You might have heard about or even met many talented wedding photographers. But… have you ever heard about wedding photographers who write poetry for their couples? Or do you know any wedding photographers who write cookbooks in the form of stories? No? Well, you will after you read our post about this dynamic husband and wife team Heather and Terrence Huie who are Apollo Fields Photography.
Heather and Terrance, who themselves are deeply in love, run a unique wedding photography business. Why we call their business unique is because they don’t just deliver stunning photography, but also great storytelling. Along with the photographs, they offer their couples a poetic representation of their relationship and wedding day as a gift after the wedding.
Heather and Terrance’s brand Apollo Fields is based out of New York, but they also still book weddings in Colorado where they lived for a short time. Their website states that they are available for wedding photography worldwide. Isn’t that amazing? No inhibitions, no fear of the unknown or uncertainties, just confidence and willingness to go where the road takes them.
So, how did Heather and Terrence actually meet and collaborate to make Apollo Fields a reality and their wedding photography business a success?
The Beginning of a Lifelong Collaboration
Heather was always artistic but never thought of it as a viable career option. Photography was part of her native skill set and interests. As she experimented and started doing more photography, she found that people would notice her photos and started to ask her if she would photograph them. And she started to say yes!
Heather shared “For a long time, I did it on the sidelines. And it was a lot of fine art stuff and film and darkroom.” I was doing my masters at the time in Columbia. I was doing photography and art education and then fell into photography completely. I began working at a high end e-commerce studio, then doing fashion shoots. I really went for the right people to work under and just absorb all of that information, which I think was the best move in hindsight that I could have done instead of going out on my own.”
Terrence had his own set of talents. He could write well. He was brilliant with words and loved playing with them. While he was working in the hospitality industry, he also dabbled in copywriting. “I was studying political science and philosophy at Hunter college. I was also at the same time performing spoken word poetry in New York.”
…and then came the day. They met! Heather and Terrence’s first meeting was rather a funny one. Terrence recalls, “It was early 2014 when we met in New York City. We were both bartending on the Upper West side. A funny story from that night — Heather was out with a bunch of girlfriends celebrating her birthday but it turned out to be a bust, so all her friends went home.” But not Heather! Somewhere around midnight “Heather came into the packed and fancy American bar [where I was working] on the Upper West Side, and she sat by herself reading a book on racial identity.”
Terrence couldn’t help but notice. It was this moment that they connected and are together to this day. They may not have been planning for Apollo Fields in that moment, but that was the spark that started the fire!
Colorado, Cookbook and the Origin of Apollo Fields
Two years after Heather and Terrence met, they decided to move to Colorado…on a whim! They visited once and fell in love with it. So they packed their bags in 2016 and made the move from New York. Though Heather and Terrence were enjoying their own love story, they didn’t lose focus on their career.
When Heather’s sister requested some recipes from her as a Christmas gift, Heather and Terrence decided it was time to write down their personal recipes that everyone was always asking for. But instead of doing it the easy way, they decided to write a cookbook that they could gift to people.
More than just recipes, it contained poems, spice samples, and photographs.They made a few copies and gifted them to loved ones. This was the time when they realized they could be a great business team. And before they knew it, this project became a 200-page cookbook that they got published. It was a different kind of cookbook because, “All the recipes in that cookbook are written like stories or poems rather than step by step instructions. So that was kind of our first fusion of art, photography and writing.” This was also Terrence’s first step in trying to develop as a writer and integrate that into a business concept that could be profitable.
Ultimately, all the early work on the cookbook paid off, and the concept of writing poetry about their clients came from an amalgamation of that hard work and the foresight to do something no one else was doing. It happened to also be a fantastic economic decision too.
Terrence told us “we started diving into [offering the poetry to our clients] because it made a lot of sense – that’s how weddings used to be documented before people had access to cameras. It’s an archival way to go back to the tradition of documenting a wedding day.” At first he was worried that the clients might see it as just another thing Apollo Fields sells, but it has had the opposite effect! It turns out that the poetic rendition of their love story is such a unique concept that couples just love it – because they cannot get it anywhere else.
How do they come up with the material? It’s a combination of Terrence’s personal experiences with the couple when he assists in engagement sessions and as a second shooter at weddings. But he also sends them guided questions and asks the couple to fill them out independently so that neither knows what the other is writing. In this way, the final product is a surprise and very personal to their relationship. This is just one example of how Apollo Fields thinks outside the box when it comes to wedding photography services and experience.
Ideas, Business Strategies and the Growth of Apollo Fields
From cookbooks, to poetry, to booking weddings, Terrence credits Heather’s business acumen behind starting and building their photography business. There’s no doubt that Heather is a great photographer, but her business sense has brought their wedding photography brand a great way.
