We are Dom and Liam Shaw, aka York Place Studios. We’re UK based wedding and street photographers but travel all around the country and across the world delivering our own unique brand of wedding photo-journalistic-streety-docuplayfullary photography… we really need to come up with a catchier name for that!
Until recently we’d been using quite a selection of different cameras on a wedding day, namely several Canon 5D Mark III’s, a Leica M240 and a Fuji X-T1, but recently we took something of a leap of faith and switched entirely to four Fuji X-Pro 2’s. Well, almost entirely, we weren’t about to give up that Leica!
Over many years of shooting together we’ve tried out a lot of different cameras, lenses and accessories, with the Canon 5D Mark III’s in particular serving us faithfully for many years. With the X-Pro 2’s though, we finally feel like we’ve found a camera that affords us the freedom to shoot in the way we’ve always really wanted to.
That’s not to say that this is the perfect camera, like every other camera we’ve ever picked up there are definite flaws, but this is however the first camera that made us feel comfortable enough to leave the DSLR’s at home and shoot entirely on a mirrorless body. In doing so we’ve found huge advantages in the way we interpret the subtleties of light, how close we can get to the subject, the angles we can shoot and that little added energy that comes when you’re not carrying the weight of two Canon’s and heavy glass around all day.
We’ve also found that shooting with the Fuji’s at weddings feels much closer to the way we shoot street, with the X-T1’s previously being our street camera of choice rather than the rather less discrete DSLR’s. Bringing the street photography style seamlessly into our wedding work is something we’ve been striving towards for quite some time as it’s the way we love to shoot, and the X-Pro 2’s just feel like the perfect tool to achieve this.
When it comes to weddings our aim is to capture the way the wedding felt as much as how it looked. As part of this we like to capture the lighting conditions just the way they were. Hence you won’t find any flashes or additional lighting in our kit-bags. We want our photographs to spark real memories with no artificial additives, so it’s important to us that the equipment we use can cope with all manner of shooting conditions and doesn’t draw too much unwanted attention from the guests!
Dom: Before we picked up the X-Pro 2’s I had already found that I was using my X-T1 more and more on wedding days as well as using it exclusively for street photography and the X-Pro 2’s took everything I loved about this mirrorless revolution and built on it to give me pretty much everything I look for in a professional camera from fast-focussing to dual SD slots.
On a wedding day I carry two X-Pro 2‘s, one with a Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 lens (35mm equivalent) and the other with the Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 (85mm equivalent). Between these two lenses I shoot 90% or sometimes even 100% of the day, but we also share use of the Fuji XF 16mm f/1.4 when we want to squeeze a few more layers into the shot, particularly on the dance floor. They’re all fast primes and coupled with the X-Pro 2’s great focussing options and low-light performance they help me shoot in some (frequently) pretty dark conditions right through to the end of the night – essential if, like us, you don’t use flash in your work.
Whilst a fair few batteries are essential to feed the hungry Fuji’s, with the cameras attached to my person on either a harness or belt clip I can happily carry everything I need on a wedding day in my tiny camera messenger bag, the Ona Bowery – a huge advantage in becoming less noticeable among the guests. The simplicity of this setup is something I’ve been striving towards for some time and so far I’m absolutely loving it.
Liam: Like Dom I now carry two X-Pro 2’s where once the Canon 5D Mark III’s used to be, and similarly they come mostly armed with the Fuji XF 23mm f/1.4 and Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2, in my case hanging from my belt with the assistance of dual Spiderpro holsters after a recent switch back from Holdfast’s Moneymaker harness.
During certain parts of the day you’ll also see the Leica M240 (with the 50mm f/1.4 Summilux & 35mm f/2 Summicron) hanging around my neck – a camera that, despite the X-Pro 2’s prowess, still has a beauty about its imagery that, when the conditions are right, other cameras just can’t match.
There’s lots to love about the Fuji though and with these new cameras I’m finding that there’s greater synergy between the compositional concepts in my mind and the actual practicality of shooting on the day. This is particularly evident in how close I’m able to get to people with these smaller cameras and the angles I can choose whilst still being able to see the screen in front of me. Freedom of movement was also a key factor in my switch from a harness based system to a belt clip, although the safety of having the camera physically clipped to you during shooting is definitely something I miss!
As with Dom I like to carry as little as possible with me on a wedding day and whilst I like to have a little more space to hide the Leica away when not in use, the special edition Ona Berlin fits everything I need perfectly.
Whilst there are plenty of technical reasons for choosing the equipment we have, probably the biggest factor for us is one that we can’t really put into words. From the beautifully crafted bags to the cameras themselves we just love using this gear in a way that we haven’t with previous camera and lens combos. We want to pick it up, carry it with us everywhere and actually get out there and shoot with it, and that to us is more important than any tech spec you could quote at us.
