Based out of Colorado but ready to travel anywhere in the world, Heidi and Daniel Chowen are the madly-in-love husband and wife team who make up Chowen Photography. The Yin to the other’s Yang, Heidi and Daniel balance each other perfectly, and their individual artistic styles create a complete story of each wedding. I’m so excited to share their Spotlight Interview with you, so read on to experience their incredible work and also to learn what Daniel would choose as a superpower!
So Heidi and Daniel, we hear it was love at first sight for you? Absolutely…A friend set us up and as soon as we met, we just knew and we have been together ever since; 13 years together, nine years of marriage and two daughters later and we still love each other and love spending each day together as best friends.
Can you tell us about your relationship and what working together with your spouse is like. We have completely different artistic styles in terms of capturing the images, so we love seeing what we photographed after a wedding and melding our two styles together to tell the complete story. During a wedding weekend, we know how each of us works individually, so we discuss our ideas and just trust one another to execute them. Working at home, we try to take a step away from just working together and focus on our daughters and non-working together relationship. Sometimes it is hard to not be in work mode together, but we try as much as we can to separate when possible.
Why photography? It is our passion. We met our last semesters before graduating college and we were both artists, so once we joined forces to work together in that capacity, it was a no brainer. We absolutely love it. We both practiced other art forms, but photography is what we gravitated towards. We love documenting people, emotions, love and togetherness. Outside of weddings, Daniel does street photography to create a more in depth look at society and its disconnectedness, which is a complete contrast to the emotions that are present at a wedding. Heidi photographs families and loves to capture the bond and real life moments that families have together in their every day lives. Photography is a way to capture a moment in time that will never happen again, so for us, it is a way to take those moments and make them eternal.
What draws you to it? How did you get into it? The emotion, the art of it, the way to push ourselves to see things differently. It is a means to show life in a real manner…to capture that one fleeting moment that would otherwise be missed and do it in a creative and photojournalist manner to make sure that it creates emotion. We were both artists as kids and started young, so this was another form of art to express what we see. We love that we get to do this for a living; to mix business and art and make it a career. We love the course our lives have taken with this.
Where/what is home? Home is anywhere our sweet daughters are. We could live on the beach or in the mountains and as long as we are a family unit with love and happiness, that is all that matters. We currently live in Durango, Colorado. We are definitely drawn more to the city and have moved a couple times, but this is where our families are so the girls can stay in close contact with the people that love them the most. They also all help with our girls while we travel for work and that is invaluable. We live in one of the most gorgeous states and areas, so we are not complaining at all! We focus on destination weddings as we love to meet people from all walks of life and travel to different locations that are inspiring.
What was your photography education? School? Self-taught? Workshops? We both took photography classes and learned on film cameras, but the rest we are completely self-taught. We have practiced other mediums and art processes and feel that has helped us have a better artistic vision for our work, but when photography came along for us together, we just knew it was perfect for us as a team. We shoot digitally and have been self taught for that. Heidi has a bit of graphic design background too, so working digitally was an easy decision for us. We would love to experiment more with film processes in the future when the time is right.
What gives you ideas or inspiration? Basic sketching and other artistic ventures lead to better pictures. We also try to be as prepared as possible by visiting the wedding site early, even the day before, to scout the light and best spots for the actual day.
Who inspires you? Heidi: From a more personal aspect, our daughters do. To be a kid again would be amazing and seeing it through their innocent eyes is pure joy for me. They love, laugh and cry in the most authentic manner. To see that every day reminds me to do the same. My heart overflows with love seeing them live life and I love taking that to our art in photography as well. I try to transfer that feeling when documenting people so that I can capture those sweet moments in between that make life worth living.
Do you have a (recent) favorite photo that you have taken? Can you describe how you created it? What do you like about it? Our favorite image at the moment is one (see below) that was taken at a wedding at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. It was a moment for the bride and groom to be together before their ceremony and we just told them where we wanted them to stand, but they were just themselves in the image. The drama of the Colorado mountains and weather only added to the allure of the image.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge/most difficult part of being a wedding photographer? Every wedding couple is so unique and we love that. One thing that we have to make sure we stay true to is our artistic visions. Which means tracking the needs and wants of different individuals from wedding to wedding while still staying true to our own vision. We need to make sure we stay focused so that we don’t lose our vision, but also give the client everything they need and want.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a wedding photographer? We would both still be artists. Daniel would probably be an art teacher or comic illustrator and Heidi would be a painter or maybe work in interior design.
Besides weddings, what/who/where would you love to be able to photograph? Daniel would love to photograph events directed toward the arts such as concerts and performance art. Heidi: I would love to document a rock star on tour. It is a completely different lifestyle from how we live, so I would love to be a fly on the wall to tell those stories.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Daniel: Understanding women. Since I live with three of them, this power could one day save my life.
