Get to know your wedding pro
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Episode 5 (Danielle Yellam, VANity Photo Bus)
[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company located in West Seattle, Washington, and I'm here today with a new friend that actually ended up finding out that we are actually old friends. Uh, Danielle from VANity Photo Bus. Why don't you say hi and tell us a little bit about who you are.
[00:30] Hey guys, this is Danielle. Thanks for, it's nice to see you again. Uh, so we are VANity Photo Bus. Myself and my brother, we started a photo booth business out of a 1959 Voltswagen van. Um, we take it around to weddings mainly and pretty much other events, anything that would want a photo booth at their events.
[00:54] And Danielle is actually, as I mentioned, an old friend. We found out through the grapevine that we actually at a wedding together back last year, summer. You were the maid of honor of Christina, at Christina and Tanuj's wedding at Newcastle Golf Club. So talk about that wedding. What was that like?
[01:10] Uh, that was really fun. So Christina is my best friend and then my brother Michael actually is to news his best friend, so we set them up, I'm however many years ago and it happened to work out and so we were best man and maid of honor at her wedding
That, that, that toast is coming back to me. Then I do remember that it's all coming back. I was telling her off air that I have a terrible time remembering anybody that's not my bride and groom at a wedding, uh, I've talked to mothers of the brides at wedding shows and she goes, like, you've actually filmed, you know, my daughter's wedding. I don't remember that. I remember your daughter. Uh, so that's great. So is that the, in uh, the reason you guys started this company or was this ruminating because before that?
[01:51] Uh, no, not really. I think we had had the idea before their wedding, but I am a flight attendant and so I was flying with another coworker and he said that his son and daughter in law ran a photo booth business out of a van in Arizona. And I thought it was such a good idea, I'd never heard of it ever. I thought they were the only people in America to ever think of it. So I called the son, talk to him about it and I said, hey, I want to take the idea. He said, go for it. We're in Arizona, you're in Washington. There was really no competition. Um, so then after researching it I realized that it's kind of all over the country, all over the world. And there just happened to be another company in Seattle that did it. Um, and so I pitched it to my brother and he said, let's do it. And so we started looking for buses and just kind of all history from there. And so when was that, how long ago was? That was an, um, I think August of 2017. And we bought our bus in October and then kind of started it in November.
[02:50] So you guys are really moving because what is it may now. And, uh, uh, somebody from my own heart who, when I got my camera, it was nine months before I quit my job and did everything. So it is something to be said to move quickly. I think it's a great idea. I love the name. Uh, I love the van, the t for the bus. It's, it's easy for me to remember. Is that, how long have you guys, is it something you've always wanted to do? I mean, you start a business. Yeah,
We've always wanted to start a business. My younger brother and I, we just have never pulled the trigger or we never didn't know what we were going to do. We've thought about dog daycares, uh, because those are pretty popular right now, but we've never really actually done anything. And this seemed like something that was easy to get into. Not a lot of overhead by bus put a photo booth in. It can't be that hard. Right.
[03:42] Do you guys have a photography background at all or did you. So how did you learn about that?
[03:47] Uh, it's an ipad that we choose and then an APP. So really there's no photography involved, are on our end at all.
[03:55] Um, so back to being a flight attendant because I think that's a pretty interesting thing. What, what led you into that or how did you wind up going down that path?
[04:03] Um, my mom, she was a flight attendant for 20 plus years for Alaska Airlines and um, I never wanted to do it, but she kind of convinced me back in 2011 to start and I said fine, I'll apply. And I did and I love it and I would not do anything else. It's such a good job.
[04:22] So I would have to think that when you're a flight attendant you have to do what with a lot of different email management of people and their expectations and customer service. Talk about that and if you agree that that translates good into being a business owner now and dealing with lots of expectations on that end.
[04:39] Um, yeah, there are lots of different personalities on an airplane and you know, trying to talk to one tab of minute visual versus the other can be challenging. But I'm really laid back on the airplane. Uh, I get along with everybody. So for me it's pretty simple. I like people, I like talking to people. I think people are very interesting. They all have different stories and so getting to know who they are is kind of a fun part for me on the airplane. And it kind of goes the same with meeting people at weddings or events or things that we do. There's just everybody's interesting to me. I like people.
[05:16] Um, and so then the relationship with your brother. Have you guys always had a good relationship? Uh, is he always been somebody that you've gotten along with and wanting to, like you said, sorry, the business with?
[05:25] Yeah. I have three brothers and so he's my youngest brother and then me and then I have two older brothers. Him and I are just really close. I love his wife. We all get along so well and they have two kids and I don't know, they're just like my people. And so him and I have always done everything together and we just thought this would be fun to do. And it is. And we're having a really good time.
[05:47] And so you guys are both working full time still. You're a flight attendant, you said he works with Anthony's. Talk about that balance between, you know, not only starting in the business but running the business while working full time still.
[06:01] Yeah, that's really tough. Um, just because he lives in Auburn. I live in Berrien so the bus is stored at his house and anytime I, I want to work on it or we want to work on it, I have to go to him. Um, so it's just that part is really hard to juggle. Um, but like this entire week I'll fly in the morning and when I get home I'll work on the bus stuff, make props or make backdrops or emails or things of that nature. But it is kind of tough because he works nights, I work mornings, so it's hard to get us in the same place at the same time.
[06:37] Do you work a consistent flight rather? How does that work?
[06:39] Not really. I mean yes and no. I do a lot of west coast today. I went to Salt Lake City most of the time I go to Oakland, San Jose, Vegas, Denver. So something Kinda two hours away and back leave around five. Get back around noon.
[06:55] So you just got back from Salt Lake and that you're here doing the podcasts. Probably going to go work on the buses. That's dedication. Have you always had that drive, that entrepreneurial drive?
[07:06] Yeah, I think so. My Dad, he's owned his own business businesses my whole life and I think I just got it from him. I've always ran lemonade stands or babysitting services. I house it for a lot of people. Um, I don't know, I just, I guess I like being my own boss.
[07:22] Um, so talk about this bus now. How did we acquire that or where did that come from?
[07:26] Um, so I looked at lots of buses and my brother and I both looked. We started out in Washington and there's two different types of buses. I don't know if you're familiar with them. I was not at all. I'd never actually been in one drove one. Nothing. But there's two types. There's a bay window version and a split window version and when I was researching all the companies kind of around here in Oregon, the one in Washington, Arizona, um, they all had the bay window version typically. And so that it's like one solid front window and I didn't want, we didn't want to look like the other company in Seattle, so we started looking for the one with a split window and that's just two separate front windows and they sometimes they pop out there called safari windows. Um, and so then we couldn't find any in Washington and we test drove a few up here. Uh, I have a brother who lives in California, so I went down there to visit him, test drove a couple down there. They sold instantly. It was nuts. So then we kind of came back to Washington, went back to the drawing board and then we found one in Idaho. So I flew over to Idaho test, drove it, bought it, and then a few weeks later went back and drove it home. And that was in October
Because yeah, you're probably, you know, there's probably not a lot of other people looking the meaning, you know, collectors or restoration people, you know, anybody else that might be interested. So what year is it? It's a VW, 15
It's 1959. That's pretty. Pretty old and it's like a bright blue, so it, it certainly eye catching. It's two tones, so it's white on the top and then kind of a lighter blue on the bottom and it's beautiful. It's pretty rare. It's a transporter type two, I believe, like a microbus and it has double doors on both sides, which is extremely rare. I don't. We really lucked out. I mean the bus was in immaculate condition when we got it. The person who owned it, her and her husband divorced, she wanted it in the divorce, didn't drive here for five years, was going back to school, so she was selling it and the inside was gutted, which was great for us because we had, we wanted to get it anyways for what we were doing. And then my brother and I fixed up the inside and just kind of happened from there.
So you're. You pretty handy when it comes to that sort of thing or. I mean, I wouldn't even know where to start with that sort of thing.
[09:46] No, we weren't at all. We just kind of youtube to everything and asked help and advice from so many friends and family and we had a lot of people help us. So it was cool.
[09:57] What's that like to, to kind of be able to count on support like that and, and, and know that you kind of have the support of your friends and the kind of help get your dream off the ground. What does that feel like?
[10:07] It just feels great. It's nice to know that people do care about us and want us to succeed. And um, I hope we can help other people one day if someone else is trying to, you know, start something or whatnot,
Just as long as it's not a photo bus company from Seattle.
[10:25] I think it's really cool on its own. I want everybody to have a photo bus. It's really fun.
[10:30] Um, so October, so you get the bus, you fix it. How long did that restoration process take?
[10:35] Probably maybe a month total or less just because again, we're on opposite schedules. So we really owned that, only had the weekends to put it together. I'm probably about a month. And then our first thing was Apple Cup. We bought a ticket to tailgating and kind of debuted it there. Talking about that. That's fascinating.
[10:54] Yeah. So we, I called UW and they said if we want it to be a vendor it would cost this much to be a vendor and we didn't think that that was necessary so we just bought a tailgating ticket and kind of opened it up for free and pass out business cards and as long as we didn't charge, they said it was fine and so that's what we did and we actually got a few couple of business opportunities from it. And so that was good. Uh, was there like a line out the bus or how did that work? Kinda. Yeah, it was, it was a hit. No one had. I mean, people have seen it and there was definitely people that were like, oh, we've seen this before, but not a lot of people have and I thought it was such a cool idea and it made us feel like it was a really good move and great to start and so it kind of just validated everything that we were doing.
[11:39] Um, so I know nothing about sports. I have no idea, I do know what the Apple Cup is? When is the Apple Cup?
[11:45] It was November 25th right after Thanksgiving.
[11:48] Okay. So, and in November now you guys have kind of done your test debut, what the next step after that?
[11:54] Um, the next step was just what do we do? We booked a holiday party from that in December, so then it was kind of just trying to advertise it, trying to market it, trying to make different props or see what worked and what didn't work. And really I just kind of looked at other photo buses to see what people did. I didn't want to really reinvent the wheel, I just wanted to make it better. And so that's what we tried to do.
[12:18] What challenges early on did you find in terms of marketing or was there any sort of like sticking point that you saw starting your business to me trying to make like an llc or like apply for a business license was like, I couldn't even like wrap my mind around it. I just don't work that way. What, what challenges did you guys face about that
All that stuff. I'm not really good and he's not really good with bookwork. Um, I guess budgets and paperwork and like the technical part of a business, him and I can do our great customer service, we can talk to people, we can do the hard work, we can build anything, but when it comes to paperwork and numbers and our billing brain doesn't work that way. There were really hands on in customer service people. So that's a really challenging. And I think it still is for us. Um, we're a learning day by day how to do those things, but still, that's a challenge for us.
[13:15] Yeah. I talked with a lot of people about that, that, you know, they think, oh, I'm a photographer or I'm a Dj or I run a photo bus companies like you also have to be a marketer and the web developer and in the captain and you know, like a designer. So it made it really hard. So now in terms of like weddings, you said you booked a holiday party. What has, I guess, what has been the response, I guess when your show people are, when you show clients, whether it's in a wedding or, or elsewhere, like what kind of response do you get from people? People love it.
[13:47] They think it's awesome and it, it really, it hits all generations and all people. I have dads that come up to me, oh, we used to have one of these and we're a kid or even moms or like kids of the parents that had them and say, oh, our parents had one of these, or Oh, we think a photo bus is so cool. We've never seen it before. We get such good feedback. It's really fun to say that's the best part. Um, yeah,
[14:11] yeah, I love the idea of a photo booth just in general, like you know, we have that at our wedding. Uh, I remember years ago I had done a, just a vendor, like a tour or for a bunch of people and there was another photo booth company there and we did just like after party just for the attendees. And you would have thought that that was, and this is usually like wedding vendors that spend every weekend that, you know, weddings and you with the thought that they had never seen a photo booth before. I mean it really is remarkable. I kinda kind of the fun and the attention that draws and to talk about you got to have people hanging out at the bus and stuff. What's that kind of like?
[14:48] So we did a Seahawks game too. So I did the same. I drove it down to a Seahawks game. I paid a vendor, a hot dog vendor right outside Centurylink, 20 bucks and he let me park right next to him and we had 12 grown men hanging out of it. It was awesome. And so now our challenge to see who, how many more and more people we can get it. So I think our record is like 13, which is pretty fun. I Dunno. It's kind of a fun game.
[15:14] I'm talking about you said the mechanics of the bus. So you need, you got the IPAD and whatever. Uh, in terms of like are you guys designing like what comes out of that? Are you, like you said you're building props. I mean talk about kind of all those nuts and bolts and maybe people don't think about when it comes to having the photo company.
[15:32] Yeah. So whatever event or wedding or theme, the event or Party is. We kind of go back and forth with whoever is the host of it and we'll tailor the props Kinda to whatever they want. We just bought a cricket machine. I don't know if anybody has ever heard of a cricket. It is a, it's from, they haven't met say craft stores like Michaels or Joanns and it's this machine that does cutting and so it can cut anything. It you tell it what you want, if you want it to cut stensul letters or it can cut. We do use it for props because my brother and I are not crafty in any way. We don't have the best handwriting, nothing. And so the cricket, we've been using it to make backdrops, so cut out bigger letters, stencil them, you know, draw around them in like paint the letters. Um, so we do a lot of that. So making props, making backdrops. We do kind of design the photo strips, that printout. There's a, there's a little logo part on the bottom where you can personalize it and say whatever you want. So we do that. Um, we just use a printer and it connects to the IPAD and through Wifi and it just prints out instantly there. Um, yeah, yeah.
[16:51] When you guys started like, you know, you kind of did this like guerrilla style, a marketing unit illegally parking at the Apple Cup. What was your, in your wildest dreams, what was your expectations versus like how like the reality so far, like where we are today in May.
[17:10] I thought we would be blown up. I really did, I thought Russell Wilson would see it because I tagged him in every post and I thought he would pick it up. Um, I used to work for the Seattle Storm, which is the women's basketball team in Seattle, so I tried to contact them thinking like super is going to see it and just call me up and say, Hey Danielle, we need your photo bus outside care enough for our game tonight. So my expectations that'll get there one day, but right now it hasn't. Um, why do you think that is? Um, it's really hard to market. I don't know how to. I'm trying and I really just look at other people and see what they do. Um, but it's kind of a hard market.
[17:52] It is, it's the wedding community is somebody that never really intended to find myself in that. I mean it really is interesting just in terms of like putting yourself in the mentality of I guess like an engaged couple or just doing, I don't know, I'm just not good at doing like beautiful things. So like a wedding, you know, I'm more of like the filming news and I just kind of come and see what I get. But um, now that you guys are booking more weddings, what is the bin that process like in terms of like going through that kind of journey with a client from them reaching out and then you guys doing the events?
[18:30] Um, so we've only done one wedding so we were in the Seattle wedding show back in January and that's where we got a lot of our clients for this summer and it's really just them emailing us or calling us and uh, picking a package. We have two separate packages, zero to three hours or four to six hours and I'm then picking what they want. I send them kind of a wedding questionnaire. What time would you want the bus there? What time do you want to set up by who to contact the day of things like that. And it Kinda just goes back and forth through email and then I just email them a couple of weeks before just to kind of finalize everything. And that's it.
[19:12] Did you go to a lot of weddings before you guys were wedding vendors?
[19:17] No, I mean we've been to weddings in our lifetime, but we never. It kind of moves so lucky that we never really thought by the time we started at started at wedding season was over. So no, we didn't really actually think to do that. That would have been smart.
[19:32] Well No, I just mean like if somebody had done any weddings before I heard it. So it was like, it was like a new. It was, it was like learning Greek or something. Like I just had no idea. I was not as popular as my wife and I hadn't gone to as many weddings in my, you know, early the late twenties. I mean, do you guys feel at home there is, is that a new environment for you guys when you think.
[19:55] I've been to lots of weddings. I've actually been in so many weddings and I think my brother has been to quite a few to um, we have lots of family that has gotten married. We're kind of the younger ones and our cousin circle and whatnot, so yeah, we've been to plenty of weddings and I think we've practiced the whole photo booth so much that when we did our first buddy Nick, it was fine. Like we were familiar with it. It wasn't really nerve wracking. It went off pretty well. So that was good.
[20:25] Talking about prior to like the Apple Cup or do you guys like run in your garage?
We do. We've run it for family during Easter, during holidays or birthdays, but we've done it so many times that we're learn something new every time we did an event I think last week in Seattle and our generator, we didn't realize you had to put oil in it and clunked out on us towards the end and we realized we need to check for oil or one time actually at a our first wedding we realized that with the ipad you can't use an iphone charger for the ipad. You have to use one of this lightening bolt chargers. Otherwise it doesn't charge. So we learned that. We learned. We've learned something every time, which is great. Nothing catastrophic. So far though.
[21:10] Good. See, I do think that's fascinating and I told you that like I think that a good thing about this kind of interview series is hearing from other people because there are people that are, have been doing this 30 years that you could go through wedding with her eyes closed. I certainly feel as though I am getting more comfortable as this summer approaches where I used to get a little panicky before I would go to weddings. I feel like I'm slowly transitioning out of that. I don't think those nerves will ever go away. Uh, but then you guys, you know, kind of learning this and going through it. I mean I think it's really interesting. Um, talk about the wedding show and what was that experience like? I guess you obviously had like the Apple Cup and these general public, but like that's more like wedding and event focused client tell. Talk about that and the reception you guys had there. And what was that experience like?
[22:03] Uh, it was really fun and the reception was more than we actually even expected. We were next to two booths. We are in the middle and they were kind of empty and we were just swarmed like we had lines and people were calling us to move a line out of their booth and I mean we just really couldn't keep up. It was. We did not think that was gonna happen at all. It was one after another after another and we didn't really get a lot of bookings. Say the first day, the second day we got a few more bookings but after that it just kind of like flooded in of bookings and we have. I mean we're pretty full this summer on the weekends and then we have a few for next year already, which is great. We never thought that would happen at all. It was so successful for us and we, we applied to the wedding show in December. I sent the guy an email, he said we actually have space and we don't normally take anymore photo booths, but yours is so unique that let me get back to you. And then a few hours later he said, yeah, you're in. And so it Kinda just, it went fast again. It was kind of just a dream
That was a similar we, I got in, so this will be our fourth year at the wedding show that I was the same thing, like I applied in October, had no real expectations of kind of getting in and I think that was the same thing where like videography is a little bit more niche, you know, like a photo booth where there might be 30 different photography, you know, there's like a seven year wait list if you're a photographer in the wedding show. Wow. I talked to like photographers now and they're like, hey, you know, I'm thinking about applying to the wedding show and I go, man, I had to at least get on the list because it's a legit, like six or seven years. Um, but yeah, it was the same thing for us. Right? Like we got in there the first year and had no real expectations and now you know, like kind of once you're in, you know, you're in a. So I think that that's great. Talk about filling that calendar and kind of like getting these bookings now. Is that like rewarding? Obviously fulfilling like talk about going from like zero now to having you know, weekends filled through the summer.
[24:05] Yeah. It gets exciting when someone wants to bug us or they email us and ask for more information. It kind of is sad when they don't ever respond back or they don't actually follow through, but when they do, it feels so good to know that someone wants us, they, they trust us to actually be at their wedding and they trust that we're legit. I mean because we haven't. Before this, before we started booking, we hadn't done anything this our first year and I looked at my brother and I was like, we really like, we can't back out now we have to do this. People are counting on us. So that was kind of scary. But now that it's into it, I'm really excited. A few months ago when nothing was happening just because it was the lull before the storm, I felt like a failure. I felt like I wasn't doing anything and now that it's starting, it's getting really exciting and I feel busy and I feel so much better.
[24:53] I do agree with that sentiment of like feeling like now you're committed, right. That like, and I think that it's, it's different where we're the only industry where, um, well there might be others. The one I can think of where like you might have a date booked for a year from now or a year and a half from the habit, like you can't break, right? I mean it's, it's like, and I'm not even talking like, you know, monetarily or whatever. I mean, I would feel horrible. Right. Our friends got engaged. Uh, I guess it was last winter. I don't even think we were at this house yet, so it must've been a year and a half ago. And they, we were talking and they said, oh, well, you know, we're thinking about getting married, you know, like end of June, early July of 2018. And I said, well, I'm booked June 30th, so, you know, it can't be that weekend, you know, because in there they're getting married in Italy.
[25:49] So it's, you know, it's more than just like down the road and there. What do you mean? I said, well in my, me and my wife looked at me. She's like, well can't you? And I go, no, I can't. You know, Allie booked me like a year and a half with like, I can't, you know, you can't change that. I mean talk about that for going from like maybe a flight attendant is a little bit more like unpredictable or maybe like this day it's going to be that. I mean now you're set in stone for stuff coming up. Talk about that going from zero. Yeah,
[26:17] I mean as a flight attendant I can work any day I want and not work any day. I don't want to. It's the most flexible job in the entire world and now this I'm committed. I can't break it. I'm scared. What if, what if the bus breaks. I looked at my brother, I said, what if the bus breaks? What if it. What if something happens? We're in trouble. We have to hope that nothing happens.
[26:38] I've become very good friends with the tow truck. Just pull the thing down there.
[26:42] Yeah. Well, we have realized that if it's, if it's far, we just rented a Uhaul and we tow it and we built it into our travel price and people pay it and it's fine and it's a lot faster than to actually drive it. It's really slow. It's a slow 55 on the freeway. It's so slow, but it's fun to drive in the wintertime. It's not because it's rainy, it's cold, the wipers don't work if there's no circulation or visualization, penalization ventilation, ventilation. Um, and so it fogs up and it's not fun, but now that it's warmer and the sun's out, it's really fun to drive.
[27:18] Yeah. You like roll those windows. So fun. There's no role and you just kind of push them. Something that I, I'm curious about just talking to a new vendor, like you said, where you're emailing clients, um, you know, not everybody books, not everybody gets back. Uh, and that's always hard for me. I mean, and this is now like our fifth year, you know, in terms of like regularly getting turned down by clients, just whether they decide the geography isn't for them but they want to go with somebody else or something happens, talk about and not like rejection is a bad word, but like talk about that rejection and like what does that, is that hard or do you get used to that?
[27:56] Um, it is kind of hard in the beginning because we want everybody to love us and we think it's so fun and anybody that emails us, we think, oh, we got somebody, we've got somebody and then you don't have anybody until they actually book you. And so it is kind of a letdown, put it. But I then I just realized, well there'll be somebody else if they're not, if it's not meant to be with them, hopefully it's somebody else. So I just kind of push it away and go on to the next, the next person.
[28:23] Yeah. To me that definitely was like the hardest thing because like you said, you know, you think your photo bus is awesome, right? Like, you wouldn't own it for the bus company if you didn't think that was like the coolest thing. And it's the same with me, right? Like I think everybody should get my wedding videos and you know, you just learn like, you know, there's different styles and different prices and different budgets and you know, maybe somebody just didn't have the money at the end of the day. I mean it is really difficult. Is that, is that the hardest thing right now you guys are working through or, or what is your biggest challenge right now?
[28:54] I think it's just finding time to do a real job. And then this job, I think that's the hard part just because my brother and I were on different schedules and we don't live in the same. We live close but not that close. So it's hard to find time to get to each other. Um, so I think that's the hardest part. Just finding time. I wake up at 3:30 everyday to go to work. So by 7:00 I'm done where you could get a lot of stuff done from seven to 10:00 PM, like normal people when they go to bed. But for me, I can't stay up that late.
[29:26] So how long do you guys anticipate that work life balance going or?
[29:30] Um, I would assume. I mean, I don't plan on quitting my job. He doesn't plan on quitting his job. We started this more as a hobby. If it turns into a business that's awesome. But really we just wanted to something we wanted to see if we can do it. We wanted to have fun. We want other people to think it's fun and to have fun. We are doing a lot of charity this summer we were doing Relay for Life on Saturday in Kirkland at Juanita Beach Park. Um, we're doing a lot of charity. We're doing this children's hospital thing. Um, when is it in September? I think up north. So for me it's really not about, I guess the income, it's more about the what makes us feel good and makes other people feel good. So that's kind of why we started it.
[30:15] Talking about that charity work and why you guys, obviously that's important to you guys to do that. Talk about that.
[30:20] Um, we, we just want to help other people. That's really was our main goal. We just think it's fun when other people are having fun and especially kids like, I dunno, kids light up actually any age lights up when they see a photo booth. Um, so I think it's just fun to give back. There's so much that you can give and even when you give back, you, you give, you get back so much more. So it's kind of a great feeling when you see other people enjoying it and having fun and it's going to a good cause.
[30:51] Talk about that kind of manning the photo bus, you know, that whole experience of being there and kind of seeing people go through that. What is that experience like for you guys?
[31:01] Again, it's just, it's cool to see people light up. They get in there and they've never seen anything like it. They think it's so cute and unique and inside we have a vanity and it has a huge mirror so everybody can see themselves, they can see how they look, they fix their hair, they think, oh my gosh, I'm so glad you have a mirror. I look at my hair, they think it's amazing and they've never seen anything like it. And so to me that's really cool that our idea is in motion and people are just in all
When uh, when we were off air here before we started, we were talking about like social media, right? And like posting. Are you guys finding traction on that or what do you, what are your thoughts on that and staying relevant on that?
