Love, passion, and commitment – the journey to be a successful husband and wife photography team takes all three. Staying centered in your relationship while being successful in your business means finding a common vision and building strong bonds that will be tested. But even if it takes every ounce of strength, compassion, and patience in you to keep going, it’s worth it – especially for ShootDotEdit customers Natalie and Brandon of Studio N Photography. When we asked these husband and wife photographers to share their story, we got the ups and downs, highs and lows, and what it takes to make it work.
Who are Natalie & Brandon?
Natalie and Brandon are a husband and wife photography team based in Las Vegas. Together, they run their business as Studio N Photography specializing in weddings and engagements and they consider themselves to be Storytellers of Love. They have won the “Best of Weddings” award seven years in a row on The Knot and are in their Hall of Fame and also won the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards in 2019.
The Beginning of Studio N Photography
Now, celebrating 20 years in business, Natalie shared that she was previously living in California and moved to Las Vegas in 2002 – in a time when the wedding industry was transitioning from film to digital – to get things started for her photography career. Natalie expresses her love for photography as something she was born with. She shared, “I was born with a camera in my hand. I see the world through the lens.” But after having photographed her first wedding on film, she decided she wanted to enroll in the Community College of Southern Nevada. She launched the website just after graduating from college in 2008 with her degree in commercial photography emphasis. Natalie shared, “Studio N took off as soon as I finished school. And Brandon came into my life in 2007.” She added those were a “big couple of years” for her.
On the other hand, Brandon shared, “I didn’t start off in photography. I went into construction for many years and [I didn’t start photographing] until I met Natalie.” Brandon is originally from Phoenix but moved to Las Vegas after he met Natalie and started second shooting for her. He shares, “She had the expertise and the eye and so I would back her up and she was training me as well. And so it just kind of kept growing and eventually I decided to go to the same course.” So he too joined community college to hone his lighting and skills. He added, “We just kept growing and started to meld together into our own studio and style/brand.”
Fate brought them together and now they are an effortless team capturing timeless memories for their clients.
Emerging as a Co-Brand
There is something very unique about this wedding photography team that sets them apart. In addition to being a wedding photography brand, Studio N Photography also offers makeup artistry by Natalie as a service. And, hence, operating as a co-brand for photography and bridal makeup – both the elements that are the heart and soul of weddings.
Natalie shared that while she was going to a photography school, she also worked with MAC Cosmetics and got her makeup training there. Her decision to combine her talents was to benefit both the bride (who gets great makeup!) and the photography because Natalie is always on hand to fix the makeup if and when something doesn’t look right. Natalie calls this service addition “a cherry on top” since it’s not mandatory but many brides take advantage of it because it’s a service that they don’t even charge for – they just make it part of their wedding collections.
When we asked Natalie what her wedding day workflow looks like when both makeup and photography come into the picture, she told us, “we get on-site for the wedding and I set up my makeup kit, but before I switch roles, we grab the detail shots together – the dress, the shoes, the invitation, all of that good stuff – and then I hand my cameras to Brandon. I always have a camera [nearby] though! But then I become the makeup artist and throughout the day I am always retouching the bride – making sure her lips are fresh, [or touching up] if she gets emotional and needs powder. I put my tool belt on and I’m ‘Johnny on the spot’. So I really enjoy it. It’s an outlet on the wedding day and it kind of gives me a chance to bond with my brides.”
Natalie’s Go-To Makeup Brand: MAC Cosmetics
Sharing the Load With Outsourcing
Outsourcing has helped many photographers offload their backend work – helping them focus their energies and effort on the big picture stuff. It has also helped Natalie and Brandon a great deal in running their business successfully. Studio N Photography has been a customer of ShootDotEdit for 6 years and they couldn’t be happier! Natalie told us that “we couldn’t have gotten through our seasons without ShootDotEdit. You have been a huge, huge part in getting our jobs out on time and just getting our consistency down and I really appreciate our relationship with you.”
Best Business Practices for a Husband and Wife Photography Team
Natalie and Brandon of Studio N Photography shared their secrets on the art of working together as a team.
