Non tradition London Wedding Photographer

Not Just Another Wedding Photographer

At War With The Wedding Obvious, Blog Article, Featured Blog Post, My Style

You may be looking for a London wedding photographer but I need to be very clear that I’m definitely not just another wedding photographer.  In many ways I see weddings a little bit differently.  Of course you may be wondering what I mean by this?

So here are 5 reasons why I’m not just another wedding photographer.

The contents of my wedding photography kit bag

What’s In My Wedding Photography Kit Bag?

My Passion, My Style

I often get asked, particularly by other wedding photographers, about what camera equipment I take and use when undertaking a couple’s wedding photography.  So I thought it would be both interesting and useful to empty my wedding photography kit bag(s) and show you all the photographic gear I will typically pack and take with me to a wedding.

An index to all the photography gear in my wedding photography bag

My Wedding Photography Equipment

Camera Bodies:

#1-#3: 3 x Olympus OMD EM5 Micro Four Thirds Camera Bodies

I regularly use 3 of these beautiful camera bodies (1 x Silver, 2 x Black) on a wedding day – either with 3 prime lenses (see “F” through to “L” below) or, more recently, 3 of Olympus’ new Pro Zoom lenses (see “C” through to “E” below) attached.  Not only does this mean I have lots of back-up should anything happen to one, but it gives me a lot of flexibility on the wedding day. As a wedding photojournalist who relies on capturing those fleeting little moments, the less time spent on changing lenses the less I miss! This is why using multiple cameras is so important for me. And with the use of the Black Rapids harness (see #10 below), and the smaller, lighter size of the OMD’s themselves, I can carry them all day without any issues whatsoever.

#4: Olympus Pen Lite EPL-5  Micro Four Thirds Camera Body

I also carry this as a 4th back up camera – but will often have it sitting close by (especially during the morning preparations and/or wedding ceremony) with another lens attached…just in case! (There’s that phrase again!)

Lenses:

A: Olympus 70-300mm (EFL: 140-600mm) F4.0-5.6 Four Thirds Telephoto Zoom Lens

One of my older Olympus 4/3 lenses that requires an adaptor (see “N” below) for use on my micro 4/3 bodies (see #1-#4 above). It’s in my bag, but rarely ever used. It’s a lens you might expect a sports or wildlife photographer to use, given it’s huge focal length (up to 600mm in full frame equivalent!), rather than a wedding photographer, but it did come in use at one wedding where I was one end of a castle grounds and the bride had wandered off for a “quiet moment”.  I don’t envisage it ever getting much use…but it’s there just in case! (“Just in case” is a phrase you’ll hear us wedding photographers using a lot!!)

B: Sigma 50mm (EFL: 100mm) F1.4 EX DG HSM Fixed Focal Length Four Thirds Prime Lens

Another older 4/3 lens that requires an adaptor (see “N” below) for use on micro 4/3 camera bodies (see #1-#4 above).  Not often used, but given it’s fixed focal length of 100mm (Full Frame equivalent) and fast f/1.4 aperture it is a beautiful lens for capturing portraits.  Given it’s very slow auto focus (because of the adaptor) it’s only really useful for the more formal and traditional posed wedding portraits of a wedding couple.  It would struggle with anything fast moving or with my usual candid documentary approach. But the images it does capture are razor sharp.

C: Olympus ED 40-150mm (EFL: 80-300mm) F2.8 PRO Micro Four Thirds Zoom Lens

One of the Olympus Pro Zooms – their top of the range zoom lenses – is a stunning telephoto lens with a constant f/2.8 across the entire focal range -making it a flexible and indispensable lens for portraits and subjects further away – i.e. when I’m limited to the far end of a church, for example.  The f/2.8 make it usable in low light conditions too.

D: Olympus ED 12-40mm (EFL: 24-80mm) F2.8 PRO Micro Four Thirds Zoom Lens

The second in my trio of Olympus Pro zoom lenses. This is the go-to workhorse zoom lens. With its Full Frame equivalent of 24-80mm and constant F/2.8 aperture across the entire focal range, it’s the most used of all the zooms – getting the vast majority of the standard shots, from wide angle at 12mm through to a moderate telephoto at 40mm.  When in doubt, this is the lens to rely on in nearly all circumstances.

