All images by James Day. Used with permission.
James Day is a Sydney-based international wedding photographer who in many ways lives the dream. He is a photographer with a staff, which means he doesn’t have to be a one-man-show that does marketing, business negotiation, and more. Because of that, he gets to spend as much time as he can behind the camera. With 15 years of industry experience under his belt yet being just 30 years of age, James also runs photography workshops for people who are keen to learn more about wedding photography and the business side of things.
What’s unique about James is that he is part of the growing number of photographers reaching for mirrorless cameras for professional work. Of course, he also uses a Nikon DSLR and more than anything he proves that it’s not the camera that matters–it’s the photographer using it.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
James: Originally it was from watching my dad and the joy that it brought him. He was a really sick man, yet photography was something that always got him out of the house and having fun, so it was always something very special to me growing up. As I got a little bit older I started attending camera clubs with my dad and started to learn more photography techniques there. After my dad passed away when I was 14, I continued on in my love for photography and ended up working as a photographer for a newspaper and also for a company that did school photos. This eventually lead me into wedding photography.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into weddings?
James: I originally got into weddings because the pay was better. I was making $250 per day, rather than $150 per day! Then I realized that I really loved it and it was the perfect place for me to shoot what I love: people!
Phoblographer: You describe your style as luminous, what do you mean by that?
James: Alive and full of light! I love to play with light, yet I feel like I’m still such a baby when it comes to what I want to do with light. So excited to see where I’ll be in 10 years!!!
Phoblographer: Wedding photographers obviously do a lot more than shooting. How much of your time is spent marketing, editing, blogging, booking new clients, etc?
James: In fact, I’m trying to maximize my time behind the camera! I outsource as much of the other stuff as possible, because my passion is creating images, not editing and blogging. I have staff who take care of editing, blogging, social media, album design and well… in fact anything that I can possibly have someone help with to free up my time to shoot more!
Phoblographer: Your images seem to have one extreme or the other: very wide or very narrow and telephoto. How do you feel this helps you achieve your creative vision better?
James: I shoot 35/85 most of the time, but tend to shoot ultra wide (16mm) for my “epic” shots. These “epic” shots that I’ve sort of become known for are all thanks to my beautiful wife. She would always encourage me to shoot more epic images as she told me that’s what Brides wanted. It’s what she wanted at our wedding too! I know for a fact that my clients want images that they can put on their wall, and they’re not going to put a close up of themselves on their wall… but something that just reminds them of what it felt like to be in that moment. I don’t tend to shoot all that much telephoto…usually just 85… but I do love getting in there and showing the connection between people, so sometimes it helps when you can see the subtleties in the expressions.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use, and why?
James: I use 2 camera set ups.
1. The Fujifilm X-T1 (with 10-24, 23, 56, 60 macro, and 50-140).
2. Nikon D750 (16-35, 35, 50, 85, 70-200)
Phoblographer: How do you feel the experience of using mirrorless cameras differs from that of using DSLRs?
James: I typically use the Fujifilm for the candid moments and the fast paced moments and the Nikon if I need slightly faster AF or want to use off-camera flash a little more seamlessly. They both have their awesome points and I’ve come to rely on both of them. I’ve also recently been supplied with the ProFoto B2 on location kit and I’m super excited about what I’ll be able to do with that!
My experience with the Fuji X-T1 has been a very positive one. I found that with the seamless EVF I found that I halved the amount of images I was shooting (which made the back-end a lot quicker) and I also found that the smaller, less obtrusive cameras allowed me to go under the radar a little more, which is nice when you’re looking for candid moments.
Phoblographer: Your site is very centered around your blog; how much do you feel content marketing makes a client want to hire you and why?
James: People want a busy and current photographer. I learnt that very early on. People will probably visit your site quite a few times before they make a decision to get in touch with you, so if there’s new content there they’ll see that you’re a safe bet as lots of other people are hiring you too!