[31:41] Um, we try and post, I guess as much as we can, but we're not big on social media. Me and my brother, his wife, the three of us, we really, I mean we're in our thirties. We don't, we didn't grow up with Snapchat and Facebook and Instagram. And so for us it's so foreign and we don't do selfies and so it's hard for us to show our lives because we don't think they're that fun, but we do know that it is very successful because that is the world we live in is social media and so a lot of information can get past it very quickly through it. So yeah, we have 300 followers on instagram. You know, or were really big.
You do good stories. I don't know. Do you like that that to correspond with clients and stuff and have them kind of see if you guys are setting up or the other, you know, setting up with a party or something that made you like that sort of interaction? Or is that.
[32:38] I do. I think it makes, it gives people an idea of what we're doing and not just, I guess what they've seen in our pictures, but they get to see who we are and see that we're just normal people and we're doing something fun. And like my brother and his wife have two kids and they help and they get in the bus and they get silly. And so I guess it's probably, it's fun that probably that people see kind of our lives as well. I don't know.
[33:06] So you seem like you're doing everything here. I don't know what Michael's doing except working right now. Whether your strengths for the business. And where do you think that he, you know, you guys kind of compliment each other.
[33:19] Um, he keeps me level headed. I want to do everything. I want to make t-shirts and I want to make hats and I want to have a video camera in there to have a live feed and I want to do all these things. He's like, okay, let's just get through year one. Let's just do a wedding. Let's see if we can even do it. And I say, okay, sure. Right. And then I throw them another idea and he's like, no, just calm down. I said, okay, you're right. You're right. So I think he's great at building stuff. He has all the tools, he can do all the everything. He has a really good mind and an eye for how to design the inside of the bus and how to get it done. And I throw him suggesting and he's like, okay, one suggestion at a time, let's try this first and then he'll, we'll do it. And I'm like, oh, well that was a good idea. Good job. So I think he is more, the handyman keeps me level headed and I'm just crazy. I want to do everything now and he kind of just brings me back down to earth.
[34:13] When you're working as a flight attendant, do you ever have a second to even think about it? Are you just so busy with that work?
[34:20] Um, no. I think about all the time. I think, who am I going to email? Oh, I'll see something. I'll think, oh, that's a good idea or this would be a good idea. Um, or go to Alaska and ask them to use at their events. I mean, I think of all these ideas all the time
It's exciting to talk about. Like, yeah, my mind never stops talking about just that you've expressed already, but just, you know, having all these ideas and stuff. Is that exciting and overwhelming is that
[34:50] I think if I wasn't having ideas or I wasn't thinking about it, then I don't think we should be doing it or I shouldn't be doing it just because I wouldn't be like, I wouldn't like it, but I think it's great that I am thinking about it all the time and wanting to make it better or find something to put it in or design it this way because then I think, I think we can grow from that. I, I bet if we didn't think about it and want to improve it, then it would probably be a failure.
[35:22] Talking about, um, and you've, you've mentioned a couple of the scariest moment you guys have had so far in terms of, uh, whether it be at an event or outside, but just the scariest moment in terms of like, oh, I don't know if this is going to work or oh, this was a really close call or talk about that.
[35:40] I think last week when we were at the event in Seattle, what we were at the collective Seattle and we did their grand opening and our generator was going out and we didn't know what was going on and had gas in it and I was pretty scared that the owners were going to come out and are though people that booked us and say what's going on here? So we kept turning it off. He would come, we turn it on really quick and it would print and then we turn it off and so no one really knew. I mean some people did, but nobody really knew what was going on. So we. That was really a scary moment for us for me at least. I don't know about him.
[36:19] Are you guys good car people? I mean, I know nothing about like I wouldn't know anything about agenda
I mean not really. No. We have really no background in mechanics of anything of that nature.
[36:32] So it's just a lot of YouTubing?
[36:33] Yeah, everything is YouTube.
Is that, I mean, do you, do you wear that as a badge of honor? Felt like you were resourceful, you know,
Ee don't know everything, so yeah. I don't mind asking for help.
[36:48] I'm looking into next year. What's the next big goal? What's the next big milestone besides a Russell Wilson's personal photo busl?
[36:58] Hopefully we're busy enough to purchase another bus. That would be a goal. Two buses.
[37:04] Talk about that. The logistics of that. What would be the biggest challenge?
[37:08] Oh, we would probably have to hire people because already it's tough between us, my brother and myself and his wife as trying to manage events just because he works nights. I work mornings and so it's hard to get. We want to people there at a time just in case something goes wrong and so finding two people, two out of the three of us to be there, that's kind of hard. So we'd probably have to hire somebody to help us.
[37:37] Is that scary to expand or to put your trust in other people? I know it is for me, like when I'm sending people out, you know, kind of in my stead. It took me a long time to find, you know, kids, they're representing you. Right. Talk about that.
For me. I do everything myself. I don't ask for help so it would be really hard for me to trust somebody and these vehicles are old and we take care of things just because I know that's who we are and their stick shifts and so not a lot of people know how to drive a stick shift. Um, so that would be really hard to trust somebody to take it out and drive it and if something happened, you know, it'd be hard for them to fix it or whatnot. And just even growing, like I said, the book work, all that stuff is really hard and I think to expand and have more people and have more stuff is above me. And so I don't know if we'd have to kind of hire somebody to help with that too.
[38:32] Danielle, right now to talk to you a year and give you some piece of advice that you've learned right now to help you kind of get to this point right now. What would you give Danielle a year ago, if you could tell yourself, if you could hop back in the door and go, uh, go give yourself some advice that you've learned, you know, up until today.
[38:51] Oh Gosh. Everything works out. Like, no, doesn't matter what happens. Whatever is thrown at you does, it works out, you know, with the event, nobody found out. Nobody knew that our generator wasn't working, but in my head I was freaking out so I would just calm down. It's okay. It's all going to end up fine. It's not life or death for the most part. So maybe just to relax.
[39:16] Well, Danielle, if people have heard you today and wanting to learn more about who you guys are or what you do, what would you have them do?
[39:23] We have our website. It's www.vanityphotobus.com. We're on social media, at VANity Photo Bus on Instagram. Facebook. Check us out there. Follow up, get our numbers up, please check out our sweet instagram story. Check out.
[39:38] Those stories are very fun and not to throw you under the bus. It is funny. Every time I asked somebody like, well, what's your url? They get really close to the microphone.
[39:48] I want to make sure they hear it.
It's all so casual until then, the final sell, but you can check this out www.vanityphotobus.com.
Uh, well thank you so much for coming by today. I really, really appreciate it. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Come back next week and check out our next wedding vendor interview. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Episode 4 (Heather and Ryan Shipley, Events by Heather and Ryan)
[00:09]Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. I'm Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a video production company based out of West Seattle Seattle, Washington. We primarily focused on wedding videography and corporate videography and today I am joined by two guests who are very dear, special friends of mine. I know I say that a lot. I'm sure at some point I'll finally interview somebody I don't like, but today is not that case as I enjoyed by Heather and Ryan have events by Heather and Ryan, why don't you guys introduce yourselves?
Hi, I'm Heather. Hi, I'm Ryan. And we're Events by Heather and Ryan.
[00:46] I was thinking about that. It's a good thing that you guys aren't like Jim and Noreen or something that would have been.
[00:51] That would make it a little awkward.
[00:53] And a Heather Ryan are very good friends of mine. They go back way back into like my origin story of being a wedding videographer. Probably my second summer, I think we did a three weddings together. Back-To-Back-To-Back, which was an interesting experience. And so, uh, why don't you guys come to tell me who you are and what you guys are all about.
[01:15] All right. Well, we're heather and Ryan. We are a married couple who loves shooting weddings. We, um, have been together since 2003, um, and got married in 2005 and started our business in 2007. So it's been a long road for us. Something when we first met, you know, photography was a hobby for both of us. We both enjoyed it and learned throughout the years and dating and getting married and when DSLRs first came out and became big, we bought our first big camera and really just had fun learning, learning all about photography and teaching each other. Um, and it was one of those things that it was a hobby and we just thought it would be something for fun and would go to a friend's weddings and take family portraits for friends. And everybody kept telling us, Oh, you should do this, you should do this.
[02:05] And we kind of chuckle and think, oh, you're our friends and family. You have to tell us that, right? We just took photos for you and you know, so it took us a little bit, um, but I think for me, what was kind of the turning point of like, oh, maybe we should do this was we went to a, it was a friend of my dad's wedding and um, we took a bunch of photos and try not to be those annoying wedding guests that are just kind of sat back and captured what we thought was fun. And uh, ended up sending the bride a DVD of the photos that we took. And I got a call from her two weeks later and she, she called and said, you know, heather, I just want you to know you guys really need to do this. She said, I paid my wedding photographer to $3,000 to photograph our wedding day. And the wedding photos that'll be hung on our wall and put in an album are the ones that you guys took. And I finally thought she didn't have to call and tell me that. And so I thought maybe we do have something.
[03:02] And so I think what's interesting too is we, when we first started out in 2007, we, we plan on doing this for a hobby and I think we wanted to, you know, we said, well, we'll do five weddings a year. That'll be great. That'll be some vacation money. And I think that first year we, instead of doing five, we booked 24 and then we decided, OK, well maybe we have something here. And then the next year that's 24 turned into 35 and then year after that and I think we were in the fifties and then every year since then we've, uh, been doing, you know, over 50 weddings a year. So, uh, you know, Seattle has been really good to us. I think we have something here.
[03:41] So before you guys decided to do wedding photography, what were you guys doing? A, I guess professionally before that?
I was actually a customer service manager, uh, um, locally here in Seattle.
[03:56] Do you guys think that that experience with working with customer service and the public and kind of helps you guys today now in terms of like customer relations and working with clients and stuff?
And I want to piggyback on that, I think, uh, one thing I have found when we formed our company, we want it to be that one company where customer service was part of the experience. I know there's a lot of other companies out there that have either that creative aspect but not the customer service or they have the customer service but not the creative. And I wanted to have a company. I think we had a good, good thing going with the photography, but I wanted to focus on customer service as well. I didn't want customers to say wow, they were great, great pictures, but their customer service was horrible. Um, uh, so that's one thing when we designed our wedding photography, when we designed our packages and basically the experience with the customer, I wanted to make sure that the customer wasn't saying, wow, we got great pictures, but I wish we wouldn't have gotten this or I wish our package would have included this and that's how we molded our company. We wanted to make sure that the, you know, the customer's got exactly what they were looking for. There was no lacking. There was no, um, there was nothing missing there.
[05:20] So, uh, when you guys are working on getting the, you know, photography business off the ground, um, when you did those 24, were you guys still working full time at that point or how did that work?
A few years of our business and that was one of those things. It takes a leap of faith to become self employed. Uh, we also have children. So that's a big thing to us is that we wanted to make sure that, you know, we were very stable and what we were doing because we still had a family to provide for in a mortgage to pay. And so for us it's kind of took some steps in a few years to make sure that we had everything under our belts. The other big thing too that we wanted to make sure of is we didn't go into debt opening our company either. So every year we buy new equipment and upgrade things and you know, new computers and hard drives and kind of go from there. So I think that's what helped make us successful too, is that we didn't have to go into debt purchasing all of our equipment and making sure that we had everything. So we worked, we both worked full time for the first four years,
Five years ago when we started, 2007, I think 2011 was when I went with a company full time. And then in 2013. So it took a while. Then the, uh, um, but, you know, the rewards have been worth it.
[06:42] We just did it in steps. So Ryan quit his full time job first and did the business full time and um, and then I was still working full time and working with the business and um, a lot of it for health insurance reasons too and being able to, you know, make sure we can provide that. So, and then in early 2013, um, I quit my full time job and then we both have been full time in the company ever since. So I don't regret that for a minute.
[07:07] And now since you guys had been doing it for, you know, four or five years at that point when you quit. But I mean, was that scary? You know, taking that leap, I mean, in the entrepreneurial ship, uh, know when you guys have the normal nine to five or what was that thought process?
[07:24] Because we had already demonstrated a track record of success. Uh, we, we had a loyal customer following. We, um, we had the business figure it out enough where it was a natural progression to go self employed. I don't think, I don't think we ever had that moment where we said, why are we doing the right thing? I think it was just very natural, very much.
[07:50] Yeah. I think we had gotten to the point where we knew it was the right thing and so it was a really easy transition to go from, you know, working full time to taking over the business full time and it's allowed us to do more things to um, whereas I think we kind of opened up our business from doing primarily weddings, which I would say that's still a majority of what we do. But then it allowed us to do a lot more, you know, families and you know, headshots and Ryan does some commercial. And so it kind of allowed us to open up other avenues too, which was really nice because before it was, you know, a lot of the weekends of shooting and editing during the week. And now we kind of have been able to open up our schedule to allow us to do more.
[08:32] Obviously spend more time with your family too. I mean, you guys have how many kids?
[08:41] We just had to look at each other to do that to say, you know, yeah, we have, um, we have four kids, so we have a 17 year old. I'm from Ryan's first marriage and then we have three boys together that um, our oldest will be 10 next month. And then, um, our middle son is seven and our youngest is three. So we have quite the household to take care of too. So yeah, it makes it fun because, you know, we're the nice part about, you know, being self employed as we can somewhat set our schedules. I mean obviously our clients have a lot to say in that too, but you know, we work a lot of nights and weekends, but the trade off is, is we can get our kids up in the morning and get them to school. You know, I can go volunteer at the school if I want to, you know, where they're at night. So it makes it, it makes it fun.
[09:26] Well the flexibility there too is if a customer needs something, let's say at 11:00 during the week day or a meeting at 1:00 on a Wednesday, we're able to accommodate that much better than some, uh, somebody who's working your nine to five job and doing this part time.
Talking about being married now, talking about being married now and working with the table to talk about being married now and working with couples, you know, new couples, engaged couples, um, having gone through that process, you know, does that help you guys? I always say that I became a much better wedding vendor after being married and, and I didn't even know, you know, it, you don't even know until I talk about that and kind of being able to help couples go through that process.
[10:12] Yeah, I think it definitely helps. I think it helps to know, you know, being married and having, you know, we planned our wedding when we got married. We planned it ourselves, so we paid for it mostly ourselves. And so we kind of knew what we wanted and what we didn't want. Um, and I think that helps us connect to a lot of our clients to being married and having gone through that,
Our clients are a reflection of what our wedding planning was like. Let me know. I'd say a majority of our clients are planning it themselves or paying for themselves and maybe their parents or they have relatives that are helping them out. This maybe a little bit, but that going through that process are with us back in 2005. You know, we know what that's like. So, you know, our, our pricing's affordable. We, we realize people don't like getting nickel and dimed to death. And that's one thing that I, I, I'm, I'm very much against is having somebody buy our product and then later on telling them, well if you want this then you got to buy this. And you know, Oh you, you know, we took the pictures. But now if you want to buy the pictures, if you want the pictures and you have to pay us more money. But that's never been our business model and that's nothing that, that's something that we will never do
Anything that comes from planning your own wedding and going through that. And so, uh, in terms of like, you know, that Heather and Ryan, the client, you know, who is that, you know, somebody that, like you said, this plan is a wedding, but what, you know, what kind of clients are the ones that you find you're attracted to you, you know, what your fun, you know, easy going. And I mean, what kinds of clients you guys really look for it.
[11:46] The Fun, easy going, I don't want to say laid back, but, uh, not. I mean, I, you know, it's hard because you look at your clients and you want them to be your clients and like you and people that you can relate to.
So our company is an extension of us. And when I say that it's, um, we, we have a lot of clients that, you know, we'd become friends with after the fact. I mean, we've, you know, we've kept up with a lot of our clients and granted, you know, there are some clients that, you know, they'll buy our service and then once we deliver the product, we don't hear from him again and that's normal in any course of business. But we do have a loyal following of um, you know, customers that will follow up with, you know, a year later will be with him for anniversary pictures, for family pictures. But it's not only that, it's, you know, we'll, we'll do, you know, we'll hang out with some of our customers to. I mean, I can think of a handful of customers that, you know, we talked to you on a daily basis or weekly basis, non photography related. I mean, it's, it's, it's that kind of relationship that we want to foster with our customers. We don't want them to hire us thinking we're hiring a company. We want them to think, well, we actually like heather and Ryan, they're actually cool people and how they happen to do wedding photography as well. And they happen to do it really well. But, um, W, we want them to think of us as, you know, more or less friends, not rare that one vendor so right, we're real people. So we want to connect with our clients and connect with our families too and be able to kind of take it all in. And I think, you know, that's one thing too that I think sets us apart sometimes is just listening and listening to our clients and getting to know them. Um, you know, a lot of our clients, you know, we follow on facebook and on instagram and on their personal social media pages and I think that it's nice to see and it's fun to see just those little tidbits into their life and to pay attention to those. I think it helps you connect with them. So, you know, we always say too, like, we never want to walk into your wedding day and like, oh, those are our photographers, you know, we want to walk in and Oh, heather and I are here. And, and so, um, being able to connect with everybody. Let me take a lot of pride in that. And I think that's kind of why we've been in business for so long and been able to build our businesses, like Ryan said too, you know, we've connected with these clients on their wedding days, but then it's fostered into a different relationship. So we've built a whole other business with portraits off of, you know, wedding clients and referrals from her wedding clients.
[14:21] Yeah. I think that that's always something that I miss in videography is, you know, the need for a professional videographer is, is really like your wedding day and then if you know your brides and bridesmaids or somebody is looking for a videographer. But being able to grow with a couples like that I think is really cool. And that's something that I always envy with photographers as being able to do mini sessions every year where you get to see them, you know, talk about that and kind of getting to see him grow every year. And in you guys.
[14:50] Yeah. That's one of my favorite parts actually. And it's, it's fun to watch the families grow into, you know, I, I have, I can't tell you how many times I've, I received the email or that the texts saying, oh my gosh, heather, I just found out I'm pregnant, but nobody else knows. But I had to tell you, you know, I'm that person that they reach out to and to me that is the most amazing thing and that we've become, you know, that person in their lives that they're so excited when they find out that they're pregnant, that they're calling and they're telling me first before they tell anybody else because they wanted me to know also the server is actually going backing up a little bit from the surface up to the actual wedding day. I'm, Heather's really good at developing and fostering a relationship with a client where I can tell you a few times where the wedding day stressful for the bride.
[15:40] Granted, you know, it's the most important day of their lives and there's a lot of stress in the room and the bride has actually asked her family and her friends to leave. But Heather can stay. I've seen that more times than I can count on my hands and it just goes to show you what kind of person, how there is, um, I'm more of a technical person, but I don't foster relationships like she does, but I think we're, we're a good combination. I mean, I'm very technical. Um, I'm, you know, I know the equipment well, the, the, the dynamics behind the picture, the technical side of the picture. I'm, I'm good at getting those pictures, but heather is good at getting that personality out of the person. So, um, and you need both components to get a good picture if you have somebody that knows how to work a camera and can talk to you for hours and hours about how the camera works, but if they can't get that personality to show through, the pictures are only going to be as good as the lighting was. Um, you really have to have a good rapport with those, with your customers. Uh, in order to get good pictures.
[16:52] I know there's a wide variety of photography companies, you know, they're solo photographers and there's dual photographers on. I do think that the dynamic between the husband and wife team is really fun to have on the wedding day, uh, both being I think behind the camera with you guys, you know, kind of alongside. I have fun, but I also think that, you know, it's gotta be fun for the client as well. Uh, do you want to talk about that and kind of displaying off for each other during the wedding day? I do think it kind of like, eases some of the tension and Kinda like helps, you know, you guys are like able to divide and conquer or how do you look at that?
[17:26] Oh, absolutely. I think our clients enjoy our banter back and forth, um, because we're very sarcastic to each other and we like to have fun. But I think it's fun when they kind of see us, you know, going back and forth with things. And um, I think that just kind of puts everybody at ease. They like to see that relationship. Um, and you know what Ryan said too, like he's the and I'm the, let's just try this. You know, and our clients know that and they see it and they're like, OK, yeah, let's try it.
[17:55] No, they forget about their worries and their problems that day. And they're like, well, aren't really.
[17:59] Yeah, it's fun. And I think it keeps things real though. I think it keeps them less stressed that way. Um, but they also see the connection. I think it does allow us to, to divide and conquer on her wedding day too. I think it allows us to, you know, with the, both of us and, and you know, Ryan can go hang out with the guys beforehand. I'm with the girls. We kind of trade off back and forth. Um,
[18:25] I think that they see that we're not stressed if we're joking around and kidding around. Usually sarcasm comes about when you're comfortable with, with everything else. If somebody who's really worried about stuff there that's sarcasm doesn't really. Or having fun doesn't really come out. You know, everyone's really serious. So if your, if your vendors are stressed or yeah, if your vendors are stressed, then you're still going to be stressed because you're thinking, well what do they see that I don't, but if your vendors are relaxed and they're joking back and forth with each other, then that's kind of. That's actually our goal is for the customers to feel at ease with their day because everything. There is a method behind our madness. If the customers are relaxed, they're going to be relaxing the pictures. The pictures are going to be better. If we appear relaxed, if we appear in control of everything, then the customer sees that.
[19:24] Then they become relaxed and their pictures are better and then they like our pictures and then hopefully they tell their friends and that's the goal behind all that and it actually flows naturally. It's not really a script that we do, but it's, it's, it's natural. It's kind of how we operate because you know, granted if, if the customers are worried about something and they don't like their pictures, it ruins their day and that's the one day that they, they have to look forward to. So we, we want them to know that, hey, your day is happening, whether you like it or not, it's gonna be it's gonna be fine. And Yeah, there's a lot of times where I've talked to brides and grooms and say, hey listen, it's, everything is fine. You're looking at it from one perspective and we've seen a number, you know, we've, we've probably done over 500 weddings and we know what works. We know what doesn't work and we can usually walk into a room and know if it's gonna work out or not within the first five minutes. And you know, we set the stage to make, make sure that that day successful.
[20:30] And I figure if they see that we can make marriage work, then there'll be just fine to use a low bar. That's can make. If I can be married to this guy for how long you can do this to trust me. So that's what I was, you know, we're joking back and forth to, you know, I always tell people I don't always like him, I just have to love him. So you don't always have to like your spouse to love him and we're together all the time. So your relationship will be like this. So people laugh at that and it's just fun to keep it light hearted. Right. You know, it's marriage can be a scary thing. So you know, let's, let's have fun with it.
[21:04] Obviously when you're an entrepreneur, you know a lot of your life is work and your work is life, but I think if you're a, you know, where your husband, wife, team that you work together, you live together, obviously have your family. Does that provide you the unique challenges or what is that like provides unique challenges? I think most, most couples are not together 24 hours a day. Whereas we are, I think that we, we learned years ago that we have to take time from ourselves outside of our kids and outside of our business we were, we got into the habit of date nights were, you know, stopping someplace on the way home from a wedding or the way home from a session or a meeting. Um, and we've kind of found that we need to really separate our time as opposed to our company time and our kids time. And so we really, you have to be really conscious of that because otherwise you just kind of get into this routine of things and you don't really take time for yourself anymore. So I think it does provide unique challenges working together, living together, raising kids together, running a business together.
[22:05] Um, you know, it's hard when you have disagreements on things, um, cause then it kind of spills in from either your personal life or from your, you know, from the business. So you really just have to be able to step back and reevaluate things. Sometimes, you know, we can't have a bad morning at home and then go shoot a wedding. And let it affect that. So you kind of have to learn how to balance those things. Um, I think we do a good job with it. Um, I think that, you know, we have, we have different strengths and weaknesses and so I think we need to remember those sometimes and kind of step back and reflect on that and let you know, decisions being made and things like that, you know, really kind of, you know, just happened.
[22:49] So yeah, I mean, you have to. It's being in the business that we were in before. I mean, we both had professional jobs before. Um, I mean, you, you, you learn to work with your, your peers. I mean, do you, you learn to communicate. And I think a lot of that comes into play in communicating this, I feel this way because of this and I understand how you feel and then coming to a consensus. But um, I mean we've been doing this for for many years so it's, it's easy to say that we're successful in mitigating any conflict that comes up. So.
[23:26] And interesting. I remember, I think it was during that first drink until we had worked on and I think I had a wedding with Ryan, you were working in another, whether in their head splitting it had even just come just to be like a third photographer just to kind of hang out with Ryan and after, you know, when you, like you guys had wrapped or whatever and I always that that was really cool. Like you talked about like making your own date nights or stopping somewhere after a wedding or you know, or like we had the wedding show up at the northwest, a bridal show case and like you guys had gone out for dinner and the date night, you know, [inaudible] did, someone was watching the kids or whatever. So I think that that's unique, but I always thought that was kind of a fun story man. They must really like it, you know, a doing weddings and be just kind of being together if you're going to get done with you know, your work and then go and hang out. I thought that was Kinda neat.
