Establish Client Relationship
So, we're gonna talk a lot about Sarah and Aaron which is a wedding we photographed in Mexico, just a little over two months ago. That's the wedding where you saw a photo of us with the GoPros attached. So we're gonna take you basically through the whole ride with them. It's gonna start with us meeting them at their house in L.A. We were there for another wedding and we had a chance to sit down with them and really talk to them about their wedding which was coming up, and how all of that affected the way that we photographed their wedding.
You're gonna get to know them pretty well.
Yeah, so, I had a younger sister, she passed away, so. It was about...
16, 16 years ago?
No. Was it 16 years ago? How old am I? I don't even know.
Maybe 12 years ago?
Well, and she was eight when she was 18.
Yeah, so, 12 years ago.
Yeah, so it was like in a very sudden fatal car accident, so it sucked. So, she, obviously won't be in attendance, spiritually, maybe, but that's it. Um, s...
o, my father, he's no longer around as well, so he won't be there, but you know, same thing.
He passed away?
Yeah. So there, asking about the family, and this comes up that he had a sister pass away and his father passed away, as well. So, he says, maybe spiritually, they won't be there obviously, maybe spiritually. So, that right away I'm like, okay, now I know, there are two very important people missing from this wedding. So, they had a moment during the ceremony, just at the beginning, where they said let's take a moment to remember those who aren't here, and he looked up for a split second and I knew, in that moment, that that is who he's thinking about. It might not seem like much, you might think well I would shoot this even if I didn't know, but we had, a few years ago, a couple who was crying all day there was so much going on, and I didn't know what, but I felt like it was more than just, you know, they had lost somebody. And at the reception, I was sitting with a mutual friend, and she's like, you know, they just had another miscarriage they just lost a baby and it's been so hard for her today, and I'm like, I didn't know any of that, and I've been photographing them but always feeling like this is more than just tears, you know? If I had had this conversation with them, and we had that information, I would've had the chance to know is this painful for you, and you don't want to remember that on your wedding day? Yes, those emotions will be there, but it's not up to me to decide whether those emotions are ones that they want documented. No assumptions, right? So, in that moment, I felt, I remember feeling really bad. I feel like maybe I've been insensitive by photographing them having these emotions so much because I didn't know the back story. So just being aware of what it is that they're feeling, or who it is that they're remembering, I think is a really important thing. And I always think of these two examples just to make me more sensitive.
Alright, next clip.
It is really nice to see your home, and your vibe and stuff, and I think a lot of people have these kind of destination weddings, and it's just a cool destination that they picked, but your vibe of your home is very, we've been to San Miguel before, and I feel like it makes sense for you guys.
One more clip, around the same lines.
In all the photos that I've seen of wedding or any event photos, I haven't seen anyone shoot it correctly or maximize it's potential. I have not seen that in any photos that I've seen, because there's just so much going on that it's just, people never fully get at the true essence of the true play scene.
Yeah, I'll take on that challenge. (laughing) I was gonna say, challenge accepted.
So, it was a little quiet, but what he's saying basically is that the venue that they've booked, which is this old house in Mexico with tons of folk art, think of a lot of art and then double that. It's a really cool place. That he's never really seen the space maximized from a photography point of view, you know, and he just, there's so many cool nooks and crannies, and the space is so amazing, and so we say like oh, challenge accepted.
Yeah, and you guys saw what their house looks like as well they have a lot of that, the art, and very eclectic style, so the venue really makes a lot of sense for them. So then come wedding day, we really put a lot of effort into getting photos of the two of them in a setting that represents them well, because they're excited about that venue, so we definitely want to try to showcase it.
So it was a mission we really gave ourselves, and them, by saying challenge accepted. There we set ourselves up, right, cuz they knew. We're like okay, they love the venue, and they really wanna maximize all the spots, so that gives us guidance for portraits. So, yeah, this space, and she said that was her favorite room. This, they have a lot of Jesus art, which is funny because he's not religious and she's Jewish, but they had a lot of like, he had a Jesus mug when we started the interview. He actually like switched it, he was like, that's too much Jesus stuff. (laughing) So we thought, you know, we don't have to wonder. Is this something that they're gonna like? Yes, it's art here, but is it going to be relevant to them? We know they like Jesus artwork, so, we were able to use that from the venue.
