Sam & Rhys / Chateau Soulac, France

It’s always an honour to be asked to photograph someone’s wedding, and I always say that the venue matters not – it’s all about the people, the emotion, the energy, the love that we, as wedding photographers, are privileged to witness and capture. Saying that, however, it’s a nice little bonus of the ‘job’ when you’re asked to capture a wedding overseas, and when Sam & Rhys got in touch with me last year about their wedding at the beautiful Chateau Soulac in France, well, needless to say that I’d been looking forward to it very much!

The weather gods may have not been sending us continual sunshine (more like continual rain…ah well!) but though they weren’t playing ball, Sam, Rhys and their fantastic family and friends definitely *were* playing ball – such a lovely bunch of people – such a partying bunch of people! – and an absolute pleasure to be around and capture.


For photographers, (although you’re obviously very welcome to read the following even if you’re not a photographer, of course!) then this wedding was a bit of a milestone for me because it was the first I shot with the Sony A9. For the entirety of my photography career I’ve shot Canon, and so it was quite the change for me to go over wholeheartedly to Sony and its mirrorless beauty, the A9. How did they perform? Oh my, so  well!

One of the biggest reasons why I made the change was due to the silent nature of the A9 – and when I say silent, I mean literal silenceness (is that a word? No, the funny squiggles on WordPress has just underlined it for me to say it isn’t, but ah well, I’m keeping it in!). I’ve always shot with the ‘silent shutter’ mode on the Canons (I’ve come from five years of shooting with two 5D Mk3 cameras) but we all know that, although definitely quiet, they’re not silent at all. But the A9? When using the electronic shutter (which I did the entire day, with all audio signals turned off – except when using flash where you have to use the mechanical shutter) it is one-hundred-percent-silent. And this is massive for me, as a documentary wedding photographer. I know I’ve only shot one wedding with them so far, but I already know that the silent nature of the camera has meant I was less conspicuous; guests really didn’t know when I was photographing them (the vast majority of the time); I really felt as if people were more relaxed in my presence, due to the very simple – yet important – thing of not hearing that shutter sound (the sound that makes people instantly know they’re being photographed, and which thus can very often change people’s nature – the very opposite of what I want to happen).

So, yes, the silence is huge for me. But what other things convinced me to change systems completely? Another major factor is the AF coverage; the A9 has nearly 700 focus points, with 93 percent coverage. That’s amazing, and – as my preference in a lot of situations is to compose my point of interest somewhere not in the centre of the frame (and, indeed, quite often towards the corners) this meant I didn’t need to focus and recompose, virtually at all (especially when I remembered it had this amazing AF coverage; coming from years with the Canons, it was easy to forget that I had so many more focus points at my disposal!). This coverage wouldn’t mean much if the AF was slow, but man – again – the autofocus speed is light years ahead (especially compared to the 5D 3; I haven’t personally used a 4). SO speedy!

Another thing about the A9 I love? The articulating screen. This screen – coupled with the ability to tap to focus – meant that I suddenly had so many more options in how I composed an image. It may sound like a small thing, but it’s really not – the ability to hold the camera real low, or real high, and still be able to see and compose exactly how I wanted, meant that I got more different (and, in my opinion at least, more dynamic) captures. It also meant I didn’t have to have the viewfinder to my eye all day, where it’s obvious you’re taking photos – you can use the screen to shoot from the hip (or anywhere else!) and people won’t know you’re capturing them. Again, perfect for documentary wedding photography.

20fps? Yep, that’s fast, and of course not necessary for shooting a wedding. But it’s definitely nice to have that ability, and I’m sure will be useful for the big moments, or for shooting through a scene – after all, the ability to pick and deliver the very best images, that’s what’s important surely? I shot on medium-speed most of the day, but having 20fps to go to if I wanted is very nice…

Eye-AF – another brilliant thing. Kind of akin to magic, it means I can hold down a lil’ button and the A9 will find an eye (and usually the eye I’d like it to find) and track it across the entire frame. Some people may even say you’re not a ‘proper photographer’ if you use this, that it’s akin to cheating – but if there’s a piece of technology I can use so I can focus less on the technicality of a scene, and more on the moment, the composition, the emotion…well that’s a huge win for me. Eye-AF isn’t perfect, but it’s still absolutely brilliant.

