I have always loved being creative in one form or another, whether creating art or a brief foray into the music industry, I’ve always needed something to offset a rather clinical corporate career.
In early 2015 I was busy minding my own business (literally); climbing the corporate ladder in the software industry when in preparation for a far-east business trip I purchased my first camera. It was an Olympus OMD E-M10 and a couple of prime lenses. I had no idea how to use the damn thing, so spent the outbound flight reading up on exposure triangles and image noise… I was hooked. Like, immediately.
I was soon exhibiting landscapes in a gallery in Bristol and someone who had just bought a print asked if I’d shoot their wedding. That was it – it would appear that I’d just become a wedding photographer.
After getting a few weddings under my belt, in mid-2016 I started an 18-month plan to get me to the point that I could leave my career. Using all the strategic techniques I had picked up running a large business; marketing, sales positioning, planning, and the tools available to me such as Facebook Advertising I quickly built a business that could sustain our family and the financial commitments we had.
It’s now a year since I was able to make photography my full-time gig and I love every minute of it. My main focus is weddings but also do some architectural, commercial, and family photography too.
Here in 2019 I now have additional shooters and am also running education workshops, and the development of these different parts of the business is exciting. I feel very lucky to be working in an industry I love, and to be part of the photography community where people are kind, supportive, and collaborative.
I need to understand everything in front of me from base principles, I cannot just accept a bit of theory or technicality without breaking it down and understanding it from the ground up.
I think this is the same reason that I do not really have any knowledge about the history of photography – whenever I have conversations with photographers, I have never heard of any of the well-known photographers that inspired them.
I have no idea if that’s something I should know about, but the only photographers I have heard of are me and those in my professional network. Seems to work for me.
This probably all makes me sound like I am the most confident person possible. In fact, I feel like I’m a bit of an intruder in this business, and worry about pretty much everything from the quality of my work, to the opinion of others.
My wedding work is best described as semi-documentary I think. I do set some shots up that I know will look great, but do not pose clients within the frame, preferring to let them interact naturally.
Having a background hobby as an artist, composition is important to me, as is light. I do love lots of contrast in the image between light and dark areas and will set shots up to achieve this where possible.
My editing style is to simply enhance the ‘thing’ I loved about the image when I took it and to do little else. I do edit each image individually and do not use any presets other than those I’ve created myself. Again, I could never just use a preset and accept it, my personality is that I’d need to be able to create it myself!
I like to keep a fairly small kit, with only the things that I use regularly earning a place in my standard setup. But that does not mean I’m not a kit junkie!
I am frequently flipping my kit; selling a lens on eBay to get something else. But other than that I travel pretty light.
My kit for weddings can always fit into a large camera bag (apart from tripods or light stands) and this is one of the techniques I use to avoid forgetting something either at home or at a venue.
Whichever camera system I use, my two main lenses are the same: a 35mm prime and a 70-200mm hanging off two bodies on a Holdfast strap. I shoot pretty much a whole wedding with these two lenses, only changing to a wider lens if I need to.
I love the ‘stills from a film’ you can achieve with a 35mm, and it’s also a practical addition to the 70-200mm when things are getting a bit tight.
I love everything about the 70-200mm range, it’s so versatile for speeches and portraits and allows me to fully isolate my subjects from their surroundings which is important to my style as I shoot quite tight in the frame.
I did try an 85mm for one wedding, but I found it just too restrictive. I found I needed to be too close and I’d lose the natural feel that I was going for as they’d spot me!
When I started shooting weddings I had a Nikon setup; two D750s and Sigma ART 35mm/f1.4 and a Tamron 70-200mm SP f2.8 which was a great combination. The Nikon D750, the image quality and noise control to this day remains class leading.
In 2018, like many others, I moved to a Sony system with two A7Riii bodies. I was happy with Nikon, but I did always miss the smaller package of my early Olympus mirrorless system which I could have with me everywhere (I sold this all to fund the Nikon FF setup I needed for weddings).
But along came the Sony A7Riii and I saw a system that for the first time I could justify (A9 was too pricey at the time), could satisfy the demands of a wedding and also something that came in a smaller package.
So, again it was time to sell all my kit and invest in a new system. I knew that I would need the usual 35mm and 70-200mm setup, but also I invested in a couple of beautiful little Zeiss Batis lenses for travel, small events, and family.
That explains my current setup, the details of which are:
Sony A7Riii x 2
Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 OSS GM
Sigma ART 35mm f1.4
Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8
Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8
Godox v860ii Speedlight x 3
Godox X-Pro Transmitter
DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone
Apple MacBook Pro 15” (2018) with Vega Graphics. 2.6GHz, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
Loupedeck Lightroom Controller
BenQ SW2700PT 24” Monitor
Manfrotto 190XPRO4 Tripod and Ball Head
MagMod kit of Sphere, Beam, and Grids
www.nickchurchphotography.co.uk | @nickchurchphotography
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