This week I welcome Chris and Lynn of Chris + Lynn Photographers. Vision, Dedication, Fun and Love = Chris + Lynn. For the past decade, they have been lucky enough to work together as creative photojournalists for magazines around the world. Their artistic vision has earned them an Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a Canadian best-selling book, two Western Magazine Awards, three Northern Lights Awards, and some other pretty cool kudos. This is definitely no surprise when looking at their work. The cinematic style they bring to wedding photography is pure awesome. They are super cool and definitely don't take themselves seriously. Chris and Lynn are definitely dedicated to taking wedding photography to the next level and sharing their passion with others. I have been looking forward to this interview and what these two awe-inspiring photographers have to say. Enjoy it!
Hi Chris and Lynn,
Tell us a little bit about Chris + Lynn Photographers?
CHRIS: Hey Crash. C+L in a sentence? Well, I’d say we are a husband and wife photographer team who work hard, play hard, push boundaries, and dream big.
LYNN: Thanks for having us, Crash! Chris & I met the first day of university, fell in love with each other and then with the art of photography, and now, together, we get to document the love of our clients - we count our blessings every day!
Where is home?
LYNN: Beautiful British Columbia in Canada. We live in the little beach town community of Ocean Park.
What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?
LYNN: We’re right smack in the middle of our busy season right now so we are totally in the shooting groove!
CHRIS: I edited 6 weddings this week & booked one trip to Europe and another to Baja so I’d say I’m feeling pretty darn good.
Did you go to school to study photography?
LYNN: Do art history classes at university count? Chris is self-taught - he started shooting when he was a kid & his dad built him a darkroom in his basement. And I am Chris-taught! We both went to university for entirely different majors - I still remember the day Chris announced he was not going to law school and we both decided to jump headfirst into the world on travel journalism. That was our first step towards our careers in photography.
How long have you been a photographer?
CHRIS: Lucky for me, photography is the only job I’ve ever known. What started as a hobby when I was a kid became my life - I’ve been shooting full time professionally for well over a decade, first as a travel photojournalist and now as a wedding photographer.
LYNN: I’ve been shooting professionally for five years.
How long have you been a wedding photographer?
CHRIS: This is our 6th season in wedding photography.
What or who got you started in wedding photography?
LYNN: Our own wedding! It sounds cheesy, but our lives changed when we said 'I do' to each other on the island of St John. Until that point, (I’m embarrassed to admit) we kindof thought wedding photography was pretty uncool - we were so ignorant!
For our own wedding, we made the mistake of hiring an inexpensive & inexperienced local photographer who put us in stiff awkward poses & shot our ceremony at f16 framing us with a bush behind us instead of the beach, ocean or sky! I can laugh about it now, but when we got our photos back, I cried! But really, our photographer was a blessing in disguise - the experience made us realise how important wedding photography should be.
CHRIS: Well, the first bride I shot was my own. Lynn looked so beautiful on our wedding day, I got her to put on her wedding dress again the next day & shot her running around on the cobbled streets of San Juan on the first day of our honeymoon. People were yelling at her ’where’s the groom?’ and she just pointed to me - wearing my shorts, my Tilley hat and my camera.
How would you describe your style?
CHRIS: A little bit of country, a lot of rock and roll.
LYNN: Ultimately, we are story-tellers. Our goal is to create expressive portraits and capture candid moments that truly reveal the personalities and relationships of our couples through a mix of photojournalism & editorial-styled coverage on the wedding day. Creating a sense of place in our images is also very important to us.
How many weddings do you average per year?
CHRIS: 25-30 weddings
Do you have some recent images you can share with us?
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
CHRIS: Canon 5Ds
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
LYNN: Even though it makes me look like a total nerd, gotta have my FongDong! (Gary Fong light sphere http://www.garyfonginc.com/)
CHRIS: Radio poppers (http://www.radiopopper.com)
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
CHRIS: I’d like to shoot a entire wedding on my 45 tilt shift - now that would keep things interesting! But in the real world? If I had to choose one it would be the 50 1.2 - good fast glass.
LYNN: 70-200 IS - the old standby is super-versatile.
What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?
CHRIS: A roller case full of stuff - three Canon 580 flashes; two Canon 580 MKII flashes; pocket wizards, radio poppers, various sets of reflectors, Frezzi mini-light (video light) and battery; light stands & umbrellas.
LYNN: Thankfully, our awesome assistant carries it all J
Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, reflectors and natural light during a wedding?