E: Olympus ED 7-14mm (EFL: 14-28mm) F2.8 PRO Mico Four Thirds Zoom Lens

The third and final in the Olympus trio of Pro zoom lenses. This beauty covers the wide angle end of things, with a Full Frame equivalent of 14-28mm focal lengths. Like the two other Pro zooms, it has a constant f/2.8 aperture across the entire focal length. A brilliant lens for interiors and getting that extra width when space is at a premium. Like the other two Pro zooms, the image quality is as good as it gets – which isn’t a surprise as Olympus reign supreme when it comes to lens optics.

F: Olympus ED 75mm (EFL: 150mm) F1.8 Micro Four Thirds Fixed Length Prime Lens

In terms of image quality this lens produces the best image quality I have EVER seen from ANY lens…like EVER!!!  Images are so sharp from it, you really do risk cutting yourself on them. With a Full Frame equivalent of 150mm and a fast aperture of f/1.8 this is the most beautiful portrait lens or for capturing moments a little further away.  The lens really does demonstrate why primes are so superior.

G: Olympus ED 60mm (EFL: 120mm) F2.8 Macro Micro Four Thirds Fixed Length Prime Lens

This is my macro lens, for getting thos wonderfully close-up shots of rings, floral details and even make up shots. It has a 1x magnification but with a Full Frame focal length equivalent of 120mm it also doubles up nicely as a decent telephoto lens with impressive results.  It’s often the lens that gets added to my EPL-5 body (see #4 above) which sits on standby for the occasional use.

H: Olympus ED 45mm (EFL: 90mm) F1.8 Micro Four Thirds Fixed Length Prime Lens

Another favourite portrait lens and for subjects a little further away with its full frame equivalent focal length of 90mm.  It’s f/1.8 aperture makes it a nice fast lens for low light conditions and is often an integral part of my wedding photojournalistic approach. So is more versatile than normal portrait lenses.

I: Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm (EFL: 50mm) F1.4 ASPH Micro Four Thirds Fixed Length Prime Lens

One of the few non-Olympus lenses I use, but it’s another workhorse that is regularly affixed to a camera during weddings. As a full frame equivalent of 50mm it’s the focal length that affords the same perspective of the human eye, hence why 50mm is a popular choice of lens for most wedding photographers and photojournalists. And with a super fast f/1.4 aperture it’s brilliant for low light conditions.

J: Olympus ED 12mm (EFL: 24mm) F2.0 Micro Four Thirds Fixed Length Prime Lens

This is my usual go to lens for wider exterior and interior shots – such as architectural shots and inside buildings when space is limited. With a full frame focal equivalent of 24mm it’s nice and wide, without risking too much lens distortion.  A regular fixture on my camera at most weddings.

K: Olympus ED 17mm (EFL: 34mm) F1.8 Micro Four Thirds Fixed Length Prime Lens

This is my go to lens for all my personal street photography work. With a full frame focal length equivalent of 34mm it’s another classic lens length for photojournalists. Offering a slightly wider perspective than my Leica 25mm (see “I” above) it’s anther great choice for all those candid moments during a wedding when I need a slightly wider view, without risking lens distortions that come with a wider lens. As with all my prime lenses, it has a nice fast aperture of f/1.8. Pound for pound one of my most favourite lenses.

L: Olympus Fisheye Body Cap Lens BCL-0980 9mm (ELF: 18mm) Micro Four Thirds Lens

Bit of a novelty piece really, a wide fish eye lens made out of a simple body cap. All manual and no electronics. A quirky toy but I have used it at weddings for a slightly surreal fish eye effect. If you understand it’s limitations you can get some effective but limited use out of it…low light conditions not being one of them, what with it’s fixed f/8 aperture. One for sunny days and/or good light!

M: Olympus 1.4 Teleconverter  MC-14

An adapter that converts the focal length of the 40-150mm Pro Zoom lens (see “C” above) to an even longer 210mm, or a full frame focal equivalent of 420mm. The only down side is that it it brings the constant f/2.8 aperture of that lens down to a slightly slower f/4 – so reduces its low light capabilities…but like all these things, there always a compromise to be made.

N: Olympus Four Thirds Mount Adapter MMF-3

This adapter essentially allows me to mount my old four thirds lens on the newer and smaller micro four thirds camera bodies.  At present it gets used for Olympus 70-300mm lens (see “A” above) and the Sigma 50mm lens (see “B” above.) I also have the OM Mount Adapter MMF-2 that allows me to attach some of me even older OM (analogue film) lenses – though I don’t currently carry these for weddings.

