If you’re a photographer, sooner or later you’ll be tapped by friends or family to shoot a wedding. But how do you get amazing photos? We asked renowned wedding shooter Christian Oth to tell us how he does it, and to give us hints on how to handle the most challenging parts of the wedding day.
Despite starting out as a second photographer for a wedding shooter who didn’t think he was good enough to be a first, Christian Oth, now 43, has an extremely successful career running his own New York City-based wedding studio. Our sister magazine American Photo has named him one of the top 10 wedding photographers, and his work has been featured in, among others, New York magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The New York Times Magazine.
Describe your style.
Unscripted. But it’s mostly photojournalistic, with a bit of fashion photography mixed in. I try not to interrupt the wedding or events throughout the day too much. How do you anticipate the best moments? The ability to predict them comes mostly from experience. One key moment to be there for: When a bride steps into her dress, more often than not her dad comes into the room soon after, usually just before she leaves for the ceremony to walk her down the aisle. Sometimes I’m in another room photographing another detail shot, but I always want my assistant to let me know when her dad will be coming in.
What’s the best way to set your cameras?
Always have one ready that’s just set for quick snaps. Keep it on P—for Professional! For those shots, I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a 24–70mm lens. I try to use flash as little as possible, but sometimes I’ll mount a flash on it. I mainly shoot with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III—that’s my first camera and my “fine art” camera. I also carry lots of prime lenses: A 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.2, a 24mm f/1.4, and a 85mm f/1.2—all for different situations. I shoot a lot with the 35mm and 50mm. Those are great for details and bridal portraits.
How can you carry all that stuff?
My assistant wears a backpack. I carry the 1Ds, 5D, and three other lenses in a pouch that I sling over my shoulder. I find this the most comfortable way to work; I can exchange lenses very quickly.