My beloved Xpro-1 died on our recent trip to Paris, so while I’m waiting for it to come back from repair I pulled the trigger on a long-needed camera upgrade. After a lot of reading/research/fretting, I finally pulled the trigger on the Fujifilm X-T20 after seeing some results from a friend who has been shooting with it quite a lot. One of the best pieces of advice a teacher gave me in regards to photography gear was to invest in good quality lenses in whatever system you were shooting; there’s no point in constantly upgrading your camera body if you aren’t shooting with decent glass. I currently own four of the Fuji Lenses (18-55mm, 35mm 1.4, 56mm 1.2, and 14mm 2.8). After only a week of shooting with the T20 I’m kicking myself for not upgrading sooner, as the Fuji system has improved in leaps and bounds since the Xpro-1 and I’ve been wasting these amazing lenses on such an outdated system.
I’ve been falling more and more in love with this system and am going to invest further in a few more lenses for wedding work. I’ve been a canon shooter for much of my life and career, but I love the low profile and quiet shutter of the Fuji and it’s become my only go-to travel kit camera. Just for fun I challenged myself to shoot first with the 18-55mm kit lens, as it’s a lens I’ve never really liked much and was considering selling. It’s optics come across much nicer on the Xt20 and while I’m happy with these results, I’ll likely sell it and invest in the 16-55mm 2.8 next.
I keep seeing some amazing work being shot by other photographers at weddings with the Fuji X-pro1 (and other cameras in that family), and I’ve begun to use mine for detail and ‘getting ready’ photos. While I rely on DSLR’s for most of the coverage, I’m finding the low profile and quiet shutter is far less intimidating as people are relaxing before the big event.
As other people have noted, the JPG processing right out of the camera is beautiful, with a very film-like quality too it. Thank you, Fuji!
Both images shot on Fuji X-Pro1, 35mm 1.4
Some advice and tips on what to look for when booking a wedding photographer.
You’re engaged to be married! It’s a thrilling, joyful thing. Next stage – planning your celebration. Also very exciting, but this can also be stressful; with a ton of details to juggle, people’s opinions to field, and financial issues to consider.
First steps include choosing your date, venue, and of course, deciding what to wear (my personal favorite part). Locking in your vendors is a big part of these early decisions – good photographers, florists, and caterers often book a year or more in advance. I’ve had clients contact me up to a year in advance, and I honestly love it when people plan this far ahead. It isn’t always possible, but I do recommend not leaving things until the last moment to ensure you have as much choice as possible. For cases where I’m pre-booked, I have a small number of local photographers who’s work and professionalism I feel confident about recommending in my place.
But what to look for in a wedding photographer? And once you find someone you like, how do you proceed? In no particular order, here are some tips I recommend. You’ll notice most of these aren’t about the quality of images, but of the business of photography. There are a ton of extremely talented shooters out there, but you only want to work with someone who is organized.
- Look at a lot of websites, and choose someone who’s shooting style matches your aesthetics. It can help to keep an ‘inspiration’ folder on your computer of photographs you really like from other people’s weddings. Collect these, and sit down with your partner to figure out your personal style. Do you like a more photo-journalistic approach, or are portraits more your style? Color or black and white? This will also help you articulate your goals to the photographer you choose – I love it when clients come to the table with even a basic idea of what they’d like. An example might be: “We really like a photo-journalistic style for the ceremony and reception, but since we have so many family members coming from out of town, setting aside time for a large set of formal portraits is extremely important to us.
- Work out your budget for photography, and ask yourself how flexible you are to work with a person you really like. There are all levels of pro photographers, at all budget ranges. I personally do my best to try to make sure people can afford my services, and I also have to charge a certain amount based on the time I spend shooting your wedding while factoring in post production time. I also host your images on my site, back them up, and spend a lot of $$ on gear to make sure that I capture the highest-quality images that I can. While you might find a more affordable photographer, it’s also important to take a look at that person’s post-production set up. They might not have a site you can order prints through, carry insurance, or use high enough quality camera gear, or be able to back up your files!
See if it’s a good fit
- If possible, meet up face to face for a conversation and planning session. I like to sit down with people and really talk about their wedding documentation goals to see if we’d work well together. Everyone has their own shooting style – some photographers are more ‘fly on the wall’, others like to direct. My own style is a mixture of the two – and I take my cue from the people I’m working for. If you meet up with someone and don’t feel comfortable talking with them at a cafe? Chances are you won’t feel comfortable with that person photographing you getting into your wedding dress.