1. Keep Your Union Strong
While it flows naturally, Brandon emphasized how being compassionate towards each other becomes all the more important when you work together as husband and wife photographers. He shared, “Well, our marriage comes first and that’s a sacred union. So we keep our marriage strong. We apply Bible principles in our life and we are always trying to do the right thing, the loving thing, towards each other. And that really just enhances what we do in the business. It just carries over in the business side.”
2. Communicate & Work Through It
Brandon told us, “We work together harmoniously, I would say. I mean, obviously, we don’t agree on every single thing, so we talk it out and we come to a compromise and I have my vision, but because she’s the N in Studio N, I always consult her and we always come to an agreement.” He added that he loves what Natalie “brings to the table” and so they just “communicate and work through it.” Natalie shared, “I don’t do anything without him and his agreement. I run everything by him. So I definitely think it’s WE, it’s not ME with everything.”
3. Invest In Time Off Work
Natalie believes that it’s important to invest in time off work. She shared that since they work together, “it’s so important to buy up that time together to keep the romance alive. On our wedding day, we were given the advice to continue chasing after each other’s hearts. And so I think that just stuck with me all these years. [We try to always] do little romantic things together. Especially [when we were] in quarantine!”.
One thing Natalie shared is that she and Brandon love to cook together! “We follow several bloggers and get their recipes and we’ll get all the ingredients out and we’ll play music – either Opera or some fun Blues – [and have our own cooking class].” Natalie shared that they love to surprise each other by going to Broadway plays or on little getaways. Their favorite spot is Disneyland!
4. Get Off Your Devices
Natalie suggests that every once in a while couples need to get off their devices and just be there with their partner. She said, “we try to avoid being on our devices too much when we’re together. We want to make sure that we’re more important than our device.” Brandon added, “You have to sacrifice other things to make that time special.”
Pros & Cons of Working With Your Partner
1. Being Together
Being together all the time with Brandon is a big pro for Natalie. She shared, “We are always together. The beautiful thing is I not only love him, I really like him. And he’s my best friend. So not being with him is what makes me sad. And knowing that we have a wedding to shoot together, or we have to go run errands for the business, or we’re editing together in the room – that’s very comforting to me. I think the challenge with any wedding day is that there can be stressful moments. If a flash is malfunctioning or, if I have to reload my flashcard – there’s stress. So I think for me, I’ve had to really work on my patience [with these stressors] over the years.”
Brandon shared his side of the story saying, “I feel very connected to her. And so one of the biggest pros is that we always get to be with each other. And I know for a lot of couples that’s tough to do. But she’s my best friend and we love being with each other. And then we get to share this passion with each other, this craft, creativity, and it takes us places. It’s taken us all over the world.”
2. Clear Communication
Being able to understand each other and communicate clearly is another pro for this team of husband and wife photographers. Natalie says that the fact “[Brandon] speaks Natalie” is a huge pro “because he can anticipate my needs before I even realize. He’ll be handing me the camera with the lens that he knows I want because he knows my style. He’ll be handing me a new card because he knows that I must be needing a new card by that point.” Most importantly, Natalie said, “He knows what I’m feeling. If I’ve either been mistreated by a guest [or something is bothering me], he can see it in my eyes. So he’ll comfort me. He knows me so well that I think that it is just such a comforting thing to be able to work with him.”
3. Traveling Together
The couple shared that work takes them to many places, and the pro is getting to travel with each other. Natalie shared, “The biggest pro would be traveling and doing our craft together. That’s huge, we always turn it into a little vacation and we always stay and explore the area.“ Traveling with your partner while making money? That sure sounds like a great paid vacation plan!
4. Getting to Share Romantic Moments
Even when you’re in the middle of the wedding day timeline as professionals, Natalie says that sometimes they get to share their own romantic moments. To elaborate further, she shared a story saying – “We had been shooting for nine hours and we were at the venue where we had our own wedding 10 years prior. And [one of our brides] literally said, ‘put your cameras down and she pulled us onto the dance floor and [told us to] dance. So she made us dance to the last song of the evening. It was so amazing because [it told me that she] really cared about our love story too. It was really special. I’ll never forget that.” This also speaks to the relationship Natalie and Brandon share with their couples.
