The Best Lens for Wedding Photography
So the section we're getting into right now is addressing the best lenses to shoot a wedding. Now, a side note, they're best for me, right? Like, I don't want anybody to walk away thinking like either, oh, I need that lens, because you don't if it's not applicable to your shooting style, or you might walk away being like, she's totally missing this lens. That's true, but I have found what's worked for me by a series of trial and error, but before we get into what I think are the best weddings, to shoot a wedding, I want to first show what is in my bag. So, I'm gonna start off by just kind of outlining how it works for myself and JD. We carry our gear in a Think Tank airport bag. That is how it's listed on the website because this is sizeable enough to be checked in above, and that's very important. We do not ever check any of our bags. We do not check our clothing bags or our gear bags when we're traveling for a wedding because if we lost either one of those two things, we're completel...
y off our game, and it will affect how we work. So, on a wedding day, if we're just working locally, this is the bag that carries the majority of our gear, and then we have satellite bags. So this is the Brixton bag by ONA, O-N-A. I absolutely love how these work for us. Now, they are on the pricier end, but they're on the pricier end because they are made of genuine leather, and they last forever. Now, it looks like a side bag, which is what I find appealing, because we do a lot of personal travel, and a lot of business travel. I stay away from camera bags that look like camera bags, because they're kind of like blaring advertisements to steal thousands of dollars worth of gear. Now, JD uses a Brixton bag and I use the Brooklyn bag. I love both those bags. I will take this bag on an engagement session because I just love the look and feel of it, but on a wedding day, I have found that it's a little too big for me. The Brooklyn bag is smaller, but I'll walk through what the gear that I use. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, excuse me. This camera has changed the way that I approach weddings. I first started shooting with a Canon 20D, which is why it is referred to as a prosumer camera, so it's a slightly professional camera for a consumer. I then after that upgraded to the 5D, and it changed my life because I went from a crop sensor to a full sensor on the 5D, and it was fantastic, and the color files were different. I stayed with the 5D through the transitions. I got the 5D Mark II, even though the color files kind of were a little bit tweaked, but it had video capability and higher ISO capabilities, which I really loved. The 5D was like the perfect unicorn child because the focusing system increased. It went to a 64 point focusing system which was fantastic. In my early days with Creative Live, people would always ask, why are you dipping your camera? Why are you dipping your camera? I didn't understand what I was doing until I had seen like a few second clip. I realized that I was using my nine point, I was finding the focal point closest to my subject, and then shifting and recomposing, and I was shifting and recomposing in between every single frame. So with this to find one of 64 points really makes it so much easier, and I find that my photos are a lot more in focus as a result. So, I shoot, this is my... This is how I keep all my cards, and I keep it in my bag. Now, how we indicate that a card is fresh, we have it facing up. Fresh meaning that it has been reformatted, and has been backed up on another source. When we are done shooting with it, or it is to indicate that it should not be touched for the rest of the day, it is flipped upside down and placed face out, so that we know, if I'm working with an assistant, or if JD picks up he knows where I am at any given point in the day. Although, he should never be touching this, because he has a whole set of his own, but just in any given case, if I like, hey, can you grab me a card, he knows what I am referring to. Now, this is a low pro bag. I've gone through different bags where there's Velcro along the side. I have done where all the clean cards are in one pocket, and all the used cards are in another. I just felt that for some reason, this worked for me a lot better over the years. So we're gonna go to my most favorite lens, and the lens that I use the absolute most because for my style it is the most diverse. It is the Canon 50 millimeter 1. I use this so often. As you see in lessons of me doing the shoots, and as you will see, I'm guessing, highly on the wedding day with The Knot this is my go-to lens. This is what I travel with. This is what I use. This is how I curate personal aspects of my life. I love it because of its versatility, and I can use it at every single time of the day, every single time. The 50 millimeter never leaves my bag because I need it at some point or another. The fact that it's a 1.2 gives me a lot of option when it comes to varying available light. I can be in a dark room during prep, and I can just shoot it in 800 ISO and at a 1.2, and produce images that I'm still really proud of, and that truly reflect my style without having to use flash. My second most used and favorite camera is the Canon 35 1.4. This lens was such a great lens, and I didn't get it up until later on in the game, because I had, stylistically, earlier in my career, had purchased other L Series lenses, thinking that that was what I needed, but