My wife, son, and I recently enjoyed a family wedding in Ogunquit, Maine. We live on the coast just a couple of hours north, so it was a pleasant little drive for us to join the extended clan for a few days.
I’ve photographed weddings as a primary or side business for decades, and even when I’m just a guest I tend to fall back into that mode…standing off to the side with a Canon 5D and zooms. But no more! Since selling off the full frame gear I’m happy to be a mere spectator.
Wait…what? You really did sell off your gear, you ask? Yes, the FedEx man came by last week and picked up my entire FF kit in two boxes. Holy moly. And for anyone contemplating such a move let me recommend mpb.com. I’d never heard of them, but the entire process has been like ripping off a band-aid…quick and painless.
I approached the sale by looking at both completed auctions on eBay and current used offerings on Amazon. This helped me determine two prices for each piece of gear: The minimum I’d accept, and the likely best selling price. I totaled up both columns and had a Min and Max figure for the whole lot. I planned to post everything on eBay, but then I heard about MPB and sent the list of gear to them. Their offer was essentially my Min figure, lump sum, with no risk of returns or deadbeats, and no commission or shipping fees. Got my check in less than a week. Done and dusted.
Right, so back to the ceremony. I sat in the middle of the third row just like any guest with my tiny Lumix GX85, and only occasionally popped up to fire off a shot using the rear screen. Same during the reception. I totally enjoyed the entire day, and never felt like I should be documenting it. Just shot what I saw. Fantastic.
As for equipment, the ‘kit’ lenses did good service, and the Leica DG 15mm f1.7 [30mm-e] was terrific in lower light. However, I dislike changing lenses, especially in windy outdoor conditions. Ideally I’d like to have a ‘normal’ zoom with more reach and better speed than the kit 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 [24-64mm-e] and after the wedding I purchased a more do-it-all zoom for the Lumix: the Leica DG Vario-Elmar 12-60mm f2.8-4 ASPH [24-120mm-e]. [Note: I’ve adopted Mike Johnston’s notation for 35mm equivalent focal lengths…the ‘-e’ suffix.]
I’ve had the 12-60mm for a week or two now, and like it very much. Although, I have to say side-by-side IQ tests with the inexpensive and compact kit lens are very comparable. And, the Leica lens is noticeably heavier on the shoulder. As such, the 12-32mm isn’t going anywhere, and looks to spend more time on the slim little GX85 than I anticipated. I just rented a Lumix G9, and the larger normal zoom, as well as any longer Leica DG lenses that I may acquire down the road, could be more well suited to the larger body.
So, I didn’t bring pro gear, and didn’t stand apart from the crowd looking for my ‘go-to’ shots. Does this mean I missed some keepers? Probably. Did that hurt? A bit.
But at the end of the day, and end of a career, you realize that’s not what matters. Being there, being present, and taking home a couple of nice images is the goal.
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I appears, to me, post taking a decision to divest your Canon arsenal and reinvest in an M43 armoury, it has facilitated your ‘savouring’ the moment just that little bit more, as per what you stated “… Being there, being present, and taking home a couple of nice images is the goal…”. Lastly, some of your images are super, in particular the second image.
Thanks Sean. Yes, exactly. 🙂
Chris, great post and photos. My youngest son gets married early next years and I’ve decided to leave the camera at home, the reasons I can’t be bothered fighting to get shots with all the other phone brandishing guests and of course the offical photographer.
I think you might like to try it out. We only get one opportunity to photograph a wedding for one of our close relatives. I’ve been leaving it mostly to the professional ‘togs, of course – but hopping around in the background (just as Chris is suggesting) with one of my less conspicuous/smaller cams. And at times I’ve been able to get a shot the pros couldn’t possibly, because of their location.
I’ve done about 5 of them now, and the feedback I received from the couples, and their parents, on 3 of them was very flattering. Two, in fact, the feedback I got was that they liked my shots better than the ones the pros took. I don’t imagine that’s about image quality – it’s probably more about the spontaneity that you can get, kind of like ‘street’, when you don’t have the responsibilities the pros are governed by in taking their shots.
You might have to move around – but you certainly don’t need to ‘fight’ for suitable vantage points. Just do it – I don’t think you’ll ever regret it – and your new daughter in law and her husband will probably be extremely grateful to you! 🙂 (They also only get one opportunity to marry each other 🙂 )
Hi Dallas, so glad you liked the post and photos.
Have to say, if I was father of the groom someday, I’d also have to consider setting the camera aside for much of the day.
I was uncle this time, and even as such a peripheral player, felt I should spend more time with guests and family than framing shots.
I would only feel more that way as a principal in the event. But, ‘leave the camera at home’? Perish the thought! 🙂