Flash Kit:

#5: Olympus FL 36 Shoe Mount Digital Flash

Primarily my back-up flash in case of issues with one the other flashes (see #6 & #7)

#6: Olympus FL‑600R Shoe Mount Digital Flash

When shooting a 2 camera flash set up, this is my secondary flash. Very small, light and portable.

#7: Metz 52 AF-1 Digital Fit Flashgun

My primary flashgun, simply because I can run it off of a much more powerful battery pack (see #8) which means I get much faster recycle times and a lot more battery life.

#8: 2x Godox Propac Flash Battery Packs

What I use to power my Metz flashgune (see #7) – having two means I can alternate and essentially never run out of juice!

#11: Gary Fong Collapsible Lightsphere

It’s often compared to some Tupperware, but this light modify is attached to a flashgun to give a more flattering and even light when using flash. It’s most probably the best light modify available for “on camera” flash.

#12: Gary Fong Coloured Light Domes

About 6 different coloured light domes, plus a diffuser/white balance one, to be attached to the Lightsphere (see #11) for different lighting effects when using flash.  Adds more creativity to flash photography.

#13: 3 x Flash Diffusers

3 fabric flash diffusers for helping soften the harsh light from a flashgun.  Lesser used since the purchase of the Gary Fong Lightspehere (see #11 above)

#24 – #29: Various Flash Cables & Chargers

All the cables for connecting flashguns to battery packs, off camera flash cable and 2 x charger cables for batter packs.

Other Gear:

#9: NextoDi Nexto Extreme Camera Card Back-Up Device

An essential bit of my wedding kit. This is what I back up all my camera SD cards to, the moment I take them out of camera. It means there is a back up copy of all images taken before I even leave the wedding venue.  I believe in reducing risk as much as possible and this is essential in that!

#10: Black Rapid RS DR-1 Double Strap

This harness allows me to attach two of my camera bodies to it, making it easy to carry around 3 cameras throughout the wedding day. The third camera I simply hang around my neck with a conventional camera strap.

#14: 18 x SanDisk SD Memory Cards

Various SD cards for my cameras, 10 x 16GB cards and 8 x 8GB cards.

#15: 24 x Rechargeable Batteries for Olympus OMD EM5

I pack enough charged batteries fro my 3 OMD bodies to get through an entire wedding day…and more besides!  9 of these are the official (and expensive!) Olympus branded batteries, the remaining ones are 3rd party batteries.

#16: 4 x Rechargeable Batteries for Olympus Pen Lite EPL-5

I rarely use more than one of these, given they are for my 4th backup and occasional camera body, but as always I like to ensure I have plenty of backup…just in case!

#17: 1 x Battery Charger for Olympus Pen Lite EPL-5

And just in case I do get through all my batteries for the Olympus Pen, I have a battery charger on standby!

#18 – #19: 3 x Battery Chargers for Olympus OMD EM5’s

And of course 3 battery chargers for all those OMD batteries!

#20 – #21: 2 x Hoya Natural Density (ND) Filters

An ND2 and ND4 filters, primarily for the Panasonic Leica f/1.4 25 mm lens (see “I” above). On bright days I can attach these filters to let in less light and still ensure I can shoot the shallow f/1.4 depth of field. By affixing both I can achieve an ND6 rating.

#22: 3 x Borwin Natural Density (ND) Filters

ND2, ND4 and an ND8 filters for the Olympus f/1.8 45mm lens (see “H” above), again to limit the light in to achieve the shallow f/1.8 depth of field on a bright sunny day.  Using different combinations of the filters I can also obtain ND6, ND10, ND12 and ND14 ratings – I think I could shoot with f/1.8 on the Sun with that!

#23: 4 Plug Extension Socket

Handy where plug sockets are in short supply at wedding venues…which can often be the case!  My name is inked on there, which stops DJs trying to say it’s theirs at the end of the reception!  Only now an issue if the DJ is called Darren too!

#30: Wedding Emergency Kit

A little supplementary bag I carry with mini sewing kit, safety pins, painkillers, plasters, hem tape, tissues, etc.  You never know when a bride or groom may need something from it!

So there you have it…all the equipment I take to each and every wedding I shoot. Some of it is essential kit, the rest there as back-up.  What a wedding photographer packs is often a good indicator of how professional they are.  I firmly believe in reducing the risk of something going wrong, as much I can.  Hopefully this post demonstrates that!

