From over a decade of being under the spotlight to encapsulating couples when it’s their time to shine, former ballet dancer Daniil Kolmin brings a unique perspective to wedding photos. Now shooting at Australian Fashion Week, Daniil has introduced a modern and slightly Avent guard look to Sydney’s wedding photography scene. After a recent photo shoot with our Eternal Bridal wedding dresses, we sat down with Dani to discuss his creative process, wedding moments, and the elements that create the Kolmin Photography look.
What kickstarted your journey into photography and, in particular, wedding photography?
I retired from ballet when I came to Australia almost six years ago. Back in the days, my friend had a camera, which I started playing with, and when we realised my photos looked good, I kept experimenting with photography. I decided to take things to another level and shoot at Fashion Week, as it was the best place to meet some incredible people and see amazing outfits. It started with fashion and events; now I’m also doing weddings. I love it because I like to meet new people, and I get to collaborate with people creatively.
Every wedding photographer has a unique style for shooting a couple’s special day. Fashion editorial style photography is rare in the wedding industry. How did you develop it to become your signature touch for wedding photography?
I’ve spent over 15 years in the ballet and theatre industry, dancing worldwide with different national companies and collaborating with many creative people. My time on stage, working with fashion and celebrities, gave me a love for specific aesthetics. That experience helps me bring a vision for images with a touch of drama. I like to be creative and do something different from the average wedding photos, leaning more towards editorial photography.
For couples looking for this style of wedding photos, how do they start their collaboration with you?
After the initial inquiry, the couple can choose what package they like from the Kolmin Photography website. We will have a consultation to determine what the couple wants for their included pre-wedding photoshoot session and their wedding day. For me, the pre-wedding photoshoot is the best way to get to know the couple and learn their preferences before the wedding. It lets the couple know me and makes things much easier on the wedding day, as everyone will feel more comfortable and natural.
The pre-wedding shoot is essential to your creative process regarding wedding photos; what are some of your favourite photo spots around Sydney?
I love to explore and find new places to get lost in. Usually, for the pre-wedding shoot, I will ask a couple if they have a special spot; if they don’t, I will make my own recommendations. I love working with the seaside. Water and rocks fit in with my vision and my love for drama. It may sound cliché, but The Rocks is my favourite. There are so many beautiful spots for photos. Every 100 meters or so, there’s something different we can photograph. Cremorne Point is my best-kept secret, but the drive there and finding parking isn’t always easy. My third location would be Balmoral Beach.
The wedding photography process involves more than photos and editing. What is a reasonable budget for brides to consider when working with you?
I have one basic full-day package, including the pre-wedding shoot, and offer optional add-ons like a second photographer, videographer and album printing for extra. I don’t believe in counting hours, so for my full-day package, I will photograph from the bridal preparation until the end of the wedding reception, depending on what a couple wants to have as a keepsake for their day. Sometimes, this means I stay longer to take extra photos of the reception party; other times, couples will request to keep events after the first dance private.
On an average ten-hour wedding day, I will shoot at least 3000 photos. After editing and refining, there will be about 800 final images. The couple will be able to access a sneak peek around seven to ten days after the wedding. Four to six weeks later, they will have the entire collection of images in high resolution ready to share with their loved ones and select for printing. For all this, I usually charge from $4500.
You’ve mentioned your love for working with other creatives. Do you often collaborate with them on weddings?
Yes, I have a few videographers and second photographers I usually work with. Videographers are an add-on option for couples looking to have their special day recorded on video. I will help them contact and organise a videographer for their wedding day. I also work with artists to offer an option to have live wedding portraiture and illustrations done for couples interested in capturing their day differently.
Wedding days can be nerve-wracking for many. Do you have any tips or advice for the camera-shy couple?
My only request for couples on their wedding day is that they have the best time ever! Relax, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy every second. I will be working my magic in the background and gently guiding the couple to capture all the beautiful moments as they unfold. At the same time, there will be spots at the venue where the couple has emotional connections and experiences; keeping open communication between the photographer and the couple they are working with will make everyone more relaxed. I wouldn’t say I like to stage photos, but sometimes, I suggest making minor adjustments for the best look. One of my favourite techniques to get a couple to relax and take their mind off the camera is asking them to chat with each other. There are some stunning photos when I ask one of them to whisper something in the other’s ear.
Finally, having experienced various wedding days, what is your wedding day highlight?
Every wedding is unique in its way. I get emotional when it comes to wedding speeches. As the dad of a little girl, The dad’s speech is always very special to me. They tend to be both funny and tear-jerking at the same time.
All images are provided courtesy of Kolmin Photography. For a full look at Dani's photography collection and more information on Kolmin Photography, see here.