We’re excited to welcome MetroStyle Studios out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. A Minnesota wedding photography style that’s elegant, edgy, and contemporary, George Day provides top-tier photography, photofinishing, and customer service, inexpensive packages, and modern albums & wall art.
We had the opportunity to find out more about George and how he got started, what he loves most about wedding photography, and the 5 pieces of advice he’d like to give to photographers just starting out:
How did you get started?
I was born & raised in Chicago. My dad was a shutterbug, not an accomplished photographer, but he had a nice camera and loved to take family photos at holidays and on our many vacations. So traveling and photography got in my blood early. And some years later when I was living in Japan – where Nikon and Canon are headquartered – I started accumulating nice equipment and shooting like crazy around the country. Things took off from there, and friends and family kept encouraging me to get into weddings. But I resisted for many years just because of the potential for messing up someone’s perfect day! Ultimately, I went to work part-time for two different wedding studios “just to see what it was like,” and fell in love with it, started my own studio, and next thing I knew I was booking 30-40 weddings a year.
What’s your photography style?
I draw from a variety of classical and pop-contemporary styles – I like modern teen style, midlife style, academic chic, nerd chic, rocker chic, biker chic, all of it. I’ve been exposed to classical training in French impressionism, but also to working with one of the greatest of the early centerfold photographers, and then shooting some of the first big-name female rock stars. I came to believe that Don Henley was right when he sang, “don’t you know that women are the only work of art?” My assistants and I make up a team of the gayest straight guys you’ll find behind a camera, and so we tend to be offbeat birds of a feather with our contemporary brides when we’re rocking a wedding.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Saturdays, it’s just running & gunning all day at a wedding. Otherwise, the other six days I get up by 5:00 and make the 20-foot commute to the home office, where I LIVE in Photoshop (I don’t “take” pictures, I MAKE pictures. But I’m careful not to over-do digital tricks – it starts looking too contrived.) Naturally, I take care of clients, answer emails and phone calls, and follow up on picture orders. But I spend a lot of time surfing the web and reading fashion magazines looking for inspiration and ideas and the latest techniques. I try different lighting scenarios. I experiment a lot. In the early days of digital, before I had five computers and an iPad, if the power went out or the computer went down, felt like I couldn’t breathe!
What is the last workshop or seminar you attended and what did you learn?
I recently attended a workshop given by the husband & wife team of Maura Dutra and Bruce Dorn. Maura, an amazing digital painter, inspired us with her texture overlays and vector masking techniques. Afterwards during the meet & greet, Bruce and I had a cool conversation about Howard Hawks, the famous 1930’s movie director who directed Bogart & Bacall in some of their best stuff. When asked what makes for a great screen romance, Hawks said, “three great scenes, no bad scenes.” Now I remind myself of that every Saturday morning at a wedding, and try to multiply on it throughout the day.
Any books or courses you would recommend to new photographers?
Read “Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values” by Robert Persig. It has almost nothing to do with Zen Buddhism and very little to do with motorcycles – it’s about infusing quality, not just “style” – into everything you create. If looking to start your own business, read “Selling the Invisible: a Field Guide to Modern Marketing” by Harry Beckwith. Subscribe to fashion magazines and study & deconstruct the lighting you see in the advertisements. Subscribe to Lynda.com (to learn the latest digital technologies), and to the Photovision DVD series. Join numerous online forums in ALL the arts (Carlo Fassi, the legendary figure skating coach, took his student Peggy Fleming to opera and ballet to expose her to parallel forms of artistry. She absorbed it so well that she wound up a legend in figure skating herself.) Surf the web constantly. Network like crazy. Eat with your eyes.
What piece of equipment would you say is most important to you?
It’s nice to have a fast (high ISO) camera with a full-frame sensor and fast glass and a fast computer with the latest software. And I do. Or you can just shoot a digital Rebel and get some nifty lighting stuff for eight bucks at Home Depot. I’ve got that, too. But for a wedding photographer, having a heart and a soul and an eye are more important than any of that. Until you become a human being first and an artist second, all the technical skill in the world is meaningless.
What is your biggest challenge as a business owner?
Trying to thrive in the Great Recession in a metro area that has more wannabe young student photographers per capita than any other city in the world. And living in an internet age where clients know that Wal-Mart can undercut my print prices by 1,000%. To an awful lot of midwestern families, “good enough” is good enough. Many young couples haven’t learned yet that you get what you pay for.
What do you love most about your job?
Besides being my own boss and doing what I love, it’s realizing that I’m actually going to leave something worthwhile behind… long after I’m gone, at special family occasions my clients’ great-great-grandchildren will still be looking at albums I designed that are full of photos which I conceived of and created. If I won the Powerball, I’d still be up every morning at 5:00 doing this same stuff.
Is there anything you would have done differently during your career that could be advice for others?
Not much, no. I was fortunate to have some very savvy parents and teachers who mentored me when I was young, so I’ll just pass along the best things I learned from them that served me well: 1) Network! Make a friend before you need a friend; 2) When you go looking for a gig, wear a clean shirt and try to act halfway interested; 3) Follow the Boy Scout Motto (“Be Prepared”) because “luck” is what happens when preparation meets opportunity; 4) Live in California for a while, but leave before you get soft, and live in New York for a while, but leave before you get hard; 5) Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.
What new and upcoming technologies in photography (camera equipment, editing software, etc) excite you?
Everything. Everything gets lighter, faster, cheaper and more amazing every year.
MetroStyle Studios of Minneapolis
Servicing all of central & southern Minnesota, Western Wisconsin.