Getting Married?

If you are getting married and would like to chat to me about your wedding plans, please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or send a message via my contact page. I will be delighted to hear from you.

Capturing The Soul: The beauty of b&w

About Wedding Photojournalism, Blog Article, My Style

The passion and emotion of b&w wedding photojournalism

There’s a fantastic quote by photographer Ted Grant which goes:

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”

That is one of the very reasons I have a passion for black and white photography – especially with my wedding reportage approach.  Now don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy and appreciate colour photography but it’s black and white photography that really excites and moves me; it resonates with me personally in a way colour photography can’t quite – and believe me I have tried.

Soul Muzak – The Beauty of Noise

Blog Article, My Style

Why I love Grain in my Wedding Photography

Modern digital cameras are amazing.  There’s more technology in a basic entry level one than was in the spacecraft that took Neil Armstrong and Co to the moon.  As a tool they make things ever easier for people to take great photos with (but they’ve not yet replaced the need for a talented and creative eye – an idea for a future post, perhaps?) and can do things that photographers in years gone by could only dream about.  The sensors in most camera bodies now allow photographers to shoot handheld in low light conditions whilst still giving us clean and sharp images without the need for the harsh and artificial light of flashes.

As a wedding photographer I prefer to work with natural light wherever I can.  That’s not because I don’t know how to use on camera flash (or even off camera lighting) – I do, and spent a lot of time learning how to do it. It’s simply because I think natural light is more flattering 99% of the time for wedding photography. It’s certainly less hassle and, as a documentary wedding photographer who specialises in capturing real moments and emotions, it doesn’t slow things down.  The only time I really resort to using a flash is during the dancing of the evening reception – but again that’s an article for another time.

Now of course this is all sounding great so far, but the big problem I have with modern digital cameras is the fact that they produce images that are almost too clean, too perfect.  This may sound odd – how on earth could photos be too good?  Well, let me explain…

The Beauty of the Flaw

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You’ll often hear a lot of photographers bemoaning that digital images don’t look the same as film photos used to, not quite a good.  Of course, this will be photographers like me who are old enough to pre-date digital cameras.  But it also explains why film has refused to go away and in fact has seen a recent trend and popularity for film in wedding photography.  I firmly believe the reason digital never looks quite like film is because back in the “old days” film often produced flaws that gave the images more of a mood and atmosphere that is lacking in pin sharp and crystal clean digital images.  If you think about it, that’s why Instagram is so popular – it actually recreates those old film flaws, making the images less perfect but arguably more beautiful.

One of those old film flaws that I always loved was a bit of grain in photos. In fact, it’s no coincidence that a lot of my photographic influences and inspirations like Anton Corbijn or William Klein were not only were happy to increase that grain in their photography, but often made a feature of the grain itself.

Sensor Noise & Film Grain

Warborough wedding photojournalism of bridal prarparations

In the modern, digital world grain is known as “noise” and is often sneered upon as the best cameras (and sensors) can make it possible to do away with noise in the vast majority of cases.  Without becoming too technical, noise is more of an issue in lower light shooting where you have to increase the ISO settings on a camera to let in more light, without having to risk a slower shutter speed (that increases the risk of blurring) or resorting to the use of flash.

And that’s the problem with modern digital photos for me. They look almost sterile and lacking in mood for my tastes. That’s why, especially in low light situations, I’m not afraid of incorporating and making a feature of “noise” in my images

I firmly believe that noise (or grain as it was called in the film days) used and enhanced in the right way actually adds to the characteristics of photos.  As I say above it adds mood and atmosphere and it’s definitely part of my style and approach. It’s what makes me different from a lot of other wedding photographers who do everything to eliminate noise in their images (either in camera or in post production).  Now I’m fortunate that, as a documentary wedding photography, I’m more interested in capturing the real moments and true emotions of your wedding day rather than fretting about technical perfection and missing those shots.

The Idiosyncrasies of the Paints

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fortunately I choose to shoot with Olympus OMD EM1 MKII cameras which, in mine and a lot of others opinions, actually create a “noise” that is quite beautiful and similar to how film grain was. Yes, some cameras can produce a really ugly noise – so I’m always clear that not all noise is good. You have to understand how and when it works as an enhancement to the photo – and as a wedding photographer, that’s my number one priority: doing what’s right for the photo itself.  Sadly modern digital photographers who have never shot with film don’t really understand, or appreciate, how to use grain to their advantage.  Like any great painter, it’s not just the colour of the paints you paint with, but the texture and idiosyncrasies of the paints itself that can make, or break, a picture.