LYNN: I’m a natural light junkie - always looking for the nice open shade for portraits or, if none’s to be found, using the shadows or harsh light to create drama. We always use reflectors to give the eyes some pop & sparkle.
CHRIS: Video light + off-camera flash add some depth when we’re working the night portraits or shooting on the dance floor. But there’s no hard and fast rules - we like to mix it up and play with different techniques in different situations throughout the day.
What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
CHRIS: I use ACDSee Pro (www.acdsee.com) to edit (cull) & organize images- it’s fast and easy.
LYNN: Page Gallery - I love Yervant’s album design software - it has just the right mix of design flexibility for me.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
CHRIS: We want to live our lives away from the computer so we’re all about getting the image right in-camera. PS is for enhancing images, not fixing them. If it’s not shot right, it’s deleted - I’m ruthless.
LYNN: Our prints and album images are all “finished” in photoshop. It’s an important tool for us - it takes the images to the next level.
What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?
LYNN Kubota’s magic sharp
CHRIS: Thankfully, Lynn does pretty much all the photoshop
Are you a MAC or PC lover?
LYNN: It’s, ummm, complicated….we run windows on our three macs (we know, we know - it’s sacrilege!)
Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on?
CHRIS: Looking forward to getting my California Sunbounce Sun-Swatter.
LYNN: Looking forward to getting my next new pair of Fly London wedding shoes.
I finally feel I have mastered my Crash-Art workflow, can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a wedding?
CHRIS: Backup everything right after the wedding before going to bed. Then edit down to 800-1000 images for average 10-hour wedding. Then the images go to Lynn who blogs & does the album predesign.
LYNN: And our super-duper production assistant preps the proofs in Lightroom and does other tasks like burning DVDs, uploading & ordering prints and albums etc.
I use Queensberry albums, what wedding albums do you supply your clients with and do you design them yourself or outsource the design?
LYNN: We use a variety of album companies including Visionart, GraphiStudio, Finao, and LaVie. We’re visualizing the album layout while shooting & I usually do all the design though our assistant is starting to do some simpler designs like our US Session Art Books (for portraits) and our YOU+ME engagement books.
How do you feel about cropping an image?
CHRIS: pretty neutral on cropping - no strong feelings for or against.
LYNN: In the album, if it improves the image or the narrative & visual flow, let’s do it.
I choose photographers for these interviews because their work really inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing, hence the interview. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
CHRIS: Even on my cynical days, the natural beauty in the world all around us never fails to inspire me.
What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
LYNN: My favourite shoots combine travel, adventure and love! Last year, we had a couple who hired us to shoot their elopement in Paris - we shot them exchanging vows beneath the Eiffel Tower, biking around Notre Dame, and throwing her bouquet into the Seine - it was a photographer’s dream!
CHRIS: A little danger always makes things memorable, so I’d have to say our assignment to photograph grey whales on the west coast of Vancouver island from a tiny researcher’s boat - we almost flipped over several times. A wedding shoot that comes to mind was one that was also being filmed for the reality tv show Platinum Weddings - in addition to our team, there was a 8-person camera, sound, and light crew plus a whole slew of production assistants and producers. That was wild.
If you could shoot a wedding with someone who would it be and why?
Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments?
CHRIS: We shoot almost all our weddings together & have an assistant with us all the time.
How many images do you average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients?
CHRIS: Depends on wedding, but usually shoot about 3000+ & clients will have 700 - 1000.
Where would be your dream destination wedding?
LYNN: Our favourite destination is France - we love shooting there - each time it is magical! Top on my dream list would be South Africa & Greece. And Bali where we’re headed for a wedding this winter - can’t wait!
CHRIS: Antarctica & Egypt
How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your Canon 5D?
LYNN: We’re pretty goofy ourselves - that makes people feel relaxed. During the portrait session, giving specific direction and feedback helps a lot too.
Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding and if so, how did you handle it?
LYNN: Does anything ever not go wrong at a wedding?! J I think how you handle the bumps that can happen at every event - family formals in full sun, an aggressive uncle bob jumping in every shot, a drunk best man, a bride whose high heel snaps off, an inexplicable equipment malfunction, - is what distinguishes you as a professional. Preparation and attitude can solve most any problem.
What are your favourite three images you have shot recently? Can you describe their creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc, also your thoughts when creating the images and what they mean to you?
45mm 2.8 TS ISO 800 1/1579s f3.5
I think this image really defines our style - shows a sense of place and is a genuine moment. It was pouring rain on their wedding day, but these two didn't care. They just kicked off their shoes & hiked up the hill with us after their First Look.
