The Best Lenses to Shoot a Wedding
Awesome. So the section we're getting into right now is addressing the best lenses to shoot a wedding. Now a sidenote. 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 thinking like, she's totally missing this lens. That's true, but I have found those work for me by series of trial and error. But before we get into what I think are the best weddings to shoot a wedding, I wanna first show what is in my bag. So I'm gonna start out 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 sizable 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 t...
hings, we're completely off our game and it will affect how we work. So on a wedding day, if we're just working locally, this is a 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. And I absolutely love how these work for us. Now they are on the pricier end, but they are on the pricier end because they are made of genuine leather and they last forever. Now it looks like a sidebag, 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 the 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 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 Canon 20D, which is what 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 cropped 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 it went from, the focusing system increased. It went to a 64-point focusing system, which was fantastic. In my early days with CreativeLive, people would always ask why are you dipping your camera? Why are you dipping your camera? And I didn't understand what I was doing until I had seen like a few second clip. And I realized that I was using my nine-point, I was finding the focal point closest to my subject and then shifting and re-composing. And I was shifting and re-composing in between every single frame. And 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. 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 in 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 has a whole set of his own. But just in any given case, if I was like, hey, can you grab me a card, he knows what I am referring to. Now this is a LowePro bag. I've gone through different bags where there's velcro along the side. I have done where all the clean cards were on one pocket and all the used cards on 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 1.2. 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 not, this is my go-to lens. This is what I travel with, this is what I use, this is how 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. and produce images that I'm still really proud of and that truly reflects 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 or 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 with such a large degree, but I can curate depth to a degree. And when you use like 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 or 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 one that I use the most would be the 70 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 results that you need and you want. There is a 70 to 200 without IS, image stability. Image stability has been a life changer in really dark situations. It really does, 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've 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. And I say I and I really mean JD because I didn't believe in myself enough so he bought me this lens. And 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. And 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, 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 then all of a sudden we have 20, I don't wanna keep on having to swap lenses so this is a great clutch lens for that. Now what I wanna get into a little quickly are these two lenses. This is a 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 necessarily cameras; nicer lenses than JD, and he doesn't care. We had business discussions about, well, you can get a write off if you want in a 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 types of moments happen so quickly, he does not like the (imitates lens mechanism noise) that this camera produces. This right here is golden and it's amazing, and both of these lenses, 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 a 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. It's like, why, 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 lenses is like somewhere in the ballpark of 1,200 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 of 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, not given, sold to the highest bidder for goodwill. 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 and really wide, like if you wanna shoot all the guests at once. You wanna 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 and they're this way, it's like they're booty got like five inches deep. That's totally 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 24, 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 shooting with maybe the 50 or the 35, you get maybe one, maybe two people dancing in the frame, and dancing photos aren't ever really all that complementary of people, right? They're just not. But shooting with the 24, 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 (mumbles) 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 I would 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 will 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. (mumbles) I feel like I'm on QVC. (audience laughing) Okay, great. So for those who are interested, here is the 580EX II. This is what JD' flash will be. Same white card that flips up and that's what he shoots with. Now before I show this one, we'll tuck this one away, I wanna 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 a piece, 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 is the client can pay for up lighting along the wall. Even better is if they have what we call up lighting and then they have pen lighting. Up lighting is against the wall, putting up, illuminating the walls to create a series, a sensation of depth; and pen 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 not have pen lighting and up lighting. Most weddings now, you can get really great up lighting options at an effective price. So more brides are adding it. But not everybody will add the pen lighting. So JD will hold a light as a pen light about four feet from the table and then hold another light as a sidelight. So we're 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. And 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 rim light around their hair so it just doesn't look like that traditional, like (imitates muffled explosion) 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 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. 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 1/16. I need a tiny bit of pop of light, and I also need the batteries to recycle quickly. Shooting this at 1/16, it was firing every time that I needed it. So this is a Wescott 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. And 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 a Canon 580 EX. So we're gonna set this manually to 1/16 power. It'll be the same thing. And we're gonna set it up on the dance floor. And how does this get fired? Well, this gets fired, and this is a lot of 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 gonna be photographers who say well, 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 sense, like, (sighs) why am I getting caught up? My flashes need to be facing each other. With this, it's a surefire thing. And when 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 photoshop in Orange County called Samy's and I said, I need a PocketWizard. 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. So usually (mumbles) of 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. Okay, 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 on fire. Okay, so then now we've plugged into the bottom and I simply plug it in. Here. That's my set up. So every time I click, this fires here. And then wherever I am in the room, this right here, we'll just simply tie it here, we slip it in, we like flop a slipknot right there, the flash is here. Wherever I am in the room. This off-camera light set up does not move. We want to make sure that the money our clients have spent to decorate the room isn't degraded by our lighting gear. So we put this next to a speaker. 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 a first dance, we're gonna get to that in a second, we're gonna get to that in a second but during a 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 1600 ISO at a 1. 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 set up when he shoots the guys. This for wide, 24 to 70 for guys. The 50 1.4, the 85 1.2. And we have a 100 millimeter macro but not IS. The original model, that's what he uses for the guys and he'll use that to shoot like tie clips or cufflinks. 