Photography Couples - Part 1: Combining Romance and Photography

Photography Couples - Part 1: Combining Romance and Photography

So how do you balance a romantic relationship with a life that revolves around photography? In this series, I explore the benefits to shooting and running a photography business together with your better half. Of course we'll tackle the common pitfalls and find out how you can shape the perfect photography holiday. Let's start by introducing the eight amazing creatives in landscape photography who will make you want to buy your romance a camera for Christmas.

Introductions

Inge Bovens and Stan Bessems

If you haven’t heard from these amazing Dutch photographers, you’re missing out. Their work boasts mysterious forests and grand landscapes alike. This romantic couple is from the south of the Netherlands, where rich, old woodland dominates the natural landscape. Not all of their photography is shot in the Netherlands though, as they Inge and Stan travel regularly to scenic locations around the world. They’re the only couple who I have interviewed for this series who don’t run a photography business together. But who’s to say if that won’t happen in the future?

Inge Bovens

Alain and Natalie Briot

I doubt if Alain Briot needs an introduction. Not only is he one of the greatest landscape photographers of our time, Briot is also a writer about the genre. I’ve first read one of his many insightful essays on landscape photography while I was on a plane to Greece, as he was featured in the inflight magazine. The images are credited to Alain, as he focuses on the artistic and marketing aspects of their business. His loving wife Natalie, a non-photographer, is in charge of the logistical aspects as they have made their business Beautiful Landscape a success.

Alain Briot

Alister Benn and Juanli Sun

Alister Benn is an award winning Scottish landscape photographer, author, educator and guide. He lives on the Isle of Skye off the north west coast of Scotland with his wife Juanli Sun. Each year they lead small group workshops and tours through their business Available Light Images to select locations around the Scottish Highlands, Southern Iceland, Northern Spain, Tibet, and Himalaya. Juanli and Alister both create their own stunning images and in the field they share responsibilities for teaching. Juanli focuses very strongly on the innate creativity in all of us, whereas Alister can add a solid technical foundation to the same focus.

Alister Benn

Dylan Toh and Marianne Lim

Leading the top landscape photographers on 500px, Dylan and Marianne’s work is well-known with good reason. This South Australian couple loves the rugged outdoors, which is heavily featured in their work. They have their own approach to photography and work part-time in this field. That helps to balance managing their family and while venturing to remote places and looking out for their young ones. Dylan is the morning photographer and Marianne is the sunset/golden hour shooter. Together, they teach photography through their business Everlook Photography and not as much as they would like to.

Dylan Toh

Working as a Couple in the Field

Dylan and Marianne have to juggle their relationship, photography, and young children. They manage with Dylan generally getting up early in the morning, tending to do the dawn shoots. He often finds himself walking in the dark to locations he never visited before. Marianne will then look after the children. In return, they’ll often visit locations at sunset as a family, where the roles are reversed. Marianne gets time off from the kids to photograph, while Dylan looks after their offspring.

Marianne Lim

For them, this “job description” has evolved over the time they have had a growing family. Before 2011, when it was just the two of them, Dylan and Marianne would just go shoot whenever they felt like it and spend however long they wanted to. But as the family grew, these Australians had to change their routine to only allow one of us to shoot. “At least now can all go to locations. I still photographed the dawns though. Marianne has always loved her sleep!”

Stan Bessems

With Inge and Stan it’s the other way around. Inge is known in the Netherlands for her work in misty forests and is always one of the first to walk among the trees to capture the light. Apart from that, they usually go out and photograph together. This is great for safety but also for their creativity. Either of them might spot something on a certain location that the other hasn't. But working together doesn’t stop in the field. “It can be refreshing to have another photographer look at an image that you have been working on. So they ask each other for tips on post-processing sometimes, which is useful if you don’t know which way you're going with the image.”

This is how we've always done it, and still do. It works for us and we have the same goals. Love for each other and love for photography makes our lives complete.

Managing a Business Together

Alain and Natalie take care of different areas of their business to avoid redundancy. As successful business partners, you don’t want to be both doing the same thing, because it is counter productive. While Alain is the artistic and marketing mastermind of the business, Natalie manages the logistical aspects of the business.

Alain Briot

Across the Atlantic, Alister and Juanli built their working relationship along the same lines. They spend 365 days a year doing everything together, and have done so for over 16 years. These days, they co-lead photography tours and workshops for small groups, to the western Highlands of Scotland, Northern Spain, Iceland, Southeast China, and Tibet.

When they’re home, Alister tends to take care of the creative side of things, concentrating on making images and writing to fit various utilities, such as portfolios, social media, and writing for magazines and websites. Juanli deals with all the admin, logistics, trip planning, flights, hotel booking etc. When she’s in the mood she will also spend a few days working on one image for her own enjoyment. “It works well for us, as I simply can’t be creative with a brain full of logistics!”

Alister Benn

Alain told me, ”Ideally this should be a 50/50 spread but in reality, logistics often takes more time, although marketing is also very time-consuming.” It’s important to note that in any photography business, logistics and marketing are wildly underestimated. Being successful means that you have to put in a lot of energy to those aspects. There is a widespread belief that a fine-art photography business consists of creating beautiful fine-art photographs. Alain compares this assumption to believing that the car business is about creating beautiful cars. While beauty is certainly of great importance, beauty alone is not going to bring sales if no one knows about your product. Your product has to be presented in an attractive manner to a qualified audience in order to sell it. In addition supplies have to be sourced, accounting has to take done and paperwork has to be taken care of. Once you make a sale, orders have to be fulfilled, packed, shipped, and tracked. Finally after-sales service has to be implemented. This is a short summary of what needs to be done. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

We'll dive into the blue and discover more of that iceberg in the next article, when we address managing a business together in a world where everyone has a camera in one form or another.

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2 Comments

Anonymous's picture

Interesting article and great photos! Unfortunately, my wife's idea of photography involves her tablet. That wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact she occasionally gets better shots than me. :-)

Chris Adval's picture

I think I was expecting portraiture, especially with tonnnsss of wedding photographer teams are based on romantic relationships these days.