Vi tok kontakt med Nordica Photography, for å spørre om de hadde lyst til å bidra med et av deres vakre bryllup på bloggen vår. Ikke bare fikk vi positiv respons på det, men de lurte også på om det var flere måter de kunne hjelpe oss på. I videre dialog ble vi derfor enige om et intervju, slik at vi kunne lage en artikkel, som ville være av interesse for brud, brudepar, lesere generelt - og i tillegg interessant for norske fotografer å lese. Spørsmålene vi stilte var derfor med alt dette i tankene; for å kunne belyse bryllupsfotografering sett fra fotografens side, og ikke minst la våre norske lesere få bli kjent med merkevaren Nordica Photography - som tar bryllupsfotografering til et nytt nivå.
We contacted Nordica Photography hoping for a feature of one of their beautiful weddings. Not only did they respond with a positive reply, they also wanted to help us in any way possible with our new blog. (wow!) Then we decided on an article/interview, to let the norwegian brides and couples, and photographers get to know the brand Nordica Photography, and hear their story 'behind the camera'. The NWB think Nordica takes wedding photography to a whole new level, and are so humbled and honored to feature not only their work of art, but this interview.
THE IMAGES FEATURED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE SOME OF NORDICA PHOTOGRAPHY'S FAVORITES, AND HANDPICKED BY COLE & JAKOB, SO WE COULD ADD SOME OF THEIR BEAUTIFUL WORK ALONG WITH THEIR WORDS IN THIS INTERVIEW.
1. WHEN - AND HOW DID YOU 'FALL INTO' THE PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS?
Long story short, it just sort of happened. After graduating in 2007 from Umeå University together with master's degrees in marketing, we went our separate ways. Jakob was hired by a government firm in Stockholm to do marketing, and eventually they needed an in-house photographer so Jakob volunteered. That enabled him to take various photography courses, use some great gear, do event photography around Sweden, and eventually weddings. Cole, on the other hand, bounced between living in Sweden and Vancouver with his then girlfriend / now wife, and eventually stayed in Vancouver in 2008. At that time, Cole started a photo blog and it gained a bit of interest from a variety of viewers. This lead to live photoblogging at large events, portraits for friends, and eventually weddings.
2. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO BUSINESS TOGETHER - AND NOT ON YOUR OWN?
A few factors added up to make this happen, but it probably stemmed from our time studying together in Umeå. We became friends while in Sweden, and shared a mutual interest in business and marketing. At that time though, photography couldn't have been further from our minds.
After school, we pushed one another a lot with our photoblogs. Even though Jakob was in Sweden and Cole was in Canada, we were in constant contact with one another and kept an eye on what the other was doing. That lead to the idea of Jakob coming to Canada in 2009 and working together with photography. The Olympics were in Vancouver in 2010, and getting a one year visa was easy for Jakob, so he arrived in Vancouver in November of 2009 and we went full-time together from day one.
We're not sure where we'd be if we tried to do wedding photography on our own. But without question we had a lot of luck in the beginning and many people throwing us ropes. Starting a photography business is more about creating opportunities, clever marketing, and being strategic then the actual photography, so being two definitely helped. But make no mistake; having almost no gear, no reputation, next to nothing in terms of experience, and being in a new city and going full-time is totally naive.
3. PHOTOGRAPHING IS A VERY PERSONAL MATTER, AND UNIQUE BECAUSE OF THE PHOTOGRAPHERS PERSPECTIVE. HAVE YOU EVER NOT AGREED ABOUT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHING STYLE; AND WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WERE 'SOULMATES THROUGH THE LENS'?
We have always been on the same page with the goal of photographing a wedding, and that is to document the story of the day. Whether one of us takes the picture really doesn't matter at all, because in the end how the story is told is the most important thing.
In terms of photography and vision, for sure we have an approach of our own, and we're not 100% interchangeable. This simply comes down to personalities and it's unrealistic to think two individuals see the world exactly the same. However a Nordica wedding is a Nordica wedding and it's all about conveying a story, and how we do that as individuals is very much alike.
4. HAVE THE PROCESS OF CREATING YOUR OWN PERSONAL STYLE; BEEN A LOT OF COMPROMISE; OR HAVE YOU ALWAYS HELD ON TO YOUR BELIEFS IN YOUR ART?