Yeah, and then, the bulk of their portraits from their day after shoot, we just stuck to the venue because it was so beautiful and gave us so many little nooks and crannies to really take nice photos of them. We really let their style dictate how we were gonna photograph the two of them. And then, you know, throughout the reception, we just kept incorporating as much of the location as possible, the bride snuck away with her maid of honor, just sharing a moment in one of the rooms. Again, this room is like, so crazy, and for some couples you might not want to showcase all of that weird art in the background, but for them it made sense, because we knew what their style was like.
You would think, like, when they're getting married in a venue, it's because they like it, right? But, again, no assumptions, we wanna be really clear on stuff like that. I think that room is amazing.
And like, bringing together all those people that you've always known would hit it off from different friend groups? It's like, I've always wanted to connect you with you, or I think you should meet her, so it's fun to finally have an opportunity to do that, because we do like to entertain, and we don't do it as often as we'd like just with work schedules, or waiting for a holiday to come around, and it's hard to get our west side friends all the way over here to the east side. So, to finally be able to throw a party that everyone can come to is first of all, huge. We're really excited for that, and then just to connect all those people that we've been wanting to connect for years.
So, I love that, because that's one of the things that I love about weddings, right? When people are hanging out together for the first time, and as a couple, when else do you get to see all of your favorite people who wouldn't otherwise be crossing paths in the same room? So, we were, that was one of the things that made it on our little mental list, okay, friends interacting with friends, and these scenes, and in this case, also showing the environment of that house. We actually decided that we were gonna stay as late as the party went, even though it was beyond our coverage, because we knew that that's when a lot of that stuff was going to happen, once they closed the dance floor everybody just trickled out into the common spaces and ended up hanging out, everyone was super drunk and, you know. So, we basically were like we're gonna join the party, and we're gonna casually take pictures, but that was something we knew we had to do if we were gonna be able to get these kinds of photos.
This one is probably the best random photo of people coming together. This guy picks up, yeah he's an artist, picked up a pen and paper and started drawing one of the other guests, and you know, these people didn't know each other before the wedding started, but here they are, connecting and bonding and that's really what they were looking forward to come wedding time.
So this is like, sidelines, it's also a storytelling detail, and it's relevant to the couple and what they were excited about, which was people interacting at their wedding. I wanted him to do my portrait. (laughing)
Alright, next clip.
There's 32 liters of mezcal that got shipped from Oaxaca to me in San Miguel.
In like this huge vat, not even in bottles, like straight from the distillery.
The only mezcal I've ever had was in Oaxaca was like.
On the street.
On the street, out of like a water bottle.
From strange men.
Yeah, like, how weird?
Yeah, like, I don't know what I'm drinking.
I have a pretty wide array that arrives to me in glass water bottles.
Well there you go. I was like you did what?
That's pretty much how the best mezcal comes.
Alright, so, the groom is in the tequila mezcal business and so the alcohol was a big part of the wedding day itself, again we, knowing that information ahead of time, we were like okay we need to make sure that we document the drinking as much as possible.
Do you also see the tone that I was talking about? Like how we have something in common, Daniel spent time in Oaxaca, he drank mezcal from bottles with strange men on the street? You know, and, some of our banter comes out in these meetings also, you know, like the couple thing definitely plays a role there? But yeah, it's setting that tone again, so like it's very conversational, it's very natural, they know something about us, we have something in common. So, alcohol.
Alcohol. Pouring alcohol.
That's the bottle he's talking about, sorry. But he talks about how they're just handwritten on the label and they're shipped directly from, you know, so. You can kinda see it in that photo.
Consuming the alcohol, drinking more alcohol.
Guests drinking more alcohol. During their parade.
You know, it was really like this recurring theme throughout their wedding, so it was definitely a point to stick with it.
