Profile

Katya Mukhina

A woman in a white dress runs across purple and orange volcanic rock on the island of Mauritius. Photo taken by Katya Mukhina on a Canon EOS-1D X.
"I was in Mauritius for a destination wedding – the island is volcanic and the terrain reminds me of Mars," Canon Ambassador Katya Mukhina says of this image. "There was a tree at the bottom of a hill, which I climbed to get a vantage point. I wanted to be higher than the bride, to see her against the terrain but not the sky, which could show that we were on Earth. I used a zoom lens and asked her to run as if she was going to meet her beloved after many days apart. When she was against the purple 'cloud', I shot the sequence." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens at 70mm, 1/1600 sec, f/8 and ISO1000. © Katya Mukhina

Canon Ambassador Katya Mukhina is an award-winning wedding photographer whose distinctive images, often shot in amazing locations, mean she is sought after by couples looking for something a little bit different.

As well as capturing couples on their big day, she regularly undertakes international photographic assignments, not only for wedding publications but also for a range of other specialist magazines.

Canon Ambassador Katya Mukhina.


Location: Moscow, Russia
Specialist areas: Weddings
Favourite Kit:
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Katya believes her success over the past 15 years has been due to her specialising in relatively niche aspects of the business: adventure weddings and elopements. These events cater for those looking for something original, such as marrying in a one-of-a-kind location or a once-in-a-lifetime situation. "I would say my decision to start shooting destination weddings was the turning point in my career," she says.

Katya spent six years working as a traditional wedding photographer in her home town before starting to look for assignments that would take her further away from home. "I love to explore new places and the idea of shooting elopements in beautiful locations really appealed to me," she says. "Now every wedding is a chance to shoot in a new environment, culture, language and light conditions. My style has always been to encapsulate the story and mood of the day, but more importantly the emotional connection between the couple, and between them and their family and friends. Adventure weddings are no different; these stories are still about love and connection, just in wild surroundings."

A woman in a green patterned dress lounges on the edge of a boat; the boat sails on turquoise water in Zanzibar. Photo taken by Katya Mukhina on a Canon EOS-1D X.
"Anna lives on Sakhalin island in Russia and loves sailing with her partner," says Katya. "They had always dreamt of getting married on a tropical island. On this sunset cruise elopement, on a fishing boat in Zanzibar, I took a lot of pictures from different angles. The low sun illuminated the texture of the old sail and the emerald water. I thought that taking a shot from a high point would be nice, showing the sail, the water and the bride laying in the sun. The sail was a natural light reflector for the parts of her body that were in the shade. The sail covered the bright sunset, which was key for a good shot." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 16mm, 1/1250 sec, f/4.5 and ISO400. © Katya Mukhina

Katya, who also runs workshops for wedding photographers, has no problem adapting her approach to suit the shoot. She says: "When I'm doing a traditional wedding, I use a photojournalistic manner; whereas adventure weddings and elopements are more about portraits. I like to use dynamic compositions with movement to help the couple's story look like a movie."

She wants her photo shoots to be part of the couple's adventure, so she spends a lot of time and effort getting to know them. "We often sail, drive or trek to a remote location," she says. "The images not only show an amazing view, but the couple gets a unique emotional experience."

A couple embrace as they sit looking out over the misty mountains of Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo taken by Katya Mukhina on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.
"It is always cloudy and rainy in Machu Picchu, Peru, in February. Sometimes all you can see is the fog," says Katya. "We spent almost all day walking around the ancient ruins, waiting for a clear view of the mountains. Maybe that is why I took this photo, with strangely shaped mountains and abundant tropical forest as a background rather than the ruins. I didn't know this couple, I saw them sitting and enjoying the moment and asked them to pose for me. The idea was to frame them into the triangle-shaped mountain and show the rock they were sitting on, like the edge of a cliff." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 31mm, 1/250 sec, f/3.5 and ISO3200. © Katya Mukhina

Katya's shoots also need a lot of preparation – she's the producer, stylist, set designer and travel planner – and she often has to go to great lengths to capture the shot that she has been picturing in her head. Her romantic images make a big impact, though, and have helped her collect numerous nominations and awards from a variety of organisations. Some of Katya's most notable wins have come from Wedding & Portrait Photographers International, and the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers has repeatedly ranked her as one of the top wedding photographers in the world.

