Interview with the Dazza
In our latest interview with the WPN photographers, Darryl from Dazza Pictures gets down and personal. And even cues us in on who he’d like to shoot his wedding.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, I’m Dazza but my real name is Darryl. I’m Singaporean, music makes me happy and alcohol gets me drunk. I’ve lived in the East side of Singapore all my life – grew up skateboarding around East Coast Park, Katong, Bedok and Changi. My favourite colours are yellow, black and blue. Oh, and I really love coffee.
Why the name ‘Dazza’?
I lived in Melbourne (Australia) a few years ago and it was my first week of living on campus that a senior walked past me. From the look on his face I knew he was struggling to remember my name and I think he gave up and went ‘Heeeeyyyyy, Da…zzaaaa…’ Shortly after, I learnt that it was common to have nicknames, like ‘Jasmine’ would be ‘Jazza’, ‘Damien’ would be ‘Damo’, or even ‘David’ would be ‘Davo’. Naturally the name stuck and I have gone by it since. I do know however, that there is another ‘kind of celebrity’ associated with that name, which is just a funny coincidence.
How did you get into photography?
Photography was something that I was always interested in, something I enjoyed doing and learning about when I was still in Uni.
So you studied photography?
Not really. My background is actually in the creative line – design, I studied and also worked in the design field back in Melbourne. I specialized in multimedia, which has so many facets – web design, animation, interactive media, film editing – basically jack of all trades, master of some ;). All creative stuff, so my peers and I just really enjoyed creating art, illustrations, short films and graphic design. It was also during this time, that a small group of us were invited in the first ever Melbourne-Milan Young Designers Award, where I had work exhibited in Italy.
So why the switch?
The story is, on returning to Singapore I joined a local Ad agency as a designer in the interactive arm. Over a fairly short time, I was promoted to manage a team, conceptualize and strategize regional online campaigns. We did some decently good work, and even got a couple of award mentions for various things. But at the height of it all, I found myself going through some personal challenges and that I was yearning for other less frivolous things. So my boss suggested I go on a sabbatical and the short of it is, I never went back.
So why did you pick photographing weddings?
There is a rather poetic story to that. At the point of time I left my job, the personal challenges I was going through had me reflecting on the unity of relationships and of the fragility of life. I find that at weddings, the bride and groom, their families and friends, are at one of the happiest times of their lives. I was drawn to this ‘spirit’, feeling the warmth from the union of all these people together in celebration. So I found myself looking, hunting and seeking to capture this spirit in precious moments, so that I could ‘read’ and ‘tell’ stories about these couples.
Tell us about your studio Dazza Pictures.
Dazza Pictures is – me, myself and I. While I do have associates who help me out at some shoots and administrative stuff, what you see is what you get – I’m the dude who couples meet and I’m the dude who shoots their wedding, not an assistant or another representative.
What are the top 3 questions couples ask you before or during a meet up?
Q: Do you shoot destination weddings?
Q: Are you available?
A: Depends, I’m single but attached.
Three. The most asked, a rather personal one oddly -
Q: How much is your package?
A: Erm…not for sale? For private use only?
Finish this sentence. My photography style is…
Not about me, but about you.
Right this moment, describe one moment from a wedding you shot that comes to mind.
One of my favouritest moment is a shot at the botanic gardens, where a little flower girl was left behind from the entourage and was chasing after them. I wrote a post on my blog here.
A memorable wedding story to share?
It would have to be one pretty small wedding, attended by maybe a party of 20, held in the garden of a friend of the couple. It was a very personal and intimate celebration, but not just that – the couple had everything planned and all the details were ready – decorations, flowers, the catering – all set for an outdoor garden wedding. But alas, Singapore’s unpredictable weather turned and the rain washed their efforts away. At first it seemed like all they had prepared for would have been for nought. But what remain resilient in the weather was the couple’s perky, happy go-lucky nature, that turned what some may consider a disaster to something wonderful. Because all the couple wanted was to be married to each other, nothing was going to stop them and that energy transferred to everyone at the wedding. I left that wedding on a high.
Could you share with us somemore of your wedding work and tell us a bit about them?
