How many times would you expect that family and close friends share in the coolest moments in your life?
Births, Milestone parties, Christenings, Birthdays … and Weddings.
I shoot all of the above. Personally and Professionally, Weddings matter most to me.
The other ones, I can shoot without the insane pressure cooker that is a Wedding.
This atmosphere though, is what creates my best work. Hands down. Gives me a crazy rush.
I’m not one for staged, life sapping shots.
Just let it flow.
I certainly don’t like shots when clearly, the moment is gone.. but you see photographers try to ‘re-create’ the moment…
done, dusted… too late.
People look back at the Film age as one of nostalgia, long frustration, smelly chemicals, time consuming and full of anxiety and risk…
well, that is certainly one way to look at it.
However… Film has made me, as an artist, what I am today.
There’s is no ‘chimping’, no ‘can you pose again? I didn’t get it’. There’s no ‘just get the shot and I’ll fix it in post later’ attitude.
There’s certainly no, ‘I have a 5 hour package – so we will have to do a lot of mock shots’.. e.t.c. no thank you.
There is no up-sell. You get the full files and full service. The ‘VAN’ treatment. You’re not just my clients. You’re my friends.
True friends don’t let their interests block those that matter most to them.
I am old school (not old – although that is debatable).
Respect and Trust.
You do these things in spades and life will reward you in the ways that you have dreamt about.
But you must earn that respect and trust. I will show you what I do, not just jibber jabber away and tell you…
let me show you…
I don’t do what I do because of a ‘competitive’ market, what I do is never primarily about that.
I do what I do because I respect ethics.
Giving you what I promised – and going above and beyond even the loftiest of expectations.
If that makes me ‘different’ to the others – then I make no apologies for that.
I espouse that for Weddings, it is critical that you get your choice of Photographer right from the outset.
What does ‘right’ mean? Does it mean that they are the most technically proficient or that they have the latest gear or your friends ‘used’ them and they were ‘fine’?
Photography itself is encased in 2 worlds, Documentary and Art.
Both completely different beasts… but marry (excuse the pun) them up properly and the results are stunning.
‘We will not be back here tomorrow’ is something you will always hear me say. That is how I try and live my life. Do it… do it right… and do it ONCE.
The right Photographer is the one that fits you and of course, you fit the photographer. Go with your gut instincts. Women are great with this.
Sure there are a lot of technical requirements (certainly because of the Digital age). A poor photographer could not yield the required results in the Film age.
This is fact.
However, in the Digital world, everyone is a photographer and with the general public’s acceptance of social networks and apps like Instagram…
the bar has been severely lowered…
Fortunately for some, unfortunately for others.
The expectation that what was once ‘acceptable’ has been decimated…
For me, this is a great thing. The point of difference from one ‘photographer’ to the next is HUGE!
Photographic gear at the top end of the 35mm world is at the stage of diminishing returns.
If you have the best lenses out there coupled with the best sensors… there really isn’t anything left on the table except ME. I become purely the reason for poor shots..
or grand shots.
Film was different in that it was a great leveller of skill. Who has it, who doesn’t is shown very very quickly.
Digital is a little hard in that pretty much ANY lens (be it kit or be it zoom as well) coupled with a decent sensor can get a ‘good’ photo.
I don’t dispute that. There in lies your predicament. What is your expectation of ‘good’.
Sufficiency levels are different for everyone. What one person defines as great could be another persons version of dry heaving.
Funny that isn’t it…
I love beautiful captures. Smooth, elegant lines. Uncluttered imagery. If it’s not supposed to be in the image, I’ll compose and isolate so it won’t.
My tools allow me to be very very specific (see Equipment reviews).
The concept of what makes lasting images that stand the test of time is quite revealing… why don’t current crop of Photographers embrace that? hmmm…
The craze to have the latest look, be it ‘vintage’ (overexposed, bland) or a darker almost sinister noisy B+W style for their Wedding images is cool.
What?! I hear you say… it’s cool for ‘now’. For about the first year of your marriage.. it is ‘cool’.
But then what… it becomes tacky.
