Ahoy hoy! I’m Dan from Colchester, Essex. I have been shooting weddings as long as I can remember. Starting out at the piddly age of 13 shooting weddings for £50 and a bag of Haribo. But £50 was big money for a 13-year-old, don’t forget.
I made every mistake in the book starting out with color-popping, come on, we all did it! And that was where my photography “career” began.
I have the most pointless degree going in Photography and Media Arts three years of University, “Proud of me yet mum and dad?”, so I should have started this with Dan Sakal BA Hons, I am not going to do that as it’ll make me sound like a BELL-END.
I’m still waiting on a couple to ask me for my qualifications then BOOM, I’ll throw down my degree and walk out. That is if I knew where it was.
I shoot weddings all over the UK and beyond, and I love my job/life. It’s a great way to live and getting up most days is never a chore.
I’m blessed with a lovely family and friends, and this job allows me the flexibility to work when and where I want, some days I like to run around my house in my pants playing VR, and I will never take that for granted. Don’t judge till you’ve tried it guys.
BLAH BLAH…. That’s probably too much info but ya know, I got going there.
Main Gear Talk
So, I am a Canon man, have been my whole life. Since the early days when I was fortunate enough to receive one as a present when my parents saw I had little going for me (non-academic kinda vibe) but loved art and creating stuff.
They saw that I was getting really into my photography, something I am eternally grateful for. If you are reading this, which you most certainly are not, thank you.
I’ve stuck by Canon through thick and thin, through this tough time they are going through at the moment with the Mirrorless take over and I shall remain.
I’ve shot weddings with other gear Nikon and Sony and it’s just a clusterF**K! So confusing and the menu systems are all backwards to me. UGGG repressed memories.
I keep seeing people switching over to Sony and saying it’s the best thing ever, and how it’s changed their lives… BULLLLLLS**T the camera does not maketh the mann-eth. I am a strong believer in as much as good equipment can be handy, a good photographer should be able to use whatever he has to create.
I am also probably the least techy bloke you’ll meet, ask me how many megapixels my camera has, go on ask me, well the answer is I haven’t got the faintest. Quickly googles, whooaaa that’s loads of megapixels! Whats a megapixel anyway?
I am always so inspired by photographers who can create incredible work with a phone! I even saw a cool guy who shot an entire wedding on an iPhone and it was sickkkk!
Cameras – Here goes…
Canon 5D Mark IV: The last update I did buy was this on the day it was released, I was so excited to open her up and play with her, it’s a her of course.
I like the touch screen on the back when I do the very odd bit of video and the dynamic range is very nice, but apart from that, it was an expensive investment that I probably didn’t need. I do love it though.
Canon 5D Mark III: The industry standard for wedding photographers (once upon a time). I always remind myself when people start slating Canon saying this and that about Sony and the revolution blahhdyyy blahhh… Then, I press my finger on their lip and say:
“shhhh, listen here sonny, when I was in Lake Garda earlier this year shooting a lovely wedding on the side of the lake, it began to rain, and rain, and rain, I got soaked, my gear got soaked, and what didn’t happen was my gear didn’t stop working like the Italian videographer who was freaking out about his precious Sony’s dying mid-ceremony.”
The point of my story is, my Canon gear to this day, has never let me down *touches wood* and I like to think of them as the Tanks of this industry, no matter how much I batter them and throw them around, they never let me down. End of Story.
I have a third back up of a Canon 5D Mark III which literally, poor little guy, never gets played with.
I sometimes feel a bit sorry for him sitting in the boot of my car on a hot day, listening to his brothers and sisters having fun outside while he’s melting. I reckon he hates me. Whatever the equivalent group that looks after the welfare of a dog is for cameras, I would be on their list.
Canon 50mm f/1.4: The old Nifty 50. Great lens, my go-to for pretty much the whole day. Suits me just fine. I love the depth I can get with it and the slightly tighter shots it allows for.
It’s also really sharp when I hit focus. Which is not that often. I like stopping down to 1.2 to really isolate a subject. Yeah, not much more to say, really just a great all-rounder. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME.
Canon 35mm f/2: My main set up is 35mm and 50mm, I do try to get in close and shoot very candidly. The 35mm is my go-to guy, my wingman for all things groups, close-ups, and the odd couple shots of a couple really small in the distance, you know the ones. It’s a powerhouse of a lens and I love it. Quick focus and nice and sharp.
Canon 85mm f/1.2: The TANK. Heaviest bloody lens in the world. But such beautiful glass (Glass really turns my focus ring).
I will use it in situations where I can’t get in close, you know, when the vicar is actually the Devil in a mask and tells me to stand at the back facing the wall with a dunce hat on and my only option is to shoot from a mile away.
It’s again, another lens that doesn’t get the accolade that it deserves and I should get her out more often. Maybe I will. 2020 New year, new Lens.
Canon 100mm f/2.8: Bought this after seeing lots of pretty shots of rings that are so close you can see the chips in the diamond.
I do use her occasionally and if I have been banished to the back of the ceremony I often pull this bad boy out to capture the isle shots. Kiss etc… As I hate bringing the Canon 70-200mm – it’s just too much gear for me, I also always edge forward a bit when the devil isn’t looking and get in a bit tighter, naughty, naughty!
MoneyMaker: Now, these leather beauties (I don’t agree with killing animals) have been my absolute best purchase, please sponsor me HoldFast! Ha! Absolute game-changer for me and although I get the same old crappy comments “Hey, Cowboy can we have a photo” or “You look like Indiana Jones!”, they are amazing.
