Introduction: Hi, I am Vanja Melnik, destination wedding photographer based in Novi Sad, Serbia. I lived 10 years in London, then I moved back to start my wedding photography business with the aim to shoot worldwide. I shoot mainly in Santorini, but I was fortunate to travel to France, Montengro, Croatia for weddings.
My website is www.vanjamelnik.com, I am also very active on Instagram and Facebook.
BM: I came across across your photography in Santorini via Instagram. What are your top three destination wedding locations have you shot and why?
VM: The place where I discovered wedding photography, I like to call it 'shooting love around the globe' is Santorini, Greece. But, I have had the opportunity to shoot in St. Stefan, Aman Resort in Montenegro and at a secluded villa near Nantes, France. These three are my top destinations so far. And why? Because, Santorini has so many amazing spots wherever you look. St. Stefan is a very old and historical place with stunning spots with the sea in the background and Nantes gave me the opportunity to change my usual summer light conditions and blue sky and sea, with something more green.
BM: What travel tip do you have to aspiring photographers interested in shooting destination weddings?
VM: I like to arrive two days prior ot the wedding date to the location. I have one day to meet the couple in person, even tough we get to know each other via Skype and have many spontaneous and informal chats via social media from the day we meet until the wedding date. Those days are used to check the location where the wedding wil be, the hotel where the couple is getting ready, church location and make the logistic to be best used time we have on the day. Then, the second step is to make a plan for the photo session, check the light at the time of the shooting and take some test shots. This is important for me to make myself feel at home at the new location. What I do prior this, is really to find on Google as many location ideas as i can for that particular place. But, nothing can compare that with being on the location and having a feel for the place.
BM: What inspired you to be a wedding photographer?
VM: I came from the hospitality industry where I spent 10 years working for some of the most prestigious hotels in London, UK. I learnt there what great customer service is and how much we should love what we do in order to give 100% and be happy. When I needed a break, I took a year off and starting asking myself what else I could do. Then, I concluded that I could use my hobby as a photographer's assistant. After four months I fell in love with it. I realized that I am not that bad in technical aspect of photography, but there are so many things I should learn. But, the most important I noticed that my passion for coordinating events from my previous career complement my passion for photography. Knowing that photographer plays such an important role on one of the most memorable days of the couple, inspires me to do my best, to be their best friend on the day and someone who will ensure that all those emotions are captured in the best possible way, without being too noticed. Even though, I get noticed as soon as the party starts, as I love to dance so I can't stay still :)
BM: What is the most challenging or unique request a bride and groom have requested of you?
VM: The most challenging was when the bride decided on the wedding day to bring all her bridal party to the photo session that was dedicated to just two of them. Despite all conversations we had prior where I highlighted pros and cons of it. Cinematographer and myself remain behind for half an hour because she put her friends in the car instead of us and we couldn't get the taxi in the busy city. I put lots of effort to tell myself that it has nothing to do with me, and it's their choice to prioritize.
BM: What location have you dreamt of traveling to to shoot a destination wedding?
VM: In Europe that is definitely Italy (Tuscany and Venice) and worldwide Iceland and New York.
BM: What would be the appeal in shooting in the San Francisco Bay Area?
VM: Wedding photography as an art started in America, way before it was on the same level in Europe. All of us in Europe are learning from American photographers. In general, opinion is that American weddings are more glamourous, more perfectly planned, with much high budgets for decoration and ensuring the whole day looks like a dream. For any European photographer is a dream to shoot there, especially in San Francisco area. Having the city in the background, stunning streets, beach or national parks is an ultimate goal.
BM: How do you improve your skills as photographer?
VM: By shooting almost every day. Following works of other photographers and playing with editing whenever I can.
Please consider booking Vanja and I for your next event! We are both willing to travel. Please be sure to mention you found her via this blog. Thank you and happy wedding planning!