Say hello to our friends Alex and Cassie of Olguin Photography! This month, we got to chat with this husband and wife wedding photography team based in Sydney, Australia about the secrets of finding work/life balance and finding your voice in this oversaturated market. Whether you’re a newbie to the industry or a veteran, you will find comfort and inspiration in their advice!
all photos by Olguin Photography
Introduce yourself! – how long have you been shooting and how old is your business?
We are Alex and Cassie, husband and wife wedding photographers based in Sydney Australia. I (Alex) am the primary photographer while Cassie works on the nitty-gritty stuff in the business and second shoots from time to time. Cassie’s main focus at the moment is to be at home for our three kids and we consider it a blessing to be able to have a business that can enable her to do that. Balancing a busy self-employed and family lifestyle is something that we constantly navigate together – as many would know, it’s ever changing and always challenging.
We’ve had the business now for almost ten years but we’ve only been photographing weddings full time for four-and-a-half years. Before photographing weddings, we photographed architecture and real estate, but we soon found our passion in documenting love stories. Often people ask us if we get on each other’s nerves working together, but honestly, working alongside each other as best friends lend to communication that can’t be beaten.
Describe your workspace/studio.
We converted our garage into a nice office space, but we recently got rid of our Desktop iMacs and replaced it with laptops because we found that we were working more on our laptops than our main machine. I (Alex) will often edit with other photographer friends to keep sane during edit days. I’ve found that being mobile in your workspace is much better than being confined to one space all the time.
Describe an average day for you.
A typical day will consist of coffee in the morning, this is an absolute must for both of us (especially Cassie), and having a good espresso machine at home helps. We’ll alternate school drop-offs depending on workloads. Emails are the first things on the list to tick off, finalize anything needed for the weekend’s wedding, and then by midday start culling or editing until 3 PM when the kids come home from school and our household turns into a whirlwind for the next three to four hours (we call it beautiful chaos).
Where do you find inspiration?
I (Alex) actually get a lot of inspiration from movies – not only watching how they are composed or lit a particular scene, but also gaining insight into the art of storytelling. I also find myself observing light in random places. I’ll find myself watching how the light hits a particular object in a room or light on a landscape scene and get inspiration from that.
What achievement, moment, or success are you most proud of?
We’re definitely proud of recently being named one of Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars for 2018. To be honest, accolades and awards are not something that we ever strived for in our business, but it was an opportunity that found us rather than us pursuing it. It’s truly humbling to have our work recognized amongst some incredibly talented people from all around the globe considering the industry is so heavily saturated with talented folks.
What’s a goal that you’re working towards?
Quite simple – to not overwork, so that we continue to find joy in what we do and be able to provide for the family while doing what we love.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything during your first month of business, what would it be?
Get a good accountant and/or business advisor. Totally not photography-related, but essential.
What’s your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?
Oh gosh, not sure if we can choose one part of the wedding day, we have a couple of favorites.
Alex’s favorites are first looks, vowels during ceremonies, and the father-daughter dance.
Cassie’s are capturing the emotion and excitement of those moments before the ceremony, the brides and grooms anticipation, the unpredictability of children, and the pride of parents and grandparents.
What are you doing to market your business to couples?
We’re staying quite active on Instagram as our main social platform. We receive a lot of inquiries through Instagram, and I think it’s because it’s a quick visual glance of our work and a good portal to our website where people can get in touch if they want to know more. Our other source is having strong SEO. We target specific venues in our local area and a lot of couples find our work when simply Googling their desired venue.
What are your 3 favorite questions to ask prospective clients?
We always like to hear their story, how they met, and how the fell in love. Hearing people’s love stories is what drives us to capture the romance on the day.
We also like to ask what their most important thing to them is on the wedding day, the answer is surprisingly different for so many and we never want to presume. We find asking this open-ended question tends to lead to other conversations about the day rather than dictating what their event should look like.
And lastly, we like to ask them what drew them to our work.
Walk us through how you connect with your couples prior to the wedding day?
What we like to do is to always treat each couple as unique and individual. We don’t ever want to treat them like they’re just another number. We never want to be a ‘cookie cutter’ kind of business and so we treat people like humans, always keeping communications open, and eager to help with whatever they need help with. Often, our couples will structure their entire day around the best light for photos, simply because they felt comfortable asking us.
What are you doing with your branding to attract clients?
One of the things we strive to do is to keep a good mindset about how we view the locations we photograph. We’re not destination photographers and we’re not photographing on crazy snow-capped mountains tops with waterfalls in the background. We’re photographing local venues and we aim to make the familiar surroundings around us feel and look epic. So when couples find our work through local venues or see our work on Instagram and see that we’ve photographed at their venue, hopefully, they see how we captured the familiar in a way that’s different and creative.
