Give or take a few off-screen details, that’s the way it happened. And as it turns out, their motion-picture style of lighting and angles is what sets them apart from their competition.
Kevin also credits much of their success to Renee’s interaction with clients. When a bridal couple visits their studio, they are actually entering the Dereks’ home. Immediately, the cozy environs and Renee’s welcoming touches, put their clients or prospective clients at ease.
“No matter how comfortably you decorate your office, it still smells like a business,” Kevin explains. “In our home, we have scented candles, topiaries, and earth-tone colors, along with light, relaxing music in the background. It makes for a warm atmosphere.
“This connection is important because you know that once prospective clients enter your studio, the thing that goes through their head is: Can I spend six to hours with these photographers?” says Kevin.
More often than not, the initial visit becomes a get-to-know-you meeting between photographers and their new clients. The Dereks describe their approach of shoot a combination of posed and unobtrusive photography. Kevin feels that you need to be able to do both and to be accommodating. “We are artists, not brain surgeons. We leave our egos at the door, and are as flexible and accommodating as our clients want us to be.” Always a good business strategy.
Their unique creative ability has led to many referrals over the years, with each of their clients usually referring one to three potential brides.
“There are times that a prospective client calls to see if we are available for a date before they book their venue,” says Kevin. “I’m not saying our work is the best in the world, but our customer relations are way up there.”
Part of their successful customer relations is the business decision to shoot every wedding themselves, rather than offering different shooters for different prices. It’s not worth the headache, nor the possibility for disaster.”
The Dereks know how valuable a website can be in conveying to prospective clients their creative approach and what to expect on their wedding day “Though it shouldn’t be overloaded with too much information, an effective website helps clients find out who you are, and when they contact you, you find out who they are and where they came from,” says Kevin.
“The attention span of a client is less than 30 seconds. If they have been referred to you, it can be up to five minutes. It’s the same concept as a movie trailer: If you’re not hooked in three minutes, you probably won’t go to see the movie. Once the connection is made, it’s all up to you as to the approach you want to take.”
Whatever the initial contact—either through a referral or via the Derek’s website—when new clients come to the studio they are treated to a slideshow of images as well as wedding albums to flip through. Together, they discuss how they visualize their big day.
Renee takes them through the various packages, including the options for a proof magazine, engagement sitting with an 8x10-inch photo, and up to 800 4x6-inch prints. Two of the packages include a flush-mounted album that is also their signature style. Incidentally, the duo offers classes on album design, as well as lighting classes. Another powerful marketing strategy.
“We design our own album covers—color, type, and material—and import them from Korea. All the flush-mount albums are custom-mounted in L.A. for us. That way our albums don’t resemble others.”
“For the most part, we try to use natural light and 750 tungsten light with gels and barn doors, exactly the way I light for features,” Kevin says. “Even if we get to the reception site and it’s dark outside or raining, we create our own sunlight coming through the window.