Dane has photographed many weddings at Audley Dance Hall. We have asked him some questions so you can get to know the man behind the lense.
Where did your passion for photography come from?
To be honest, I think it actually all started with writing.
When I was younger I used to write all the time. Poems, stories, articles, album reviews – I really loved (and still do) being able to construct a narrative and coax people along on a journey somewhere. I used to think I wanted to be an investigative journalist when I was older.
Then 6 years ago I went backpacking through South America for 6 months. I had never even really taken a photo up until that point but it was the trip of a lifetime so I thought I should document it. Once overseas I quickly became obsessed – with both the art of photography itself, and the way it allowed me to make stories and people and places come alive in a way that I hadn’t explored before. I was hooked, in so many ways, and haven’t looked back since.
Why wedding photography?
For a whole bunch of reasons. The variety (of both kinds of photography and people and cultures I get to work with), the creative control, the intimate access you get to people’s live for a day, the joy you get to be a part of and record and keep alive.
But mainly, as above, I just love telling and preserving people’s stories – and on a wedding day so many of them are on display.
I don’t know that I’d be able to do it if I didn’t feel I got to tell people’s stories in a really tangible way. It’s not a job, the fact I get to do it is an absolute gift. It’s what motivates me, what draws and excites and inspires me, far more than producing any particular aesthetic or any kind of external motivation ever could. I feel like, at it’s best, wedding photographers get to take these little transient moments and lift and polish and manipulate them until they are greater than the sum of their parts, until – for the people they are about – they represent a lifetime of closeness with their father, or the time in their life their niece was young and full of maniacal energy, or even just the enormity of love and gratitude they have for someone. They can anchor people to a moment in time and remind them of their shared histories and experiences and all the love and people they are grateful for in their lives.
Being able to do that for people, whilst at the same time having the creative freedom to do it my way and approach it with a sense of fun, is unbelievably rewarding and a combination I never thought I’d be lucky enough to have in a career.
How many weddings have you shot?
Just over 150 now.
What creates the best moments of the day?
There’s a whole bunch of moments and events that take place on most wedding days that always create really beautiful memories and photos. In general, however, and at the risk of throwing out a wanky buzzword, I think it mostly comes down to people just being present.
As unsexy as it might sound, I think being really organised in the lead up can reduce a lot of stress both before and on the day of the wedding. The better planned you are, the less stressed you will be. The less stressed you are the more present you’ll be. The more present you are the more you will have the space to focus on all the beautiful, messy, emotional, drunken moments that are playing out in front of you and not thinking about logistics or how late x y or z is running.
Why do you like shooting at Audley Dance Hall?
The hall – It’s beautiful, the lighting is great (the festoon lights are a godsend), it can be set up any number of different ways, the food is delicious, the staff are legends, the guests can grab a drink on the balcony after the ceremony and watch the sun go down over the Hacking river while we run out to grab some shots at any of a handful of almost offensively picturesque spots within 5 minutes of the place. It even has a whole bunch of different ceremony spots literally within walking distance, and there’s a bunch of epic cottages in the RNP to rent for the night before and of to get ready / after party in. What’s not to love.
The park – The Royal is legitimately one of my happy places. I try to get down there at least a few times a year to camp, hike, surf and swim (as well as shoot weddings). It’s a perfect little slice of Australiana thats only a stones throw from the city, and yet feels like you miles from civilisation.
As a third, it also tends to attract couples that I resonate with. People that love the outdoors, have a sense of adventure, don’t take themselves too seriously, and are more concerned with the people around them than the minutia of details that can take over.
What is your favourite Audley Dance Hall wedding pic?
I tend not to be drawn towards the classic sunset shots as my favourites, but it’s all about context. In this case Em, Johnny and I briefly left their reception to head out this spot I had scouted earlier in the day. It takes a bit of a (very small but not undifficult) climb to get to, which they had a bit of fun with and helped clear their heads from the joyous chaos that is most receptions. Once we got up there I was stoked at how perfect the scene had turned out, but more importantly we had a bit of a chat about them and their relationship and relationships in general, which prompted them to share some beautiful things with each other and have this really honest, emotive exchange and reflection with one another that they might not have had otherwise. The fact the sun was just dipping over the horizon and the light was obscenely perfect was just a bonus.
What advice can you share with couples when choosing a venue?
How many people do you want? Do you want a three course, sit down meal or something more relaxed? Is it going to be a big party or something intimate? This is a good place to start and will whittle down your options. Then, who are you as a couple? Are you fine dining inner city foodies, inner west beer swillers or outdoor adventurers? Pick somewhere that reflects you.
Or you know, do the complete opposite for a different experience. There’s no rules.
The two biggest things – in my mind – are, can you envision yourself getting married there and does that idea make you excited? Maybe I’m being overly dramatic here but the decision should either be a hell yes or a no.
How helpful are the staff? (this goes for any vendors). You’ll be dealing with these people a lot and so it’s important they have your back and best interests at heart.
To check our some of the amazing weddings that Dane has photoograted at Audley Dance Hall check out his website.
Mel & Mat 2nd November
Em & Jonny 4th August