It was the subject of a lot of our storytelling details, and transitions. Oh gosh, it keeps going, yeah.
Pouring some, oh yeah, there's a lot. And then, you know, with the inner circle, so with the bride's parents and her brother, consuming alcohol but also focusing on the inner circle.
I think this moment is so great, too. Her dad reacting like that?
And then the sidelines, you know, away from the dance floor, by the bar, we often go there and make sure that we get the action that's happening there as well.
So that brings us to our next lesson, our next tip from Max.
Listen, care, share.
He's running to us because we give him candy after every one, so he's just like, candy! So, yeah, you know, ask questions, listen to what they're saying, share things about yourself. This is something that we remind ourselves of, and it's certainly during that pre-wedding meeting is something that we're really focused on. So we're gonna talk about it in the context of a different wedding.
This is Melissa and Adam. They got married in Marfa, which is in Texas, and you know, in our talks before the wedding, Adam, the groom, brought up the fact that his mother really wanted to make hot chocolate to everyone sort of as a pre-cocktail before the ceremony. What she really wanted to do was print their faces on coffee mugs, and you know, he really didn't like the idea, he thought it was corny and cheesy, and we were like no, no, you know what? This is like a personal touch that your mom wants to put on the wedding, let her do that and it's gonna be a nice memory, especially for her.
So he was like oh she's gonna be really happy to hear that. So he had already vetoed it, so he called her up and said okay mom, you can do your cheesy mugs, we're gonna let you have it. How amazing? I should note, also, that Adam is one of our best friends, so we've known him for a long time, and there is no better depiction of these people than this photo. This is so them, so I just love that we got, that they had that, and then we got to use it in the context of their wedding. Storytelling detail.
Very different situation. Big Jewish wedding in Montreal, and we met with the bride and groom just a couple days before the wedding, at their house, and one of the things they tell us was that they flew in this cantor from Florida and he was a really big deal and it was really really important to them, so, again, come ceremony time we really want to make sure that we get a slideshow worthy photo of him so that he's part of this story, because it's such an important element to them. Very, very simple, just conversation talking, they give us the information that we need and then we make sure that it's implemented into the wedding day.
So, this is Davina, they were named Davina and Daniel, this couple. They found us because they wanted to buy the domain name Davina and Daniel dot com, but we own all the combinations, so they were like oh these guys are wedding photographers, and that's how they hired us, yeah. So, basically you could just buy like annie and john dot com and maybe you'll find customers that way. It's good marketing. So it was very random, and yeah, just very serendipitous the way that worked out. I was very intimidated by this couple. They are from extremely, she especially, from an extremely wealthy family, and just were having this huge, crazy, beautiful wedding in Monaco, and, we're meeting them to do their engagement session in New York, and, yeah, I just was very intimidated by these people. And we had dinner with them after, and it was something like, when I'm uncomfortable, I just wanted to leave and not, you know? But I was like no, we have to have this conversation, let's get to know them. I knew it was like a good thing to have this conversation, and basically, we're talking about their families, it came up that her, um, they were rushing their wedding so that her father could be present because he was terminally ill and they didn't know how long he was gonna be around. So they're basically throwing together this million dollar wedding in a few months. So one of the things that she mentioned was that he was in a wheelchair, but he was a very proud man and they did not want to remember him that way. So him being in a wheelchair was something that they wanted to avoid seeing and remembering. So that was something at the back of our minds, right? And it's easy to glorify a sick parent. You know, as a photographer, maybe you would want to almost like showcase that from a, I don't want to say a selfish point of view, but, do you know what I mean? You're like, yeah, the sick factor, you know? And that's not what this was about, this was about the way that they wanted to remember her dad, not sick. So every time we photographed the dad that day, we were very aware of avoiding the wheelchair and really showing him in moments, and not in the context of that wheelchair.
So this is from the Ketubah signing, and just a very very brief and quick moment between the bride and her dad, and again, just shooting in a way that avoids the wheelchair.
We'll be talking more about this wedding and this moment. Yes.