[24:14] Yeah, it is fun and it does make a different and I think even the times, you know, there are times in the summer we'll shoot to weddings in a day and we have other photographers that work with us that we've worked with for years, but it's almost a odd feeling being a part sometimes, um, because we do do this together all the time. So those times of the year,
[24:32] I don't think you'll like it. I think you're telling us, you're telling me we're not gonna do that anymore. Um, seattle wasn't so uh, seasonal as far as weddings go, if it was you know, a year round wedding, a wedding season one thing. But unfortunately we do have to, um, you know, some of the busier days we do, you know, heather, I'll go to one wedding, I'll go to another and we'll have people that work with us, but the people that work with us are seasoned in the industry. I mean they're, they're not the high school or college students that are looking to get their foot in the game. They're, they're people that have their own own companies, but for whatever, for one reason or another they didn't book that day or they decided not to to book their own wedding that day and we'll just have them work with us.
Well a lot of the people that you guys have known for years like and whoever that you know.
[25:23] Yeah, we've had a few other, yeah, that have worked with us two years and they just, they don't just shoot one or two weddings with us. They're with us all the time and so it makes it nice because then we still have that ebb and flow, but I think two of them are apart. I think it's a slight control thing for me because I'm always wondering occasion Ryan get this shot, you know, things that I normally get or things you know, cause there are things when we work together that we know, like I don't have to ask if he's getting like the, the table shots and some of those details shots because that's normal for him. And so I'm always like, if we're not together, I always think in the back of my head, OK, did he get that? Did he get the shot, you know, so it's, you know, and are our, our are uh, you know, kind of what they're familiar with the product that we deliver to the customer. They know what components go into that product. So they, they know it. It's not just the bride and the groom. I mean they, a lot of our brides and grooms, they, it's their money that they're putting on this wedding. It's, you know, they, you know, painstakingly over the months they will, you know, put together the place settings. I'll pick the colors and the day is a reflection of months and months of planning, sometimes years of planning and we know it's important that on that wedding day they're not going to necessarily be able to appreciate that and see it. So we want to make sure we get those pictures so they can look back and say, wow, this is actually what I look like. And talk to me about.
[26:48] Talk to me about your first wedding together with, you know, having it Ryan. July 16th, 2007. We actually photographed her wedding with um, uh, I actually skydive and it was one of our skydive, a skype friends. I think she actually worked at the drop zone and um, it was our first wedding July 16th. Um, and yeah, I think we learned a lot from that wedding ring I think. I think one of the things we learned is you need two cameras and you need batteries. Lots of batteries. Lots and lots about was the, the uh, luckily I learned it on the first wedding that the flashes will go through batteries really quick and you know, putting a half charged the batteries and the flat one flash will not last the full day. So, um, were you guys nervous? I mean we were because it was our first wedding for hire.
[27:46] And you're the first wedding. I mean, yeah. Was a lot of, you know, a lot of learning that we did at that wedding. But I think every wedding we learned something new and that one thing that we know to this day is every wedding is unique. It's not the same. So you can't go into, you can't go into a wedding and say, well, I have 10 or 12 or 11 or however many years of experience, um, and rely on that experience to be successful. Um, the way I look at it as we're writing a book and that book is not written when we show up for that wedding day, it's a whole bunch of blank pages that weddings and story and somebody needs to tell it. And we're actually capturing the story behind that which goes into our pictures. The pictures aren't just have a bride and groom. It's, there's emotion behind those pictures. So we want to get the story behind those pictures. And I think going back to that first wedding, I think that's one thing I've learned is we need to be able to capture that story. We need to be on our game. We need to not rely on our experience, but we need to look at the situation and we need to look at the, the wedding that's in front of us on the present day,
Especially our first wedding season. It was, you know, average wedding, kind of reevaluating, OK, what worked and what didn't work and what do we need to do differently. And I think that's too, even with like our equipment and rechargeable batteries and cards and everything, you know, kind of learning systems and what works and what we need to do and what we, what can we do better? Um, and I think we really, you know, we took those, especially those first few years and really tried to figure out the best way for us and what we wanted to achieve. So I think, you know, every wedding, especially that first year, we learned a lot and we took that with us. You know, I think that's why, you know, we kind of have the systems that we have in place and there is a method behind our madness with certain things, um, is really just taking that and learning from it.
[29:51] So when you guys talk about, you know, doing a lot of the weddings, you know, 10 years, 500 weddings, yeah. How do you get excited every day, uh, or how do you approach that to be fun and unique and to kind of keep bringing that energy?
[30:07] We talked to those brides and grooms, um, in the months leading up to their wedding. So is unique. So it's hard, you know, it's almost like, you know, you look at, we look at each of our clients is almost an extension of us as a friend because it's somebody that when I, when I see a client, I see somebody that has looked at our work that loves our work, that says, wow, I want you to do the same thing that you've done in the past for me. So there's, there's a lot of responsibility that goes with that. So we look at it as a job. We look at as somebody that likes us, that somebody that you know, once, you know, it's trusting us with the most important day of their lives. When you have somebody that you know, gives you that much of gratitude, the gratitude that they gave you by simply hiring you, you don't want to fail.
[31:06] So you're, you're on your game. You don't want to be, you know, rest on your laurels and you say, wow, I've done this before and I don't need to prepare. So, um, without, you know, attitude, I think it's really easy to say, you know, every wedding we have a wedding this weekend and I mean it's where we're preparing for that wedding where we have our systems in place, but we have the communication and the um, and the desire to really communicate with that bride in that room to make sure that they're very successful. And it's almost an internal feeling that you feel it's, it's an obligation that you feel inside of you. It's not, um, it doesn't get old. And I think once we start saying this gets old, I think that's my maybe where we're done with the business. But at this point, I mean we're still as excited as we were that first wedding because every wedding as unique and it gives us an opportunity to, to really work with some great people.
[32:08] Yeah. I think it's, it is still that excitement for weddings and do you know, we love what we do and I think that's why we can do it and why we've done it for so long and being able to connect. And so, I mean even thinking about this weekend and what we have to do and you know, we're at a different church on Saturday that we've never been out. So. OK, what's that going to be like and you know, and, and, and being able to capture different things, you know, and then we're at [inaudible] lodge so, you know, whereas we've shot there, you know, 50 times before. OK, what's going to be different about this weekend and kind of going into it. Um, you know, so we kind of, it's, it's not a mundane job that by any means, every day is something different. And I think that's what keeps it exciting for me is that every day is something different, every client is different, every job is different. And so that's what keeps it fun for us. And like Ryan said, it's still fun for us. And so we know that we're still doing the right thing.
[33:02] I'd like to see answers from each of you, but a favorite part of the wedding, whether you in terms of the wedding day, whether it's you're getting rid or the ceremony or first dance or whatever. What, what is it and why is that your favorite parts?
[33:17] So I would say my favorite part are probably the getting ready and the first look because I love the excitement that goes on during that part and then the emotions and the excitement and the anticipation and you know, I feel like once we, once we shoot those things in the rest of the day just kind of goes from there. And I think you almost get on an adrenaline rush after things like that. Um, so, you know, I think it's that first part of the day you're really connecting with your clients and learn, you know, meeting their bridal party and meeting more of their family and getting into that groove. And then for me after that, you know, it's, it's all fun from there. Um, because now I know who I'm working with today and I can, you know, get into my groove. Um, and seeing that first look when they see each other for the first time, I'm usually, there are some tears. Um, I've even teared up a timer to, um, and so, you know, it's just, he keeps. Yeah. But I do, I still cry at weddings. Ryan laughs at me that, you know, how after doing over 500 weddings, do I still cry at weddings? I still cry at weddings and I think it's because it's that emotional connection to our clients. So it's the first part of the day is fun for me. You know, I love all parts, but I would say that's where I kinda get, get into my groove of the day and really get it.
[34:37] Well we will talk to the bride separately, we'll talk to the grim separately. So, so when you see that first moment, you know, the individual story behind each, you know, what's going through that grooms mine. Do you know what's going through that brides mind because you've talked to them. Um, but I would like to say know probably my, my best, my most favorite of my favorite, most favorite part. My favorite part is actually the bride and groom together. Um, when we, when we take them aside and we take them away from the crowd here, we get pictures of Tesla to them because it's a collaboration. It's more taking the pictures but you know, talking to them, you know, letting them unwind a little bit because we usually, typically we'll do that after the ceremony after donor, but you know, before all the, the main event starts. But um, you know, I love getting them together and getting some of those, you know, a couple of shots where, you know, we can be a creative.
[35:38] I'm letting them enjoy each other. I think that's too. I, we always tell our clients to like, your wedding day is about you and I think a lot of times in the excitement of everything and having all your friends and family and being pulled in a million directions, you know, that's something that we really strive is to let our clients have that few minutes of just the two of them. Um, and so, you know, we have fun with that. It's the two of them and us and hopefully, you know, our videographer with us and you know, but it's just nice to give them that time and let them breathe and take it all in.
[36:10] There's a lot. I mean that's what people, you know, if you're planning the wedding either or have just gotten married, you know, it is. Especially nowadays with I think like family pressures and other people taking photos, you know, in, in this planning and money and everything and your wedding day is. It can be really stressful. And I do think it's nice to have um, you know, an easygoing vendor team and especially, you know, with your photographer is Kinda the big key to that. Um, I always have like a Go-to joke, um, after the first look is, like you say, there's a lot of um, you know, pressure to that moment in, uh, in our one on Sunday and, you know, they turned around and locked and then I said, all right, well we're done now. Like that's what we're going to go home because it is like so much even for that build up. Actually no, we still have any more hours, but, you know, at least it's a, it's a good kind of moment of levity there. Um, in terms of, you know, kind of working with you guys, um, what is kind of how Ryan process look like in terms of, um, like Ryan said, hey, you guys have a lot of systems in place and talking about that and kind of the organization and kind of, you know, really kind of a holding people's hands through that process.
[37:16] No, I think that's something too that, you know, our years experience gives us is that we've really tried to fine tune our process. So we want it to be easy. We, you know, we always tell our clients we don't want to be that pain in the butt vendor, we want to make things very easy for you, but we also need to be very organized and everything as well. So, you know, we have forms that go out from the time that we get a lead in know we enter them into our client management system. They get questionnaires from the very beginning so they're filling out information and giving us information that we have and it's stuff that over the years we've found that it's important for us to know I'm even going into a first client meeting so they fill out a questionnaire telling us a little bit of who they are and a little bit about their wedding day. And then after they book with us, you know, all that can be done online. We found when we started it was the days of paper contracts and mailing back and forth are sitting there as a client was, was filling out the contract and we didn't like that. That was not something we enjoyed. Um, and so now it's very, you know, non-pressure they can go home, they can read through the agreement, sign it online. Um, and it's nice because the client management system, we have everything gets saved in there, everything gets pre-populated. So we have a questionnaire that we send out, get that questionnaire when they book, but if their wedding as a year later a that's alive for them for the next year, so they can go in and they can update that form as things change as they think of things, then they can constantly update that. We meet with the clients, um, typically the week before the wedding and we'll discuss, we'll have that form in front of us. We get updates whenever the client updates that forum. We get, we get an email saying this is what's been updated. So you know, we'll, we'll know, you know, the ins and outs of the family dynamics. I mean, well we know that the bride, you know, has a two year old child that has an attention span of 30 seconds. So whenever we go to that wedding, we have already developed a plan to make sure that we have that two year old taking care of, we know, you know, maybe the grandmother or the grandfather or cannot stand for more than, you know, five minutes or can't be out in the Sun or light or, or something. We, we know everything that you've told us. Um, and we had come up with either a plan or course of action to make sure that that doesn't interfere with the day to make sure that we're able to get what the client wants, you know, withstanding of all those.
[39:51] And I think over the years that we've kind of learned what we need to ask. And you know, I always tell our clients to family dynamics is huge on a wedding day. Um, you don't often have all your family together and so, you know, we asked those questions. Are Your parents married or divorced or they remarried? Have there been any deaths in the family that we need to know about? Um, who are your siblings? You know, in this day and age we have a lot of split families. It's very rare that we have, you know, the bride and groom's parents are both still married and have one nuclear family most of the time. You have a lot of split families. And so I think that's something too. We both come from split families. Both our parents are divorced and have been for years. Both our dads are marrying, both our moms are not, you know, we, we kind of know how that is from a personal standpoint.
[40:36] And so for us to, it's important to know all that and I think it makes things go so much smoother because we've asked the questions ahead of time and it's not something that they have to sit on the phone and answer with us. It's that they can fill these forms out on their own time. Um, I know especially the family piece, it helps the family photos just go smooth for us. We don't have to think about that because I know all these answers. Um, and I think that's [inaudible] why I say like the beginning of the wedding day is one of my favorites is [inaudible]. Then I'm putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I'm figuring out who his mom and his dad and his step mom and his Stepdad or you know, just kind of who's who. And so then it makes it go so much easier when we're going to do family formals and you know, we always get, you know, mom's wall in Dad's wall and the brides, you know, Brian's family side and the groom's family side.
[41:24] And really that's something that I strive for, especially coming from a large family illness, but family is making sure we have all those different combinations of people. Um, I did already in a few years ago and both the bride and groom's parents are divorced. They're both remarried. So you have four sets of parents. You have half siblings, step siblings. And so. But I knew all this ahead of time and family pictures went smooth and I had all four sets of parents come up to me later on in the reception and say, I can't believe that you just did that and you did it so smooth without there. There was no awkwardness, there was no pressure. There was no, you know, you got every combination we could ever think of. And they said, this is our third. It was the third wedding and the family and they said something's always missed or it feels awkward or it doesn't feel natural and that's something, you know, we, we try to make sure that every single wedding that that's, you want that to be just fun and smooth and natural and not standing around for hours taking these formal portraits and you know.
[42:21] So that's something that we really try to strive to make sure it's done well.
[42:27] Even when we started working together. I mean, I think I've gotten a lot of my forms and stuff, you know, from Ryan or, or help with contracts and stuff. I mean, it is something that you just can't, you can't teach experience, right? You can't teach, you know, years of, of work. And I mean even I know now like going into this season, you know, I feel more prepared than I was last season and so I can only imagine, you know, in another five years or 10 years, you know, I'm really refining that process and making it easy for the client because like you said, I made it really is kind of about their day and, and I think that efficiency that you guys bring I think is really, um, appreciated and I think that it allows for a lot more, you know, personal time with, you know, the couples and the more fun things, right? Because nobody likes to do family photos.
[43:13] I'm not trying to tell people and especially like when we're talking timelines and stuff and they think they need all this time for family photos. And I'm like, nope, 30 minutes, I can do the biggest families in 30 minutes as long as I've everybody there because we're just gonna, you know, boom, boom, boom. Go right through it. And I think that's the other nice thing about us is we have that kind of down to a science between the two of us, whereas I'm getting everybody in place. Ryan's taking the photo and so as he's shooting, you know, that section, I'm already, I already know in my head who I'm pulling out and who I'm putting in for the next photo because we know everyone to be those photographers that talk, you know, people talk about later of a family, photos took forever. We stood around and it was so unorganized and it's like, nope, we start big. We work our way down and you know, and that's something I think that over the years we've really been able to, you know, we have it down to a science now.
[44:02] I think, you know, being clear and upfront and being very transparent with the client is very important as well. And that goes back to my business experience. I, um, um, I worked with, uh, one of the departments that I work in. We dealt with, you know, customer complaints and I was able to take to heart why customers complain and I actually learned, um, you know, very early on in my career or how to make sure that, you know, you treat the client well, that you communicate with them, that your are in place. Um, that enabled them to, you know, to feel like you're communicating with them, to feel like you're being open. That there's nothing hidden. That stuff's not in the fine prints and we've never told a client, oh, well that's buried in the fine prints. It's everything is very transparent with us. Um, our processes even going down to our agreements.
[44:55] Everything is spelled out in our agreement and it's very, uh, uh, it was written by an attorney, but fine tuned by me to make sure that everything is very clear that it's not a, in some cryptic language, but it's very, um, what, what are the expectations? You know, when you, when you hire our studio, you know, here's where you took, you can expect from us, here's what will give you, but in return, this is what we expect from you. To have a successful relationship and to get successful pictures and um, we've really never had any complaints on that front where, you know, our client has said, well, I didn't know it was going to be this way.
[45:36] Yeah. I think in terms of wedding planning, either cross kind of any, any category, whether it's photography or photo booth or whatever. I mean there's a lot of like not fun parts about planning their wedding. I in terms of like, you know, meetings and calls and paperwork and forms and contracts and stuff. And so yeah, I think like having that process in getting people through, um, really gets to the fun stuff. Right? I mean, like you said, where you're kind of like you have everything in place. And then finally it's the wedding day. Um, I think is as exciting as the clients are for that to, to finally kind of come. I, I do think we are as well. I mean I, when I was in news, it would be a lot of you've learned an hour from now what you have to do or whatever. And then even the idea of having something six months for six months away and I look forward to it was unique and exciting to me. Um, but yeah, I think that you guys, um, have really fine tune that to kind of get a lot of the clutter out of the way. Um, because it's, it's kind of unavoidable. Uh, but I do think that it kind of leads to a more kind of seamless approach me that you guys think.
[46:43] Yeah, absolutely. And Yeah, nobody likes contracts and online forums and you know, and so it's something that we definitely have tried to fine tune and make it so, you know, we can get through all that and then enjoy the rest of it. You know, we've, we've taken things out in the years to that I'm like, uh, this doesn't matter. I don't really need to know this or something. I can figure out on my own or anything that we can kind of take out to make it. So it's just what we need and not anything more. It makes it better for the client.
[47:10] We have our systems to the, they, they talk to each other more now than they did in the past. And so you're not having to tell us the same information multiple times. So, um, I mean if you, for example, you put your, you know, your parents name and one of the forms, well now the system knows where your parents name is so you're not having to tell us multiple times while the, OK, this is my dad and this is what you need to now. I mean, everything is designed to be very, you know, very easy on the clients.
[47:41] One thing I'd like to talk to people about is, um, in terms of is there something you guys did have like gone to so many places and seen so many, whether bucket list kind of venues left or things you guys have left to do, whether it's abroad but especially here kind of in the Pacific Northwest. I mean, if you guys could have an ideal, where would you like to go? Or what would you like to see?
[48:02] It's like traveling for weddings. I mean, I, you know, Seattle, I mean, we've done seattle. Seattle is great. I'm gonna Grind. I mean there's some beautiful venues. Um, I, I don't think I can say that there's one particular venue I wish I would shoot at, but it's, I, I love. Um, I love think it's the people that make the picture. I mean, we can put a couple in any setting. It's the couples. What makes the pictures. So it's really hard to say that our, oh, I want to shoot at this venue or oh, I wish we could go. You know, I love sunset pictures. I love doing technical lighting on sunset pictures, um, church weddings. But it's, you know, it's, I think it's hard for me to say I want to narrow it down to OK, this particular venue.
[48:51] Can you answer this question? Are you answering OK. So outside of the Northwest, my bucket list, wedding locations, I would love to sue wedding in New York City. I think it'd be awesome. I would love to do, um, a wedding and there's a lot. I guess there's a lot of places I'd like to travel to a, I think New York will be fun. I think, you know, I've done a few destination weddings abroad and I think it would be amazing to do weddings, weddings in Europe, um, and be able to travel the, some of those destinations. Um, I think here in the northwest, I think, you know, as we over time, you know, shooting a lot of the same places, which is great. And I'd love to get over to the San Juans more. I think that's a, it's a fun destination here at home. It's very pacific northwest.
[49:41] Uh, but it's, it's fun for everybody. So I'd love to be able to shoot more over there. Um, you know, I think that you see new venues popping up every year and so it's kind of, when I see the new venues I want to shoot there, I want to see what they're like. So there's some, there's some new venues popping up to you. And then we have a lot of our favorites too that we know are kind of, we know we can get good stuff no matter what you know. And so, you know, I think that we're lucky to live in the area that we do. You know, when you look at Sonoma, Steven, like snohomish, when we first started there were a few wedding venues and now it's the place to get married. And how many, why didn't, you know, there's tons of new wedding venues every year out there.
[50:21] So it's fun to see some of those grow. Um, you know, I love Lord Hill farms, Hidden Meadows or to have, you know, some of my favorites. I love shooting at Monte Cristo and every one of my go to's. Um, yeah, I think, you know, we're lucky to live where we do because, you know, we, we love the venues to where you can get all different looks and feels just right in that one location I'm traveling from, from location to location can get your heart on her wedding day. And so, you know, when you have a location like Rose Hill and Michael too where you have, you know, the grass in the park kind of setting up at the venue, but then you go right down the hill to the White House and the beach and the boardwalks and you know, where you can get everything just from right there. So um, you know, I think it's fun to shoot at new places. It's fun to go to some of our old favorites too. So, I mean I'd love to do some more destination weddings as well too.
[51:20] Like Ryan said, that it is ultimately about the people. I mean I think it's funny, we did like Matthew and Alex's wedding over the summer and I think we ended up just having to do because of timing some of their portraits like on the sidewalk outside, right? Like maybe like where you wrote on paper and you're like, well that's probably not super exciting but it actually was like really cute and really fun and like they talk to each other's back and get like a piggyback ride and stuff. So I do think that it's kind of like both sides of that coin where absolutely, you know, you can make the venue kind of worked for you or else. I mean obviously like if you're on the beach with the sunset, you know, that can be amazing, but sometimes you're on a park side.
[51:57] We'd joke to like we've done receptions at the Elk lodge, like I can make an Elk lodge look good, right? Like, it's funny as a photographer, the things that you see and you know, when you're. Most people look at that and I'm like, oh that's no thank you. You know, and I, I tell our clients to, I'm like, I can make an alley look amazing. So it's all about how you see things too.
[52:18] If you take a picture, I mean a lot of times people will look at a picture and I look at the whole, the whole setting, they won't look at the components. We look at the components of the picture. So where somebody may see a backyard, you know, I look out at the backyard and I see I see are agreeing three and I see some red flowers and I see some, some grass, I see he's talking about my backyard. I have to have a visual reference. But I think what, um, you know, the, the smaller components of the picture and I think that's what helps get, you know, where you can take a picture that's maybe not as desirable and you make it more desirable because you, you're minimizing the, the components in the picture and you're basically focusing on one component versus the whole whole thing.
[53:07] When I think a destination weddings to, I guess I should say a little bit more about that because every time we've done a destination wedding, most of our clients have been from here. So we've traveled with them, we've got to know them. And so it's, to me it's fun because it's so much more than just the wedding day. Um, we travel with clients, you know, are there with them before the, you know, a couple days before the wedding and where they're at the rehearsal dinner and so it's fun because you get that whole experience with them as well too. So like this summer we have a wedding in Napa and so we're going down and, you know, the day before we're doing the meet and greet with all the friends and family and we're going to a winery and you know, so it's Kinda fun because it's that whole experience. It's not just the wedding day. Um, and so it's fun to experience that with people.
[53:53] One story I, I was, I meant to bring up earlier and I couldn't, couldn't find a good time, but we're talking about, reminded me of this last summer for more, more or a weekend where I got a last minute inquiry on, I think it was like a Monday or it might have been like the week before, but for the Memorial Day salary that. And I message you guys, um, because you're one of my go tos and you guys were actually on vacation in Europe. And what a 12 hour time difference or whatever it was and I think we were like literally on Facebook Messenger for like, you know, two or three days trying to figure out, um, you know, the details and stuff and scheduling and I just think that's kind of a testament to you guys. Right. In like your dedication. And I had been a heartbroken if I hadn't brought that story up. Yeah,
That was fun. Yeah. So we were over in Europe on vacation and um, we were traveling around and I got your, your facebook message
Yeah we were at a train station going to Berlin or remember we had like 30 minutes we had just left.
[55:02] Yeah. So we started messaging you and asking you about the clients and then the client had emailed us. But yeah, there's a 10 hour time difference. And so it was kind of the trying to juggle that and answered questions and the emails and stuff of the clients. And um, and we ended up actually talking to them to, on the phone while we were over there and answering questions and trying to send agreements and everything. So we could get it taken care of and yeah, it's kind of fun when you have experiences like that.
[55:32] I thought we were a bad ass because it's like it was 12 noon there, which was 2:00 in the morning and their clients don't know where in Europe. So they're thinking while they're answering their email at 2:00 in the morning. Really dedicated, but it's really 12 o'clock in the afternoon.
You guys were at like happy hour.
[55:46] Well yeah, we were sitting having a glass of wine, but you know, we were still answering emails. That's the joy of technology, right? Yeah. That was fun to book a wedding while we're on vacation and we're like OK, now when we get back we have this wedding and you know. So
[56:04] I mean in our systems are such. I mean we're, we were able to do that and with all the information's available to send the client. So it's not a. We weren't, didn't have to use the excuse. We're out of the office will be back in a week.
[56:16] Yeah, I don't, I don't think we've ever set an out of office email memo. I've, I hear those still. Yeah, it never happened with us, so you know, we try to be there and, and you know, it's a good thing we are cause then we got to book another wedding and you know, have more experiences. Right.
[56:35] Well, perfect. Well thank you guys so much for coming on today. Um, if people want to know more about you guys are interested in your services, what should they do?
