When people find out that we are working with our spouse we either get one of two responses: 1. ” You are so lucky!” or 2. “I could never work with my spouse!” We laugh at both responses because we know it is so much deeper than that! We are very lucky to work with one another and yet we have had those same thoughts that we could never work together or maybe we shouldn’t be a husband and wife photography team.
We can be proud individuals and very competitive. This combination, in the beginning, was not good. Every session and every wedding was a challenge, to say the least! We both wanted to take charge and we both had expectations of one another that were not realistic. When we joined forces in the business it was very shaky in the beginning! We were not only learning how to use a camera, edit, pose, and run a business, but also how to communicate with each other all over again! Throw some small children in the mix and you can say there were some stressful times!
After a few years in business, we began to realize that roles were important. We had to learn to relinquish tasks and learn to trust each other. For example, when we first started, Luke and I both edited the images. We were so proud of our art that we wanted to rush home and edit them. The problem was that our editing styles were very different. No right or wrong, just different. In the beginning, this would cause arguments because he wanted it one way and I wanted it another way. We would question each other about why the other had done it that way. We finally realized that just one of us should be the “editor.” This would eliminate arguments while also giving us consistency in our work. It made sense for me to take over the editing because Luke works a full-time job and I had more time to dedicate to it. The past few years we have developed a timeless clean editing style that attracts brides. Luke doesn’t ever doubt my editing ability and I feel confident that he trusts me in this aspect of our business.
This term used to offend me in the beginning. Luke would say that I would be in the weeds while shooting, meaning I would get stuck and the images and poses would look stiff and all the same. After finally being able to humble myself ( …I warned you I was strong headed), we began to come up with a strategy. Now, I will say this is still in the works and every session we aim at getting better and better.
Throughout portrait time during the wedding day, I am the main one who handles the posing of the couple. I also mainly shoot with the 35. Luke carries the 85 primarily. I will pose and Luke will get the safe shots. Then I will go around with the 35 and try to get more creative and intimate shots. We also communicate more about what we want to do and sometimes Luke will step in and pose, while I stand back and shoot. Communication is key in all of this!
We will then switch roles during the reception. Luke will be the one who gets the more creative shots while I focus more on getting what is needed. Switching roles throughout the day gives us the freedom to be creative while also giving us the ability to lead. We have come a long way and it is because we respect one another and have grace and forgiveness for one another.
We still find ourselves getting into the weeds every now and then. Instead of taking offense we analyze the problem and try to come up with a solution. We actually now enjoy shooting together and have lots of fun.
In the beginning, we were both not strong at shooting, posing, or anything business related. It took lots of patience, practice, and grace! One area in our business where we both lacked was the bookkeeping. We struggled for years and it was such a stressful topic. We then decided to outsource all of it to a bookkeeper; one who would not only do our taxes but would make sure we are doing everything correctly on a monthly basis. This was one of the best decisions we have made. I know other photographers and small business owners talk about this, but outsourcing is the best thing that you can do as an entrepreneur. If you realize that you are not good at something or do not have the time to dedicate to it, it is okay to hand it over to someone who can handle it and do it even better than you.
This, unfortunately, took me a long time to catch on to. (Again… Headstrong!)
I’ve mentioned this before; however, I want to end on this note. Have grace with each other. You probably are not as stubborn as Luke and I, so you will most likely find your groove a lot sooner than we did. Being a husband and wife photography team has been the best adventure yet and we are so fortunate that we had grace. Laugh at one another and learn to laugh at yourself. It is such a humbling experience to work alongside your spouse, but it is so worth it!
Wishing you lots of growth and humility this year!
-Luke & Ash-
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