David Bernard

The reflection of the groom as he reaches to open a car door is captured in the window alongside his bride's beaming smile in a black and white photo by David Bernard.

"Photos like this don't always work out, but here the reflection was perfect," explains Canon Ambassador David Bernard. "It doesn't matter that you can't see the bride's eyes, it's all about her smile." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM) at 29mm, 1/250 sec, f/4.5 and ISO 200. © David Bernard

Though his portfolio spans portraiture, sport and commercial assignments, Canon Ambassador David Bernard thrives when photographing weddings. When documenting a couple’s special day, David sees his role as a social one as well as artistic, working to build connections with the bride and groom and their guests, to help them relax as he shoots.

Influenced by the work of Hungarian-American photojournalist Robert Capa, David likes his images to have an intimate feel, with as much of the scene as possible in focus. "Robert Capa, one of my favourite photographers, said, 'If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough,' and that's exactly my approach," explains David. "In most of my images, especially wedding photos, I would like the viewer to imagine that he or she is part of the story, as if they were in that place themselves."

Born in Opava, in the Czech Republic, David studied computer science at Palacký University Olomouc and worked as a freelance programmer. He often needed photos for website projects so eventually he picked up a camera. In 2008, aged 28, David entered Canon's The Assignment competition for amateur photographers. His photo of firemen running with their ladders through his village in the rain was up against 40,000 other entrants, but David was one of just eight photographers who were invited to Vienna in Austria for the final stage of the contest.

"There were four disciplines: portraits, sports, macro and landscape. I was up against a guy from Britain in the sports category, and we had 20 attempts to shoot longboarding. I didn't have any experience in sports photography, so it was quite difficult, but I tried my best."

A headshot of Canon Ambassador David Bernard.
Location: Kobeřice, Czech Republic

Specialist areas: Wedding, Commercial, Black & White

Favourite kit: Canon EOS R6

Despite his inexperience, David was one of the four winners selected from the final eight. "In that moment, I knew it was time to change my career," he says. "I returned to the Czech Republic and started to do less programming and more photography. It completely changed my life."

The father of the bride stands nervously alongside a bridesmaid while out of his view the bride prepares to descend the stairs in a black and white photo by David Bernard.

"The father of the bride was very nervous when he heard his daughter was coming down the stairs," explains David. "The bridesmaid tried to make him laugh, but he was feeling tense about seeing his daughter in her dress." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 16mm, 1/60 sec, f/3.2 and ISO 2500. © David Bernard

David began as a total beginner shooting in P (Program) mode on a Canon EOS 30D, a camera he still owns, with a Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens, and then on the Canon EOS 450D he was given for the competition. He soon realised he had a passion for photographing people, something that still drives him today.

"If you're shooting weddings or events, the main part of the job, in my view, is talking to people. You meet very interesting people, and that broadened my horizons. When I was a programmer, I was sitting behind a computer with little time to talk. Now it's 100% different, and that's what was missing when I was the IT guy. It's so much better for me – travelling around the world for clients, shooting and talking to people. It's fantastic."

In addition to shooting weddings, David's commercial work has taken him to Romania to photograph climbers for an equipment company, to Germany to shoot events for a bicycle firm and to one of the most expensive resorts in the Maldives. No two days are the same, he says. "I like working for one company one day, and then for a different company the next. That is what pushes me. I don't like working in one place or on one project. The variety helps me to expand my vision."

A bride and groom embrace, their reflection captured in the mirror behind them, in a black and white photo by David Bernard.

"The moment the bride and groom meet for the first time is quite emotional," says David. "I understood here that I should take a few photos and leave them alone for a while." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 25mm, 1/100 sec, f/3.2 and ISO 1000. © David Bernard

Interestingly, David has met his clients organically at weddings and events – and has a tactical clothing choice to ensure he's remembered. "I like red shoes," he says. "For most jobs I shoot in red shoes. It's something small, but everybody notices you."

David doesn’t travel as much for work now as he has two small children, and has shifted his focus from weddings to commercial and events work. "If you shoot 60 weddings a year, sometimes outside of the Czech Republic, you don't have a lot of free time. Family is more important for me."

Instead, he wants to focus on helping the next generation of wedding photographers. "I'd like to pass on my experience to others who are breaking into wedding photography," he says. "I want to share what I have learned in the hope that my advice will help someone make the same decision to change their job – and their life."

What advice would you give those looking to take the leap and make a career change into professional photography?

"There are many photographers out there, so find your style. Stand out with something. For example, I always wear red trainers when I am taking photos to leave an impression."

What's been the most profound lesson you've learnt from photographing people during one of the most special days of their lives?

"Knowing the right time to put the camera down and let people really enjoy the moment."

What's been the most pivotal piece of guidance you've received and from whom?

"When I competed in Canon's The Assignment competition, the chairman of the jury, photographer Sirio Magnabosco, told us: 'Surprise us, but above all surprise yourself.'"

How would you describe classic wedding photography compared to your own?

"My photos are meant to evoke memories as if they were yesterday."

One thing I know

David Bernard

"Steve Jobs said: 'Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.' I've been working as a freelancer all my life, so I know the meaning of time very well. The time you spend with your family is the best investment."

Instagram: @davidbernardcz

LinkedIn: @davidbernardcz


David Bernard's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

David Bernard's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS R6

See and shoot subjects in completely new ways and add a different dimension to your visual storytelling. "This camera has everything I need, since a significant part of my work is already shooting videos," says David.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

"I shoot with two identical EOS 5D Mark IIIs," says David. "I've taken more than a million photos with them and they have never let me down." Now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

A professional grade wide-angle lens with a natural perspective, an f/1.4 aperture and low-light capabilities. "The best lens I have," says David. "I'm looking forward to the release of the RF version."

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

A professional everyday L-series zoom that delivers high image quality with a constant f/2.8 aperture. "This lens helped me a lot in the beginning," says David. "It's fascinating how even after all these years it is still razor sharp."

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

A wide-angle lens with L-series optics and a fast f/1.4 aperture that's ideal for low light. David says: "This is a supplement to a wide focal length when the lighting conditions are poor."


Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

The standard mount adapter allows EF, EF-S, TS-E and MP-E lenses to be used on EOS R System cameras. "It's great that I can use EF lenses from my old Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIs on my EOS R6," says David.

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