[56:44] So they can visit our website, our website is, www.eventsbyhr.com. They can also send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or they can also call us at a 4256109223.
[56:58] Perfect. Well thank you guys so much for coming in today. I really appreciate it. This has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Check back next week for another wedding vendor interview. Thanks so much you guys. Thank you.
Episode 3 (Stephanie Skeffington, Seattle Flashing Lights Photography) -
[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. I'm Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle Seattle, Washington. We do wedding videography, corporate videography, and basically film any other live event that you might have. And today I'm joined by Stephanie Skeffington of Seattle Flashing Lights photography and she has been so gracious to come in and talk with us a little bit about her professional background and why she's a wedding photographer. So Stephanie, why don't you introduce yourself?
[00:42] Well, hi everybody. My name is Stephanie Skeffington I am the owner of Seattle flashing lights photography, which is based out of Shorewood Washington, just a little bit south of West Seattle. Um, I have lived in Washington my whole life except for a little stint in college where I was down in Arizona and I've been doing wedding photography for seven and a half years, which has kind of flown by. Um, yeah, and I love what I do. It's Kinda the best job in the world, getting to meet new people and capture love stories all the time. Like it's pretty great. Yeah,
[01:21] Stephanie's actually my neighbor, I don't think we ever realize how, uh, how close we actually live to each other, but uh, and I will preface now and say that like any good podcasts or I went to a rock concert last night and lost my voice. So, uh, fortunately in the old deal, a lot of the talking today, but, uh, that was a good move on my part. I'm Stephanie. I was going on your website, uh, in, in preparation for this interview and um, you have quite a unique background. You're a certified pilot and uh, why don't you, uh, go back and even if it's before that, but you said you got a camera at an early age and started taking photos. Right?
[01:58] That's always a favorite question is like how long have you been doing this? And uh, obviously been in business for seven and a half years, but I think like most photographers I've been doing this my whole life, like I don't really remember a time that I didn't have a camera. So I got my first, my first official camera, which was still film, like the old school film when I was like seven or eight and it did not leave my side ever. Um, but yeah. So then I went to, I wanted to do, I love traveling, so I wanted to do something where we get to travel around. So I went into aeronautics and a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science. Um, graduated from embry-riddle Aeronautical University, which is where I met my husband and both of us are commercially rated pilot pilots. Pirates were also parents. It's very exciting, but we're a commercially rated pilot. Uh, my husband's actually a instructor pilot as well, but I'm graduated college during the economic downturn, so that was a great time to try to get into any kind of job. So I went into corporate. Yeah. And then I'm still kind of just pursued photography on the side. And uh, in 2011, a friend of mine from college who was actually a pilot as well, we started Seattle flashing lights, just kind of on a whim and it just took off. It was crazy.
[03:23] Going back to um, what was it about that, that appeal to you? Was it, you know, the sense of adventure?
[03:34] Yeah, it was mostly, um, I mean it's a really cool profession, like getting to fly planes. Um, I always joke around, I'm like working my way through the alphabet backwards, like doing piloting and now I'm a photographer, next will be petroleum operator. Um, but no, yeah, I really wanted to travel when it's you see the world and get paid to do it. Um, and that was really what drove me into, you know, pursuing a career in aviation and I actually worked in aviation for 10 years before, like entering during the start of my business too at Boeing and Alaska Airlines. I'm, I never actually flew professionally. Um, I have a commercial license so it's a little bit tricky. So you get a license, I'm qualified to fly prepay or higher, but then you have to get, like type rated in the planes that you want to actually fly and stuff. So I have a multi engine instrument rating as well, so I can fly multi-engine planes. I flew aerobatics for awhile. I'm kind of done the whole gamut. The only thing I haven't done is getting Roto, like helicopter certified or sea plane. Yeah.
[04:45] Hard to get certified. You gotta be smart. Right? Brave, right. I mean I couldn't do that. Talk about that.
[04:54] Um, yeah. I mean it was really challenging. So like during college, um, I was going to school full time doing my degree and then was also flying full time. Um, so I have four hours a day where I was either doing ground ground instruction time or flying in air instruction time and I got a multitude of licenses like while I was in college. But yeah, I mean it was, it was really challenging to deal with. My husband's like super smart so he had much easier time and lots of math, lots and lots of math.
[05:27] And so you guys met in college and then you guys had been together and you've been married for six years now. Almost eight as well. Um, so now you're a Boeing, you're working right out of college.
[05:38] Out of college. I worked, um, in. Oh my gosh. And the business side. So kind of moved around the company. I was in government work for awhile, like working with the Boeing defense side, um, did procurement, finance analyst work with them, worked on at AWACS program, got secret security clearance to work with them and traveled around a demo flight sims for them for awhile so it wasn't flying, but I got to actually demo the pad, which is the airplane that's taking over for the [inaudible] Orion, which is like super old for the navy. So the piano is like the new fancy airplane that they're selling today, US Navy. So I download, I blew around, um, to like Washington DC, got to go to the Pentagon and then demo their flight controls for like different, higher up maybe professionals. So it was pretty, pretty awesome.
[06:34] Um, so then why, why go out on your own? Was it from that then that you transition to photography?
[06:43] Yeah, I was at Boeing when I originally started in Seattle flashing lights, um, with my buddy Doug and he, we, we started it together because we're really good friends. He's obviously got a really great eye for photos as well, but had a great background like web design and could do a lot more technical stuff than I am capable of doing. So it was a really good mix and he actually still like, so I um, took over when he got married and he went back to Grad school and didn't want to be a part of the business anymore. So, but he still helps with a lot of my technical, my web design stuff still. So it's nice to have him around.
[07:20] Was it, was it scary to make that decision or. Oh yeah, I mean like anything
Like self employment is amazing. Like it's amazing to run your own business to have 100 percent ownership of what you're doing. Like corporate America is great, but you never. There's nothing like being. I mean, you know, there's nothing like owning your own business and every success and every failure your 100 percent responsible for. So it's um, that's really scary. But uh, when the success has happened, which is way more often than the failures, there is nothing like it. So, you know, anytime you don't do great you learn from it, you know, and that's what's kept me going and doing really well and being successful in photography too. And I think my background helps, you know, like I have a background in lean and lean certified, did that at Alaska Airlines. So that means like for processes and procedures, like going, especially for manufacturing, making things more efficient. So I'm pretty good with my workflow and process flow for from the point of like customer introduction to delivering my final products of photos. Everything's very organized and uh, moves very effectively and efficiently.
[08:38] Um, so then, uh, was it always going to be weddings or was it, was that the primary focus or are good question. Um, you know, honestly, when we started,
[08:49] uh, I think both of us, both doug and I were, we're just excited to be doing something we love so much. It had always been a passionate hobby of ours and to be honest, I wasn't, I, I couldn't believe people were actually going to pay me to do something I love so much. Um, which is great because obviously I have a huge passion for what I do. Um, but yeah, so we, we kinda just dove in, didn't really know what we were doing in terms of running a business, but we did know how to take really good photos. So, um, we kind of jumped in with both feet and you know, it's a little, it's, it's been daunting. There's been a lot of learning. I'm just from the business side of running things. But um, yeah, we didn't necessarily at first want to just focus on weddings, but it worked out that that was an area that both of us really enjoyed like cat because you get to capture a whole day's worth of story installed pictures, which I think is kind of a unique challenge in and of itself to tell the story within the words.
[09:48] Um, so yeah, it's been a, it's great to start and build a relationship with a couple. Um, we don't just show up the day of the wedding, were working with them ahead of the wedding, doing mutual engagement photos or at very least like talking through months in advance. And uh, there's, yeah, there's just really nothing like the relationships we have with our wedding clients, like I still do photos, like family photos with a lot of people that I worked with for weddings and it's so much fun to watch them grow not only as a couple but when they have kids and see their kids grow. Like there are several families I've worked with for almost the entire time we've been in business, so like seven years and now their kids are like in elementary school and it's really fun to like continue seeing their families grow and get to capture those special moments for them.
[10:34] I didn't know a lot about running business, you know, it's a daunting task. Are there any early mistakes or learning lessons, I mean obviously, but anything that stands out or anything that you thought man, like we could have done that better?
[10:48] Oh yeah. The biggest one was a sales tax. Washington is really tricky with sales tax, especially when you're running a service based company. And obviously I, you know, I have a unique background in piloting and corporate business. Um, but not from a, I'm not a tax accountant, um, when we were first starting off, we didn't really have the budget to hire a CPA, so we're doing a lot of research ourselves and relying on friends that were Cpas, um, but we got some bad advice and weren't collecting taxes correctly and got audited and it was a really, I mean, it was a great learning experience though because like I learned that, um, and it wasn't anything we were doing, like maliciously or anything, it was just a total misstep. We just had bad information and thought we were doing it correctly and weren't. And so we had to pay a fairly large backpacks tax.
[11:43] We hadn't collected taxes owed on the amount that we charged. So luckily at that point our business was in a very stable, successful place and we were able to do that without, you know, putting a huge financial strain on the company. But, um, I did learn that the Washington state auditors are very nice and they, um, are very, they're very willing to work with you, especially when it's an honest mistake. They understand that people, a small business is not an expert in everything, even though you have to be an expert in everything when you're run a small business.
[12:17] I think that's something that, you know, if you're like a wedding photographer, you're not just a photographer, you're a web designer and marketing and a contract manager CEO is very tough. Uh, well that's a good. That's a good lesson.
[12:31] It is. Yeah. And now, um, I have a wonderful CPA so we're doing everything perfect,
[12:39] which is great. I have a similar one. I brought on our account, there was a lot of questions about stuff and luckily I had paperwork and stuff that, you know, they called me up in the panic and it's like, oh my gosh. And I said, hell no, like making sure, you know, cause you wanted to do everything correctly.
[12:56] I mean, you, you on the forums that we are a part of [inaudible] that's like one of the biggest questions I think for all small business owners is like, the tax law is like so crazy and so confusing. So it's not, um, it's not a mystery as to why.
[13:11] Well, and it's different too for video than it is for further, which doesn't make sense to me at all, but we have been in like an entirely different, um, anyway, uh, do you get off of it, the tax here as we're, we're, um, uh, so, so you're doing weddings now? Uh, so if you, you started seven years ago flashing and then you guys have been here for eight years. So you guys were engaged when you were starting to either. How did that timing work out?
[13:38] It was right after we got married that the business started. So we were married in January. Um, well that's a little bit of a fun story to you. So we were officially married in June the year prior in 2010, uh, because my husband got laid off and we needed, um, insurance for him, so we legally got married in June and then waiting until January tablet or official ceremony. So our eighth anniversary is this June and then that's a drum roll until January first. Second. So then we started, um, after it was like in February, but the flashing lights kind of started taking shape.
[14:18] Where'd you guys get married just out of curiosity?
Fiji. Yeah, we're really, we're like avid travelers, which is great. I finally figured out that I don't need to work or get paid to travel. I just get paid and then I go on vacation, which is kind of awesome.
[14:36] Um, so you guys are newly married and getting ready to start your business. It's a lot of changes going on and talk about, uh, so I know that I became a better wedding vendor after getting married and where you guys had just gone that process. What was that like in terms of starting to do it again?
[14:54] Yeah, I think it gives you a lot of perspective. Obviously. I'm like how difficult it is for the couple planning, everything. And I worked with a lot of couples. I'm actually like, you know, Adam and Maria and I worked together for a wedding. That's how we met last summer was on last summer. Yeah. Um, know time just flies though. It doesn't even feel like almost a year. But um, they're, they're planning their wedding from out of town. I worked with a ton of people that are planning from out of state and I did the same thing when I got married. I was planning from Washington getting married in Fiji. I didn't get to meet any of my vendors so I was putting a lot of trust in people and I know what that's like. So I have a really good perspective on that when I'm working with winning clients. Um, and I feel like it gives them comfort knowing that I was in the same scenario like not terribly long ago doing that. Especially from out of country.
[15:47] Yeah. I think it's tough for me and I know that obviously you can be a wedding vendor a and not be married, but do you think that it gives you a unique where you've gone through that process and because I didn't know, you know, like when I deal with people or, and I had said like having cried at my wedding, like I totally get now the emotions from maybe I didn't get that before. I mean, do you feel like the same way
Absolutely and I, I mean I still like after seven and a half years of doing this, I still cry at every single wedding I photograph because um, you know, I get to know my clients and then B, I really liked my husband and we really liked each other so it always brings back those memories, like you remember what it was like when you were standing up there saying those vows to each other and your first kiss and how exciting the whole day was. And I mean just, yeah, the difficulty of planning a wedding, like you're working full time and then trying to play in this gigantic party and spending all this money. So we, yeah, I think it gives you a real, it gives you empathy for your clients. Like you understand what they've been going through, like the headaches and the challenges and just everything. It does not make me jealous of them either of doing all that planning.
[17:00] Yeah. Um, so, you know, early on you guys are doing weddings now. Um, I mean, was that intimidating? Were you worried? Were you nervous about, you know, just the pressure of it or
Um, I think we jumped in wholeheartedly and without a ton of, you know, background on it when we first got started that we weren't, um, we weren't, we didn't have the fear because we didn't know any better, if that makes sense. And even now I still get nervous before every wedding and I think that keeps me relevant and keeps me on my toes. It keeps me doing a great job at my craft. Um, I think if I got complacent that would be when we're looking at it. But um, yeah, um, you know, and now I guess I have a better perspective on like how, how things should flow and you know, obviously doing this for seven and a half years, you get a really good idea of like timelines and keeping stuff on track and making sure that your couples getting the most out of their time with you during the day. But we knew from the beginning though a wedding is a really unique event because you can't redo any part of it. You know, really like the first case, you can't miss that. You have to be, you have to be ready. So luckily we were never in a situation where we didn't capture something which is good, but there's always that fear, which I again, thanks I think keeps you on your toes and keeps you doing the right thing and then good.
[18:38] It's interesting. Yeah. Cause like you sit with a you and it's that one time. I do think a lot with, you know, photo and whether it's product photo or a or corporate. Others say with video, like sometimes people they're like, oh it's a wedding, but to me that's the most, the hardest thing because you can't redo any of it. You can't miss any of it. You know, you have to be on every second of the day, right?
[19:03] Yeah, exactly. You do what you have to be on your game from start to finish until like from the second that you arrive to the second you leave, you have to be ready to roll and paying attention and I'm giving your all to the people that you're working with because they have spent probably a year plus planning all of that and dumping a ton of money into creating this awesome day to celebrate their lives. So yeah, no pressure. Um, what's your favorite part of the wedding? That I love the couple of portrait time. Um, I don't like necessarily calling it like portraits because that seems a little stiff, but just like taking the bride and groom away from kind of the hustle and bustle of everything that's going on and spending time with just the two of them. When I first started, that wasn't necessarily a huge focus, but the more I've been doing weddings, the more I realized that that is a huge piece of the day. It's like getting them away and spending time just with the two of them together to take pictures so that they have a little bit of time to breathe too. Not just me selfishly wanting to take adorable photos, but yeah, I just um, so that's always been my favorite, like spending time with just the two people in seeing how much they're just feeling their excitement and I'm seeing their love for each other and yeah, seeing everything kind of culminate promised planning that they've been doing.
[20:30] No, I mean it's exhausting getting married and now I'm not all brides and grooms me and make it through. Sometimes it's, it's a long day. It's, I think it takes a special kind of, you know, a professional photographer or dj or whatever to to really nurture the couple through and kind of get them through that. I think it takes a special kind of temperament and skill. And so, um, uh, did, did your husband ever come help you in any way and starting now or.
[21:02] Yes, he came, um, to help, like do shot shot list, check off the different wedding groupings, the family poses and hope lights for me. Um, he did that like two or three times and hated every second of it. It's just not his jam. And that's OK. Um, he, he's very supportive of, uh, I mean the first three or four years of me getting my business off the ground was exhausting and I was gone. I was working full time at a corporate job and running my business and it is for a lot of people that could've broke the marriage, but he's been amazing since the beginning and he was the one that really pushed me into doing this full time. And because it is scary, it's scary to take that leap and leave the comfort of a corporate job to the unknown of self employment where you're not sure how each year is going to go financially. And it, it's been, I wouldn't have been able to do it without him just from an emotional, um, support stand point. I'm very lucky.
Do you find, I find with Dorothy. She helped me kind of that first summer and I think I have four weddings and she came to three a month and then it was like the more successful I got busier I got. Then it's like, oh, well you got this, like you actually need the help more. Did you ever find that? I'm like, man, I could really help, you know, I can really use your help now.
[22:28] Yeah. Um, well I was lucky to have that dog, my business partner at the time for the first four or five years that we were. Actually, it was four years that we were in business, so I had like a built in helper buddy partner and so that, that made it a lot easier. And I think Matt, my husband and appreciated Doug, my work husband even more because he's like, oh great. I don't have to be there to hold lights and check off your checklist of families. But yeah. Um, I think in maybe you can relate to this to the busier you get, obviously the better cashflow you have. And so then you can actually up your game and hire people to help you. Do stuff which is nice and it's invaluable when you find good.
[23:12] Um, so, so you said you, you were still in corporate, you started the business. Uh, so you said it was a four year transition.
[23:22] So we started in 2011 and then I officially became full time in January of 2016. So it's been two years, a little over two years. So what, what was that transition process like? Um, what at the time I was working at Alaska Airlines, which was a dream job for me. I love that company. I'm their customers are like a lot of companies in this area in Seattle, especially like Nordstrom's, Alaska, emulate a brand of customer service that I think I've built my business on. Like my customer service is one of the most important pieces to me. Obviously delivering amazing photos is a huge piece, but like offering the customers a great experience from start to finish is like so important, um, as a huge cornerstone of, of Seattle flashing lights. So anyway, um, was working in Alaska as a senior analyst for them in the warranty maintenance and engineering department. So I basically just put in my notice that, uh, the transition, it was a crazy busy job, like it was very time consuming and very stressful. Um, so it was taking a toll on my quality of life because I was working 50 hours a week at that job and then working still about 30 to 40 hours a week doing photo. So I was like, not sleeping, you're not doing anything, you know, I look back on it and I'm like, I don't know how I survived. To be honest.
[24:56] I couldn't. I mean, I always found that nine, 10 month transition brought the, almost the end of me and I could imagine that um, you know, stress out over five years. That's a lot.
[25:08] It was. Yeah. Um, so, but yeah, I mean the, when we actually decided, I think when Matt and I sat down to look at the actual possibility of me doing this full time was in June. And then the transition basically took about six months to like figure out when the best time was to like notify and give my work enough time to like find a replacement. And I didn't want to leave them hanging either because I still love that company.
[25:33] So what, and that is interesting that you brought up where you have that because of that customer service that you want to emulate because I didn't think about that a lot where you know, what we do in terms of like the visual medium. I mean it's a, you're right, like people may like your photos are not picking on me like, you know, my videos or not. But in terms of like things you can control, like everybody appreciates good customer service and everybody appreciates that sort of thing. So, uh, I guess talk about that more about what you hope to your clients, kind of that experience that you hope they go through it.
[26:05] Yeah. Um, I mean it's like I said, it's a huge cornerstone of my business. Um, I treat every client that comes to me. How, like, how I would want to be treated and you know, if there, if there's any issue that they encounter that something within my control, um, I want to do everything in my power to help solve the problem, to help whatever, whatever it is to help make it an easy transition. I know besides just I'm documenting a wedding day or like taking photos of a family or whatever it is and I want them to feel at ease with me and know they're in really good hands and that if anything were to go wrong, but I wouldn't just leave them high and dry ever. And I think it's reflected well. Like we've, we are the top rated photography business on yelp. If you search for photographer, we're the number one that pops up. We have a five star review all around and I have customers that have been with me for the entire time I've been in business even though my pricing has gone up, which I think speaks to the level of service that we provide them. They wanted to stick around because they like knowing the relationship factor too of course. But like they like knowing that they're going to be well taken care of always. So I'm talking about
[27:23] it's January now. You've, you've made that transition a, do you remember that first day or that first week when you were like, this is it, I mean, do you have any memory of that?
[27:34] Um, I remember being super excited that I didn't have to put on like work clothes. I think I spent the end, January is like January through march is usually my slower season because in Washington it's like the worst weather and obviously not high for weddings typically. Um, so I kind of purposely picked that time of year just so that I had an easier. I wasn't like hitting, hitting my busy season. I actually had like a whole week off and I got to sleep in. It was so amazing. Um, so I just remember like lounging around quite a bit, which sounds really professional and awesome, but it was definitely something I needed. I needed a little break.
[28:16] You're working 80, 90 hours a week, I think for a long time.
[28:21] Right? It was, I felt, I felt like it was well deserved.
[28:26] Um, do you, and this is probably a no-brainer question, but I mean, do you enjoy having the, uh, your own company and something that you can take pride in, in terms of like kind of how you present yourself out? I mean, I know that working in corporate, like you said, this is great, but it is something to have ownership over something your own
[28:45] 100 percent. Like I, I absolutely love my business. I love being self employed. I love creating my own schedule and I love being flexible. Like that's a big piece of the customer service to being flexible for my clients and not having to have a full time job to juggle with my business allows me to be extra flexible for the people I'm working with. Um, it's also really rad to actually get to spend time with my husband and I have a couple days off every once in a while, which is pretty exciting. And my work life balance is noodles better. I'm so much happier. But yes, owning my own business has been one of the best decisions that I've ever made in my life. And I'm so glad I took the leap.
[29:29] Yeah. And not that you can't, um, you know, do, do both and be successful. But I do think when it, when it is your primary focus in your primary source of income that, like you said, that flexibility and that service does through we're like, yeah, you're trying to juggle and can work weekends or critical days, don't like you may just not be able to be accommodating. Even if you want to write, I have to go to work or I have to. And so I think that, um, having that sole focus, I think writing, like you can just meet your clients kind of whenever they need maybe because it's, you're able to build your schedule around that.
[30:05] I did want to say, uh, so you guys just got back from a trip, right? When you're talking about work-life balance and you guys go somewhere super exotic. I saw on Facebook,
Well unfortunately this year my husband doesn't have a great amount of vacation time, so I had been doing a lot of traveling, which is really awesome that he is supportive of that. I actually just started working with a travel company as well, um, in terms of doing photos for them, which has been amazing because as I told you, getting into piloting was so I could travel. Um, it's been a cool transition to see the photography marry up with. One of my other passions is traveling. Um, so I'm working with a company called troopers journeys and it's a startup out of Austin and I just got paid to go to Ecuador and take pictures of an eco lodge out there and a nature photos of all the animals and wildlife and all that. It was amazing. So yes, I just got back from that. Um, but it was technically a work trip, but that's great if that's your goal. I'm actually going to Nicaragua at the end of this month with them again and doing a yoga retreat out there and they really focus on sustainable travel. So like five percent of all of their profits go to the local community to either do more education and women's empowerment and like ecological preservation for like the area. So I, I totally get on board with all that because I'm very much a dirty hippy when it comes to environmental work and being sustainable. So
Do you, is that going to be a focus now or partial focus?
[31:46] It will be, yeah. I hope this kind of opens some new, uh, you know, obviously everything with photos you can get into an area, but it's to, I feel like to keep myself creatively relevant. It's good to not just do one thing all the time. I'm obviously do weddings, you know, I'm really good at doing weddings, but um, you know, I switch it up, do family, newborns engagement, which is kind of wedding related. But um, it's been amazing doing something completely different with the travel photography. But to kind of answer your question, my husband, we're saving up all of our vacation right now. We're on vacation. We're going to Antarctica next, this upcoming January, and that will be the last continent that will check off my list.
[32:27] I saw that as well. Uh, that you've been to. All the continents are big travelers.
[32:31] Yeah. So we're really excited. We're going to Buenos Aires and then I'm down. We're taking like a two week boat ride to the actual continent Antarctica and will be camping one night, only one night on the continent. So I'm really stuff's Kinda terrifying. Terrifying. Yeah. But that's, that's our jam, you know, it's the adventure.
[32:53] Um, so to get back, uh, so, so now you're, uh, you're working full time, you're doing weddings a, you're loving that, happy, successful.
Um, what, was there a point there now? Like do you feel like it's just kind of being on that upward growth or do you feel like there was a point where you feel like, OK, we're really cliquey now or we're really, I'm really doing what I'm supposed to be doing in terms of like numbers and clients and happiness and things like that?
[33:23] Well I think, um, you know, kinda working full time in corporate America while I was building up my business, allowed more flexibility for me to like get my feet under myself and make sure that I was on track to doing what I wanted to do financially. Um, so that I didn't feel like I was struggling my first year. Um, you know, photography especially with weddings is kind of unique because your people are planning pretty far out in advance. So it's nice because you usually book weddings a little bit further in advance to kind of have a projection of what you're going to deal with, which can be both a blessing and a curse because if you're not looking out then you can get a little stressed because there are some last minute, you know, planners or people. I'm a people not jumping on the, the photography piece of their wedding as soon as maybe they should to ensure availability.
