it’s september 17th and we’ve been on the road for 10 days now. during that time, we’ve visited Las Vegas, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and San Jose and we’re now making our way to Sacramento. we’ve seen some incredible places on the way to our stops and have met people from all walks of life. but the best part is just how connected people are to the main message of this workshop series: the idea of having purpose behind your decisions.
over the years, our philosophy has shifted. we’ve evolved as storytellers and so has our approach. we share a bit about our journey at the beginning of each KNOW stop. we realized that once we started approaching shoots of any kind from a more personal level, we became more connected with what we were doing and so did our viewers.
KNOW is about finding your voice: deciding what type of stories you want to tell, and defining the approach you’re going to take when you tell them. the moment you find your voice and start communicating strong messages with it, you become completely irreplaceable as a storyteller.
one of the most interesting questions we got over the last 10 days was about this exactly - how to become an irreplaceable storyteller, and how it pertains to us as a team:
what one thing caused you or brought about the discovery of your voice?
as with most things, this was a somewhat gradual process. it took us a while to figure out what fulfilled us the most, and that was when we touched people emotionally. we were most moved when we made a strong impact, not because our imagery was “cool”, but because it was meaningful.
having said that, there are a few things that stand out as having been significant moments in this journey of realization…
we got asked a big question…
we remember a particular shot in a film a few years ago – it was a ring shot. for those of you who have been around on our journey with us for a while, you’ll remember this. it was pretty iconic. we positioned the wedding bands in an obscure or random location (it was thought of as “unique” back then), set our exposure, and moved a light across the meticulously positioned rings. it gave the illusion of a time-lapse sunset dancing across the diamonds, or at least, that’s what we joked about when we explained to people how we did it. in fact, we got that question a lot: how’d you do that? and with a big smile, we’d explain our technique and feel all proud that we’d made something unique enough to yield tons of interest from our colleagues! we were the cool kids and we were loving the feeling!
but then it happened. one day, instead of asking us how, we got asked WHY. we were stumped. the fact was, we had no idea how to answer the question. what’s worse is that it was a bride who asked us that question, and were at a loss for words, scrambling to figure out something half decent to say.
this was the beginning of the end. this gut-wrenching experience was the start of a drawn out goodbye to shots that would have the ”cool factor” but nothing else. in came a commitment to making decisions with purpose and having deeper reasons for the choices we made, from lens choice, composition, colour, to choosing the kinds of people we were working with.
now, this didn’t happen overnight, but as we started making more and more relevant choices, we felt more and more fulfilled, we started noticing a big difference in how our couples responded to their photos and films. we also started hearing from people that they felt a connection to our couples through their imagery, even though they were complete strangers! and then, one day…
we got a phone call…
it was someone from the NFL Network who had seen our wedding films on Vimeo and felt a connection. they noticed that we prioritized affect over effect, that we were telling the story of the people and more than just the wedding day. they said that they valued how we were able to find and express the uniqueness of each of our couples and that they were curious to see how we could apply our approach to the world of football. this was an extremely strong affirmation that we were on the right path and that there was a lot of value behind making choices that reflected the beauty of individual personality.
and thus began our new journey, which led to many new, exciting, and extremely rewarding projects that have made us better storytellers and better people all-round.
then we got asked to teach…
as people started taking a bigger interest in our work, they started asking about how we tell these stories. even though the word “how” was in the question, we interpreted it as “why are you making the choices you do and how does it relate to telling authentic stories?” because really, the question WHY is at the heart of the answer.
our involvement in education has been a huge part of the discovery of our voice. the very act of organizing our thoughts and explaining techniques and decisions forces us to evaluate our approach. in order to explain why, we need to KNOW why. this constant evaluation keeps us on our toes and maintains a strong connection to our philosophy. we will always strive to make the most relevant and meaningful decisions from here on out, and educating is a strong force in keeping us tied to what’s truly important to us as a team and as a family.
and as our journey continues, we’ll spend part of it riding around on an RV, stopping in 36 cities, and sharing some of the things we’ve learned along the way about telling meaningful stories. we’ll keep you updated throughout the tour here on the blog, on Facebook and through Twitter, and continue to post the most interesting questions, answers and anecdotes about our amazing experiences! thanks for reading and for being such an important part of our journey!