From time to time I receive general questions on which equipment, techniques and procedures I use. I’ll call this a wedding photography FAQ. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, it will give you some idea as to how I work. While I could write an entire novel on each of these points, I’ll keep this to a condensed version for now. In a future post, I will try and go into more detail on each topic as I feel its important information for clients to understand.
1. What equipment do you use?
My main camera is a Nikon D4, along with a Nikon D700 which is an amazing camera for both weddings and portraits. As far as lenses, I have lots all from Nikon but my favourites are the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 VR. I always have two camera bodies on me during a wedding which allows me to have two different lenses on at the same time which is great for getting two different perspectives. I also do this just in case there is an issue with one of the cameras and in the event I can easily just switch to the other one and you’d never know. For weddings, I also carry a second spare camera bag with another Nikon body and a few lenses, batteries, and more memory cards just in case. There are so many other pieces of related equipment that help me do my job that I’ll definitely have to come back and go into more detail and explain how and why they are used.
2. How do you light your images?
It all depends on the situation. I will try to use natural light whenever possible, but if I feel that an image could be made more dramatic or enhanced I will definitely try to use off-camera flash. I should mention that what I’m looking for is a quality of light whether natural or flash that will flatter the subject, I’m not just talking about ambient light in a room.
3. Do you shoot RAW or JPEG?
I currently shoot entirely in Nikon’s NEF RAW file format. I then go through a process and ingest all of the files that need to be worked on into Adobe Lightroom. For photos that will be included in the wedding album or for photos that the client has selected for a large print, I will further enhance and retouch the images with Adobe Photoshop CS4 as needed. My wedding clients will then receive their final proofs in high resolution JPEG format.
4. What is your post-wedding workflow?
After I return from a wedding, I have two compact flash card readers that I use to download two cards simultaneously into the couple’s wedding directory. Each wedding is different but I could use anywhere from 6-12 flash cards. After all of the files are downloaded onto the one hard drive, I then initiate a backup process where the files are then backed up onto a second hard drive, and then onto a third external hard drive which is taken offsite for extra protection. As mentioned above, I will then use Adobe Lightroom primarily to process the files and Photoshop as needed. A day or so after the wedding, I will post some of my favourite images on my blog and shortly after that I will produce a slideshow which features some more of my favourite images. If a couple has selected an album I will then begin the process of designing the layout with the best of the best images from the wedding. I will then work with the couple to finalize their album and then finally submit the files to my album company from printing and binding.
5. Do you use any special programs?
My primary application for processing files is Adobe Lightroom which is a program I absolutely love. I can now accomplish almost 90% of what I need to do in Lightroom. If a photo needs specific facial retouching for say an album I will use Adobe Photoshop CS6. I have also gathered a small collection of Photoshop actions that I use along with a few that I have created myself that really help out with the workflow processing.
6. What albums and album design software do you use?
I’m always on the lookout for new album design software and I have since gone back to using Photoshop for my album work. It does have its limitations for design, but with new extensions that are now available it’s really attractive.
7. Have you had any formal training?
Not really. I would say that I’m self taught and that I have such a love and passion for photography that I’m always trying to improve, and most importantly practicing my craft to try and constantly increase my skill level. If I didn’t try something and make mistakes I would never be able to grow and learn from those mistakes.
8. Where do you get your inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from anything that catches my eye. It could be a magazine or billboard advertisement and lately I’ve been really taking notes when watch a movie to see how they use lighting to create a mood and sense of depth in a scene. When working with couples, I have to try and balance my vision with their comfort level.
9. Can I ask you something specific?
Absolutely, if anyone has any questions or comments I would love to hear them.