Please smile into the camera
Topher DeLancy is one of the rising stars among family and wedding photographers. For his fresh-looking portraits, the Californian only uses ZEISS lenses and he enthuses over lenses from the Milvus family.
Topher DeLancy is only 27 and has been a photographer for just three and a half years. He only works on the weekends. And yet families, wedding couples and pregnant women are not hesitating to travel from far and wide to California so that Topher, a father of two, can take unforgettable pictures of them. Though Topher is young, he’s still a traditionalist. Many of his shoots have been done on analog film with a camera you can’t even buy anymore. And when it comes to the choice of lenses, this creative makes no compromises. In his camera bag you’ll only find ZEISS lenses. Recently, he shot a complete wedding with only the Loxia 2/35.
The sharpness, the colors, the bokeh – the lenses surpass the non-ZEISS lenses that I have already used.
For various recent shoots, Topher tested the new ZEISS Milvus lenses on different cameras – and was very positive about the results. “The sharpness, the colors, the bokeh – the lenses surpass the non-ZEISS lenses that I have already used.” Topher is meanwhile ‘addicted’ to ZEISS, as he says. Other brands won’t be found in his bag anymore. In December 2015 he became a ZEISS Camera Lens Ambassador, a role that allows him to constantly test the newest products.
A typical DeLancy photo is this picture of the family. Most of the photos in this series, and those from other shoots, are rather overexposed. “That simply looks better with portraits,” he says. Here, the big glass surface in the background reflects the sunlight, creating extra light. The pictures were taken in a Japanese garden in a glass skyscraper. Topher knows neither the building nor the family. And yet the images convey joy. “That’s not difficult when there’s a lot of socializing going on,” adding that he’s a natural in that.
Violet is the name of the baby girl in the DeLancy family. She was two months old when her father took this picture under a Christmas tree. The lights from the Christmas tree create bright dots in the background, which offers a beautiful backdrop thanks to the perfect bokeh. The colors are caused not only by the Milvus 1.4/85, but also by the camera and the film used: a Canon* 1V. If you don’t know this model, you probably started photography in the digital era. The camera doesn’t have a sensor, but rather traditional 35-mm film. Topher believes the integrity of the colors is simply better than with digital photography. For many of his shoots, he continues to rely on analog technology and has the film digitalized when sent to the lab to be developed. “I often think about switching completely to analog.”
An open aperture with a top lens is the answer to everything.
Topher DeLancy with a chuckle
However, practical considerations have prevented him from doing that. His photo business is going well and Topher often has dozens of assignments a month. The record was nine family sessions on one Saturday. With such a high workload, digital technology is clearly an advantage. Nevertheless, whenever possible, he likes to indulge in analog. An example is this shoot with Ashley, who flew all the way from Arizona for Topher to take her pregnancy pictures. The location was not far away: the cliff and beach are not far away from the DeLancys’ house. Here, too, the Milvus creates a beautiful bokeh and the colors are subdued, as you would expect from analog photography. How does he succeed in taking such intimate photos? “An open aperture with a top lens is the answer to everything,” says Topher with a chuckle.
Bright, fresh-looking, happy. This is the hallmark of Topher DeLancy’s photographs — most of the time. “For the shoot with Kat, I wanted to do something different: to show dark emotions.” Kat is a friend of Topher’s. She’s a mother of four, a Doula by profession, and a very warm person, says Topher. People who don’t know her may be quick to judge by her many tattoos. But Kat is actually very soft and it takes a lot for her to get comfortable in front of a camera. “Modeling for me was the easiest shoot she’s done,” says Topher.
During the shoot, which took place in a haunted fairytale forest – which in reality was just a few trees in the city – the photographer used three Milvus lenses. It is possible to compare the different perspectives and the outstanding bokeh in every image. In the image with the Milvus 2/100M, the tree on the right looks as if it were painted. This was a first for the photographer. “I don’t have a 100-millimeter lens and never took pictures with such long focal lengths. Usually, I only like a wide angle.” The Milvus 1.4/85 already took some getting used to. The prejudice that these lenses are hard to handle has become pure enthusiasm since this shoot with Kat. “Both lenses are lighter than I thought. I especially love the 85.“
The picture of children playing on the beach right in front of the DeLancys’ home was also taken with his favorite focal length: 35 millimeters. But again, the atmosphere is rather untypical for him. Here we see the children of friends who were visiting from Arizona. They were digging a hole while the sun was setting and fog was rising, enveloping the whole scene with an unreal light. As in most of Topher’s pictures, the aperture was completely open. Nevertheless, the manual focusing worked without a hitch. “In the meantime, I’m well trained in that.”
Topher DeLancy, aged 27, became a photographer three and a half years ago– and only works on weekends. When he’s not taking pictures of families, wedding, pregnant women or newborns, he earns his living as a brand manager at Teradek, a company that creates equipment in order to live-stream videos. Topher is married to a yoga teacher. They have two children; they are his favorite motifs. The photographer doesn’t have his own studio. Instead, the beach in San Clemente, California, where the family has a home near the ocean, serves the purpose. This rising star became a ZEISS Camera Lens Ambassador in December 2015.
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