[34:21] But, um, no, I think I really, the first year that I went full time with photography, it was the year I felt like I really reach my financial goals. Um, yeah. Anytime you do any changes, I feel like, um, it takes, it takes your business a little time to stabilize after doing a rebranding or price changes or anything. Um, but I felt like my skill level and the experience that I was offering my customers deserve to a more appropriate price point. So I did increase my pricing and offered more to my clients and this past year 2017 I saw a decrease in bookings, but it was kind of Nice because I was able to offer that was part of the goal was I wanted to take on less clients and offer a more personalized approach to their wedding photos, which is exactly what I was able to do. So
Talk to me about Seattle flashing lights where you talk about, you know, your brand new. If you could sum up kind of what you are about or what you want people that are looking for when they find you. What is that?
[35:26] That's a good question. Um, I think my ideal client is somebody who fully trust in my creative process. Like obviously you can go on mine and see. I have a lot. I have a large portfolio, have lots of full collections people can see. So like you said, it's very subjective. If they liked my work, they liked my work, but I want them to put trust in me and know that they're hiring me to do a job that, that I will do well and I'm not necessarily micromanage or try to show me a pinterest board with 8,000,000,000 photos on it that they want me to mirror, you know, because I feel like that doesn't help the creative process. Um, so yeah, my, my ideal clients are people who trust me, who are, who are fun to be around and uh, enjoy living life, you know, not putting the entire focus of their wedding planning on the actual planning, but on the fact that they're getting married and they're marrying their, their person. Um, because I think that's, that's the end goal of the wedding is that you get to them and be married to somebody and it's great to put a lot of emphasis on the details and planning. But, um, they, you know, I, every time I talk to my duke, my pre-wedding console with my clients, I always like try to like remind them like, enjoy this, this is the last, the last time you're not going to be husband and wife and like this is a big, this is big time to me. Still is one of the best days like I've ever had in turn. Memorable. Yeah, the energy and the couple. And they were excited, obviously. Beautiful. But I mean just, it was just something about like, I don't know, it was just something in the air that day. I mean even going back now, I'm like watching that video again. And just so if that's the kind of clients that you're attracting, I mean then that's obviously gotta be pretty infectious, you know, to you and pretty addicting, right to that kind of energy. And we talk about that.
[37:24] People that I do get to, I get the opportunity to work with, have similar personalities to me and I feel like we've done a good job with my branding to attract the right fit. Because it is such a personal business. It's not, you know, it is a business, but at the same time, like it's really personal photos, that's what you're going, how you're going to remember everything or videos, how you remember the whole day, all the rest of your investments that you make for your wedding, that's how you're going to archive them is with the pictures or the videos. So it's a really important job, right. But, um, I feel like the people that I attract are more on my personality level, which is awesome because then we click and it makes it way, way better for both of us. Like they feel a rapport with me, I feel to record with them. Um, we get excited, you know, together and feed off that energy together and it's great. And I feel that way about the wedding pros that they work with to like obviously it was really fun working with you and uh, we kinda had a similar work process that we did while we were there and enjoyed the couple, enjoyed the day, enjoyed everything. So
[38:32] I mean that, that goes directly into like, like I wanted to do this interview series and in cause nowadays I do think a lot of the Times people are choosing their wedding vendors, you know, because of who they are because of their personalities and you know, they might meet with, you know, 10 or 15, you know, I mean I know all the couples meet with a lot of photographers, especially for the book. And so I think that like, you know, whoever like whenever your personality is now is very important than like instrumental in like the businesses that you have, like the types of clients you've attracted. I think like you coming on and doing this is so important because that does show kind of your personality and that people that are attracted to that, you know, we'd be attracted to work with you.
[39:13] Yeah, I totally agree. And then like the, you know, obviously I think everybody who's been in the wedding industry for awhile that they like to work with, right? And that they refer other people out too, which is great because it's like when a couple's going into their planning, that's it's overwhelming, you know, there's, it's great that there's one wire and the knot and Google reviews and yelp and, and all that. But like they don't know those people reviewing from anywhere. So if they find a vendor that they feel like they're really clicking with and it has a similar style of work that they like the personality that they like and then refers them to other vendors, they can kind of rest assured that like, dude, you've been doing this for a really long time. Like, you know, the people in the industry and these are people that I can trust and that will probably have a similar style and feel in terms of their personality and quality that you as the vendor that they hired do as well. I hope. Anyway.
[40:09] Um, talk to me about, um, you know, so I'm Mary Jane and I'm going to get married and I am interested, you know, in, in your photography. Walk me through that process, right? What is the experience of somebody working with you all flashy lights? What does that look like?
[40:26] Um, well, usually it starts with an email. Um, I mean it can, we start with the call too, but usually we get an email in and um, I always like to meet up with my potential wedding clients first. You know, I give them some basic information to see if we're a good fit in terms of basic pricing style, all of that. And usually it's right away we are because they've done some research, but then I definitely want to meet up to make sure that I'm a good fit for them personality wise and that they're a good fit for me too because like I said, it's so important to like be able to feed off of each other through the entire creative process and make sure we're spending the whole day together. I don't want them to be miserable because they don't enjoy spending time with me.
[41:11] Like that's not going to do anybody any favors. So like, if I'm not their style, um, in terms of how I am as a person, it's not going to hurt my feelings because I want them to have a good day, you know, so we meet up, usually I like to see if they want to grab a beer or coffee either is totally fine. Um, and then we just chat and be like, look through a more extended portfolio of my work. I get to hear more about like how they met here, more about their story, um, answer a lot of questions for them and just spend some time talking and getting to know each other and then if they decide on the right fit, it's always a celebration. We contract from there. And then, um, I continued to help them answer questions and stuff throughout the whole planning process.
[41:54] Um, I do have a list of preferred vendors, trusted vendors that I have loved working with and happily send them their way just to help with, um, their planning process. And then usually we do an engagement session so that they can, in a more low key setting, get to see how I work. It really helps too because then the day of their wedding they have the full amount of trust. They know what I do specifically with them so they can see or they already know, like she's going to take great photos. Even if we feel awkward, like you can always just seem like they just feel so much better. Especially usually the guy. So I'm not like, that's something people do on a normal basis. Like pay somebody to follow them around and take pictures. I mean, maybe they do, usually not my clients. Um, so yeah, it's great.
[42:45] So it gets worked with them ahead of time. Um, and then we always have a pre-wedding console, you know, a couple of weeks before the wedding, I send them over some homework. I have a shot list that I provided them to make sure we're all on the same page because I want them to maximize their investment in me to make sure I'm getting what exactly what they want. Um, because it is all about them, to me that's, that's the service I want to provide is like, it's never cookie cutter. I always want to get to know my clients, know exactly what they want, you know, it's so hard. I, I developed such great relationships with all of my clients to be honest. I don't mean to sound like cheesy, but it's true. Like I could any of the weddings that I've done in the seven and a half years I've been doing this.
[43:35] I remember their names, I remember their probably the names of their bridal party, their colors, like where are they got married? Like I, it's important to me like I'm being invited into their, one of the most important days of their life, the beginning of their official love story, right? So, um, each winning I feel like is so unique anymore that there's, there's cool things about each one. Um, I did just have a winning winter wedding and Suncadia this January and it was so amazing. Like everything about it from start to finish was amazing. Like the couple was just awesome. They totally trusted me and they were so much fun to work with. It was a little bit smaller of a wedding, but like they really paid attention to the details and they were so all about each other that it was so much fun to like watch them. That's you, Britain, Delaney. If you watch this, you guys were so rad. I had so much fun working with you. Um, so I know I'm going to point them into the direction of this podcast. But yeah, it just like, it was a great way to start 2018 like totally refreshed me and you know, gave me so much energy about the upcoming wedding season because it was just snow, like snow at a wedding. So. Awesome. Yeah, everything about it was great.
[44:52] Do you ever, uh, do you ever get anxious? I know that uh, you know, October, November, whenever things start to slow down in Seattle and then it is like that except for maybe, Oh, you know what? Either whatever, but like do you feel that need to be creative in, in be doing things like that?
[45:12] Um, well yeah. You know, like to kind of almost like refresh your creative eye right. I, you know, it's, it's great. I get to do a lot of side projects. I'm just on my own, especially with like the travel that I get to do for me because I don't just do weddings. Um, my busy season stays busy usually until mid December because I'm doing a lot of family pictures and like holidays and stuff. Um, but yeah, so for me, slower season is usually like January through march and that is the time I get to kind of refresh myself. Like take some time off. I usually do a lot of travel during that period just to like get away because I don't get to vacation during the summer, you know, you're, you're editing when you're not taking photos are not doing video, you're editing and you're delivering in galleries and you know, meeting with clients and all of that. All of those behind the scenes fun things. Uh, but yeah, it's, it's good to like go out and hike around the area or just like get out and take pictures of stuff that you fully want to take pictures of it and sometimes I forced like my family into doing like my sister and my nephew have forced them into doing photos just because I get to do that.
[46:22] Do you? I am and you've spoken to mean you do this. The second again, another obvious question, but one thing I lament as a videographer is the need for a professional videographer is like your wedding and then maybe if like your sister's getting married where I always do have envy where you get to live with. I mean I really do because like you said, you get to do the wedding, the engagements, you know, family or newborn photos. I mean talk about that and just being able to live with your clients like that.
[46:54] It's, it's so awesome. Like I said, I, I just absolutely love the fact that I have families that had been wearing a, they are families on because they have kids and you know, like they, I've been watching them grow and documenting their lives for years and it's just such an important part of it invigorates me and it's just so much fun to like see a family from the time we've done engagement photos to like their kids going into school and like getting to see them once a year actually just booked a family. They have a little boy who I think he's turning four this year and I've worked with them from engagement all the way through and I get to see them every year and it's so fun to like see how big he is now and getting to continue to tell people's stories over the years with my photos is one of my favorite parts of the job. And like just the amazing clients that I've, that have now become friends, um, is just so special.
[47:52] Something I've been thinking a lot about lately. I think the only other. My wife's a teacher and I think that that maybe has a similar right where obviously you're, you're these kids and then they go on and you're kind of able to see, but I do think that our industry is unique in that way where even if you only touch that client, you'll one time or two or three, you know, that you're able to kind of follow them and be with them. Right?
[48:19] Oh yeah. And it's, I mean this might sound a little creepy, but like I've gone over to client's houses, like to do family photos with them or whatever and to see it like to go into their home or obviously the welcoming into somebodies home like that and then capture their life is fantastic, but then you walk in and you see your work up on their walls and you're like, this is why I do what I do is because I'm preserving these moments for them that obviously they treasure as well. Um, they find value in and there is nothing, nothing like that. It's great.
[48:48] Tell me about your first wedding.
[48:52] It was super small. It was at, see I remember the couple was Bill and Olga and they got married, um, over at woodland park, the Rose Gardens over there. So like outside of, um, the woodland park zoo, their photographer had fallen through and they contacted us the day before their wedding, but it was like 11 people and that was our very first wedding. It went great. Their photos were on our website for a really long time because they were awesome. But even that first year we, um, we had an 11 weddings that we shot our very first year, um, but a much smaller scale, which was a good way to get our feet under us to get an idea of what we wanted to do. But yeah, even that there was so much energy and so much love and like seeing bill the first time he saw his wife that day, you know, like the first time their first look. Um, I don't remember any other feeling like that, like just, you know, like the excitement and the love and just, you could just see everything on their faces. And it was just, it was so awesome and it doesn't get old like that never gets old. So yeah.
[50:07] What's next in terms of professionally, where do you see yourself or what's your next big goal or milestone?
[50:18] Um, I really want to get into more intimate weddings. That's kind of my favorite genre to, to work with, um, particularly because I feel like the focus for people that are doing smaller weddings, um, they're really focusing again on their marriage, their love for each other. They don't necessarily have to have every single detail exactly perfect because their relationship is perfect to them, you know, and to, to people in their life. And so they're really focusing on celebrating that love. Um, I think it's more my style to like my husband and I had a really small wedding, um, all the people there, it was like 30 people obviously because we are getting married in Fiji, but, but that's just more my speed. And um, so I'm really trying to like market myself more towards a more intimate weddings. That being said, the big weddings can be really fun and really awesome to like Maria and Adam's amazing. Truly.
[51:18] I remember sitting there filming a cocktail hour. It was like surreal and I'm like, Oh that Steve Ballmer sitting right there. He didn't totally see ball. He goes, oh yeah, that's like our neighbor or replay it all for. It was something like super casual, you know, richest man in the glass in these stands in here at the cocktail hour one.
[51:48] Yeah. That, I mean, that was just such a gorgeous. Have such gorgeous wedding.
[51:55] If people want to learn more about you, what you do, what you're about, where should they reach out? Where should they look? What should they do?
[52:05] A website. It's www.seaflashinglights.com. There's a lot of wonderful information in there and they can always reach out via facebook, instagram. Um, I would like to think that my instagram page is fairly exciting. I post a lot of professional stuff, but also a lot of like day to day stuff. Um, you will see a lot of my dogs on there because they're adorable and amazing. But uh, yeah, instagram's great. Facebook is great. Email is always great. Call me up. We can go grab a beer and go grab a coffee. I love talking about my passion, which is Seattle flashing lights and doing photos. It's great
Bucket list venues around here. I mean, obviously you can check out.
[52:54] I don't, I'm going to space on the name, but it's the, I think is it tree house point, the one that has the tree houses over in his acquire, something like that. Yeah, it just looks so unique and amazing. I would really like to do a wedding over there. I feel like that would just be a fun venue to work at and just really unique. Um, I also wouldn't mind doing like an elopement or something smaller up at a rattlesnake ridge. That'd be pretty Rad because it's so beautiful up and your big outdoors-y yeah. Um, but I mean there's just, there's so many venues, so many venues. I'm Chateau St Michelle, I feel like would be a really cool one to do a wedding at two. I haven't been up there yet. Yeah. Perfect. Well thank you so much for coming on today. I really appreciate, uh, your time and willingness to come on and share your story and uh, this has been a lot of fun and uh, stay tuned. Next week we'll have another professional wedding vendor interview coming up. Thanks for listening on. Get to know your wedding pro. Thanks.
Episode 2 (Alan Chitlik, Puget Sound DJ) -
[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to get to know your wedding pro. I'm Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a video production company based out of West Seattle, Washington. We do wedding videography, corporate videography and film basically any other live event that you might have. And today I'm here with a very special guest, Alan of Puget Sound DJ and Alan is a dear friend of mine. And Alan, why don't you introduce yourself?
Well you did such a great job. I'm Alan Chitlik of Puget Sound DJ and I am indeed. Reid's friend and I'm thrilled to be chatting with you today.
And, uh, Alan, we go way back. Uh, you actually was, were my DJ for my own wedding. And uh, how was that experience?
[00:48] Great. It was great. I, I, you know, it was fun to get to know you professionally and then get to know Dorothy or now wife from the standpoint of all the wedding planning.
[00:58] And so I wanted to bring Alan on here today to help launch this podcast in our new interview series. A because he is a friend and I think he's somebody that's very talented than somebody who's work I stand but B I do think has a very interesting story and one that I think would really translate well to kind of this long form interview series of podcasts that we're doing. Um, first off, Alan, why don't you just tell us a little bit about, uh, what is a wedding DJ what is it you guys do?
[01:28] So I am a sole proprietor of puget sound. Dj is basically my company name. So when I work with a couple it is me and that's important for couples to know. There are some DJ companies that are literally that and they've got multiple DJs that you may or may not meet, you may or may not develop a relationship with. And that's fine for some people. For some people who want to have a partner by their side and know who that partner is. That can be one of the benefits of going with more of a sole proprietor, standalone DJ.
[02:04] And when people talk about, you know, a DJ versus an MC or you know, I think a lot of people kind of intersperse those words. Can you give a little bit of background and like what do you do as a DJ? What do you do as a master of ceremony?
[02:18] That's a great question. So I think when most people are starting to plan their wedding, they think of DJ and they think of music. They're like, OK, this DJ is going to help me play music and people are going to dance. And then as you get a little bit more into it, you realize that there's a lot more to it and a lot going on. In my opinion, the role of an MC is so critical to your whole day where you want to make sure your guests know what's going on and that they're engaged with you and your story as a couple. So I think that it's important to evaluate as you look for a DJ, for somebody who you feel confident in both of those skills.
[03:09] Yeah. I see a lot of the people post or are frequently asking about just simply play music at the ceremony, you know, what's the best ipod setup or what's the best way? Is this possible? I mean, what do you tell people or what do you think, uh, what advice would you have for people that maybe think that they don't necessarily need that?
[03:28] I think that you have two distinct areas. In most case you've got a reception area where usually you will eat and then you will celebrate and then you've got your ceremony area. And for me the ceremony is really the heart of your day. It is why you are pledging yourself to this person and you want to make this very public. And it's nice when couples can be heard and when their vows come through and usually if there's a bride in the wedding, they have selected a song to come down the aisle to that's meaningful to them. And so you really want someone who can make sure that all of that happens appropriately. Um, so that for ceremony sound, in my case, I set up whole separate sound system and have the music there. I have a microphone usually on the efficient and the groom and I have several sources for the music just to make sure I've got a backup because I think that ceremony is very important and I think every has got to figure out what their values are and what their priorities are. And for some couples that's not going to be that important and that's great, but for others who are, then it's very legitimate to ask your DJ or however else you're going to get your ceremony amplified, figure that out.
[05:02] So nowadays you focus mostly exclusively on weddings. I'm sure you guys do other live events as well. What I want to go back now and talk about kind of where you got your star and I guess what were you doing before you got into being the wedding DJ?
[05:18] Sure. Well, I, I'm going to take you all the way back. I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and my dad was a pharmacist and he was a pharmacist in an era where the men did one thing their whole life and literally I saw him come to home from work almost every day and it was the same for him. You know, virtually every day he was counting out the prescriptions and he was giving advice to the patients about how to take the medicine and things like that. But I really felt like he was bored and so one of the lessons that I always took from that was that I wanted to do something that was different every day and that had a different set of challenges. And so in my. My first career actually out of college, I was a newspaper reporter and I can hardly even tell you how much change there isn't that one day you might be covering a trial, one day you might be covering at county fair, one may day you may be covering a company being bought or something like that.
[06:27] But it really caused me to have that experience where it was always different and I just loved that so much and probably one of the things that I still draw upon from those days is an ability to listen because as a good reporter you have to understand what the people are telling you so that you can communicate that. And when I work with a couple now I really focus on what they are telling me as well. So I love personalizing weddings. I love figuring out what is it that makes this couple of tick and how can we present that. So I do take the time to listen and sometimes I'll keep asking questions and just to try and find out what is it that's going to make this evening unique and different and not some sort of cookie-cutter wedding. My travels eventually took me to Seattle where I worked in the corporate world for awhile at what we sent him.
So we would call the Redmond software giant and some of what I did there involved doing different presentations and things like that. So I would literally be on the road and be doing demonstrations of Microsoft products and I even had one event where Steve Ballmer and I shared the stage and what that gave me was a pretty strong confidence in my ability to be in front of a crowd and gather people's attention and communicate what I needed to communicate. And I think those presentation skills are so helpful to me today. When you have a wedding DJ, you want them to be able to communicate with all your guests and let them know what's going on. I mean there are times where I'll hear back, I never knew the cake cutting was taking place and you want somebody as a couple. You want somebody who's going to give the guests all the information that they need so that they understand everything that's happening. I enjoy introducing a wedding party so that the guests know who are these people so important that they're standing up with this couple on their wedding day. To me, that's important. I absolutely introduce everybody who's giving a toast and try to get the guests in a of mind to understand why is this person so important to the couple and to pay attention to them. So there's elements in that background of Microsoft years that really still come into play. Every wedding I do,
[09:10] I will really, uh, echo that sentiment of, of your organization and kind of knowing, um, you know, making sure that you introduced specific people. I mean as a videographer, I don't know how many weddings I go to where like we're getting ready for the entrance and the Dj is with the mother of the bride. Like, OK, now who's coming up next or you know, before the toasts, like, OK, well how many toes and you know, like for our wedding, you know, you were instrumental along the way with making sure that we knew OK, well, who are the people that are going to toes, why are these people toasting, you know, when should the toe sap and all those sorts of things. So, uh, I mean, I definitely agree that, you know, you need to have somebody more than just hitting play on the ipod or whatever, that somebody that's really working with you in terms of kind of who's important for your day. Going back to, um, when you were a newspaper reporter, do you feel like that got you used to maybe a little bit more of the organized chaos is a wedding today. Do you think that that made you really good on your feet in terms of knowing, you know, being adaptable or how, what skills did you learn back then that you still translate now?
[10:20] I would definitely say organization is important for a DJ and really your whole wedding team, I think you want to find people who have that in their background. But yes, as a reporter, you're often even just on a single story, you're trying to gather different sources of information and bring it all together in a way that makes sense to everybody. And you know, in the same way I might go to a couple's wedding website, I might chat with some of the people in their wedding party or their parents or things like that to really, really, really fully understand who they are and what their relationship is all about. And that way when I introduced them into the reception, I can make sure that I have all the nuances and all the things that really help tell their story.
[11:18] Yeah, I would agree with that. I think that, you know, when we were planning our wedding and a lot of the questionnaires and other things that, you know, you had us fill out and I think that research that you did I think really did help, you know, when we had our grand entrance and you were able to give a story, you know, about the proposal and I do think it makes the audience or the people that are there, the guests really feel like you're connected to kind of what's going on, um, that you are more than just somebody that's kind of in the corner. I mean, do you think that that's important? And obviously you do, but why do you think that's so important?
[11:48] Well, for me, the really rich reward of this job is to work with a couple and and get to know them and help them get the wedding that they want. Not just play good music and create a dance party, but really understand at a very fundamental level what makes, what makes them tick and what do they want from their wedding and try and help them get that. And I think the only way you can do that is to have this personal relationship. I'll tell you a quick story. I learned once about a DJ company in town that trained there DJs to say bride and groom all the time. And the reason they train their DJs to say bride and groom all the time is in case you forgot. Then you wouldn't be on the spot. And I want to tell you, you know, I, if you say now I'd like to welcome the bride and groom for their first dance.
[12:53] That is way less impactful. Ladies and gentlemen, for their first dance, Dorothy and Reid, you know. And so I get to know all of my couples and I'm not gonna, forget any of their names. Um, and so to me that's, that level of personal relationship is really important and it helps make the career quite satisfying and I think from a couple's standpoint, knowing that somebody is going to take the time to get to know you and have your back boy, that can just give you a lot of confidence on your wedding day. So going back to when you were working at Microsoft, um, where you fulfilled there, were you happy? I mean, why, why, why aren't you still doing that today? I guess it was a, it was a corporate job. That was fine for a while. Uh, but I, I never intended to stay in the corporate world forever. And what had happened for me, I was always that music guy I had, I'm almost ashamed to admit 2000 cds. I'm used to go to all sorts of concerts and things like that. And so, um, my friend Annie called me on a Wednesday and said, Hey Alan, might my DJ just bailed? Can you DJ my wedding?
[14:26] Yes, Annie, I can, um, and I and I went and she had a very clear idea of what music she wanted to hear and it was in an era where it was mostly about the music. Then, um, I don't think I did introduce the people who are giving toasts or whatever, but um, I really enjoyed it and I was so happy for her that it went well. And then I, I ended up sort of starting to DJ for some of my work friends. I was in a department where lots of people were in their twenties and getting married and so it was very obvious to them, hey, I'm going to DJ for a wedding. And I really came to enjoy it.
[15:05] I mean, did you have the equipment or. I mean, how did you, it's not a simple feat, you know, the DJ wedding like that.
[15:12] In my early days, I would rent I, that was my, my quote-unquote fee for those friends was I asked them to reimburse me. But then as I started doing it more, I started buying more and more equipment. And over the years, especially as I went full time and committed myself to it, uh, I have found that having good equipment and having backup equipment can make a lot of difference. I think in particular, having good speakers and good microphones will help everybody here. Everything. And when somebody gives a toast, you want to hear that inflection in their voice and if it's the ceremony and the groom is getting emotional and his voice is cracking during the vows, you want to hear that. Like those are big moments over the years I've definitely upgraded all my equipment, big garage full of it.
[16:09] Um, so then how did that final transition work, uh, when you decided to kind of take the lead full, full time, how was that a scary decision where you sure are?
[16:19] How did that come? I think anytime that you, that you dive into the unknown, it can be a little bit scary. But my, my wife was still working at a corporate job and so we had that. And um, I just really, really, really knew that this was something that was going to be fulfilling for me. And it's just exceeded all my expectations.
[16:49] Yeah. So, and I probably should have prefaced with you are married, uh, you guys have an amazing family. Did you guys have kids at the time when you were starting out or how.
[16:58] I had weddings a many years prior to us getting married or a skin having our twins. Um, but it's also a field that is great for me in my family situation where I get to be with my kids mostly during the week, you know, I get to take them to school, get to pick them up. And most of my work is evening meetings and events on weekends. And so we never had to have daycare and I have, it's, it's worked out great. And honestly at their school, uh, I was a pretty cool that um, you know, if I had still been at Microsoft and been going to school, like that's not uncommon in this area, but at their school or their elementary school being the DJ was pretty, pretty cool.
