The 3 Lenses You Need to Shoot A Wedding

When I teach photography around the country, I often get asked what lenses I use to shoot a wedding. You might be surprised to discover that I use the same three lenses to photograph everything I do. They have been called, “The Holy Trinity” of lenses because many photographers believe (as do I ) that these three lenses are all you need to cover just about any circumstance.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L ll USM Zoom

“The Wide Angle”
This was the last lens that I added to my kit and it’s often used more than the others at weddings. The perfect reception lenses because of it’s ability to capture the whole scene in tight quarters, it’s also the lens I would let go if I could only carry two lenses. It’s very specialized in it’s use but what it does it does so well!

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens

“The Workhorse”
This is the lens that gets used the most. It’s the first one you pick up and the one lens you would carry if you could only carry one lens. Canon’s most popular lens with wedding and event professionals.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L is III USM Lens 

“The Long White One”
The most expensive lens in the line-up and also the one that’s white. When you see photographers on the sidelines of a football game they always have these giant white lenses and it all starts with this one. I don’t know many canon professionals who don’t have this lens and I use it for weddings as well as headshots and portraits.

Check out the video at the top to see an explanation of when I use these lenses and how they affect my work!

When is a Beach Wedding also a Family Portrait?

Having photographed over 500 weddings, many of them on the beach in Clearwater, you can imagine that I’ve seen just about everything there is to see. You would be wrong about that. I’m still surprised by my job and delighted by the things that my couples do during their beach weddings.

beach wedding dip clearwater

Recently I was photographing the wedding of Justin and Dana on the beach and as so often happens, the bride was a little late. One of the reasons I always tell my clients to push everything back 20 minutes is so that we are sure to have time to get all the beautiful sunset wedding pictures that you want, even if there is a delay in getting started. There is often a delay. It’s just the nature of weddings.

So the guests have arrived and we’re all waiting to start when Justin wanders over to me and says, “If you don’t mind, could you maybe take some pictures of the families while we wait?” Well of course I don’t mind so Justin starts to tell people they can get a picture and a line starts to form and we proceed to make great use of a few extra minutes that we have now that we hadn’t planned on. The best part was that everyone had dressed in theme for the beach wedding so UI was able to get a ton of great family portraits for the guests!

family portraits clearwater

Eventually the bride arrived looking amazing and the wedding went off without a hitch. Another great beach wedding!

beach wedding clearwater

The Master Wedding Photographer Degree

What is the International Photographic Competition?

The International Photographic Competition is a yearly event sponsored and judged by the Professional Photographers Association of America (PPA). It is one of the largest and oldest competitions of it’s kind and regularly draws more than 5000 entries. These entries are judged in two separate competitions: Photographic Open and Artist. Artist is a “Photoshop” competition. It’s really about evaluating and judging a persons ability to create graphic art from photographs. Photographic Open is for everything else.

Photographic open has many categories, including “Wedding and Event.” This is the category that I primarily compete in.

Images are scored on a scale from 70-100 by a panel of 5 judges. Becoming a judge is a long process, literally years. I wrote more about judging here..

You may only enter 4 images each year. If an image receives an average score above 80 from the judges you receive a “merit.” Once you have received 13 merits (as well as 12 merits awarded for service to the PPA or teaching) you become a Master Photographer. I became a “Master” last year.

The Wedding Photography Degree

This year we added a new degree: The Wedding Photography Degree. I wrote about the new degree here but here’s a quote from the article:

“I have entered 4 images. I predict that 2 will merit. I believe that they all should merit based on what I’ve just said but I’m not going to get my hopes up. It will take several years before we really get the judging dialed in on a new degree. If they all merit I’ll feel pretty good about the new degree. If 2 merit I’ll feel like maybe it’s better but time will tell. If less than 2 merit I’ll be worried for the future, unless the overall merit count makes sense in which case I’ll just know that I suck.

Well, the judging is over and I’m pleased to say that I merited all 4 images. The images are below: