Wedding Photography - Looking for the “right moment” between documentary and intimate approach
I think my passion for photography started when I was a child, playing with my parents’ broken film SLR camera as a toy. Eventually, I stopped playing with it (I think it was lost or thrown away) and years later I borrowed one of my friend’s 3-megapixel point and shoot camera and started to shoot everything I saw. Then one day, another friend of mine looked at one of my photos and mocked me for its composition. I guess that day I realized that I needed to improve and started looking for online material about photography. I read lots of articles, books and watched lots of videos. But I believe the main resource that allowed me to improve my skills was - and still is - looking at photos taken by famous photographers around the world and trying to understand how they were created.
"Documenting life; weddings are one of the most important events in someone's life"
What brought you into Wedding photography?
From my point of view, photography is all about documenting life; weddings are one of the most important events of someone’s life. Being the person who makes these moments eternal is a very unique experience. I’ve come across a quote somewhere saying that “The guests will leave; the cake will be eaten, and the memories will fade. The only thing will remain are the photographs”. Maybe 100 years from now, the great-grandsons and daughters of the bride and groom will look at these photos and I believe this will make me somehow “immortal.”
My most memorable wedding was the first I shot after I moved to London in 2017. It was a completely different experience from what I shot in Istanbul and I was way out of my comfort zone. The flow of the day was very different. I had to shoot in a church for the very first time, I had to communicate in a foreign language. I was doing all of this for the first time. And on the other hand, my execution had to be perfect since it was my chance to get more confidence and land more clients. So, I had to prepare myself for these situations in order to reduce the risks and feel more comfortable. To prepare myself I did a lot of readings and watched a lot of videos about British weddings, church ceremonies and so on. I was so lucky that the Couple was very helpful, and I met great people at the wedding.
How do you find inspiration when shooting a wedding? Is there any technical 'must-do' that helps you punctuate the shoot?
I always try to keep “up to date” with wedding photography. I try to follow trends and browse lots of images. As Salvador Dali said: “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
Wedding photography is all about capturing the right moment. You don’t have the chance to “recreate” a moment during a ceremony. 90% of the time, I shoot on aperture priority mode and use auto ISO with min 1/125 or 1/250 shutter speed in order not to think about technical details during the ceremony. I even know photographers shooting in Auto or “P” modes for the same reason and it is always better to shoot on any mode you feel most comfortable with, rather than not being able to capture that unique moment if you’re trying to shoot in manual mode. This will also reduce your stress level and prevent you telling your clients that you missed their first kiss. I also try to scout the location in person or on-line before the wedding day if I can.
"It's all about capturing the right moment"
"If you get briefed by the client and work enough beforehand you will be prepared for all sorts of challenges on the day"
On one side, one of the most important challenges is the weather. Luckily, I’ve never experienced harsh weather conditions yet. But it’s always good to have a plan B for such occasions. On the other hand, you have to minimize the risk of technical breakdowns by working with backups. A backup camera, spare memory cards, spare batteries and so on will help you a lot if something goes wrong.
A wedding day is unique for your clients, yet for you, it is often a similar series of must-get shots: how do you constantly renew yourself to innovate and stay fresh for your different clients?
Even though it looks like you need to keep to the same shots at every wedding, they are very much all different from each other. Couples, guests, locations, lighting, the environment, and even your personal mood makes it a unique experience every time. Establishing good communication with the couple beforehand helps you a lot to understand their expectations. So, I try to arrange a meeting before the wedding day if possible. We exchange our opinions and get to know each other. Therefore, we both feel more comfortable and relaxed on the actual day.
What do you carry in your camera bag?
I prefer full-frame bodies due to their ISO capability. I’ve been using Canon since I purchased my first camera. Previously used 5D Mark II and Mark III bodies but decided to go with the 6D considering its price and the great results it delivers.
As I mentioned above you have to be fast and ready for every shot during a wedding. I use the Canon EF 24-105 f4L IS lens most of the time due to its wide range, so I don’t lose time changing lenses for different situations. I can shoot a wide-angle family portrait and the next second I can shoot a close-up detail with the same lens. I favor this lens over another very common all-purpose lens 24-70 f2.8 because it gives me another 35mm and has an image stabilizer.
I also have a Canon EF 50mm f1.8 lens which is a must for all Canon shooters I guess. I even shot a whole wedding with only this lens. It’s so fast and reliable and can’t be beaten considering the price.
Another lens I have is a Canon EF 17-40 f4L, which I mostly use for the party shots.
Other things I have in my bag are a battery grip, 4 spare batteries, SD cards, a Flash with a diffuser dome, a flash trigger, reflector, cleaners, an air blower, my business cards, and a GoPro.
To conclude, wedding photography is about going the extra mile - from scouting the location and getting to know the people to carrying extra equipment with you - in order to capture the most unique moments often improvised during the most memorable day of somebody’s life. No pressure.
"Wedding photography is about going the extra mile"