Stuart Dudleston is a professional wedding and travel photographer based in Dorset, he recently converted to the Fufifilm system for his wedding photography and is here to explain why.
No matter how you look at it, even if it’s upside down with your head between your legs. If you’re photographing a real wedding, then you’re in the documentary photography business.
Sure, your style might be more ‘lifestyle’ focused with loosely manufactured scenes to inspire moments. And sure, you might like to take the couple out later in the evening with more lighting than Vegas to create some dramatic fine-art portraits.
You probably feel as though you’re totally in control and creating a bespoke piece of art. And you’d be absolutely correct. But what about the rest of the day?
What about the moment when you have to rush down the stairs to capture the bride’s father seeing her for the first time. Or when you’re quietly shuffling around the ceremony room, shooting sneaky shots when the official isn’t looking in your direction?
And what about all of the drunken shenanigans in the evening - the dancing, the human pyramid erecting itself in the garden outside, the surprises during the speeches that absolutely no one knows about?
You’re documenting it as it happens. You’re capturing the moments and telling the story. There might be some fine-art flair or lifestyle scenes thrown in at specific moments when you’re in control - but the funny thing about a wedding is that you can never be truly in control (well, I like to think so anyway).
During the early stages of my professional photography career, I picked up a couple of full frame Nikon DSLR’s, the holy trinity of zoom lenses and a host of other fast prime lenses. I was kitted out. I looked the business. But I was also the most conspicuous person at the wedding. Perhaps even more so than the bride and groom.
As soon as I brought the viewfinder to my eye, I could just see the awkward side glances from the guests as they were all too aware of my presence.
As photographers, we find all of this so normal. We do it all day, every day. But what we often forget is that people aren’t used to being photographed as they catch up with old friends and see how many canapés they can fit in their mouth to keep them going until dinner.
People aren’t as comfortable in front of the camera as we would like or expect them to be - particularly when it’s only 1pm and everyone’s only on their first glass of bubbly.
Would you look at that, I’ve managed to go 400 words without even mentioning Fujifilm. Let’s change that.
When I picked up my first Fujifilm camera, it really did feel like a toy. It’s safe to say that Fujifilm makes some of the prettiest cameras on the market today but the compact body, tiny lenses and ‘flippy screen’ really does just look like a holiday camera on steroids. But after a full wedding season with this new system, I’ve decided that this couldn’t be further from a drawback.
What this system allows me to do is disappear.
It allows me to become so unobtrusive that guests don’t even notice me - and the sharp eyed among them that do happen to notice me, they don’t shy away and hide behind their champagne flute. They ask for photos, they pull funny faces and they seem genuinely interested in the camera I’m using.
Heck, I’ve ended up with a more discreet camera system than most of the Uncle Bob’s.
I’m able to track focus on a subjects eyes in live view whilst pretending to mess with my settings. I can place the camera on the floor and preview my shot without getting my suit dirty or spraying, praying and hoping for the best.
I can use the articulating screen and live exposure preview to shoot around corners, over my head, on the floor or perfect flat-lays of details without having to climb on a chair.
Making that switch to mirrorless has entirely changed my way of shooting. The camera has become so much more of a tool to get the shot than I ever would have thought. My initial switch to Fujifilm mirrorless was largely me trying to be a little bit different and a little hipster, whilst further rationalising my decision by beefing up the weight-shedding argument.
But there’s so much more to it than that, and it’s something that you can only really describe whilst looking through the viewfinder (or rear LCD…).
It’s not just the physical size of the camera, it’s everything else that goes with it. A hulking great DSLR requires you to jump into position, line up your shot and press the shutter button with an almighty thud.
If this was a video game, switching to a smaller mirrorless system would be like using a cheat code for increased agility whilst picking up an invisibility potion.
You’re no longer bound to the camera. You no longer have to push your way to the front of the crowd to line up your shot. You no longer have to crawl around on the floor or frantically check your shots whilst shooting above your head.
For me, personally, the camera has become an extension of myself. I no longer spend half of my time figuring out how to capture the moment - because by the time I’ve thought about it, it’s gone. What this system allows me to do is spot the moments and let the camera do the boring boring bit - leaving me to do what I do best.
Your camera’s got this. Spot the moments before they happen, capture it and tell the story in your own special way. It's about a connection, a feeling and an emotion. Focus on that and you’ll be on to a winner.
By Park Cameras on 16/11/2017
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