Crazy to think I’ve been photographing weddings for almost eight whole years (blows my mind) and when I think back to that little fourteen year old that hardly knew her own coffee order (let alone how to photograph a wedding) I feel so grateful for growth. From camera settings to composition to how to shoot light and airy… I’ve learned a lot along the way. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Today I’m excited to share my wedding day survival toolbox… the things I couldn’t/wouldn’t shoot a wedding without (no drama).
No this isn’t a list of my go-to lenses or shooting gear, but honestly it ranks right up there in equal importance. Because just as a photographer is nothing without her equipment, so I am nothing without these key essentials. LOL you think I’m exaggerating… wait till you try them out.
1. I bought this dress at the Lululemon outlet on a whim. Looking back now, I know it was fate. The irony is, I remember trying it on and being like *eh is it worth it will I really wear it* and now it’s top on my list of things I’d throw a toddler tantrum if someone took from my possession.
REASONS I LOVE IT: It’s a flattering & modest cut that even gets slightly longer in the back (important when you’re contorting into who knows what angles for the perfect shot ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). It’s athletic material which is BREATHABLE (aka you won’t wanna die on 90+ degree wedding days) yet at the same time, it’s dressy and professional and just the best dress you’ll ever own. Also it has pockets. Need I say more?
Don’t hate me but it’s two seasons old and they don’t stock it anymore BUT there’s hope because my second shooter Vanessa scored one on Poshmark recently and I just bought a second one (greedy I know) that was brand new with tags on eBay. It’s called the “Lululemon & Go Endeavor Dress” and they’re OUT THERE so don’t lose hope !!!
2. Can’t count the number of wedding vendor forums I’ve stumbled upon begging the question “SOS WHAT ARE THE MOST COMFORTABLE SHOES” and honestly I always wondered the same. Particularly after nearly every wedding when I debated if chopping my feet off would be more comfortable.
Being on your feet for 12+ hours while carting 15 pounds of camera gear around isn’t for the faint of heart. But I’ve found the shoe whom your heart longs for and yes I’ll swallow my millennial pride and admit they’re Dr Scholl’s. But you’ll, too, get over that real quickly when you feel like you’re walking on air! *Disclaimer: just like any new shoe, you definitely have to break them in, so don’t wear them for the first time to shoot or you’ll hate me.*
REASONS I LOVE THEM: They’re cute (people ask me if they’re Free People), supportive, and my feet don’t throb. Bonus: they’re peep-toe so my feet can breath.
GET THEM: here!!
3. LOL hitting a new low talking about bras on my blog. *Topics I never thought I’d blog about* … until this bra entered my life. So comfy I could sleep in it/had to tell you about it.
REASONS I LOVE IT: It has a cut and similar support of a *real bra* but there’s no underwire so it’s basically as if you’re wearing pajamas. Honestly just go ahead and throw all your other bras out because if you’re anything like me, you’ll never look at an old bra the same.
GET IT: here!!
4. While we’re on the topic of undergarments, why not mention the other necessity: shorts for under your dress. Had these from my volleyball days and PTL that I never disposed of them because now they’re a must for wedding days!
REASONS I LOVE IT: I can stand on any chair or bend/crouch/move however I please and know I’m covered… *literally.*
GET IT: here!!
5. I used to glance in a mirror mid-way through shooting a wedding day and suddenly be embarrassed at my own reflection. Seeing your forehead all blotchy where your makeup has melted/wiped off isn’t cool. But I honestly just thought that was the way things were until a few years ago when my friend introduced me to Este Lauder Double Wear Foundation and my life (and forehead) will never be the same.
REASONS I LOVE IT: It just fascinates me that I can spend a whole day sweating with my camera plastered to my face and somehow it STILL never melts off. Truly remarkable.
GET IT: here!!
6. I’m sure we can all agree that having hair-ties on your wrist makes you look like you’re getting ready to head to the gym, not so much shoot a black-tie wedding. My good friend bought me this as a gift and it’s so smart/simple I’m only mad I didn’t think of inventing it first.
REASONS I LOVE IT: A hair-tie is always ready for me at a moment’s notice, but I look classy.
GET IT: here!!
7. My newest addition/the thing I can’t believe I didn’t think of like five years ago: HANDS FREE WALKIE TALKIES. You read that right. How many times have I thought while Vanessa and I are split up shooting different things on a wedding day “ugh I forgot to tell her *fill in the blank*” and yes maybe I could text her but 1) she might not have her phone on her 2) likely wouldn’t see it soon anyway (because we don’t like to have our phones out) and 3) it feels like such a hassle and inconvenient when I’m also shooting to get out my phone and send her a text then check back later to see if she responded.
