Ep8. Photos that tell your Story, Photographer Darin Collison

Sally Mussared is the designer and founder of Mussared design studio creating luxurious handmade silk wedding gowns.

Darin Collison is a superb wedding photographer who creates stories through images at Darin Collison Photography.

Recording by the fabulous Miss Bella Hazelton.

Time Stamps

00:56 Darin’s Procedure
02:30 The Best Weddings
03:20 How it Began
05:51 Why Darin Does It
08:45 Biggest Tip for Brides
09:38 The Strangest Thing
10:47 Soul Mates From the Start

We’re here today with Darin Collison of Darin Collison Photography, who is a beautiful wedding photographer. Thank you for seeing us today.

You’re welcome.

Can you tell us a bit about of what you do?

I take wedding photos. There’s all sorts of ways of taking wedding photos. I try really hard to take photos that tell stories, take photos that show what the day is about, take photos that show behind the scene stuff, intimate moments, things that go on that the bride and groom know are going on but can’t know of on the day because they’re just too busy. I want to provide a document that tells the story of the day, shows what the day was all about at the end of the day.

Lovely.

Yeah.

Darin’s Procedure

And, when a bride and groom contact you, how does your procedure work?

Sure. It’s dead simple, they get in touch normally via emails, sometimes via phone. First step is to send all the relevant info out, pricing, give them a brief overview of how I go about things. By the time people contact me, they’ve been on my website. They’ve got a fair idea of what I do. So, if that work’s for them we get together, we meet, in person or via Skype and if we fit, I shoot their wedding. It’s great.

Lovely. And so do you meet them again before the wedding?

Um, typically not. I used to, but I found more and more of the last week or 2 before the wedding when I need to get all the info, brides and grooms can be really, really busy! So, yeah. So it takes 20 minutes to half an hour on the phone and that’s easy.

Yeah, great!

And then on the day of the wedding, what’s your favourite timeline? What would you ideally…?

I mean ideally everyone would plan their day about taking portraits in the best possible light but that doesn’t happen. Look, I’m just there to tell the story, so I frequently get contacted by brides before the day wanting to know what’s … the make up artist wants to know what time the photographer is gonna be there and that sort of jazz. I just tell everyone to organise the day to suit themselves, the more relaxed and happy the bride and groom are the better the photography will be. So I just work around them.

The Best Weddings

And what elements do your favourite weddings have?

Ha! Good question. I don’t know, my favourite weddings have elements in common beyond a shared and obvious enjoyment of the day from the bride and groom and from their family and friends, weddings…

That’s really lovely.

Yeah, well. If everyone’s emotionally invested in the wedding day and shows it’s brilliant, it’s brilliant as a photographer, it’s brilliant for, for the couple. It just makes for a fun day.

If you think that’s really important, it’s important that their personality comes out and that’s what we try and do with the gowns-

Yeah, for sure.

-it’s to bring forth who they are and what they’re all about, but then they need to just enjoy the day, don’t they?

They need to just enjoy the day. Yeah, and people can do as much planning as they want to before hand. Provided that on the day the planning is done. They can rock up, get married, have fun.

How it Began

Yeah, fantastic. How did you get into photography? What, what lead you to where you are now?

Bit of varied path. It came about when my dad bought me a Nikon camera 50 mm lens SLR for my birthday when I was 16. I’m a natural born geek so, it was very easy to teach myself photography and I became a street photographer. So, I always took my camera with me. I walk the streets, so I try all sorts of different ways of making images.

And what were your favourites?

Street photography tends to be a combination of great but unexpected composition and interesting things happening, so I guess my favourites are just the moments where you are able to anticipate something that’s about to happen and get it in the frame at just the right minute. So, yeah, it works.

So you started people watching at 16?

I was and still I’m a bit introverted so, people were never the main focus of street photography for me except, unless they happen to be on the frame, I guess. I was more interested in shapes and colour and architecture and things like that. But then, look, I was working in hospitality, studying photography with a view to hopefully somehow make it a career. I worked at Rosati in the city, beautiful old marble Italian extravaganza. Hosted weddings almost every weekend and I’d watched the wedding photographers of the day, walk around with their cameras, taking the same photos, day in day out and then just not seeing the things that were happening. The things that made images.

Little glimpse. Swinging the baby or, yeah, all those little things.

Yeah, exactly! And there was one moment where there was a bride holding a baby. It was clearly her sister’s child whoever it was and they were just sharing the moment under this incredible open light at Rosati, it was an amazing image and it didn’t get taken. So I kind of fell into wedding photography while at college with this notion in my mind that it could be done in a different way.

Yeah, fantastic. Isn’t that funny? My, dad was a priest and I used to sit out on the wall and watch the brides coming out of the church sometimes. Awesome. And I think, you know, she can do much better, she was just wearing… you know? Fantastic, that’s great!

Why Darin Does It

You got into this because you could say there was a better way. But, what makes you thrilled to wake up in the morning? Why do you do this?

That’s pretty easy to answer actually. The joy of photography is simple. Photography like lots of things is a perfect blending of art and craft. You need technical skills, technical nous, you need knowledge on how to do things, how to accomplish things. How to problem solve on the spot, how to deal with light, blah, blah, blah. But, it also allows for almost unbridled creativity as you go. Making things up. It’s a blast. Shooting weddings is fun.

Okay. What do you mean making things up?

