There's no underestimating the challenges wedding photographers face. Their job: capture the essence of an emotional, truly life-changing day—the private and public moments, the interactions of individuals, the group dynamics, the personalities of the chief players. And don't get in the way of any of it.
When Susan Stripling recently told us how Nikon imaging technology is helping her meet these challenges, she began by talking about her most recent acquisition, the D3S. "It's completely revolutionary in terms of its low-light sensitivity," Susan says. "I'll often find myself in a dark church where flash is not allowed, and now I can deliver better photos. Before I'd have to move around, looking for more light, or wait for the bride and groom to come to me—and the moment's gone or the moment changes. Not anymore—that camera is so sensitive to light, all you need is a little bit." She can also avoid situations in which flash may be permitted but would be obtrusive or disrupt the mood.
The D3S's capabilities are definitely confidence boosters. "It's always such a struggle when you're in a situation where you have no control, which is often the case in a church. The lighting, the positioning of people, even your own position and your ability to move around freely—you can't do much about controlling any of that. Having a camera that can detect the smallest nuances of light is crucial."
And so is having a camera that can keep up with your shooting speed. "I can't be waiting for the camera to write to the buffer. With the D3S there's absolutely no pause, ever. I can't be telling the bride and groom, 'Hold on, wait a second,' because in that second I've lost the shot. Essentially I don't have to wonder, can my camera handle xyz situation? I know it can."
Her lenses can, too. "I can shoot a whole wedding with four lenses. The 85mm f/1.4 is a beautiful lens—as sharp as can be and as fast as can be. The 24-70mm is sharp side to side, top to bottom. The Nano coating [Nano Crystal Coat] gives it an incredible sharpness and clarity. I can absolutely see the difference that the coating makes. The 70-200mm also has the Nano coating, and the images from that lens come out of the camera with so much sharpness and clarity they almost look like they've been Photoshopped. The fourth lens is the 60mm micro. A lot of wedding photographers wouldn't see the need for a micro lens, but for the 15 to 20 detail and close-ups shots a day that I want it for, it's invaluable. It's light, small, sharp and fast to focus."
Susan often mentions the focusing speed and accuracy of NIKKOR lenses because she came to Nikon gear from another system, and she is acutely aware of the differences. "The other brand lenses can't compare to NIKKORs. They were slow to focus—they'd think about it for a little while, focus in, focus out and the moment was long gone. Nikon makes amazing glass—sharp as a tack and focuses like a dream."
Susan realizes that having the right gear for the job not only increases confidence, it builds business through the quality of the images she has to offer and through the expectations of her clients. Simply, the better you are, the more likely people will choose you—and the more they'll expect from you. Offer your clients bright, sharp, high-quality images taken in tough, low-light conditions and that's what your next clients will expect. "The expectations of the clients are very high," Susan confirms. "More and more I'm noticing that people get it a little more—they ask pertinent questions, they give me good information about the situation. A lot of times they'll say that the church they've chosen is really dark, and I'll have to stay in the balcony and won't be able to use flash. They ask, 'Is that going to be a problem?' And I can confidently say, 'No, not at all.' "
No problem indeed. With the talent and technology Susan brings to the challenge, it's about as easy as pie...but since we're talking weddings here, make that a piece of cake.