One wedding, one lens—that was the easy formula that Los Angeles-based photographer Mark Teng hoped he could solve when he arrived at the Bradbury Estates with his wife and business partner, Toni, to photograph the wedding of Riley and Errol.
Using only one lens on his Sony A7IV mirrorless camera—Tamron’s 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III VXD G2 lens—would allow Mark to remain nimble throughout the day, but he had a backup plan, just in case.
“I had two other lenses in my backpack—a very wide and a telephoto,” he recalls. “But I said to myself, ‘If I don’t have to change lenses, I’m going to see if I can avoid it.”
Mark and Toni have been photographing weddings for eight years together, and they tend to divide and conquer. Mark takes “epic shots” of the venue, guests, and couple, while Toni “has a far more fashion-forward, intimate style,” he explains. “We complement each other—I guess that’s why we found each other.”
At this wedding, Mark was continually surprised at the range of the 28-75mm, which he says hits a sweet spot by losing a touch on the wide end to expand its telephoto capabilities. “Sometimes it’s a little bit that makes the difference,” he says.
Here, Mark reveals how he got three of his favorite shots of the day.
Ahead of the ceremony, Mark opted for the couple to mirror one another, framed between a laurel-shaped floral arrangement with their hands held. But at the time, their nerves were still raw.
Mark directed them to lean their foreheads close together—“close enough that you can smell what each other had for breakfast, but not so close that you’re bumping heads together.”
That lightened the mood immediately. “I wanted them to think, ‘Okay, if the photographer is not going to be serious, then I don’t have to be,’” he recalls.
Tip: Don’t overthink the lighting. If the scene is naturally well lit, don’t add too many extra ingredients. Mark had one diffuser out of frame to soften the afternoon light, while Toni held an umbrella in the back.
A GQ Moment
Mark adapts his style to the scene, switching between formally composed portraits or a looser editorial mood. For the couple’s portraits at the reception, he opted for the latter.
“In my mind, this is a very Vanity Fair, GQ type of look,” he tells us. “And I wanted to style them that way.”
The pulled-back shot shows Riley elegantly leaning against her chair, while Errol sits at a distance with his leg crossed in a pose of easy confidence. Mark took more intimate portraits of the couple close together as well, and his one lens he was able to handle both with ease.
“It has just enough range that you could get away with it, which is really nice,” he says.
Tip: Take a test shot with your mobile phone. Mobile lenses are typically 28mm, meaning you can frame the scene easily first with your phone if needed.
“Something about using a mobile phone makes seeing compositions easier. Maybe we’re just so used to doing it,” Mark admits.
A Brief Nightcap
If the wedding goes late, Mark and Toni will typically scout out one compelling location once it’s dark for some night shots against a unique architectural setting.
The two took a break from the reception to set up the lighting and composition with Toni as the test model, a backlight on either side of her. They marked the floor with tape, then grabbed Riley and Errol for just five minutes to end the night with some drama-filled portraits to cap the evening.
Tip: Stay flexible within your plan. Mark planned out this session with red and blue gels, casting vivid colors on the composition. But in the end, he wound up removing them to see what the lighting looked like on its own, and was quite pleased, he says, with both scenes. “Nobody could quite agree which was better.”
Learn more about Tamron’s 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III VXD G2 lens here.