Our Photographer Spotlight interview with Daniele Del Castillo, wedding photographer in Italy and Australia is full of inspiration, beauty, and honesty. Shooting a majority of his weddings in two vastly different counties, Daniele has to adjust to cultures, traditions and even expectations of the role of wedding photographer, but rather than worry about the differences, Daniele chooses to focus on the common link in all weddings. He realizes that his job is always to “record the love of two people and their special day.”
Daniele, you shoot weddings in both Australia and Italy. Tell me what that’s like. It’s simply amazing! I think I’m really super happy because it is almost impossible to get bored. Every time you have to deal with different light, different location, different way of thinking about the wedding and about the cultures.
Do you feel that your work changes based on the cultures? For sure! There are two main differences that affect my way of working: one is the culture of photography and the role of photographer during the day and the other one is having to deal with different ceremonies and rituals.
What are the differences or similarities? What draws you to each different culture? Even if it might seem banal, the first similarity is the fact that you are called to record the love of two people and their special day. This is the same in every country and in every culture. Even if it is obvious, I think is one of the main points that a lot of professionals miss. They are too focused on their vision and their picture and their blah blah blah. The difference is in the role photography has in weddings. In some cultures, you are considered a real professional; someone that is bringing something to the day, and in other cultures you are just one of the vendors they had in their list to contact. As a result, even what they aspect is different and the respect they show towards you and your work.
I would love to know what inspires you. What keeps you creative? I’m basically inspired by art in general; paintings, movies, sculptures, illustrations, music and not so much by photography itself. I think in the wedding photography industry there are so many photographers that simply copy other photographers. They don’t add anything to what they see because they don’t explore other forms of art, you can see this through their pictures. That’s terrible for the industry and for photography itself. When I shoot weddings I do normally look for inspirations in other fields of photography: photojournalism, landscapes, food… My curiosity is what keeps me creative, I came from a photojournalism background where you are always asking questions.
Do you have a favorite camera? lens? I really love this question. It is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive and I do really think a camera is a tool. I know everybody says that but it’s the truth. You need to have something to say and according to what you want to express with your photos, then you choose your tool based on that. Medium format, reflex, mirrorless, smartphone? I tried them all and some of them are the only one you can use for a specific picture. Something I can say is that I adore prime lenses 50mm especially. They force you to move, to preview, to think, to make a choice with every picture you take. I basically live with my 50 mm I use it probably 80% of my shots even in fashion.
Where do you want to shoot next? I would love to go and shoot in South East Asia and all around Australia. Hey couples out there, why do you think I moved to Sydney?!
What would you suggest to couples looking for their perfect wedding photographer? Fall in love with the photographer’s work on their websites but always ask to see an entire wedding and not just the album. It’s so easy to have a few beautiful pictures in one day but telling the whole story…that’s another thing!
What gets your heart racing – both personally and professionally? From a personal point of view, my wife. She is sweet, patient and adorable. From a professional point of view, my wife. She is a designer and she has a good eye and even if we are married, she is the one who is the most critical towards every photo I take, both in wedding and fashion.
So what’s next? What are looking forward to most right now? I’m finally back to fashion and the new fashion website I’ve worked on in the last weeks is ready now. I started as a photographer assistant in Milan almost 13 years ago with a famous Italian fashion photographer but I was not ready at that time. I thought it was boring and super easy to do, I was very young. He was very strict with me and when I told him that I was going to leave him he told me: “You won’t ever be a professional photographer.” Him saying that, it was the best class I took; just a few seconds but it keeps resonating in my mind, even now while I’m writing. I had to go through photojournalism and wedding in order to understand it deeply. I have built a wonderful fashion team in Milan where I keep shooting every time I have the chance and now it is time to do the same here in Australia. Is there anybody interested out there in Sydney?
Exciting! What gets you up in the morning, both literally and figuratively? Aside from my wife’s alarm and the cat? I would say the beauty of life, my motorbike and knowing that I will get to work on a new photographic project!
Tell me the best advice you’ve ever received about being an artist? I never had the chance to meet him in person for obvious reasons, but Henry Ford once said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
I’ve never heard that quote before, it’s perfect! Anything that has inspired you recently? I went kayaking in Botany Bay last week and of course the beautiful exhibition ‘Genesis’ by photographer Sebastiao Salgado in London.
How has being a wedding photographer made you a stronger photographer over all? Hahahaha! Have you ever stood for 14 hours in one day, taking pictures, dealing with a bride, a groom, the bridal party, their parents, all the guests, the other vendors and a wedding planner? Let’s say that now I am more patient and I listen more. Is there anything that matters more in wedding photography?
What is your favorite moment or tradition at weddings? Speeches!!! I love them, they are not common in the Italian culture so I basically grew up without them at weddings. Now every time I hear them, I laugh and I cry with the guests. It is a moment where nobody is concerned with me as the photographer so I can really capture some nice and natural interaction between people.
What three photographers do you admire or who has inspired you, either in the past or right now? Sebastiao Salgado for his powerful black and white photos and his ability of story telling. Irving Penn for his style, his ideas. He has always been one step ahead. Alex Webb for the way he captures colors and the beautiful harmony of light and shadow in his images.
What would you suggest for couples who want to look amazing and feel comfortable in their photographs? Try to be relaxed, just think of the two of you. If the photographer is a good one, he should give you just a few directions. I normally suggest to the couple to be present in that moment, because the portraits is probably the only moments in which they can spend some relaxed time with each other. And for the brides, get a mirror and try all the poses that you like in front of it. It’s exactly what models do!
How would you describe your wedding photography style? I would say professional, genuine, honest, elegant, respectful of people and their dignity.
So now that we’re at the end of the interview, tell me how exactly did you get into wedding photography? I started with weddings because coming from photojournalism, it was the only way for me to cover the entire process of my production. When working for the editorial world you normally shoot, and after that everything goes to a photo editor and after that again to a printer and a magazine. I wanted to have control on everything I was producing. I wanted to provide the best to my clients and I really wanted to get out the best from each photo I was taking. Wedding photography gave me this chance and that’s why I chose it.