The Role of The Wedding Photographer
I believe that the role of a wedding photographer is to give memories to the next generation. We educate children and give the family a great memory of that one important day in their life. So, when I shoot a wedding I have to obviously think about the ‘hero’ image, but I also have to be a photojournalist and tell the whole story.
But it is more than just documentary photography. It really is a combination of a lot of different styles and skills. It is location and event photography, still life, portraiture, landscape - you have to be prepared to do a little bit of everything in a very short period of time. Because of this, I need a camera that can help me shoot all of these different situations, which is why I use the Sony α7 III.
Sony α7 III and Dynamic Range
For me, my Sony α7 III is like a pen, it is a tool. I can write whatever I like with a pen and with the α7 III I can shoot whatever I want. It is light, it has great image stabilisation, it has two memory cards slots, and the image quality is superb, with a great dynamic range.
The dynamic range is so important as I’m not always shooting in the best light. Sometimes it’s low-light and in other times I might be shooting in bright light and in both I need to keep all the detail in the bride’s white dress without overexposing it. With the dynamic range of the Sony α7 III none of this is an issue. A trick I use is to simply underexpose the image slightly to make sure I preserve that highlight detail in the dress, then in post-production I can increase the brightness of the shadows to add back the detail there.
Camera Setup and Lenses
On a wedding day I will have two α7 III cameras, one on each side of me. One very useful feature of the α7 III is that I can save my settings and transfer them easily to another camera on an SD card. This means that both of my cameras will always be setup identically - all of the settings, all of the custom buttons, everything is the same when I pick up any of my cameras.
On my left shoulder I will use an α7 III with either the FE 28mm f/2 lens or the FE 35mm f/1.8 lens. Believe it or not, I have all of the Sony G Master lenses, but the FE 28mm f/2 and FE 35mm f/1.8 are lighter and are both very sharp. During the summer wedding season, I may be shooting a wedding almost every day, so for me these lenses are the perfect combination of quality, size and weight. They allow me to shoot all day without physically feeling it. They are also quite close focusing so I can use them to get to close-up detail shots.
On the right shoulder my second Sony α7 III will have the Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens. Again, I could go with a 50mm f/1.4, but the image quality from the 55mm f/1.8 lens is fantastic, and it is smaller and lighter. Obviously, the image quality from the G and G Master lens series is stunning, but these mid-range lenses also offer extraordinary quality.
Focusing on Faces
Focusing the lenses is easy with the α7 III. I always use the Continuous Focusing mode, with the tracking mode if I am trying to capture some movement like the bride or groom walking. For portraits I use Eye AF to focus precisely on the subject’s eyes. It means I never miss a shot and all my portraits are perfectly focused on the subject’s eyes.
I have one other trick and that is to use Face Detection and Register. At the start of the day I will take a simple portrait of the bride and groom using the Register Faces function. This feature is so great at it means that when the camera detects multiple faces in a scene it will automatically focus on the face of the bride or groom if they are in the shot. I can even set the priority, for example so that it prioritises the brides face over the groom.
These focusing features allow me to concentrate on the most important part which is capturing emotion. I have to be ready to photograph the expression of the groom as he turns his head to see the bride walking down the aisle for the first time. His expression is not important - he could be smiling or crying, I just know that I need to capture that moment with authenticity so that he can look at that memory forever.
Photography for me is resolving problems, talking about life, communicating with everybody in silence.