Also, being passionate about b&w photography – which is synonymous with a photojournalistic approach – means I shoot a lot in b&w and there’s no argument that noise (or even old film grain) looks better in b&w images.  Again I think that’s all to do with b&w being more about mood and atmosphere, which the noise/grain helps to enhance.

It’s Soul Music, Baby

Wedding photojournalism at South Lodge hotel in Horsham, West Sussex

Another good way of explaining this whole issue is to draw parallels with the music industry.  Think of modern digital music – with its state of the art production, note perfect vocals, cutting edge technologies that all sound amazingly crystal clear.  Now think of those old soul classics from the 60’s or jazz standards from before then. Often recorded in mono, on inferior technology and with the hiss and crackle of needle-to-vinyl static.  There’s no arguing about which recordings are technically better but which are more real, more authentic?  Which stand the test of time and evoke feelings and emotions in the listener more.  I’d argue those old soul classics are more fondly recalled that the modern overproduced by technically perfect recording by the latest X Factor contestant.  Noise, or grain, in digital photography is very much the static of vinyl recordings. It’s the heart and soul of the picture, it’s what creates that undeniable authenticity of your wedding photography.

Of course, none of this is to say that there’s anything wrong with modern digital photography.  There’s plenty of wedding photographers who produce outstanding images that are completely clean, snappily crisp and dangerously sharp. It’s just not me or how I do things. I want you to feel my wedding photography, imperfect or not; to feel its heart beating from the inside out.  Because for me, the very beauty of wedding photography that is compelling and genuine go beyond the surface.  I love nothing more than when people say they feel my wedding photography.  And isn’t that the very thing you want from your wedding story? Feeling and emotion? So as a wedding photojournalist that’s what I strive for – and clearly it’s not about capturing all those special moments and expressions in a candid and natural way. It’s how that mood and atmosphere of a scene or moment are expressed.

So yes, in the right circumstances, I love noise and I’m happy to shout about it!  Or, rather, given my wedding photography style is often called melodic, I want to sing about it.  So let me be the Marvin Gaye to your wedding photography.

Contact Me

Crockwell Farm wedding photography of guests taking a peek at the arrangements for the evning wedding reception

If you are getting married and think my unique and creative approach to wedding photography will capture the narrative and authenticity of your personal wedding story, then I’d genuinely love to hear from you.  You can either call me on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page.

 

 

Candid street photography of a wedding party, posing for their traditional wedding portraits, in Central Park, New York City.

Candid Street Wedding Photography

My Style, Non-Wedding, Street Photography

Weddings Captured by a Street Photographer

Street photography is very much my personal passion – it’s what I shoot in my spare time. In many ways it is what drives my approach to wedding photography.  There are a lot of similarities between street photography and wedding photojournalism. Both employ a candid and unobtrusive approach that attempts to capture the integrity of a moment and produce a storytelling narrative within the frame.  So it’s not surprising that I often think of myself as a street photographer who just happens to be shooting a wedding.

There has been a small number of occasions whilst I’ve been out and about shooting street photography where I’ve stumbled across a wedding.  Of course, as a wedding photographer, I can’t resist capturing what’s unfolding before me – in a candid and discrete way- but without the expectation of being the official wedding photographer. So here are three examples of weddings I’ve captured in such circumstances.

Central Park, New York City Wedding Photography

Candid street photography of a wedding party, posing for their traditional wedding portraits, in Central Park, New York City.

Back in the spring of 2010 I was on a short trip, my first ever, to the US, which took in both New York City and then Los Angeles. Whilst wandering through Central Park, on the first day of my trip, I happened across this wedding party posing for their official wedding portraits.  I just loved that lime green wedding dress of the bride, and the white suit of the groom. And that hands in pocket too-cool-for-school attitude of the young boy was just fantastic. It was too good an opportunity for me to miss.

By intentionally standing behind a couple of family members looking on, I really wanted to give the impression of someone on the outside looking in.  It was very much how I felt at the time – an “outsider” in a foreign country I was visiting for the time, so it really reflects my feelings as much as capturing a wedding itself.