truth be told, up until, I think this was three, four years ago that I got this lens, this was the lens that I needed. Because of my style, I'm a lifestyle photographer, I should be staying away from really wide photos because I can't curate width to such a large degree, but I can curate depth to a degree. When you use a lens like the 24, the 16 to 35, both lenses that I own, I was getting far too much in the frame to actually convey the fact that I was a lifestyle photographer. I use the 35 for couples portraits and landscape pictures, but the beauty of the 35 is that it's measured closely to what the eye naturally sees from periphery to periphery. So what you're looking at is what you're going to get when shooting a full-frame camera. Third most used lens would be the 85 1.2. This lens is so heavy, but it's beautiful, and it works so well and you get creamy, buttery skin tones. When shooting a bride, specifically, at a distance, there's something about the compression of this lens that produces such a beautiful photo, and you could really see bokeh, so magnified by using this lens. I understand that there are very few photographers who like, not few, but there are fewer photographers who like using this lens because it does take a longer time to focus. We're gonna get into the differences between the 85 1.8 and the 1.2, both lenses that I use and loved, but for some reason that 1.2, the creaminess of skin tones when you lock into a bride's eye, and there's light flickering off a tree in the background, it's stunning. So we're gonna move into other gear that I use on a wedding day. So, this fourth lens that I use the most would be the 72 to 200 IS 2.8. Now, this lens is a lens that every wedding photographer needs, not wants, you need it. Now, it's also expensive, and I don't really use this lens at any other point besides the ceremony. Because of this, if you're kind of figuring out what lenses you need to buy and when, I would heavily suggest that you rent this lens for every wedding that you shoot without the pressure of having to buy it, but you need it, because in shooting in a dark church, or shooting at a ceremony, and you have to shoot at a distance by request from family members, by a priest, by a church lady, this is the only lens that's gonna get you close enough to yield the type of result that you need and you want. There is a 70-200 without IS, image stability. Image stability has been a life changer in really dark situations it really is clutch. Now, if you're more of a photojournalistic photographer, this lens is amazing. That's definitely what you want to use. Now, this lens is the 100 millimeter Macro IS. This is a great lens and I love it. I wish I used it more for different parts of the day, but quite honestly, I use it just to shoot the ring. If the bodice of the dress has jewels on it, I will shoot it then, and maybe, just maybe, I might use it during the reception if I feel like there's a lot of dangling jewels that I need to get detail shots of, but this comes out of this bag maybe once a day, but I have invested in it because I know that I could not get the ring shots that I want without this lens. So now what we're gonna move into is what I call my lazy girl lens, I love it, but I don't use it as much as I did. This was the very first lens that I ever bought in my career. I say I and I really mean JD, because I didn't believe in myself enough, so he bought me this lens. It was such a great lens to learn from because you were able to see width and depth. It ranges from a 24 to 70. It's a zoom lens, and I thought it was great because I thought that photographers, if you had a zoom lens, you were just legit. I mean, little did I know. So this was such a great lens in that I was able to get diversity without having to change lenses on my camera, but I could not get the results that I wanted without shooting prime. The fact that it shoots widest at a 2.8, which is beautiful, and which is lovely was wonderful, but it wasn't what I was looking for stylistically. I really like what you can shoot at an f/2, at an f/1.2. Those types of results are only yielded with wider apertures that I couldn't get here. I still use this lens often. I might bring it out on a wedding day, but it's more traditionally for family photos. If I feel family photos are gonna range really quick between four people, and all of a sudden we have 20, I don't want to keep on having to swap lenses, so this is a great clutch lens for that. Now, what I want to get into a little quickly are these two lenses. This is the 50 millimeter 1.4. This is the 85 millimeter 1.8. These are the lenses that I started with. 10 years later, they are still kicking. 