Askar Bumaga

Surrounded by wind turbines, a couple embraces under a cloudy sky at sunset, the woman's white dress flowing in the wind. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV by Canon Ambassador Askar Bumaga.

"Every situation is different," says wedding photographer Askar Bumaga about what he looks for in a shot. "There are a lot of patterns in my head. They work in different conditions and situations, but sometimes you just need to trust your intuition." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens at 1/200 sec, f/2 and ISO 400. © Askar Bumaga

From factory worker to viral superstar, Askar Bumaga's rise to the top is an inspiring tale of passion and dedication.

Turning pro in 2011, the Kazakhstan born and based Canon Ambassador has photographed more than 500 weddings globally, equating to over 40 'big days' each year. But it's not only his clients who love what he does; his work has also gained international acclaim, featuring in prestigious publications such as Harper's Bazaar and Esquire. "I only strive to preserve the integrity of the moment," says Askar, when asked why he thinks his work is so popular. "My aim is to reliably convey what is happening."

Askar was introduced to photography at the age of 13, when his parents gifted him a film camera. But it wasn't until years later, in the midst of planning his own wedding, that a deeper passion was ignited. "We chose a photographer and studied their work," he recalls. "At that moment, I began to be really interested in wedding photography. Then one of the guests bought us a Canon EOS 50D as a wedding gift, so I started taking a lot of photographs. At first it was our friends, our first child, hiking in the mountains, and so on."

Advocating that formal education is not always necessary to excel in this creative field, Askar is completely self-taught. "I looked for information where I could," he says. "I asked people who had experience, and read photography magazines. Unfortunately, in my country there is no place to get such an education. They don't teach this in universities."

A portrait of Canon Ambassador Askar Bumaga holding a Canon camera.
Location: Almaty, Kazakhstan

Specialist areas: Wedding, portrait, commercial

Favourite kit: Canon EOS R6
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Under a starry sky, a couple holds a flashlight, its beam pointing upwards. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV by Canon Ambassador Askar Bumaga.

Known for his own brand of creativity, Askar likes to experiment not only with composition and framing, but also light and colour. Taken on a 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 16mm, 30 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 2000. © Askar Bumaga

Newlyweds draped in fairy lights embrace under a dark sky. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV by Canon Ambassador Askar Bumaga.

"When I first started, I enjoyed photographing my surroundings," says Askar, who is a fan of shooting outdoors to create memorable wedding portraits – whether that's images of jaw-dropping drama or simple and quiet intimacy. "But it wasn't until I started to prepare for my own wedding that I took it seriously." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens at 1/80 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 5000. © Askar Bumaga

The shift from amateur to professional photography led Askar to explore different genres, but it was his affinity for romance that secured his interest in the long-term. "For several years I photographed as an amateur, until people started reaching out, asking if I would photograph them for money," he explains. "After several commissions like this, I began to explore different genres – that's when I realised that I really liked photographing people in love."

A couple embraces, wrapped in a blanket while standing on a boat, tall trees and a mountain visible in the background. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV by Canon Ambassador Askar Bumaga.

When asked what moments have meant the most to him in terms of his photographic journey, Askar says: "The moment I was given my first camera, receiving feedback from my clients, and of course, the moment I became a Canon Ambassador." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens at 1/320 sec, f/1.6 and ISO 1250. © Askar Bumaga

 A couple wrapped up in fairy lights stands against a yellow and blue sphere. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV by Canon Ambassador Askar Bumaga.

"I am proud to be a Canon Ambassador," says Askar. "It's a great honour for me." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens at 1/50 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 2500. © Askar Bumaga

It was a post on social media that finally convinced Askar that he wanted to shoot weddings. "I saw a video on the internet about an elderly couple who were celebrating their wedding anniversary," he recalls. "This video showed how they looked in their old wedding photos and they were crying, remembering how it was. This really struck me and I realised at that moment that a huge responsibility rests on the shoulders of the photographer, as many years later people will look through your eyes at that very day. So I told myself, 'I want to be that person who preserves the memory of the wedding day'. My mission will be completed when my clients open their wedding albums to share their memories with their grandchildren."

A black and white photo of a couple holding each other under a big white light. Taken from a low angle on a Canon EOS R6 by Canon Ambassador Askar Bumaga.

Throughout his career, Askar says he has learned to manage being a workaholic and understands the importance of balancing work and rest, a very real challenge that many professional photographers often face. "It is important to find time to rest and replenish your strength," he says. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/640 sec, f/1.8 and ISO 1000. © Askar Bumaga

A black and white photo of a pouting bride, surrounded by hands holding smartphones showing different photos of her bridesmaids. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 by Canon Ambassador Askar Bumaga.

