Hi, I’m Simon Fazackarley and I’m a Wedding Photographer based in Brighton in the South of England.
I’ve been shooting weddings since 2005, and have covered over 400 in total. 2020 marks my 15th full season and I’ve loved every minute of it and have no intention of giving it up anytime soon.
I never intended to become a wedding photographer. I was a shy 17 year old, finishing up my training to be a graphic designer, when I was asked to photograph a friend’s wedding. They were planning a small celebration and just wanted someone to take a few photos – with no real expectations or pressure.
Unintentionally, that wedding launched my career – suddenly everyone was getting married and I was the go-to guy! After a few years of saying to people ‘I’m not a wedding photographer, I just shoot a few weddings,’ I fell in love with the industry and started to introduce myself as a wedding photographer.
I launched my studio in 2008 and we now offer a mixture of wedding photography and video across the UK. We don’t tend to do much international work, but are always open to travelling for the right couples.
I shoot in a relaxed, documentary style – capturing the story of the wedding day and all the emotional moments – but I do love to create interesting portraits when it works with the schedule.
My very first camera, back in college, was a Canon – a 35mm film SLR, the Canon 3000V ( which still has a home on my shelf!) – so when I started the business I naturally gravitated towards Canon and I’ve never had any cause to jump ship.
In recent years many of our friends have switched to Sony and certainly for the video side of the business it would make a lot of sense, but I still have a lot of brand loyalty to Canon and all their cameras just feel right in my hands.
The first DSLR I used was the now amazingly dated Canon EOS 300D, with all of its beautiful 6 megapixels. Over the years we’ve worked our way through every generation of Canon EOS 5D, up to the current generation the Canon 5D Mark IV.
Alongside the Canon 5D Mark IV’s, I use the new mirrorless Canon EOS R. This camera that has genuinely revolutionised the way I work and see scenes on a wedding day. The incredibly reliable focusing ability allows me to get shots I’d previously only dreamed of and I’m very excited to see where Canon goes with mirrorless in the future.
As far as gear goes, I’m hard on my kit – which is why some of the stuff probably looks beat-up in the photo. I’m not one to be precious with the stuff.
Capturing moments is far more important to me than any of my equipment, as everything is insured and has backups for on-the-day failures. If something breaks it gets sent off to be repaired or replaced the very next day.
Main Bodies – Canon EOS R (x2)
Backups – Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (x2)
Backup of Backups – Canon EOS 5D Mark III (x2)
Discreet Camera – Fuji X-pro2
My favourite lens, by a long shot, is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L. I’d say about 90% of the photos taken over the past decade have been with this lens. It’s a workhorse – I love the focal length and it has a look that is just unique, especially at sunset – it flares beautifully! I’m interested to try out the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2, next year, but the lightness of the EF version is hard to let go of.
My next favourite is either the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L or the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L. I use the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L more than the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L, but there’s something special about the images from the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L. I can never put my finger on it – I just love them.
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L is beautiful for portraits, it has such a gorgeous bokeh and is sharp as it gets – the focal length is also super flattering.
Other lenses that I use when needed:
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L – one of the most versatile lenses in my bag. When I’m not sure what’s going to be coming at me, this is the lens I love to have in my hand (along with my Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L!). I don’t love the maximum f/2.8 aperture, I mainly work at under f/2 – but the versatility is second to none. Very much looking forward to trying the RF version with IS.
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L – People swear by this lens, but I’ve never really got the love for it. I’ve used it a lot recently travelling, paired with the Canon 85mm f/1.2L, and I sort of understand why it gets so much love. It’s very adaptable and it does have a great look – but it’s never taken the place of the Canon 50mm f/1.2L. I like it for candid, photo documentary work, but I find it less flattering for portraits.
Canon EF 135mm f/2L – When I can’t get close, during ceremonies or speeches, this lens has more than paid for itself. I do occasionally use it for portraits, too, but I prefer to be closer to my couples and capture moments with more intimacy.
Canon EF 45mm f/2.8 TSE – I loved this a few years ago, but it became a bit trendy and overused so I semi-retired it. It still comes out occasionally for portraits and as a photographer friend of mine said it can make anything look interesting.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS – Like the Canon EF 135mm f/2L, this has a very specific purpose: it gives me maximum reach when I really can’t get close. But I do find the images lacking in intimacy. It mainly stays in the bag as a backup. Also have the 2x extender for this, just in case.
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART – I picked it up as I heard lots of good things about it. It’s nice and sharp but I hate how heavy it is. Coming to an auction site near you soon to make way for some RF glass.