10 years later, these are what JD shoots with exclusively. There are wedding guests who have nicer cameras and lenses, maybe not nicer cameras, nicer lenses than JD, and he doesn't care. We had business discussions about, we can get a write-off if you want a new lens, and he said, "No." He does not like shooting the 85 1. because it focuses far too slowly for him. He is a slower, methodical photographer. I am the spearhead. My style is lifestyle, but JD, within the lifestyle spectrum, shoots a lot more photojournalistic. He does no posing, he captures moments as they happen, so you'll see him a lot more at a distance with the 85, and because these type of moments happen so quickly, he does not like the jeu, jeu, that this camera produces. This right here is golden and it's amazing, and both of these lenses, independent, each one is less than $400. These are such great lenses to start with if you're trying to build your portfolio, and starting off with prime lenses, I love them, and you get the most bang for your buck with them. I have a backup camera that I take to every engagement session and wedding, and it stays in the bag. but before we shoot a wedding we are always syncing our cameras to make sure that all the shooters who are shooting have the same timestamp. So, all three, four of our cameras are backed up at the same time before every wedding. Now, what we're gonna get into is this lens. This is the 16 to 35, and you might be thinking, what is she doing with that? I will say that this was the third lens that I got in my business, and this is the third lens that I got in my business because I saw my wedding photographer use it, so I thought I needed it. 16 millimeters is so long, wide, it's like a hair away from like, a fisheye lens, you know? I mean, it is wide, and what I thought was like really important this lens is like somewhere in the ballpark of 12 or $1,300, and I bent over backwards. I saved and I saved and I saved to get this lens, and then I used it for maybe a couple weddings. I can't let go of it for sentimental reasons, although, I did think that maybe after this course, I haven't passed it by JD, I thought that I would, because I have not used it, I used it for a few weddings 10 years ago, I thought maybe I should auction it on eBay, and then donate all the money to charity because I don't use it. Like, I don't use it and I think it should be given to, not given, sold to the highest bidder for a good will. So this other winner wins, a charity wins, and then it's not on my hands, and I don't feel guilty for not using it as much. Although, this would be so fantastic in really wide, like if you want to shoot all the guests at once. If you want to stand at a distance, and shoot down at the guests that works, but the problem with shooting at like so wide at 16 millimeters, is that there's so much distortion along the sides that if somebody is standing on the end, you know, and they're this way? It's like their booty got like, five inches deep. That's probably not the thing that you want. One last lens, I went a little bit out of order, but this is a 24. Now, this was the first L Series wide angle lens that I got because I thought that it was something I needed, but in true reality, what reflects more of my style would be the 35, but I still am so happy that I shoot with the because the 24 is the lens that I use the most during reception dancing with guests because you're always in really tight areas and people, shooting with maybe the 50 or the 35, you get maybe one, maybe two people dancing in the frame. Dancing photos aren't ever really all that complimentary of people, right? They're just not, but shooting with the 24, you actually, it's a storytelling lens. You get more of who's dancing around them, and then the picture becomes a story instead of like a very curated photo. So this right here is what you will see me day in, day out shoot with during reception dancing. Now let's move into light. So this is a newer addition to my bag. This is a 600EX-RT. This is the newest Canon flash. I was shooting with multiple different types of flash, always Canon before, but this flash is worth it. I think that when it comes to gear, truly, lighting gear you get what you pay for. This lens you can easily get a 400 Series flash, and it does not perform the way that this does, and because we do this professionally, and we shoot in dark receptions this has paid off in gold. So how I usually shoot is I will bring up this. I will tuck the clear part back. I'll flip up my white card and now I have a bounce card, and this is how I shoot all the time. I might in difficult situations, or without something to bounce above me I might tip it forward ever so slightly, but this is definitely where it's staying. Now, some people might wonder, well, how is she getting the light that she does, and we're gonna get into that in a second, and it comes in two ways. I'll lay it out that way. I feel like I'm on QVC. (laughter) Okay, great. So for those who are interested here is the 580EX II. This is what JD's flash will be. Same white card that flips up, and that's what he shoots with. Now, before I show this one, I'll tuck this one away, I want to show what our lighting looks like in pinch situations. These are Dot Line LED lights that videographers normally use. You can change the color balance, and the strength behind them. These are about if my memory serves me correct about $119 apiece, but they are worth their weight in gold. We will get into really dark situations, and a client may or may not have... Okay, so when I first started shooting I didn't have the luxury of clients lighting up their receptions. Now the bigger the budget gets the more type of lighting that they can afford. They might pay for first and foremost lighting on the dance floor, which is helpful, but what's helpful from an ambient perspective if a client can pay for uplighting along the wall. Even better is if they have what we call uplighting, and then they have pin lighting. Uplighting is against the wall putting up, illuminating the walls to create a sensation of depth, and pin lighting is pointing down at certain aspects of the room say like centerpieces that should be noted. It really makes the biggest difference, however, I have shot a ton, and still to this day shoot weddings