To be honest, I don’t mind the comments, I usually fire back with, “It doubles up a sex swing when I get home”…. To which I am quickly escorted off the premises.
I haven’t tried the Spider belt yet but I hear good things. Although knowing me, I’d forget it’s not attached to anything and drop it. Although, as I said the Canons are war machines so it would just bounce off the floor.
I had the Roamographer from HoldFast, I say had, I still own it I just stopped using it recently as I have so much gear it’s so heavy to carry with one hand. Literally, I’d be tearing my hand up, you know the callus things people get from the gym, I was getting that from my bag.
So I went ahead and bought a Langly backpack, now all the pain can be on my spine instead of my hand. I will report back at the end of 2020 with my review of spine over hand. It’s a lovely bag and great for traveling, fits all my gear in it, and looks pretty swish too.
I have a bunch of these crappy Prophoto ones, they do the trick and are light and small enough to take abroad. They get knocked over and the odd one breaks or I pull too hard and it pulls one of the ends off but can’t complain they aren’t expensive. I like them to be discreet around the dance floor.
I have a real love/hate relationship with flashes. On the one hand, I need them if it’s very dark, and on the other hand, I am like I will just whack my ISO to a gazillion and avoid flash at all costs. I much prefer to never use them as, well I just don’t like having to use flash.
I get lazy when I use flash on the dance floor and just pepper everyone rather than using the light in the room to create better images. Bad Daniel, must work on this. I have Yongnuo flashes and I chose these simply because they are the cheapest.
I go through a couple of them a year as some kid decides it will be funny to karate chop my stand and it literally obliterates into tiny pieces. But, I am ok with that seeing as they aren’t expensive, and to me, a flash is a flash. Someone tell me different.
Doris the Drone
Yes, I call her Doris, she’s so sweet. And yes, I joined in and bought a drone, well a couple of drones, I love it.
I have the Hasselblad version and before that, I had the OG Mavic which was great, then I used the Hasselblad and was like, “disgusting, disgusting” and quickly sold the OG on, god rest her soul, I wonder where she is now.
All jokes aside, the Drone has been great, I love to capture venues and stuff from above to help tell the story of the day, venues usually look pretty cool from above. I am sure wedding photographers around the world will agree, group photos can be boring, especially the huge group with everyone in it.
Most pointless photo ever, but alas, I throw old Doris up and get this shot from above and it’s such a better more interesting photo. Guests love it too. “Can I have a go?” fully expecting me to say no. “sure!” hands controller over, “no, no I’ll break it”, “well mate, don’t ask then yeah?”
I occasionally will use her for the odd couple shot as well, either to show a far and wide place (see attached photo of shot in desert) or an open-top car from directly above. Either way, I like the idea of being able to shoot from a different perspective.
Hardware / Software
Lightroom and Photoshop: That is all. I have some presets, couldn’t begin to tell you where they started from as I often tweak and change, like most, I am never happy and always look to improve.
Smart Albums: Clue in the title, super quick and easy for making album designs and sharing with couples.
Jpeg Mini: Use this to compress the images with no loss of quality, I just don’t know how they do it!
Other bits and bobs
Laptop: MacBook Pro used mainly for backing up and the odd bit of editing on a plane or at lunchtime when I board out of my mind at a wedding.
Storage: Sandisk SSD 1TB – Small, compact, overpriced. But really digging that I can throw this off a tall building and it should, SHOULD be fine.
Card reader: Gilin reader, small and has almost all the different types of card slot. USB 3 so quicker for uploading.
Hyper Juice: External battery power has been really handy when I am on a flight and want to bang out an edit for a few hours. Means I can stay powered up for a couple of hours, as we all know Lightroom absolutely hammers battery.
Blowtorch: BEST PURCHASE, if I am ever feeling like setting a venue / church on fire. I kid, I kid.
But since sparklers are becoming more and more regular at weddings, I was getting so fed up with having 100 people huddle around 1 single match, so my boy, Harry Michael Photography, told me about these blowtorches and how it works a treat.
Have to say, Harry, it does. Kinda looks like a gun which is pretty cool too.
Atmosphere Spray: I don’t often use this but when it comes out, it always makes for some interesting images. spray behind a couple with video light behind can add some nice effects. Good for winter weddings when it’s super dark super early.
Tape: I always carry tape, I got a huge box of branded tape made up years ago, and it’s been super helpful, you don’t need your branding on it but I kinda still dig.
CF cards: I am a dinosaur when it comes to this stuff, I have used SD cards and had a couple malfunction on me, that is usually curtains for me if it breaks, like an ex-girlfriend who cheats, I just can’t forget about it, so I stick with the reliable CF cards, which I shoot 16GB cards.
Again, this might be the ultimate sin, but I number them individually, shoot them, and add them to a blue hard case as the day goes on, this way, if I were to, heaven forbid, lose a card, I’ve only lost around 300 shots.
Spare batteries: Carry tons of these bad boys, always charged and ready to rock and roll.
I’m not a big talker (haha!) but big love for inviting me to waffle about my gear. I wouldn’t say that I use anything out of the ordinary. I’ll re-iterate that the gear does not make the man,
“This is my camera, there are many like it, but this one is mine!”
Personality goes a long way in this business and coming across like a normal human being helps and if I can give advice to anyone, it’s to get to know your couples. It’s something I am trying to do better as it really does help when you start to point a camera at them!
One of the big things for this year is actually trying to reduce my gear, but I am a hoarder and would feel lost without all my gear, so although it can be heavy and annoying, there are times where all of it comes in handy so I’d rather have it with me than not at all.