Hi everyone! I’m Philip Thomas, based in San Antonio, Texas, and born and raised in Chichester, England.
I moved to the States in 2006. I’m married and juggle a full-time photography business along with two young daughters and two lively dogs.
I’m a former newspaper photographer, and in my twenties I travelled the world, managing a team of photographers on cruise ships before shooting headshots and model portfolios.
After moving to the USA, with many newspapers folding, photojournalists starting to supplement their income with weddings, so I thought I’d give it a go. I loved it out of the gate.
I use Leica cameras for all my work. The Leica brand comes with a deep culture and history intertwined with many world-renowned photographers, from which I learn and gain much inspiration.
For the first 15 years of my career, I used the Nikon brand. I started shooting with the Leica M9 with Nikon and, in 2014, I switched over entirely to the Leica M240s and a growing Leica lens collection, some used, some new.
The simplicity and lightweight nature of the Leica M rangefinder camera is a great fit for wedding photojournalism.
The small bodies and lenses are not intimidating to my clients. The rangefinders are incredibly fast, quiet, and the lenses are manual focus.
I find it easier to focus with in the dark compared to autofocus. With the large viewfinder, you can see subjects going in and out of the frame, and the frame lines will adjust depending on the lens.
When clicking the shutter, there’s no blackout or slap of the shutter curtain, enabling me to handhold slower shutter speeds in low light.
Throughout a typical wedding day, I’ll use three cameras; two Leica M10s and a Leica M240. In addition to the 35mm and 50mm lenses, I’ll use a Leica 21mm f/3.4 and a Leica 90mm f/2.8 which can convert to a macro lens.
#1 (pictured) Leica Summicron 50mm f/2
#2 (pictured) Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0.95
#3 (pictured) Leica Super Elmar 21mm f/3.4
#4 (pictured) Leica Elmarit 90mm f/2.8
#7 (pictured) Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4
#6 (pictured) Leica Macro Adaptor
#5 (pictured) – Nikon Speedlight SB-700
#13 (pictured) –Wotancraft Ryker Camera Bag – Beautiful comfortable bag for all my lenses and a couple of M’s.
Hardware & Software
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Energy bars, mints, #8 (pictured) Leica Visolflex (x2) and #9 (pictured) Leica Batteries (x8)
My approach to weddings is to avoid wedding photography cliches and trends, capture less posing, and market my work towards clients who are perhaps shy of the camera and don’t like being the center of attention.
I shoot for myself, clients second. That’s how I handle the high stakes of wedding photography and find the balance I need in my life, along with my photography projects.
My longterm projects are wandering the downtown streets of San Antonio, photographing all the never-ending streams of life.
Street photography is my passion as this enables me to fine-tune my skills required for wedding photography, especially geometry, composition, and finding the light.
Of course, camera equipment is secondary, and no amount of high tech gear is going to make you a fantastic photographer.
I found myself a bit of a gear head many years ago. But I got back on the correct path, and that is a continuous education regarding light, composition, studying art, geometry, dynamic symmetry, and other photographers’ work.
I would say, however, quality lenses should be the priority over camera bodies if you’re on a budget. My favorite Leica lenses have this astonishing, almost 3-D look that I cannot find in any other brand.
In addition to what’s noted, a small leather bag and an old Nikon Speedlight – which I’ll use just for group shots – is generally all I need to photograph a couple’s wedding day.
I use available light, even in dark rooms. Flash kills any sense of intimacy and is intrusive, so I don’t use it. If I cannot get the clients into useful light, I’ll wait for my subject to come into the light.
I do not instruct my clients what to do as this goes against my philosophy of shooting. If it didn’t happen in real-time, it never happened. That is part of my challenge as a photographer and why I love what I get to do for a living.