Book a test shoot
- Schedule an engagement session or test shoot. I offer a free ‘save the date’ or engagement session with every booking, but will gladly discount the cost of a test shoot off the wedding package if you wind up booking me for your wedding. Most photographers welcome the chance to get to know you before the wedding day, the more comfortable you and your partner are, the easier it is for everyone.
Lock it in
- Contracts. Always, always, always sign a contract with your vendor! I seriously cannot stress this more. Contracts protect everyone involved, including you! I am constantly editing, improving, and revising contract as people’s requests and needs change, or as I add on services. I use my contract to lay out everyone’s expectations for the day, give clients a hard copy document they can refer back to to understand what they’ll be getting, and to provide a record of our business agreement. I’ve heard too many horror stories about how a photographer took months and months to deliver wedding photos, disagreements about final invoicing, or file delivery formats… all of which could have been avoided with a contract. Don’t sign a contract you aren’t comfortable with! If a vendor isn’t willing to work with you to craft a contract you feel comfortable with, consider working with someone else.
And now that you’ve decided….
A few more tips for the actual ceremony day….
Don’t hesitate to tell your photographer if something special is going to happen! Of course, we’re always prepared for random moments of amazing, but it never hurts to give us a heads up.
Drink water and remember to eat! Sounds crazy, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget!
Relax, have fun, and trust your photographer. You’ve chosen well, your vendors will take it from here.
Anything I missed? Leave a comment and let me know what advice you’d offer to someone looking to book a photographer or vendor for their wedding.
New Gear! Secretly, even the most artistic photographers also love a new camera. (Or, sometimes a new ‘old’ camera in the case of flea purchase scores of Canon Ae-1’s.)
Just this last few weeks have been with the release of of Lightroom 4, and the announcement of the Canon 5d Mark3 camera. I’m excited about both these offerings and I only hope my pre-order went in early enough to get a hold of one of the Mark III’s when they ship! Every time the doorbell rings I secretly hope it’s a delivery person bringing a big box from B and H Photo. My logical brain knows it’s way too early for that to be the case, but illogically, it feels a little bit like expecting Santa to show up.
Some links of inspiration/information you might find useful –
5d Mark III stats and sample photos and gorgeous video. They’ve integrated some of the more useful video settings from the Canon EOS 7D SLR Digital Camera (Body Only) (also a great camera), added a headphone jack, dual card slots, and expanded the auto focus settings. I personally mostly use center spot focusing for weddings, it’s just easier to move the camera after grabbing focus than to change the focus point, but I can see it being useful for food and product photography.
Canon’s also announced a new flash, the 600EX. This is a purchase I might hold off on for a while, as I’m pretty happy with my Canon Speedlite 580EX II, but it’s worth knowing about.
I personally believe that everyone should have a good head portrait or head-shot done once in a while. These used to be the domain of performers, actors, musicians, but with the rise of social networks and online professional directories such as LinkedIn, your image is something worth considering. That said, I’m less of a fan of the traditional head shot, and while I certainly can shoot you in a suit and tie, my goal is to deliver images which reflect my clients personalities.
A few things I tell clients when coming in for their portrait session –
Stay away from white shirts, clothing with distracting patterns, or very large pieces of jewelery.
Don’t go too heavy on the makeup and style your hair the way you usually do.
Dress professionally, but comfortably – if you aren’t happy in a suit, you won’t look comfortable in the photographs.
Don’t sweat it if you have some skin flaws. I don’t do a ton of retouching on my work, but I do smooth over any temporary blemishes and can provide more extensive retouching upon request.
A session like this can take under an hour, but I like to spend as much time as it takes to get the ‘right’ image. Some of the people I photograph are performers who love the camera, many are business people who feel very uncomfortable with a lens in their face. Posing for a head shot is actually quite a bit more difficult than being photographed at a large event or party. The end results, however, always look quite a bit more flattering than that tiny ‘photobooth’ photo you’ve been using for your Facebook profile.
There are a ton of tutorials on shooting these kinds of photos, here’s what works for me. I use studio lights or natural light as the situation require. The two images above were both shot in the studio with strobes, the one on the right with two strobes + softboxes, the one on the left a single light with a silver umbrella. I also like shoot-through umbrellas for this. The images below were shot with available light and my trusty Canon 85mm 1.8.