[17:59] That's awesome. That's really funny to think about. Um, so now you're, you know, your Puget Sound DJ, you DJ weddings full time. Uh, was it immediate an success is start slow. I mean, I joked with Dorothy when, when I was doing my interview that, you know, after I took the leap and quit my job, um, there are a lot of really long dog walks and a lot of really a lot of the time I spent volunteering at school trying to fill my time. What was it like when you, when you quit your corporate job?
[18:33] I would say for me, I knew pretty early on that if I was going to do this, that I would, that I wanted to do it well. And one of the challenges in the field like deejaying and wedding videography as well, is that you are doing it alone. You're, you're not in an office environment where you can talk to 10 people who just do the same thing you do. So I completely embraced training and education. I went to the National DJ Conference for many years in a row, um, any resource I could get my hands on in terms of training DVDs and, and I would travel all over the country for workshops which are usually six to eight people and you get up in front of the other students in the workshop, you're being videotaped and the instructor says, OK, how would you introduce this mother son dance, and then you show how you might do it and then you get critiqued on it. No, I didn't believe you. You didn't have a lot of emotion. It's pretty intense, but it really helps you understand more about your role and makes you able to do it so much better. So I committed myself to a lot of those kinds of things. So it really helped me elevate my skill level quite a bit.
[20:06] That's absolutely fascinating and I would never even think that that sort of thing exists. What were some of the biggest lessons that you learned from that? Or are best advice that they gave you or takeaways?
[20:18] I think that when I first started, before I went to my first workshop, I had a fear of not getting in the way is an MC, you know, cause there is a reputation of DJ was sort of being too much of a clown or feeling too desperate or not and I never ever, ever wanted to be that guy right there. DJ was so annoying so I back in that era was too quiet and, and, and I didn't do enough. But as I took, workshops are learned the importance of being a good skilled mc because with that capability you can really enhanced the reception for people. You can really let everybody know what's going on. You can really represent that couple on the mic. So it gave me a lot more confidence to take some control. One of the lessons though that I learned is that every time you speak on the mic, you are inviting every guest to pause their conversations.
[21:36] So every time you get on the mic you're interrupting. And so you really, really, really want to only interrupt for something important. And I take that to heat. So for instance, if I'm in charge of sending people to the buffet, who would never get on the mic and say, table seven, table seven, please see or turn as arrived because you've just interrupted tables one through six and eight through whatever for information that means nothing to them. So if I'm going to do it low key, I'll actually go from table to table and just physically say, oh, all right, you're invited to the buffet. Now, uh, there is something else that I enjoy doing if the couple likes it where I will actually be on the microphone armed with questions about the couple and I'll invite the people at the table to try to give me the correct answer.
[22:34] And maybe it's what is the name of Dorothy and Reid's dog? And if they get the question right, the rules are they get to go to the buffet and if they get it wrong, they have to point to another table and send them to a buffet. Um, and so usually I'll try and help them out. Nobody wants, nobody wants to sit there with their arms folded and not get to go. But that does a couple of things in my opinion, it does allow for a smooth eating experience where you get people through the buffet, but not everybody goes at once, but it also helps give more of the couple's personality and their story to the day and especially if you've got good questions, having just turned 15 new things or maybe things that you didn't know. And also I would say we really enjoyed that. I mean, I think also it just kind of kills the bore them. I mean there's nothing worse if you're a guest today and I do think that weddings are really supposed to be fun and entertaining and that's what we liked about what you did with not only our, um, our grand entrance and the story and weaving that, uh, but also, yeah, the introduction to the buffet and the Trivia game. I mean, if we're hiring you to be a DJ, right? I mean we want the entertainment and the fund and I think any of those little moments where you can intersperse that fun and your personality, I think kind of just adds to that overall package. Right? In terms of like who you are and what you're selling besides, you know, your expertise and the equipment, but the personality and kind of those little touches I think are really nice. I just think that's fascinating. I had no idea that you would go into a room like we don't. I suppose there are places now on facebook, I guess there is, but you can post wedding videos and ask for critiques and I'm probably too thin skin to, uh, to, to participate in that. But I couldn't imagine, you know, like putting up a screen and showing my wedding video in front of, you know, 15 or 20 other people and then being berated. So I mean, I just think that's fascinating that that's something that you went through.
[24:54] Well, one thing that almost nobody would've would realize is that in the world of wedding DJs regular people like myself can actually train with the best DJs in the country because that's part of what satisfaction they get from their job is offering workshops, shops. So there's a fellow named Mark Farrell who introduced a lot of the personalization that happens at many of the good weddings these days and I sort of think of him as the, the Babe Ruth of wedding DJ is like the best that ever was and what he does now is these workshops and it is so inspiring to get to go work with someone like that. And there's many of the other most prominent national DJs that present at these conferences also offer workshops. So it's great access and I don't know of any other field. If I was a surgeon, I don't know that I would necessarily get to train with the country's best surgeons if I was a plumber. I don't know that. I don't know who the best plumber has, but if I did, I don't know that that wouldn't necessarily be available.
[26:14] When you. So you mentioned Mark Farrell, um, about him or another DJ. I mean, I guess, what is some traits that they have that you find in, you know, that you emulate or that you want to, to know that inspires you? I guess that you would put him above, you know, a crowded field of, you know, wedding professional DJs.
[26:33] I would say the, the, the thing that some of these DJs would have that would set them apart is just sort of the results that, that when they work a reception that it's, it's going to be very personal for that couple. It's going to run quite smoothly and hopefully you're going to see some things or here's some things that you've never heard before as a guest. Um, from a personal level, what I have observed is a lot of heart that, that these people, I'm just care immensely about their couples. And one thing mark always says at a, at a wedding, everything is a big deal. The toast is a big deal. The cake cutting is a big deal. The, the garter toss as to like everything. And so you really want to understand some of the reasons behind the traditions. You want to understand what motivations a couple has for wanting to do something or not wanting to do something. And I, I personally find it very rewarding to just give a couple of my all, you know, and really dedicate myself to them. Um, and then at the end of the night, hopefully they, they hug me and they say, Alan, my God, that's exactly what we wanted.
[27:58] Um, I think that's really interesting. I think, um, I, I deal with that a lot in terms of where we do corporate videos and wedding videos and I think that a lot of people, you know here weddings or like the gardener or the cake and um, or even a lot of the older generation like my neighbor thinks like, oh, well, you know, why is it such a big deal and why are we putting all this time and energy and money, um, you know, into weddings now when you know, will that you could put a down payment on the house or you could buy a car and a w. I'm generally curious to know like what are your thoughts about sometimes that cynicism, I guess, I don't know if that's the right word, but that people might have or like, well who cares about like cutting the cake? Or why is that? How do you combat that? Or how do you educate that? Or what are your thoughts on that?
I guess big picture. I believe that every couple needs to decide their priorities and decide how important is the wedding to them. And for many couples, the, maybe it's not for other couples, maybe it is. And then within the idea of deciding about how important the wedding is, then what are your priorities? Is it décor? Do you want it to look a certain way? Is it the food or is it an unlimited bar? Is it guests staying and celebrating to the end of the night? What exactly is it that are your priorities? And then that can really help inform how select a team. There's very few people I know that have unlimited budgets for weddings. So it's all a process of prioritizing what's important to you and what you really want. And then at a specific micro level, I guess on the actual wedding, um, I think there are things that come and go and that feel dated. I would say I probably do both and Gardner, man, half half-ish weddings that I do. And that's fine. I'm, I'm, I'm happy to really go through with each couple and figure out what, what feels authentic to you, what feels like you and what doesn't. And we scrapped the stuff that doesn't.
[30:36] But do you ever feel like, um, and, and, and I don't anymore because I'm really happy with, you know, kind of our decision to really focus a lot on weddings. But like I know that like some corporate clients look at, you know, weddings and they're like, oh, well that's not like a real videographer, you know, we needed a corporate videographer or we need. I mean like, do you ever hear that sort of thing about like, oh, like weddings, like, well that's not a, it's not any more valuable or that's not as challenging and it's like, you know, being an mc for like a fashion show or something might be ideal. Because I mean, I, I've heard that a lot over the years and like I'm really comfortable now with what we do and I'm happy that we, you know, I'm a big fan of like building your own hype and your life and like, you know, like Dorothy and I went to Las Vegas and saw there's some hype for it.
[31:28] And um, you know, Dorothy and I went to Vegas to go see a magic show a couple of months ago. Criss Angel and you know, I really was really excited and really made a big deal and Dorothy either was like, I think her friends were like, what is the deal with this? And I'm like, you can't make your own hype, you know, for things that you're excited about. Um, you know, the, what's the point and that's Kinda how I feel about weddings now. Like, man, you know, if you want to do to people on the mountain top and that's awesome. And if you want to have, you know, ice sculptures at the Fairmont. Uh, but I mean, do you ever deal with that or I mean, is that resonating kind of what I'm saying? Do you, do you get that?
[32:09] Oh yeah, absolutely. I think in the DJ world, sort of the equivalent is what events you might specialize in. So for some people, school dances are an option for me, school dances require a real focus on lights and sub woofers and uh, and things like that that are not really my area of focus. I mean, my focus is on that, that relationship and trying to help a couple get what they want. So I am super comfortable at how my career has evolved and I wouldn't have it any other way. I do get that. There's plenty of, um, there are club Djs for instance, who can go out and they can do some amazing mixing and scratching and things like that. Um, and, and that's their passion and they don't really like weddings necessarily because of all the other stuff that you need to be conversant in as a wedding DJ. Whereas I wouldn't particularly be comfortable up on stage at a nightclub just pounding it out. Um, in terms of, uh, the actual wedding day itself, you know, people say like, well, you know, it's just one day, ah, how important do you think the wedding day is in terms of that life of a couple.
[33:50] Nobody forgets their wedding day. And I think most people when they look back will cite their wedding day and the birth of any children as some of the biggest highlights for them. So I think for most couples it ranks right up there and it's been, it's worth, um, making sure you have a day that feels authentic to you and that authentic can mean 10 people on a beach in west Seattle or it can mean, as you were describing before, you know, it could mean 300 of your closest friends at the most luxury hotel or whatever it is for you. Tell me about your wedding day. We, um, we had a Montra no hard choices as we were doing our planning because it can really be, um, it can be a lot as you plan a wedding and it's like, oh, do we invite uncle Jim or do we invite this coworker?
[34:56] That kind of thing. So we, we had it at the Seattle Design Center, um, and we did the ceremony there and the reception there. And that was, that was important to us because we didn't want to lose that, that travel time. Um, we just, I, I still look back and it was such a blast to look out and see all those people from different jobs that we've had from different colleges that we went to and my wife has a big family and, you know, we, we took a big group photo at the end, which I think is a brilliant idea and I encourage everybody to do that. Um, but so we, we take this group and you know, in the front row, uh, there's one of Sarah's cousin's, I guess he would have been about 12 ish or so at the time and 12 years later I DJ his wedding a. So it's just, it's kind of fun to think back all the people, uh, who were there and we had a blast. Um, and we did invest in videography because we're smart. Uh, this commercial plug for best made video is brought to you by Alan look. Um, and Ah, what else should I tell you? Uh, it was, it was a blast. A is the Seattle design center. That's the one that's down in Soho, right? Uh, I think I did a clo bride magazine and event there. It's like the two lawyers, two floors right now, honestly it in, during the week. It is a high end fashion mall where, uh, you know, interior designers go and they have a lot of that, but it has a big wide open sort of courtyard ish area in the middle, which was perfect for us because we needed space for people to be able to spread out and things like that.
[36:55] And in terms of the DJ that you guys had, because I know that if you talk with a lot of, I just worked with the photography a couple, a couple of weekends ago and they had just started doing photography and it was because they had such a terrible photographer at their wedding or there's a lot of video companies to do videos now because they didn't have a videographer. W did you guys have a good experience?
[37:17] We did hire a DJ who we thought was about as high end as we could find. I mean I had done, I don't know, maybe a dozen weddings by then. Um, so we definitely felt like it was important and my, my, the, the story that I, that I'm reminded about him was that during our ceremony there was a point at which my wife had a, a friend do a reading and she was up on this podium lectern thing and he wasn't paying very much attention, so he never, he didn't turn that microphone on and everybody was kind of looking around and we were like, what are we going to do it? And so I literally went over to her and because I had a working lapel mic on my Tux, uh, she was able to read her reading into my microphone and it worked. And in retrospect that was totally a highlight and it made for a great moment on our video. Um, but, uh, I guess I would say he was adequate. Um, but I, I, it definitely helps set a bar that I hoped to exceed.
[38:41] Do you think that I'm now being married and having a family and kids w after Dorothy and I got married, I felt like that made me a better wedding professional. Do you think that having gone through that process makes you better at what you do now than you were before, regardless of the number of wedding, you know, obviously you've done more since being married than before.
[39:05] Absolutely. I think there's a couple of things there. One is that I enjoy the dynamic of working with an engaged couple because they are generally starting to get into a range where the decisions that they make are more complex and more substantial. When you were dating, your decisions are mostly where do you want to eat? What movie do you want to see? Do you want to take a vacation? Um, but then you get engaged and it gets real, you know, do you want to get married indoors or outdoors? Do you want to get married religiously or not religiously? Um, do you want to elope? You know, do you want to invite uncle jed a or do you want to, you know, those are the kinds of things that you have to start thinking about. And so I enjoy working with couples and sort of hearing the dynamics between them, about how they're figuring all those out. Um, and Gosh, virtually every ceremony I ever do, I think about my wife, you know, [inaudible] and that, to me, that's one of the, the great things about weddings is that you are invited to contemplate and recharge your own relationship batteries. And um, so I think if we're a good ceremony or even good toasts a guests usually do that as well. So how fun is that for me to go back and try and be a better husband the next day?
[40:41] Uh, I totally echo that sentiment that, um, as somebody that I think he'd done two or three years of weddings, you know, before I got married, I really didn't get like the groom's emotions. Like I didn't get a lot of that. I mean obviously we're there to work and you know, you know, it's important. But, um, as somebody that broke down and like solved walking down the aisle on my wedding day, like immediately afterward, that switched, totally flubbed my. Remember that. Um, my friend Dominic got married last year and like, you know, we're filming and she, his wife Brooke started giving her valves and like legit, like sobbing, like in the, you know, and that never like I could even cry like now like thinking about it, but that never would have happened before and I, that you know, now being able to commit or connect I think and you probably feel the same way, like really connect with like if the guy is nervous or if the girls nervous or if you know they don't care about something or they do really care about somebody and I think that you can kind of empathize with that.
[41:48] Right. So I'm talking now just kind of about day to day in terms of doing weddings, you have kind of a favorite part of the day. I mean you talked about the ceremonial law than the love. Is that, were you think that, you know, if you had to kind of pinpoint whether it's your favorite 10 minutes of your day or is it a or is it like medium? A couple before me I guess. What is your favorite part of your job?
[42:13] I think that it can really vary depending on the couple and I can never predict when it's going to come about. Um, certainly a beautiful ceremony is great. I like it when people enjoy the entrance and you've created some energy there and the couple enjoys themselves. Um, there are times where the ceremonial dances, that first dance or uh, you know, we're a couple of dances with their parents where you can look at that mom or that dad and know that that two or three minutes they're spending dancing is so meaningful to them and you just look out and there's no other world right then it's just that data and her daughter, you know, I, I just really enjoy that. Um, but you, you just, you can't always tell. I had a wedding last month and during the planning process, the bride had told me that a river of dreams by billy Joel was sort of a run up runner up selection for her father daughter dance. Because they always used to sing it together as a family. And I sort of tucked that information away. And then when Dan and I had gotten, I went to the rehearsal so I got to know the family a bit and her sister as well. And so at one point during the reception during dancing, I started playing it and that's not a typical song I would play, but the reaction of the bride and her sister and her mom, her dad, they were just so excited and they were just, I could tell they were reliving all of those moments when, as the two girls who had been growing up, they would have family dances to that. Like those kinds of moments you can't know that it's going to be like. But when you are in it, it's just amazing.
[44:16] Can you talk about the music playing? I know when we went through our wedding planning and with you, um, I don't think dorothy ever thought that she would care as much about music selection as she ultimately ended up carrying a lot. And I think that it was really cool for us to be able to. I mean, obviously besides what we're going to walk down the aisle too, but I mean I'm talking, you know, reception music, uh, you know, dinner, music, a general dancing music. Um, how much do you work with your couples and how does that selection process work because I know that that was kind of a fascinating as somebody that films weddings all the time and here's the exact same four songs, 98 percent of the time. Um, I thought it was really nice that we didn't have to worry about that. So can you talk about that?
[45:06] I think one important item to point out that when you think about music, you normally start thinking about dance music, but really there are hours of things that are happening before you get to dancing. And so I love eliciting from couples feedback on what they listened to and what they like and what their tastes are and trying to find spots where we can use that. So often it happens that, um, that we play things at dinner or during cocktail hour that sort of reflect their personalities but maybe aren't quite as danceable. And then in terms of music for the ceremony, I like to start with the song that the bride is going to come down the aisle two and then I try to, because that's such a big moment, right? And then many people have thought about what they want playing in that moment and then I like to think about some things that could feel connected to that as everyone else is coming down the aisle.
[46:16] So I backup one song and that other processional song, you kind of want to match that. So if you're doing classical music for bride to come down the aisle, you don't necessarily want to have Frank Sinatra or Tracy Chapman for the wedding party to come down the aisle. So you want to make all that feel pretty coordinated and then even backing up further what guests are going to be seated to. And so whatever a couple's tastes is, I try and design something around that to be playing while all the guests are being seated. So from a guest standpoint it seems very coordinated. Um, and in, in the specific way that I interact with couples, I actually have a website that I set up and I think some many DJs probably do this too, um, where couples can go in and pick as much music as they want and designate it must play play if possible do not play.
[47:17] And I take all that very seriously. If somebody who's got a song on there must play lists that I, I don't know, will achieve what they want. Um, I'll try and diplomatically share that with them. I do have some expertise as a DJ, um, but if they want me to play it, I will play it. And, and I'll, I'll tell you this on the big planning forum that I have, which goes through the whole day, not just music, I literally have taken out maybe the top 12, what I would call polarizing songs where most people have an opinion about the macarena or the chicken dance or the electric slide. And I've literally said, yes, you can play it. No, don't want to hear it. Maybe if somebody requests it or something like that, because I literally want to know from a couple which ones they want.
[48:09] And for many couples, I mean it's, it's not that common to play the chicken dance anymore, weddings, but it should be, I can tell you that in those weddings where a couple has wanted to play it, I will hit play on that song as the first note is out of that speaker. People are running to the dance floor. So for many families are many communities that surround a couple. That's an expectation and it's a highlight. And so I, I want to make sure that a couple gets the music that they want. I think it's important to reflect their personalities in that. Um, and then I'll give you one more piece of my philosophy with regard to dancing. I love hearing from couples what they want and what they like. And I will start by trying to play the most universal things early. So the Beatles, Motown van Morrison, things that many people know, earth, wind and fire, and all the guests feel included because at a wedding you almost always have people of various backgrounds and age and, uh, to, to, to mention a favorite of yours. If you break out pit bull too early, you will find that it brings a certain number of those OK highlight moments earlier. The Times when I see grandparents, grandkids will always remember dancing with their grandparents. Wedding videographer will have some footage for them.
[50:27] What I, uh, I guess what I really want to know is, uh, of those songs, you know, the mockery that chicken dance, what is still your favorite? Because we, I've I don't know how many weddings a Bruno Mars, uptown funk. My Assistant Jeff, every time still taps his foot and singing along the words. And we've probably heard that song 10,000 times. So I want to know a gun to your head. What, what, what, what could you still listen to?
[50:58] I don't get sick of songs. Even if they are popular. And how many times did you say you've heard that one? I, you know, and an uptown funk is a great example. It is a great song and it achieves a great result for my couples. People get up on the dance floor and they dance and in most scenarios, that's what my couples one. So I'm happy. I love, uh, I love doing that. Um, and I'm, I'm thrilled to play virtually anything that works. Um, I do try to shy away a little bit from some of the songs like celebration. We are family love shack, a little bit, ah, old time rock and roll that are so frequently played at weddings that it can come across as though you've got a cookie cutter wedding. Um, so in, in my case, I try and find some more universal things. Um, you know, I play some kc and the sunshine band or September by Earth, wind and fire that are still stuff people know, but it doesn't necessarily make you go, Oh yeah, wedding song.
[52:25] What would be your least favorite song? You never, if you could never hear it again, you know, like cupid shuffle or uh, what would be the one that you're just done. Like I like Whitney Houston I wanna dance with somebody, I could hear that song every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.
[52:45] OK, I'll admit it. Um, shots, there's, there's the song because it's, I have a clean version of shots, but when you play a clean version of shots, you've cut out about a third of the lyrics. Um, and w we, we did play that we did and I think we play the not clean fishery that. Um, but I, I would say that that's a challenge for me. I'm, I'm pretty committed to obtaining edited versions of all the songs. They have two services that I subscribed to so I get the same copies that radio stations get. Um, but, uh, there, there are some songs that are just by the time they're edited, it's not that song anymore.
[53:33] Will you talk about that briefly in terms of the music and they, like you said, the services that you have and what you subscribe to and how that works. I mean, like, I know in terms of videography, you know, I have to pay the license songs to put in the wedding video. Um, I mean, can you just play anything or you, if somebody wants something, how does that work?
[53:53] Question. In the old days, mostly DJs purchased a CD and ripped it to their computer or the old old days they would have albums. Um, was that legal or was that just in order to be able to play music? There are very few legalities. It's usually on the venue, um, to have the license, to have commercial music played in their menu so we don't have any additional licensing. But it's true, like you probably run into, if I ever want to post a, uh, a video showing Alaska a couple did or something like that, a youtube, we'll pull that down because they hear the music in it. Um, but I, I, uh, w now most of the music is digital, so if a couple tells me that they want something in particular, I'll go to Amazon or itunes and just get it for them. Um, but in terms of the newer music, I have two services that really, really keep on top of all the current stuff and then I'm able to download those copies.
[55:13] One of them is once a month and the other is basically throughout the month they'll send me an email that says two new songs are up. Um, but that's what helps me keep up to date on all the music and the AF actually have specially edited versions of the songs that have what we call intros and outros. So they'll just be the music for about 15 seconds at the beginning and at the end, which makes it really smooth to make transitions between those two songs too so that people aren't left on the dance floor. Like, oh, what's coming up next? Or you don't have that silence. You can really blended in nicely to the next song.
[55:56] I guess one of the last things we'll start to kind of wrap up here I want to really talk about is, uh, you know, your role during the dance. I think, you know, when we were talking about, you know, our reception and you said, you know, hey man, um, you know, before the big dance starts, you know, you're going to go get like your last cup of water or go do whatever you need to do because you know, at that point your job and you don't know how many times I've film weddings and they go look for the DJ that, you know, either the music stopped or request a song or maybe I need something I need, you know, and they're not there. And so talk about that and kind of your philosophy of how you important it is to kind of monitor and kind of, you know, maintain that dance for during the reception.
[56:41] Sure. I, I love the art and science of the dance on a given event so that you, you know, what a couple of likes, you hear some requests, perhaps you've even gotten requests in advance, but you take requests from the guests right then and then you just look out with your eyes and see what people are responding to and what they seem to be enjoying. So I rarely go into dancing with a preconceived notion of what I'm going to do during that period. I usually will have a playlist set up for the couple to have easy access to all the songs they want, but in general I look out and see and if people are going with motown, then I might just drop respect or something like that. And I like that. So no, I don't leave, um, you know, actually once the first dance starts, usually I'm there and I think it's important for the DJ to set a mood to that.
[57:49] I'm trying to make sure everybody knows it's OK to let loose and enjoy yourself. So I'm kind of dancing around back there as well. Um, I will say that one of my personal philosophies is not to be one of those Nag DJs. C'Mon everybody. We're going to play the macarena. Let's get out to the dance floor. Read. Really wants to dance with you right now. You know, you don't want that. Like, just play good music. There's deejay tricks that you can do to help fill the dance floor. Um, but that, that's sort of my philosophy is just not antagonize guests. Do you have a go to trick? What is your go to track or is that a trade secret or A. There's a couple. I mean, a slow dance is sort of an obvious one because that tends to bring out a new set of people who may have been sitting on the sideline.
[58:46] And then you got to follow up the slow dance with a killer, a follow-up uptown funk because that will help keep them on the dance floor. Sometimes depending on the venue, I'll do, uh, I'll try and initiate a Conga line and started with a bride because that way people will pay attention to the Congo line. But if she goes around to a song, a like, locomotion grand funk railroad was one of the three prominent artists to do that. Um, so if you do grant from railroads version a, you can have the Conga line end on the dance floor and then go into something like, don't stop believing in or something like that because then you've brought everybody back, things like that.
