Hi! My name is Ben Hartley. I am a wedding photographer & educator based out of Columbus, OH.
I photograph people because I believe that people are more important than anything on this earth. I host a weekly podcast called the Six Figure Photography Podcast where I seek to inspire, empower & challenge photographers towards creating a life of abundance not just in profits, but in creativity, relationships and confidence.
Controlling light is a huge part of the way I work. I have just as many lights with me as I do lenses. I say this and yet at the same time I value quick changes and fast lighting set ups. This is one of the main reasons I love the Canon 600EX RT speed lights — I don’t need some stupid unreliable third party trigger to fire them.
Yes, I said it, flash triggers are stupid. I rarely work with light stands (except for my super portable Lumopro stand). More often I am balancing speed lights on ledges or simply asking a passerby to hold them.
Another way I stay speedy with my lighting setups is with Magmod. Magmod makes the perfect set of light modifiers that keep me working on my toes and most importantly staying creative. My favorite tool of theirs is the MagGrid. The MagGrid allows me to add touches of light exactly where I want it without a ton of spill. Additionally there is something about the MagGrid that creates a very soft feather on the outside edge of light.
My lenses are 90% Sigma these days. Sigma has made a HUGE turn in the market and is now producing some of the best quality lenses for half the price of the traditional Canon L line up. Faster, Sharper, Cheaper. I’ll take that any day.
My absolute two favorites are the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art and the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 (I’m just waiting of the Art version to come out!). I could shoot an entire wedding with these two lenses alone. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art stays on most, giving me the most versatility to run in close and shoot wide and tight, stepping back for a normal field of view, and yet still give me a bit of room for a wide shot of I step back far enough.
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 stays close by for portraits and when I want to really isolate my subject or step back pretty far and create some interesting layering. I take the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art with me mostly for my second shooter. It is the safe lens. Nothing special; it’s simply reliable and gets the job done.
Lastly, on my lens list is the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II. I call this lens my instant inspiration. If the location is drab, the lighting bad, or my inspiration level poor, I’ll use this lens to give me a boost of creativity. It gives me the focal length to do some beautiful wide work, but with the added benefit of being able to pull perspective and depth in crazy ways.
Some of my best shots have been taken with the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II. If you pick it up, start with just isolating either the tilt OR the shift. You can stack them on top of each other but it gets confusing fast. This is a lens that takes a ton of practice but with great reward.
You’ll notice I only shoot primes. It’s not that I think they are sharper, or faster (which they mostly are) but more than anything they force me to think when I am shooting. I dislike lazy shooters. Move your feet, get close, back up, break a sweat. I find that when I am forced to move around a scene more I discover things I would have never seen, interact more closely with my subject, and ultimately create much stronger work.
Finally, I shoot on a Canon 5D Mark III. What can I say, it gets the job done. I can’t imagine a nicer camera. I know they exist, but I just don’t know what else I would want. I’m sure I’ll get an email from Canon one of these days reminding me of what else I could want. Until that day comes, I’ll just stick to this workhorse.
Inside Ben’s camera bag:
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