Heather and Terrence got married in 2018 and eventually moved back to New York for better business prospects. Growing and expanding Apollo Fields is part of the plan, and they felt New York was a better market for their ideas. So they took the leap and established themselves in the wedding photography market with hard work and dedication. They marketed Apollo Fields as not just a wedding photography service, but an emotional experience.
Heather, who was always against the idea of “wedding mills” where every wedding looks the same, got vocal about it to her clients.“I’ve actually gotten kind of vocal, in our brand about rejecting this idea of wedding mills. Then trying to inspire couples about what they can do. I tell my couples that I won’t be able to put as much heart into the gig (if they aren’t excited) and I need to be inspired. I almost create the sense that they have some responsibility towards their images too.”
“What’s cool is that message has landed with people. So, by the time we get inquiries now, it’s practically booked already. They’re so into it. They understand our philosophy and what fuels our fire. And so by the time that we get on the phone with them, it’s already such a great fit.”
Likewise, Terrence wanted Apollo Fields clients to understand the concept behind their business. “As people engage with us, they’re engaging with the why of our business and why we do things to begin with.”
How Heather and Terrence Make Their Clients Feel Special
Business isn’t about what you’ve got to offer, but about what others can’t. This is exactly what Heather and Terrence built Apollo Fields on. They did all the right things to carve a niche for themselves in an already saturated market. Terrence says many of their clients book them because they think a handwritten poem about their wedding would be unique. They feel it’s a fun thing and none of their friends will have something like that.
The best thing is that it’s a part of their photography package and clients don’t think of it as an add-on. The ones who want to pay less can get the poem typed by a typewriter. The ones who love handwritten material can get it done in calligraphy as a part of their elite package. Heather and Terrence have partnered with a talented calligraphy artist and for an additional fee, couples receive a beautiful framed version of their calligraphed wedding poem .
Terrence notes down all the moments that inspire him at the wedding and can be important to the couple. Through his writing, couples get to know about everything they didn’t see on the big day as it flew by, and also then see the overall picture of their wedding through his words. Any tears or hilarious moments they might have missed are written down. Couples love the combination of words and photographs to tell their wedding story.
Another thing Heather does to make her brides or other female clients feel special is offer them ‘empowerment sessions. These sessions are actually boudoir sessions which Heather has rebranded. This gives her clients a lot of confidence and a chance to turn their sense of vulnerability into strength.
“We’ve rebranded all of that. I call them— ‘come as you are’ sessions. They’re like ‘empowerment sessions’, instead of it being a session before your wedding, where you put lingerie on for your fiance. I’ve pushed that end hard in our business and that has been mind-blowingly inspiring.”
Another special thing that Heather and Terrence do for their couples is in-person deliveries of products. “We try to do in person deliveries for everything. So we’re delivering their albums. We’re delivering all of these things at once. I think it’s very experience-based.”
But even cooler than that, every couple gets an invitation to dinner at Heather and Terrence’s home. Some might find it odd to host their clients at their homes, but Heather and Terrance genuinely like cooking for their clients and pampering them. Also, their experience in the hospitality industry has made them pros at this. Heather says “it works because we enjoy it. I think if we didn’t actually love hosting and having people over and cooking them dinner and all of that, it wouldn’t be authentic and it would feel weird. But we genuinely really love this. And the byproduct is that we end up having lifelong clients instead of just clients for their one wedding day. We end up having this greater relationship with them and then their families. And then they have families. Now we’re shooting that.”
COVID and the pandemic have pushed pause on some of these special touches, but they both look forward to continuing these in the future.
Best Business Practices
Confidence, ideas, and strategies helped Heather and Terrence start Apollo Fields. But their ‘best business practices’ are the reason behind their growth and success.
1. Rejecting the “Wedding Mill” Concept
Like we mentioned earlier, Heather never liked the idea of treating every wedding as the same. She always wants a wedding to be new and be creative. This helps their business to a great extent. Heather says she embraces the idea of the ‘backyard luxury’ wedding and really shares this concept with her clients as they plan their best day.
2. Staying True to The Brand
Being honest about their ideas to their clients helps Heather and Terrence take on only the clients they want. By explaining their concepts to potential clients honestly, they make sure the couple is completely on-board. “I’m pretty honest with our couples. Like I’ll burn out if I have to do those [“wedding mill” type] weddings.” In a nutshell, Heather and Terrence stay true to their brand which helps them attract the right clients.