Labin, Croatia Wedding Photography

Street photography of a wedding photographer capturing the bridal party arriving for a wedding in the town of Labin in Croatia

Once again, I was away on a trip to the delightful Istria region of Croatia although, unlike the New York trip (above), it wasn’t my first time here having visited the same area when I was just a kid back in the late 1970s (although it was part of Yugoslavia back then.)  On this occasion we had taken a day trip up to the small historic town of Labin, which overlooks the coastal resort of Rabac, and whilst there happened upon this scene as a fellow wedding photographer captured the moment the bride and bridal party arrived for a wedding in the small church.

I had only taken a small compact camera away with me on this trip (a Ricoh GRD IV for the camera geeks amongst you!) so was able to snap this moment pretty discretely and silently – without drawing attention to myself.  It did actually feel a little odd being a wedding photographer looking in on another wedding photographer as he worked – almost quite voyeuristic in a way, but you could say it was a busman’s holiday in effect!

South Bank, London Wedding Photography

A Chinese wedding is captured, in a street photography style, on the South Bank in London

This was a fairly recent wedding that I stumbled across on the South Bank in London.  I was out on a rare opportunity to spend the day shooting street photography when I spotted this wedding group having their official wedding portraits taken.  Alternatively, it may have actually been a Chinese pre-wedding shoot – as I know some, more affluent Chinese wedding couples will travel to different iconic travel destinations around the world to have pre-wedding portraits shot, in their formal wedding attire, in the year running up to their actual wedding day.

What really caught my eye with this scene, was the way the wedding party contrasted with the families having picnics in the Jubilee Gardens as well as the 3 girls, in odd masks, dancing in the background.  I really love capturing these odd and surreal juxtapositions in my street photography…amusing photos but also ones that raise a few questions too.

Candid Wedding Photography for Your Wedding

Hopefully this small selection of candid photos demonstrates how my personal passion for street photography not only fuels my candid wedding photojournalism approach but they can also sometimes cross over too!

So if you are getting married and looking for a more candid and natural approach to your wedding photography then I’d really love to hear from you.  You can either call me right now on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page here. We can then talk about your wedding plans and I can explain my wedding photojournalism approach in more detail. You can see my current wedding photography packages and prices by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can send me a private message directly from the contact box below.  Please ensure your email details are correct if you would like a reply. It’s also helpful to leave a mobile telephone number so I can text you to say a reply has been sent. Sometimes my replies can end up in a spam folder – so getting a text will alert you to the fact that I have replied.

Send Me A Private Message

I look forward to hearing from you. And if you do have any comments about this particular post, do feel free to leave a comment (or two!) in the comments box below. I love to get comments and hear people’s views. Thanks!

Shooting wedding photography with micro four thirds prime lenses

Prime Focus On Your Wedding Photography

Blog Article, My Style

Shooting Wedding Photography with Prime Lenses

I’ve already covered elsewhere why I shoot weddings with three Olympus OMD EM5 camera bodies. Today I thought it would be interesting to delve a little further into why I shoot wedding photography specifically with prime lenses.

For the uninitiated a prime lens is a camera lens with a fixed focal length. Unlike zoom lenses, which can cover a range of focal lengths, from very wide to extremely long, in a single lens, a prime only lets you shoot at one specific length – depending on the prime lens you have attached to your camera body.

Now, of course, and quite rightly, you’re most probably thinking why would any wedding photographer choose to shoot with prime lenses which sound like they restrict the kind of lengths you can shoot at a wedding?  This is a good question but, as I’m sure you’re expecting, I have a good answer (or two.)

Low Light, Focus and Image Quality

Harlestone Village Institute wedding photography of the bride and groom being toasted by the guests during the wedding speeches

One of the distinct advantages of prime lenses is that they are usually much faster lenses than zoom lenses.  What this means is, that in low light situations, like at a church wedding where the interiors are quite dark and gloomy, you can carry on shooting hand held without gutting blurry camera shake or have to resort to a camera flash – which can be harsh, a mood killer and often forbidden during the ceremony. This achieved by setting a wide aperture (or a low F number such as f/1.4 or f/1.8) that allows in more light and lets you shoot at a faster shutter speed (which helps to eliminate camera shake and blurred movements.)

Connected with the ability to shoot at a wider aperture is the ability to get a much shallower depth of field with prime lenses – which helps blur distracting backgrounds and ensuring the main subject, like a bride or a groom, remains the most important part of the photo.  Yes there other factors that also assist with a shallow depth of field (such as distance to subject, distance from subject to the background and the length of the actual lens) but on the whole the wider aperture of a prime lens is going to help with the blurred background which, based on my experience as a wedding photographer, is what the majority of wedding couples love in their final wedding photography.