200 mm 2.8IS, ISO 400 1/3158s f2.8
The joy of this couple and the Hawaii setting make this recent ceremony image a favourite.
16-35mm 2.8 ISO 400 1/166s f4.5
We wanted to make a very non-traditional portrait of a bride in traditional cultural dress in this very traditional Sikh home. We tried to do that by combining the wide angle, the reflection and the use of off camera flash with radio poppers.
85mm 1.2 ISO 1000 1/50s f1.8
Our goal is for our images to reflect the client's personality & style - this couple is so hip and urban, we really wanted a shot of them on the street at night. We grabbed them during the reception & snuck them outside in front of the venue for a 5-minute portrait session. For lighting we had our frezzi video light & the car headlights for backlight
24mm 1.4 ISO 400 1/332 s f1.4
The bride was getting ready in a tiny chaotic room filled with people rushing and lots and lots of stuff. Shooting through the doors with them framing her was a way to simplify the image.
24-105mm 4.0 ISO 800 1/395s f8
Some groomsmen who were cool & fun - we had limited time & a dark alley so we played with the posing.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?
CHRIS: One challenge in the wedding industry is many photographers undervalue their work and charge prices that are unsustainable for their businesses.
LYNN: Putting as much effort and planning into planning the business aspects of wedding photography & concentrating on branding and marketing is crucial. I think finding that balance of artist vs business person is always a struggle with any type of creative endeavour!
What do you think of the wedding photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
LYNN: It’s amazing & inspiring how much talent there is out there & it’s really interesting to see how fast things are changing. It will be interesting to see what happens with the convergence of moving and still images.
CHRIS: It’s more important than ever to differentiate yourself at this time in the industry. Change is good & I’m no Luddite but I still believe the power of a printed photograph - a real moment, real emotion captured & beautifully composed & lit - is still the future. Precisely because of technology and the fleeting nature of a our digital world, a good old-fashioned photograph is all the more valuable.
A wedding photographer who inspires you?
LYNN: Jerry Ghionis rocks my world!
CHRIS: I get a lot of inspiration from cinematography - the work of Chris Menges & Janusz Kaminski. A photographer whose work I’m really digging right now is Rankin http://www.rankin.co.uk/
It’s almost that time of year for a Taylor family portrait. Is there any photographer out there that you would be stoked to say - he/she took my portrait?
LYNN: I’d love Zach Arias (http://www.zarias.com/) to make me look like a rock star.
CHRIS: I’m pretty good behind the camera, not so good in front of it - but I ‘d be pretty stoked for us to do a lifestyle session with Nick Onken (http://www.nickonken.com/).
A website and/or blog you visit often?
The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?
CHRIS: Galen Rowell because I’m rereading his book Mountain Light right now.
LYNN: David DuChemin (http://www.pixelatedimage.com/blog/) because I just watched one of his podcasts (highly recommended!) and we’ve been chatting recently.
The last workshop or seminar you attended and why?
LYNN: Kevin Kubota & Doug Gordon in Hawaii five years ago - it was a great learning experience.
CHRIS: Well, actually the most recent one we were at was Revolution - a workshop we put on in NYC with our fellow photographers (and great friends!) Jason Groupp & TJ Cameron.
Do you have any workshops or seminars planned for the future?
LYNN: We have YOU+US two-day private (three people maximum) workshops a couple times a year. There’s also a plan in the works for a seminar in Mexico in fall 2010. For more info or to get on a mailing list, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What photographic organizations do you belong to?
One way you market Chris + Lynn Photographers?
CHRIS: Our website & blog are our main marketing tools.
LYNN: But most of our clients are referrals - our most important and valuable marketing strategy is creating loyal and loving clients who spread the love about us!
Do you advertise? If so where?
How important is an awesome website for your business?
CHRIS: It’s everything.
LYNN: Especially for our clients who don’t live here - our website is how they meet us and our work. LiveBooks (our website provider www.livebooks.com) has so many options that make our life easier, like an extensive client access section to preview album designs and do slideshows, and the ability to easily & quickly update and add to our site.
If not a photographer, I would have liked to be a marine biologist studying the great white shark. What would you have been?
I realize that each great photographer has a particular penchant or love for photographing a particular subject whether it be nature, portraits, sea or landscapes, shadow and light, etc. as a result I would love to have you talk about and share whatever images you feel appropriate of your own private obsession in the magical world of photography. (Please talk about your personal work, this is where personal photos will be attached)
CHRIS: Personal work, what's that? Right now, we don't have a lot of time for separate personal work, but the truth is when I'm at the weddings, or at our pportrait or editorial or any shoot really, I am always shooting first and foremost for myself. That might sound bad, but I'm always experimenting and playing and trying new things to make images that I think look cool - I'm just lucky our clients like them too.