What we believed when we first started photography has not completely changed that much till today. We believe quality photography should speak for itself, and not be a result of gimmicks or editing; a solid photo comes straight out of the camera.
With that said, we put on the blinders much of the time and try to ignore what the rest of the photographers in the industry are doing. We network with many wedding photographers, but we almost never look at their work.
5. WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO DO WEDDINGS - AND WAS THERE EVER A QUESTION NOT TO SHOOT WEDDINGS?
Weddings offer the chance to document a once in a lifetime event, and the variety keeps things interesting. Studio photography, for example, can get monotonous whereas weddings are always different. Different cultures, places in the world, and personalities. We have never wavered from weddings since day one, and we've always known this is what Nordica would focus on.
6. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WEDDINGS?
The opportunity to document something without forcing it. What we mean is with portrait sessions, family sessions, or any other staged sessions, you have to guide things along and this goes in the direction of being fake. True wedding photography for us allows us to strictly document what is going on with the end result being a story, and that is incredible appealing. Surely there are other areas of documentation style photography we would like to explore, but for now, weddings keeps us going.
Also the business side of wedding photography - or photography in general - is exciting and challenging. Search engine optimization and having a marketing strategy has taken our business to some exciting places in the world, and we love attracting the right types of clients for us who are having weddings in crazy places.
7. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE IN FIVE WORDS?
We document personal wedding stories.
8. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT DURING A WEDDING?
This is tricky question because we don't really have one. The reason why, is you never know what will happen during a wedding day, which is also why we only offer full day coverage. We want to be there the entire time so that the details of a wedding day add up to a quality story, and those "favourite moments" can really happen at any time. The favourite moment for us probably comes after the wedding when we email out the slideshow to the couple for the first time because at that point the story is complete and ready to view.
9. WHAT MOMENT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TO CAPTURE DURING THE WEDDINGDAY?
Probably the moments that nobody expects, and when that unexpected moment is viewed by the couple after the wedding day, they're sort of pleasantly shocked. Wedding days are intense and there is so much going on that it's easy to forget, so we believe the details that are so easy to overlook matter the most.
10. DO YOU EVER GET EMOTIONAL SHOOTING A WEDDING?
No. We have no emotions. Emotions are for the weak. Kidding. But to be totally honest, not really.
11. HOW DO YOU SHOOT? DO YOU TAKE EQUAL PARTS SHOOTING, DURING A WEDDING; OR DO YOU SHOOT YOUR OWN?
Cole: Privately: Without question my daughter Embla who was born in May of 2012. Professionally: When an idea comes to mind for our business, we act on the idea and see the results from the idea. It's harder to come up with goals then it is to achieve them sometimes, so when the goals are met, that's a tremendous feeling.
When we first started the business is 2010, we did almost every wedding together. At that time, it was our differentiating factor in a very competitive marketplace (Vancouver). Through 2011, we did more weddings on our own, and even more in 2012. This year, we're doing almost 90% of the weddings on our own, and the reason being is we're currently based out of two cities (Vancouver and Stockholm). This was a natural progression for us both on a personal and professional level, and the true benefactor is the Nordica brand because we're able to book more weddings in more parts of the world.
We do offer both of us in our packages though if couples want that. This May, for example, we will be coming to Oslo for a wedding and the bride wanted both of us there.
12. WHAT IS YOUR STRENGTH BEING TWO, THE WAY YOU SEE IT, INSTEAD OF BEING ON YOUR OWN, WITH A SECOND SHOOTER?
We have grown together in many ways, and done over 100 weddings together. We read off of one another very well, and we're always confident in what the other guy is doing. If you think of a two-man band that plays together, over time they'll just become more in synch and accustomed to the way the other person works, and in many ways that's how we are.
We have worked with many second shooters, and we'll definitely keep doing so. One person, for example, is a very talented Norwegian photographer named Åsmund Holien Mo who Cole did a wedding in Iceland with last year. With him, we basically said "do your thing; we trust you" and that's what we normally say to all the second shooters we work with. We want them to shoot their own way and not try to replicate what we do.