that do have not have pin lighting and uplighting. Most of the weddings now you can get really great uplighting options at an effective price, so more brides are adding it, but not everybody will add the pin lighting. So, JD will hold a light as a pin light about four feet from the table, and then hold another light as a sidelight, so we are illuminating about one table at a time, but it actually looks like it's professionally lit, and that's what I'll take because that's setting my work already apart from others, so these are really helpful. Also, in situations where we're at the reception, and it's sometimes dark and I'm in a dark corner I'll have JD hold the light off to the side, or from behind them, and then I will shoot them with my flash, and so now we get like a little bit of room light around their hair, so it just doesn't look like that traditional, like, poof, picture. That's a very big description, right, like poof. Okay, now let's get into, we'll get into, my off-camera lighting setup. So, this is what we take to every wedding anywhere in the world. This is a very simple standard tripod. People have asked me what the tripod was, but I bought it like eight years ago, and it's almost 100% something generic. It doesn't even have a label on it, so just know that you can get a very simple basic tripod. This flash is... I can't get it off, oh, here it is. This flash is really old school. You can't find these anymore, which is why I'm not going to endorse them officially. It's a Sunpak Auto 383 Super, I mean, you guys, this is just laughable, but the beauty of this flash is that at the time I bought it it was $100, and I can manually set the power of the flash to 1/16th. I need a tiny bit of pop of light, and I also need the batteries to recycle quickly. Shooting this at 1/16th it was firing every time that I needed it. This is a Westcott Rapid Box, it's an Octa Mini. I have shot with bigger. I used to shoot with the Photoflex, and it was about like I think 20, 22 inches in diameter. It was pretty big, but what I realized was I didn't need it to be diffused in such a capacity. In fact, in a pinch I could just shoot with this flash off in a corner by a speaker and we would be okay, but I just like the soft appeal that we get with the small diffuser. The beauty of this is that this folds down to be really thin, and then this breaks down to be really thin, and we pack it at the bottom of our suitcase, great. So, what we're using now on that flash is the Canon 580EX. So we're gonna set this manually to 1/16th power. It will be the same thing, and we're gonna set it up on the dance floor. How does this get fired? This is a question that I get so often from photographers. How do we fire the flash if the flash is on my camera? Okay, so, usually, when you shoot with a PocketWizard, which is what I have to fire my flashes. Now I understand that there are going to be photographers who say the 600EX-RT have sensors that you could be chatting to your other matchable flashes with. Yes, I know, and I heard they work great, but on a wedding I need a clear view between my sensor... Why am I getting caught up? My flashes need to be facing each other. With this it's a surefire thing. When my clients are paying me for what I need the trigger system works so much better for me, so PocketWizards are great, but, usually, they are put on top of your camera, but I needed a two light source, so I went into a photo shop in Orange County called Samy's. I said, "I need a PocketWizard," because I don't shoot with a battery pack. I think it's just more weight on my hand that I don't need, and I'm okay switching out a battery because it takes me about two seconds. Usually if you have a battery pack it takes in this screw up in the area, but because I don't have the battery pack I have this screw available. I walked in and I said, "I shoot with a flash. "I need to mount something to the bottom." So this little genius of a guy went, and they sold pieces to cameras, and I don't know what he did. He just walked behind, and he picked out four different pieces. This right here is what he made. I don't know what these pieces are called I have no idea. I actually told JD that we could probably try to replicate it, and then sell it to photographers, but it was a joke and I wouldn't do that. I don't know exactly what he did, but he was a genius. So, what we do is we screw this into the bottom of our camera, and these always stay connected. Here we go, now we're cooking with fire. Okay, so then now it's plugged into the bottom, and then I simply plug it in to here that's my setup. So every time I click this fires here, and then wherever I am in the room this right here we just simply tie it here we slip it in like a slipknot right there, the flash is here, wherever I am in the room. This off-camera light setup does not move. We want to make sure that the money our clients have spent to decorate the room isn't degradated by our lighting gear, so we put this next to a speaker that the light is black, and in a dark room next to a black speaker it's not very noticeable. So people ask if I move this around for optimal light. No, but I find ways to position myself to actually leverage that light. I love shooting with this behind any subjects on the dance floor, but sometimes even if they're side lit you can get a really cool photo. If I happen to be moving on the dance floor, and I'm standing anywhere close to where this thing is illuminating my subjects I turn off my camera light