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The Lens We Love for Wedding Ceremonies and Portraits

We’re in the middle of a series on the lenses we love. We’re explaining all of the lenses we own, why we decided to purchase them, and how we use them on wedding days (and on portrait sessions). You can catch up on this series here:

Today, we’ll be talking about the fourth lens we purchased, the Canon 70-200mm 2.8L IS II, and the three reasons why we couldn’t shoot a wedding without it.

1. Wedding Ceremonies

It’s all about moments. The groom’s smile as his bride walks down the aisle. The bride’s tear as her father gives her away. The grandfather’s reaction as his grandchild says, “I do.” More candid, raw, emotional moments happen during the ceremony than during any other portion of the wedding day and, as we mentioned in Part 2, it’s important for us to be able to capture those moments without distracting from them. This telephoto lens zooms far enough for us to get tight on our subjects’ faces all the way from the back of the aisle, the periphery of the guest seating, and even well behind the altar (for venues that permit it). Once we purchased this lens, our number of candid, raw, emotional ceremony moments per wedding increased dramatically. Instead of getting too close to someone and interrupting a tear or smile, we’re able to keep an appropriate distance from our subjects and capture real moments that most people don’t remember or even see happen. Our brides and grooms treasure them forever, almost as much as…

Ashley and Scott_0024

2. Bride and Groom Portraits

The wrong lens can make a portrait look worse than real life. The right lens can make a portrait look better than real life. As a photographer, knowing the difference can make all the difference, and this lens gets it done. We love this lens for portraits of individuals, couples, and even small groups for two reasons: the glass and the compression. First, the glass on this lens is simply superior, and it consistently delivers crisp, creamy images. Second, it flatters our subjects with some serious image compression. One of us always shoots portraits with this lens at 200mm. We position our subjects as far from the background as possible. We position ourselves as far from our subjects as possible. And we zoom with this lens as far as it’ll go. When we do this it compresses the image, which means it takes a small portion of the background and brings it all the way to our subject. This is super helpful if you don’t have much of a background to work with, because you can just pull in the small portion of the background that you like. You’ll also get that amazing blur, or bokeh, in the background that looks creamy and really pulls out and flatters your subject! Plus, everyone likes to look better than real life, especially during…

Calyn and Aaron_0034

3. Cocktail Hour

Whenever someone sees a camera, the natural tendency is to look at it. During cocktail hour (if we have time to photograph it), though, we’re trying to capture candid moments of guests talking, laughing, and having a good time without them noticing us. People get nervous around cameras, and nothing kills a moment faster than getting caught. Luckily, this lens is the ultimate sniper. It allows us to be sneaky and snag special moments without guests knowing we’re even photographing them.

Sabrina and David-7

This fourth lens took our photography to a whole new level of quality and professionalism. It’s worth the investment for anyone looking to do the same. You’ll fall in love with this lens at the first click of the shutter. We know we did. Have a great week, and let’s make each other better.

Alisa

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  1. Mik Sivak says:

    Hi guys! I currently have a 50 f1.4, and a 24-105 f4L. I’m thinking about making the leap to either a 24-70 2.8, or a 70-200 2.8. If I buy either, I would probably need to sell the 24-105 due to finances. Which lens do you use most, the 70-200, or the 24-70? In your opinion, can I do without the 24-70 range while shooting a wedding? Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • Amy & Jordan says:

      Hi, Mik! Great question! That’s a tough call, because you really, really, really need the width of 24mm for getting ready rooms and receptions, but you also need the length of 200mm for ceremonies, and it’s a great portrait lens, too. You’re going to eventually want both, but since portraits and the ceremony are the two most important moments of the day, we’d get the 70-200 first because you CAN shoot getting ready and the reception with a 50mm. Hope that helps!!

  2. emily sommer says:

    You mentioned also using the 100mm 2.8L macro for portraits (and the 85 1.2) . . . which do you prefer? Why would you choose one over the other? Thanks!!

    • Amy & Jordan says:

      Hi Emily! Jordan loves the 70-200 for portraits (especially early on in our career) because it’s TACK SHARP all the time AND doubles as a ceremony lens. The Macro is also a duel-purpose lens because you can use it for detail shots (what it’s made for) and portraits, too, so we’d recommend getting those before the 85. We think that’s more of a luxury lens but not necessary to shoot a complete wedding day at all. Hope that helps!!

  3. Jenny Oberg says:

    Thanks for all the great tips! Is the IS I any good or would you recommend saving for the II?

    • Amy & Jordan says:

      We never had the first version, so we can’t say! HOWEVER… the II with IS (the one we do have) IS AMAZING!! So we’d probably just save up for it 🙂

  4. Christina Tucker says:

    Great info! This is some of what I was looking for:) I would love to photograph weddings but it’s hard to get that type of shoot when you haven’t shot that yet.
    Thanks for the information!

  5. Meghan says:

    Hi Guys! I was wondering if you both shoot with a 70-200 during the ceremony. I was just able to purchase one bit me and my husband are a team so only one person can use it. What is your lens suggestion for the other person(me) to use for the ceremony? Thanks!

    • Amy & Jordan says:

      Hi Meghan! Great question! If we HAD two 70-200s, that would be awesome, but since 1. we’d only use the extra one for ceremonies and 2. one of us shooting with one 70-200 can pretty much cover a ceremony on our own, Jordan typically shoots with our 70-200 and Amy shoots with our 50mm and that’s always worked really well. We don’t feel like our clients are missing anything. Two would be nice, but for $2,000, we’d probably recommend investing in something else that would serve your clients in a more dramatic way. Hope that helps!

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"I always look forward to your emails! I get excited every time I get an email notification that says 'Amy & Jordan!' Even though we've never formally met, you guys have pretty much become the photography mentor I've never had!" 

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