[59:36] And I will say, um, as a, if you were to do like an ipod thing that a lot of people talk about, that is something like, even if it sounds great, you hit play. It plays the whole way through. I mean, these are all givens, right? I mean the ipod could stop playing or not work or they're connected. I mean if everything goes right and you're able to do an the ipod reception, um, that is not something that you can do, right? I mean, you can't read the room that I have the wedding,
[01:00:04] I don't know, month or two ago. And uh, you know, they just had this string of songs and you know, I think we were scheduled to be there until 10:00 and I mean it was like eight and we were, you know, I mean because you know, people, if it's not building or going or if it's too much or if it's just like songs they really liked to hear. Like you said that maybe that's a great song to play during your cocktail hour, but that's not a good dance song. Right? I mean,
[01:00:34] I don't go to very many ipod weddings, so I don't have as much first-hand, uh, experience even as you do seeing them. But I'll share that with you. Probably don't, but I'll share with you that I, I was, um, taking my kids to Golden Gardens two summers ago and I could hear and that's a place if you've never been there where it's a very nice little community center building and then right outside the door is this very, very public beach. And so people are playing volleyball and uh, they're doing beach things out there, which if you're comfortable with that contrast and you like, it is a great spot. Um, so we were there not for the wedding but for the beach stuff and I could hear the music coming from the building, but almost everybody, all the guests were out on the beach and not as a group, but they had really dispersed quite a bit.
[01:01:40] And I was listening to the music and I will take a back seat to nobody in terms of loving Michael Franti. But two of the three songs I heard where Michael Franti songs, which made me think that it was just on shuffle somewhere and so if you're going to have an ipod wedding, at least heavy thought through playlists, you know, um, and I, I hope that represented what the couple wanted. I don't know, I didn't, uh, I didn't speak to them or anything like that, but it is one of the things that an experienced DJ can bring is really the knowledge of all the music and what typically works well at what point in the evening and that kind of thing. Is there anything else that I haven't touched on that you wanted to talk about in terms of your approach to working with couples or your philosophy in terms of kind of how you approach the day and the other?
[01:02:46] Well, when I was thinking when I was coming over here, I was reminded of a meeting I just had this weekend with a couple who's getting married in July. And it's part of what I love about this job. I love the, the events themselves, but planning can be really fun too. So at one point during their early discussions, they were saying that they liked star wars and they had been listening to a bunch of different music to try and figure out things. So as we started talking about their grand entrance and I was like, well, what about if we play that Cantina theme? And they're like, oh yeah, let's do that. And then the discussions sort of kept going to what if we did light sabers? And so they're going to give their wedding party light sabers that are going to be in the, the guy's pockets for the actual entrance.
[01:03:40] But when, when the couple enters a, they're going to come out and have maybe a standoff light saber battle. But then all of the wedding party is going to either form a tunnel with theirs or do some sort of a cute, interesting entertaining things. And it's just one of those things where you brainstorm and some fun ideas come up. And then later as we were speaking, um, we decided we were going to do this game called a shoe game where we ask people questions and they are answered with either the groom's shoe or the bride's shoe, each member of the couple answers in that way. And so a typical question is who is more likely to eat dessert for breakfast? And then everyone laughs and it's usually, I mean it's, it's a good moment. One of my philosophies is make it as personal as you can.
[01:04:35] So often I will try and write questions just for that couple of what I know about them, but they were pretty eager to keep it going. And they're like, well, what other games can we do? And I was like, well, there's a potential lip sync battle. And they're like, no, I don't think our bridesmaids are. I don't think our wedding party will really go for that. And I was like, well, could you all. And they both were like, oh yeah, I'm. So during the shoe game, one of the last questions is going to be who's better at lip-syncing? And then they're going to each answer themselves and then I'm going to say prove it and then I'm going to hit play on a couple of songs that they will have selected. But I think that's going to be a highlight moment and it's just, it's so fun to play, you know, help people come up with those kinds of things and plan and execute them
and just some didn't and you don't even a very interesting for me when I hear you talk about things like that and now you say, you know, well I know them so I will write these questions. You don't know how many shoe games we do where they'd Google shoe game and the DJ or the MC or whoever just pulls up, you know, cause it's the same if you google it, it's the same 20 questions, you know, who goes to the bathroom the longest are either not, whatever, you know, not personal things. And like you said, it's all about kind of getting that couples personality out there for the gas. So it just, I didn't know you were going to bring that up, but that's really interesting that they, I see that a lot. So
I think that that is an excellent example of an activity where the results can be widely divergent depending on how it's orchestrated and how it's done. Um, and it is absolutely true that people who download that were the questions from the Internet and they just sort of ask them, that's not really going to get the results that most couples want. But in my case, um, I do try and customize the questions and I try to be really in that moment. So I'm not just focusing on what's the next question I'm going to read. But you know, if I ask who's always running late and Dorothy puts up her shoe immediately and you're hemming and Hawing, I'm totally going to call you on that. I'm going to be a read Dorothy didn't have a problem figuring that one out or something like that. To just make that moment more interesting and entertaining and make it seem like you, you make it seem like the couple and just as a, as a follow-up, uh, even the anniversary dance that we did for our wedding and then, you know, I don't really love the anniversary dance. I think you really do. And we had talked about that and you like, you know, and I think a lot of the DJa do, they like to see if I'm a wedding DJ or wedding professional. And what I do is see people in love all the time, you know, it's cool to see like, oh, here's all the people. Five years it had been married in, for people obviously like anniversary dance. Well first off, just explain where the anniversary dance is.
In a good anniversary dance, you invite all of the married couples to the dance floor and then you dismiss them based on the shortness of their wedding or marriage. So the couple is typically the first one off and you don't invite them to leave the dance floor. Only stupid DJ would invite anybody to leave his dance floor. Um, so you, you, you have a spot for them and then as you invite people who had been married one year or five years, they sort of form a semi circle and by the end of the, the couple who has been married the longest is surrounded by all the other people and yes, I'm a sucker for that moment
And as we had talked about in the planning, that is not how most DJs do it, where it really is the opposite where it's whoever's been married less than two hours and then it's obviously it's a couple and they go get out of here, go, you know, and everybody laughs and I mean it's funny, right? But it's also like really weird because it's my wedding day, you know, I don't want to be shunned to the back because we just got married right where it's like the old timers club, you know, you want to be included on the dance floor. So just, you know, as a follow-up to you customizing the shoe game and just doing that first dance. I really enjoyed how we did that because having filmed a lot of those. I do not like the traditional way that it's done and I certainly appreciated, you know, your more unique spin on it. So. Well it was, we were talking about before about personal moments, like it's often grandparents or great aunts or uncles or things like that honor that person that you're winning. The one that we had on Friday, I think it was two of the couples both had been like 45 years of marriage, you know, each of them. And they were, you know, because normally you get like one at the end that's, it's spoiler alert, you know, it's usually pretty easy to tell who is going to be, you know, as a videographer I can pretty hone in on like these people can't really walk anymore and then you know, they're probably going to be here near the end. But that was cool because you know, you're like man, that's 90 years of marriage. Right. And then you ask them like, well what advice do you have? And you know, it's usually, it's something funny, but I mean it is a neat moment, but I just like it when the, you're able to incorporate the couple back into it like you do with having everybody in that semi circle
And uh, you know, there is a moment at the end where I try and create a connection between that oldest married couple and the couple whose wedding day it is a, which I think is, is, is often a very nice moment.
[01:10:20] Yeah. A funny. Did you know, um, so, you know, with our wedding it was. Dorothy's parents had been married the longest and when you ask a Lucinda, her mom, you know, what advice you have. And they were like terrifying because we hadn't told them that. And I was so glad we had not told them that we were going to do that because I think they were probably just wouldn't have had the anniversary that they wouldn't have known that they would have had to because they were very terrified to do that. But it was, I can't remember what they said and I'm sure it's on the video somewhere. I could pull it up and see it, but yeah, it was this funny. Yeah, the range of answers is always interesting to hear a well, Allen has been really fascinating. Uh, I really appreciate you coming by today. Um, if people want to know more about you or your company, what should they do?
[01:11:09] That is a great question and I very much appreciate you asking. Um, the best way for somebody to find me is to go to www.pugetsounddj.com and all my contact information is up there. You can read all sorts of things about me. I probably have too much background in such, but that's where it all is.
[01:11:28] But also you have a lot of good testimonials and things. I think in terms of I'm getting real client feedback. You write, you think that that's important to have.
And you know, that's a great topic that we didn't really chat too much about. But real quickly I would say if you read reviews of DJs, read what they're saying and read what they're not saying. If the review was bob played good music and everybody danced, that is one level of experience, but if the review is Alan was an incredible partner and he helped me plan everything out and executed the whole wedding night perfectly. That's a different level of review. And so most couples are Super Generous, um, with their feedback. And so really all the decent wedding vendors have four point nine star averages, but you got to read the text and you've got to figure out what it is that they actually are doing for their couples.
[01:12:30] Uh, well thank you very much for coming by. Uh, this has been another episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Come back next week and check us out and we will have another interview with a wedding professional. Thanks so much, Alan.
Episode 1 (Reid Johnson, Best Made Videos) -
[00:08] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid with Best Made Videos. We are a wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington. We do wedding videography, corporate videography, and basically film any other live event that you might have, and today is a very exciting day. Not only is it our first official podcast, but we have a special guest. So special guest, why don't you introduce yourself.
[00:35] Hi everyone. I'm Dorothy. Nice to meet you and I'm excited to be here.
[00:39] Dorothy is my wife of two years. We got married back in August of 2016 and I brought her on here today to help interview me because as I'm launching this new interview series, I thought it would only be fair to put my money where my mouth is and give my own origin story of sorts about how I got into wedding videography. So Dorothy was gracious enough to take time on her weekend to come and help do this interview.
[01:04] I'm so excited to be here and to help launch this podcast. It's going to be awesome.
[01:08] So, uh, Dorothy, what's your first probing question?
[01:13] So, um, I guess just kind of wanting to hear a little bit about your story and how you got started in videography. Take us. Take us back.
[01:22] So I started back in 2004 when I went to college over at Gonzaga University and I always think it's funny now having married a teacher that I think I must've selected something on one, a sheet of paper at one point talking about how I was interested in teaching because my first class ever at Gonzaga was actually in the teaching building, which, um, apparently they had signed me up for like six different teaching courses, which I quickly discovered that maybe I should diversify a starting out. So I started taking journalism classes and one of the first classes I took was radio broadcasting and that involved this city in a small recording studio two or three days a week and basically recording the same PSA every time that we would come in to the class where you would come in, record it, edit it, and then it would seem like every week we'd come in again.
[02:16] Then the professor would forget that we had just done the exact same thing.
[02:20] The PSA is a public service announcement?
[02:22] Yeah. And so it got really repetitive because um, it just felt like we were never really growing or doing anything new and ever felt challenged. No, never felt challenged. And so luckily I'm, one day our professor was sick and we had Dan Garrity come into the class and you know, Dan, we were just, we were just at his retirement party last weekend in Spokane and Dan was the director of the broadcast program at Gonzaga and we hit it off and ended up doing some editing work after class a. and he basically told me, hey man, it seems like you really have a knack for this. And so he basically said, hey man, I teach the TV side of this program and the class is always full, but if you wanted me to I could reserve you a spot next semester and I couldn't get you in.
[03:18] So I thought, well that'd be, you know, that'd be really interesting. I had never really thought about working in TV or broadcast or anything like that. But I took them up on this offer and so that would be the second semester of sophomore year I started on the broadcast program.
[03:33] So you probably felt like you learned a lot more under Dan's leadership and then the broadcast program than you would have in the journalism program.
[03:42] Yeah, and also I, I took a lot of print journalism classes and it just a lot of it seemed really antiquated to me at the time. We were doing a lot of newspaper front page layout, how to, you know, print and cut and format and newspaper and even back in 2004, it really seemed like everything was moving online. And so even as a freshman, sophomore, I sat there and thought, man, why are we spending time talking about how to literally, whether the correct margins to print the front page of a newspaper or to put it on like a spool, like old school.
[04:20] You know what I mean? Who, I don't know anybody in my immediate circle that even has a newspaper delivered anymore.
[04:28] So anyway, so we started doing the broadcasting and basically it kind of spiraled from there. We started doing news programs and comedy programs, interview programs, and it wasn't until junior year when we really got into, got to go out in the field and produce our own videos, which was a lot of fun.
[04:48] So you got experience doing not only videography but also being behind the camera and video are and I'm interviewing people and different aspects of broadcasting.
[05:01] Yeah. I mean the coolest thing about Gonzaga was you really got to do everything from in front of the camera, being at the anchor desk, behind the camera, doing the post production, doing the editing, doing the producing, running the audio. And I, I really did enjoy that more hands on aspect were taking journalism classes or math or any, any sort of thing, you know, you're stuck in the classroom and this.
[05:30] I really have always struggled with that. The sitting and you know, the lecture and the note taking. And so being able to go out, take a camera on a Saturday afternoon and film a music video or having to go. Like we would go to the local park to shoot videos about, you know, the ducks or a new restaurant that opened at Gonzaga or you know, a new program that was being offered that was really fun to go out and do those sorts of things probably really set you up well to, for news, which you eventually, you kind of segued into that then from Gonzaga. Right.
[06:07] Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Yeah. So, um, basically I had no intention of ever going into news and I think I've said that probably in any interview I've ever done. Um, we, I had a lot of friends that wanted to be in front of the camera.
[06:22] They wanted to be television reporters and so they would basically enlist me to go out every day to shoot and edit stories for them. So my friend Ian Cull, who we just saw at the, he's a reporter now in, uh, the bay area outside of San Francisco. You know, we would go shoot stories and I would help him edit and put together to be a TV reporter. You need to have a demo reel to send to your local news stations. So basically you get two, three, four of the best new stories that you have them on the DVD or a vhs tape and send it to your local news station. And so in, you know, the basically probably the end of junior year through senior year, I had two, three, four different, you know, colleagues, I guess students that I was helping to get there, demo tapes together. And at the time I was wanting to get into video production.
[07:20] And so I had been sending my own demo tapes to the bay area. My friend lived down, um, outside of Santa Clara at the time and I had been sending tapes all over the bay area and not realizing that the San Francisco television market is super, super competitive to get into a, as a, you know, a college student. I didn't realize that. And basically I was, it was a losing effort that I was never probably ever going to find anything of any substance at all. So it was probably late spring and I was really frustrated and I didn't know what I was going to do and I think it was my friend Sebastian, who was another reporter had told me, hey man, will you've been putting together a demo tapes for everybody for the last two years. Why don't you just put together a news demo reel and send it out and go into television and even if you don't end up being in news for your whole life, at least you could do it for a couple of years and get your feet, let you put together the demo reel.
[08:29] And then you got picked up by a station in Bakersfield were successful?
[08:38] Yeah. So I put together I think three or four different stories and I mailed, I think I mailed three out to Yakima, Washington. I think I mailed three out to Medford, Oregon, which was another starter market. And then I send them out to Bakersfield and I got one phone call and it was actually funny enough I was taking a class in the exact same building where I had my first teaching class and I can't remember what the class was, but we were sitting there in class and it was literally my last class, the last hour of class I would ever have a gun. Sega and I got a phone call and went to voicemail because I was in class and I just thought, who is this, you know, whatever number calling. and low and behold, it was John Pilios, the news director of the NBC station in Bakersfield calling to do a phone interview to see if I would be interested in working there.
[09:35] Wow. So you skip that class and got a job?
[09:39] Yeah, it was a pretty amazing. We uh, did a phone interview and I, I remember feeling more prepared for that than any job interview I've ever had previously because I had worked at blockbuster and Jamba Juice and other jobs where, you know, maybe you're not super passionate or not, you know, what do I know about fruit smoothie blends or whatever. But, you know, for the first time ever I really did feel confident about my skills and expertise, you know, or what expertise I felt I had to college, graduating college student, but I really did feel comfortable and so he offered to fly me down for a job interview. And this was the week before graduation, I guess there was actually a direct flight from Spokane to Bakersfield, which is really weird.
Yeah. And so I remember talking to our engineer at the time at Gonzaga, Phil Taylor and I had said Phil, you know, I'm really, really nervous, you know, this is my first real job interview.
[10:39] I mean this is, you know, it could be the start of my career and I remember Phil telling me, well, they're flying you down to Bakersfield for a job interview. Like I think you probably have a pretty good shot, you know, they're not going to fly too many. What, 21 year olds down for a job, you must have made a good impression during that phone interview for them to want to do that. Yeah. So I went down and interviewed and toured the station and I think at noon that day I'm John and Mike, who was the assistant news director, uh, offered me a camera man position job and I'm Kinda, the rest was history.
[11:18] Wow. That's crazy. And then you moved down there right after graduation?
[11:23] Yeah. So I moved down to after graduation, I think it was the day after or two days after my mom I'm sue helped me move down and we drove from Spokane to Seattle and then down to Bakersfield over the course of two days, I think it's a 15 hour drive from Seattle and I rode, like, drove my car down there and followed my mom behind the u haul the whole time down.
[11:48] So. Wow, that's crazy. So then down in Bakersfield you spent how many years and yeah, what you learned a lot, I'm sure.
[11:58] Yeah, I was, uh, you know, it was a really interesting time. I had never worked in the real TV station before. I never interned in a TV station before because like I said, I, you know, I thought it was going to go with the video production and so going in literally the first day they gave me my camera, you know, you get your assigned camera tripod and you're a news vehicle. And I remember them saying, well you need to be on call tonight because in Bakersfield we didn't have a full staff when I worked in Seattle. You know, you have guys that work at midnight and 4:00 AM and a pm and 2:00 PM and work throughout the day when Bakersfield, I think we had eight photographers on staff.
[12:41] And so every night a different person would have to be on call. And so that meant that you would take your gear home with you and basically if anything happened from the day, um, if anything happened from the time you got off the clock until the next morning or whenever the next guy would start that they would call you. And you would have to go out and cover it. And I remember there was a time when I worked, there were, I think I went into work on Thursday or I went into work on Friday and I would work Friday, Saturday through on call. Basically I was on the clock for like four and a half days straight.
[13:15] So kind of a rude awakening coming from college life where you're just having classes and your time is your own.
[13:26] Yeah, it was interesting. And so that first day I came in, they gave me my car, they gave me my camera and they said, well, you're on call tonight. And I mean never used a broadcast camera. I had never. I mean I had been in Bakersfield I think for four days and it was really hard and that night I got called at two in the morning or whatever and it was a fatal homicide crash. And I was out there filming this and having just graduated, you know, I think it was like a week before. It was definitely a new experience and uh, it was really interesting.
But you felt really capable and prepared for that.
[14:00] Yeah, I did. I really did feel like my education got me, um, you know, where I was and I felt pretty confident about it and in Bakersfield that people were young. I mean there were a lot of kids out of college or had graduated from Uc Bakersfield and then stuck around, but there wasn't, it wasn't like Seattle where there were people that had been there for 20, 30 years. I mean we were all fairly young, which was nice because, you know, you would have people to hang out with and you know, go out and drink or whatever. But um, yeah, exactly. Yeah. We were all learning together, so it was fun.
Awesome. So then you really learn a lot down in Bakersfield and then transitioned back up to the Seattle news market.
[14:46] Yeah. So my goal always was to get back to Seattle. That's my family was. And that's where a lot of my friends from high school were and it's really hard because it news, you really have to build your way back up. So you start somewhere small like Bakersfield or Medford. Like I said, I applied to, I think Bakersfield was 126 and usually then you would go to like a, maybe a top 50 market and then, you know, like, like Vegas, a lot of people would go from Bakersfield to Las Vegas because that was, you know, kind of that next step up and then you would get back to somewhere like Seattle, which I think Seattle is market 13. And I was like, if you're in the top 15, top 20 market, that's, you know, unless you want to go national and work in New York, I mean that's a pretty good spot to land. And so again, I don't know if I knew that or again, like applying to, you know, the bay area out the college.
[15:48] But I thought well I'm just going away and I'm going to go from Bakersfield to Seattle because I really didn't want to make that another. It would have been another two, three, four years to do my time in Bakersfield, go to Vegas and then go back up to Seattle. So I applied and applied and applied to a bunch of different news stations in Seattle, I would apply to new stations, video production companies. And it was tough because I was working in California. And so, you know, I always have to preface and say, well, I'm in Bakersfield, I would be up for a job interview if I need to, but, you know, it was a really tough style. And so finally I thought, OK, I just need to get up to Seattle so that I can find a job and then that can be available for an interview if they need me to.
[16:38] And so I just decided that I needed to do that. So I gave my notice. We took a family vacation to Washington DC and again, just like Gonzaga, I think it was the first day we had gotten to DC and we went out on a, um, to like a happy hour with my family. And I got a voicemail from the news director at Northwest Cable News wanting to offer me a job interview. And so I thought, man, this is great. You know, just like college. And you know, this is, this is really, I'm on track. And so, um, we ended up scheduling that and then when we got back from vacation and I drove up to Seattle for that job interview.
[17:21] Wow, that's crazy. Then you, northwest cable news doing videography?
[17:31] Yeah. So I actually didn't get that job, which was, which was fun. They ended up hiring somebody else and that it was a devastated. And I actually ended up taking the job at Google for a couple of weeks doing, um, the map mapping, Google mapping software, which was interesting. I the bad again because I was sitting in a room, um, you know, kind of doing all this work all day and it was during actually during that time, me and then I got another call from Northwest Cable News. They have a pretty high turnover rate at the time. So Keith, the, I think he was called the chief editor at Northwest Cable News, offered me a job as a video editor that northwest Cable News, ah, during the recession had actually fired all of their, laid off all of their videographers. And so at that time, northwest cable news was kind of already on the decline.
It since has closed down. I think four years ago, it closed down three years ago, uh, even at that time, they had already laid out the videographers and kind of started a downsizing, but they still would use a editors every day. They would recycle news from the local affiliates, King 5, and then they had a bureau in Spokane and the bureau in Portland. And so we would just consolidate the news and other that, that life glean the news from other stations and then edit it down. Yeah. So I did that for about a year, uh, did not get paid a lot, but it was good because I worked with the executive producer. They're a Tairsa Swenson who now I think she's the, um, she does PR for safe way, but she got the job at q 13, Fox News, the Fox affiliate, and they were starting to launch at 5:00 news that before that time, a Q 13 only did a nightly news.
[19:33] They would do their morning show, but then they would do a 9:00 news. And the 10:00 news at night, so they were launching the 5:00 news. They needed to bring in all new team. So they hired, Tairsa said to be the executive producer and they needed to hire a videographer. So Tairsa had helped get my resume in with Keith Bride who was the, I think it was a news operations manager at q 13. So, you know, it's really hard to get a job as a videographer in Seattle. Um, you know, there's four stations and each station probably has maybe 30 videographers on staff, so you figure for the city, there's probably a hundred and 130 videographer jobs give or take. And so it was really competitive and I do think that it was a terrorist is on her suggestion that helped me get that job because, um, you know, I was young, I was 25, I think the next oldest videographer at 13 was 32.
[20:38] So it was a lot different than bakersfield where it was kind of all of us finding our own way. Uh, it was, you know, kind of sink or swim time. But as a, just a funny story, I always remember, um, when I was getting my demo tape together to apply the q 13, I had asked the director, um, and one of the other guys had worked with at northwest cable news. Hey, uh, what stories do you think, because I had actually shot a couple stories when I was at northwest Cable News. We would, um, do these northwest postcards where I would go out with Ed Muir who is the weather guy and I think we did maybe a dozen of them when I was there, which was kind of extra curricular from the editing that I was hired to do. And we had gone up to Mount Vernon and shot when the snow geese came in and every year the snow geese come in and migrate.
[21:30] And so I think Steve and ed had said, hey, put, you should really put that snow geese story on there. I think, uh, I think that's really cool. And so I'd put that at the end of the demo tape, which, you know, most people that watch demo tapes don't, you know, maybe you watch the first five minutes or you know, if you're, if you're keith in your, the news operations manager at the [inaudible] station, you're probably not watching different tapes all the way through. And when I went in and I think I was getting ready to leave and you know, he was going to let me know if I was going to get the job or not. A, he goes, man, you know that, that these story, you put it on their demo tape. Man, that's really freaking cool man. I love those snow geese man. And I thought, well, Hey, I'm really glad I put that story on there because, you know, I, I wasn't going to and be.
[22:18] That was at the very last story on my demo tape and stuff like that. Man, he must've really watch, you know, was really thorough about his job and really watch through. And that meant a lot to me that they would take the time to watch my whole demo tape.
[22:30] Wow. That's awesome. And also it's cool because it was one that you had shot and edited.
[22:36] Yeah. So I had done that one of the northwest postcards we had done. Yeah. So that was exciting. So yeah, so I always ran the fricking snow geese. Uh, so yeah, so then I started the q 13. Um, I think I was hired Monday through Friday at the time to do the 5:00 and then I had transitioned over, I can't remember when they hit, transitioned me at work the weekends, which was fine with me because um, I had worked weekends all the way through and Bakersfield and uh, so I was just kind of used to that which kind of transitions while now to the fact that I do weddings every weekend.