and just use this, so during their first dance, we're gonna get to that in a second. We're gonna get to that in a second, but during their first dance I have become accustomed of shooting with two light sources, one light source, one or one, or none if we're working with a videographer, and I can shoot at like 1,600 ISO at a 1.2, and produce photos that I really like. So now what we're gonna do is we're going to go through what it looks like at each portion of the day. So now we're actually into the section of what are the best lenses to use at different portions of the day. So with preparation, JD is with the guys, and I am with the girls. JD's setup, when he shoots the guys, this for wide, 24 to 70 for guys, the 51.4, the 85 1.2, and we have a 100 millimeter Macro, but not the IS, the original model, that's what he uses for the guys, and he'll use that to shoot like tie clips or cuff links. Now when I'm with the girls the lenses I carry with me are the 35 millimeter 1.4 to get wide shots as she's preparing. I get the 85 1.2, I will use this as she's getting her makeup if I stand in a corner. I don't want to be right next to the makeup artist. If I was shooting with the 35 or the I might be too much in their space, but the 85 1.2 because my subject is sitting, and she's usually sitting in good light because makeup artists need good light, I could shoot at a 1.2 and just blur out all of like the messiness of the room behind her, that's what I absolutely love. I will shoot with a 50 millimeter 1.2. This is the lens I primarily use when she's getting dressed. Again, it's about carefully positioning yourself to crop out things that are undesirable elements in the room. Shooting with the 35 has a tendency of getting a lot more of the unmade bed, the shoes on the floor, things of that nature, so I'm definitely sticking in that 50 to 85 range. Lastly, the thing that comes with me is the 100 millimeter Macro IS. I request that the bride has her wedding rings, her band, her wedding ring, and his ring there in the room when I arrive because I will know I'm being strategic about the lenses that I'm carrying is that I want to shoot the wedding ring at the beginning of the day, and then be done with that. So I want to move now to what I use to shoot the ceremony. The ceremony lenses that I take. Now, I have mentioned in a previous lesson that we arrive to the ceremony about 30 minutes in advance, so people often ask, well, where is this bag, and when are you carrying this bag? During prep when we arrive to the venue we unload our bag. I take the lenses that I need, the 50, the 85, the 35 and the 100. I put three lenses in my bag and one in my camera. JD will then take this bag, and his lenses to the groom suite. He will leave the bag in a corner of the room, so that it's not in anybody's way. Then when it's time to leave he gets this bag, and his side back and we meet at the ceremony. When we are at the ceremony there is usually some sort of amplification system by way of a band or a DJ. We do not want to leave this bag exposed in any way, shape, or form, so we introduce ourselves to whoever is by the amplification system because they're not gonna leave their amplification system alone. That system is more expensive than our camera gear, so we're in good hands if we can slip our bag underneath the table and that's usually what happens because they don't have an exposed table like this. They usually have a tablecloth over it. We slip our bag underneath, and we're always within viewing distance of where our bag is at the time, but we just don't want it out for people to actually see. So the lens that I'm usually shooting a wide shot for the ceremony is not the 24 it's the 35. I will use the 50 millimeter 1. that is what I'll flip to at various points of the ceremony, but the lens I'll use the most will be the 70 to 200. That is what I shoot when the people are walking down the aisle to me unless we have a really short aisle. If we have a really short aisle, I might flip to the 24 to 70, but that's a decision that I make the day of once I know how many guests are going to be there. JD is at the opposite end of the aisle shooting with either the 70 to 200, or the 24 to 70 at that time. Now, the reason why I want to focus on the 70- is I don't want guests noticing me. I don't want to have to be walking in and out. Yes, I will, I will walk down the middle aisle once, and it's usually for the exchanging of rings, but then I usually stay behind in the wings, or towards the back. Now we're gonna move into portraits. Portraits are broken up into family portraits, bridal party portraits, and bride and groom portraits. Now, a family picture can range anywhere quickly from 35 people to four people, so I need to stay on my toes in that regard. When it comes to shooting the bride and groom I use the same three lenses that I use on an engagement session. I call these my three amigos. This is what I use on the wedding day for bride and groom. This is what I use on an engagement session, 50, 35, 85. Now, I will shoot most, if possible, bridal party portraits with a 35. That's kind of just definitely where I go, and if I need more width I simply walk back, so instead of a zoom lens I use my legs as a result. Now the 24 millimeter I do carry on me in case the bridal party is just so big, and we're in an area that I cannot walk back, so in the back of my mind because I know Samantha and Taylor have 12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen I will absolutely