The other big advantage of prime lenses is a better image quality over zoom lenses. The simple fact is that a prime lens has a lot less glass and elements in it than a zoom lens does – which after all needs more to cover all the focal ranges it can move between. Therefore, the less glass you have between the end of a lens and the sensor inside the camera body (which records the image) the sharper the image quality will be.  And who doesn’t love sharper better quality images for their wedding photography?  And don’t forget, because they have less glass and elements they are smaller and lighter than bulkier and longer zoom lenses – again reducing the risk of camera shake. So it does all add up to better image quality overall.

Have Feet, Will “Zoom”

Old Ship Inn Hotel Brighton wedding photography of bride and groom cutting the wedding cake

But what about the “inconvenience” of only being able to shoot at one focal length? I hear you ask. Well, for starters, I can simply move my feet to either move in closer or pull back if required.  I have found in the past that zoom lenses can make you lazy and as a result you’re more likely to favour the longer focal length and stand back on the edges more.  As a wedding photojournalist I prefer to get in close to the action, rather than being a “voyeur” of sorts standing on the edge of things. Prime lenses encourage me to do this and get in closer. And because of their smaller size they are far more discrete and much less obtrusive than having some bulking big telephoto stuck in your face.

And in addition, that’s where my 3 camera set-up to shoot wedding photography comes in to play, it means I can attach 3 lenses which will give me wide, medium and longer focal lengths without having to continually change lenses.  That’s why I attend every wedding with a total of 6 prime lenses in my kit bag.  The wider focal lengths are covered by 12mm f/2 and 17mm f/1.8 lenses.  The 25mm f/1.4 covers the mid range and the longer focal lengths are covered by a 45mm f/1.8, a 60mm f/2 and a 75mm f/1.8 lenses.  The 60mm also doubles up as a fantastic macro lens – great for those detail shots like rings and table decorations.

Wedding Photojournalism for your Wedding Day?

Rowton Castle wedding photography of bride shedding a tear during the speeches .

So as you can see, I have a carefully thought out and professional approach to capturing your wedding photography. So if you are interested in my wedding photojournalism approach for capturing the real story of your wedding, then please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page. I’ll be delighted to hear about your wedding plans and discuss my wedding photography packages in more detail with you.  You can also find my latest prices by clicking here.

3 Camera Wedding Photography

My Style

So why do use 3 cameras to capture wedding photography?

As a wedding photographer one of the things I often get asked about – especially by guests on the wedding day – is why I am shooting the wedding with 3 cameras.  So I thought it might be useful (and a little interesting?) to explain why here.

Old Ship Inn Brighton wedding photography of the bride putting on a necklace above a tattoo of her daughter's name, during the bridal preparations

Being a wedding photographer who specialises in natural, candid and unobtrusive wedding photojournalism it is important I have cameras small and light enough that allow me to get inside the real moments of the wedding day without damaging the integrity of the moment.  The beauty of mirrorless camera systems is that they offer camera bodies small enough to do this whilst not compacting on image quality that couples would expect of professional wedding photography.  Arguably the Olympus OMD system is one of the best and most professional of these mirrorless camera systems and having shot with Olympus cameras ever since I first picked up a professional camera in the mid 1980s, it was only logical I would stick with Olympus as a brand.  But let’s not get too carried away by brand choice or gear snobbery – ultimately a camera is just a tool. It’s the photographer who puts the word professional into professional wedding photography. And professional wedding photographers have full control over their cameras rather than allowing their camera to control them!

Anyhow, I digress. So, back to my 3 camera wedding photography setup, so with cameras that are much smaller and, importantly, lighter than traditional Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLR) it’s so much easier to carry 3 cameras to capture wedding reportage photographer than, say, 2 much bigger and heavier DSLRs – and believe me I know…I did it or years!  And believe me, as a working professional wedding photographer, I can safely say the technology is such now that those big DSLRs will be a thing of the past in just a few years time.

