Today we’d like to introduce you to Colette & John.
Colette & John, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
John and I met on the set of a clothing-catalog shoot. He was the photographer and I was the makeup artist. The connection was almost immediate and by the end of the project we had formed a true and lasting friendship. We just “got” each other, and could easily see and share ideas and creative visions. Naturally, we had a lot of fun working creatively together and we still do! John and I continued to work on photo projects together after that, even creating personal projects just to see one another more often. Dating arose out of our friendship, and about 5 months later John invited me to meet his parents, and the rest is history.
John is an avid outdoorsman and mountaineer. He’s rock climbed extensively and spent nights hanging from a ledge on the face of Half Dome in Yosemite, and enjoys Telemark backcountry skiing. “When we were dating,” John says “we spent most of our non-working time on long road trips, camping, or hiking. I had an 8×10 large format field camera at the time and photographed remote landscapes along the way.”
When we were working, it was often on separate jobs. John assisted some of world’s photographic legends like Annie Leibovitz, Mark Seliger and Mary Ellen Mark. John says, “we’ve both had the good fortune to work on hundreds of photography projects that have taken us to amazing locations around the world –from Europe and the South Pacific, to Nepal and Kenya– collaborating with remarkable and talented people in the film and photographic industries” The two of us have worked on campaigns with clients such as Sony Music, Mercedes Benz, Vanity Fair, and American Express. John has also taught workshops on lighting and photography at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Alberta College of Art & Design in Alberta, Canada, and at the Los Angeles Center of Photography. The LACP summed up John’s extensive experience perfectly:
“With an extremely rich and varied background, John Lichtwardt has worked on projects ranging from Vanity Fair celebrity, portraiture and fashion, to advertising campaigns such as lighting navy pilots on aircraft carrier decks, photographing grizzly bears, piranhas, elephants, a two-million-dollar gemstone and a man holding a human brain. He has worked with Sophia Loren, Al Gore, George Clooney and Frank Sinatra and spent a month shooting in remote corners of the Nepalese Himalaya.”
As a professional makeup artist, my own career has allowed me to travel the world and placed me in front of many incredible people. My work has ranged from advertising to television commercials but the largest portion of my work has been in print media, which is a highly competitive and specialized field with the highest of standards. Working in a still medium requires great attention to detail, and has given me an observant eye. Having traveled extensively for work, I am also familiar with the beauty challenges that come with different climates and complexions.
John was introduced to photographing weddings through a friend who was planning a destination wedding near his fiancée’s hometown in Neemrana, India. The couple was looking for a non-wedding photographer to capture the entire, week-long event and loved John’s work. That event opened our eyes to the immense beauty and soul of weddings, and the creative expertise needed for capturing them as observers and storytellers. Photographing weddings seemed like the perfect collaborative project for us, and we dived right in. That was 2006, and our wedding business has been growing ever since.
Photographing weddings together has been very gratifying. It’s meaningful and personal work that brings us closer to each other and the people around us. The heartfelt appreciation we receive from our clients is beyond lovely and inspires us to continually see each event as the most important wedding we will ever photograph. Weddings are significant moments in one’s life, and although we photograph quite a few, it is important to us to keep the unique individuality of each event in perspective.
We have two daughters, Emma 22 and Claire 17. Both adventurous spirits and talented artists in their own right. John and I will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary this year, maybe on a mountain top somewhere with good friends and good wine.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenge has been separating our work from our personal life but we’ve figured out daily and weekly routines that really help to balance things out. We start our day with a meeting to talk shop, discuss projects and deadlines and update our schedules. A typical day is at our computers, editing, finishing presentations, emailing or talking with clients. We leave the office early 2 or 3 times a week and head for the nearby foothills to hike or bike. Spending time outdoors in natural surroundings has always been our go-to feel good tonic. Finding more time to play helps us to be inspired and to work well together. Also, just paying attention to the little things, like bringing in fresh flowers from the garden, lighting candles at dinner, being a good listener, being in tune with one another and giving each other space is important. We stay out of the others area of responsibility and try keep our shop talk to a minimum when we’re not in the office. Sharing a business and passion motivates us and we work harder together than apart. Basically, running both of our photography businesses as a married couple only takes a toll when we’re not paying attention to the little things.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about John and Colette Photography & Beauty – what should we know?
We have a boutique photography studio accepting a limited number of weddings per year. This allows us to be hands on with our clients and keeps our workflow happy and our creativity fresh. We specialize in natural, lifestyle photography. A storytelling approach to our images begins with planning. Every wedding is different, each couple unique. Getting to know our clients and understanding how they envision their wedding day is not only fun and insightful but also important to the style of images that we want to create. We discuss the location and if we’re not familiar with it we include a site visit. The quality of natural light is also very important, we take note of the season, sunset and ceremony times to create a customized photography timeline that’s in line with the event timeline. This ensures that our couples and their guests enjoy a carefree photographic experience. Documenting the wedding day as it naturally unfolds, observing and capturing moments as they happen and at appropriate times with gentle direction. We care about the results as much as our clients do and personally seeing the process through from the first planning meeting to the final presentation keeps us artistically consistent and our high standards in check. We enjoy the creative collaboration leading up to the event, photographing the story and then blending our images and styles to see a beautiful narrative come together. It’s an exciting, creative process from start to finish.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Trust: We build relationships with our clients over time. We remain available throughout the planning process and return emails and phone calls promptly. When trust is established, our couples can relax on their wedding day and we can do our best work.
Chemistry: Genuine connections with our clients inspires us and is important to the style of images that we want to create.
Teamwork: We make a point of making a personal connection with the planner early on and to introduce ourselves to other vendors. Capturing a beautiful story and giving our clients a great photography experience takes a village. Working with a talented, professional crew is key.
Experience and professionalism: Weddings are unpredictable and being prepared and on time is crucial.
Loving what you do – Says it all.
- Address: 201 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
– by appointment only
- Website: http://johnandcolette.net/
- Phone: 818 957-1454
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @johnandcolettephoto
- Other: Reviews: The Knot / Wedding Wire / Here Comes The Guide
John and Colette Photography
“Creating compelling and authentic visual stories for businesses”