Robert Evans is a Sony Artisan and seasoned storyteller wedding photographer. He’s had plenty of experience photographing high-profile weddings, so he knows exactly which gear he wants with him for each chapter of a wedding day. He’s already shown us in Part 1 the gear he uses when the wedding party is getting ready, in Part 2 he details his approach to the family portraits, Part 3 how he sets up for the newlywed portraits, and Part 4 the two zooms and one prime lens he uses for the ceremony. Now in Part 5, we’ll see how he uses a pair of fast prime lenses, one wide-angle zoom and the fastest Sony Alpha camera in his bag to shoot the big reception party on the wedding day.
In the finale of our five-part series, wedding pro Robert Evans shows how he uses three fast lenses and an ultra-high-speed body for the reception.
Now it’s time to party! I prefer to capture the event just as my couple and all of the guests remember it in their minds. This means most of the time, I am not using any flash. I shoot 80-90 percent of my receptions without using flash. Between Sony cameras’ brilliant high ISO abilities and their fast prime lenses, I have almost completely eliminated using flash during my receptions and ceremonies. When I do use flash, I attach my Sony HVL-F45RM Wireless Radio Flash for dance floor candid’s and maybe I’ll mix some flash with the ambient room lighting for my detail and décor images.
For toasts, I like to shoot reactions of my couples and their guests using the α9 II handheld and still on silent shutter.
I will put the Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master on my α9 II. Remember the lens that finds light, this is never more apparent than when in a dimly lit reception. I can photograph people listening to speeches at a distance and click away without anyone noticing. No flash going off and no shutter sound to distract and annoy other guests. This combination allows me to capture authentic expressions and emotion the way my couple will remember it in their minds.
Photo by Robert Evans. Sony α7S II. Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/60-sec., f/2, ISO 1600
I use the 85mm f/1.4 and α9 II combination for candids of guests sitting and taking, as well as for cake cutting. For the record, I do have my second photographer shoot flash during the cake, while I shoot available light. This way I have two looks in the final proofs. However I find, most couples choose the available light images for their wedding books.
I use the Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master for overall images, such as a wide shot of the first dance from above or for shooting details and décor images before the guests enter the room.
I may use the 24mm f/1.4 instead of the 85mm for cake when I do not have the room to step back from the cake. It’s great for fireworks and performance, such as dancers.
Photo by Robert Evans. Sony α9. Sony 24mm f/1.4 G Master. 1/80-sec., f/6.3, ISO 2000
The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master is my go-to lens on the dance floor for high energy dance sets. Here I will add my flash and set the camera to continuous auto focus on manual at 1/30-1/60 of a second at f/4 about 800 ISO and walk the perimeter of the dance floor looking for expression. I don’t look through the camera, I look at faces and react and shoot when I see what I like. This allows me to engage with the people; they see me smiling at them and they smile back or ham it up for the camera that is just off to one side of my face. By not blocking my face with the camera they interact with me and I capture a more authentic expression filled with emotion.
When I have some down time at the reception, I choose 2-3 of my favorite images from the day and text them to my couple to build excitement and anticipation around their wedding images. I use the Imaging Edge app on my smart phone and WIFI images from my Sony cameras via Imaging Edge. It’s a great surprise the next time your couple checks their phone.
Finally, I wanted to give you a glimpse at the other accessories I bring along with me to a wedding. Because I find myself traveling to most of my weddings, I try to keep my gear as minimal and light as possible.
Of course I want to make sure I have the essentials, such as battery chargers for my Sony NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Batteries that fit in all my Sony Alpha bodies. I also bring plenty of SD Memory cards. I prefer the Sony TOUGH cards, SF-G TOUGH Series UHS-II SDXC Memory Card. I like the 64G capacity, and the fast write speed so I can capture 20FPS RAW when I need it along with the extra assurance that if I happen to drop a card, it will be OK.
Once I fill up a set of cards, I run one card in each slot recording RAW on both. I remove them from both slots and place them in my Think Tank memory card carry case. I keep it in the inside of my suit pocket. (Keep your cards on you at all times and at the end of the night empty your cameras and keep all the cards on your person. Should someone try to take your equipment, your clients' wedding images are safe in your pocket.)
AA Eneloop Pro Rechargeable Batteries For My Sony Flashes (I have two, one as back up): For a main flash I use and love the Profoto B10. There are two main reasons I love this flash: one, it’s small, light, and portable, and two, I can adjust the output for a tiny bit if flash at 1.0 or overpower the sun at 10.00 and anywhere in-between. As I mentioned earlier, I do not like my images to look like I have used flash in most cases, so 90 percent of the time I am using it to add just a touch of flash when shooting outside. Especially when I backlight my couples, I can add the perfect amount of flash to their faces to make it look like natural daylight – otherwise the skin tones come out looking muddy.
ND Filters: I keep several sizes of Breakthrough Photography ND filters with me as well. If I want to shoot my fast G Master lenses outside on a bright day wide open, I still can with a 3-stop ND Filter. You cannot shoot at f/1.4 or f/1.8 wide open even at ISO 50 on a bright sunny day. I like Breakthrough Photography filters because they do not change the color or cast on my images, especially when dealing with a white dress. It is also a great idea to keep UV filters on the front of your Sony lenses. We invest good money in our Sony glass, a UV filter helps protect the front element from scratches that can easily happen when working fast on the wedding day.
Tripod: I keep a MeFoto Tripod with me for the occasional motion blur exposure, or I sometimes use it for detail and décor images inside my reception rooms. It’s small, very light and easy to travel with.
Camera Straps: All my cameras are set up with Peak Design anchor links so I can quickly attach or remove any of my Peak Design camera straps. I absolutely love Peak Design camera straps – in my opinion the most innovative camera strap design on the market.
Business Cards: Finally, it’s always good business to keep business cards with you at all times. I have business cards in all my camera bags so no matter which bag I use, they are always on hand.
I think it is important to use the camera and lenses together with your favorite accessories that work best for you and make your job easy. These are my go-to choices but depending on the day I may use different lenses too. I have shared tips on how I use my Sony gear, hopefully my insight will help you improve your wedding photography and has given you some inspiration looking toward your next wedding.