Today we’re welcoming stylish Sydney Photographer Milton Gan of Milton Gan Photography! Milton has only recently quit his high flying job to be a wedding photographer full time! He was born in London (and rumor has it, still retains that English accent!) and now calls Bondi home!
We’re honoured to be joined by Milton on Polka Dot Wisdom to find out what makes him tick!
Please tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in London. After graduating from a business degree I embarked on a career in media and advertising which consisted of 11 years of fine dining in London followed by another 6 years in Sydney. I then decided it was time to get a proper job so I became a photographer! My photography business was founded in 2009 and I took it full time at the start of 2012.
Apart from wanting to be Han Solo did you ever have any other career aspirations other than photography?
While I was at university I qualified and worked as a fitness instructor. I considered becoming a freelance personal trainer when I graduated, but the thought of not having holiday or sick pay put me off. Clearly I’ve gotten over those obstacles!
Why wedding photography and not landscape or portrait or baby photography?
Good question! Wedding photography is probably the hardest genre after war photography so I certainly didn’t choose it to have an easy life! I’ve always liked a challenge and I believe that if you know you’re capable of taking on the responsibility of something as important as a wedding then you should step up and make the difference between a couple having amazing rather than average wedding photos for the rest of their lives.
Is it because you like to tell a story of the day, rather than just capture a posed, more ‘static’ image?
I love storytelling and that is definitely one of the attractions of wedding photography. Documenting a whole day as it unfolds and capturing all the energy, expressions and emotions gives me such a buzz!
How do you challenge yourself artistically?
Without getting too deep there’s a science to being artistic and it’s based around balance. It’s being inspired by other photographers without copying them, it’s exploring my own ideas without straying too far from what my clients have paid for, and it’s using what’s around me but looking beyond the obvious. Developing a personal style is something that comes from small adjustments over time.
What is the most exciting part of the photography process for you?
It’s actually photographing the wedding day after what can be a year of planning! It’s such a privilege sharing what is one of the most important days of someone’s life and I feed off the excitement of the bridal party and guests.
Apart from the technicalities, what makes a ‘good’ photographer – is it curiosity about life, or other subtle qualities?
A good photographer should have solid technical skills and artistic vision. But that’s only half of what makes a good wedding photographer. The other half is about people skills – having chemistry with your clients, being able to communicate clearly with them, manage their expectations, and deliver an excellent end to end service that will result in the referrals and recommendations that wedding photographers need to survive.
Do you plan your wedding shoots to the last detail with the couple, or do you maintain ‘freshness’ by capturing what inspires you on the day?
There’s really no point planning to the last detail. I like to collaborate with my couples to develop their run sheet and work out which locations we’ll use with the time we have, and I always location scout whenever possible to assess lighting and angles, but on the day timings and weather can go belly up so you have to be able to think on your feet. Plus the excitement on the day produces a heightened sense of awareness that often leads to spontaneous shots and these can turn out to be some of the best!
Do you most like to shoot a wedding when you have been given complete creative freedom?
That’s pretty much how I photograph every wedding. I manage my clients’ expectations from the start so by the time they book me they understand my style, vision and workflow and that allows me to photograph in my own way.
Do you like to keep your images natural or do you like the added challenge of post production work?
I keep the majority of images looking as elegantly natural as possible to preserve their documentary function and so they don’t look dated in a few years time. But there will usually be a handful images from each wedding that I select for further treatment, whether it’s conversion to monochrome or adding a touch of drama to the landscape.
You must travel to some amazing places to take photographs. Can you name some of your favourites?
Travel is definitely one of the perks of being a wedding photographer and I’ve had the pleasure of photographing in Hawaii and Bali! But I equally love some of the gorgeous places closer to home like the Southern Highlands and Hunter Valley, and one of my favourite weddings was held right here in Bondi Beach!
What do you like to do when you’re not taking photographs?
Due to my background I love running my business and developing marketing ideas and strategies. But I balance that out by catching up with friends, relaxing with my girlfriend Amy, and making my way through the Shiraz section of the Good Wine Guide.
Images by Milton Gan Photography