What kind of camera do you use ?

(Does the camera make the photographer ?)

It’s often a question that bridal magazines or blogs recommend you ask your potential photographer : « What kind of camera … ? »

In a limited sense, the answer helps you determine if the photographer is an amateur or professional. An amateur tries to cover your wedding using a mediocre camera that makes it impossible to work properly because there are no manual controls over the aperture, speed, ISO or white balance; it has a sensor of poor quality, a lack of autofocus points that do not allow it work well in low-light situations, a cheap lens that focuses too slowly or gives poor image quality, a burst speed that is too low or an image processor that is too slow to capture those important moments quickly …

A professional photographer naturally works with tools made for pros, tools of precision, speed and quality using only high quality optics. Nonetheless, the quality of a photographer does not stop (or sometimes start) with one’s gear. If one is gifted, you can get good results from decent mid-range cameras and lenses (in a range of situations that are albeit more narrow, being limited by the capacity of the equipment, especially in low light). And conversely, one can have the biggest camera and most expensive lenses and still work in completely automatic mode, not having a sense of artistic composition, lacking the reflexes and timing to take photos at the right moments – and then nothing comes out well.

It’s good to remember that instinct for when to take a photo overrides equipment almost every time. Or as the photographer Ansel Adams put it :

“There’s nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

That said, good cameras will certainly enhance the images taken by good photographers.

I have years of experience photographing many types of live events including weddings, which has honed my instincts, I have a natural artistic sensibility further developed by my years in art school, and finally I am a bit of a technician and a geek. I work in manual mode to control what the camera is doing precisely and all my images are taken in RAW format (this requires work in post production in order to develop an image but it permits much more creativity and flexibility with the resulting images).

I work with :

  • A Canon 5D Mark III body
  • A wide-angle zoom Canon L series 16-35 F4 stabilised lens
  • A mid-range zoom Canon L series 24-70 L II F2,8 lens
  • A telephoto zoom Canon L series 70-200 F4 lens
  • A prime Canon L series 100mm F1,2 normal to macro lens
  • A Canon 7D MKII spare body in case of emergency.
Lighting :

  • Two Canon Speedlite 600EX RT flashes
  • A flash diffuser (allowing a better softer light quality from the flash)
  • Two stands and umbrellas for the flashes (often used for formal or group portraits)
  • A Canon ST-E3-RT radio remote control for the 2 flashes
Other :

  • 3 spare batteries for the camera bodies
  • 18 rechargeable LR6 batteries + charger
  • Several CF cards with over 128Gb of storage total (thus explaining the time necessary in post production!)
  • Tripod
For post Production :

  • a Mac computer
  • a NAS server for image storage
  • many additional hard drives for triple back ups of your images
  • a professional large screen
  • a colour metre to calibrate the screen
  • a Wacom tablet to work on retouching
  • Adobe Lightroom to manage the images and do basic retouching
  • Adobe Photoshop for complex retouching
  • Online Pro account on Smugmug – for digital delivery, allowing you to order many types of photo products directly from the site.