3. Channeling Client’s Creativity
Apollo Fields gives their couples permission to embrace the creativity that is inside each of them. Heather and Terrence encourage their clients to come up with creative ideas to make their big day special and photos gorgeous.
Teamwork is a major strength for Apollo Fields, and also one of their best business practices. Heather is the business brain, she photographs and makes schedules. Terrence supports, second shoots, and writes poems about the couples.
“We work so effortlessly on location. I think people and guests seeing that and the experience that they get from it is great. I mean, there are times where we don’t have to say anything on location and we can just cruise by each other. We give a high five and keep going, and there’s no awkwardness to it.”
5. Experimenting With Perspectives
Heather and Terrence did not shy away from swapping their roles of lead shooter and second shooter. This way Terrence got better and also had more time with the couple, and Heather could get more candid shots, which she genuinely loves doing.
“Lead shooter- second shooter relationships happen when they can work for each other. It’s not just, “one person is always a lead and the other is always a second. You need to have that mutual trust. You need to know what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence.”
Like many other photographers, Heather and Terrence are a great proponent of having a workflow, too. Their workflow is airtight – contracts, scheduling, calendar, backup. There are no mistakes when it comes to someone else’s wedding day. Heather says things wouldn’t just happen smoothly on their own without a workflow. Not having a workflow would be an invitation to disaster.
7. Building Long Lasting Relationships
From the start, Heather and Terrence focused on building relationships with their clients. Not just on-the-go relationships, but genuine friendships. The two have also focused on creating products and services that facilitate those relationships. From the ‘empowerment sessions’, to the in person deliveries, it’s all part of the experience. Inviting their couples homes also builds trust, which can go a long way in making the wedding photographs a success. And true to their brand, right now during COVID, they are allowing their couples to split their weddings and receptions without any additional fees. In others words, they take care of their clients from start to finish.
Outsourcing some parts of their work wasn’t a difficult decision for Apollo Fields. They understood that it couldn’t have been possible for them to work on their business if they kept working in their business. They would rather reserve their time and energy for the things that only they can do for their clients, and outsource the rest. This especially applied to editing wedding photos. Heather said, “I hate editing. I don’t even like it a little bit. There are a lot of photographers who are like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to edit all that, I want to edit a few of them.’ There’s nothing wrong with that either, but I don’t like to edit anything at all.”
How ShootDotEdit Helped Apollo Fields
As Apollo Fields grew, it became difficult for Heather and Terrence to handle all the wedding photo editing on their own. So they started outsourcing. For post-production photo-editing services they turned to ShootDotEdit.
Heather said, “I was doing all the editing on my own at the time. And that was the area where I was kind of getting burned out. It was hard as I was spending many hours on each wedding. God only knows you can go way down the rabbit hole editing.. And I was not enjoying it. Then by the time that we went to deliver the stuff, I was so fried that I didn’t even want to bring that energy anymore. And so I think that’s been the biggest area where we’ve seen the benefit of ShootDotEdit.”
Terrence told us, “There’s no possible way we can shoot 35 weddings a year and have Heather edit every single one of those photos. So ShootDotEdit enables us to scale our model up and without it, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
Heather and Terrence’s Go-to-Vendors
- ShootDotEdit for wedding photo editing services.
- Shootproof for gallery hosting, invoices, client management, image delivery, and income reports.
- Millers Lab for designing and printing albums.
- Prettywriting.com is Yvette, their calligrapher, who rewrites Terrence’s poems so they can frame them for their couples as a gift.
Some Interesting Facts About Heather and Terrence
- Heather and Terrence are going to become parents soon.
- Heather is a Nikon Photographer
- Heather’s Go-to-lens is Sigma 50mm f1.4.
“It’s a very controversial lens. People either love it or hate it. It has a stigma around it and a reputation for missing focus. It does miss focus a lot more than any of my Nikkor lenses. But you’ve got to know what you’re doing. I love shooting wide open, so when it hits it, it’s so sharp. It’s so creamy. The focus is amazing.”
- COVID has hurt the number of clients Heather and Terrence are getting, but not their brand. Continuing with their theme of “hospitality” they are doing everything they can to help their clients through this time.
Learn From Apollo Fields
Building a successful wedding photography business has not been an easy journey for Heather and Terrence. Their journey is one that many can take inspiration from. You can look up their website to learn more about them and see their amazing work. Here you can also read all the kind words their clients have to say about them. You can find their brand Apollo Fields on Instagram and Facebook too.
At ShootDotEdit, we believe in providing the best services to wedding photographers. Head to ShootDotEdit if you are if you want to know more about how we can help your wedding photography business. If you want to prepare better for the next wedding you have on the books, read Creating a Wedding Day Shot List.