Hello! My name is Ben Kelmer and I am a wedding photojournalist. I’m based in Tel Aviv (well, Givatayim actually, which no one can ever find), and I love to travel (but only for short trips if it’s without my wife and kids).
I’ve been a photographer from a very young age. I started photographing when I was 14 after being accepted to our local art school’s film department.
Professionally, however, I started almost 10 years ago as a photojournalist for major Israeli news outlets. When I was 14, the first camera I got was a Ricoh. I later moved on to Nikon and have been with them ever since.
Now, when attending or working at events, I keep my equipment very minimal. There was a learning curve, however, to understand what is important and what can stay at home.
When I was starting out, I was all about lenses and equipment and was looking at other people’s work thinking, “Well, they produce such amazing work cause they have the Leica M,” or whichever latest must-have item I didn’t have.
Nowadays I focus on the story, on my clients, and my own experiences as a photographer and an individual. Now I have only two “workmates” — Nikon D850 and Nikon D810. I am absolutely in love with the 850. It’s a beast to work with. Its colors are amazing, and the video capabilities are simply outstanding. Having gone through my fair share of lenses (e.g. the Nikon 70–200 f/2.8 that I still use sometimes), for the majority of my work, I now mostly use these three lenses:
- Nikon 85mm f/1.4 – my favorite lens. It’s both sharp and versatile. On the one hand, I use her for portraits but also for macro shots. The build quality is amazing, it’s just so much fun to work with.
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 not too costly and gives excellent quality photos. If I had to choose just one lens to go out with for the day, I would choose this one.
- Sigma 24mm f/1.4 I use this lens mainly for when the party starts and the dance floor is super crowded. I also like to use it when doing couples shots to reveal more of the location in the background.
I use only 2 flashes at the moment, the SB 800, and the SB 700. The SB 800 is magical. I think I have had it for more than 10 years and it keeps on going (knock on wood). I used to work with triggers and tripods on the dance floor but now I just put the flash on the camera and the results are amazing. It makes working on the dance floor less intimidating and more comfortable.
For traveling or just daily life, I use the Fuji X100F. I bought this camera for a family trip to Japan so that I wouldn’t need to carry my heavy work gear with me. It’s amazing to shoot with because its colors are beautiful and comfortable, and you can put it in your back pocket. I can frankly say it regained my desire to take pictures every day, all day.
A camera I use once in a while is my 1958 Yashica 635 film camera. I bought it in Portobello & Golborne Market in London. It took me some time to get used to because of the way you need to frame the picture (looking down to the viewfinder), but nowadays when I use it I’m much more focused and intentional thanks to that and I find the results so sensitive and beautiful.
My all-time favorite bag is the Everyday Bag by Peak Design. It has many cool features, great dimensions, sleek design; it was all really well thought out.
I use only Lightroom to edit my photos. I never had the chance to use Photoshop cause I never felt like I needed it. I blame it on my days as a photojournalist when Photoshop was a big no-no to work with. I guess old habits die hard.
The most important lesson I learned over the years was to be genuine. Don’t try to copy other people’s creativity. It won’t bring you long-lasting success. Don’t forget that clients you aim to work for are those who are drawn to the way YOU tell the story.
About the author
Ben Kelmer owns a studio specializing in high-end events for the business and the private sector, you can see more of his work on his website and Instagram. This article was also posted here and shared with permission.