As a professional wedding photographer, it’s important to me to continue to enjoy photography. I feel very honoured that people trust me to capture their wedding day how they remembered it. Very often I hear guests at weddings say “wow look at that camera, I bet it takes great photos”, and to a certain extent they are right, it does, but only in the right hands. If you spend enough money on a camera and lens then you expect it to do a pretty good job when set on auto, with it’s complex metering system: just point and shoot. Seeing light and utilising it is something it does struggle with though, and that’s where the skill of the photographer comes in; timing the shot, getting into position and pre-empting the moment, with the right settings dialled in so that you are controlling the camera not the other way around. This is the thrill of the chase for me and why I love photographing weddings. Things happen fast in changing lighting situations, and without intervention from the photographer (which is something as a documentary wedding photographer, I don’t do) it can be difficult to capture that moment in time in a perfectly exposed and composed frame. So a camera is a tool for me and it fades into the background when I am shooting.
Guests at weddings are always keen to chat to the photographer on a wedding day asking “what camera do you shoot with?”, “Which camera should I buy?”, “Will that £1000 lens make me a better photographer?”. With the increased popularity in photography these days it’s no wonder I see guests wandering around the wedding venues with more kit than me, bigger zoom lenses and more expensive and newer camera bodies with excessive flash guns attached to them. I have often thought, “If I were a guest at a wedding which camera would I take? My usual work horse Nikons? My fast expensive prime lenses?” No. I wouldn’t. Up until I got my Fuji XPRO1 I would have said, “I will just take my iPhone”, because that was, until recently, my favourite camera. The immediacy and quality, and not to mention that it’s always with me, are the reasons behind that. When I’m not shooting weddings I would leave the big DSLR’s in my camera bag and just shoot with my iPhone. Buying the Fuji XPRO1 changed that for me. I bought that camera for me, for my photography, and it rekindled my love of photography with it’s small retro styling and interchangeable lenses that are quite frankly stunning. After using it for around six months and taking it along to a couple of weddings, I discovered that it was a little too close to those big workhorse cameras, albeit lighter and a little slower.
When Fuji released the X100s I thought to myself, “Now could this be the small fixed focal length compact camera with an optical viewfinder and big sensor that I had been waiting for?” I thought the same thing when the X100 was released but sadly it was not quite there for me yet; it was not quite fast enough. I picked up an x100s from my local camera shop and within just a couple of days I realised I had found the camera I had been waiting for. They had nailed it: a small compact camera that felt like a 35mm film camera, which produces amazing images in low light and reacts quickly without any shutter lag. The “s” is for speed and it was all the difference I needed from the X100.
You can read great reviews and real user experiences of this camera by Zack Arias Here
Now I have the camera that I have wanted for so long it was time to fulfil a personal project of mine. So what does a professional wedding photographer do on a Saturday in June with no wedding to shoot? He gets himself invited to shoot a wedding as a guest at a wedding of course. I have always wanted to photograph a wedding with a fixed lens small compact camera, and this was my opportunity. The truth is, I love photographing weddings so this did not feel like work to me. When I discovered that Nilgun and Mark had considered me to shoot their wedding, but booked Lyndsey Goddard, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to put my personal project into motion. A few days before the wedding, Lyndsey put my idea to the couple of me being a guest for the day, shooting with the x100s. They were delighted to have me there: two for the price of one! This was a very different experience to that of being a second shooter; I was very mindful of staying well out of the way of the main photographer on the day.
I am not going to be reviewing this camera, as many have done so out there already, other than to say this small camera produces great results, it’s biggest strength is it’s form factor: small size and near silent shutter, which I believe enabled me to get images I would have otherwise not been able to achieve. It’s still an expensive camera, so I’m not sure it’s for everyone out there who is looking for a small,light compact camera, but if you are serious about photography, it’s very hard for me to point anyone elsewhere when suggesting which camera they should buy.
For me the best way to shoot this camera is the simple way. Although it has many features and functions, I set mine up to shoot in manual mode using the front aperture ring to set the aperture, and I use the shutter dial on the top for shutter speed. I only use the centre autofocus point, and recompose to take the photo with the shutter release button. I set the function button to change the ISO. I also love the look of the jpegs out of this camera so would not hesitate to shoot them.
So here are a selection of images from my personal project; to shoot a wedding as a guest with one small fixed lens camera, and the Fuji X100s gave me the confidence to do this. It’s probably worth a mention here that I did shoot the last portrait of the couple with an external speedlight, and for this I used a Yongnuo RF-600TX wireless transmitter (£15 from a popular online auction site) attached to the camera which fired a Nikon SB600 speedlight.
Here are a selection of my favourite images from the wedding, which took place at The Elvetham hotel in Hampshire