It’s an old story. Man goes on overseas trip, buys a camera in duty free to document his travels and, having never taken a picture in his life, he reads the manual on the plane. It was 1985. A young Nick Ghionis just getting acquainted with his new Olympus OM-1 as he flew off overseas, couldn’t have imagined that nearly three decades hence he’d be one of Melbourne’s top wedding photographers… [Olympus]

The realisation that he wanted to become a photographer hit him the moment he picked up his trip photos from the local chemist’s 1-hour lab. ‘I was really happy with the results,’ he said. ‘I thought, ’imagine if I actually knew what I was doing…” Needless to say, my love affair with all things photographic began then and there.’

‘Back then photography was expensive and my gear including an Olympus OM-1 and all my darkroom equipment was costing me a small fortune. I needed to turn my hobby into a sustainable business, or at least make enough money to pay for everything. I approached a couple of wedding and portrait studios and asked them if I could tag along and help carry the photographers’ gear, make coffees and do anything at no charge, just so that I could learn. I did that for almost 2 years. I eventually became a freelance photographer for those studios and shot my first wedding in 1989.’

Now an AIPP Master of Photography and the winner of ‘Victorian Wedding Photographer of the Year’ in 2011 and 2014, Nick says that the key to successful wedding photography is preparation. ‘First and foremost, know your gear. You do not want to be fumbling and learning the settings on your camera while you’re documenting someone’s special day.

Once the technical side of your craft is mastered then that leaves your brain to concentrate on all the important parts of the day – documenting and creating beautiful images. Oh, and DON’T practise on real jobs!

‘Good planning is imperative. I sit down with the couple prior to the wedding and ask a myriad of questions. On most occasions this is their first time, and they have absolutely no idea what to expect. So the more questions I have asked, the better prepared I am to not only capture their story and their memories, but to take images that will resonate with them for a long time.’

When Nick started his wedding career, he would carry around his trusty OM-1 for the photojournalistic shots but would shoot all the formal images with a big medium format camera. ‘Needless to say, the weight was ludicrous,’ Nick said. But, he added, ‘after all these years the DSLRs were getting just as heavy as my medium format cameras from the past. As a consequence I began to trial some of the mirrorless cameras to lighten the load.

‘The feel and the weight of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II was just amazing. So that was my first tick of approval. As a pro who has been shooting for years, my camera had to be fast and the images needed to be spot on. Again, huge ticks on both scores.

‘The focusing on the screen was quick and responsive, which enables me to shoot from angles that in the past were very difficult. Then there’s the 5-axis image stabilisation which I have used to create some interesting images that once would have required a tripod. I think one of the coolest features is the Pro Capture which shoots 14 images before you fully press the shutter, which is insane. There is no excuse now about missing that decisive moment. And finally, the electronic viewfinder is just beautiful. I can instantly change all my settings and see it in real time.’

Asked which lenses he tends to rely on most often, Nick said ‘when it comes to weddings, the go-to lenses will vary, as I explore different scenarios for different parts of the day. But looking at the meta data, it appears that I favour the ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, the ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO and the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. For portraiture, I like the ED 75mm f/1.8 and the ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO lenses.’

Like all accomplished photographers, Nick gets asked for advice about how to take better photographs. ‘Have fun and learn the basics; exposure triangle and composition,’ he says. ‘Then follow the light, follow the light and follow the light!’