Katya also has a degree in sociology, but she has no regrets about choosing to work as a photographer. "I think it was a right decision to change my career plans and start doing what I love," she reflects. "Photography is what I've devoted every day of my life to."

A couple sit opposite each other at a breakfast table as two giraffes poke their long necks in through the windows. Photo taken by Katya Mukhina on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.
"Giraffe Manor, near Nairobi in Kenya, is famous for its unique breakfast, when the resident herd of rare Rothschild's giraffes visits the mansion to be fed by the clients," says Katya. "I had a certain vision of my core picture – two giraffes lean into the windows symmetrically, wondering how breakfast is going. The symmetry was key for me. The rain made the giraffes hide under the trees and by the time it stopped the room was full with people. All of them wanted photos with the giraffes and I was stressed that I might miss the opportunity. I decided to quickly photograph the guests with the giraffes and then they gave me carte blanche. The couple tried to encourage the giraffes to lean into the window at the same time. It was not easy but when both giraffes were inside the room, the couple sat down and I took the shot." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 1/250 sec, f/3.5 and ISO3200. © Katya Mukhina

What preparation do you do before the big day?

"I have several real/Skype meetings with the couple, where we discuss everything from the style of the pictures to their chosen colour palette. I do location scouting online and if possible spend at least one day before the shoot on location."

Weddings can be hectic and the time can fly by. How do you ensure you get all the shots you need?

"I move around a lot, shooting with different settings, playing with composition and angles, while my assistant controls the lighting. I shoot about 4,000 images and often don’t get a chance to rest during a 12-hour wedding."

Do you use the same shooting technique for every wedding?

"It depends on the couple and their preferences, so it's never the same. Sometimes there's no need for creativity, you just need to make clients look beautiful and capture their family's love, the fun and the happy moments they'll want to remember."

What are the most important lessons a new wedding photographer should know?

"You have to make the images professional or just don't do it at all, because that wedding day won't happen again. Also, carry two sets of camera equipment, plus lots of spare batteries and cards."

What are the main challenges in this industry?

"Finding your own photographic style, understanding what sort of assignments you want to shoot, getting the clients, and finding harmony between your lifestyle and work. My secret is dedication, constant improvement, perseverance and having a strong work ethic.”

Facebook: @purlitaphotography
Instagram: @purlitas
Twitter: @purlitas
Vimeo: Purlita
Youtube: Katya Mukhina
Website: www.purlita.com

One Thing I Know
Katya Mukhina

"Photographing a wedding day is not a time to experiment and hone your photography skills. You need to practice beforehand: do landscape and portrait workshops, photograph your friends' engagements, etc. When I started, I paid a lot of attention to the couple's poses, because explaining what I wanted was a great challenge for me at the time. But that meant I didn’t notice how the person was lit, think about moving them to enhance the colour combinations, or think about the picture as a whole. Also, newbies love to stand in one place and shoot the same thing, so change your point of view and angle."

Katya Mukhina's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Katya Mukhina's kitbag containing Canon cameras and lenses.

Cameras

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Canon’s flagship pro DSLR, with a 20.2MP full-frame sensor, 61-point AF system, up to 14 fps with full AF / AE tracking (or up to 16 fps in Live View) and ISO to 409,600. "There's no compromise in frame rate, autofocus speed, dynamic range or sensitivity," says Katya.

Lenses

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

A fast, ultra wide-angle zoom lens that offers excellent optical performance throughout the zoom range, and a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture making it ideal for low-light photography. "A great lens for epic landscape shots, especially when the couple is moving," says Katya.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

A true modern classic: a standard wide-angle lens beloved by reportage photographers for its natural perspective, low-light capability and extraordinary optical performance. "My most important single lens; this focal length can tell great stories," says Katya.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

This fast lens delivers clear, crisp images of full contrast and colour with razor-sharp detail, ideal for high-resolution sensors, while the f/1.4 aperture offers a shallow depth of field. "It's ideal for classic portraits," says Katya. "I love to make people look beautiful and isolate them from the background."

Accessories

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