Our interview today is with Sarah and Adam, the husband and wife wedding photography team known as InTandem. Full of energy, color and good humor, Sarah and Adam are a perfect balance to each other, in life and in work. As Adam plans, scouts and composes, Sarah absorbs, experiences and feels the moment. The result: a visual story of the wedding day that is compositionally strong, emotionally moving, and visually stunning. Take some time to experience their work, you’re going to have fun with these two!
So tell me about working as a husband-wife team. Just like with any team (not necessary a hubby+wife), we always shoot together and have our rhythm. We can communicate quickly, and have learned to rely on each other, granting us the opportunity to take riskier shots, because we trust each other and know what the other is doing. Those risks have led to our favorite and most iconic images. We’re teaching a workshop on this very topic in January entitled Risky Business and we’re doing it along with Caroline and Ben, another husband and wife photographer team. Personally, we have to work harder at having a personal life as a married couple. It’s easy to blur the line of work and life, especially when you love what you do! Date nights, work-free Sundays and pursuing non-photography hobbies together is really important to us.
What got you started in wedding photography? Adam shot black and white film throughout high school and a bit of college, and I took one photography class before graduating with an Advertising degree from the University of Texas. We were both photographers by hobby when we met, but it wasn’t a big part of our lives or relationship. After getting engaged, we were on the hunt for a photographer for our own wedding and saw a hole in the market. (We thankfully found the amazing Sarah Q and couldn’t be happier with our wedding photos!) Actually, the first wedding we booked dropped out of thin air after the couple found Sarah’s Flickr page of photos, none of which were wedding related. Taking that as a sign we started a web site, invested in some light sensitive lenses and just rode the wave. It all took off much quicker than we could have ever dreamed.
Do you have different ways of shooting/working? Completely! I (Sarah) am a feeler of the moment. I put myself in a place of what it would be like to be there – the sights, the sounds, and look for any way to connect to the environment. I believe I can convey the personal aspects of their wedding if I’ve experienced it. Adam is a scouter, and likes to plan where exactly he’ll be at certain times throughout the day and looks at his surroundings as compositional elements immediately upon arriving. I’m usually still breathing in the fresh wedding air by the time he has his whole evening mapped out.
What do you do when you’re not being wedding photographers?
Adam – Read! I’m a sucker for anything nonfiction (with the exception of the Hunger Games of course) and love reading the genius works of Malcom Gladwell or books about business. Personal travel is a favorite, teaching myself graphic design, and cheering for the amazing Denver Broncos.
Sarah – I love to cook. Creating healthy renditions of long time favorites is something I could do all day. I love to garden on our little patio, and dream of the next place we’ll travel to while appreciating all the greatness of our hometown of Austin.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge/most difficult part of being a wedding photographer? Sarah – A big part of me considers my role on the wedding day to be one of support, encouragement and guidance, as much as documenting their wedding day artfully. I find it important to be connected – chat with the couple, help carry the dress or open doors, even listen to conversations, vows and toasts in order to learn more about what is important to them, etc. Balancing this role with pure disconnected documentation is a challenge for me.
Adam – Wedding moments carry so much weight, and you just get one shot at it. For me, the greatest challenge is capturing these without having control over the variables. While that is the biggest challenge, it also makes it all more gratifying.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Adam – I always dream of being a squirrel. I’d love to go from horizontal to vertical in a split second!
Teleportation. Here to there in no time? Just think of the possibilities!
What is your creative vision? What do you desire to express with your photos? We want our work to offer a surprising perspective of the perfect moments. Our goal is to have people look at our photos and ask, “This is what they saw?” and capture that emotion-charged moment, framed in an artistic, unanticipated composition.
Describe what gets you up in the morning, literally and/or figuratively.
Adam – Coffee.
Sarah – The sound of Adam grinding coffee.
Describe your wedding photography style in less than 6 adjectives. Honest, emotional, playful, timeless, surreal.
Do you offer albums? What kind? What do you feel is important about wedding photo albums? Every package we offer includes an a flush mount album from Renaissance Albums – based here in the United States. For us, albums are the capstone of the entire photography process. One of my most prized possessions is a photo of my grandmother outside of the church, about to walk in and get married to my grandpa. I love it. I get choked up at the mere thought of what it would be like to look through an entire album of their wedding photos…to imagine what it would be like to be there. Albums are the thing that are looked through on anniversaries and passed down through generations. They aren’t bound by today’s technology. Albums ooze nostalgia.
