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3 Essential Pieces Of Lighting Gear Every Wedding Photographer Should Have In Their Bag

April 1, 2014

I only bring three pieces of lighting gear with me on any shoot I go on. No more, no less. Watch the video below to hear a more detailed breakdown on why these three pieces of equipment are essential.   Here’s the list of equipment mentioned in the video and a few examples of the kinds of shots […]

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I only bring three pieces of lighting gear with me on any shoot I go on. No more, no less.

Watch the video below to hear a more detailed breakdown on why these three pieces of equipment are essential.


Here’s the list of equipment mentioned in the video and a few examples of the kinds of shots you can achieve with each.


1. Canon’s 600EX-RT

The ever faithful staple speedlight.  But not just any speedlight. What separates this speedlight from all the rest? One thing.

Built in radio wireless capability.




This is HUGE! With this speedlight, you no longer need to rely on a separate external radio trigger to fire your lights. And lets all be honest…those damn triggers are annoying!

This is why not using Pocket Wizards, Radio Poppers, or any other Off-Brand China Trigger will make your life better.


  1. One less thing to pack in your bag. (and by one, I mean 3-4 because you have a bunch of these things)
  2. One less piece of gear that needs batteries! You don’t have to make sure they are charged before the shoot.
  3. Faster set up time.
  4. Cleaner look.  We have seen so many ghetto set ups for having triggers attached to cameras, lights, and light stands.
  5. One less thing to trouble-shoot when something goes wrong. You don’t have a “middleman” that can cause problems.
  6. You don’t have to worry about another piece of gear breaking or failing.


Do I need to say more? The Canon 600’s have it all built in, and it is RELIABLE! I can’t recall a single experience of unreliability that wasn’t due to me being a goof (user error). I use this light for wedding day details, creative portraits, and most importantly during receptions!


Details Shots

Mallory-Brent-First-Look-67-1350x900  Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-98-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-100-1200x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-115-1600x900

Creative Portraits

Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-114-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-103-1800x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-62-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-60-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-5-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-engagement-photo-32-1350x900

Reception Lighting

Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-91-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-66-1350x900 1489594_469510239821145_494721501_o 1522944_471028016336034_626940620_o741254_472645972840905_1284556711_o 1601921_472645892840913_1164516314_o


2. Reflector

Everyone needs to know the benefits of using a reflector.  It is hands down the most affordable piece of lighting equipment that you can purchase to make a huge impact on your work. I use the Promaster 5 in 1, with my favorite sides being the “sunlight” side (NOT gold) and the translucent side.

The sunlight side is a mixed silver and gold and I use this over the solid gold or solid silver because the hybrid gives a more natural warmth to the image without overwhelming the subject with orange.

I rarely use the gold only side, but one instance that solid gold can work great is when working with a subject with a rich brown skin tone.

I also avoid the solid silver because it can have the effect of washing out the subjects skin in almost cool temperatured light.


The reverse side of the hybrid gold/silver is solid matte white.  This comes in handy if you want a softer more subtle effect with your reflector. If the sun is out in full force, sometimes I don’t want to blast our subject with that amount of intense light. When I take the slip off, inside is a diffuser.  This is great when you are put in bright lighting conditions with an unfavorable angle of light, or patchy, inconsistent light. I place the diffuser in-between the subject and the light to bathe our subject with beautiful diffused light.

Here some images using our reflector.

Style-Story-Creative-columbus-engagement-photo-57-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-engagement-photo-66-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-13-1582x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-wedding-photography-111-1350x900


3. Profoto D1 Air

The Profoto D1 Air is one of those lights that makes all the difference. If you want to be shooting with a more commercial or fashion inspiration, this is your light.  If you want to take control of you environment no matter what you are dealt, this is your light. If you want to have creative freedom to overpower the sun, this is your light.


This light is 15-20 times more powerful than a single 600 speedlight.  With all of that power the options are near limitless for what you can do with it. I tend to push our images into a more dramatic, edgy, fashion inspired look.  Our clients love it! The way that we use this light has helped to set us apart from the competition.

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There are other more affordable high powered strobes out there. I decided that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right and invest in professional, reliable gear. The d1000 has an air remote that we use to wirelessly radio trigger our profoto.  Just like with the 600’s, I can control the power of the light from my camera.  It is a great set up! I use this light in conjunction with a 2X3 softbox to create beautiful, soft, romantic images that I can best describe as “buttery.”

1658382_472645726174263_632962292_o Style-Story-Creative-columbus-engagement-photo-27-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-engagement-photo-36-1350x900 Style-Story-Creative-columbus-engagement-photo-64-1350x900

One of the great advantages of this light is it opens a number of doors to you for creative options at a shoot. This is a critical ingredient to keeping me on my toes, inspired, and excited about the imagery that I am creating.


My Challenge to you

My main challenge to you is to do something more than the same naturally lit, “backlight your subject with the sun, expose for the shadowed skin tones” image.  It is a beautiful shot, and I embrace it when it makes sense.  But I encourage you to get your flash off of your camera, put it in manual mode, and start to understand your light. If you do this, a really cool thing will start to happen!

Your work will improve. Your clients will notice. And you can start to charge more.

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