Back to the question though, the way we work best is truly behind the scenes. Our business runs very smoothly and the reason being is we allocate tasks and know the duties that are expected of us. Being able to exchange marketing ideas and discuss strategy is a huge advantage for us, and since day one that has driven our business forward.
13. WHAT MAKES YOUR HEART SKIP A BEAT - BOTH PROFESSIONALLY AND PRIVATE?
Jakob: My heart is pretty steady, but whenever the sun shines it beats faster. Meaning that I'm happy as long as it's warm and sunny. And I love going places that I haven't been before, so whenever we book weddings in new locations, it makes my heart sing.
14. DO YOU ALWAYS SEE EYE TO EYE, WHEN IT COMES TO SHOOTING, BLOGGING, DESIGN AND MARKETING?
For sure we don't. Not right away anyways. But what we're very good at doing is working together towards a solution. But in the beginning, we don't always agree and if we did always agree, that would be strange because we're two very different people. In the end, all of our decisions are made based on what is best for Nordica and our individual ambitions are secondary.
15. WHAT IS YOUR AMBITION AND GOALS FOR NORDICA PHOTOGRAPHY?
Short-term, we want to continue booking as many international weddings as possible, and continue the brand momentum we've built up over the years. Long-term, our goal is to be based out of Sweden and see where things lead from there. We enjoy the documentary side of photography, and weddings is fantastic for that, so booking weddings in Scandinavia and Europe is important. Adding another layer of documentary style photography to our business isn't out of the question.
16. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS?
Cole: Living in Sweden with my wife (Therese) and our baby girl (Embla), working for Nordica, and hopefully having one of those red Swedish houses and a Volvo. Becoming a "Svensson", basically.
Jakob: Likely I'll be living in Sweden, but I don't really plan that far ahead. Whatever happens happens, and as long as I'm living a rich and happy life, everything else is irrelevant.
17. WILL YOU EVER HOST A WORKSHOP?
We started hosting workshops in 2011, and we are holding them constantly. Our next workshop is scheduled for this May in Stockholm, and after that we have one planned in Chile for November.
Our workshops are not the type of workshops where you're going to walk away a better photographer. But if you want to operate an efficient photography business, our workshops are for you.
18. IN SCANDINAVIA WE OFTEN ENVY THE NATURAL LIGHT AND NATURE, FROM WARMER AND EXOTIC SIDES OF THE WORLD, DURING WEDDINGS. WHAT DO YOU AS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS SEE AS BEAUTY AND 'FRAMEWORTHY' IN NORWAY AND SCANDINAVIA, SHOOTING WEDDINGS HERE?
This answer might be tremendously boring, but it's honest. We're less interested in the landscapes when compared with people. People are what interest us, and whether they're in a small community hall or the most epic glacier in Iceland, the human-element to storytelling is what motivates us. Obviously when these people are in stunning locations (which there is no shortage of in Scandinavia), it's a huge bonus, but at the end of the day we approach weddings the same way no matter what the backdrop is.
19. IF YOU COULD CHOOSE A FANTASY CELEBRITY WEDDING - WHO WOULD IT BE?
Cole: Big egos? No thanks.
Jakob: No idea. I don't care much for celebrity weddings.
20. WHAT DO YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE WEDDINGS YOU SHOOT?
We want every wedding we photograph to be better than the last. That's a goal of ours without question. With that as a motivation, we normally take away some satisfaction that photographing that wedding has moved us forward with our photography and vision.
21. WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION IN LIFE - PROFESSIONALLY AND PRIVATE?
Cole: Privately: My wife Therese. She always amazes me with how wise she is, and her support enabled Nordica to happen.
Professionally: There isn't necessarily one person or thing that inspires me, rather a collection of things. A very smart guy once told me that surfing the internet is like dreaming while you're awake, so I'll leave the confusing answer and say the internet inspires me.
Jakob: I'm inspired by a lot of people, especially those who bend the rules and go beyond the norms. People who do things that aren't expected from them and who refuse to follow in other's footsteps. I'm also inspired by brave people, my girlfriend being one of the most brave people I know.
22. WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE ABOUT THE OTHER ONE; AS A PERSON AND PARTNER?
Cole: I can't believe Jakob puts up with the shit I put him through. My ideas can be all over the place, and I realize I can be a pain in the ass sometimes. But ever since day one working with him, he's been a very patient guy and I'm extremely lucky to have worked with him for all these years. He's also fantastic to work with because he looks like Brad Pitt which deflects all the attention away from me when we're at weddings. I like to fly under the radar entirely, and his appalling good looks helps with that.
Jakob: Our business relationship has worked so well since we're quite different people. Different in a positive way, since it makes us complement each other well. Cole is good at the things I don't do as well, and vice versa, which works perfectly for us. Cole is also very prestigeless, which makes him easy to work with, especially considering the artistic industry is often quite ego-centered.
23. HOW IMPORTANT IS MARKETING IN PHOTOGRAPHY?
Unless you're so insanely gifted that your work will be found no matter where you share it, then marketing is absolutely vital. To put this in perspective, when we started Nordica in Vancouver, we had almost no gear, hardly anything in our portfolio, no reputation, no contacts, and essentially no budget for anything. We were two guys who went full-time from day one, and we believed this was possible because we felt we could market ourselves in a distinct and strategic manner, resulting in the right type of clients finding our work. So if we're to use our situation as an example, marketing is extremely important, but as important are goals and understanding what tools are at your disposal to meet those goals.
24. THE WEBSITE AND THE DESIGN TELL A LOT ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER, IN OUR OPINION. YOUR WEBSITE AND DESIGN ARE EXQUISITE - HOW IS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Web-bases businesses, especially visual ones - are all about the first impressions. You have seconds to communicate who you are, what you do, what makes you different, and what you believe in, and in those seconds, you have to sparked the interest of the viewer well enough to have them stay on your site. Bounce rates on websites are something we track quite closely, and keeping that number within our goals is important to us. So in 2012, we made the decision to completely change our website. This was a very daunting challenge. The first step in the process, was to meet a brand consultant who helped us uncover what we truly believed in and he was able to drill Nordica down to its core values and characteristics. This was then handed over to a designer, who incorporated our visual goals with the findings of the brand manager. That was next past to a builder who put it all together. There were many pieces in play to make our website perfect, and it took a long time. But this was the best investment we've made yet, and we are attracting the right type of clients for us.
25. WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DESTINATION YOU HAVE EVER SHOT A WEDDING?
Cole: Iceland. I have a quiet ambition to live there so each time I've gone there, it's been remarkable. My ancestors (on my dads side) immigrated to Canada from Iceland many years ago, so I've always had an affinity for the country.
Jakob: Italy, Kenya, Iceland and Bali. All equally beautiful, but in very different ways.
26. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK?
It's quite easy to be motivated when you're self employed because your clients are everything. Meeting their expectations every single time is very motivating because in this business you can't have an "off day". We might do weddings every single weekend, but that couple only does their wedding once, so we have to nail it. That pressure and level of expectation motivates our work without question, and probably one of the reason we enjoy weddings.
27. WILL YOU BE SHOOTING A WEDDING IN NORWAY?
We want to shoot as many weddings as possible in Norway, and being based out of Stockholm makes that much more feasible. At the end of May, we have one wedding booked in Oslo, and many other inquiries kicking around. But honestly, we see Norway as a huge, exciting market for our brand and we can't wait to see every inch of the country.
28. WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR COUPLES TO TAKE AWAY FROM THEIR WEDDINGPHOTOS AND THE EXPERIENCE - AND HOW DO YOU GET THEM AT EASE?
Setting expectations for us starts with the first communication we have with couples. We are extremely attentive to customer service, and we want couples to know exactly what to expect from us throughout the entire process leading up to their wedding. We believe that puts them at ease, so clearly communicating everything we do and believe in it is very important.
29. YOUR IMAGES ALWAYS TELLS A STORY - HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT TO YOU?
Our brand message is very distinct; We tell stories. So our images have to be consistent with what we're saying so that when clients hire us, they know what to expect. Since day one, being able to create images that convey a story has always been the photography style which appealed to us, and building towards a perfect story is always the goal on a wedding day.
30. DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE IN THREE WORDS?
We document stories.
31. WHO IS THE FUNNIEST OF YOU?
Cole: Have a beer with us and you can let us know.
Jakob: Have 12 beers with us and you can let us know.