I’m Chris Denner, based in Birmingham UK. I’ve been a photographer for 22 years and graduated from college many years ago with a variety of photography skills, most of which are now completely obsolete.
But it gave me a great technical grounding, I still use ‘inverse square law’ a lot as I love using off-camera flash.
So it wasn’t totally a waste of time, but omg did I hate school. It all just seemed so pointless to the young me. I already knew at age 13 that I wasn’t going to have a normal job. In my teacher’s defence, they tried their best, but I was a really bad student.
I’m also a songwriter too, hence my favorite guitar in the kit photo. I’ve always played in bands, with some success, but photography is my main thing.
So, this is my life – guitars and cameras. And red wine.
Sony A7 III – I was a Canon/Pentax shooter for most of my career but swapped to Sony last year as I’d heard such amazing things about the eye focus feature and decided to mix up my photography. I literally stopped on a Monday, took delivery on a Tuesday, shot a wedding on Thursday, and threw myself in feet first!
I love their size, weight, everything. Literally have not got a bad word to say about them. I shot on a Pentax 645 with PhaseOne Digi back for many many years, so these Sony cameras are a dream. You could have used the Pentax as a weapon it was so heavy.
Sony 28-70mm f/2.8
Sony 35mm f/1.8
Canon EOS 50mm f/1.4L (with metabones adaptor)
Sony 85mm f/1.8
Sony 75-300mm f/4
I love prime lenses, they make up 98% of my work. My usual loadout is the 35mm / 85mm, but use the 50mm for the majority of my portrait sessions. It is the only lens from my Canon days I could not let go of. I love it so much, I had to get the meta bones adaptor, so it works with my Sony.
I use my 35mm most of the time, love getting close to my couples, it gives an awesome intimate feel, but it is slightly invasive for my couples.
Godox! Love my Godox, I’ve started using Profoto as well, they are great, but I do love my Godox. I use OCF a lot, it’s a huge part of my look, so Godox is my everyday unit. Godox triggers, I use one Godox Ad200 and two Godox V860-C, and I’ll be investing in the new V1 flash with the rounded head soon as well. Godox if your reading this, hit me up!
Magmod all the way for light shaping. Expensive, but worth it. I use the Magmod Magbeam, Magmod Magbox, various gels and grids, but also a lot of homemade stuff depending on what kind of look I’m after. Magmod rock!
I hand make a lot of masks, filters, and all kinds of light shapers myself too. It’s fun. I’d recommend it. And it gives you looks that nobody else has.
I use a camera harness that I bought about five years ago at Way Up North in Stockholm, I’ve broken it a bunch of times, but I keep getting it repaired. It’s cool. I have lens cloths and rain covers hanging on it, Spuds stuff and Thinktank. It’s easier when you shoot with two cameras.
Manfrotto bags. Great bags. Mine are trashed after years of use. I feel sorry for them.
I use nova monopods for my flashguns, I like using them as handheld booms, getting them behind clients for backlight or hair lights. They have really great legs and are all carbon fibre.
Hardware & Software
Adobe creative cloud is my best investment ever. I use Dell computers, a laptop on location, tower in the studio. I use Wacom tablets as well, they give you awesome control during editing. I use JpegMini too and love Shootproof to deliver galleries to clients. I use Lightroom CC and Photoshop mostly. Big fan of them.
Presets I use are Dvlop, I’m a big fan of them. Particularly the Gabe McClintock ones. I use these as my base and created my own with are applied on import into LR. I prefer warmer and muddier tones, so I usually adjust the WB to cloudy.
Sunscreen, deodorant, sweets, Coke, my bags are so full of rubbish and weird bits and pieces I look like a homeless person.
The one thing I can’t stress enough is an A4 job sheet and a digital version on your phone, and that you have your prep done and checked the weather forecast. On the wedding day, I want locations, timings, contact numbers all in one place so I can just concentrate on photography.
Advice? Oh, God. Probably try to make it fun.
To succeed you’ll be doing an awful amount of work – hard, thankless work, so you may as well have some fun. Those 14 hour days, endless emails, the arms race that is equipment purchasing will be a bit easier if you try to find the joy where you can.
And always remember – you could be digging holes for a living. So make it fun.
Funny story? Not funny as such, but I was shooting an elopement in Iceland with a couple from Spain. Literally first shot of the day, we were on a beach, the bride slipped twisting her ankle and ripping the dress up one side to above the knee! My heart stopped.
She stood up, shook it off, said “Oh well F*** it” and we just got on with things and she never stopped smiling. That dress was in bits by the end of the shoot, she was fearless.