Hi, I’m a documentary wedding photographer based in Hertfordshire, just north of London in the UK. Over here it seems that everyone’s a documentary wedding photographer. It’s an easy label, and with today’s kit it’s not hard to get a good looking portfolio from a couple of weddings. So how do I stand out amongst the crowd?
I worked as a news photojournalist for The Times newspaper in London for almost 20 years. A newspaper is a superb place to learn how to get the picture you need to tell the story quickly, and in any situation.
I now use these techniques at weddings. It’s still the same job for me – finding beautiful compositions and moments that convey the story, it’s just that the people happen to be having a great time at a wedding. The main difference is that my client is the couple. So I need to take that into consideration, but I’m still basically shooting what I find interesting at a wedding. It’s a great job!
I was a heavy Canon user when shooting news. Starting with EOS 1N film cameras, working through the Kodak DCS 520 and the 1D range to the 5D’s. I was waiting for mirrorless to mature, and experimented with the Fuji XT1 and X100S, but I always wanted the low light capability and depth of field of a full frame sensor.
It was the Sony A9 that finally sent my Canon’s packing. The uncompromised silent shutter, tilt screen and AF are the features that have made the biggest impact on how I work. The camera frees my mind up so I can concentrate on narrative, composition and anticipating moments.
I don’t carry a bag at weddings, so here is my light-weight kit that I can shoot a whole day on:
• Sony A9 (x2) bodies
• Sony 35mm f/1.4 and Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 are usually on the cameras.
• Think Tank Hubba Hubba Hiney with Sony 55mm f/1.8 and Sony 85mm f/1.8.
• Small air blower and sensor loupe, essential for a mirrorless system.
• Spider Holsters on the Think Tank belt for the A9’s
• Godox TT350 and X1T
In the car I have more lenses and lighting gear, and routinely use these as well. But I can happily shoot a whole wedding just with the above items.
In the car:
• Godox AD200 (x2)
• Neewer Light stands
• Godox V850 (x3) manual flash guns
• Small Rig flash clamps
• Yamaha sound recorders (x3)
• Instamic sound recorders (x2)
• Canon 135mm f/2L USM Lens
• Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
• Canon 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens
• Sony A6500 with 20mm f/2.8 Pancake lens
• Metabones IV Canon to Sony adapter
• 3 scoops of Huel
I use the sound recorders to record the ceremony and speeches, then use that with the still images to make a Photofilm.
I kept the Canon lenses that I loved the most, and use them with the Metabones adapter. The AF isn’t great, but the quality of the 135mm and 50mm makes up for that.
The 16-35mm goes on the A6500 if I need a remote camera placed somewhere.
I’ve recently discovered Huel – a nutritionally complete milkshake meal. It’s great to keep in the car so I’m not thinking about food when the caterers forget to feed me!