This would be the most recent image I’ve shot. The Bride and Groom are a Norwegian couple who were getting married on a stopover here in Singapore. The Bride had found me in one of the most interesting ways – she had seen me in an episode of “Scene City: Singapore” in Norway, googled me and voila.
Dragonboats and pre-wedding photography are the coolest. Stephanie and Chung-ky organized their pre-wedding session with their Dragonboat team because it was there that they met. The Dragonboaters, and yours truly included, hopped into 3 boats and paddled from Marina Bay Reservoir down to the Kallang River.
This image was created in collaboration with Jeremy of Redco Photography as a series of images for his pre-wedding portraits. We thought it was Booms.
Is post-processing a big part of your photography or are you a purist?
I have a special bottle of magical pixie dust that is sprinkled over every image to achieve the Dazz-nature look. While every image does go through some form of enhancement one way or another, cosmetic retouching – removing eyebags, blemishes, or digital weight loss – is not the focus of my post-processing.
Do you focus on pre-wedding or wedding day photography?
Both are of equal focus, they are after all portraits of real people whether it’s an image that tells the viewer who they are or what happened in a candid intimate moment. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think what I am are trying to tell is a real love story, of who the couple are and the tale about them.
Tell us about the typical ‘Dazza’ approach to wedding portrait photography (pre-wedding).
We talk, we laugh and we just enjoy being ourselves. I feel that there is a joy within every couple just knowing that they love each other and that they are getting married. I just try to capture them for who they are as real, as natural and uncontrived as we can. I think we remember moments and hold them closer to our hearts when we know that there is a meaning or a story behind it. For all of us, that is a bit more meaningful than an image that is just pretty. And I think we look back in fondness at precious photos and recall “Remember that day when this was shot and we were happy just being together. This is us”.
Mr and Mrs Chua celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary and decided to get some portraits.
How about your approach to wedding day photography (actual day) then?
I’m a smiling ninja. I try to let people relax around me, but I do my best to get out of people’s way. Things happen as they happen and I’m not there to contrive events. I may offer some input in regards to an angle or lighting, that may allow us to photograph a better image, but I mostly try to blend into the background.
What is the most challenging thing about shooting weddings?
Shooting a wedding in IMax 3D.
In regards to wedding photography today, what are couples looking for?
The beauty of it is, we all love different things. I’m not sure if there is just one thing all couples are looking for, but couples that choose to rock \m/ with me, have a preference for natural, candid and the quirky. While everyone is concerned with how they look like one way or another, I do find that more and more couples appreciate things that they can relate to. After all, these are real people and not models, so it doesn’t have to be high fashion or a supermodel look, because they typically express that ‘posey’ or ‘drama-mama’ shots are not their cup of tea and I’m totally cool with that.
If you could shoot a destination wedding anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Iceland. It would be beautiful, alien and somewhere I’ve never been to before. Also, one of my favourite bands – Sigur Rós – is from there :P.
Besides wedding photography, what else do you enjoying shooting? Any of these shots to share?
Maybe I grew up with too many toys, because I’m working on a series of tilt-shift miniature urban-scapes. It is a work-in-progress and I collect more shots all the time.
Who would you say most inspires you when you look through the viewfinder?
For weddings, it is definitely the couple. When you put two individuals in love, in a comfortable situation that allows them to enjoy each other’s company, they start being themselves. They put their guard down, they start chatting, hug, maybe they give each other a kiss…genuinely…*click. I find that these are the little things that attract and inspire me.
If it was not photography as a profession, what would it have been?
A barista with a push cart. Serving coffee in the morning till teatime, then ice cold beer from the late afternoon.
What’s the one thing that you cannot stop thinking about when you’re shooting a wedding?
Is my fly open?
Tell us something that not many people know about you.
I can twitch both my ears.
Any tips for the wedding couple.
This day happens only once. Relax, cherish and enjoy.
What advise would you give to someone beginning their career as wedding photographer?
Always wear clean underwear and comfortable shoes. Very important.
Since you are still not married, which photographer would you pick to photograph your wedding when it happens?
Hahaha! That is a loaded question! If I were to be politically correct, it would be ANY of the WPN photographers But I’m not sure if I would want to make these friends of mine work.
Any parting words?
Live long and prosper \V/.