What's in The Bag?: James Cheng

James Cheng is one half of a wedding photography team in NYC. I got some time to talk to him recently about wedding photography, inspiration and what’s in his camera bag.

How long have you been shooting weddings?

I’ve been shooting weddings for about a year now, so really just starting out.

What was it like for you when you started out?

Starting out wasn’t too bad, primarily lots of second shooting for weddings for friends, as well as hired second shooting positions. First full-time hired wedding gig was a little stressful, but still, keeping the atmosphere light and relaxed helped both me and the clients.

How do you feel the industry has changed over the years?

I haven’t been in the industry long enough to answer that fully, but I do see a shift to a lot of shoot and burn, especially in the beginner and budget markets, which I feel is a shame because really, a disc of images will never beat a well planned, thought out album layout, in terms of look and feel.

Tell us about your gear. What do you primarily use for weddings?

Currently we are Canon shooters, we currently use an assortment of 5D’s and 5D mark II’s. I personally use an assortment of primes like the 24mm f/1.4L, 50mm 1.4, 135mm f/2L. Christine uses primarily zooms, with the main one’s being the 24-70 2.8L, and the 70-200 2.8L. I like the extra stop afforded by the primes, and they’re just lighter to lug around in general, Christine likes the convenience of zooms, so we complement each other quite well.

How do you feel shooting with your girlfriend makes the job easier/harder?

Shooting with Christine is quite a joy, few people get to work with their significant other in a field they both enjoy immensely. It makes the job way easier because we can sound ideas off each other and since we pretty much know how and what the other person will be shooting/covering, it makes co-ordination a breeze. The fact that our styles compliment each other only adds to that synergy.

How do you keep your creativity up?

I personally drown myself in a sea of amazing work. The internet provides such an immense amount of information and visual stimulus for you to ingest, that it’s almost overwhelming. In addition to that I regularly carry around my Canon G9 for some street photography. Really helps to train the eye in capturing moments, looking for good light, and it also teaches you to be immensely patient.

What other projects are you working on now?

Biggest project for me right now would be my “Project One Year Later”, which is basically a 365 project done on film, the catch being that the film won’t get developed til next year. It’s been pretty challenging just taking that one frame per day, really forces you to think about what you want to shoot, also makes you feel like crap when you just arbitrarily waste a shot just to get a picture in. The lack of instant feedback is also intriguing in it’s own way. In terms of other projects, Christine and I regularly donate our services to charities and organizations we feel would benefit from our work.

If you’re in the NYC area and want to be featured in “What’s in the Bag?” email me at chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer.com