Askar is not only highly praised for his ability to capture intimate moments with an artistic flair, but also for being able to blend his own captivating brand of creativity with technical skill. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 35mm, 1/400 sec, f/4.5 and ISO 3200. © Askar Bumaga

While Askar shot hundreds of weddings in the years that followed, the moment that really put him on the map was when his jaw-dropping 'bride drop' pictures went viral. "It was all planned," he laughs, speaking of the shots that show a groom "accidentally" dropping his beautiful wife – dressed in her pristine white wedding gown – in a huge muddy puddle. "We decided to conduct an experiment because we were convinced that today, people need a spectacle. Everyone is tired of simple, beautiful photographs. You have to break the mould and somehow surprise the viewer."

The couples in your images always look so content. How do you make them feel so comfortable in front of the camera?

"I must be calm myself. People mirror each other, and so their mood could depend on my mood and internal state. Therefore, when we start working, I disconnect from external and internal problems and experiences in order to devote myself to the shooting process."

How important is it to meet the couples beforehand?

"I always try to meet with clients before shooting to discuss their wishes. I listen to them and try to do everything I can within what is available. It's very important to discuss the vision of the final result, so that the client is satisfied. I believe the shoot is a joint process, and so it is very important that both parties give their best during the process. After discussing the client's wishes, I better understand what wavelength people are on and can offer ideas that they will definitely like. Then the result will please everyone!"

What's been the craziest thing to happen at a wedding?

"One time the bride's hair caught fire. I didn't know what to do at that moment – take pictures or run to help. But thankfully the groom quickly reacted and extinguished the threat."

What separates you from other photographers?

"I think the thing that separates me from other wedding photographers is my communication skills, and the ability to make the shooting process comfortable for the subject. And, of course, my own brand and style. Today, it is not enough to just be a good photographer. You have to be an interesting person too."

One thing I know

Askar Bumaga

"My creative and shooting processes have become easier with experience. This happens when you work in different conditions. It makes you versatile and ready for any difficulties. The main thing is to not stop experimenting. I am constantly learning – attending training sessions, seminars, festivals, exhibitions, workshops and masterclasses. These help me not to stagnate in one place. I'd encourage those who want to become professional photographers to do the same. Keep learning, but also develop a brand and social media presence. This will pay off big time when combined with your photography skills."

Instagram: @bumagaz

Askar Bumaga's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs


Canon EOS R6

The Canon EOS R6 is a standout for wedding photographers, with its 20fps silent shooting and 12fps mechanical shutter, capturing moments discreetly and effectively. "The EOS R6 and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV are great cameras," says Askar. "Ergonomic design, light and compact, easy to manipulate and manage."

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

With its 30.4MP CMOS sensor, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV promises stunning image clarity, essential for capturing the irreplaceable moments of a wedding. Its impressive 61-point AF system, with 41 cross-type points, ensures sharp focus, crucial for the fast-paced action of the big day. The wide ISO range offers exceptional performance in various lighting conditions, from bright outdoor ceremonies to dimly lit receptions.


Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

This lens captures expansive scenes and intimate details, essential for dynamic wedding photography. "I personally like it for the wide angle and I use it a lot for reportage photography and creative shooting," says Askar. "It is very nice to have a couple of shots with the view this lens can provide, because it really shows the scale of things and the location of the photoshoot. It helps me to fulfil my creative vision."

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Delivering superior image quality, this lens excels in creating stunning blurred-background portraits, and is ideal in low light. "One of my trademarks is that I love working with natural light," says Askar. "I often shoot wide open, at f/1.8 or f/2.8, and usually with my favourite lens – the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM."

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Capable of offering a f/1.2 aperture, this lens stands out as the fastest in its class, perfect for capturing sharp, detailed images with beautiful background bokeh. "I prefer this lens for portraits and reportage photoshoots, especially outdoors, because it gives a really nice soft image and has amazing bokeh," says Askar.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

This 100mm macro lens, with life-size 1:1 reproduction and an 8-blade circular aperture, creates stunning blur effects and detailed close-ups, ideal for capturing the delicate intricacies of wedding details. "A truly unmatched lens for wedding photographers," says Askar. "Wedding photography is closely connected to subject photography – rings, invitations, decor elements – and all that looks especially delicious with this lens because of its sharpness and depth."


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