What is the magic you see in an image? What is it that touches your heartstrings? Is it people captured in the moment being well…..human? The feeling that you’re actually in amongst the crowd at the wedding experiencing the joy? For me, when I see Daniel Brannan’s photos it is all of these things. It’s all those fleeting moments that make up an occasion, that you glance at and never remember unless you’re reminded. Moments of real people celebrating new beginnings, documented forever. Yes, that’s simply magic.
What led you to decide on photography as a profession?
It was an easy decision for me, after years commuting up and down the freeway to sit at a desk and try sell unhealthy goods to people. I decided that I wanted to work with something more meaningful like actual ‘happiness’ and I wanted to love what I do. Being a wedding photographer allows me to do both these things and affords me the flexibility to spend more time at home with my little family.
What influences your photography style? Do you find it is changing over time?
I studied and worked as a graphic designer for 10 years and I think my design background definitely influences what I do with my camera. I think a lot about layout/composition and like my images to have a clear narrative thread. Funnily enough, I have more recently been influenced by some of my son’s illustrated story books: ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ and ‘Where The Wild Things Are’! The illustrators have to use their art to tell a story and much like photography this is both challenging and fun. At the core of my photography is the story I hope to tell.
Would you describe your style as relaxed (with very little direction and posing of the bridal party)?
Yes, absolutely! I am big on keeping things really casual and fun. My major mission is to make sure that my couples have the BEST day possible – the last thing any couple needs on their wedding day is more stress so I make sure that I am always a solution and never a problem. I’ve given lifts to bridal parties, fixed button holes and ironed shirts before. I love being part of the day and meeting the families – it’s always such a warm and inviting environment which makes for happy vibes all ‘round. What an awesome office to work in!
Is remaining unobtrusive as a photographer (and not imposing yourself on the situation) important to capturing the best shots?
For me that is 100% what it is all about. Being photographed is not an easy for most people – myself included. I have a terrible ‘Are you taking a photo?’ face – so for me I much prefer using my ninja skills to blend in so that people forget that I’m there. I guess if I was to call it anything I would say that I’m a documentary style wedding photographer. There are obviously times where I need to step in so that we get the best shot – locations, portraits etc – but even then I try to give minimal direction to allow my couples to be themselves and, more importantly, have fun!
Central to a lot of your images are family and loved ones being themselves – capturing the intimacy of their relationships. What is most important to you when shooting a wedding?
Anticipation is key for capturing those moments – you almost have to see them before they happen and be ready in position. Knowing ‘who’s who in the zoo’ is also vital; whether a family member has travelled a long way or if it has been a while since the bride saw their friend etc. If you can time those details right then you’re really telling a beautiful and personal story.
How important is it to get to know the couple? Do you have to feel a connection to them?
I’m spending a really intimate day with two people and their closest friends and family and that’s a big deal. So, I always meet with my couples to make sure we’re a good fit, whether that’s over a coffee or over facetime. I want each couple to be comfortable and confident with me so that I can blend in effortlessly and I want to ensure I am the best fit for them and how they want their story captured. When I rock up at the door on their wedding day whilst they’re getting ready I want them to feel completely at ease – I’m not just some guy they hired but ‘Dan’, who knows the ins and outs of how we want to see our wedding in.
I notice that photographers tend to ‘see’ things that we ordinary folks do not. Apart from the technicalities, what makes a ‘good’ photographer – is it curiosity about life, or other subtle qualities?
For me, being able to read and manipulate light is a huge skill as a photographer. It is the most beautiful and natural tool we have to create images and is often what sets you apart from the pack. Many of the photographers I admire are real wizards with their use of light. I remember back when I was starting out, I had an ‘ahhhh’ moment of watching the sunlight come through our window and lighting up the back of my wife’s hair – it was game on after that.
How do life experiences shape you as a photographer?
Becoming a father has definitely altered my perspective and I find myself relating more to parents now. I definitely get kicked in the ‘feels’ more often during a father’s speech these days and I’m lucky that I have the camera to hide my man tears. Also, I’m well into my thirties now and I feel like I have more of a handle on what’s important in life; to me, it’s about time and documenting moments in life that we want to remember.
What are the three biggest ideas you have learned about photography over your career?
- ‘Moments’ are more important than setting up some ‘epic’ shot
- Trust the process – hard work pays off
- Have fun with it – try new things and don’t worry if it doesn’t work out
Do you have a personal philosophy that you live by (in relation to your photography)?
‘Keep it real’ – It’s not just a phrase from 90’s hip hop, it’s totally true. My photography is always better when I’m not trying to be anything or anyone that I’m not. Honesty conveys in my work and it keeps it simple and true.
Do you always have a camera in your hand to capture life’s moments?
Actually no – I find if I have my camera on me I tend to put pressure on myself to document what I’m doing which often takes me out of the action. Since my little ones have come along, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to unplug and enjoy the moment without a lens in front of my eyes. In saying that, the power of a phone camera can not be understated!
In trying to get the perfect shot, do you have any funny/unusual stories to tell?
It was 40 degrees and was in the middle of an outdoor courtyard at the Prahran Hotel at 11:50pm on New Year’s Eve photographing Sophie & Matt’s beautiful ‘Old Hollywood’ themed wedding. They were about to countdown and see in 2016 and I wanted to be somewhere where I could capture everyone and their reactions. There was a tree in the middle of the courtyard so I put all my childhood practice to good use and climbed it! I got some awesome shots and Matt (the Groom) even got a good one of me up the tree!
What would you tell your younger self – knowing what you know now?
So much but mainly I’d tell him to back himself, go after what makes him happy and not to worry about a few bumps and u-turns along the way; it’s all part of the journey.
What are your favourite things to do in your spare time?
Other than coffee, craft beer and Game of Thrones I love being outside – getting to the beach or the woods with my little guy – even on wintry days. He loves it and I love it more because of that.
Thank you Dan for sharing your story. Gorgeous images to immerse yourself in the memories of your day – even years from now. To find out more about Daniel Brannan visit the website.
All images by Daniel Brannan.