Worlds Best Wedding Photographer Interviews. Destination Wedding Photographer.

Interview with Davina + Daniel, Destination Wedding Photographer

Having a long list of accolades is a fantastic achievement for any photographer, but for a husband and wife team to both be internationally acclaimed is pretty incredible and certainly something the two of us would love to one day emulate. Davina and Daniel Kudish have both garnered some incredible press over the years, they were named in Rangefinder Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Most Sought After Wedding Photographers’ in 2012, Davina has won ISPWP’s photographer of the quarter and Daniel was Fearless Photographer’s ‘Photographer of the Year’ in 2012 (Although both continue to win awards pretty much every time!)

Today I’m pleased to share their interview with you. As with many of the photographer’s we interview their schedule is pretty jam packed (Especially with their recent arrival) so for this one I sent them a few questions to answer. I loved reading through the responses and I hope you can all take something from it!

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Hi Guys, thank you both so much for taking the time to do this. With worldwide demand for your work time must be short as it is not to mention the recent arrival of your new baby boy. Congratulations by the way! 

For photographers who travel throughout the world starting a family must have been a big decision, will it change the way your business works going forward?

We knew we wanted a family years ago, so we structured our business in a way that would make sense for us once we became parents. A big part of our business today is running Grey Sparrow, our sister studio in Montreal. We launched it back in 2010 and it’s now running at full speed: we have 13 photographers working for us, shooting 85 weddings this summer. This second business has given us a lot of flexibility, and it allows Davina and I to only take on about a dozen weddings a year, all of which are destination weddings. Our baby is coming along with us and we have a family member traveling with us as well to take care of him while we shoot.

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One of the challenges as a couple has to be putting the business ahead of individual aspirations, do you guys ever feel a touch of friendly competition given the fact that you are two of the world’s best photographers in your own rights? 

There’s definitely some friendly competition, but it’s as friendly as it gets. Giving our clients what they’ve come to expect from us (and some surprises!) always comes first. In the end, the competition only serves our clients, since we are striving to make great images, both as a team and individually!

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We always like the fact that in having two photographers we get to cover both the bride, and the groom’s side of the day. Could you talk us through how you guys work on a normal wedding day? More specifically I’d love to know how you guys work together, after the ceremony?

Our teamwork is all about shooting safe vs taking risks. When one of us wants to try something, we’ll communicate it to the other person, and that person will make sure everything is covered while the other one experiments. A couple will never know if we missed a creative, abstract shot, but they will certainly notice we missed a significant moment. Keeping our bases covered, so-to-speak, is key to making the teamwork efficient.

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What’s in each of your kit bags?

We each have two Nikon D4, with 35mm F2 and 85 F1.8 lenses. We also share a Nikkor 60mm macro lens, as well as a Sigma 150mm macro lens. We have SB-900 flashes for receptions, and use the Switronix Torch LED video light for off-camera lighting.

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What are each of your favourite camera’s and lenses? (Not just for weddings!) 

We recently got the Fuji XT-1 (with 23mm & 56mm lenses), and we are absolutely in love with that camera. We shoot everything except weddings with it. It has a feel that is very nostalgic.

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Both of you are consistently recognized by all of the major awards, what do you feel makes you unique, as individuals and as a team? 

I think we know how to recognize our 1%, that is, our very best images from a wedding day. These are the only images that the general public sees. The rest of our coverage is straight up documentation (though of course we still work hard on lighting & composing well), as well as some classic portraits and details (we are, after all, still wedding photographers!), but when a good opportunity presents itself, we’re all over it. Those are generally the shots that make it onto our blog and/or contests. Editing our photos to give them more depth also playing an important role in the final look of the images.

As individuals, our strengths still shine most when we are working on something together. For example, Davina may come up with an idea, together we’ll discuss how to execute it, Daniel will shoot it, Davina will make adjustments, and later Daniel will edit the image.

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What’s a normal day like when you’re not shooting weddings? (Do you take time out for hobbies? Do you give yourself set working hours etc)

Well… we just recently had our baby boy Max, so everyday is a surprise around here! Business is such a big part of our lives, so there’s always some form of work each day, whether it is editing, responding to emails, or booking travel. We do regular critiques with our Grey Sparrow photographers to help them continue to grow as photographers, and even Max comes along for those! We live by the water, outside of Montreal, and we try to enjoy our backyard as much as possible.