LYNN: Right now, I'm really loving our boudoir shoots - they started as more of a personal project, but it's gradually grown into a key part of our business with our brides. The feedback we get when they see their images is off the hook! It's such a shot of feel-good self-confidence.
CHRIS: And their grooms always thank us too But seriously, like I mentioned before, for both of us photography is all about creating and capturing beauty.
Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?
CHRIS: I’m a big music lover - some musicians I’d love to photograph are Gaslight Anthem, The Sounds, and Bruce Springsteen.
LYNN: Endangered sea turtles lay eggs on the beach near our home in Mexico & there is a group dedicated to their protection. I would love to document their work as well as the turtles.
When I was 2nd shooting I was picking everybody’s brain, I still am actually. That’s why I love these interviews so much. Every interview I learn something that makes me a better photographer. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue wedding photography?
LYNN Love what you do: nourish your passion for your craft - whether that's by creating personal assignments, reading books of the masters, taking seminars of those you respect - keep on learning, experimenting, and growing as an artist. And, love your clients: it will push you to do your best for them & they will love you back for it!
CHRIS Avoid shortcuts when it comes to developing your knowledge & style. Invest time into understanding your gear & how light works & get it right in camera - don't rely on "fixing" things in photoshop or layering on the actions. Be inspired by artists you love in all types of photography, but find your own style - trying to replicate someone else's does your learning, artisty & business a disservice.
We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
LYNN: Again, love! But when I need to get re-inspired, I love to re-connect with nature. Take the sailboat out to the San Juan islands where there’s little but ocean, sky, and rock and observe the natural world – the symmetry and chaos that create beauty.
CHRIS: I used to work in the film industry so I derive a lot of inspiration from films. Great adventure & travel photography, as well as news photojournalism also drive me to create better images.
Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?
CHRIS: Lots! But hindsight is 20/20 and every mistake we’ve made along the way is a learning experience.
Name one photographer you would like to take a portrait of?
LYNN: How about Crash Taylor? When you coming to BC?
Name one sports player you would like to take a portrait of?
LYNN: Not into sports, sorry! But I love dance, all styles - I would love do a series of portraits of contemporary dancers.
CHRIS: extreme rock-climbers or kayakers
If you could be invisible for one day with your camera...
LYNN: I’d hang out in a lion’s den
CHRIS: I’d get in trouble!
I’ve learned the most from…
LYNN: my parents
What talent would you most like to have?
CHRIS: Speak different languages - particularly Spanish. And surfing - that’s next on my to-learn list.
LYNN: Salsa dancing! I’m learning, but I’m terrible!
Something you’re still learning?
CHRIS & LYNN: photography - we’re always learning
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What is your greatest fear?
LYNN: losing the people I love
Something that is overrated?
CHRIS: shooting RAW
LYNN: luxury cars
Something you’re saving up for?
CHRIS: paying off the mortgage
LYNN: new furniture for the new house!
What item do you wish you had designed?
CHRIS: the Eiffel Tower
LYNN: post-it notes!
If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?
CHRIS & LYNN: Bruce Springsteen
Where you'll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.?
LYNN: hot tub in our backyard with a glass of red wine
Your favourite film (movie) of all time?
CHRIS: The Graduate
LYNN: The English Patient
Who would play you in a film (movie) of your life?
CHRIS: I’d never sell the rights
LYNN: Someone with a lot of energy and a lot of crazy curly hair
First thing you would do if you won the lottery?
LYNN: Travel the world
CHRIS: Fly to Mexico tomorrow
Which five words would your friends use to describe you?
LYNN: As a couple? Happy, motivated, risk-takers, fun, kind of co-dependent
What ambition have you not yet achieved?
CHRIS: Getting my pilot’s license
LYNN: Going to Africa
What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?
CHRIS: What we’re doing now, but with double the travel and half the office/computer work. And lots of sunshine and surfing.
LYNN: continuing to live happily ever after
And the last question, if you had one wish…
CHRIS: Any wish? To enjoy this life with my family forever (see greatest fear above !)
LYNN: for everyone to find a way to live their passion
Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next Chris/Lynn?' What would you say?
CHRIS: Sorry, There’s only one. Be your best self. That’s the advice I try to follow each day and it’s the best I can give.
LYNN: Identify your goals, follow your dreams & don’t be afraid to take risks!
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