Today’s interview is with one of our emerging photographers, Yuliya Skya!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Hi Yuliya! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me—first things first, how many years have you been shooting weddings?
No problem, I’m happy to do it! I’ve been shooting weddings for 7 years.
I know it’s a tough question, but what is your favorite shot in your career and what’s the story behind it?
So, one moment I remember clearly was when we had to do a “First Look” in DUMBO, Brooklyn, overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Clouds covered the city and it started pouring. The pier and the park between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges suddenly cleared out; everyone escaped the rain. The view was stunning, as if the city was giving us a blank canvas to make it into what we wanted. When I framed the shot it was as if the bride and groom were the only two people in New York City that day. It became one of most memorable feelings for me, and my favorite shot of the couple.
That’s a beautiful shot… Looking back, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned after shooting over a hundred weddings?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is: Anticipation. I have to expect and be ready to capture the moments in the right way. So whether it’s a best man speech and the response of joyful laughs—or the shining tear flowing down the bride’s cheek before it’s swiftly swept away, you know? Or, the much awaited first dance to a Sinatra song and the groom suddenly moves for a dip! Anticipating the unexpected is the most helpful skill to capture a story that can be relived for years to come!
Let’s go back to your 7 years of wedding experience. When has that experience most come in handy?
Wedding photographers face so many challenges on the big day, and we have to swiftly take care of them! Once, during a ceremony, right before the breaking of a glass, the rabbi had stepped to the side, completely blocking my center frame! I maneuvered quickly to do a low angle capture and framed the photo where you could see the breaking of the glass. I had to calculate the movement so as not to alarm the guests and stay as quiet as possible. It felt like a millisecond—and then I had to move quickly as the couple kissed. It felt like I had another two seconds to pivot and capture the kiss!
Seems like you’ve proven your adaptability with a situation like that! For weddings, there’s definitely a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scenes. When you’re taking taking the lead on a wedding shoot, what goals do you set for your team that day?
Working well as a team is essential as it’s the collaboration that allows us to create extraordinary memories for the clients. When we prepare, I involve everyone in going over the timeline, the portrait lists, and special request lists. Second shooters are focusing on handling versatile frames and telling the visual story in a dynamic way and stylistically consistent with the plan set prior. Photo assistants know their positions and tasks for the day. Of course, I ask my team to read the energy of the room, of their subjects and translate that energy to the visual story.
There are a lot of different stages of a wedding: The first look. The ceremony. The reception. What’s your favorite moment in the wedding to shoot?
It’s hard to say! The wedding day is a rich experience from start to finish.
The reception will have the most unexpected dance moves by the bridesmaids… but may also be the time of an amazing portrait when the light creates an outline of the bride and groom’s profiles as they come together and lean on each others foreheads in a first dance.
I usually can’t wait to see what happens through each part of the day so it is hard to isolate one. But if I had to pick one it would be the portraiture and the ceremony! *laughs* Ok, that was two!
Ok, two it is, then! I think we can let that slide! What do you like most about the portraiture and ceremony?
During the portraiture we can be even more innovative and create a mood through lighting and subtle posing. The ceremony, on the other hand, is one part that’s exclusive to the wedding day and asks for absolute sincerity and love from two people who make some of the most important promises of their life to each other!
There’s something really moving about that. And you’re capturing it as it happens!
Right! Capturing these agreements, silent and those said out loud, between the couple and their guests as witnesses is the ultimate documentary of the human experience. It is an honor to create photographs of these moments!
Yuliya, thank you so much for answering these questions! Looking forward to all of your work, and I’m hopeful we’ll be featuring more on the blog!
To learn more about Yuliya and her work, visit her portfolio & profile here.