When I’m shooting, I’m trying to tell a story. I’m trying to find a way to capture images that show what’s going on but I’m not trying to just point my camera at people doing stuff and take photos. I’m always trying to make great photos. I don’t always succeed but you can try and, and when it comes off it’s… when it comes off, you know it’s come off. In the moment, at the time, it’s happening right there. It’s not delayed gratification. It’s a thrill. It’s awesome. And I do that 50 times a year.

Yeah, fantastic. It’s a good feeling, isn’t it?

It’s great and there’s hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of sitting behind the computer editing, but you know, every job has its downside.

We had, we had some photos back from a bride a while ago and her favourite shot, just as we entered the venue and the photo for the venue has liquor licensing down the side of it and I think, I just looked at it and thought, “Why was that not edited out?”

When I’m in charge there will be no fire regulation. So, we can just get rid of all glowing green exit signs. All of them, they’re going to go.

Yeah. But that’s a lot of what you do, is to clean those shots up, get rid of the missing bits on the side. Is that what you do a lot in your editing or?

Not really… there will be a bit of that going on but I’m not trying to deliver a perfect princess fairy tale version of someone’s wedding day. I strongly believe that the beauty of wedding images comes from the moments captured and how they’re captured. I think images which are emotionally resonant don’t necessarily have to be visually perfect. A lot of the editing I do is just super solid almost old school editing. It’s colour correction, it’s dodging and burning. It’s digital application of Ansel Adams’ zone system which is… oh, he, he was one of the most technically skilled photographers in the world. His idea of, how you can treat exposure was incredibly time consuming and difficult to do with analogue photography. It’s incredibly quick and easy to do with digital photography so it’s brilliant. It’s cool!

Biggest Tip for Brides

What is your one biggest tip for brides? What’s the one thing you’re telling them?

Enjoy yourself on the day. Be able to let go of any preparations that need doing, you’ve got to just, be able to enjoy the moment of getting married and I mean, I guess, all sorts of brides have all sorts of different concerns on the day, where there’s often no biggie. Make sure you end up married and enjoy doing that with your family and friends. Easy.

Yeah. That’s nice. And it’s not often that someone puts a party together for a big group of people who really matter. It’s not often in our lives that we’re actually preparing that, is it?

Not at all. That’s something I hear a lot from, from the couples I shoot actually. It’s not so much the number of guests, it’s the fact that these are the people they’ve chosen to celebrate their wedding day with. So it tends to be the people you’re closest to which makes for a good celebration.

The Strangest Thing

Absolutely. What’s the most unusual request you had over the years?

One of the more challenging photos I’ve been asked to take was great fun actually but a little scary, a couple who were gorgeous and super fit and their hobby was, riding down mountains, so …

Oh, like mountain bike riding?

Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah. So they got married on a mountain, Mount Beauty. It was gorgeous, obviously, but one of the ideas the bride came up with for a photo was standing on the rapids in the middle of the gorge. So I said. “Well, I’ll take the photo if you guys can get out there,” And so then, bridal gown and high heeled shoes.

(laughs) Oh, wow.

She climbed into the gorge and crossed on to the rapids and yeah I… prayed that I made a really good photo out of it.

How did she get out there? Carefully. And she just … She just did it.

Stone hopped herself?

Yeah, pretty amazing.

Good on her!

Yeah, they were a great couple. I was worried about dropping cameras.

Yeah, in the water.

Hm, yeah.

Soul Mates From the Start

We’re putting together a collection of love stories, because I’m a hopeless romantic and I love to hear how couples meet. How did you and your wife meet?

We, sort of, got set up. A mutual friend, my flat mate, her friend, got this notion that we’d be good for each other because we were both great readers. That was the sole basis of, uh, of this…. that we’re soul mates forever. She engineered the meeting between us and I found her utterly captivating, so I engineered another meeting. We went on a, not a date, we had a night out, she was with her friends, who I didn’t know. And we discovered that in fact we were soul mates and we’ve been together literally since that day.

Fantastic.

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

And, is your love of reading the same sort of reading or is it just …?

We, we enjoy completely different things. My love of reading is now enormously limited by the time I have to read but it’s Sunday mornings, if we’re not working, to lie in bed and read is pretty good, yeah.

Kids jumping on the bed.

One of them. Yeah, the one who doesn’t read is… yeah. So a lot of the reading now, it’s done out loud. Dr Seuss.

Right. Very good. Yeah, we love reading and actually, the girls in the studio and I when we’re working, if we’re hand stitching, we put our audio book on, and it’s … Yeah. I don’t know if it’s something you do when you’re editing, but it’s… Yeah! It’s something that we found, has been, it’s vastly rewarding.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And that would be anything from a romance to a business marketing to whatever is going at that time something a bit deeper but, yeah.

The problem I have with that is, that having read to children over the years, if someone reads to me, I’m going to be asleep in 15 minutes.

Fantastic!

Yeah, no, I… I edit it to music.

Nice. Anything in particular?

All sorts. Going on a major prog rock kick lately but here you go.

Thank you for your time.

It’s quite all right.

It’s been lovely to meet you.

And you.

If brides are wanting to get in contact with you, how’s the best way to do that?

Email, the link’s all over my website.

And your website address is? It’s darincollisonphotography.com.au.

Lovely. I’ll put that down in the show notes so they can find you.

Sure. Thank you.

Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for listening, I’m Sally Mussared and remember life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away…