Damien Kellany is back for Ti Sport on his trip and his fondest memory as a photographer. An exclusive interview with the founder of DK Prod.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words…
My name is Damian Kehlani and I’m one of the official photographers for RC Vannes. I am 44 years old and created the photography agency DK Prod about twenty years ago. Before switching to rugby, I mainly pursued horseback riding.
“I was in a way a pioneer in my field.”
How did you start photography?
I have always been a fan of photography and sports. And so I made these passions my profession. I first developed a connection with the equestrian world that I knew well from when I was a rider. It all started like this. I took pictures during a World Cup event at Martinfest and later in La Baule and Paris. Today, I consider my job above all to be a pleasure.
Did you encounter any difficulties when setting up your agency?
I want to say that in my time it was much less difficult. In the 2000s I surfed on web development and on the idea of providing photos to passengers on site. I attended competitions and printed pictures directly to propose. Subsequently, I also developed the sale of photos of athletes on the website. I was kind of a pioneer in my field that there were very few people doing that.
Twenty years ago there might have been three of us, but now there are a dozen photographers if we consider amateurs. Thus, my business has worked out over time even if I have always combined one with another job. The weekend was photography and the week I had a different job. This double hat allowed me to develop a different view of the world.
“I also have links forged with certain players, I think especially of Paga Tafili, Patrick Leafa and even the guys I saw hatching. It’s as if we all live together.”
Is it possible to fully follow a sporting event when you’re a photographer?
It’s really complicated. Until recently, I tried to stay very professional with no feelings on the court. But I do not hide that this season there is often excitement at the end of the meetings. And then, as a photographer, we’re happy to experience the highlights with the guys.
What is your connection with RC Vannes?
Of course, I have a very good relationship with RC Vannes. The club is fortunate to still be on a human scale. Everyone says hello and it’s easy to chat with the players. They always care and I feel part of the team myself. I also have relationships formed with certain players, I’m thinking especially of Paga Tafili, Patrick Leafa and even the guys I’ve seen hatch. It’s as if we all lived together.
“I think a beautiful picture is exactly the one that stays in your memory, the one that says remember that moment.”
Is there a game that stands out to you in particular?
How can we not say the semi-final in Larben against Biarritz in 2021? When I entered the stadium, when I saw the world in the stands, it was a crazy thing. I have great shots of the players walking through the crowd as they get off the bus. And today, when I look at them, I still get goosebumps when I see all the black and white flags. I hope we will continue to write great stories in the years to come.
What is a good photo?
For me, a beautiful picture is the one that will reveal all the feelings we can experience. I regret, for example, the pictures of rugby players on the ground. We’ve changed times and I don’t have a problem with that. But how beautiful these pictures were. Rugby provided moments of image that remain exceptional. And I think a beautiful picture is exactly the one that stays in your memory, the one that says remember that moment.
“I think when you’re a fan of the sport, the XV for France is really the Holy Grail”
What are your most beautiful photos?
It was exactly when I got off the bus before the semi-final against Biarritz. A little boy went to check on Hugh Chalmers and the picture says a lot at once. It was a unique moment full of tenderness, despite the enormous pressure associated with the match.
What are your development prospects?
I have two goals. Firstly, I would like to once again deal with the match against France. I already had the chance to follow the U-20 and women’s teams in Labine. Now, continuity then would be making the elite match. I think when you’re a fan of the sport, the XV for France is really the holy grail. And my second dream was to one day go to stadiums like La Rochelle or Toulouse to take a top 14.