When I did use the viewfinder, the EVF is a total joy to use; having that instant feedback of your exposure is so good! And should mean less time adjusting in post too. Win.

To be honest, another point in the A9’s favour for me is the small form-factor; small and light, I shot with two A9 bodies, with two Batis lenses (the 25mm f/2 and the 85mm f/1.8), and after a long day and night shooting, my body really appreciated the loss of pounds I’d been carrying.

Of course, I’m still very early days into my shooting with Sony; I’ve still got a lot to experience and learn about them, and I hope to be able to write a further, more-detailed review somewhere down the line. But, for now, consider me very happy; very happy indeed! As well as all those positives above, by the way, I just have to say that shooting with them is fun, it really is. You could say that may be the novelty factor of shooting with a new system, and sure, part of it will be that – but, for me, I just know that a lot of it is from the silence, the screen, the AF coverage; just a joy to use.


And so – finally – on to some images! All of these were taken with (yes, you’ve guessed it!) the Sony A9, with either the Batis 25mm f/2 or 85mm f/1.8. Here are some of my favourite Chateau Soulac wedding photographs from Sam & Rhys’ ace day:

chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-1 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-2 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-2b chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-3 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-15 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-3b chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-4 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-8 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-8b chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-10 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-12 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-13 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-14 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-16 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-17 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-18 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-18b chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-19 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-19b chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-20 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-22 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-23 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-25 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-27 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-28 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-29 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-31 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-32 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-32b chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-33 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-34 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-35 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-36 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-38 chateau soulac wedding photography sony a9 wedding photographer chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-42 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-43 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-44 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-45 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-47 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-47b chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-48 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-48b chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-49 sony a9 wedding photography chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-53 chateau-soulac-sony-a9-wedding-photography-54



    • alanlawphotography says:

      So kind, Hannah, thanks so much! Ooooh, enjoy if you’re going over to the Sony-side; I’m sure you’ll love it if you do!

  1. Sacha says:

    Lovely photographs Alan and an interesting review. I have also recently gone over to Sony this year and the silent shutter has been the best feature, thanks to which I have managed to persuade a hesitant vicar to grant me permission to photograph the ceremony.

    • alanlawphotography says:

      Thanks so much, Sacha! Fab you’re loving them too – and you’re so right, I’ve yet to try them in a church but that ability to (hopefully) persuade a vicar could potentially mean everything!

    • alanlawphotography says:

      Thanks a lot, Claire! Definitely, especially coming from the 5D 3 – the lowlight performance in terms of speedy AF and low-noise higher ISO images is top notch; definitely better all round than my old Canons.

    • alanlawphotography says:

      Thanks so much, man! Ha, that’s funny about stopping yourself reading about them…! You’ll love them!

  2. Great blog post Alan 🙂 I especially enjoyed your party shots! That second to last one is awesome! Good hearing your thoughts on the A9 too. One day I’ll make the switch aswell. Shooting silently is especially appealing! Keep up the great work!

  3. Interesting review, something i’m toying with but i’m waiting to see what Canon bring to the table, especially when i’m so invested in L glass. Review aside, some awesome shots tho, looks like you could get amazing work with any camera.

  4. amazing work as always Alan. Are yous till happy with the A9’s? Any banding flickering issues? And have you added more lenses to your kit or happy using the 2 you mentioned? I’m so on the fence about switching right now from Nikon.

    • alanlawphotography says:

      Thanks so much, Mamad; very kind! I use the Godox flashes; they’re great – and very good value too. I’m sure you won’t regret making the switch…!

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