I have been an independent photographer, specialising in “people”, since 2007.
I cover the full spectrum of documentary, unposed photography (in wedding and family reportage), to complete staged photography for business and editorial portraits.
Photographing weddings as a documentary and without directing people is an amazing thing to do. I treat it as a real sport, in which I work hard all day, both mentally and physically, to capture the moments as perfectly as possible.
That involves getting a sense of situations and groupings and, by doing so, being able to anticipate moments – while at the same time working very analytically to use light, lighting and composition in such a way that it leads to powerful images.
The downside: having to visit the gym regularily to be able to keep on doing this ‘sport’…
I have used Canon for my photography from day one.
I started with an analogue camera, but soon adapted to the digital revolution. And once you start with a brand and expand with new bodies, flash units and lenses, it is not convenient to just switch to another brand.
And I didn’t need to, because the cameras from the Canon 5D series are workhorses for professionals: their image quality is great, and they are straightforward to operate.
For camera lenses, I opted for the Canon L-series as much as possible, but when Sigma launched its Art line it was a good and affordable alternative to the pricey Canon lenses.
So the question is…
I have used the entire Canon 5D series and, until recently, I photographed weddings with the Canon 5D MK III and 5D MK IV, with the 5D MK II as a back-up.
For business shoots I use the 5D MK IV, sometimes in combination with my Profoto B2 flash units.
Over the years, I have sometimes changed my mind about using prime lenses vs zoom lenses. For reportage photography, it’s actually nice to be able to zoom in, since there are times you can’t get close enough or do so quietly enough to crop an image well.
Additionally, by using zoom lenses I am able to work with a single camera.
For business portraits, on the other hand, I prefer to work with my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and the Canon 85mm f/1.4: they’re sharp, fast focusing and deliver beautiful image quality.
At weddings I always work with two camera bodies at the same time.
I almost always have the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 on one of the two bodies. I have a love-hate relationship with this lens. It is of course large, conspicuous and ridiculously heavy to carry around all day, but I love its zoom range and image quality.
It is especially nice to use during the wedding ceremony or at speeches, and it prevents me from having to stand in between the bridal couple and draw attention to myself. An 85mm is often not enough in such cases.
Having worked with the Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 for a long time, I now always use a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 on the other body.
…Or not to Canon?
So, that’s Canon: great and needs nothing more.
But then cameras were introduced that started to rival the Canon 5D MK IV, with the crowning glory being full frame system cameras. And when everyone around you starts switching to Sony, it is hard to keep waiting and hoping for a comparable Canon camera.
In early 2019, I couldn’t resist the temptation and I now do wedding photography with a Sony a7III and the good old Canon 5D MK IV.
I have bought a Sigma adapter so I don’t have to buy or replace all my lenses immediately and I can still use my Canon lenses. However, there were still some hitches in this combination that prevented the Sony from functioning as well as it should.
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 was an affordable solution that allows me to shoot a large part of the day with the Sony a7III.
I haven’t fully switched (yet), because for business photography I still like using my Canon 5D IV, prime lenses and Profoto set, which are all geared to Canon. There’s no reason to change that.
But as far as reportage photography is concerned, it is very nice to be able to use the added value of the Sony: lighter, fast and excellent autofocus, tilting screen, full silent mode, and, oh yes, its face and eye detection is fantastic, and it works so well!
It provides much more freedom to choose an exciting camera angle without worrying about losing any focus.
At the same time, I think a camera is simply just a “means to an end”. All brands have professional cameras that are really good, so whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong.
I have not suddenly become a much better photographer by using Sony. Sorry Sony ;-) But then again: I do have a larger selection of perfectly sharp photos to choose from…
The Polaroid camera in one of the gear pictures is a vintage one, still working; I bought it second hand and used it for our guestbook at our own wedding in 2003.
And it so happens I live in the city where it originates from: Enschede in the Netherlands, where the old factory was revived a few years ago.
Really cool to use now and then – instant gratification. :-D Look Mum, no Lightroom!
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8
Sigma Mount Converter MC-11 Canon EF
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART
4x Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II
Godox Speedlite V860II Sony
For business portrait / editorial images:
Profoto B2 250 AirTTL location kit
Trolley: Think Tank Photo Airport Navigator. Fits almost everything (except my backup gear) and I like that I can quickly access my gear from the top opening.
Strap: Op/Tech Double Sling Black. Have been using this one for years. Not very fashionable, but very strong and I like that it doesn’t use the tripod socket. Also, it uses strong nylon instead of metal connectors, and I’m able to quickly disconnect a camera if needed. Never lets me – or my cameras – down.