenses, but today I'll focus on what I primarily use to shoot. Beside each lens I'll include a picture that I took with it so you can see the difference between all of them!
Nikon D800 - This is my baby. It is a 36.2 megapixel camera with phenomenal light handling, meaning I can still take great pictures in low light situations. Because there are so many pixels the files are huge, but I'm willing to buy more memory for the amazing quality I get. When I shoot in the highest performance mode (RAW), the pictures can be printed life-sized without getting grainy. I am able to shoot in darker ceremony venues without lighting (though of course I'd prefer to add light), and the crispness of each picture is amazing. I love love love my camera!
Nikon 50mm f/1.4 - For a long time, this was my go to lens. Lately I've been switching it up more, but the 50mm provides what most people would think of as a 'normal' picture. It's not extremely wide angle, nor is it a zoom lens. This is great for small families, or for full length shots from a safe distance. Though it won't capture really wide spaces or rooms, it can shoot some of the 'larger' details on your wedding day, such as the cake or a table setting. The wide aperture (f/1.4) means it lets in a lot of light, so I can use it for darker spaces.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 - This is one of my more recent additions, and it's perfect for small spaces. It definitely saved me on the last wedding I shot, where the getting ready room was on the very small side! The 35mm allows me to step closer to my subject and still retain a full length portrait if I want. It also allows me to get pictures that include the beautiful scenery or backdrop I am in at the time, and I love it for the spaciousness it brings to my photos.
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 - Without a doubt, this is my go to lens for portraits. With longer lenses, there is the factor of 'lens compression,' which basically means you can get an extremely crisp portrait with a lot of bokeh (blurred edges) in the background. It's for that reason that I love it! This lens also allows me to step further away from my subjects to give them breathing room, while capturing pictures that look like I'm standing right next to the couple. I would hesitate to use this for families, since it's a zoom lens and won't work for large groups, but it's absolutely excellent for one or two people, or for capturing little details while going unnoticed.
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 - This is my most recent lens addition. It is a macro lens, which means I can capture the tiny details of the day (like wedding rings). It also allows me to step back further but get in closer on ceremony shots or other parts of the day where I might be a bit further back. Since I use prime lenses (lenses that have a fixed focal length), it's my longest lens and gets me right in to where I need to be.
I also have Nikon SB-10 flash, light stands, continuous lighting, Pocket Wizards (for off-camera flash), and a whole host of other things to help me capture what I need to, but my camera and lenses are constantly in use. As I said, equipment does not a photographer make, but I do believe in providing the absolute best for my weddings and portraits, and each piece that I've bought helps me do just that!