Hi Shotkit! I’m Olivier Bolte, happy dad of 2 crazy boys, lover of a beautiful marathonian girl, and happy wedding photographer.
I’m based at the very south of France, near the Spanish border, between sea and mountains. I used to work in a 9 to 5 job in real estate. It took me a few years to realize that it wouldn’t fit. So I quit… best decision I ever made.
Now my job consists of photographing happy, crazy couples on their big day and delivering meaningful memories to them and their family. And I love it!
Music, cinema, and pictures have always meant a lot to me. I’m kind of emotional, so I can easily get shivers through a screen, and, as a dreamer, music makes me travel.
As far as I can remember, I’ve always been thrilled by transmitting something through sounds and images. I bought my first reflex, a Canon 1000D, back in 2009, when I was road tripping in Australia.
That was a revelation to me! Passion came pretty soon. I never stopped practicing and, above all, learning about photography since then. Books, videos, workshops, podcasts, you name it… every resource I can find about photography, I would feed my brain with. And I keep doing it today, even if I have less time with 2 kids and busy seasons.
I would describe my wedding photographs as very natural, colorful, and timeless. I try to have nice frames, well composed, and include a maximum of emotions in it. On a wedding day, I focus on joy, relationships between the couple and their families, funny moments, as well as kids and their spontaneity. I’m attracted to harsh light, guiding lines, shapes, and layering.
To be very effective in the chaos of a wedding day, I need good equipment. And for me, that means light, fast, reliable, and easy to use.
I started to shoot weddings in 2014. I stuck to the Canon system since I knew it from my first camera. I was shooting with two Canon 5D Mark III and both Canon and Sigma prime lenses. At the end of the 2018 season, I couldn’t stand anymore to have missed focus. The Sigma Art lenses are good but suffer a lot from those focusing problems.
So, I decided to switch to Sony. It was quite a big decision, financially speaking and concerning the pictures I will deliver to my clients, I would have to work on my post treatment settings all over again. But I’m pretty happy with my gear now.
So today my camera bag contains:
Sony A7 III: I have two of them. They are small in-hand, very accurate on focusing, fast enough, and customizable. I might upgrade one or two to the Sony A9 after the 2020 season.
Sony 35mm f/1.4: I shoot 70% of the wedding with this one, coupled with the Sony 85mm f/1.8. I love it but, honestly, when I unbox it and plug it to my Sony A7 III, it feels too big, too heavy, compared to other lenses and to the camera.
I’m actually thinking about switching to the Sony 35mm f/1.8 which is much lighter. I rarely open to f/1.4 so I don’t mind losing a bit of light.
Sony 85mm f/1.8: Perfect for tight frames and nice portraits during the reportage. It’s fast, light, and produces stunning images. I’ve been told that the Sony 135mm f/1.8 is really nice too. I might give it a try someday.
Sony 55mm f/1.8: The first lens I got with the camera, after switching from Canon. Holding these felt ridiculously small compared to a Canon 5D Mark III with a prime lens. I knew I would love the Sony system since then.
I use the 55mm quite often, during ceremonies, cocktails, or even the dinner. It’s also my go-to lens when I go on vacation with my family, because of its size mainly.
Sony 24mm f/1.4: When I was working with Canon, the Sigma Art 24mm was my favorite. So I wanted to buy this lens for my Sony A7 III. It’s good, it’s really good… but it’s heavy. Maybe Sony will release a 24mm f/1.8 much lighter soon? Or I might try the Sony 25mm f/2.
I use the 24mm during the whole wedding day, from the getting ready, to the party. Well, that was before I got the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8.
Sony 16-35mm f/4: This is the last lens I bought. Holding the camera in one hand with the 24mm and my flash in the other hand on the dance floor was not easy. At the end of the night, my arm would be really painful and I would be mutilating the people dancing.
So I had enough and bought this nice lens. Perfect for the dance floor. Wide enough to frame the hands of my crazy subjects and light enough to hold in one hand. And pretty cheap, actually. Perfect. I love it.
Sony 90mm f/2.8: I got this one for macro shots, but I’m not a details photographer… I still do some ring shots, or stuff like that, for my couples, but it’s not my cup of tea. So, I will get this lens out of my bag maybe 10 times a year. I find it very useful for a few macro shots I do for corporate photography though, with represents 40% of my job.
Godox TT350S: Off-camera flash is a big thing for me, and I’ve been working a lot on this to improve my level of pictures. For a few getting-ready shots, on the dance floor, or even during ceremonies, I try to get nice results by controlling the light.
The TT350 are very small and very reliable cobra flashes. I have four of them. They’re not that powerful, but they do the job for a nice little kiss of light during portraits or for the dance floor backlights.
Godox TT685S: Because you need more power, sometimes. I have two of them.
Godox AD200: Because you need even more power, sometimes!
A bunch of tripods and a monopod: when party time is on, I set three or four flashes on tripods all around the room for backlighting, and I use one flash on my monopod to light my subject. Boom! Straight in your face! I’ve done this, this way, since I started OCF and it works for me, even if I can be a pain in the a** for videographers :)
MagMod system: I’ve been using it for quite a long time now… I love it. Not the cheaper way to go but so reliable and fast, again! MagSphere and MagGrids with gel are my thing. I just got the MagBeam lately to have even more power.
Eneloop Batteries: Thank God they exist!
Lowepro FlipSide 400 AW: I got this one forever now. I love it for engagement sessions or corporate assignments, but it’s not really classy for weddings, is it? So, I keep it in my trunk just in case and spend the day with my Peak Design Everyday Messenger which fits nicely with my outfit.
HoldFast MoneyMaker: Needed a strap for my two cameras. This one is the best and most comfy I ever tried… plus it looks cool! If I want to carry just one camera, I’d use the Peak Design Slide Strap.
Rocketbook: I use this smart notepad all the time. I can scan my pages and read it whenever I want on my smartphone. Then I have all my bride and groom infos and the timeline of the day with me in the field.
Alright, must be pretty much all of it. I’m not really a gear geek, but I like to have the best, so I just worry about making great pictures on the wedding day. I’m really happy with the gear I have right now. A lot of friends in the market have switched to Sony because of its weight and the fast focus… there must be a reason… Canon and Nikon will have to catch up to be more competitive, but for now, I’ll stick with Sony!
One thing though: I’m not that precautious with my gear and I find the Sony A7 III a little bit fragile… of course, everything looks fragile compared to a Canon 5D Mark III beast… so I have to learn to be more careful with them, or wait for the other brands to release light, fast, reliable and strong mirrorless camera bodies in the next few years?
Finally, thanks Mark and India for welcoming me on Shotkit, one of the first websites I was scrolling through when I started photography back in Sydney!
www.olivierbolte.fr | @olivierbolte
Check out the 11 essential tools and apps every wedding photographer should be using this year.
Includes limited time discounts.
Super intéressant Olivier ! Bravo et bonne saison.
Feel free to ask me anything about my gear! Have a great day!