keep the because I don't know what lighting situations, or spatial conditions I will be working with. The 50 millimeter I will keep on hand because I swap out my lenses. If I want to shoot a family photo, and then I quickly want to shoot the bride and her mom, I'm not gonna shoot it with a because I think for my preferences it's a little too wide. I'll simply swap out my lens and shoot it with a 50. Lastly, the 85 millimeter I am not using this so much for portraits during this time, but JD is. We have created and crafted a system that he knows what I'm gonna do when I'm gonna do it, so I'm positioning the family and JD's in the wings shooting a side angle, so just in case the bride's like, "Dad," he's there waiting for it. Oftentimes, what happens for my more kind of like creative clients what they want to use instead of the traditional family portrait of all of them on their Christmas card what we'll use is the side angle of them just kind of like smiling. They're looking at camera one, but the angle is from camera two. That's the one they prefer, and actually that's what editors really like the most. They won't post a traditional family portrait, but they might post it from the side, especially, if everybody is kind of leaning in and laughing, that one really works, so he's using the 85 tremendously during that point. Now we're gonna go into reception. This is the last part of the day. Now, I will shoot with prime lenses because I'm afforded that luxury of shooting wide open and dark spaces, and it gives me so much latitude. I absolutely love it. Now you will see through my portfolio now for those who are downloading the course you are going to see a full gallery from The Knot wedding. What the client gets outside of her prep photos the prep photos will be carefully curated because I know that Samantha will be dressing. Anything before or after her dressing will be included in the gallery. She will have her own separate gallery for that. So what you're going to see in the gallery when you see it after the wedding you're going to see a mix. You're gonna see ambient lit photos. You will see flash, you will see video light, you will see off-camera depending on the needs, but because the wedding is during the day I may not have to use flash at all, so I'm just gonna kind of prepare you for, well, actually I'm quite certain who am I kidding, like the reception is at one o'clock in the afternoon. If I'm using flash like it's definitely not my style whatsoever, but I kind of what to let you know if you happen to come across another... I post a wedding day shot list online through the store, and you can actually view a wedding gallery of mine, also, and it will walk you through, so you can see the variation of light sources that I have. During this time I'm shooting with a 35 1.4. I usually use this when they're walking in for the grand entrance because I kind of want to set the tone without it being too wide, and, sometimes, with a 50 millimeter I only get to walk with them one or two steps before they've walked out of my frame. The 35 gives me a range of four to five steps. The 50 millimeter I keep this in my bag in case there are guests who are like, can you take a photo of us? I could use a 35, but, you know, if I want a decent photo I would definitely defer to the 50. The 85 millimeter is kept in my bag because the 85 is what I use exclusively for speeches. The 85 1.2 is so amazing at getting light in really dark situations, and because my subjects are listening and they're sitting, and they're not moving much once I dial in that focus it's really, really, really great. I can leverage the ambient light so well that I don't have to keep on firing, poof, poof, poof, during these really emotional speeches, so you'll see me also leverage in that capacity. Like I mentioned before I use the 24 for dancing photos. That's kind of like my go-to lens. The minute the dancing starts all my gear is put away with the exception of the 24 that's on my camera, and the 50 in case I need it at any other point in time. So we're gonna get into the last part of this, which is just lenses odds and ends. These are a few things that I've gotten asked over the years. People ask if I shoot with two bodies and the answer is no. I shoot with one body, and I swap out my lenses rather quickly. I think that for streamlining my workflow shooting with one camera has been so helpful for me. I do have a spare and I keep the spare nearby. I keep a spare camera on engagement shoots in my car, but you'll see me how I swap out my lenses rather quickly on shoots during the pre-shoots, and people want to know why I don't shoot with a strap. It's a personal preference. When I first started everybody in my life, not in yours, but when I would go to Disneyland everybody had a strap on their camera, with their nice cameras. When I would go to a ball park everybody had a strap on their camera, and then when I started seeing like fashion photographers didn't have a strap on their camera I was like I'm going strapless, and it was just a personal decision. People say, well, aren't you worried that you're gonna drop it? I'm just like, I see photographers with their straps dangling all the time and I'm like, well, aren't you afraid of dropping your? I mean, if you have a strap and you use it then fine, that's fantastic, but it's not a necessity. I personally feel like I view my cameras almost like a gun, right? I want to be shooting ready. I don't want to rest it around my neck, and then