The first big shot we got when we were first getting started was for a wedding in Greenwich (grin-itch. n. the shi-shi part of Connecticut). The first time we went to go meet with this bride, it was at an upscale French restaurant on the water. And she never showed. Two and a half hours we sat waiting for her, spending the last of what was in our bank account on $30 pastries and $15 cappuccinos so the waitstaff wouldn't give us a hard time about staying. We waited and we called and we emailed. And when it was clear that there was no point in waiting any longer, we took our chocolate brown gift box that we had just spray painted in the driveway for her earlier that morning....and we went home.
Eventually she emailed us back and it turned out that, although she had forgotten about our meeting completely, she had coincidentally spent all afternoon lunching at that same upscale French restaurant with friends just three tables away from where we sat waiting. It's so funny, she said, I knew I was supposed to be at that restaurant that day, but I just couldn't remember what for! Awesome. Out of regret, or maybe it was just pity, she invited us back down to her parents house for a second meeting. When we pulled into the driveway, I remember thinking it was the biggest house I had ever seen in my life. Until we realized that this was just the guest house. And the main house was twice its size. As we walked into the foyer there were professional decorators decorating the banister for Christmas, and I could't help but think about the little four foot tree we had just gotten at WalMart. We sat for a few minutes with the bride and her mom, and they asked us questions like if we had been published in this magazine (we hadn't), if we shot film for weddings like the New York City photographers (we didn't), and if we had ever shot at their venue (we never had). The whole meeting took about five minutes. They never once asked to look at single image of our work. And as they showed us the door (literally and figuratively), the bride took our spray painted driveway gift box and said ohhh, isn't that sweet? She may as well have just patted us on our heads.
And as we pulled out of their driveway that day, this one universal truth came crashing down: we were never going to be good enough to hang with the "high end" bride.
And that was the truth that we lived under until about six months later, when without even knowing it, our second big shot came through. We met with a couple for coffee, and they actually showed up on time. We talked for a couple of hours about everything from wine to travel to movies. And at the end of it, they booked on the spot. About a month later as we drove down to do their engagement shoot (they were building a new house & thought it would be cool to do it there), we pulled down a long hidden driveway to see a footprint of a foundation that was easily three times the size of the Greenwich house. And in that moment, I instantly became very aware of the busted up cherry red Neon we were driving (the one that actually wheezed when you started it) and our faded Gap jeans.
Months later after we had already shot the wedding and we were driving back down to their house to go over albums, I confessed to our couple how embarrassed I had been pulling up to the engagement shoot that way. And it was right about then that our bride looked me straight in the eye, and said something that would change everything for us. She said listen, we didn't hire you for the car that you drive or the jeans that you wear. We don't care about that stuff. We hired you for YOU. Because of what we saw in you and your work. And the kind of people we knew we wanted there with us on our day. That's it.
And that was the moment that I realized that I couldn't care less about reaching "the high end bride." Forget big houses....the brides that I really want to go after are the ones with the big hearts. Sure, some of them might also happen to have a bigger budget where we're just a drop in the bucket....some might have to scrimp and stretch and save to be able to get us there. But the one thing that they all have in common, is that they care about other people. They care about us. And we in turn, are crazy about them as well.
I guess my point is, life is way too short to go after the clients or the budgets you think you are supposed to have in order to be successful. And life is way too short to surround yourself with people who make you feel small. Spend your time going after the clients who are really good people, the ones with the really big hearts.
And I promise you, the rest just has a way of taking care of itself.
**This is a gift from our bride Tricia. It's a picture of us at her wedding when she played our first dance song and made us come out on the dance floor & dance to it. :) And she sent it to us in a frame, engraved with the name of our song, Van Morrison's "These are the Days." Tricia has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen. And it makes me so, so grateful that she is, in every way, our bride.