[23:15] So even now people ask me, man, don't you hate working weekends? And I think, wow, I've always worked weekends all the way through. And Bakersfield in Bakersfield. I was actually hired as a Monday through Friday and on our third week they're, um, they came in and laid off half the newsroom and so at that point I was sent to the weekends anyway. So that was, yeah, so I, I took that so I've always just kinda been happy to work when they need me to because I've seen that the opposite of doubt if you don't have a job and so I would always rather work a weekend with a job than the job. Uh, so yeah I started to q 13 and that was a lot of fun. Um, you know, I would go out and do a lot of stories with reporters during the week and then on the weekends I was by myself and so I would go cover a lot of stuff on my own and either put it together on my own or I'm bring it back and have, you know, reporters and whatever work on that.
[24:13] So yeah. This was your, your first, real main experience buying the camera because before you were focused on editing mostly except for those postcards, like you said.
[24:21] So this was really a year chance to shoot video while I was fun. Yeah, cause I had, it had been a couple of years cause I, you know, in Bakersfield I kind of did both. And then after working, doing the Google thing and the northwest, a cable news thing, it was really nice to go out and shoot videos again and really be, you know, get to be creative. Not that entity in itself isn't fun and rewarding, but it really is fun to kind of see a project from the start to finish and edit it and put it together on your own, kind of put your skills to, to use. Exactly.
[24:54] Nice. So then from 13, how did you segue to starting your own business and that make that big leap?
[25:03] Yeah. So, um, you know, I think it was Q 13 for almost four years and a lot of times when you work in news or at least when I was there, you would talk to a lot of people on the outside and they would say, oh, well are you going to get a promotion or are you working towards a new, you know, a new title or a new anything. And, you know, and it's tough because like I said before, you know, you can work market to market, but you know, once you get to Seattle, um, you know, unless you're going to go to LA or New York and I know we had, you know, talk back years.
[25:40] Yeah. When we first met.
[25:41] Yeah, we had talked about um, well, you know, do we see ourselves staying here or whether we want to do. And you had really a indicated that um, Seattle was very important to you that your family was here in your home was here and you know, your life was here.
[25:55] And so I applied to a job in Arizona or something, right? Yeah. When we had met I had, uh, I had just applied, which was funny because I think you thought that I was lying about that. Yeah, I think, yeah, when we had met and I said, hey, well just so you know, I, I am in the running to get a job as a, I think it was an investigative videographer in the Arizona market, I guess, which was supposedly, at least the guy that tried to hire me, told me it was, you know, super competitive market for investigative news because like I said, so you know, in Seattle there's no progression or in news, so you know, you work and you know, you get to do stories every day, but there's no real. Where we going next is sort of a dead end. I mean mainly, I mean it's not, it's not a dead end, but it's really hard to get, uh, you know, I mean you get a two percent raise every year or you know, like I would apply a submit for awards and stuff, but it was really hard to figure out like, OK, well what's next year?
[27:00] Where are we working towards? And you know, plus news as a grind. I mean that's a lot of repetition. It's a lot of long nights and the elements and covering stories that might not be the most ideal to cover or whether it's, you know, crimes or core or fires or whatever. And so yeah, which, you know, as somebody that is very strong willed is a challenging to kind of be at the whim of a management team or in the assignment desk that might have other ideas than you think is important for the day of the cover or whatnot.
[27:39] Yeah. And also you're really creative so you enjoy the fact that you get to edit and put together pieces and this. So yeah, transitioning, I guess to starting your own business really allows you to do that.
[27:52] Yeah. So, uh, I remember we had gone out on Valentine's Day of 2013. We had gone out, we were going to go the wine taste. Uh, and then, uh, we had dinner reservations and I remember talking to the guy that owned the bar. It was to them, and this, I think it was him and his wife and we had talked about how they owned and operated their own winery and that they could, you know, make their own schedule and really kind of have something that they could own and invest in themselves and continue to build. And I thought, man, that'd be really cool. That would be something, you know, if I could figure out a way to have something that was my own that you could, you know, I could take pride in, you know, not that I didn't take pride in the work that I did the q 13, but to take ownership of I guess. And so we, I think we went out to dinner that night and I said, hey, you know, what do you think if I got a camera, you know, because all the equipment that I had before was all owned by the station. So I couldn't like for example, go take a station camera out and do a product video. So I said, well, what do you think? And you know, luckily he said no, I think that would be a really good idea.
[29:07] Good. Yeah. And so then, so then you were on your way to starting your own business, but then you still did work at q 13 while you were getting your business and your feet on the ground with all of that. So for awhile there you were doing kind of double duty on jobs, right?
[29:25] Yeah. So my friend Paul, who now works at KTLA in Los Angeles to him for advice because I had no idea about what equipment together, you know, anything about. I mean, you're still, you know, you learn every day, uh, as a small business owner. But that was certainly a learning at the time. And so he helped me get together, you know, we built a list of OK, we're going to get this camera. I'm because the intention was the, he was going to kind of help me out and do some work and he ended up getting a great job in La pretty quick after I started. So, you know, it ended up good for him and good for me. But he, uh, we got together a camera list and figure it out. Um, you know, the name best may videos, uh, one of my friends helped me come up with that name because we thought, well that would be good for search engines and searches in general and people might type in, you know, best video or best videographer or whatever.
[30:22] And so plus, um, I've always discovered that if you have something near the story of the Alphabet, most sites lists you alphabetically, so just a tip. But it's always good. You don't want to be z best wedding like pizza, a martyr, exactly. A pizza or like sounds unlimited, which is a DJ company. They're always listed as us. Sounds unlimited even though that doesn't really make sense but in a smart. So yeah. So I got together a camera list and um, you know, started an llc and you know, I had no intention of quitting yet, but I was going to see kind of what I could do while working, you know, with the goal to transition eventually. So yeah. So then you did that for about a year while you were getting the business all put together and set up. Yeah. So, uh, I remember right after I bought the, my camera, there was the mudslides up in Derrington, uh, up north in the northwest and people might know that was a pretty big national news story and you know, the governor tour that and flew in the helicopter and everything.
[31:33] And um, I remember I was up there and you know, it's like four and a half hours away and there was a craigslist ad because I was, you know, always looking at, you know, because once you buy your camera and stuff and you're like, all right, well let's start doing work and you know, work doesn't just come to you, you know, you have to really go out and hustle and find it. And there was a Craig's list ad for a magic show that night that they had come into town, you know, I assume from Vegas or wherever and they were doing a performance and they thought, well, we, let's have a videographer come and do it. And so I, you know, emailed or called or whatever, and I talked to it was Christian for I talked to his, I think it was his dad, it was his manager, but it was, it was his dad and he had said, well you know, whether you want to come film the performance tonight and I know literally no idea.
[32:27] And I said, uh, you know, 200 bucks, let's, you know, a hundred bucks an hour, that seems, whatever. And so they said, all right, you're hiring. And so I hadn't really hadn't done the math of how long it would take me to get back from Darrington to q 13, you know, we were already working over time. So like by the time I would get back, get back home, get my camera and then get all the way back up. It was an effort. It was about an hour north of Seattle. That performance, I think I got there 10 minutes before show time and it was a, it was a very, very stressful a car ride up that night. Oh my gosh, I forgot about that story. Yeah, you were rushing to get there.
[33:07] And that was, yeah, that was your first Gig, the infamous Christian Ford Magician.
[33:12] Yeah, that was my first.
[33:13] I think I had done a couple of things for free. I can't remember what we had done, that masquerade ball event and I can't remember. That was. No, that was my first paid gig. I can't remember the order of them, but I do know that was my first paid gig and I had no idea what I was doing and I think I only used my camera like twice because you know, everyone, you go by your camera and then it's really kind of awkward to go out and just like create content for me anyway. Unless someone's paying me or I'm hired to do it, I don't just like go out and film the trees blowing for no reason. So, uh, it was tough but they were happy and I brought my laptop because they wanted to just transfer the footage and um, you know, they were looking at it and they were really excited because I don't think he had any expectations really at all.
[34:06] And he paid me 200 bucks cash and that was it. And I thought, man, this is really cool that like a, I got paid basically what I would get paid the whole day, q 13 to work for two hours and then b, it was just really cool to like film something and like give it to them and see their excitement. I just remember that he had had some trick where he did stop the decker cards or something with a knife and they said, oh, did you get that? Did you get that? And so I, you know, I'm pulling up the footage and they go, oh yeah, you know, and I think they like high five each other or whatever. And I thought, man, that's really cool because, you know, in news you don't always get that sort of feedback or it's a lot of like, well, what have you done for me lately?
[34:47] And everyday you come in and it's a new thing. And so it was really cool to see that, you know, that visceral excitement that they had and to get the money and then to go home and be done. So there was a lot of things with appeal to that what you were doing was appreciated and then you also got to edit it right down into your own package and that's kind of part of the fun too for you, isn't it? Yeah. So He. Yeah. And he ended up hiring me. Uh, I ended it a couple more things for them. He ended up being actually a pretty good client for a year, year and a half or so. And I actually got repeat workout of that, which was really cool as well.
[35:24] So then once you finally made the decision to quit q 13, you kind of started focusing more on shooting weddings or.
[35:33] Yeah. So it was funny that, um, I ended up doing the job for a bride, Seattle magazine, Seattle Bride magazine, and they needed a series of six videos put together for an event they had coming up. And I don't think they would've paid with my level of expertise, which was not a lot of time doing a corporate video work. They probably wouldn't have hired me outright, but they say, hey, you know, we'll, we'll do a trade deal, we will give you, you know, whatever you tell us, whatever you think it's worth an advertising dollars because you know, getting a spot on their website. It didn't cost them anything, but it was. Well at the time I proceeded valuable. So I've put together a deal for them and it was funny because in the meeting we, Paul was still there and we sat down and they said, well, you know, we could offer you work a, we can offer you advertising space in Seattle, bride magazine as well as Clo magazine. And I said, Whoa, we, I don't think we're going to be doing whether it's, I don't think that's anything to do. I forgot about that. And so looking back it was very funny to think that, you know, I think that was, I only had my camera a month or two, but you know, that I had really no intention of doing let them do it all.
[36:48] So, um, anyway, a long story short, I started doing a lot more corporate stuff and increasingly discovered, you know, it's hard to find work and I was still working in q 13, but I'm thinking, man, you know, I'm, we gotta get over this hump here. I think, you know, I had been a couple of months and you know, I thought it was going to be overnight and it's not. And it ended up only taking nine months, but you know, nine months is a long time when you buy your stuff and you think, well I'm starting this new adventure and then, you know, it took nine months to quit and really do everything. But um, I ended up getting a call for a wedding, a, I think it was a Friday and the wedding was on Sunday at Pickering barn and this aqua and he, they were going to have a uncle or somebody filmed the wedding and you know, they spaced out or couldn't make it or whatever. And so, so they said, hey, we'll give you 100 bucks. That's what they had to pay. If you'll come out and do our wedding. And so I thought, all right, so, you know, I had never filmed a wedding. I didn't, I really hadn't even gone to that many weddings because I didn't hear a lot more popular than I am. But I, I didn't have a lot of friends who were getting married, at least it was 25 or six at the time. I think we'd been.
[38:03] Yeah. But I didn't, you know, you're not ever really paying attention to this is the order, you know, you're just kind of eating and drinking. And so, um, I don't even know who the photographer was, but they were really nice and they helped me get through it. And I always remember Ray van winkle was the efficient and I still work with him today. I was with him this last summer, so that's fun to still have that connection. But I filmed the wedding and I thought, well, I'm going to go, how am I going to make this different? And I thought, well, I'll go do a bunch of interviews and really cover like a news story. And I did. But I quickly discovered that, um, people don't want, they want you to film and, you know, it took a little while to kind of figure out the tone of our videos.
[38:48] But Ah, I got done that night and I think I called you and you saw, well, how's it going? And I said, man, it's really great because, you know, when you're a news, nobody really wants you there, whether it's, um, you know, somebody just had an accident or somebody got robbed or whatever. People don't want you there. You get thrown out of a lot of places in news. You are not allowed in a lot of places in news. And so it was really great to kind of be welcome, you know, everyone wants to be wow, for the most part, everyone wants to be on camera at a wedding or hey, let's say it's a photographer or take a photo, hey, take video of us. Yeah. So it was really cool. And so I ended up doing their video for them and you know, they were happy because I don't think, I think they had had pretty low expectations. Um, and they were happy and that was kind of, we started rolling that way.
[39:40] Wow. Yeah, that was probably a nice, like you said, to be really feel like appreciated, but also feel like it's a happy, joyous occasion. Not a sad or scary news story.
[39:51] Yeah. Everyone, you know, we got fed and um, you know, I mean you see people do drink. I didn't, I wouldn't drink it, but you got food and you got um, you know, listen to music and film people dancing and stuff. I mean there's a lot worse ways to make money on a weekend and cover it in the things that I had done previously.
[40:10] Yeah. And you're recording someone's probably one of the happiest moments or memories of life, so yeah, they shouldn't be happy and appreciative. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. So then, then you just started rolling with the weddings and we went to wedding shows together and kind of started getting, trying to get more advertising and right.
[40:32] Yeah. So I ended up doing, I think we did four weddings the first summer together. I had, um, one of my friends, his friend was getting married, so we did their wedding and then I think I bought two other ones on Craig's list it and set first year and I think by December when I put it in my notice, I had maybe four or five weddings on the books for the next summer and I think you start trying to do the math and thinking like, well, what's the absolute minimum that I would need to spend this year? The live Ah, you know, to be able to quit and survive. So, um, I ended up, you know, with my mom's blessings and with your blessing. I'm quitting right before Christmas, uh, in 2000, I guess it would've been that same year 2013.
[41:24] 13. Wow. Yeah. So I guess it was about, like you said, about almost a year later. Yeah,
[41:31] it was scary, you know, it was uh, a lot of pressure and I think that first year, you know, Rosie and I are dog took really long walks and I had a lot of spare time, uh, to, to come into your schools, to, you know, you're a teacher to come in to your schools and volunteer and uh, then, you know, a year after year now it always seems like, um, it's busier than the last year and so I think that's a good thing.
[42:00] Yeah, that's awesome. Wow. So then, and you've really been, I'm trying to get a lot of SEO, search engine optimization and you've done a ton of work with um, wedding wire and the knot and you just seem like you have lots of different venues as far as advertising and getting the word out there about your business, which I don't know how you do it, but you always managed to be on top of that stuff as well as you know, hustling for business and actually shooting video and editing and sometimes I don't know how you find the time to do everything.
[42:36] Yo. It's a, like I said, we did a four weddings at first year and man, um, I think we did 39 the next year. You know, not all of those were full price, you know, there was um, a lot of friends or other people and whatnot. And then at that point I discovered that um, we did a number of dates that people would hire a videographer for, was very limited. Right. And so it would be really hard because maybe in December or you would have to take a booking for August 10th or whatever. Well, that was it a. so, you know, at that point you were deciding like that's the maximum out of the money I'm going to make on that day and I need to hold that day for that client. So very popular for wedding. Our wedding season in Seattle, as you know, is basically like Memorial Day to Labor Day. And so I ended up finding Joe Murphy who now has been with me for four years to come on so that I could hire him and train him to shoot wedding videos for us as well. And then I would do the editing and so that's been really beneficial now because we're able to offer more people, um, you know, a quality service that I think that we provide, but also maximize our reach and the ability that we have to accommodate dates during the summer.
[44:02] Yeah. Yeah. That was a big transition. And uh, also a big one though too, because even though you are able to double book and he's going out and filming weddings separately than you, you're still taking the time to edit and go through and actually put together the final finished product. So it's still, yeah, it's a ton of work on your part too, cause you're hustling for the business. And then also putting together the actual finished product with the editing. So
Yeah, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of marketing. It's a lot of editing, you know, client meetings. I just had an email come in that uh, one of our phone calls later today has to be rescheduled. You're accommodating a lot of different schedules and dates. But yeah, it's been good. And like I said, I stand by, um, you know, the product that we offer and uh, I think that we do a good job for people
You're impeccable with your response time for people. You're always, um, super quick to respond, which I think a lot of people appreciate. And also, um, I'm just always impressed by your turnaround time for the videos that you're able to, to, um, put together and edit and just really succinctly, but also, you know, just really high quality but still in a pretty quick manner. So I don't know how you do it .
I had a last minute, wedding you come up yesterday that the uncle of the bride had called me on Friday and said, hey, I just got into town and I just discovered, you know, my niece doesn't have the money to hire a videographer and can you come record your ceremony for. And so of course we did. And we were sitting there talking before the ceremony and he said, well, um, what would you say makes you stand out? You know, what's, what's your niece or what's your. Well at first I said, oh, wedding videos is our niche. Because a lot of people ask, oh, you do video production, you know, what, what do you focus on? But I said, oh, you know, we do a lot of weddings and see, so what? No, but in terms of weddings, you know, what, what makes you stand out? And I said, well, um, I think just our responsiveness and I do think that the customer service that we offer, you know, I talked with one of my other friends key who's a photographer and we both agree that um, you know, videography or photography or your talent level in terms of shooting this objective, right?
[46:33] I mean, you might like one thing over another thing or I might like a certain style, but uh, you know, one thing you can always improve on is your customer service and that is objective, right? You can either be responsive or not, right? And you can either deliver quickly or not. And yeah, I mean not everybody's going to like the different types of videos or you might have like a certain style more than somebody else, but you can always improve on the customer service that you have for clients and you can always work on that. And He, the gentleman had mirrored that sentiment that where he had said that he had, I think email's like 10 different people and I was one of the only two that got back to him and I was the first and then you know, I don't know what other end of the packaging with the other company, but you know, not that every wedding we book the day before or two days before. But you know, people like to know that. Right. But you're going to respond and that you're going to be available. So
Yeah. Wow. You're not just going to be, MIA it's nice that you are really on it. Like I said, with the communication and kind of able to control what you're able to control. Right. Like you said, the style might be different depending on what you like or what different people like the stuff you are able to really, um, to control and, and do your best dad, you really do a good job with that. So yeah. Well this is awesome. So fun to hear the whole history. So what's in and what's, what's next?
[48:08] Yeah. This year has been really good. We're starting to approach the peak wedding season. Uh, we have a triple threat on, uh, this next week on May fifth. Uh, we have two weddings on the fifth and then we have one on the sixth.
[48:23] Wow. You never have three in a row like that, have you?
[48:26] So Joe's working, uh, the one, uh, Joe and Matt and then I'll be out the one with the doing the same day of the actually. So that will be a lot of fun. And then, yeah, this year is looking good. You know, we still do a lot of corporate video work. Um, you know, I just filmed a high school play last night and uh, we did, uh, we're filming the human resources hiring video for a company up north, but, you know, I do think that weddings are always going to be kind of a major part of our business model now. Um, I enjoy getting to know the couples and their stories and meet the man before and US spending the day with them and even if it's the ones that joe shoots me were, were involved in, you know, everything where, you know, we're able to follow each other on social media and, you know, kind of follow along with each other's, you know, I'll see people post like, Oh, I've got my bridal shower today or yeah, like are a couple for this weekend.
Jazmyn and Josh, um, we added each other on social media a couple months ago and it was really fun because he went on his bachelor party and she went on her bachelor party and kind of I was able to really follow along and, you know, they see me shooting other weddings and uh, other weddings and it's really fun to kind of be a part of each other's lives. I mean, this is kind of the whole reason why I wanted to do this podcast and you know, next week now we'll talk to, you know, another different wedding vendor that's not myself, but I think it's so cool nowadays where we can be so accessible with our clients or couples or however you want to call them. But they can get to really know me before the wedding and I can really get to know them. And I think it's so different than even five, 10 years ago were, you know, you call somebody on the phone or hire somebody or maybe you have one meeting with them or whatever. And then, you know, they're going to be with you on your wedding day, which is, you know, one of the most intimately personal days of your life.
[50:24] It's also nice because then you can track them or you know, follow them if they have big news, like if they're expecting a child or um, help them celebrate their anniversaries.
Right. Today, the day that we're recording this April 29th, Dominick and Brooke, you know, just had their one year wedding anniversary. So I was able to re share their video and you'll message them and tell him congrats. You know, it's really exciting to her. It really did. Used to bother me that like the first couple of craigslist weddings, you're not intimately personal with these clients. Right. But it really would bother me though that I would spend, you know, one of the most important days with them, be with them, you know, as they got their wedding dress on. And as they did their first look or cry during their vows in all these personal things. And then I would never see him again. And I just thought, man. So that's why I've tried to be really good about the follow-up and the social media and really doing that because it is really cool for me to kind of build this network of, you know, hopefully really happy couples that, you know, we had a really great experience together and now we can continue to be close to each others lives.
You know, Emily who was one of my first wedding for three, four years ago, um, you know, her good friend's getting married now, you know, Ali's getting married August 18th of this year and she was one of Emily's in her bridal party. And so it was really cool that I've gotten to know Ali for five years now and she was dating, you know, Paul at the time and now they're engaged in, um, you got to meet them and I'm really excited to do that this summer. And it's cool that you're able to keep in each other's lives like that even after the wedding day. So yeah. And you can keep making this kind of just spreads. Also word of mouth. I mean, if they had a really good experience with you, then there'll be more inclined to recommend you to friends and family as well. So yeah, no, it's a, hopefully it's a win-win for everybody and we just Kinda keep on trucking and keep on hustling and hope that, uh, it keeps going.
[52:37] Good. So Nice. Wow. Well this was so interesting and fun to hear the full story. I know. Um, I pretty much experienced in along side you most of it, not the college stuff and all that, but um, it was so fun to hear the whole story and yeah, for you to share some of your, some of your thoughts and some of your feelings about, um, your company and all the experiences that you've had that have led up to it. So yeah, this has been awesome.
[53:08] So thank you so much for taking time out of your weekend to come here and do this next week. We'll have another interview with a wedding professional that hopefully, you know, our listeners can get to know. And again, just really, um, the point of this podcast is to let people, um, know whether they're photographers, videographers, you know, disc jockeys, wedding planners, ah, I want people to be able to tell their stories and so our listeners can get to know them. And so then if you were planning the wedding and you are thinking about hiring, you know, Alan, who I'm going to interview for, he's a disc jockey. Well, if I'm thinking about hiring Alan from my wedding and then if I can, you know, listen to him in his own words, tell his own story about being in the wedding professional. I think that's a really invaluable resource and I really hope that, you know, over the next months and years that we can build a really cool directory of people stories and they're, you know, the kind of their backgrounds and biographies. And so it can be a real growing and ever evolving a directory of wedding professionals.
[54:14] Yeah, sounds great. Hence the name Get to Know Your Wedding Pro.
[54:18] So that does it for this week's episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro.. If you want any more information about our video production company, you can check out www.bestmadevideos.com You can search Best Made Videos on any major social media platform, so thanks again for listening to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. Bye.
Episode 0 -
[00:09] Hey everybody, welcome to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. My name is Reid and I'm the owner of Best Made Videos. We are a local wedding videography company based out of West Seattle, Washington and we provide videography services, corporate videography services, and basically shoot videos for any other live events that you might have and I wanted to come on here today to make a special announcement and to let everybody know what's going on and if you haven't guessed yet by listening to this. We are in fact launching our own podcast series called Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. And the reason behind that is that I have recently become fascinated here in 2018. We're just how accessible we can be with our clients as professional wedding vendors, whether it's through facebook, instagram stories, twitter, email, text or phone. We really can be totally accessible to our clients from their preliminary wedding vendor search all the way through them booking us for their wedding day and through the wedding day itself.
[01:14] And as somebody who got married in 2016 and had to plan his own wedding, I know how hard it is to find the wedding vendors that you feel like you can get to know and trust to spend. What is one of your most important days with you? When I got married to my wife Dorothy, I had been fortunate enough to work in the wedding industry for a couple of years, so I was able to book and hire vendors I either knew professionally or personally or both. And I had a lot of the trust and the vendors that I brought onto our team to work with us for our wedding day. But not all couples are as fortunate as me. And when it comes to booking wedding vendors for their wedding day, they really do have to rely on text or email or maybe a handful of in-person meetings prior to their wedding day.
[02:05] So I found it will be really fun to start this interview series and go out and talk to local wedding vendors and interview them about who they are, what they do, and what they can bring to a couple's wedding day. That way when couples begin the search for their specific wedding vendors, they could go on here and find interviews with them, hear directly from the vendors mouths about what inspires them, why they do what they do and why they love what they do. Your wedding day is a very, very special day and you really want to make sure that you know what makes the people that you are going to have around tick and so I really do hope that through the course of this interview series where I get to know local wedding vendors that couples listening can get to know them as well and decide who may or may not be a good fit for them on their wedding day.
[02:54] Thank you for listening to this preliminary episode of Get to Know Your Wedding Pro. I'll be posting a new interview each week with a local wedding professional. Next week I will bring my wife, Dorothy, onto the podcast to conduct an interview with me because I figured if I'm going to go out and ask other local wedding vendors to talk about their lives than I should be opened as well with my couples and let them know what inspired me to start being a wedding videographer in the first place. I want to thank you so much for listening. It means the world to me and I appreciate all of your support as I launched this endeavor. I hope this interview series will be filled with lots of information that you can use in planning your own wedding, and thank you so much for listening to Get to Know Your Wedding Pro.