forget, oh, I'm at a 2.8, I really should be at a 1.2, like I feel like my camera is now appendage. I know where I am, where I can dial in at all times, and I want to be careful of how I'm using it. Also, to bear in mind when you do take a rather large set of gear to get insurance for your gear. I've heard so many awful stories of photographers having their gear stolen at a wedding. It is part and parcel of what we do, but get insurance and then hide the bag. When we get to the reception the DJ or the band also has a sound booth. We make sure that they're hydrated. JD is so good at, hey, how's it going? Great, awesome, my name is JD, I'm the photographer, can I get you something to drink? His lead in is can I get you something to drink? Usually, they're like no, or hey, some water. JD will go get the water. It's like, I'm the photographer. Would you mind if I kept my bag right here? They always let us, and then we know that somebody will be by it 100% of the time. We never leave our gear. If the DJ is by a door, which they're usually not, but if he happened to be by a door then we will put our stuff underneath the cake table on the opposite side of the room because what we hear often is that photographers who leave their stuff by doors people who aren't a part of the wedding, but pass by the room they'll see a bag and just snatch it because it looks like a large bag at a wedding. Having said that on that happy note are there any questions in regards to, yes, we'll pass the mic right back there.
Do you use ND filters or what type of filters? I think I see filters on all of your lenses up there. What do you use and why do you use them, and what brands do you use and everything filter?
People give me a really hard time like I buy a really nice lens, and then I put like a cheap UV filter. This filter was like 40 bucks. It's just to protect the lens, but if you can believe it I don't have one on my because I found for some reason I couldn't focus it the way that I wanted, and maybe it was just me being me, but I'm like, I'm taking this thing off, but you'll see that all my other lenses with the exception I don't have it in the Macro either because I felt like I couldn't get the type of focusing that I wanted, again, probably just me, but I don't bring this lens out enough for me to feel like I'm gonna risk dropping it. I use B+W filters, but I'm not gonna fight for how great they are. I know they're German made, so I'm sure they're very efficient. Other than that that's it.
I know that you seem to prefer mostly shooting available light, and you've obviously dealt with some challenging lighting situations. Have you turned to filters to deal with that ever like a variable density filter?
I have not. I think that for me it's I have streamlined my process in such a way that I value simplicity and ease over trying to navigate what I should be doing and when. So if I am in a difficult lighting situation, say like bright like which is gonna be a great segue for a future lesson because we're gonna talk about how I shoot in bright light. I do not change any filters. I do not rely on flash, reflectors, fill light. I really just try to find what I call natural reflectors, and will show visually how that really changes the dynamic of the photo.
I was just wondering I know you don't use flash a lot, but I know you have. In certain lighting circumstances the ambient lighting can be... The colors cause like really nasty color casts. How do you deal with that and tackle that because I find in low lighting circumstances, especially when you bump up the ISO, and you have to work with the color cast when you edit them even the colors end up all funny and distorted.
Are you talking about a color cast from uplighting, or just color cast from like the?
From the ambient lighting if it's like let's say fluorescent lighting or something like that that just gives you really green or orange tones.
I shoot Auto Wide Balance 100% of the day because we have technology that really, really, really helps us in that regard in post, so in Lightroom all of that is addressed. I can sit there and like try to figure out what Kelvin I should be at, but either way it's going to be addressed in post, and I know that there are gonna be other people who are a lot more concerned about color cast and tonality. I seem to attract a client who really wants the idea and experience, so if the picture is pleasant enough. Now if there are pink lights uplighting has a tendency to cast pink skin tones on my subjects, but the minute that you get the dropper in Lightroom, and you find out what the white is in that room every skin seems to look very close to skin in such a way that I'm not worried. Now there are times where they have a mix of lights. There's a green light and this is like the most irksome. When you have the DJ or a light company they're like, this is what all the clubs are doing, and you're like, oh, God, and then there are times where I have to say if you look pink and the whole picture is pink, and I have done my best that is what you hired that company to do. I'm not gonna sit here and try to get it down to a science because that was what the room looked like. The room was pink in that moment. Now 98% of the photos, 99% of the photos all look like skin tones, but then there's every so often where there's dancing photos and you're like, I have done by best, but this is how the room looked, and I've never had a client come back, and be like, why is there a blue hint to my dress ever.
