I’m Ian from the UK and I’m a wedding photographer, but don’t really see myself as a wedding photographer. I feel more like a street photographer that photographs weddings.
About 5 or 6 years ago I took the plunge and agreed to photograph a wedding. Before that I was doing family portraits in a studio and was going nowhere fast. I’d become bored and demotivated as my route into photography was through photographers like Elliot Erwitt & Martin Parr, I was unfulfilled to say the least.
So I did it, that thing that I said I’d never do, weddings. In my naive mind it was beneath me. I can’t say that I enjoyed it at first but as I shot more weddings I started to approach them more like a street photographer and was making images of real life, with all of its beauty and grotesqueness.
When I started I had everything, Canon 5D’s, Canon 24-70mm, Canon 70-200mm, Canon 50mm, Canon 35mm, Canon 85mm, multiple speed lights, backup drives, portable lighting and very large camera bag. But the more weddings I photographed, the fewer lenses I needed. I found that in time there were lenses that I just didn’t use.
My approach started to change from the more traditional (how I thought that it should be done) to a more documentary style. It was at this time that I really started to become a photographer. I was reading books like they were going out of fashion and consuming all I could on why these master photographers were so good and what it was that made them tick.
“Really, less than £400? So you’re not a professional then?”
“You determine whether I’m professional by how expensive my camera is?”
“Well, you need expensive gear don’t you?”
The conversation above is actually something that I said to a photographer about 7 years ago. Yep, I was that guy, but it was only information that was passed down to me by other photographers and the photography industry. I was told I needed all of that stuff and I didn’t know any better.
The camera is merely a tool, it’s doesn’t make photographs and it doesn’t make art. You do. I used to pride myself on how many lenses I owned and would lust after every new shiny thing that was being advertised to me. Now though, now it’s different.
So I have to tell you what’s in my bag. I’ll just focus on my wedding photography gear (I have a couple of film cameras but I don’t use them for anything other than messing about) so you know what I shoot with at a wedding.
In my quest to become more street photographer-like and to become more inconspicuous I essentially stripped my kit down to one camera and one lens, that covers me for about 90% of a wedding day.
Fujinon 18mm f/2
Then there’s the usual: a couple of 32gb SD cards and about 7 batteries – yes 7, Fuji cameras eat batteries.
On rare occasion I’ll switch to the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4
My backup camera is a Fuji XT-1 and it really doesn’t get used anymore. It’s literally a backup and I keep it in the car.
I use a Nissin i40 flash sometimes with a sync cable, sometimes on the camera. I like the retro point and shoot look it gives.
And that’s it, everything!
My main set up is my XPro-1 with the Fujinon 18mm f/2 which can be bought second hand for less than £400.00, so by my own reckoning, I’m no professional.
You can find me in all of the usual places should you want to be my friend.
Thanks for having me, it’s been a blast!
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Nice one Ian. Congratulations on believing in yourself and your creative expression and having the confidence to follow it all through.
amazing talent! it takes a huge deal of concentration to shoot documentary style more so tons of guts to shoot street style in a wedding. this is one for the books!
Thanks Ian, it’s people like you that inspire me! It’s been a long process for myself but I’m down to just two X-T1’s, 18mm, 27mm, 56mm a wire and a flash. I feel liberated and love wondering around weddings with my 27mm.
-It’s great that you got to be in the presence of Liam, what a legend!
Yeah, it’s liberating isn’t it. I’ve had some rather unpleasant experiences with DSLR’s lately and it really has hit home how great these little cameras are. Just perfect for what I do.
Liam was a really nice guy too, and funny.
All the best man.
How refreshing, hats off to you sir.
Thank you, Haydn :)
Our face is not obscured to those photographed when focusing this rangefinder with the right eye. Do you feel this condition augments your approach Ian?
I think that the combination of a non intrusive camera – to most people it just looks like a point and shoot – and my approach in which I mingle and talk to people is most important. The main benefit of the rangefinder style design is that I can see whats going on with my left eye, outside of the frame, while I’m shooting. I suppose it does help that I’m not hiding behind a big dSLR and lens too.
Can 18mm cut it as marriage ceremony occurs Ian: keep you proximate to what matters and enable you to sustain a “…more inconspicuous” stance?
Mostly, yes. On occasion I’ll switch to the 35 to get a little closer. But really, how close do you need to be? I’m not overly concerned about the ring shot or traditional ceremony images so that kind of frees me from the long lens.
I do move around a bit, but discretely, and have never had any issues. It was a bit scary at first but just became natural.
Wondering if another natural proclivity of your approach may be to swiftly place camera to eye and take photo while conversing, on subject with attendees Ian?
Thanks for having me on, Mark. Much appreciated.
I was a little hesitant to go ahead with this at first as I don’t really have much gear, as you can see above, but I’m glad that I did. I’m a huge proponent of less is more and thanks to guys like you, who are prepared to show more than just one popular ideology or approach, we can promote individuality.
Thanks again, and if anyone would like to ask me anything just give me a shout!
Best one yet! Truly inspiring photographer too!!