I use a few flashes – I love the Yongnuo YN560 IV – they’re ridiculously cheap, have built-in wireless triggers and just work for me. I only ever use flash on full manual, so I don’t miss any of the advanced ETTL features on the Canons.
Although I do have a couple of Canon ones, an old Canon 580EX that has a Spiderman sticker a flower-girl gave me, a Canon 580EXII that I’ll use if I’m travelling light and only want one flash with me, and a Canon 430EXII for when I’m travelling even lighter.
I can’t say enough good things about the Yongnuo flashes. I broke a Canon 580EXII a few years back and the cost to have it fixed was the price of four Yongnuos. But the cost doesn’t matter if the gear is good and I’m pleased to say the Yongnuos work just as well for my purposes as any other flash I’ve tried.
I also have the Yongnuo YN560TX transmitter when I want all my flashes off camera. But usually I’ll just use the YN560IV on camera with its built-in trigger.
When I’m using flash, I’m usually using MagMods. I have the full set but only really use the grids and gel holders. Not something I’ll use for every wedding, but sometimes it’s fun to create something different.
BG-E22 Battery Grip – I love the small form of the Canon EOS R and use it ‘naked’ most of the time (it, not me ;) ) but when paired with a big lens, like a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L and a flash, it creates crazy torque on your wrist, so the extra weight and grip space provided with the battery grip is a welcome relief. The double battery is great too – rarely need to change during a wedding day.
Colour Right White Balance disk – I picked this up a long time ago and I believe the company that made it has gone out of business. I rarely use it, but I still carry it everywhere with me and for the occasions you need to dial in a manual white balance, it works brilliantly.
Prism – Another thing that’s become quite trendy and may retire soon! It still has life yet though, and can provide interest to scenes or can hide things.
Rings – Shooting through things is a great way to add interest and make your work stand out – I carry a few rings, an aluminium one and a clear acrylic one which produce interesting effects when shot through. But I’ll use anything from my watch to a phone to glasses and crystals – whatever it takes to take an image up a notch.
Loupe Viewer – I picked a cheap one of these off Amazon to try and help me nail manual focusing on my Canon 5D Mark III, which I always found to be a pretty poor focusing system. After moving to the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Canon EOS R, I thought I’d never use it again – but actually, for assisting in building compositions and critiquing a shot without distractions, it’s a wonderful piece of kit. As a glasses wearer it’s also super helpful on sunny days for seeing the screen without glare.
Torch – I’m a big fan of torches, and often use them for throwing a little extra light on subjects, or for creating some cinematic flare. Love anything from Led Lenser or Maglite.
Cokin Filters and Holder – I dabble in landscape work sometimes and the Cokin Filters are amazing. RAW files are amazingly workable and you can pull back a lot of details from overexposed skies, but nothing really beats getting it right in camera and using a graduated ND filter. They occasionally come out on wedding days for establishing shots and story-telling landscapes.
Sweets – I have a sweet tooth and my camera bag always has some kind of treats in it. From mints which act as a courtesy to anyone I come close to later in the day of a long wedding ;) to sweets giving me a quick energy hit when I need it. Useful stuff and tasty.
A couple of things not pictured that I absolutely could not live without:
Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L – I’ve searched for years for the perfect bag, and when I found this one it changed the way I work. I love having one camera body for large portions of the day and an array of lenses to switch between, so this bag suits that perfectly. It also has lots of pockets for sweets. I even have a brand new one spare, in case they discontinue it.
Lowepro ProTactic 350 Rucksack – For city weddings where I can’t use my car or weddings overseas where I can’t have all my gear, this bag lets me fit all the gear I need for the day, along with light stands strapped to the front. And yet it isn’t too tough to carry for long periods. I’ve used it all over Europe and I’ve never regretted the purchase. Love this bag.
Peli 1510 Case – When I brought this, I felt like I’d made it as a professional. Nothing says Pro like a big black Peli case filled with lenses. It keeps my gear safe, tidy, and organised, and I’ve been told it doubles as a flotation device.
Manfrotto Nano Lightstands – They never fail, they’re light, they fold up into a tiny package and they hold flashes – what more can I say.
Another thing not pictured that I couldn’t live without is my Regatta Pack-It Jacket – it rains a lot in the UK, and this tiny, inexpensive fold-away raincoat has saved me on many occasions, including this past weekend. I bought one a couple of sizes above what I usually wear and it means I can use it to cover my bag and my camera too when the need arises.