Thank you, and somebody else got a?
I was just gonna ask how often do you get like your gear serviced, and like how often do you buy like new memory cards?
That is fantastic. I am a Canon Protection Services, CPS member. I'm very fortunate in that Canon is based... They have a few facilities. One of them happened to be in Orange County, so I get my gear serviced three to four times a year. I take them to clean my sensors because it is local, but the CPS program is so amazing in that I needed to get my 50 kind of calibrated. Like this little thing is dialed in all the time, I love it, but a month ago I started noticing something it's not talking to me the way that it does, and, yes, my lenses talk to me. I was like it's not talking to me this way, so JD took it in and because I'm a platinum member for CPS anybody can pay to be a platinum member, there's silver, gold, and platinum, they gave JD a 50 millimeter before he walked out, and we were able to shoot a destination wedding. The reason why I pay extra for it is I never want there to be a blip in any of my services in regards to our gear, so they get sensors cleaned about four times a year. Service only as needed. What was the last question.
The other question was just about your memory cards like how often do you buy new ones and like dispose of them?
I buy new memory cards about every year and a half because these file sizes are getting so large. Canon released the 5DS recently, and I've seen a couple photographers on social media like get sneak peaks and I'm just like, oh, that's amazing. I hear it's more of a studio camera, you know, as opposed to what we do which is a lot of outdoor stuff, so I don't feel too tempted, but I used to shoot with four Gig cards, right? This is during like the 20D days, and then I kind of stayed with four because I was so worried about losing, you know, how this is gonna affect things, and then I upgraded to eight Gig, and now I'm shooting with 16 Gig, and part of the reason why I'm shooting with 16 Gigs because the Canon 5D Mark III has a CF card slot and an SD, so I'm shooting with an SD, so worse case scenario, worse case, and on the SD card I'm shooting Large JPEG it's just a backup, just a backup, so the majority of my images, and I've never had a problem where I had to, you know, use the SD card, but a worse case scenario let's say a card gets corrupted at least I have the Large JPEG files so that I can turn something over, and then if the client wanted to get it printed at a 24 by 36 we would have the conversation then. I wouldn't be like I lost some pictures, and now they're no longer at a 16 by 24 300 DPI they're actually... Like, no, let's see what you want to do with the images. Let's kind of go through it, but at least I know I will deliver on my services front to end, front to back.
Thank you. We're gonna pass the mic back there.
So I know you mentioned you have the off-camera at 1/16th power?
For the on camera during the reception are you TTL, or manual and what's your go-to?
I'm TTL, I mean, I rock auto white balance, and TTL and I own it, you know, I know that there are some great amazing flash photographers who will teach you all the tips and tricks, but I have found ways to... I know this is not a technical term, but I heard like foof, like I foof my light quite often, which is, basically, and this is not technical. I'm gonna get questions about this. I turn my flash back and I tilt it these walls wouldn't work, but that white wall would, but let's just say this wall is white. If my off-camera flash is here, or it can be anywhere, but I'll just say here these people are gonna be side lit, right? Side lit or front lit depending on where I'm gonna shoot it. Right now let's see, okay, it's gonna light her here. Now if I wanted to light somebody back here I would just turn my flash, tilt it back towards this white wall, and now I have a big white reflector. We find ourselves doing this quite a bit, and in reception areas that have white pillars, and it's a tough lighting situation I park it. I park it by a pillar for a while, and I turn my flash back towards the white pillar, use this light and those pictures end up being some of the ones that are strongest from the set.
Cool, yeah, great, so I think that is this a great... Did you have a question? Okay, you were just scratching, okay, good. No, I want to make sure. This is a good place to end it right about now. If you guys have questions I'd be more than willing to ask them later, but I always know that if you're anything like me the tech is important, and it's valuable, but it's probably not our favorite thing, and I know this rubs a lot of, specifically, male photographers the wrong way. Oh, I've seen dirty threads. She doesn't know what she's talking about. She doesn't know this, and I was like, I am so busy traveling I don't have time to read what you're saying. I know, mean, mean, but on the real the gear matters, but the person holding the gear matters more. Thank you guys so much I appreciate it. (applause)