Sanne De Block

Hi! My name is Sanne (kind of pronounced as Sonn-uh). I’m a 31 year old photographer from Antwerp, Belgium. I mainly shoot weddings in a photo documentary way.

I started my business in 2017 after investing a whole year learning by being a second shooter, following workshops and meeting as many photographers as I could.

Since then I’ve been developing my own view on the world and I’ve been very passionate about the documentary part of photography. This is how I work best, by just finding art and meaning in what’s happening in front of me and not interfering with anything.

For me, this is the most authentic way to capture moments and emotions that will last more than a lifetime.

Gear

I’m not a very tech oriented photographer. I just want my tools to work for me and if I can get the job done with them, it works for me.

Cameras

Since the very first camera I’ve ever owned (which was a Canon 400D with a kit lens) I’ve been using Canon. This was back in the day when there were basically only two choices – Canon or Nikon. Since I was so used to Canon’s system, I just stuck with the brand when I went professional and now I’m using two Canon EOS 5D Mark IV cameras.

I have thought of switching to a more lightweight system, but for now, I’m perfectly fine with what I’m using at the moment. I do still use my 5D Mark III for personal photography when I’m meeting up with friends or traveling. 2020 has been so different from other years that I barely touched my old camera.

Lenses

The first professional lens I bought was my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens. It was recommended to me by someone who convinced me this was the perfect lens to invest in if I was going to be a professional photographer.

Now it’s still a very good lens, but I don’t use it as often. I don’t think my friend would do the same recommendation if we had the same conversation five years later.

Since I was very happy with the quality of the Sigma 50mm and I needed to add to my gear, my second purchase was the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lens. Same quality, different characteristics. I was still lacking a tele lens so I added the Canon 85mm f/1.8 to my collection.

My absolute favourite lens that rarely comes off my camera is the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. I shoot 75% of my images with it. The 35mm and I, we are best friends. I don’t think anyone can come between us.

Most of the time I’m trying to find interesting compositions or moments with my 35mm. I’m constantly moving and chasing the best image. But you can’t keep doing that for 16 hours straight (that’s how long a typical Belgian wedding lasts).

So when I feel I need a break, instead of sitting myself down at a table, I take out my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 and go take some detail shots of the decoration or I walk around at the reception taking portraits of the guests.

It’s a perfect way to get a fresh perspective on things and it will make me feel inspired again. I also use this one for couple portraits with some nice bokeh.

In 2020 I didn’t shoot as many weddings as I would have normally done, but the ones I did, my 70-200 lens really came in handy. It allowed me to keep a safe distance and still tell the story.

I have two more lenses that I don’t use professionally, but they’re still worth mentioning. First off, my Canon 40mm f/2.8 Pancake lens. It is perfect for traveling as it’s really small and light. It’s not as in your face as all my other lenses so I blend in better in a crowd while attempting some street photography.

It’s close enough to a 35mm to be in my comfort zone and the quality is more than good enough for when I’m shooting for myself. I use it together with my old Canon 5D Mark III.

Then there’s my Lensbaby Composer Pro, which is more of a toy or an experimental little thing. I barely use it, but I still like to have it in my camera bag in case I don’t have any inspiration and I need something to change my view on everything.

Lights/Triggers

When I just started out, I just went with the cheapest system, so I went with Yongnuo. As it soon proved to be too much of a hassle with all the AA batteries, I really wanted to find another affordable system that uses rechargeable batteries. So that’s when I chose Godox.

I always have two GODOX V860II-C in my main camera bag and then I have another additional two as a backup or when there’s a big venue, or when I want to combine off camera flash with on camera flash.

I’m really happy with their performance. They don’t overheat as quickly as my previous system. I need them to flash consistently for those perfect dance floor moments and that’s what they do.

One battery lasts one full wedding, which is perfect. I use them together with two Godox Pro C triggers, one for each camera as I will almost always have two cameras dangling off my body.

