The wedding photography It is a discipline that requires a great connection with our clients; in which we can explore what they think and what they feel so that we can create images that reflect that important moment in life. To further enter the world of this style of photography, In Xataka Foto we interview Daniel Alonso, who was recognized by the Unionwep as the best wedding photographer of 2019.
Daniel has documented around 400 weddings since he founded his own company in 2006. Before that, he was focused on the audiovisual world, graduated from audiovisual communication and had a master’s degree in film script and direction from the Universidad Antonio Nebrija in Madrid. After this period, he worked for two years as a cameraman and linear editor. After starting his company, Daniel entered the world of weddings along with other projects, until in 2011 he turned entirely to wedding photography as a specialty.
At Xataka foto we have asked some questions about his style and work:
As you explain in your blog, much of the influence on your shots comes from the cinema: which film or which director do you especially think has been crucial in how you approach photography? Is there something in the cinema that has led you to wedding photography or why did you decide on this specialty of photography?
I have multiple references that I fundamentally differentiate into two: visual and
Visually, the one that inspires me the most is Terrence Malick. His commitment to always work with natural light and let himself be carried away by what he sees on the film set are two criteria that I carry with me when photographing weddings. As I understand weddings, I don’t want to intervene in what happens. I like to observe people (how they speak, how they behave, how they interact with each other), spaces (which are the most interesting at the compositional level, those that help contextualize, the details that enrich the narrative) and the light (where I must put myself so that everything looks more beautiful and that everything that happens is in that light). Terrence Malick works in this way and I feel very identified and inspired by him.
In addition to Malick, all the films that are photographed by Roger Deakins, Hoyte Van Hoytema, Emmanuel Lubezki and those directed by David Fincher, Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, Joel & Ethan Coen, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott.
At the narrative level, I am fascinated by the way the films by Luca Guadagino, David Fincher, Denis Villenueve and M. Night Shyamalan approach the stories. (one of the most underrated narrators).
For example, Luca Guadagino shot all of “Call me by your name” with a 35mm, which is the lens with which I shoot 90% of my photographs. And I don’t know a better movie than that to talk about summer and first love (and heartbreak). His way of choosing the frames, the mounting rhythm, the color grading … is brilliant.
There is one more creator (related to the world of cinema) with whom I have deep admiration for his commitment to stories and narrative. He is the composer of soundtracks, Hans Zimmer. He does not want to create functional music, he wants music to be part of the character’s personality and the story that is being told. I always keep that level of commitment to history in mind when I’m having a wedding. I want to be as deep as he is in documenting everything so that I can tell the story as interesting and faithful as possible.
I specialized in wedding photography because I found a space to create all those images that I saw in my head that inspired me in the cinema. Because at weddings I was able to find a way to tell stories, to explore on a narrative level.
But above all, because at weddings I could witness emotions, which is something that I’m passionate about. I am a very shy and insecure person, but I love to watch people interact with each other, see how all kinds of emotions flow on such an extraordinary day. I always say that in a wedding we have all the emotional aspect: nerves, joy, melancholy, sadness, love (of all kinds, parents, children, friends, boyfriends …). And I am a witness of all that and I can document it for them.
It is a privilege that they always remember him through the way I look.
Through your photographic work there is a concept that attracts a lot of attention: The relationship of the subject with space. Sometimes it seems that you isolate the characters in negative space. In others, you put them to compete with the space in which they live. Could you explain more about why this game decision in context?
It is a very interesting question. There is some ambiguity in the decisions. Normally my photography is a mixture of both things.
They are usually given by the environment in which I am shooting. At weddings, you can’t control the spaces where you have to photograph. Many times they are chaotic, there is too much information that provides nothing more than visual noise (usually during the preparations for the houses). My mind needs visual cleaning. I need simple micro spaces so that the image can be read easily.
On other occasions, the environment helps me to create beauty: for The Light, the composition, the lines, the symmetries, the spectacular landscapes … If I add the couple in that circumstance, I think it adds up.
Another key element in the photographic style you present is the use of warm color palettes. Any stories behind the way you work with color?
I have two “tricks” that I always use when shooting:
Black and White Shot: It’s RAW so no problem. Then I have the color. But in my camera preview I only see black and white. In this way I focus my attention on the Light, the composition and the moments that happen..
White balance in “Cloudy”. Forever. By always shooting in natural light, I get a consistency when editing. When I’m indoors, I know those photos will be “orange” when I develop in Lightroom, but I can easily correct them.
ProTip: I like to correct the saturation of red, orange and yellow to maintain a warm hue without very uncomfortable dominants.
For our readers who are entering the photographic world: What are your three tips to capture images that impact?
Find the Light that inspires you the most and wait for things to happen with that light.
Be patient and wait for something more interesting to happen.
Do not leave a photo inside. If you have an idea, give it a try. If it works, great. If not,
You can learn to improve it or understand that it was not such a good idea.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing a wedding photographer?
For any wedding photographer, the challenge is always to excite the couple. We are capturing and creating memories that they will keep for a lifetime. Even when we are no longer in this world, that work will be there. All our motivation, knowledge and talent must be to generate something that excites them.
Wedding photography requires interacting with many types of people profiles. So social interaction is a skill that this specialty must work on. What tips can you give us for better communication with customers?
I am not the best person to give this advice because I am a bag of insecurities. 80 kilos of fear and insecurities. But what has worked for me is empathy. Not only at weddings, in life in general. Listen to them, put yourself in their shoes, help them as a person and then as photographers. That empathy builds trust and respect.
For our readers who live by the team: You can give us an overview of what kind of cameras, lenses and accessories you use.
A Canon 5D Mark IV as a body. The objectives a 24mm F1.4, 35mm F1.4, 50mm F1.2 and 85mm 1.4; all from Canon. I also have a led screen, not flash. And I use audio recorders to record different moments of the wedding. With them then I create the stories with which I present the photos of their wedding. This is where I can apply my passion for narrative the most.
If you want to know more about Daniel’s work, do not hesitate to visit the website from People Producciones, the company he founded and where he works with his wife. You can follow them on Instagram and listen the wedding stories that Daniel has recorded for the web.