Martin Bell

Wedding | Last Updated: January 28, 2021

Hey, I’m Martin and I’m a wedding photographer based in Hampshire, England. I have photographed over 200 weddings across the UK and absolutely love being a part of every wedding that I capture.

Before I was a wedding photographer, I had a previous career as a professional ballet dancer performing all across the world with the Northern Ballet. Their productions were more of a narrative nature and this is why I have based the way I photograph on a storytelling style.

After numerous injuries, and a love of production photography, I decided to take the plunge and buy my first DSLR – a Canon 50D.

Very quickly I found that I needed a better camera to get more out of my photography and decided to purchase a couple of Canon 1D Mark IV’s along with a few low light lenses – Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM and a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II.

Shortly after being featured for my dance photography in a couple of magazines I was asked to photograph a friend’s wedding. I shot this wedding on two Canon 1D Mark IV’s, a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM and a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II and loved every minute of it.

I knew straight away that this is what I wanted to do and fortunately I am now photographing about 40 weddings a year.

Nighttime portraits have become a very big part of my business and all of my couples love this additional WOW factor aspect to the storytelling style of my photography.

Creating something from nothing, with the simple use of a couple of Canon 600 EX RT speedlites, is something that I love to do and seeing the look on every couples face when they see the back of my camera is priceless.

So, on to the equipment.

My cameras of choice are the Canon 5D Mark IV and I absolutely love them. They are fantastic in low light and produce the gorgeous colour tones that myself and my clients love. They are considerably lighter and easier to use than my previous Canon 1D Mark IV’s. I would find it very difficult to swap them for anything else.

The two lenses I use mostly on a wedding day would be my Canon 35mm f/1.4L and Canon 85mm f/1.4L IS USM. These lenses are fantastic and the perfect combination for the way that I photograph.

I like to get in close to capture the raw emotions with the 35mm but I also like to capture fleeting moments in between guests using my 85mm. The 85mm is also a fantastic lens for when I’m capturing the couple portraits.

For the ceremony I generally switch to Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM II as I like to be able to capture all of the moments without moving around too much. I also have a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II that I occasionally use for the ceremony if I cannot get close enough with my Canon 85mm f/1.4L IS.

I also have a Canon 50mm f/1.2L USM in my camera bag but I tend to only use this for golden hour portraits as I find it the best lens for when the couple are backlit. I really wish I used this more.

I use natural light for the majority of my work but when the light diminishes, or I feel the need to add additional lighting, I use my Canon 600 EX RT speedlites to create the desired effect.

The light stands that I use are the Manfrotto Nanopole which are very small and easy to carry around and set up.

The triggers that I use for my off-camera flash work are the Phottix Strato II. I love how easy they are to adjust quickly for different lighting setups (sadly these are now discontinued).

I use the Ice Light for some portraits at night but to be honest it is not used as much as it could be. I also have a large range of Magmod products, but the CTO gels and Maggrids are the ones that I use the most.

For carrying my cameras, I use the Spider Holster Dual belt, but I have detached the clips from the Dual belt so that they slip straight onto the belt that I wear on a wedding day. I found the Dual belt a tad too cumbersome for the way that I work.

I also have a Holdfast Moneymaker in my spare camera bag which occasionally gets used but not as much as the Spider Holster now.

To carry the majority of this equipment I use a tanned leather ‘Union Street’ Ona bag which I absolutely love – it stays with me for the majority of the wedding day. It also looks better with age and I constantly get comments about how gorgeous the bag is from wedding guests.

You’ll see the Apple iPad Pro 12.9” in the picture above and while this isn’t in my kit bag on a wedding day it has become an essential piece of kit for the way that I work. I do the majority of my work on it from emailing and invoicing all the way up to editing. It has seriously sped up my workflow to no end.

My back up equipment consists of two Canon 1D Mark IV’s, a Canon 85mm f/1.8 along with a Canon 17-40mm f/4.0L USM and are all stored in my Lowepro Vertex 200 AW camera bag.

Main equipment summary –

2 x Canon 5D Mark IV’s – Great size and ideal for low light

Canon 35mm f/1.4L – A cracking documentary lens

Canon 85mm f/1.4L IS USM – Great lens in low light and fantastic for portraiture

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM II – A great all-purpose lens

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II – A fantastic lens but I only use it for ceremonies when I am further away

Canon 50mm f/1.2L USM – Great for golden hour portraits

2 x Canon 600 EX RT speedlites – A great all purpose flash

2 x Manfrotto Nanopole – Collapsible and lightweight light stands

Phottix Strato II remote triggers – Fantastically easy to use

A large range of Magmod products – From Maggrids to Magsnoots I have pretty much all of the products to give me the desired lighting effect I require

Spider Holster Dual belt – To carry my cameras on the wedding day

A tanned leather ‘Union Street’ Ona bag – To carry the equipment on the wedding day

Apple iPad Pro 12.9” – Emailing, timelines, editing, you name it and it does it.

Back up equipment summary –

2 x Canon 1D Mark IV’s

Canon 85mm f/1.8

Canon 17-40mm f/4.0L USM

Holdfast Moneymaker camera straps

Lowepro Vertex 200 AW camera bag | @martinbellphotography


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