One of the traps of photography, in my opinion, is allowing your gear (or lack of gear) to define you as a creative. The honest truth is: if you have nothing to say then no amount of gear will fill that void.
A constant in my career is to be as unobtrusive as I can be with what I bring with me and on me for a shoot. It’s funny to think about but clients, especially those not very camera tech savvy, can become very uncomfortable with a big old long lens shoved in their face! I have literally watched my clients’ demeanor change after chatting with them and working hard to get them comfortable, and then I pick up my Nikon D4 with a 70-200 on it and it’s as if I am armed with a weapon instead of a camera. My takeaway? When I can get away with it, I pack light!
The most helpful lens to help me with packing light but not losing the focal length muscle of a wide and the needed distance and compression of a longer lens is my most favorite lens; my go-to, my ride or die is hands down my Nikon 24-70 VR 2.8. This lens is incredibly versatile, and gives me a level of confidence that I won’t miss my shot when it’s super important! And trust me, it is ALWAYS super important!
HERE ARE MY TOP 8 REASONS
WHY I WOULD DATE MY 24-70 IF I COULD:
1. PHOTOGRAPHING INTIMATE WEDDINGS. BECAUSE: HELLO!
Less space to move around means I won’t have to clumsily navigate the space because I am stuck with a prime lens that can’t take in the whole scene! Alison + Robyn’s wedding was in their living room, and even though they moved out all of their furniture it was super tight! I did not move from the one spot I chose, because not distracting from the ceremony is really important to me, so having the 24-70 was the absolute correct choice for me! Here you can see most of their children in the frame, reacting to Robyn and Alison exchanging their vows.
2. CREATING MAGIC IN TIGHT TIME FRAMES.
I am a one camera shooter the majority of the time so switching lenses all of the time becomes a bit of a slow down, even though I am a quick draw McGoo and super fast at it! With the 24-70 I can maintain an acceptable level of compression when I need to do some intimate portraits with little to no time! Here, I wanted to grab a portrait of Alison before she walked down the stairs to meet her future wife at the altar, but had zero time. Rather than lose the emotion (and miss that magical little tear making its way down her face) because I was changing lenses, I decided to keep my 24-70 on and give her space to just feel what she was feeling!
3. WORKING WITH UNCOMFORTABLE CLIENTS.
Not constantly swapping lenses to achieve that ‘perfect compression’ can crush my soul sometimes, but the amount of compression I do achieve with my 24-70 at 2.8 while keeping the camera to subject distance in mind makes it all OK in the end! During this elopement at the waterfall, Phil was not really into doing photos so I knew my time was super limited. I had to work fast, in the cold and all while trying not to slip to my death on the falls! During the ceremony it all happened so fast and I had to grab a shot of Diana’s father walking her down the ‘aisle’ then turn around and get the ceremony and ring exchange! I had literally 4 minutes to work with and try to achieve as much of a varied look as I could get all while only using the 24-70. But I was not worried, my trusty 24-70 came through!
4. KEEPING AN APPROPRIATE DISTANCE.
Sometimes I can get so caught up in the level of compression I want and crave and end up a liiiiitle too far away from my subjects! The issue? They can’t hear my hilarious jokes! Nor can I direct them properly, if needed! My solution? You guessed it: I use my 24-70!Here you can see this group here roaring with laughter…because they could hear me and believe me, sometimes the noises I make while working are straight up embarrassing!
5. ACHIEVING A SENSE OF PLACE.
I am super guilty of being a close shooter. I love to compress the shyte out of my images and make things all squishy and dreamy! Perhaps this is because of years of being forced to use my wide lenses, like, ALL of the time when I was working at the newspapers of Rochester NY back in the day! And while compression is all well and good (obvi, I love it!) achieving a sense of place is super important to telling the full story of the day. How do I do that? Say it with me now everyone: I USE MY 24-70! Diana and Phil were pretty passionate about exchanging their vows near the falls but the reality was, the water was so loud they wouldn’t be able to hear one another! So we did portraits there. I obviously needed to establish the scene, because it is beyond beautiful! Enter: The 24-70!
6. UTILIZING THAT FOCAL LENGTH TO TELL A STORY.
Diana and Phil were not big on the details, and literally had a 4 minute ceremony with about 11 minutes for portraits! The one detail they did bring was a ‘Just Married’ banner so I had to think fast and figure out how I was going to make this work! It was incredibly windy, but luckily I had Diana’s Dad and Phil’s best man to hold the banner while I stopped down to f 5.6 and held steady at 40mm in order to fit the banner in and not have Diana and Phil be out of focus blobs. How do we achieve this? That 24-70!
7. IT’S ALLLL IN THE DETAILS BABY.
Many wedding photographers know the deal: the room is set up and ready to photograph and you have 3 minutes to get it all! While I can get down with the adrenaline rush of it all, what I cannot get down with is the stress of swapping lenses or cameras with three minutes and potentially missing something important. I was flown to England + Scotland for elite wedding planner, Sarah Haywood to capture the details just for her: and man when someone spends five million on an event there are details at every turn! Was I stressed? You betcha I was. But: I had my trusty 24-70 and I knew how to work it to get what I needed in a tight time frame!
8. TOP OF THE AISLE SHOT
Groom > Bride > Groom > Bride > Groom > … You Get the Idea!
(see also Bride > Bride > Bride > Bride or >Groom > Groom > Groom > Groom)
Since the beginning of time this whole set up has stressed me out: WHICH LENS DO I COMMIT TO FOR THIS? Here you can see Rory’s Dad walking her down the aisle- which- hello- is on Main Street in Hartford in front of Hartford City Hall, so it was important to show that we are on a street. It’s also important to get a little closer to really feel the emotion in their faces as Rory’s smile legit almost breaks her face she’s smiling so hard, and then- BOOP- there’s Pedro, confidently standing there watching them both walk down to him at the top of the aisle!
Early on in my career I ended the search after not getting results I was happy with / missing some vital stuff happening in the edges of my frame during the top of the aisle hand-off. Sometimes I would catch the Mother of the Bride doing something fantastic and I would miss it if I was cropped in too close with a lens that didn’t have the versatility that the 24-70 has. That’s no bueno! So I stayed true to the 24-70 and am able to crop in if needed but still have that freedom to just pull back without moving an inch and get what I need to get! WIN WIN!!
If you aren’t sold on straight up making the investment to commit the 24-70 to your squad, give one a try by renting it and just taking it for a spin! Many times when people shoot with it and don’t love it, I think they are just using it wrong, if I can be super honest. Keep in mind your subject to camera distance and you can achieve that bokeh that we yearn for, trust me!