It’s been almost two years since I did a post about the gear I carry, and what’s in my camera bag for a wedding vs. an elopement. And with several recent big additions to the bag, this post was definitely in need of an update! I always love to see what other photographers take along with them on wedding days, so I’m going to go over every single thing I pack for a big wedding, the scaled down version of that – what I take to elopements, and how much of what I take I actually use. (Spoiler alert: not much. I overpack, big time.)

Let’s start with a full wedding day kit…

  1. Airport Accelerator 2.0: This is what I put everything in to take to a wedding. I don’t use this for elopements, because it’s just too massive. And when I get to a wedding, I typically unpack everything from this bag, set up my gear, and then store it until I have to change locations or the wedding is over. I love this bag so much. Because I travel so frequently, this bag makes it possible to carry everything I need through the airport easily. I can fit everything you see on this page, plus two bottles of water, a snack, batteries, my laptop, and various odds and ends that I might need.
  2. The Shootsac: When I get to a wedding, I unpack everything and put my lenses and various odds and ends into this bag, and this is what I wear all day long while I’m shooting. Honestly, if I were going to continue to shoot big weddings, I’d probably look for an alternative. It’s a great bag, but since I shoot with two cameras all day long, having this plus two cameras draped over my body can be very bulky and very heavy.
  3. The D800: My newest baby. This camera is a beast, and I’m still figuring out all the ins and outs of it. It really shoots differently than my D700 and the files are huge, but it is truly an incredible camera.
  4. The D700: I actually have two of these, but one is temporarily out of commission while the shutter gets fixed. I love this camera, and even after getting my D800, I plan to continue to use both of my D700s for as long as I can in addition to my D800. This camera has literally been my extra limb for the last three years.
  5. 24mm 1.4: My very favorite lens. I would say this is on one of my cameras 75% of the time.
  6. 105mm 2.8: This lens is so yummy, and I really should use it more than I do. It’s my go to lens for ceremonies, it’s a fabulous portrait lens, and it’s also my macro lens. But it is huge and heavy, so not a great lens for lowlight unless you’re using flash.
  7. 50mm 1.4: Every photographer needs a 50mm 1.4 or 1.8. They’re so affordable, reliable, and the perfect focal length for portraits. When I shoot ceremonies, I always use my 105mm and my 50mm.
  8. 50mm 1.8: This is the very first non-kit lens I bought many, many years ago, and it has stuck with me all this time. The 50mm 1.8 is a reliable workhorse, although now it’s only a back up for me. Last fall, my 50mm 1.4 took a nosedive at a wedding and was gravely injured, so I always make sure to have my 50mm 1.8 in my bag in case it ever happens again.
  9. Lensbaby Composer Pro with Edge 80 Optic: This is the poor man’s tilt shift, I guess, although having used an actual tilt shift, I sort of prefer this one. It’s light weight, but well made, and the photos are incredibly creamy. I think it’s an awesome lens, and I love an excuse to pull it out during portraits. I never use the Sweet 35 Optic that it comes with – if you’re going to use this, dump the Sweet 35 and get the Edge 80 Optic for it.
  10. A Circular Reflector: Honestly, I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve pulled this out, but those few times I’ve needed it, I’ve been grateful to have it. I think it’s something every photographer should carry, just in case you get into a tight spot. It’s collapsable, affordable, and fits in your bag easily. I always forget I have it, until I need it.
  11. Nikon SB-900 & Nikon SB-910 flashes: The 910 is definitely the better of the two, but I’m using both for the time being, since I only have one big wedding left, and it’s rare I need to use a flash for an elopement. I just didn’t feel the need to upgrade to two 910s. So the 900 goes on the D700, and the 910 goes on the D800 at big weddings.
  12. Lexar Memory Cards: I always used 8GB, but since the files are so massive on the D800, I just upgraded to a bunch of 16GB cards. You should always stick with the smallest card you can get away with, without having to change it every 10 minutes. If something goes wrong, it’s going to be easier to survive a loss of 4GB or 8GB of data than 32GB of data. *shudder* That is my worst nightmare. Lexar has never done me wrong – KNOCKING ON SO MUCH WOOD.
  13. Bendable Bounce Card: Finally, I have two of these, and I stick them on my flashes and go. They’re cheap and way better than the little bounce card that comes on your flash.
I also bring along about a zillion batteries, two battery chargers, rubberbands, blotting papers in case of shiny faces, cell phone charger, bandaids, a video light (which I never use – not sure why I still bring it), safety pins, tape, little scissors, cleaning cloths for my lenses, a plastic bag to put over my camera in case it starts raining, ibuprofen, dramamine, water, snacks, a pen, business cards, and I just added bobby pins to the bag since I’ve had two weddings in the last month where I’ve actually had to pull the bobby pins out of my own hair to fix a bride’s hair. You need to be prepared for anything.
So how much of that actually goes along to an elopement with me? Not much. For elopements I carry the Kelly Moore Boy Bag and I bring:
  • 2 cameras
  • 24mm 1.4
  • 50mm 1.4
  • 105mm 2.8 (not always, to be honest. In the summer, I tend to leave it at home when it’s hot and I want to lighten my load)
  • Lensbaby (again, not always, but if I know I’ll have enough time to play with it, it comes along)
  • Memory cards, batteries, and all the little odds and ends I just listed above.
I never take a flash to an elopement unless I know we’re going to be shooting indoors somewhere dark or we’re going to be shooting after sunset. You definitely don’t need a flash in City Hall. I have an 85mm 1.8 that I love and that I really need to get fixed, and I also bring along my film camera from time to time to elopements – again, only if I know I’ll enough time to play with it.
And that’s that! That’s pretty much everything!




  1. Elissa
    Sep 25, 2012

    I like learning what is in other people’s bags too! It’s so interesting how differently we all approach weddings :)

  2. Kandise
    Sep 25, 2012

    I am interested to know which shots are from the Lensbaby! I just sold my Muse last week because I’d had it for 3+ years and still couldn’t work it in to my shooting.

  3. Christy Tyler
    Sep 25, 2012

    I didn’t realize you used the 24 for some reason – I thought you had the 35! It’s so enlightening to see what you’re using to get these amazing shots! I keep meaning to do an updated post myself – but it keeps getting put on the back burner! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Rachelle
    Sep 25, 2012

    So interesting! My gear has been increasing lately and I’m still trying to figure out when to use what and how to juggle carrying it all. Do you have any strap recommendations?

  5. Katie Jane
    Sep 26, 2012

    @Rachelle – I wish I had a good strap recommendation. I actually took two heavy duty straps off of purses and attached them to my cameras. They were so much longer than the straps that came with the cameras and I could easily strap them across my body. But there’s probably a better option out there!