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The Definitive Guide to Lens Choices

When I first started, the only lens I owned was my trusty 18-55mm kit lens. Was it great? No. But it did the trick for a while. As I started to broaden my photography horizons, it just just didn’t cut it anymore. Since, I’ve learned a lot about what lenses are appropriate for certain situations on a wedding day, and when they are not appropriate.

Most of it was from trial and error. I’d look at my images in Lightroom the next day and ask myself, “Why doesn’t that shot look like the one on Pinterest?” And I’d try again with a different lens, and then again with another until I achieved the look I was going for.

It’s not about going out and spending thousands on top of the line glass. It’s about CHOOSING when to use certain lenses, and just as importantly, when not to.

In an attempt to save you from the many sub-par photos you’ll take because of poor lens choices, here’s what lenses you should have as a wedding photographer, and when to use them.

*Note 1: I use mostly prime lenses (lenses with fixed focal lengths) but I’m not anti-zoom. If you shoot with zooms, that’s great. The same logic applies.

*Note 2: All the lenses I own have at least 2.8 aperture, which is standard if you want to play in the big leagues. And if you go with zoom lenses, they should be continuous aperture (stays at same aperture no matter what focal length you’re at).

Wide Angle | 11mm-35mm

This is probably my least favourite type of lens because of the distortion. However, there are times when it’s appropriate for creating scenic, establishing shots, or when you’re tight for space.

When to use it:


  • In small homes or hotel rooms for the “getting ready shots”
  • If there’s a epic landscape or gorgeous scenery at the wedding
  • A wide shot of the ceremony
  • The recessional
  • Larger bridal party or family shots
  • Wide shot of reception room
  • Party/dance floor photos
  • Any shot where you’re trying to capture the overall scenery or “feel” of the day


When to NOT use it:

  • For any portrait, ever. Literally ever.
  • Detail and decor photos (aside from a wide shot of the ceremony or reception area)


Standard 5omm

I’m giving this lens it’s own category because almost all photographers have one, and it’s one of the most versatile throughout a wedding day.

When to use it: 

  • Getting ready photos
  • Detail photos
  • First look
  • Bridal party portraits
  • Family portraits
  • Decor photos
  • Some couple portraits that incorporate more scenery


When to NOT use it:

  • There’s not much you can’t use this one for, honestly. But despite conventional wisdom, stay away from using it for close up couples or individual portraits. It’s still wide enough to create distortion, and make your subjects appear bigger than they really are.


Mid Range | 70mm-105mm 

I gave a 85mm, and it’s my favourite thing ever.

When to use it:

  • Couples portraits, portraits and more portraits!
  • First look
  • Decor photos


When to NOT use it:

  • Can be tricky in very small spaces
  • May be slow in low light situations, depending on lens make


Zoom | 120mm-200mm

This is a great choice when you need to capture the expression and emotion on someone’s face, or when you’re trying to be invisible.

When to use it:

  • First look
  • Ceremony
  • Reception candids


When to NOT use it:

  • Getting ready
  • Portraits – not because it doesn’t look good, but because it’s heavy AF and you may as well just use your mid range lens for a similar look


Macro Lenses

Once again, if you’re gonna play in the big leagues, you need one of these beauties.

When to use it:

  • Detail shots
  • Ring photos
  • Individual portraits, close up
  • Decor photos


When to NOT use it:

  • Basically anytime there’s movement in the frame whatsoever
  • Actually, really any other time throughout the whole day

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