Vintage dresses and sunsets - 1.30.16

Brett is what you might call a queen of thrift store finds.  It’s an underrated skill which often yields amazing results when it comes to finding things that scream the need for a camera.  This particular find was a vintage dress that when matched with the setting sun in Athens, yielded wonderful results.  She also found a Polaroid camera.  I couldn’t convince her to part with it… but not for lack of trying!

Model/Wardrobe/Makeup/Overall Amazing - Brett Finlay

Wedding Loadout

Asia – Soul Survivor

There’s a subReddit on wedding photography and often people will post their typical wedding gear they take with them to most weddings.  Mostly it’s for like-minded souls to chat about their gear that they love, that’s an extension of their personality and a source of pride.  I figured why not.  So I arranged my gear on the floor of my studio and attempted to take a picture.  The result is this-


All well and good for a blurry cell-phone picture, until I tell you that I didn’t include the carrying cases, flash batteries, power cords, data cables, duct tape, electrical tape, bag of tools, and in-case-of-emergency bag.  All in all, when loaded up for a wedding, I carry over one hundred pounds of equipment to and from the venue.  Fortunately it all fits inside my workhorse Volkswagen hatchback… barely.  When driving home from a venue in the early hours of the morning with a fully loaded car, often the only music that works audibly over all the gear is techno to keep me awake.

Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is

If the venue allows it and the bride wants it, I also have two Interfit SuperS Cool-Lite Constant Softbox lights I bring for the photobooth.   Often for photobooths I also will rent a Canon 70D as the batteries and memory card are interchangeable with my two main cameras, and have the same sensor resolution and megapixel size, so that there’s no change in quality or output between the booth and the images captured by me. 

So let’s go through the list!

Billy Joel – Only The Good Die Young

Four tripods for speedlights (plus two not pictured to go with the Interfit constant lights if I need them)

Roundflash light modifier (great for portraits and that club look)

Canon 16-35 f/2.8 II L

Canon 24-105 f/4 L

Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II L

MSI Laptop

Color card for white balance

Canon AE-1 with Vivitar 200 mm lens (for that vintage film moment)

Canon 6D with grip

Canon 7D Mark II with grip

Canon XT

Canon Elan 7n

Cactus v6 wireless triggers x 6 (attached to each lead camera and the four speedlights)

3 extra camera batteries

Memory cards

BlackRapid RS dual-wielding camera harness

Canon 600EX-RT speedlight

Yungnuo 600EX-RT speedlight

Canon 430EX II x 2


Business Cards


Gel modifiers for Rogue Flash grids and wraps

RODE microphone input

Rogue Honeycomb Grid x 3

Vello Bounce Dome Diffusers

Extra Eneloop rechargeable batteries & chargers to go with the Pro High Capacity batteries in all the flashes

Most of the time, this all fits into three cases, with the cameras going in a Pelican 1510 and the other gear stowed between a flash bag and a larger rolling cart for the tripods.  Ideally I’ll have three Pelicans one day to carry everything for simplicity and safety sake. 

Do I use all this every wedding?  Nope… but I always bring it all with me.

The Big Three Wedding Needs

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Kiss on My List

First, a disclaimer- I have never been married.  Maybe someday I will be, but that’s a whole other saga.  I have been fortunate and honored enough to have been invited as both a guest, a groomsman, and as a photographer for many weddings in my life, but have not yet been the groom myself.  For the most part, I’m a vendor.  So I might have a vested interest.  But, that said, to me there’s a hierarchy of what a bride needs to consider when planning a wedding.  If they keep this idea in mind, hopefully it’ll make the planning less stressful.  Hiring the photographer is not at the top of that list.

The first two are interchangeable, but when I consult with potential clients, these have usually already picked out before I’m ever brought in.  And when I hear the level of excitement in their voices when describing these things, it tells me a lot about the couple.

To me, the most important item is the dress.  A wedding is built around the bride’s dress.  If the lady loves her dress, it makes her feel perfect.  Everything else falls into place.  The wedding is about the bride.  Grooms don’t matter, kind of like in ballroom dance, the guy is the frame, but the lady is the work of art.  And really, us guys are FINE with that.  It takes a lot of the stress off us.  The right dress will instantly let the bride feel the moment, and it’ll be easier for her to be ready for the onslaught of the day.  It’s a psychological warfare tactic really; she’s geared up and ready to face the challenges of an often 10-hour plus event when she’s dressed for the part. 

Eddie Money – Take Me Home Tonight

Once the dress is picked, then it’s the venue that matters next.  These two things I don’t believe the plan should compromise on.  Find the dress and the venue you’ve been dreaming of and everything else will sort itself out.  The right venue is like the right house.  When checking out a house to rent or buy, people check out multiple locations and find the one with the right feel, the right level of comfort, and the aesthetics they want.  It’s so much easier to be at ease, at repose, when you’re in a place that makes you feel at home, and ready to celebrate. 

Meat Loaf – You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)

After those two are found, then go after photographer.  Aside from the dress and whatever gifts you put on your registry (that you don’t return) the pictures are what you’ll be able to hold onto.  The pictures are the only real keepsake you can come back to, as wedding cake in a freezer doesn’t last forever.  I often ask potential clients on the initial consult how many photographers they’ve talked to, how many portfolios they’ve checked out.  If I’m the first or the only one, I suggest they shop around, because if they haven’t ever really looked around they need to for their own sake.  While I want their business, it’s more important to me that they find the photographer that matches their vision for the images they’re wanting after the day is over.  That’ll come in part when they have a photographer they get along with. 

.38 Special – Hold On Loosely

It’s quicker to get in sync and become at ease with a photographer the more you meet with them, the more time you devote to cultivating that relationship prior to the wedding day.  I purposefully try to schedule all initial consultations over a lunch, coffee, or beer.  After that, I usually schedule at least two more times to meet with them to plan and discuss the dynamics of their wedding, and hopefully shoot an engagement session with them to get a dry run of getting in sync for everything.  I want to get to know my clients, what makes them laugh, what they love and enjoy, so we can find that unique character to bring to their images.  You can’t create that on the fly, it takes time. 

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Don’t Do Me Like That

Not all photographers are the same.  Wedding photographers are broken into two categories- photojournalists and traditional.  Within those categories there are millions of different styles, shooters, and editorial combinations.  I tend towards journalism style with sharper colors and a more modern lighting style, with a mix of vintage and modern editing and post-production technique.  It’s important that couples pick a photographer whose style matches their taste and vision more than their budget.  I often recommend other photographers I know whose work I admire.  Like buying a car or a house, a wedding photographer is a serious investment.  It’s important to look around to find the right fit.  More often than not they come back to me because they feel my portfolio matches what they want and they feel comfortable.  Even when they don’t, they thank me for the advice I gave and the leads I gave them on finding the photographer that fits.  As long as you love the result, I’m happy for you, no matter who you choose. 

Boston – Don’t Look Back

When a couple compromises though, putting cost far above their wants and not finding that right balance that makes them happy… then… well… that’s a tougher story.  And a different post for a different day.

Agree, disagree?  Please comment below!  What mattered or will matter to you during your wedding?