Shooting Bridal Fashion and Beauty with a Leica M9 by Tapas Maiti

From Steve: Hey guys! I will be posting some film stuff later today but for now, here is a guest article by Tapas Maiti about shooting Bridal Fashion with a Leica M9. Enjoy! Also, if anyone is interested in submitting a guest article, contact me as I am now accepting submissions!

Shooting Bridal Fashion and Beauty with a Leica M9

I promised Steve a follow up article to my previous post on shooting weddings with a Leica. I was going to follow up with an article on how to do dance shoots at a wedding as this seems to be a big area of concern but I did a bridal fashion shoot at the end of July which was so amazing that I wanted to talk about it.

Weddings are my income source but a photographer has to do personal work to stretch themselves and to keep fresh and interested. I am lucky enough to be friends with some great make up artists and models and I live in Cambridge UK, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, we get together to build portfolios and experiment.

I’ve done a couple of shoots with Sonia of Sweet-Arts who is a great make up artist. Sonia has a good relationship with Terry Fox, a fabulous bridal designer in the UK, they kindly lent us a range of their latest corsets, fascinators and bridal outfits for a couple of shoots.

I phoned Westminster College in Cambridge who generously gave use carte blanche access to the college for the day and therefore an amazing set of locations to shoot it. I think Westminster makes a really beautiful, classy venue for smaller, intimate weddings.

Normally, I will use a Hasselblad 501 CM with a Phase One P21+ back as a the primary camera with my old Canon 1DIII for the faster shots. This time, I brought along the M9 and shoot quickly went 50/50 between the two cameras.

The way I operated settled down quite quickly, the Hasselblad got stuck on a tripod with Leica M9 with 75mm Apo Asph around my shoulder. All the shots were taken in natural light or supplemented with a Profoto Acute Battery flash.

This turned out to be a fabulous combination, I could shoot in bright light and flash with the Blad and then run in with M9 to pick up details with available light. When we moved into tighter areas then I use the M9 alone with flash to pick out the model.

The image quality of the Leica M9 is stunning and competes very well with the medium format digital, you get wider apertures and flexible light camera but also a different way of seeing. That both cameras use Kodak CCD chips and are the same resolution, I think, lends a harmony to the images.

At the limit the Blad will obviously give higher technical quality and you can sync flash to 1/500 of a second which can be important BUT its harder to focus, heavier and much more expensive (well the back anyway); it is also better on a tripod and focuses closer.

As these images show, though, I would be very happy to use the M9 exclusively if I had to and I still carry over the style of shorter focal lengths and wider apertures that distinguishes Leica photography

More images of my shoots with Sonia can be seen on my Flickr site

[ad#Adsense Blog Sq Embed Image]


  1. Great images and great use of the Acute. Did you use any modifier with your Acutes?


    • Hi John

      We had restricted space and time so I use the basic reflector outdoors to give a kick or to balance the light and just a 3 x 2 soft box indoors. I tend (usually) to use either a softbox or beauty dish and then combine with a white umbrella to up the ambient or soften contrast (using an old compact). Couldn’t do that due to colours of walls and the lack of power supply – can’t afford more than one acute at the moment.


  2. Greetings!

    Yeah – really fine pics but as already mentioned – it’s the photographer and the his/her skills in postprocessing or the agency who is doing this to produce exceptional pictures.

    And the photos shown here are almost static – so really no need for a fast autofocus system…running kids for example as with each wedding shooting wide open THAT is a task I can’t almost do with the M9 – if it’s not possible to prefocus – that’s the real life experience why I do have my Nikon D3s with me too…and of course for iso3200+ shots in the church with available light.

  3. Hmmm…. M9? Okay, very nice work, but it tells me nothing about the camera brand. It is the photographer and good post processing! Generally, PP can made a picture more interesting than the used camera.

    • Hi Demian

      I hope you are right, it would be really bad thing if the Camera Brand and not the work was the thing that showed through. I use the M9 because I want to and I like to and I am not saying that you couldn’t take these shots with anything else. For the web only, you could probably take these shots on anything but I shoot to print.

      In terms of the Camera itself though, I feel the Leica does give me a number of advantages:

      1. I can nail focus in dim light , as I get older it is harder to manually focus a SLR and I don’t trust / like autofocus. I really struggle to focus the blad with wider lenses
      2 .The small size and light weight give great handling flexibility which I find invaluable to my work style
      3. I shoot at wide apertures a lot and when I make prints or view on the screen, the Leica and Zeiss lenses can be shot at my preferred apertures without compromise. If you shoot at 5.6 or smaller, you can pretty much use any lens out there. I am always stunned by the results from the 75mm Apo – it really is something special.
      4. I seem need to do much less post processing on CCD images – if I get them right at exposure

      I guess the final point from an image quality perspective is that I can happily mix M9 images and Phase One images – anyone who has worked with Medium Format Digital knows that whilst it needs good light, the image quality is just a quantum above 35mm DSLR – that the M9 can live in this sphere is astonishing.

      • Hello Tapas Maiti,

        There is nothing wrong with your choice for the Leica M9 and yes, you have the advantages of a relative small, light weight and quiet camera with a wide choice of very good lenses, but it is the photographer who makes the pictures!

      • Nice images, post very well done but 5 and 6 seem out of focus. Toys are nice but when you have to stop and focus and you spend a fortune you want the best. Manual focus does not make your like easy at all. But when you shoot weddings on a tripod I guess Leica it’s a big improvement.

        S2 has auto focus, M12 might get new lenses

  4. Hi Tapas,
    I really really like the images from your previous post. There is so much character, contras, depth and a stunning graphic in them. thinking again perhaps it is so because of B&W… makes a big difference I think.

    All-in all, Wonderful work

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Profoto Acute and a Leica M9 | Profoto Blog

Comments are closed.