Shots of heads cropped out of the frame, upside down shots. Crazy, head turning (literally) angles that make looking at said picture very unappealing.
Why do they do this?
They are doing it to ‘try’ and stand out from the crowd.
Stand out because you truly are different.
Because you’re exhausting technical merit and you’re pushing the boundaries of providing something solid and unique is what is awesome.
Standing out for the sake of standing out? That’s try hard and this is where hearts get hurt.
It’s not easy.
In fact, many a night I think of cutting an ear or two off coming up with new ideas to make bane environments look interesting. But I do that because I care.
I can comfortably sleep very well at night (although the sleep hours are getting less and less) knowing that all the Weddings that I have shot over the years are solid.
Best they could have been on the day and the conditions that I had. I am a low light shooter. I love the fact when most people would put their camera’s down.. I can keep going.
What’s the Olympic words?
“Citius, Altius, Fortius”
Faster, Higher, Stronger
In my world, that translates to
Faster, Brighter, Sharper, Smoother.
Welcome to the World of Primes (see equipment reviews).
I love the fact that you have read all the way down to this part, it shows me you care…
All the great gear in the world won’t be able to help me (or save me) if I cannot conceive and see the idea in my head before we are even there.
I plan meticulously to get great images.
Although I shoot Weddings all over the place, Canberra is my home. It is relatively small compared to Sydney and Melbourne. It certainly doesn’t have the attractive sites
photographically that those places have. But should that stop me? or should I just throw in the towel and come up with the same stock standard shot,
Wedding after Wedding. I would rather give the game away than to do that to any of my clients.
I’m too much of a lover of getting that ‘decisive’ moment. I’m too active to just stand there with a zoom lens and rock back and forth on the barrel.
That’s kids play.
In fact, I just carry the one zoom out of all my gear… and that is the ultra ultra wide 14-24. Everything else is a prime.
That in itself should say ALOT about my shooting habits.
A word you will hear alot about lenses is their versatility (primes aren’t really known for this, but certainly Zooms are). Why is this? It’s ‘versatile’ for the photographer, not the client.
Easier for them to get A shot, not THE shot.. big difference.
Optically, there are some fine Zoom lenses. But for an environment where light is key… even the f2.8 constants waiver.. even with the crazy high iso levels of the D4.
Hence what’s in my bag.
Currently this is what’s in the bag;
Nikon D810/d810E both versions
Nikkor 14-24, 24mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, 24-70mm f2.8 E VR, 45mm PC-E f2.8, 85mm f1.4, 105mm f2.8 Micro and the one lens to rule them all, the Zeiss Otus.
Every piece of that equipment plays it’s part. There is no ‘perfect’ combo (although the M9P and the Noct come very very close).
To get a diverse collection of images for your day, this is the ONLY way I know how.
Optical brilliance with Full Frame goodness mixed with an eclectic mix of focal lengths and sweet composition is the recipe for amazing work.
Certainly not the ‘easiest’ (or cheap!!!) route to take.
But that is me in a nutshell.
So these are just some random captures and thoughts of some of my favourites in an wide mix (these will get updated daily).
After adding them to the gallery and reviewing what I put up…
it is clear to me what Weddings are truly about. It’s not about the fanfare of decorating reception halls,
not the fine food that is serviced, not the dresses and shoes that you painstakingly shop for, the dates that are locked years in advance.
It’s not about the songs you play as you walk down the aisle.
It’s not about the in-laws and extended family and friends.
It’s not about religion.
It’s about 2 people.
2 people that are so in love and want to share this special friendship with their closest buddies.
The captures that come out of Weddings SHOULD show this.
It SHOULD ooze love and laughter and raw emotion.
It should elicit an emotion when you look at it.
So if you are after that.. well, that’s me.
Van Dang Photographer
Not Van Dang corporate shooter or Van Dang Photographer with an APS job on the side to make ends meet.
It’s 100% Van Dang Wedding Photographer.
So enjoy these captures. Enjoy the other pages of my other works.
Web content will never come close to showing you what these images are in the full file, but it’s a good gist of the way I go about things.
I look forward to hearing from you.