Photography Couples - Part 2: Changes in Business and Relationship

Photography Couples - Part 2: Changes in Business and Relationship

As in any romantic relationship, photography couples too get to know each other better over time. You gradually learn to both adapt and thrive when you manage a photography business together. In this series, I explore the benefits to shooting and running a photography business together with your better half. Last week I introduced four astounding landscape photography couples. This week, I asked them how their past prepared them for the future of photography.

Co-evolution

Striking the balance in business together is a growth process. When Alain and Natalie Briot started, Natalie worked as an art teacher and could only help Alain part-time. It wasn’t until they got busy when she quit her teaching job to give their business full attention. Any knowledge about business and marketing comes with age as well. It’s a matter of doing, rather than learning.

When you work together as a couple in any field, either of two things can happen. Your personal relationship can benefit, or it can succumb to the stresses involved. A strong personal relationship has to be key if you want to work together each and every day. Dylan told me, “Working together has made our relationship stronger. Much like the business, this is an ongoing process in which you have to find what works and what does not work for you.” You definitely should be able to each have your own space. Dylan Toh and Marianne Lim have their separate offices on either end of their home, which removes distractions and allows them to focus on their own work.

Marianne Lim

A distraction-free arrangement works well for Alain and Natalie too. Natalie answers all the phone calls so Alain can focus on what he does best. When Alain answered the phone, he ended up doing free consulting and not getting any work done.

You simply cannot be all things to all people and be successful.

The Changing Business

Dylan and Marianne told me, "With so many social media sites and even more quality images in virtual circulation, it’s hard to keep up. It might surprise you that their success in photography relies largely on a "passive" interest gained. That is, by posting only good images, they hope they get noticed and therefore generate some photographic income and opportunities. Dylan and Marianne simply don’t have the time to chase work and promote themselves as much as they’d like to.

With photography becoming progressively ubiquitous every day, Alister and Juanli are keen to focus on their unique selling points; building strong relationships with their trips in Scotland, Spain, Iceland, and Tibet. To them, the future of photography is in educating photography. Alister and Juanli both enjoy communicating emotional philosophies to others. And if they can continue to make images that are expressive, emotionally inspiring and unique, Alister can see them having a strong future.

Alister Benn

Creativity is innate to all of us, and it just needs the correct stimuli to bring it out.

“This is indeed quite difficult, especially in landscape photography,” Inge Bovens adds. She’s most intrigued by forest photography. To her, the forest is both magical and mysterious. And there are a lot of good forest photographers out there, so the competition is strong. “It is a difficult branch (pun intended) in photography to make your mark in.” Inge doesn’t feel pressured in any way, since photography isn’t her day job. Whether there will be thousands more forest photographers, Inge can just keep on doing what she loves to do. To Inge, the aim is to become better and more creative over time. Her better half Stan doesn’t think the business will change much, though. The genre isn’t particularly lucrative for that many people. Especially for those who started with digital. Stan is also branching out into other areas of photography professionally. “But landscapes,” Stan Bessems clarifies, “are amazing to shoot because it is such a rush to try and capture all beautiful things that nature has to offer.”

Stan Bessems

It seems that the more new photographers come to the business, the more Alain’s core audience finds their focus on quality attractive. “Most photographers who are new to this business decide to compete on the basis of price. This means they have to cut down on costs. To do so they try to save money by buying lower quality supplies, they try to do things quickly to save time, they cannot afford to spend time on after-sales service, they cannot afford to offer extended warranties or support and so on.” I agree with Alain that fine-art photography is a luxury product. Quality of both service and product will become prevalent in the years to come. If there’s one thing key to the increasing success of their business, Alain and Natalie focused more on quality instead of quantity as time went by.

Alain Briot

Before You Met

So, were these guys photographers themselves before they met? Or has one introduced a secondary passion in the life of their counterpart when they got to know each other? It turns out that Stan was more serious about photography than Inge was. He had taken a two year course in photography and owned all of his gear, whereas Inge was shooting with a point-and-shoot compact. Soon after they met, Inge did catch the virus and upgraded. But she did develop her own style and unique approach to photography.

Inge Bovens

Photography is something that Alister and Juanli discovered together, but stylistically, Alister and Juanli are quite distinct too. It’s important for any budding photographer to recognize those differences in order to develop a unique style of your own. Alister says that this is not to say that he and Juanli aren’t involved in each other’s creative processes. “We live and work in the cottage on the Isle of Skye and we’re about each other all day. We’ll critique each other’s work and give suggestions where they’re required - though not necessarily always appreciated!”

Natalie isn’t a photographer herself. Alain and Natalie met in an art class they were attending during their university studies. He loves all the arts and practiced many art mediums over the years; photography being his favorite.

Alain Briot

Marianne has ventured into other artistic media such as pastels and watercolors, so Dylan does most of the shooting these days. “We were keen travelers ever since we met in 2000 and we only started to dabble more in photography when we wanted to dedicate ourselves to recording better memories of those trips." It was actually the purchase of their first DSLR in 2006, that was particularly helpful for their learning curve.

That's it for this week's episode. Next week, the couples share how their holidays and photography trips are shaped. We will also dive into some of the best tips that will help your romantic relationship with a non-photographer.

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