1. Words Can Hit You Differently
Choosing what you say and how you say it can make all the difference. Brandon shared – “when you’re that close to somebody they can really affect you and your emotions. So, for example, on a wedding day, if you say the wrong thing that might irritate the other person or vice versa, it [can] really get to you. So that’s when you have to just have humility and just move aside from it and don’t escalate any drama, just keep your composure and work together for a common goal.”
Natalie backed that by giving a very good piece of advice for husband and wife photographers, she shared – “we always make it a goal to have a quiet moment even before we enter the wedding, or even during the wedding. We look at each other and [if needed] we apologize and we say, can we be friends? And so it’s really important that we’re in union and in harmony for us to perform and to give our couple the very best of the best. And if we have to, we say a silent prayer together, because we believe that it’s very important.”
2. Keeping Romance Alive
Natalie also shared that “doing everything together and working together can sometimes [make you] feel like you are roommates. So buy out that special time to remember why you fell in love and chase after the good in your partner to keep that romance alive.”
Studio N Photography’s Go-To Vendors
- ShootDotEdit – For editing wedding photos
- ShootProof – For online proofing galleries
- MagMod – For flash kits
- Westcott Ice Light – For lights
- Profoto – For lighting equipment
- FloDesk – For email marketing
- BayPhoto – For photo printing
- Nations Photo Lab – For photo printing
Their Go-To Gear
- Camera: Canon (Mark series)
- System: Mac Computers
- Lenses: 24-70mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 70-200mm
When it comes to photography, both Natalie and Brandon complement each other by taking responsibility for different focuses that showcase their individual passions. Brandon says he works with a 24-70mm lens a lot and considers it to be his “workhorse” for any session because he likes to shoot wide. On the contrary, Natalie gets dreamy thinking about her 50mm and 85mm lenses. And for taking those romantic, close-up ceremony photographs, she prefers her 70-200mm.
Natalie shared, “we don’t clash because he loves to get that full view of the ceremony or of an engagement scene, but I’m more up close and personal. The couple doesn’t know it, they’re having their moment, but I’m backed up and shooting up close and getting that natural light and that sweet romance of it [while Brandon is taking in the whole scene].”
Suggested Read: Turning A Gear Bag Catastrophe Into Award-Winning Photos
A Message to Other Husband and Wife Photographers
It’s the Hard [Work] That Makes it Great — “You’ve got to go into it knowing it’s going to keep you on your toes. This photography industry, it is not an easy industry. You have to play so many different roles. You have to be a stylist, an accountant, an artist, Photoshop & Lightroom savvy, a PR person. There are so many different hats that you wear that it can really [be exhausting]. [The day] after a wedding day, we’re on the couch recuperating. So go into [wedding photography] knowing that it’s going to test your relationship and it’s going to test your craft. But it’s only going to make you better if you hang in there.”
Never Give Up — “My dad always said never ever give up – you’re good at what you are doing, keep going. So just know that it’s going to be hard, but there’s going to be those moments along the road that just [reassure you that] you’re doing something right.”
Remember to Love — “Just remember that love never fails. Love your husband or your wife more than anything. Buy out that time [with each other] to just keep falling in love. Keep chasing each other’s hearts.” And most of all, remember that “It’s important to be at peace [with each other] and to be ready to give a wonderful experience to your client.”
Do Unto Others What You’d Want Done Unto You — “I try to apply that a lot in our marriage and in working with each other and always looking for what I can bring to the table to enhance what we do.”
Learn and Create — “As someone new coming into photography, [I would suggest that you] learn your lighting and create something every day. Creativity is wonderful and it’ll help you to flourish and blossom.”
Don’t Forget the Business Aspect — “If you want to do this as a business, photographing is a small portion of what you do. You [also] have to learn how to run your business to be successful and be sustainable.”
At ShootDotEdit, we feel privileged to be able to share such inspiring stories of husband and wife photographers in our photography community. And so we would like to express our gratitude to Natalie and Brandon of Studio N Photography for taking time out of their busy schedule and sharing their story with us. We are proud to have them as long-standing members of the ShootDotEdit community. And we are inspired to see them always standing together as a remarkable example of true professionals driven by the power of love. We are honored to be a part of their journey. For more inspiration from Studio N Photography, check out their website, Facebook page, and Instagram.