Hey! I’m David Scholes, a wedding photographer from the Northwest of England. I’ve been shooting weddings for around 10 years now, well, 2020 is my tenth year and I’m not sure this year counts anymore!
I come from a long line of wedding photographers. My Great Grandfather, Grandfather, and Uncle were all professional wedding picture takers, however, even though I was doing a photography degree at the time I had no intention of following in their footsteps.
At the time, wedding photography was still pretty traditional and uncool to me and I was sure the DJ’ing career would take off soon. Fast forward to now and would you believe it, I followed in their footsteps too, and I absolutely love it.
Weddings are the best day ever, and I got into the reportage style in a big way. I capture the real moments and fun of the day, and I love to make creative compositions out of strong light.
I use Nikon cameras. I started with Nikon D300 and moved to Nikon D3 and then to the awesome Nikon D750. My set up hasn’t changed too much over the years. I used to use one body at a time with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E but now use two bodies at a time with prime lenses.
I’ve just bought a Nikon Z6 as I want to move to mirrorless. The silent shutter will be a big advantage for my style. I haven’t had a chance to use this camera yet but can’t wait.
Nikon D750 (x2) – Just incredible cameras and surely should be in talks to be an all-time pound for pound GOAT. I have to admit the tech in new cameras has left them behind now, especially when it comes to focusing, but one thing everyone agrees on is that they produce the nicest files ever.
They changed the way I photograph weddings, exposing for highlights knowing that the DR is so good I can pull back shadows if I need to.
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G – This is what I shoot most of the wedding with as I like to get in close. I chose the f/1.8G lenses over the f/1.4G lenses as they are smaller and lighter which is a big thing for me at a wedding, and I never shoot wider than f2 as focusing so wide on a Nikon D750 is too hit and miss. I love this lens. It is so sharp, fast and light. A winner.
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G – I use this sporadically throughout the day if I don’t feel I should get too close with a 35mm in case I interrupt a scene or if I want a close shot during the ceremony. I use this lens during portraits though. Again, the f/1.4G is just too big and heavy for me, this lens ticks all the boxes.
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 – My old workhorse lens. I used to shoot an entire wedding with this. It’s a great lens but needs a bit of TLC. Really fast, sharp, and reliable, but I just prefer the feel of prime lenses now. This still gets used occasionally but only if I need wider than a 35 as I don’t have a 24 prime.
Nikon SB-900 Speedlight & Yongnuo YN560 IV Speedlights (x4) – I used to use two of the Nikon SB-900 but one blew over and smashed. A friend recommended the Yongnuo ones as they are great value for the price.
I bought one and gave it a go and loved it, so got some more. They’re pretty cheap but still doing a great job after around five years.
What I love about them is they are simple to use (manual) and they have built-in receivers, so they are quick to set up. The less time I have to spend fiddling with accessories the better.
I tend to only use them off-camera on low power mixed with ambient light to give a bit of extra ‘pop’ on the dance floor. Occasionally I use them on camera ‘bounce’ if the light is really bad.
Yongnuo YN560-TX Manual Flash Transmitter (x2) – Not much to say about these. These are the triggers I use for flash. Simple, well made and cheap.
Yongnuo YN-216 (x2) – These LED video lights are great. I work regularly with videographers (it was a good friend videographer who recommended them to me) and if we can both get the results we need from these it’s sometimes preferable over flash as flash going off all the time creates a horrible banding effect on video (we’re all doing our best for the couple and have to work together).
Every time I work with a videographer who I haven’t worked with before they love these and buy them on the spot as the light source is round which is more appealing than a rectangle.
Lowepro Pro Runner BP 450 AW II – I got this as I can fit pretty much all my gear into it. I liked that idea at the time, but now would like something smaller and lighter, especially as I don’t always want to take everything everywhere. But this is a top quality bag. Has loads of space but still fits in with your airline luggage, and it wheels!
Black Widow Spider Belt Clips (x2) – I’m not into camera straps. These are amazing for taking the weight of your camera on the hips and not your back. They are super reliable (never had an accident yet touch wood), fit easily onto any belt and once you’ve mastered walking through doors sideways like a crab, I can’t understand why people would use anything else.
I haven’t used a Tripod since my first wedding, but I do have light stands for using off-camera flash.
Manfrotto MS0490C Carbon Nanopole Stand (x2) – These fold up small but are pretty sturdy and go pretty high. The main pole also clips out although I never really use that feature.
Calumet stands (x2) – I’ve had these for ages, I originally bought them for hanging backdrops but now use them as light stands. These are incredibly sturdy and go crazy high.
Magmod – I love the grids in particular for controlling the spill of light from your flashes.
Hardware & Software
Studio Ninja – A total game-changer for diary management, organising and automating. It has a few niggles but they are constantly working on those and sorting stuff out. They listen to the needs of their clients. Highly recommended.
PhotoMechanic – Without a doubt the best way to cull images. It’s so quick. Love it and could never be without it now.
Lightroom – Think most people use Lightroom or at least know about it. I also have a couple of presets that started off originally as VSCO ones but have been tweaked and changed so much that I consider them my own.
JPEG mini – Shrinks your file sizes quickly without losing image quality.
Photoshop – I only use this for a handful of images if they need cloning or extra retouching.
Matin M-6296 – Brilliant for nailing exposure when the sun is so bright you can’t see your screen.
Youshiko YC 1600 battery charger – Brilliant for charging all your batteries at the same time, it can also work from a car lighter when you have to travel between weddings.
Spare socks, shoes, pants (split them in front of an ex-girlfriend before – never again!) Shirt (spilled coffee on myself before a wedding!).
Freezer bags – I use these to put on my flashguns if it’s raining.
Giottos AA1900 Rocket Blower and lens cloth – As described on the tin.
Prism and other random shiny things – Used to shoot through and get creative bokeh effects. I don’t use these too much anymore.
So that’s it really. I guess one thing I’ve learned is to find what you love about weddings and focus on making your own style through that. Stand out. Don’t copy others too much (we all do it a bit when we first start).
I believe that if you are passionate about something and work hard at it then you will succeed.
To finish on a light note – a funny thing that happened to me at a wedding.
The morning of a wedding and I’m on the way to bridal prep. My sat-nav brought me to a cottage that the girls had rented to get ready in. Upon arriving I saw in the window a group of girls waving. ‘This must be the place’ I assumed.
Long story short after some confusion it turned out I’d arrived at a hen party who thought I was the stripper they’d booked (it wasn’t even 9 am – I’d love to know how that day ended!). The bridesmaids were next door. Everyone was very relieved!