So why do use 3 cameras to capture wedding photography?
As a wedding photographer one of the things I often get asked about – especially by guests on the wedding day – is why I am shooting the wedding with 3 cameras. So I thought it might be useful (and a little interesting?) to explain why here.
Being a wedding photographer who specialises in natural, candid and unobtrusive wedding photojournalism it is important I have cameras small and light enough that allow me to get inside the real moments of the wedding day without damaging the integrity of the moment. The beauty of mirrorless camera systems is that they offer camera bodies small enough to do this whilst not compacting on image quality that couples would expect of professional wedding photography. Arguably the Olympus OMD system is one of the best and most professional of these mirrorless camera systems and having shot with Olympus cameras ever since I first picked up a professional camera in the mid 1980s, it was only logical I would stick with Olympus as a brand. But let’s not get too carried away by brand choice or gear snobbery – ultimately a camera is just a tool. It’s the photographer who puts the word professional into professional wedding photography. And professional wedding photographers have full control over their cameras rather than allowing their camera to control them!
Anyhow, I digress. So, back to my 3 camera wedding photography setup, so with cameras that are much smaller and, importantly, lighter than traditional Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLR) it’s so much easier to carry 3 cameras to capture wedding reportage photographer than, say, 2 much bigger and heavier DSLRs – and believe me I know…I did it or years! And believe me, as a working professional wedding photographer, I can safely say the technology is such now that those big DSLRs will be a thing of the past in just a few years time.
Still I guess it still doesn’t explain why I would want to shoot a wedding with 3 cameras, even if they are smaller and lighter. The answer to this is simply all about image quality. As a wedding photojournalist it is important, given the dark and low light situations I face in shooting a wedding day (think dark churches, dark receptions and the good old English weather amongst other challenges), that I have a “fast” lens. Simply put the faster a lens is the more light it will let in and the lower the light I can work in whilst still handholding my camera or without having to resort flash photography (which is often not allowed or is quite intrusive). The truth is that the fastest lenses are what are known as “Prime” lenses or, in other words, fixed length lenses which unlike zoom lenses only shoot at 1 fixed distance to/from subject. So given I choose to shoot my wedding photojournalism with prime lenses I invariably need 3 cameras to put these on. After all, I want a wide, normal and longer length lenses to cover all possibilities on the wedding day (and of course I carry a wide variety of prime lenses with me to a wedding – and the smaller lighter nature of these I can carry more a lot easier) so 3 cameras give me this flexibility.
Now, of course, I hear you thinking why not shoot a wedding with 2 zoom lenses that offer a variety of focal lengths. After all, this would perhaps require only two cameras. And, yes, a lot of the wedding photographers do shoot with 2 cameras and 2 zoom lenses. However, if we put the fact that zooms are much heavier and longer to carry around than prime lenses, they generally are not as “fast” as prime lenses (making it more of a challenge to work in low light conditions) and, arguably, the image quality out of a zoom lens doesn’t match the sharper, crisper images you get out of a prime lens (and don’t forget a camera is only as good as the lens you put on it – but maybe that’s a different post for another day). This is because a zoom lens needs more elements and optics in it to provide all those “zoomable” focal lengths. The more elements you have been the lens and the camera’s sensor, arguably the softer and less sharp your images will turn out. That’s not to say there’s not some zoom lenses out there that produce stunning results, there are, but these can be ridiculously priced and very susceptible to damage (another post for another day is how rugged Olympus gear is compared to other more sensitive brands!). So shooting with primes gives me the ease and flexibility to capture stunning wedding photos. And being smaller than zoom lenses they are less obtrusive and allow me to get in much closer to subjects and moments, which is vital to capturing the genuine and authentic wedding moments that is demanded of wedding photojournalism.
There is one final reason I shoot with 3 cameras on the wedding day and it’s the simple factor of reducing risk. In the worst case scenario if one camera breaks or stops working I will still have two cameras to carry on shooting you wedding (and yes I do have 2 zoom lenses in my bag should I need to revert to them in a worst case 2 or 1 camera scenario – again all about reducing risk on such a big and important day, where a lot of money has been spent!) Imagine the poor 2 camera wedding photographer who would need to go down to 1 camera at a wedding in the same circumstances (it’s still doable on 1 camera – I had that happen in my 2 camera days – but its a lot more stressful and challenging capturing all the shots expected of a wedding day!) I don’t want to even think about those who choose to shoot wedding photography with just 1 camera (I won’t call them professional wedding photographers as no professional would dare to risk shooting a wedding with 1 camera!) and something goes wrong with the camera. That’s one of the things you will find with those wedding photographers who offer unbelievably cheap prices to shoot your wedding. Often they will only have 1 camera and maybe 2 lenses (and more than likely not very good cameras or lenses at that). It’s how they manage to keep their price so low, but I genuinely believe that’s too big a risk. What value do you put on your wedding photography? Are you really wanting to take that kind of risk?
So what prime lenses do I use and bring to a wedding. Generally on my cameras I have a 12mm f/2 wide angle lens, a 25mm f1.4 mid lens and a 45mm f1.8 lens. In my bag I also carry a 17mm f/1.8, a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens that also doubles up as a longer portrait lens and a beautiful 75mm f1/1.8 longer portrait lens. In addition to these I have 4 zoom lenses available (should I really need them!) that cover from an ultra wide 9mm right up to a really long 300mm. So you can see, I really do have all bases covered!
And there you have it, the reasons I shoot with 3 cameras on a wedding day (it’s also worth pointing out that in addition to these 3 cameras I often bring 2 older backup cameras too!)
So if you are getting married and are assured by my approach to wedding photography then please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or leave me a message on my contact page. I’d love to chat with you about your wedding plans and how my wedding photojournalism approach will help you get the beautiful and genuine story of your wedding day. You can find details of my current packages and prices on the Collections & Prices page.