How do you get your clients comfortable in front of the camera?
We find this super easy actually! On the day, we’re simply making everything feel like we’re hanging out with them as friends. One of the things we always tell our couples is to never look at the camera unless we tell them to, this gets the attention off the camera and onto themselves and that is when the magic happens.
What is your data management workflow?
We operate everything from our Dropbox, so everything is constantly backed up to the cloud as we work. Dropbox is genuius, so the files remain on your local drive and on the cloud simultaneously until you finish with them and then we ‘Smart Sync’ the files we’ve been working on so they appear online only, which saves hard drive space. We also have a Synology NAS disk station (four separate hard drives mirroring each other). All our finished work gets archived into here. So all our work is backed up to the NAS and Dropbox.
How do you keep your business organized? Do you use a client management system?
Absolutely, we use a client management system called Studio Ninja. It is our go-to for organizing all of our client’s details, reminders, invoicing etc. Without it, we’d go nuts.
How do you organize/schedule your work week?
With a crazy busy household, we have a very strict organized schedule. Mondays are the days were I (Alex) catch up on emails and aim to have the previous weekend’s wedding completely culled ready to edit. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my edit days from 9-3 PM. Thursdays are mostly admin days, finalizing details for upcoming weddings, etc. And Fridays (if there are no weddings) is a day off.
How has social media affected your business?
A lot of our inquiries come from social media, so we’d say it’s affected our business in a real positive way. It’s such a good and simple way to keep fresh content up for our followers but mainly for potential clients to get a general feel of what our work is like.
List all of the gear that you bring to your weddings:
- 3x Sony a7iii mirrorless cameras (only two are used throughout the day; one is a backup)
- Batis 25mm f2 lens
- Sony 35mm f1.4 lens
- Sony 55mm f1.8 lens
- Batis 85mm f1.8 lens
- Two flashes
- Holdfast (Moneymaker) straps
How have you continued your photography education?
Whilst we taught ourselves and have never had professional education in photography, I (Alex) am constantly striving to achieve better images by learning from other creatives, getting inspiration from filmmakers, and always finding ways to improve the way I document weddings by listening more to our couples.
What is your favorite image that you’ve taken? Can you describe how you created it? What is it that makes it different?
It’s hard to pick a favorite image so we’ve picked a favorite image (below) just from this year 2018. It was an intentional photo. I (Alex) pictured it in my head before it happened so I wanted to create it as I had pictured it exactly… perhaps that’s why we like it so much. I asked the couple to start walking along the footpath and told the bride to turn and look back at her husband at just the right time. The timing had to be right with each leg placement to give the sense of movement in the image. What makes it different is the fact that it wasn’t a fluke, it was actually carefully planned. I saw it in my mind first and I knew I had to create what I saw because I felt the environment was begging for it.
Do you have any advice for those who are just beginning to pursue a photography career?
Find your voice. Don’t get caught up in preset styles which is what seems to be the huge fuss these days. Photography is more than just finding the right preset, it’s also about composition and storytelling. Find the style you like and stick to it – not everyone will like your style and that’s ok. There will always be someone better than you, but don’t let that be a negative, use it as fuel to increase your skills. As creatives, we are often our own worst critic and we will have seasons when we won’t be satisfied with our work. But again, use that as a positive and as fuel to keep learning. And most of all, enjoy learning. Enjoy exploring and experimenting until you find your voice in amongst an ocean of crowded voices.
What gear would you recommend for a beginner photographer?
Whilst we all know that expensive gear doesn’t make you a better photographer, in the industry we are in (documenting weddings) you need gear that will be reliable. Often this type of gear can cost a bit. But also, if I could recommend anything to someone starting out as a professional wedding photographer, is to keep your gear light and to a minimum. A good way to keep your gear light is to use mirrorless cameras, this is the reason we switched from Canon DSLRs to Sony mirrorless. Your body will thank you for it.
What’s playing in the background while you edit?
Soft calm music like Sleeping at Last and to mix it up we love listening to The Midnight for some ’80s inspired retro music.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being an artist, business person, or happy human?
Be genuine. Nobody likes a fake.
What’s next for your business?
Just to continue enjoying what we do. Continue to grow in skills and in relationships with others in the industry.
Where can people follow you and your work?
Our website: http://olguinphotography.com.au
Is there a wedding photographer or videographer you’re dying to know more about? Tell us below and we might just have them in an upcoming interview!