I started thinking to myself: planners have those earpieces to communicate with their team… WHY DON’T PHOTOGRAPHERS. After shooting with these, we’ll never go back and it’s one of those things I wonder what we ever did without.
We feel a little like secret service agents and already it’s improved our communication because we can effortlessly update each other on important timeline details. Without ever even having to get our phone out or walk across the entire venue to find each other. IT IS MY BEST PURCHASE OF A LIFETIME (I mean, 2018). I’m already sure.
8. The only road block we ran into with the walkie talkies is that there is a cord that has to somehow make its way from your ear to the walkie talkie unit itself. Sooo this seemed like the perfect excuse I was looking for (lol) to buy a cute leather cross body bag. The earpiece cord comes down inside my dress and out through a tiny hole in my pocket which connects to the actual walkie talkie unit stored within this cross body.
REASONS I LOVE IT: Easily holds the walkie talkie unit and that’s the reason I bought it, but it’s also so convenient to keep my camera cards in (I always have them on me for safe keeping), as well as chapstick, gum, etc…
GET IT: here!!
9. I’ll be the first to admit I can tend to abandon my own eating needs on a wedding day, but I’m seeing more and more how having energy is vital to properly do the job you’re being paid to do. And a piece of that is nourishing your body correctly (imagine that) so you have ample stamina.
I make these energy bites to bring along to every wedding and I love them because they taste like dessert but fuel us like a real meal. I also just have to emphasize the power of bringing assorted healthy snacks in general (RX Bars, Clif Bars, clementines, strawberries, pretzels, etc) to sustain you until that blessed moment the planner tells you your dinner is served.
RECIPE: 3/4 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup honey, 1 cup rolled oats, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp flax seeds, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 3/4 cup chocolate chips… mix together, roll into balls, & refrigerate!
… Just make sure to wipe the chocolate off your face.
10. Another thing to easily ignore, but trust me when I say it’s of utmost importance: hydration hydration hydration !!! Which wouldn’t happen nearly as much if it weren’t for my trusty water bottle.
REASONS I LOVE IT: It keeps my water cold for 24 hours (like that one time after a wedding in July when I accidentally left it in the car and it still had actual ice cubes in it over 24 hours later. Did I mention IT WAS JULY). I actually bring a second one with chilled gatorade in it for a much needed mid-day sugar rush.
GET IT: here!!
11. The pre-reception refresh is a non-negotiable. I bring a bag with deodorant, a perfume roller, chapstick, a change of shoes, a comfy cardigan, and yeah ok a HAIR BRUSH. All of that happens right before grande entrances and makes me feel like a new woman.
12. I used to come home from a wedding completely exhausted and though I was excited to go through my pictures, I felt uninspired to take the time to upload my cards… one by one by one. But now that I’ve been using this card reader for several years, it’s changed the game and shaved significant time off my turnaround time because I can upload and backup my cards THAT NIGHT. Before going to bed, I can get through culling at least a portion of it (and sometimes even all of it), then sleep peacefully knowing the files are safe and backed up in several places.
REASONS I LOVE IT: All the above and because it can import up to four cards at one time. Which makes this a great investment and a simple way to reward yourself for all your tireless work earlier that day.
GET THE BASE UNIT HERE and the CARD READER INSERTS HERE!!
13. Editing with my presets has made my workflow a breeze and gets me out from behind my computer screen faster so I can be a healthier, happier person. 🙂
REASONS I LOVE THEM: It’s life changing to be able to edit quickly and efficiently and I love being able to share them with the world!!!
GET THEM: here!!
And there you have it… my thirteen wedding day essentials (recapped below). Please tell me if you try any of these *life changing couldn’t live without them* items so we can bond over WHAT A BREEZE it makes our lives.
- SHOOTING DRESS
- SHOOTING SHOES
- SHOOTING BRA
- SHOOTING SHORTS
- STAY ALL DAY MAKEUP
- HAIR-TIE BRACELET
- WALKIE TALKIES (one & two)
- CROSS BODY BAG
- ENERGY BITES
- WATER BOTTLE
- PRE-RECEPTION REFRESH
- FOUR BAY CARD READER (one & two)
- MY PERSONAL PRESETS