The Magmod system gives me more control over my lighting and there’s almost always a grid on my flashes. I also own a Snoot and a Mag Sphere (had to look up the real name as I will always call it my boob, it looks like a boob and you can boob people with it as it’s really soft). They don’t take up too much space in my bag, so I will always have them with me.

When I’m using off camera flash, my flashes are attached to two Jinbei 250 lightstands. They’re heavyweight but very sturdy. They don’t get knocked over on a dance floor. Also, they’re stable enough to hold a big softbox or a heavier light when I’m doing a corporate shoot for example.

Straps/Bags

Okay, so I told you I have two camera’s dangling on my body, right? I have a Holdfast Moneymaker in dark brown to keep them secure. It divides the weight over my shoulders and back equally.

It has its downside, though. For instance, you can’t turn around too quickly as you might knock something off a table or knock it into a kid’s face as the cameras are right at their height.

So it can be dangerous. But, the dangers of using it don’t outweigh how cool they look. I often get compliments and since I wear my hair in a braid most of the time, people compare me to Lara Croft, which I absolutely don’t mind.

All of this gear comes with me to every wedding in my Think Thank Airport Takeoff V2.0. I needed a bag to fit within the carry-on measurements of low-cost airlines.

Most of the time, I use it as a rolling bag, but when needed, you can convert it to a backpack, which is super useful when trying to cover up the fact that it weighs a lot more than the 10kg weight restrictions for carry-on luggage.

Just pretend it’s super lightweight and you won’t have any trouble taking it on board with you. The backpack function is obviously also useful when you have to cross over rough terrain.

Misc.

Other things you will find in my bag are:

Think Tank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket Memory Card Case – To keep all my memory cards neatly ordered.

A spare t-shirt – If you’re sometimes clumsy, like me, and fall into a swimming pool, it’s useful to have some extra clothing with you. Or when it’s just a super hot day and you feel like changing into some fresh smelling clothes after 8-10 hours of shooting.

A hairbrush and deodorant – Same reason, after shooting for eight hours, I’m only halfway through the day. I like to freshen up a bit to feel better again.

First aid stuff like painkillers and band aids.

Lens wipes – Because you need a clear image, obviously.

Chargers – When I can, I will always charge empty batteries immediately. I have enough batteries to get through the day, but you just never know what happens. If there’s a sudden last minute assignment for the day after, I’m instantly good to go.

Sunscreen – I need a factor 50 or I will burn, I’ll take it out during the winter, but in summer it’s a disaster if I forget my bottle.

Fuji Instax SP2 – I started using this one last year (but I didn’t do it in Corona times). It’s nice to deliver 2-3 photos to the couple on the day itself that they can instantly hang on their fridge the day after the wedding.

It’s something really small, but it’s nice that they already have an idea of what the rest of the pictures are going to look like. It’s also a little souvenir they can share on Instagram or Facebook.

Hardware/Software

I own a new Macbook Pro 16 inch. With a 2.3 GHz 8 core processor and 32GB of memory. I also have a 27 inch iMac which I use when I’m working in my office. But since I’ve been working from home all year, I haven’t used it for months now.

My workflow goes kind of like this – I upload all of my images into Photo Mechanic to do the culling. When the selection is finished, I move them to a selection map which I upload to Adobe Lightroom. There I use my own adapted version of Twomanns DVLP presets to edit the images.

When everything is finished, I export it with the Jpeg Mini Plugin to a new finished-map. Then I upload the whole reportage to a personal Pictime gallery for my clients together with a Smart Slides made slideshow which is the first thing the couple gets to see.

I do wish I could change some things about my camera’s like them being more lightweight or having a flip screen. Features I know I can find in the newest Canon R5. But 2020 had a big financial impact on me and my business due to the Corona crisis and I’m not the kind of person that gets tempted too easily to immediately buy the newest state of the art stuff.

My gear works fine for me and just because there is something new, doesn’t mean my old stuff will suddenly stop working. I’ve made images that I’m proud of with whatever camera I had on me at the time. Whether that was my Canon or my iPhone. You don’t need fancy stuff to tell meaningful stories.

www.sannedeblock.com | @sanne.deblock

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