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 make up artist. If I was shooting with the 35 or the 50, 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 it at 1.2 and just blur out all of like the messiness of the room behind her. Oh, that's what I absolutely love. I will shoot with the 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 a 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 wanna shoot the wedding ring at the beginning of the day and then be done with that. So I wanna 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 to 85, the 35 and the 100. I put three lenses in my bag and one on my camera. JD will then take this bag and his lenses to the groom's 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 bag and we meet at the ceremony. When we are at the ceremony, there are 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 could slip our bag underneath the table. And that usually happens because they don't have an explosed 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 using, usually shooting a wide shot for the ceremony is not the 24, it's the 35. I will use the 50 millimeter 1.2. That is what I'll flip to at various points of the ceremony. But the lens I will 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 a 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 at that time. Now the reason why I wanna focus on the 70 to is I don't want guests noticing me. I don't wanna 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 the 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 Smith and Taylor have 12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen, I will absolutely keep the 24 because I don't know what lighting situations or spacial 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 wanna shoot the bride and her mom, I'm not gonna shoot it with a 35 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 kind of creacted, 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 is in the wings shooting a side angle. So just in case the bride's like, dad. He's there waiting for it. And often times, what happens for my more like, kind of like creative clients, what they wanna use instead of the traditional family portrait of all of them on their Christmas card, what they'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's kind of like leaning in and laughing. That one really works. So he's using the 85 tremendously during that point. Now we're gonna go into receptions, the last part of the day. Now I will shoot with prime lenses because I'm afforded that luxury of shooting wide open in 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're going to see a full gallery from the Naught 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 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's at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. If I'm using flash, like it's definitely not my style whatsoever. But I kind of wanna let you know, if you happen to come across another ice post, a wedding day shot list online through the store and you can actually view a gallery, a wedding gallery of mine also, and it'll walk you through so that 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 the 50 millimeter, I only get to walk within one or two steps before they 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 just get a photo of us? I could use the 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 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 (imitates muffled camera flash noise) during these really emotional speeches. So you'll see me also leverage that in that capacity. And like I mentioned before, I use the 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 that's on my camera, and the 50 in case I needed 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 thought and 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 this spare nearby. I keep a spare camera on an engagement shoot in my car, but you'll see how I shoot, you'll see me how I swap out my lenses rather quickly on shoots during the pre-shoots. And people wanna 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 cameras, but they're 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 pfft, I'm going strapless. And it was just a personal decision. People say, oh aren't you worried that you're gonna drop it? I've seen photographers with their straps dangling all the time and I'm like well aren't you afraid of dropping it? I mean, if you have a strap and you use it, then fine, that's fantastic, but it's not a necessity. And I personally feel like I view my cameras almost like a gun, right? I wanna be shooting ready. I don't want to rest around my neck and then forget oh my, a 2.8, I really should be at a 1.2. Like I feel like my camera's an 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 is 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 being, hey, how's it going? Great, awesome. My name's JD, I'm the photographer. Can I get you something to drink? His lead in to this, can I get you something to drink? And usually like, no; or hey, some water, JD will go with the water. It's like, I'm the photographer, would you mind if I kept my bag right here? 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 happens 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?
No. 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 is 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 like it was, for some reason, I couldn't focus it the way that I want it. And maybe it was just me being me, I'm like oh, I'm taking this thing off. But you'll see 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. (audience laughing) 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 situations, say like bright light, 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 we'll show visually how that really changes the dynamic of a 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, 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 the color cast from up lighting or just color cast from like the--
From the ambient lighting if it's like, let's say, florescent lighting or something like that, that just gives you really green or orange tones.
I shoot auto white 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 casts and tonality. I seem to attract a client who really wants the idea and experience, and so if the picture is pleasant enough. Now if there are peak lights, up lighting, it 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, this is like the most irksome when you have the DJ or a light company, they're like, this is what little clubs are doing and they're like, oh God. And then there are times where I have to say if you will look pink and the whole picture is pink, and I have done my best but that is what you hired that company to do. I'm not gonna sit 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, maybe 99% of the photos all look like skin tones, but then there is that every so often where there's dancing photos and you're like, I've done my best but this is how the room looked. And I've never had a client come back and be like why is there blue hints in my dress? Ever.
Cool, thank you.
Thank you. And somebody else is gonna...
Yeah, I was just gonna ask, how often do you get your gear serviced, and how often do you buy new memory cards?
That is fantastic. I am a Canon Protection Services, CPS member. I am 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, just 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, there was never, 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. And what was the last question?
The other question was just about your memory cards, like how often do you buy new ones and like disposing them?
Yes, I buy new memory cards about every year and a half. I used to shoot, now because these file sizes are getting so large, now Canon released the Canon 5DS recently and I've seen a couple of 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 as opposed to what we do, just 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, 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 is because the Canon 5D Mark III has a CF card slot and an SD. So I'm shooting with an SD. So worst case scenario, worst case; and on the SD card I'm shooting large JPEG, it's just a backup, just a backup. So majority of my images, and I've never had a problem where I've had to use the SD card; but a worse case scenario, let's say a card gets corrupted, at least I have the large JPEG file 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 wanna 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 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'm TTL. I mean, I rock auto white balance and TTL and I own it. 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 it's not a technical term but I heard like foof? Like I foof my light quite often, which is basically, this is not technical, I'm gonna get question 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? 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.
Thanks a lot.
Cool, yeah. Great, so I think this was a great... Did you have a question? Okay, you were just scratching? Okay, good. No, I wanna make sure. This is a good place to end it right about now. If you guys have question, 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'm so busy travelling I don't even have the time to read what you're saying. I know, mean, mean. (audience laughing) But on the real, the gear matters but the person the gear matters more. Thank you guys so much, I appreciate it. (audience clapping)