Hey everyone, I’m Will Dolphin and I’m a wedding photographer based in the UK in Exeter, Devon.
I’ve been shooting weddings full on now for over 12 years and I absolutely love it.
It may be a slight cliché that I was born with a camera round my neck, but I did pick up my first camera from an early age.
I started photographing seriously in my young teens where I loved shooting landscapes and the natural world.
Whilst at school I had work experience working at a local newspaper and remember the big buzz I got out of seeing my photographs in print and seeing how fun and varied the job was. I remember doing a questionnaire with the career advisor at school where it came out with my perfect job being a photojournalist!
I then went on to study photography at college where I shot my first wedding at the age of 18 for my best friend who was studying photography too.
That was back in 1994 and I used a Canon A1 with a 50mm lens. I’m not sure (no, I am sure) I would be brave enough to use these again for a wedding!
Once I left college I dipped in and out of photography as a profession, working for a national family portrait company shooting with medium format cameras and shooting some more weddings for friends.
After a few years travelling around the world, I returned home and decided it was time to get a bit more serious with my photography. I shot mainly commercial photography shooting PR, events, corporate portraits, etc., although my love was still landscape and travel photography.
Again a friend of a friend asked if I could shoot their wedding. This would have been about 2003 and I guess this was the start of it all properly.
I was still on film cameras back then, although my commercial clients were wanting everything digital so I knew I had to switch over soon. I shot that wedding on a Nikon F90x.
Wedding photography back then was really very un-cool and not what photographers were aspiring to do, but I would try and do it a bit differently.
My first digital camera was the Fuji S2 Pro which I had decided on as I loved the colours of Fuji Velvia slide film that I used for shooting my landscapes and it was a Nikon mount.
It then grew from there with more and more friends and friends of friends asking if I could shoot their weddings. I was trying to photograph them as naturally as possible in a documentary style, which not many photographers were doing at that time, and I was quickly falling in love with shooting weddings as it gave me the freedom to express myself more than the commercial work.
So today I shoot weddings in a documentary style combined with some creative portraits of the couple set in some beautiful scenery, with a nod back to my love of landscapes.
I really try and keep my gear as simple as possible on a wedding day as I don’t want to be thinking about anything other than getting the shot.
The biggest thing for me is knowing the kit inside out so that it becomes an extension of me. That way, I can document the day as naturally as possible, without ever having to think about settings.
This frees me to focus on the light, my composition and to capture the feeling of the day.
I use 2 x Nikon D750 bodies and I still completely love this camera. It is an amazing camera and was a huge game-changer for the wedding industry a few years ago.
It is small, but not too small, and I still find it completely fills all my needs that I’m presented with on any wedding day.
I love the colours that it gives me and the files are a perfect size for all of my needs. It’s super fast at focusing and the ISO is more than adequate for me.
I know that the day will come when I will have to switch over to mirrorless and I was very tempted by the release of Nikon’s Z6 and Z7 but I was disappointed with the one card slot and just wouldn’t feel comfortable after shooting with two slots for so long.
I am also a little concerned about going smaller and smaller with my camera as I want to feel like I’m holding something solid and I just love the ergonomics of the D750.
Probably my only very minor issue these days is starting to feel a little conscious when shooting ceremonies and the shutter sound as I know lots of photographers are out there with their silent shutters now. I may be tempted to get one Z6 to fill this need. Watch this space…
My main workhorse is my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens which I still use during all ceremonies where it is harder to move around but I still want a variety of different focal lengths in the shots.
I use this lens for all my couple shots too as I love the variety I can get with it, although I’m still running around a lot to get near and far on my feet.
In combination with this I have a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 and Nikon 85mm f/1.8 which are both superb lenses too, amazingly sharp and very fast. They are also really light and very affordable compared to the f/1.4 equivalent lenses and I just didn’t see the need for the extra investment.
I experiment with just using these two lenses but still find I am reaching for the 24-70mm for the moments mentioned above.
I still have an old Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 but very rarely use this anymore as I like to be much closer to the action to tell a story.
I have 2 x Nikon Speedlight SB-910s which I will use for the evening reception and sometimes speeches if I find I need to be higher than ISO 5000/6400.
I again like to keep things pretty simple with my setup and will have on-camera flash and just bounce off ceiling or the white card that pops out.
Occasionally on first dance I may set up one off-camera flash on a Manfrotto stand and use some simple triggers, Calumet Quad Plus 2.4GHz Wireless Receiver and Transmitter.
Out of the summer season, I will often make a creative portrait in the evening during blue hour using an off-camera flash and I have some Magmod Grids.
I also have a Magsphere and Magbounce in case of a rainy wedding day and the need to take portraits and group shots inside.
I’m part of a rare breed that edits my photos not using Lightroom, but instead use Capture One Pro which I still believe is the most powerful RAW converter.
I have my own little pre-set that I load up which is very simple, giving good saturation and contrast.
It does everything that LR does, maybe just quicker and it’s just been around much longer. I was using it back in my commercial days where it was the tool for all advertising and fashion work where you could tether whilst shooting.
Thanks for reading folks. Big love, Will. :)
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