We were recently honoured by the UK's largest Canon camera dedicated magazine. They reached out to use to ask for our input to feature in their monthly "My Kit" section. As self confessed Canon gear heads since starting in the trade, we said sure. Beneath is a run down of the article from the magazine, which was published in August 2018 UK wide. All of our Canon wedding photography kit is supported by a giant Manfrotto roller 70 bag.
There’s something about photography that has combined all my passions in life together. Starting young I thought I’d be an artist, with great grades up until A level. Then I did my degree in music, thinking I’d be a super successful session musician. Coming out of uni and into a full time job in a local printing lab kicked me in the direction of photography and the wonders of film photography. I was developing hundreds of rolls of film a week, seeing all the gorgeous colours and little tricks that professional photographers could employ to get the most out of these film stocks.
My boss in the lab gave me a little Canon 350d and told me “there’s a family coming in tomorrow who want a studio session, learn how to use this by tomorrow”. I can safely say my gift of the chat got me through that first nervous photoshoot, and it’s results propelled me on towards shooting more photos. I started to shoot model pictures of my friends, attending local modelling socials to network and expand my portfolio and technique catalog.
Starting shooting weddings
It was only a year or so later that someone in store asked me to shoot their wedding, at £200 I thought I was rolling in the money. The year after I shot 5, then 20 the next year and has continued upwards ever since. I love being able to make someone comfortable in front of a camera and myself, we all know how intimidating someone pointing a big camera at you can be, especially on something as nerve-wrecking as a wedding day.
It’s not all about the kit, it’s about how you come across as a brand. You are the walking embodiment of your company, they don’t pay you for your camera and how much your last lens was. They pay you because they like your style, how you work with couples and how you are to talk to and respond with.Most of the time I’ll shoot wide open at f1.4, and always take the extra time to shoot details like flowers, rings and table layouts.
What do I do?
I’m a wedding and maternity photographer from Birmingham, UK. I’ve grown up around arts and crafts thanks to my parents, one who was a music teacher and the other a landscape photographer. I started my photography career as a print technician in a lab, and slowly started buying kit and reading up on techniques and shooting model pictures of friends. My first wedding was 5 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I love to shoot light and airy images with lots of fun, candid qualities and creativeness. There’s nothing more fulfilling than helping someone on the biggest day of their life, and them thanking you for the effort put in. I’ve been shooting with Canon since 2011 and with film since 2006.You can find us on most social media @specialdayuk.
Top left: 3 Legged Thing Vyv (https://www.3leggedthing.com)
I love the little compact tripod. I’ve been using it for pretty much anything static, from top down views to underslung so I can shoot from ground height for best angles. The lightweight nature of its construction lets me put it in the bag alongside the lenses and I don’t notice the difference.
Top row: Yongnuo 560 mk III, YN 565EX TTL flash (http://www.yongnuo.eu)
Flash is essential for the working photographer, and having a diverse range of flashes available to get the job done really helps you pull off those epic shots. I use a pair of manual firing cameras and a trigger to get off camera light, as well as always keeping a TTL version with me if I need a boost of power on camera for those darker wedding receptions.
Middle row left: Sigma macro 105mm 2.8 (https://www.sigma-imaging-uk.com)
Until they release an Art series, this older version (but still amazing in image quality for the price) stays in the bag. I only get it out for a couple of shots, such as wedding rings and super close wedding dress details, but it pays dividends and adds value to your brand being able to get those types of shots.
Middle row: Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art & Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lenses (https://www.sigma-imaging-uk.com)
I don’t think I could get the quality of image I desire without these brilliant lenses. Hugely sharp wide open and perfect in all lighting conditions, I sit the 35mm on my main camera for most of the day before pulling out the 85mm for some portrait shots. The bokeh is glorious and the focus is snappy, even for such big prime lenses.
Bottom row left: Canon 17-40 L (https://www.canon.co.uk/)
You need to have the ability to back up and get a wider shot, even in a small room. Rarely implemented but could never leave the house without, this wide lens has saved my bacon on many occasions where 200 guests want a group shot in a room the size of my shed.
Bottom row middle: Canon 6D (https://www.canon.co.uk/)
This has been my main shooting camera for a few years now, and I keep it in good working condition with regular checkups and maintenance. A super simple button and menu layout, it’s a wonderful full frame, low light king with an amazing battery life and responsiveness. I have a crop camera as a backup incase this fails, but after hundreds of thousands of shots, this thing has never failed on me once.
Bottom row right: Pentax 645
Picked up as “parts and not working”, you can really find a good steal on eBay nowadays. We use this medium format camera during portrait sessions. It’s certainly an expensive and time consuming extra to the bag, but wows every couple who see it and increases the brand value to be able to offer something a little different to just digital files.
Bottom bottom row: Holdfast MoneyMake dual strap (https://holdfastgear.com)
I got this imported from America to replace my bizarre collection of over shoulder and over neck camera straps that were strangling me on my wedding shoots. Handmade from leather, these straps form to your body and keep the weight of your multiple cameras from hurting any one point on your body. I can now happily carry round two 1kg cameras for 12 hours straight without feeling any pressure on my back or neck.
If you would like to book your own wedding day with Special Day Photography, please contact us. We travel all throughout the UK but are based in Cheltenham. If you have a wedding in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff or Oxford please get in touch. We specialise in lifestyle wedding photography, with nothing too staged or forced. We'd love to catch up with you over a coffee to discuss any plans you may have.