Inside Dom and Liam’s camera bags:
We are Dom and Liam, aka York Place Studios: Yorkshire based wedding photographers who travel across the UK and abroad to capture couple’s stories. We have been shooting together for over ten years and have tried pretty much every bit of kit available over the years but we have now settled (for now at least!) with a system that works for the ethos and style we want to create.
We work discreetly at a wedding in a relaxed and unobtrusive manner photographing solely with available light allowing us to faithfully capture the atmosphere of the day. We choose to embrace the lighting conditions, (including the dance floor!) and shoot the colours of the day.
This means that if, for example, the room is lit with red uplighters we don’t try and hide it, we just try to capture the moment as naturally as possible. As part of this desire to keep things natural we don’t use flash so it’s important to us that the equipment we use is able to cope in any situation. To ensure we can keep to our mantra and deliver what our couples see in our portfolio we only use fast primes and a variety of cameras that each have different strengths for different situations.
Liam: I use the Canon 5D Mark III and almost solely shoot on the Canon 35mm f/1.4 as I find it an excellent storytelling lens and a perfect all rounder. If I find that I need to go a little wider though I will use the Canon 24mm f/1.4 sparingly and the Canon 85mm f/1.2 for any close-in shots – particularly useful for the ceremony and speeches when we want some photographs of all the emotional reactions but are often unable to get closer in.
Alongside the Canon 5D Mark III I use the Leica M 240 with the Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron and the Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux. It’s a beautiful camera and whilst shooting a Rangefinder takes a little bit of time to get used to, once you do then for me it beats autofocus for large parts of the day, particularly on the dance floor where having the ability to focus pin-sharp manually means you can avoid any missed autofocus with fast-moving subjects in often very low-light. Both lenses are great and having both the Canon and the Leica means that I can have a wider lens ready at all times.
To me the real beauty of the Leica M 240 though is that it truly feels like a special camera and it somehow just makes you want to use it all the time as the experience of using it is so much fun.
In 10 years of shooting, cameras have generally just become the tools of the trade to me but the Leica M 240 is something else – it actually inspires me to want to shoot. When taking photographs day in day out that’s a big deal and no other camera has ever really done that for me.
Dom: Like Liam I also use a Canon 5D Mark III, usually adorned with the Canon 50mm f/1.2. As my second camera though I use my beloved Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4. The Canon 135mm f/2 and Canon 24mm f/1.4 is also in my Shootsac ready for any extreme wide and close shots and occasionally the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 makes an appearance if I want to be particularly discreet!
The Fujifilm X-T1 is probably my favourite camera to shoot with since my first Canon A1; the colours are wonderful straight out of camera, it’s light, unobtrusive and always makes me feel creative. I use it for the bridal prep and for candids mostly as it’s so discreet I can often take images without people really noticing at all (the flip screen is great for this).
Although we shoot with the Canons we are finding more and more that the smaller cameras fit in better with our ethos and style. The Leica and Fuji allow us to get closer into the action; they’re so much more discreet that they’re far less noticed by the guests but when we are spotted people somehow feel more comfortable in front of the smaller cameras and react differently – more like the reaction they would have if a fellow guest was trying to take a photo.
Weight is also a factor: we normally work 15+ hour days at weddings and lugging two full SLR bodies and associated lenses around all day makes it even more exhausting, but switching to the smaller cameras means this isn’t such an issue.
Photography isn’t just our job it’s also our hobby and when we’re not shooting weddings we love visiting new places and trying to capture the soul of the streets.
Our street photography is exclusively shot with the Leica M 240 and the Fujifilm X-T1 as it’s even more important to be discrete and avoid drawing attention to ourselves. Again though it’s partly that sense of creativity that both these cameras help to inspire in us that makes us want to take them out on the street – if you see a camera as nothing but a tool then shooting with it in your spare time is never going to be appealing.
If, however, looking through that viewfinder really excites you then you feel constantly inspired to see what it can help you to create and aids you in becoming a better photographer every time you shoot.
Whilst we each might have our own take on how we would capture a particular image we’re incredibly lucky to both share the same overarching vision and the equipment we use helps us to express ourselves individually whilst maintaining a coherent style.
At the end of the day though it’s all about picking the right tool for the job at hand and finding something that works for you personally. Every camera has its strengths and weaknesses and there’s always something new around the corner but with this combination of equipment we feel like we pretty much have any situation covered.
The Equipment we use:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 85mm f/1.2
Canon 24mm f/1.4
Canon 35mm f/1.4
Leica M 240
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50mm f/1.2
Canon 135mm f/2
Canon 24mm f/1.4
Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4
Shootsac lens bag with the Baroque Pocket Cover