Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Cambridge wedding photographer's gig bag

I have spent many years as a wedding photographer in Cambridge and it has taken me a long time to finally distill both my photographic style and, in parallel, my kit bag contents, into something that is distinctly personal and individually mine. For many years I was heavily influenced by reading about equipment on forums and blogs, looking at what other photographers were carrying around and assuming that my images weren't good enough because I hadn't bought the latest piece of equipment. This is unsurprising as photographic media coverage is obsessed with pixels, speed and technological development and the push of most photography equipment advertisements is towards making us believe that by getting the newest bit of kit it will solve all our photographic problems! You can see some of my current images here.

In the light of the digital revolution this is hardly surprising. Ten years ago photography was turned completely upon it's head when usable, affordable and high quality digital cameras first became available to the masses. Predictably enough every few weeks there was a new camera unveiled, the amount of mega pixels continually on the increase and the photographer left at the mercy of ill informed magazines, columnists and bloggers as to the relevance of the emerging technology.

The new availability of high quality digital cameras threw up a new problem for the professional photographer i.e how to buy equipment that would differentiate him/her from the crowd at the wedding. How embarrassing to be at a wedding as the professional photographer with the bride's friends and (particularly I don't know why!) uncles carrying bigger more expensive cameras. The temptation is to spend spend spend on bigger lenses, tripods, lights, flash units and other paraphernalia to ensure that one has the "look" at correct least!

It took me a while to work out that, for me at least, this was completely the wrong way of doing things. I firstly realized that most brides don't care at all about how many mega pixels the camera is. Brides have no concern at all about resolution and never complain about picture quality or lack of dynamic range. Secondly I realized that, for my way of shooting weddings in Cambridge I didn't want a massive camera, lights and lenses that made me stand out as the "professional" at the wedding. I wanted to be unobtrusive and understated. Thirdly, and most importantly I realized that what made me unique as a photographer wasn't my equipment it was my eye. I knew I had to train and hone my eye and my brain and that was the true key to success.

So, in the bag? One medium sized DSLR camera body, 24 - 70mm f.2,8 and 50mm f 1.4.

That's it, that's the lot.

In an ideal world it would just be the 50mm or even a small hand held rangefinder like digital.

Realistically, I always take back up kit, a flash unit, longer lens for when it is impossible to get close enough and a monopod.

There are some good ideas on presenting the resulting photographs here.