Tyler Wirken

Wedding Photography by Tyler Wirken

My wife says, “your gear is good to you but you are not good to your gear”. Sadly she is right. I have had a very tumultuous relationship with my gear for years. I have gone from using minimal gear as a newspaper photographer to a ton of gear as a wedding photographer now back to minimal gear. I have been known to be a bit rough on my gear as well. I have almost perfected the perfectly timed foot extension to cushion the fall of a falling lens.

Almost. So when asked to be a part of Shotkit I felt it only appropriate to photograph my gear how it looks before every wedding I shoot, in a pile on the table of our studio. I am not sure why my relationship with my gear is what it is, as I am actually quite anal in other parts of my life.

My pure documentary style of shooting demands I am not overly worried or sensitive about my gear. I could not even tell you where my lens caps are right now. What is most important is capturing fleeting moments and that requires total concentration. So I can’t let a bump on the floor or slap on a door frame slow me down. In the end, getting the photo is what is most important.

My first photo I shot was with my dad’s Canon FTB when I was about 8 or 9 years old and I still shoot Canon to this day. Even though I bring a backpack with me to every wedding, with a few extra lenses as well as a flash or two, what I actually use for each wedding is much more condensed. I prefer to travel as light as possible for the majority of the day. It not only helps me physically but also mentally.

For the majority of a wedding day I am shooting with two cameras and two lenses. My Canon 5D MKIII usually has a Canon 35mm f/1.4 on it and my old school Canon EOS 1D MKII has the Canon 85mm f/1.8 on it. I love that old camera as it is a total workhorse and really handles flash exposure balancing well.

I walk into a wedding with those two cameras and lenses on my shoulders and my memory cards in a wallet on my belt and shoot pretty much like that till the reception where I then use a combo of on-camera and off- camera flash as well as video light to obtain the appropriate look for the mood of the moment.

My main kit I use:

Canon 5D MKIII with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 with Think Tank V2.0 strap
Canon 1 DMKII with an Canon 85mm f/1.8 with Think Thank V2.0 strap

Other lenses I use sparingly throughout the day:

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8- for reception dance floor
Canon 135mm f/2 – during ceremony only and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8. also during ceremony only

Off-camera lighting equipment:

Cheetah Light V850 manual flash with Magmod modifier and wireless transmitter/ receiver set
Phottix Strato II remote flash triggers Sunpack Ready light 20 video light Canon ST-E2- used as a focus assist beam in low light

When I need to carry more than two lenses I use the Think Tank Modular Skin set with pro speed belt usually worn at the reception.



  1. Tyler Wirken on November 20, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Thanks Michael! I really appreciate the kind words and love that you were inspired by my Creative Live course! Keep up the good work!

  2. Tyler Wirken on November 20, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Thanks Bruce! Long time no see. Yes after many years and many people suggesting it I adopted the minimalistic approach. :) 5 or so years later I am now the one preaching it. :) Funny how that works. I just pushed it on a mentor student this morning as a matter of a fact. Hope all is well with you.

  3. Michael Anthony on November 15, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Great stuff man. After seeing you on CL you inspired the way I shoot most of my days. Keep being amazing sir!

  4. Bruce L. Snell on November 15, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Tyler and I met many years ago. He’s one great guy. Glad to see he’s finally taken my advice and gone minimalistic. Great wirk. See what I did there?

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