We have some great questions that are coming in about this interview with the clients, so, and grab a mic if you guys have any in here. So about, just about the timing, again, of your timeline, this is from CR Angel. Do you ask all these questions before you book them, during or after you book them? Just trying to figure out the timeline, when it's best to ask what.
We do ask some very light questions before they book us, but, I think the meeting that we have as we're trying to sell our services is really more about selling our storytelling approach and really we try to tell them stories that are similar to this, so that they can envision their own wedding being told in that way. We do ask a few questions, but really not that much. More really to like the venue and the logistics, but not so much on a personal level. The personal questions really come out when it's really time to bond before the wedding.
It's bonding time. (laughing) I think that, I actually really like the timing, the closer to the wedding the better. And the last few times that we've had this meeting, that's been the case and I've really enjoyed it because I think it helped the couple also going into the wedding, like this conversation was fresh on their minds so we can give them the advice like don't forget to spend time together on the wedding day, I know it's crazy and there's a lot going on, but remember that it's about the two of you. So they go into the wedding with that in mind, and we saw each other recently so we're happy to see each other again. So I feel like for me, the ideal timing for that conversation is just shortly before the wedding.
Which is great, because then you have, you can set that expectation, you can know in your mind oh I'm going to get that information, just I know the best time is to get it later, I don't need it all now, which is great. So another question is from Carrie. Do you ask all your clients the same interview questions? Or do you feed off what they're talking about, or do you have things in your mind that you wanna get to, but then just let it flow?
So the things that we really wanna cover are the things that we talked about. So, family, oh help me out here.
The location, why they picked the location, their general, a few questions to get their general vibe and yeah, what they're excited, particularly excited about the wedding. Those are kind of like the go to things we need, but the conversation will really take so many different turns depending on who the couple is. The wedding that we did in Montreal, the Jewish wedding recently, the bride and I were like crying together, you know, it was like eight A.M. on a work day. It just depends on the person, we'll sometimes get very personal, I'll just, I'll see how the conversation goes.
I have the advantage of having Davina who's very social and gets along with anybody and will ask all the right questions, and especially will bond with the bride. If I did this on my own, I think I would face different challenges which I can relate to. A lot of people in the audience, and, I think it's just important to be yourself as much as possible, don't put a show on, and if you do follow a little bit more of a script, that's fine, but then let yourself go on tangents and really let the people talk. What's important, too, is share stories about yourself as well, about your childhood, about your own love life, about kids if you have kids, whatever it is just share about yourself, open up, and that's going to allow your clients to open up as well. It has to be a give and take, it can't just be one-sided.
I think that's a really good point, because authenticity goes both ways, and people know when you're, when it's a script and when it's not authentic, so for you to suddenly be asking these deep questions if it doesn't feel like you, then it can be a little odd. For me, I thrive on human connection and getting deep with people, before coming here I had a nail appointment and a hair appointment and in both of my appointments I ended up finding out so much about the person. We got so deep about childhood and stuff, I like that. But also it's practicing thing, too. Even if it's not super natural right away, I feel like I've gotten better at it with time, asking questions and genuinely being interested in people and that kind of just, yeah. It comes through, I think.
And those are some great places to practice.
Yes, when you're getting your hair done.
One more questions about this is are there ever any questions that you stay away from? That you never ask couples, maybe that have backfired on you in the past, or just?
Ooh, good question. I can't think of anything. I think maybe jumping into things too quickly would be, you know, like, right away asking a deep question when you're not really there in the conversation, yet, or, yeah. Sometimes we make sex jokes, or we swear, it really depends on the client. I wouldn't do that right away, I definitely get a feel for people first and maybe I'm like okay this isn't the type of couple I'm gonna be making sex jokes with, and that's okay. I'll suppress that part of myself. It really has to feel natural.
In our list before, we put families as first, but that might not necessarily be the first one that we talk about. In a real setting it would be more like, oh so how's the wedding planning going? What are you guys looking forward to, what are you most excited about? We really start with an overview.
Or like, what's your state of mind right now? Are you at the stage of being super stressed, are you at the stage of being excited? So that kind of gets them sharing, and.