How has being a wedding photographer made you a stronger photographer over all? First and foremost is the control factor. Weddings, for the most part, are completely out of the control of the photographer. Yes, there are aspects that we’re able to direct or set up, where we can stretch our creative muscles a bit, but the moments that are the wedding day – those we have no control over. From putting on her “something old” to walking down the aisle, first kisses and first dances, each moment happens in a split second, with many moving factors, often in low light. Being able to anticipate moments and make quick, almost instinctive decisions about how to photograph these moments is something we can take into any kind of photography.
What three photographers do you admire or who has inspired you, either in the past or right now? In weddings, we both draw a lot of inspiration from the amazing Davina+Daniel, as well as Max Wanger. For me (Sarah), Jonathan Canlas was the first wedding photography I saw that changed my outlook on weddings photos, long before I even considered this as a career. In particular, his commercial work is amazing. In non-wedding photographers, our 3 most inspiring are Mark Shaw, Elliot Erwitt, and Rodney Smith. Just writing their names makes my heart feel lighter and inspired. They’re incredible.
Favorite trick to capture images of reluctant subjects? (kids, grandparents, nervous-in-front-of-the-camera-types) Smile! That’s the biggest thing. Make the decision to genuinely enjoy the day and assume the great honor of photographing their wedding. Usually just the energy of that decision changes the dynamics. If someone doesn’t want their picture taken, we don’t force it but instead take a moment to talk to them as a person vs. as a photography subject. We also go into every wedding knowing the names and roles of family and close friends, and any relevant relationship dynamics (positive or negative). Instead of just checking an important photo off a list, we may instead say to that person privately ” [bride’s name here] specifically asked for a photo with just you. She told us how important you are to her and wants to make sure she gets a picture with you.” Besides showing that person how loved they are, you make taking that photo much easier. Who goes into that photo with a grumpy face? No one. a
Best advice you’ve ever received about being a business person?
Sarah – Someone told me once, “If I’m doing something for free, I’d better be sitting on a beach having a Corona.” This sounds harsh, and my immediate reaction years ago was to argue with this statement in the name of selflessness and service, but now I realize that it has more to do with valuing yourself. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone, but that often leads to feeling overworked and under appreciated, and in the end, less inspired or unmotivated. Sometimes “payment” is just in the happiness I feel when someone sees themselves in a new way through our photos, or the opportunity to witness something I wouldn’t have without taking “free” photos in exchange. The important thing is knowing the value in your talent and making sure you continue to be fed – both figuratively and literally. Also, it’s always good to sit on a beach somewhere and have a Corona. That’s pretty good business advice too.
Adam – “Everything Matters.” – Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. We know that every detail matters, and often remind each other throughout the day that, while this is what we do on a regular basis, the wedding only happens once for them. We want to exceed expectations, and to do that you have to pay attention to every tiny detail.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being a happy human? This one is easy, and the same for both of us. Make decisions out of love, not fear. Every decision we make comes down to that, and it’s made all the difference. It’s all about love, love, love. Fear truly is the root of all evil.
What is your favorite reaction from a client when you deliver their images? We usually share a wedding slideshow with our clients before the entire gallery is ready. It’s a little easier to digest 50-75 photos than 500-700, and it’s a fun way to begin the whole experience of re-living your wedding day. Most do exactly that – they watch the slideshow about a million times and get geared up to see the rest – exactly what we want. One couple in particular watched their slideshow and told us that if that was all they had, it would be enough! Those 60 photos were so amazing they didn’t need the other 600. I’m not even sure if they’d remember saying that (because we of course gave them the rest of the photos) but we haven’t ever forgotten it.
One thing you’d like every bride and groom to know before their wedding? Your wedding is a day you’ll look back on forever. It is about love, celebration, tradition, and the people closest to you witnessing your commitment to your future with the one you love. It’s that simple. While creating the atmosphere is important – your wedding isn’t about the decor, or where your wedding can be featured, or what people think about your dress. It’s not even (gasp!) about the photos. It’s about the ceremonial and emotional moments that happen because of the significance your wedding day carries – both for you and the people around you. Make the space beautiful and choose a photographer you trust to capture the day, but spend the most time reflecting on ways to honor people and your relationship, and the best, most personal way to signify the start of your lifetime together. What we’d like every bride and groom to know is how important it is to be present for those real moments, and to let go of your expectations of what you think it should be. Also, don’t worry about your dress getting dirty. It’s long. It’s white. It’s going to get a little dirty and that is okay.
What are looking forward to most right now? We’re so excited to see family and friends for the holidays. There’s no better way to spend some much needed downtime than with old movies, good food and wine, board games and a packed house for Christmas! My sister is newly engaged, so this year will be extra special for all of us!
Sarah and Adam, thanks for sharing your life and work with us!
Readers, see more photographic stories by InTandem on their blog.