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How do you share your workload in terms of editing, SEO, Social Media, Marketing and consultations? 

Daniel handles most of the day-to-day stuff. Our SEO, social media, and marketing are all minimal (since we only do 12 weddings a year), and all our consultations are over Skype (those meetings we both attend). As for editing, Daniel does the slideshow/blog images in Photoshop, and Davina edits all of the others in Lightroom using the Motibodo keyboard (a real time saver!).

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If you weren’t working together as wedding photographers do you think you’d still be doing it individually or would you have pursued something else entirely? 

Daniel: I would definitely still be a photographer, and most likely still do weddings.

Davina: I’ve asked myself this question a few times! I would definitely be a photographer, but I don’t think I’d want to do weddings without Daniel.

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What do you think the best decision has been for your business? 

Starting our studio Grey Sparrow (http://greysparrow.ca). It has been a lot of hard work getting the studio to where it is now, but it has all been worth it. We can now take more risks with our own D+D side of the business, and have time for other ventures.

Any big mistakes along the way?

Yes, definitely! Back in 2008-2009, we tried doing the big studio thing, and took on A LOT of weddings. We didn’t know any better, so Davina and I did all of the culling & editing, for all the photographers. It completely burned us out. At the end of 2009, we decided to become Davina + Daniel and work on being better artists. When we felt ready again, we started the associates business again, but this time we have a studio manager, as well as an editing team in place.

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How important is social media to you guys and is there one platform in particular that you use more than the others?

Our Facebook page seems to be the most successful platform. We still can’t quite figure out the best way to use, as they always seem to make changes on the backend! Social media can be beneficial, but it’s not the most important marketing tool. Creating images that stand out is what will get your work around the fastest!

You have won more awards than I can count, are there any accolades that really stand out to you? 

Daniel: Winning the Fearless Photographer of the Year in 2012

Davina: When I won ISPWP’s Photographer of the Quarter, because I got that one before Daniel did 🙂

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Do you feel there is there one particular organization whose awards hold more weight in the industry than the others? Maybe just the one that you guys like the most!

Fearless Photographers has done an incredible job almost revolutionizing the industry, kind of like WPJA did it several years ago. The selection of images, collection after collection, is simply outstanding, and has pushed so many of our colleagues to create incredible work.

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What do you feel like the turning point was for you in terms of going from being good local photographers to really competing with the world’s best? 

These are all really flattering questions 🙂
At some point, I think we realized how important the internal dialogue is. We know our light, and we know our compositions, but a wedding day can only go great if you talk to yourself in a way that will lead you to good photos. For us, that means waiting for good moments, not bouncing around like crazy people, and communicating with the other person.

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Do you have any big goals for the future? 

At this point, consistency over the years is a goal we have set for ourselves. We also want to see our studio grow further, to do 125+ weddings per year. We also have a new business venture coming this fall, which will still be in the wedding photography industry…

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Did you attend any workshops while you were starting out? 

Not when starting out, but more recently, Daniel attended the David Alan Harvey workshop in Oaxaca. You can read more about his experience here: http://davinaplusdaniel.com/blog/2013/11/day-dead/

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Where does your inspiration come from now that you’re so established? (Other photographers, different industries etc) 

We look a lot at photojournalists such as Steve McCurry, David Alan Harvey, Elliott Erwitt, Jonas Bendiksen, and other Magnum photographers. We also see a lot of correlations between wedding photographers and chefs or musicians. Artists are so similar in so many ways! We are really inspired by any artist who is passionate about their craft.

Do you spend much time looking at other work that’s out there?

We love photography, so we do spend a lot of time looking at what others do, but mostly outside the wedding industry.

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If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring photographers what would it be? 

Shoot a lot. Shoot everything. Get to know your camera, your light, your compositions. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. We try to take pictures everyday, and see a huge difference in our understanding of the visual world around us when we do that.

If you would like to learn more about Daniel + Davina please have a look at their site – http://davinaplusdaniel.com/

Their incredible editing techniques are one of the things we both love about their work and their secrets are available at http://davinaplusdaniel.com/workshops/webshop/

– Chris

Chris Sansom is co owner of Sansom Photography, internationally acclaimed husband and wife team working across the UK and abroad on request. In this series Chris interviews some of the Worlds Best Destination Wedding Photographers to share their wisdom, tips and advice.