What changes/improvements have you observed within your photography over the years? Daniel: I can not turn off my “camera sight”. I see what my camera would see. All the time.
What is your creative vision? What do you desire to express with your photos? We want to convey the emotion present at the time we took it. We want to show the love, the laughter and tears that are so present on a wedding day. We want to capture it as it happened and make those sweet moments preserved for eternity.
What influences your work or photographic style? We are mostly influenced by the clients themselves. Modern couples are really quite involved in the entire creative process more and more. They make it unique and inspiring.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t shooting weddings? Our life is our daughters. We love spending all the moments we can with them and together as a family. We want to give them the world so that they can be the best people they can be and be so incredibly happy doing it. We do a lot of stuff kids like to do: play, read, bike ride, watch movies, create art and go on little adventures together. Daniel is an avid runner and has competed races as well as in the Boston Marathon. Heidi loves to run as well and will compete in her first half marathon in November. We also love to be with friends and family. Relationships with each other and other people are so important to us.
How do you prepare for a shoot or a wedding? Clean. Organize. Review the wedding setting. Go over the timeline. Repeat.
What makes your work unique? We give each other the freedom to be creative and we believe it shows in our work. Our amazing clients always comment about the way we both shoot together as the reason we were chosen to record their day. Since we both are opposites in terms of how we view subjects artistically, it just flows together as a whole, like a ying & yang relationship with each other’s art.
Describe an average day for you. An average day for us involves splitting time editing photos and reviewing shoots to look for improvements. Then we submit collections for publication and fine tune our final product. When we aren’t working, we are with our daughters when they aren’t in school and spending time together.
What is your favorite moment or tradition at weddings? Heidi: I love the signing of the Ketubah. It is so beautiful and I love the meaning behind it. Daniel: I love the hour right after the ceremony. All qualms are dropped and everyone is relaxed. The mood is usually the best for pictures.
What really gets to you at weddings? We always rekindle our own relationship at weddings. There is no avoiding it, we are just suckers for the whole experience.
What are your favorite wedding locations in your area? We love traveling for weddings, but some amazing spots are right in our backyard. Dunton Hot Springs is an amazing luxury mountain resort that is just a couple hours away and made for more intimate weddings as you can rent the entire town. It is a smaller venue, but so gorgeous.
Where do you want to shoot next? Heidi: I would love to photograph a wedding in the countryside in France or Italy. Daniel: I am waiting for the call to do a wedding at sea.
Describe what gets you up in the morning, literally and/or figuratively. Heidi: Our daughters to get ready for school or just because they are awake and they want us to be up too:). I wish there were more hours in the day as it seems to fly by too quickly. I always want to do so much, from doing something fun with the kids, exercising, cooking, working and doing something with friends…too much to do in one day, but I sure try. Daniel: A strict workout routine before the girls wake up.
Describe your wedding photography style in less than 6 adjectives.Creative, romantic, organic, uninterrupted.
Any advice for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer? You already know who you want in your heart. A match in style is not something that can be replaced.
Any advice for couples on how to look amazing and feel comfortable in their photographs? Pretend we are not there. Spend at least a night just talking and laughing together about what the picture taking process might actually be like.
One thing you’d like every bride and groom to know before their wedding? We went through everything you are about to go through and it will be the happiest day of your life. Don’t worry about us. We have got you covered.
How has being a wedding photographer made you a stronger photographer over all? Zero room for error will make anyone better.
How has witnessing so many weddings impacted your life/outlook? Heidi: I love love and togetherness, so to be able to document the happiest moments in people’s lives makes me so incredibly happy. I love that our home and work environment are surrounded by positive feelings and love. I never want to take what we do for granted as there are very few professions where you get to surround yourself with the most amazing people who are celebrating love and happiness all the time. We are so blessed.
Favorite wedding style? Black tie. The best ingredients for photos.
Favorite trick to capture images of reluctant subjects? Be invisible.
Favorite image of yourself? Heidi: I am not a fan of being in front of the camera at all, but I love the images Daniel takes of the girls and I…this one (above) is from two years ago and is one of my favorites.
I absolutely love that photo! So, how do you know you’ve done a great job for your wedding clients? Heidi: It makes my day (week & month too) to know that a client loves their images. We adore our clients and have stayed in contact with them all. The best thing is when our amazing clients refer us to other people. That is the purest form of flattery. We also keep all the thank you notes our clients have ever sent us. They are from the heart and remind us why we do this!
What are looking forward to most right now? We have an upcoming wedding on the beaches of Mexico and it is sure to be a wedding week to remember. After that we have the holidays and we LOVE (okay, Heidi loves slightly more than Daniel) the music, the smells, the weather, the togetherness and the fun of being with all our favorite people over the holiday and New Year season. We look forward to what next year has in store for us too.
Thanks Daniel and Heidi for sharing your life and timeless wedding photos with us. Readers, be sure to spend some time on Chowen Photography’s blog.