Standing in water, climbing up rocks or balancing on the top of a car or a post are all in a day’s work for the team at Society Photography. Going the extra mile (or rolling up their trousers) for that perfect shot is what Dave and his team excel at. There’s that perfect shot to be had with the light or the scenery just so – and what shots they are – filled with atmosphere, and beautiful light. And yet there is a stillness that is so evident in the love of the landscape, the ability to capture the couple in a moment in time surrounded by nature. Pause and take in the image, the bridal couple and the surrounds with the light always creating the magic, because beyond the image is a story of a newly married couple to be told. Let’s join Dave as he tells us his story.
What was the journey to you becoming a photographer?
Through most of high school I always thought I was going to be an engineer like my Dad. That was until I did work experience in year 10 and realised that wasn’t for me. So I started doing art and ended up doing a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree at uni and majored in photography.
My first job was printing school photos which which kept me going while I started to get some assisting work with a couple of great photographers.
In 1994 I started working as a studio assistant and photographer with Tony Warrilow who started Society Photography. Over the years I became the studio manager and principal photographer before taking over the business in 2008.
Basically I never left 🙂
Standing in water, climbing up rocks, standing on top of cars or posts – well, that’s all in a days’ work for Dave and his team at Society Photography.
Why did you decide to specialize in wedding and portrait photography?
I think from the beginning I felt like weddings and portraits were the best match for my love of photography and also people. I couldn’t imagine spending my life photographing inanimate objects all the time. I get so much reward from the people interaction aspect of wedding-portrait photography. Also its such a great feeling knowing you have captured and created a lasting memory for someone. Making people happy is a pretty cool job!
What particular qualities do you bring to your wedding photography?
Wedding Photography requires a lot of different attributes, so we not only have to bring solid technical skills in how to operate a camera, but also problem solving, people management, and time management skills. Of course the most important quality is the ability to see and create.
Do you feel that some aspects of the personality of the photographer come through in the images?
In the most basic sense, a fun personality will hopefully allow the couple to have fun and be relaxed. So this is a really important thing that we want to come through in our images.
Your images not only include wide open vistas, but details such as grass, or the waves that form patterns in themselves within the image. What part does nature and its details play in your work?
Nature plays a massive part in our style. There is so much beauty and energy in the environment that meshes so wonderfully with wedding photography. Giving a sense of place to an image is really important which is why epic landscape style images are not only aesthetically beautiful, but also meaningful to a couple.
I find nature just so inspiring and calming which are so important in creating.
How would you describe your style – do you rely on manipulating light to get the most natural shots?
I’m often asked how to describe our style, and I usually point to our work and say “how do you describe it?”.
So often people have different ideas of the meaning of the same word – “candid” for example is often misused and misunderstood.
So I’m more interested in the question of whether the images speak to a couple and if they enjoy them. Because it doesn’t matter what labels you put on an image – it really does come down to the response of the viewer.
In terms of light; light is so important! Sometimes, in difficult conditions like rain or at night, you need to manipulate and add to the natural light with artificial light and flash etc. Most other times though, the ‘manipulation’ comes from simply placing your subject in the best position to take advantage of the best light. Under a shady tree rather than out in the sun, turning around to have the sun backlighting a beautiful dress etc.
What are you most proud of with your photography – wedding or otherwise?
I think I’m proud of just being able to make a career out of something I love.
I absolutely love photographing people, however I have enjoyed doing more wildlife photography over the last decade. Being awarded by my peers in this arena has in some ways been more important than for weddings, as for weddings my reward comes from making the couple happy.
Being awarded the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the year a few years ago was definitely one of the proudest moments of my career.
How do you get to know your bridal couples when you first meet them?
Actually meeting them right from the start is probably the most important thing. A lot of people want to do everything online, but when you’re choosing a wedding photographer it’s impossible to get to know each other unless you have a face to face meeting. Getting them to tell you about their day and help them work through things is always a great way to get to know each other.
Is it important to you to have a connection with them to produce your best work?
I think there has to be a connection – and that connection can simply be that they trust you and love your style. If you have that then you know that you can be free to be you, and that’s how you produce your best work.
What are couples wanting/expecting in their wedding photographs now?
I think really in a lot of ways nothing has changed in the last 25 years. Couples have always wanted a beautiful, creative record of their special day. I hope that never changes 🙂
Whilst some couples are happy with simply a digital copy of their images, most realise that having a stunningly designed album will not only be a more valuable presentation, but it will last longer.
Do you offer packages at different levels for couples to choose from?
We offer a range of Collections covering different lengths of coverage and different end results. From 4 hours to all day and all night, with or without an album.
How much direction do you give to the bridal couples and bridal party? Or do you prefer the spontaneous moments?
The amount of direction we give will vary all day. Spontaneous moments are always sought, however without some orchestration and direction, most people simply don’t know what to do and feel uncomfortable. Giving people some structure often makes it easier for people.
What is your favourite part of photographing a wedding – the day and moments, or the processing and presenting the images to the couple?
Without doubt the actual capturing of the day. Being there with them, celebrating and creating, witnessing all the joy and laughter, and being able to help a couple navigate the day as smoothly as possible and helping them to have a great time. That really is awesome.
Do you find that your bridal couples come back to you for family shots over the years? What does that mean to you?
Absolutely! It means everything to us when we are invited back into our couples lives! Such a special feeling being able to continue to tell their life stories visually. Its the best.
Photographing weddings is a very labour intensive profession and involving weekend work! How do you ensure you have a work/life balance?
I have got a lot better personally at creating a good work-life balance. I now actually have two days off in a row which is amazing! (Unless I’m shooting a Sunday wedding of course!)
Having a dedicated studio office has always helped as don’t feel like I’m at work when I’m at home. So I don’t answer emails at 10pm at night etc – we try to keep some boundaries in terms of opening hours etc like most businesses.
How do stay grounded when life is such a rush?
Spend time with my wife and kids. Or head outback to chase some rare bird I haven’t seen or photographed 🙂
Thank you Dave for sharing your story. Connecting with, and trusting your photographer is key to loving the beautiful photographs they will make of your day. To find out more about Society Photography visit the website.
Headshot by Society Photography