Her approach is very laid back, and she masterfully guides her couples in the most subtle and friendly way, managing to capture the genuine in-between moments. You’ve seen her gorgeous golden hour wedding photography shots, full of romance, mystery, emotions and incredible scenery. Many of you have also heard her speak and share her knowledge and experience at Way Up North or Ostuni Workshop this fall. We were lucky enough to meet Danelle Bohane around two years ago, when she was looking for branding and website solutions. We’ve fallen in love with her beautiful work and kind personality ever since. In Stockholm, we had the great opportunity to interview her over a warm cup of tea. Here’s what this talented photographer from New Zealand is all about:
Danelle, your shots are so genuine and natural. Feels like you’re taking photos of friends who don’t mind being in front of a camera. Of course we know that it’s not the case. So, what is your secret when it comes to helping clients relax during a photoshoot?
I think it’s about building a relationship with people. I’m not saying you have to become their best friend. It’s cool when a couple becomes a good friend, but it generally starts from the moment someone is in contact with you for the first time. Being able to identify if they are a type of person who is more relaxed or maybe a bit more on the stressful side. Then, deciding if it’s the type of person you want to work with. Generally I can sense out if someone is really high maintenance, and I know that that’s not always a great fit for me. However, I do understand that there’s a reason why they can be a bit stressed while planning a wedding. There are so many factors that go into this process, before it comes to the point of photographing them on their wedding day. So it’s really important to be able to put them at ease, and build trust. I mean, all relationships are built on trust.
Some of the things that you can do, are:
– Make sure that your booking process is all streamlined.
– Go the extra mile and encourage people in their wedding planning.
– And just be generous in your knowledge, because it’s the first time [generally] that they are getting married. So, if they need a suggestion about a certain vendor, you should be able to offer them that.
I will always meet with my couples. It’s not always before they book, but I would at least Skype with them, since often a whole ocean keeps us apart, or they are located on the other side of the country. It’s a wonderful way to be able to connect with them, and put a face to their name.
That’s also part of building that relationship, so they really feel at ease on their wedding day with you around, and the camera in their face. Not too many people like their photo being taken, so having a different approach for various people and going above and beyond for them, will always influence your workflow and general vibe.
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How about some specific tricks? Some photographers for example bring speakers and put fun music on, other bring cookies and snacks to ease the couple. What do you do?
– Just getting people to walk together and talk. Get them into their natural state, so they forget about you.
– Talk to them. Communicate that we all feel in a similar way and encourage them that they are doing really amazing job in front of the camera. Trust me, encouragement goes a long way!
I don’t really have tricks up my sleeve. I’m not trying to make people laugh, by cracking a joke. I’m not a comedian. I mean I hope there’s a funny side to me, but it’s not my main personality trait to make everyone laugh. Just be who you are, and people will respond likewise.
– Being a photographer on their wedding day is a lot more than just being a photographer. You are their bridesmaid, you are somebody who can calm them down or do the opposite. Your mood is very important too. You need to look after your couple, but you also need to be in a good space yourself.
Did you ever have situations when you woke up in a weird mood and had to go out and shoot?
Oh yeah, I get grumpy all the time (smiles). But you have to realize that it’s a significant day in someone else’s life, and you need to put aside your mood swings, and focus on them.
What’s you favorite moment during a photoshoot? Which moments are you looking for on a wedding day?
When I got into wedding photography, what I enjoyed the most was the photojournalistic side of it. Also, before starting with weddings I wanted to do fashion and commercial work, so I do enjoy the fashion approach when it comes to weddings. But what drives me continuously are the candid moments at weddings. For example, after the ceremony when people are having the canapé hour, and when they are congratulating one another, those unplanned genuine interactions and emotions, that’s what I love.
Do you try to get to know the family and understand who are the important people for the couple?
In the mornings, I’m very observant. I try to imagine that this is a movie, so I identify who are the main characters who will be telling the story on this day. I make sure I know the parents’ names, instead of saying “Excuse me! You!!”. Just try to take it to another, personal level with people. Especially the parents, they really appreciate you. Or the bridesmaids, when there’s not too many of them, haha.
How many weddings do you usually do per season?
In the past I’ve done just one wedding per week, that’s 5-6 years ago. Then in my third season, I moved to shooting 2-3 weddings during some weeks of that season. I soon realized that it was too much for me, and I was at my best when doing only one wedding per week. I mean a little shoot now and then is ok, or a little elopement. But now, my husband also started full time with me, which is very exciting. There was so much travel involved and I didn’t want to leave him behind and be away for too long in a lonely hotel room.
Wedding photography is a very emotional job, you are working with heighten emotions all the time. It’s good emotions, but when the workload is heavy, you can get emotional about it too. So don’t forget to take care of yourself along the process.