Holiday Inn Brighton wedding photography of the briding crying during the wedding ceremony

Still I guess it still doesn’t explain why I would want to shoot a wedding with 3 cameras, even if they are smaller and lighter.  The answer to this is simply all about image quality.  As a wedding photojournalist it is important, given the dark and low light situations I face in shooting a wedding day (think dark churches, dark receptions and the good old English weather amongst other challenges), that I have a “fast” lens.  Simply put the faster a lens is the more light it will let in and the lower the light I can work in whilst still handholding my camera or without having to resort flash photography (which is often not allowed or is quite intrusive).  The truth is that the fastest lenses are what are known as “Prime” lenses or, in other words, fixed length lenses which unlike zoom lenses only shoot at 1 fixed distance to/from subject.  So given I choose to shoot my wedding photojournalism with prime lenses I invariably need 3 cameras to put these on. After all, I want a wide, normal and longer length lenses to cover all possibilities on the wedding day (and of course I carry a wide variety of prime lenses with me to a wedding – and the smaller lighter nature of these I can carry more a lot easier) so 3 cameras give me this flexibility.

Now, of course, I hear you thinking why not shoot a wedding with 2 zoom lenses that offer a variety of focal lengths. After all, this would perhaps require only two cameras.  And, yes, a lot of the wedding photographers do shoot with 2 cameras and 2 zoom lenses. However, if we put the fact that zooms are much heavier and longer to carry around than prime lenses, they generally are not as “fast” as prime lenses (making it more of a challenge to work in low light conditions) and, arguably, the image quality out of a zoom lens doesn’t match the sharper, crisper images you get out of a prime lens (and don’t forget a camera is only as good as the lens you put on it – but maybe that’s a different post for another day). This is because a zoom lens needs more elements and optics in it to provide all those “zoomable” focal lengths.  The more elements you have been the lens and the camera’s sensor, arguably the softer and less sharp your images will turn out.  That’s not to say there’s not some zoom lenses out there that produce stunning results, there are, but these can be ridiculously priced and  very susceptible to damage (another post for another day is how rugged Olympus gear is compared to other more sensitive brands!).  So shooting with primes gives me the ease and flexibility to capture stunning wedding photos. And being smaller than zoom lenses they are less obtrusive and allow me to get in much closer to subjects and moments, which is vital to capturing the genuine and authentic wedding moments that is demanded of wedding photojournalism.

Rowton Castle Wedding Photography of the bride being helped into her wedding dress

There is one final reason I shoot with 3 cameras on the wedding day and it’s the simple factor of reducing risk.  In the worst case scenario if one camera breaks or stops working I will still have two cameras to carry on shooting you wedding (and yes I do have 2 zoom lenses in my bag should I need to revert to them in a worst case 2 or 1 camera scenario – again all about reducing risk on such a big and important day, where a lot of money has been spent!) Imagine the poor 2 camera wedding photographer who would need to go down to 1 camera at a wedding in the same circumstances (it’s still doable on 1 camera – I had that happen in my 2 camera days – but its a lot more stressful and challenging capturing all the shots expected of a wedding day!) I don’t want to even think about those who choose to shoot wedding photography with just 1 camera (I won’t call them professional wedding photographers as no professional would dare to risk shooting a wedding with 1 camera!) and something goes wrong with the camera.  That’s one of the things you will find with those wedding photographers who offer unbelievably cheap prices to shoot your wedding. Often they will only have 1 camera and maybe 2 lenses (and more than likely not very good cameras or lenses at that).  It’s how they manage to keep their price so low, but I genuinely believe that’s too big a risk. What value do you put on your wedding photography? Are you really wanting to take that kind of risk?

Brighton wedding dress and bride

So what prime lenses do I use and bring to a wedding.  Generally on my cameras I have a 12mm f/2 wide angle lens, a 25mm f1.4 mid lens and a 45mm f1.8 lens. In my bag I also carry a 17mm f/1.8, a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens that also doubles up as a longer portrait lens and a beautiful 75mm f1/1.8 longer portrait lens. In addition to these I have 4 zoom lenses available (should I really need them!) that cover from an ultra wide 9mm right up to a really long 300mm.  So you can see, I really do have all bases covered!

And there you have it, the reasons I shoot with 3 cameras on a wedding day (it’s also worth pointing out that in addition to these 3 cameras I often bring 2 older backup cameras too!)

So if you are getting married and are assured by my approach to wedding photography then please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or leave me a message on my contact page. I’d love to chat with you about your wedding plans and how my wedding photojournalism approach will help you get the beautiful and genuine story of your wedding day. You can find details of my current packages and prices on the Collections & Prices page.