My Most Difficult Assignment - Ever

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LuxShots Contributing Member • Posts: 794
My Most Difficult Assignment - Ever

As I wind down most of my video related work, I have been ramping up my photography jobs. I had a client contact me to shoot her wedding, and she stated that she could not find a photographer who would shoot her wedding. At this point I'm thinking that the photographers she was interested in were all booked for her special day, but it turns out that there was another reason shooters were turning her down, and that was the nature of the wedding:

  • Wedding starts at 6pm and runs to midnight.
  • Bride's dress is black.
  • Groom's tux is black, black shirt, black tie.
  • Bouquet is black.
  • Decorations are black.
  • The cake is black.
  • The photos need to be black and white.
  • One more thing - no flash allowed.

Time and again I have shot wedding after wedding that were most all just more of the same. Of course I produced what the clients desired, and they were all happy with my work, but from a photography perspective, it was just, meh.

But there was something about this wedding that made me giddy!

After quickly booking the client, I immediately looked at what I needed to accomplish such a feat. The bodies that I was going to use were the Panasonic S1 and S1H and these are the lenses I own and planned to use:

  • Panasonic 24-105mm f/4 (my daily driver lens).
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 (L-Mount, first revision).
  • Canon 80-200mm f/2.8 (the Magic Drainpipe).
  • Canon 50mm f/1.8 (the old nifty 50).
  • Panasonic 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6

And I would rent the following lenses to round out the shoot:

  • Panasonic 85mm f/1.8
  • Sigma 135mm f/1.8 (L-Mount).

Two bodies, and seven lenses were a lot to deal with. I changed from my usual all black polo based attire that screamed 'he's the help' to a dress shirt, pressed blue jeans and nifty dress shoes, as this is what my 51 year old self would wear if I was a guess to such a magnificent event. This really gave me a complete sense of comfort, which helped my concentrate what every wedding photographer needs to do:

...find moments, the fleeting but wonderful moments, and freeze them for all eternity.

The very first shot I took of the bride when I came into the room. I hadn't even spoken to her yet. Be ready, moments wait for no one.

A Father's gift.

Gaining a new son.

The joy of love.

Our baby girl.

I let the 20-60mm come out and play at the wide end

A proud papa dances with the bride.

May I have this dance.

Best man's speech.

Dance the night away

More dance

Vodka and Tonic - shaken, not stirred

Dreams of fire

Best shot of the night

Dreamcatcher takes flight.

Perpetual love

The beauty of blackness


Here are my observations of the gear:

  1. The Panasonic 24-105 f/4 came out of the gate running. This lens is a no-brainer purchase with it's OIS and wide focal length, made capturing vastly different shots consecutively a cake walk.
  2. The Panasonic 85mm f/1.8 is a must buy lens. Stop reading my post and just go and buy it right now! Throughout the night, the 85mm never faltered, quick and sure autofocus even in the lowest light levels possible. I simply don't understand how Panasonic makes their lenses so darn good in the AF department compared to other L-Mount offerings.
  3. Panasonic 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6. I usually use my Sigma 12-24mm f.3.5-5.6 when I want ultra wide shots of architecture and such, but the lens is horrible optically and the distortion needs to be corrected manually. With that said, the Panasonic fit the bill perfectly to give me a few shots with exaggerated proportions to mix things up for this hip couple.
  4. Canon 80-200mm f/2.8. This lens is a legend in its own right, as it preceded even the famed Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L line of pro lenses. The price you pay for using such old adapted glass is horridly slow AFS autofocus, less contrast and a tendency to flare. But if you don't wanna spend $2600 on Panasonic fast telephoto lens, you can get this beauty for around $400. Just plan on using it completely in manual focus. This is my eighth wedding using this and manual focusing, so it performed just as I anticipated. But as night fell, even f/2.8 was too slow, and needed to be retired as dusk fell.
  5. Sigma 35mm f/1.4. This was the fastest glass of the night. Optically, Sigma can be hard to beat, but as the sun succumbed to slumber for the evening, the Sigma was mostly in manual focus mode. 
  6. Sigma 135mm f/1.8 was a great lens for this job, but the lack of reliable AFC and sketchy AFS in low light put this lens in manual focus mode as well.

I wanna say something that I really think needs to be said. DPReview is a place for camera geeks, and I proudly wear that label just as most everyone participating in the forums. We look at MTF charts, ISO performance, focus speed and every other feature our luxurious cameras have to offer with a lust that has no comparison.

But at the end of the day, the tech has to get out of the way and you have to be able to connect with emotion.

My clients do not care if AFC works or not. My clients do not know what AFC is, or if ISO-20,000 is bad. My clients want to look at the photos of their day and be filled with the same emotion as they did that day and 50 years from now.

If you connect to your client's emotions, the pictures will take themselves.

 LuxShots's gear list:LuxShots's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H Panasonic S 24-105mm F4 Macro OIS Panasonic S1 Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM +8 more
Panasonic S1
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