Do you do more destination weddings, or targeting the local ones?
Last year I shot around 30 weddings, and only 4-5 were in Auckland, the city where I live. There is still traveling, even if only across New Zealand. And the work is not so seasonal, more yearly I would say. I have a solid season at home, which is the winter here, in the Northern hemisphere.
So when is vacation time for you?
I don’t know why, but I thought that this is going to be my holiday (laughs). We do have some more traveling planned, in Norway, and then Copenhagen. But I’ve got a lot of editing to do. With all the traveling it’s really difficult.
Did you ever consider outsourcing your editing?
I’ve considered it, but I’m a control freak (laughs again). It’s my work, and I like it to look a certain way. It’s not that I think that nobody could ever do it the same way. But my work is like my baby. I pre-visualize each photograph, when I shoot with a certain light, from certain angles, I already know how I am going to post process it. Though, I guess if I spend enough time building a relationship with one editor, we’d get there.
The length of the editing process is definitely one of those “I wish I knew this before I started wedding photography” points, but the longer I do it, the faster I get. I’m spending less time on it now, because I have a better understanding on how things work.
Danelle, what makes you happy?
The most vital things that bring me joy are relationships with people. Travel also does that. I love to travel. And my dog – Eddie (smiles).
So, there’s no point in asking the “dog or cat” question?
Yeah, haha – it’s dog! I grew up with a cat, and he lived for 22 years. He was actually in the family for a longer time than I was. And when I was 21, he passed away. So I’ve only had a cat growing up, and about 3 years after that I got Eddie, and I’m definitely a dog person. If I see a dog on the street, I’m happy all of a sudden and I want to cuddle.
What or who inspires you?
Aesthetically, what I enjoy for my branding and visual things, it’s what you see, the things I wear. The range of tones that I usually enjoy, also shows up in my work. I love Scandinavia, and traveling influences a lot my style. My home is not all white. There’s a particular painter in New Zealand, called Grahame Sydney, and he paints a lot of New Zealand scenery. So the country that I’m living in is full of inspirations. Nature, which you can see a lot in my branding and on my website is another source of inspiration. There are no dominant colors, I don’t like settle colors and they shouldn’t compete with my work when it comes to branding and website design. Obviously the Flo team does that really well, since you guys understand it.
So, what is Danelle Bohane Photography in 5 years?
As mentioned earlier, my husband has just started working full time with me. So this year has been defining for us not just work wise but also as a couple (not in a negative way). We are evaluating where we want to live and how are we going to work together. We don’t want to be a couple that has to work 80 hours a week . I don’t want to get to the end of my life, wondering why did I leave all the best parts of my life for the last 20 years when I can’t properly walk. I’m so lucky to be in a career that I’m actually passionate about, as well as being able to be creative. But I also want to be sure that I’m building relationships with people, and I’m keeping friendships and family relationships close. So in 5 years time I hope we would have built a house together, somewhere, and have a great community around us. Which I’m sure will still be around. We have a wonderful group of friends now. Maybe have a few children or maybe just one (smiles). And definitely another dog!
If you could go back, would you do anything differently?
That’s a good question. One of the things that I would change is not being so concerned of what other people think. We, creatives are sensitive souls, and we struggle with how we are perceived by someone else. Also the whole comparison thing, and judging your accomplishments based on other people’s successes.
I mean, someone is 10 years down the track and you are 6 months in, and you are comparing yourself to them. It’s never going to work! I struggled with that, but I feel that over the years I’ve got on top of it. I mean, I still do it sometimes, but I’ve come to realize that maybe there’s something that those photographers had to sacrifice along their journey, what I wasn’t willing to sacrifice, or vice-versa. That’s why everyone is different, and you have to learn to embrace your own journey.
Last, question, I promise. A more fun one. If you could have any superpower, what would that be?
One of them would definitely not be the ability to read someone’s mind. I think that’s far too scary. Second one would be super fast flying. I mean I live on the other side of the world, so being able to teleport fast anywhere would definitely be a good thing to have. And third (laughs) would be the ability to eat what ever you want without thinking what those carbs do to your body. I’m a foodie. Our hobby is to go to brunches and trying new cuisines while traveling. In New Zealand, brunching is very popular, that’s how you socialize, especially when you are a freelancer.
We hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we loved discussing it with Danelle Bohane. If there would be only one thing that you could take out of this interview, it should probably be this: Be kind to yourself! Whether it’s about taking good care of your health and emotional state, and understanding the importance of life/work balance. Weddings are not pokemons. You can’t and shouldn’t catch them all. It won’t benefit you or your clients. Also, being kind to yourself means not allowing critique or comparison get to your head. You have no idea what a creative had to sacrifice to get where they are. Each journey is unique. Embrace yours!