Inspiration — Photography & Videography
Cinematic Wedding Photos with Olivia and Dan
Award-winning photography duo Olivia and Dan walk us through their process for transforming the small but most meaningful moments into cinematic masterpieces.
Masters of mise en scène, photographers Olivia and Dan are natural born-story tellers with a talent for transforming small, unassuming moments of tenderness into visual masterpieces. The husband and wife duo make a synergistic team, with each bringing a different strength and point of view to every narrative they weave together – accomplishing more than a solo photographer could on their own. Olivia’s artistic direction inspires iconic moments that spill with timelessness, while Dan is able to document human connection from a different perspective – both crafting a story richly woven with layers of emotion and magic.
Longtime collaborators of The Lane, we adore Olivia and Dan’s photography for their soft and cinematic touch. Bathed in artful strokes of contrasting light and shade, Olivia and Dan’s imagery effortlessly evokes all of the sensorial details from the day in an emotive style all of their own, transcending the genre of wedding photography. Guided by her fashion-influenced eye for aesthetics, Olivia has a gift for spotlighting beautiful silhouettes out of shadows and bringing the textural nuances of a gown or tablescape to light, with a rare and potent tactility.
In between shooting weddings, Olivia and Dan took a moment to share the thoughtful nuances that make their photographs spill with cinematic magic…
You have a distinctly cinematic style that recently earned you the prestigious Rangefinder Rising Star Award. How do you go about composing such atmospheric frames?
We love to create simple but interesting compositions that enhance the subject and their backstory, often through the use of contrasting light and shadow — or chiaroscuro, for a dramatic touch. Our aim is to invite the viewer to appreciate the day on a deeper level, so it felt natural for us to develop a cinematic, evocative style that blends fine-art influences with documentary techniques. Whilst we don’t often have control over the lighting, we are able to integrate a scope of artistic choices when capturing aspects of the day — such as the ‘getting ready’ shots and couple portraits. For these, we always try to use window light during prep, as nothing beats its soft, dynamic nature. It’s actually the tool we use for our signature chiaroscuro effect.
When outdoors, we’ll seek out beautiful contrasts in the natural environment to make our images ‘pop,’ whether that be the low glow of the setting sun as it filters through the dark trees, or a beautiful pocket of light breaking through the clouds. In post-production, we use a cinematic color grade to enhance the nostalgic, emotive tones. We’re also often drawn to using black and white, as it lends a simple, timeless quality to the images and emphasizes that emotional connection to the subject. The final product is a collection of polished, consistent images that narrate the story of our client’s day from start to finish.
“…We’ll seek out beautiful contrasts in the natural environment to make our images ‘pop,’ whether that be the low glow of the setting sun as it filters through the dark trees, or a beautiful pocket of light breaking through the clouds.”
Olivia, how does your background in fashion inform the way you shoot the aesthetic elements of a wedding? You have a really beautiful ability to capture the way a garment falls on the female form.
Well, I worked in the luxury fashion industry for over a decade before finally committing to wedding photography. Before making the leap, I was part of the buying team at Net-a-Porter. Looking back, it was always the creative side of the industry that truly brought me the most joy, as opposed to the technical process of buying. But it was during that time that I honed my understanding of design, and I found a real affinity to artful shapes and silhouettes. Despite these small joys, I think I always knew my heart was in photography — I needed the freedom to express myself creatively. I think I’ve inherited that urge from my mother, who is also an artist, so it wasn’t something that I could deny myself. But that’s not to say that I don’t like to integrate the past with my present.
Ultimately, fashion is still one of my true loves — I just get to process it through the visual medium of photography now. I’m always drawn to the details that make a garment truly unique, such as the dimensional draping of a gown or the delicate folds of a tulle veil, as it brings so much rich dimension and life to a photograph. I like to shoot in beautiful soft light, focusing on the signature elements of a dress to form graceful images that feel rich with movement and texture.
There’s a really emotive and candid quality to your photographs – it shows how comfortable you make your subjects. How do you establish a connection with your couples to make sure there’s trust and synergy between all of you?
We have a ‘story-telling’ approach to photography and we love to focus on human connection. Capturing the raw candidness of humans in love – what could be a better subject than that? But as you can imagine, to authentically capture those moments, trust is everything. And it’s not something you can form from behind a camera, so there’s definitely a process that we go through to really ‘get’ one another. We always have a video call with our clients before booking. This is to make sure we connect and also that they appreciate our less traditional style of photography. We also want to know who they are as individuals, as well as a couple, so taking the time to chat and find out a little bit about them is so important. If they are nearby, then we’ll also meet up for a coffee or a drink. It means we’re not strangers on one of the most intimate days of their life. We’re super friendly, down-to-earth people, and that naturally breaks the ice!
Actually, most couples will tell us they are shy or feel awkward in front of the camera, but we try and change that mindset by telling them that it’s not really about having your photo taken — it’s about being with the person you’ve just married, and taking a moment to process all those unimaginable emotions. We’ll usually offer a little direction to begin with, but ultimately it’s up to the couple to show us their unique connection. We’re always on hand to manage the flow, so we’ll also encourage them to forget about us, to talk to each other, to keep moving, to laugh, to hold hands, to share those unplanned, important moments together.
“We have a ‘story-telling’ approach to photography and we love to focus on human connection. Capturing the raw candidness of humans in love – what could be a better subject than that?“
As a duo – you have the strengths of two photographers combined in the one package. What are both of your strengths when it comes to capturing weddings?
This is a great question, because often people don’t know the value of having two photographers at their wedding. With a story-telling approach, it’s important to cover lots of angles as it enriches the narrative. I like to describe it as forming a ‘full story’ of the day. And by having two of us, we’re able to divide and conquer without compromising on the quality of our work. For example, when Dan is taking care of group shots, I can go and photograph the tablescape. Even with a modest guest count, it makes the world of difference to the visual outcome. There’s practical benefits too, as we’re able to separate for both groom prep and bride prep (which is handy when these take place in different locations).
We can cover different angles during the ceremony without having to move around so much, which can be so distracting. It also helps to limit creative restrictions, as we have double the assets being produced. In terms of our separate strengths, I would say Dan is more technically minded, whilst I am more creative. It’s a great combination and we’re always really excited to see each other’s photos at the end of the day! Typically, I will direct a little more – especially when it comes to couple portraits. But in the meanwhile, Dan is getting these amazing, unprompted images from the surrounding angles, so we end up with a complete set of beautiful images that really capture the storyline.
You’re based in Italy for part of the year – Olivia, what is your favorite thing about shooting in your home country?
I grew up spending a large portion of the year in Italy, with my grandparents and my father’s side of the family, so I have a deep emotional connection to the country. It reminds me of my childhood and lazy summer days spent in the mountains, so of course I go back all the time! We would love for our daughter to also learn the language (like I did) and experience all the wonders that Italy has to offer, so we spend the summer months out there covering Italian weddings from June through to September. Of course, it also helps that the country is truly magical — the golden light, the architecture, the timeworn walls of villas and old farmhouses. It’s the ultimate cinematic backdrop to complement our style – we just love the romance of it all.
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