Creative Class: Jinny Beh & Danny Tan, Wedding Photographers, WeFreeze
In the first of the series, we sat down with the popular wedding photographer dynamic duo to talk about life as wedding photographers, why they do what they're doing and tips for couples who will be hiring wedding photographers.
Life is full of possibility, and I really started believing it after I got into the world of blogging.
Blogging has opened up many new friendships and opportunities for me, but contrary to what many would believe by looking at the beautiful side of the business, running a fashion blog is really a labour of love. It’s 5% glamour, 95% dedication – and a tremendous amount of passion. It could have been a short-lived journey if you do not have a burning passion because reality always gets in the way.
And I believe such is the case with all the other creative jobs in the industry. Creative jobs are driven by passion and talent, and as someone who hails from the non-creative/business world (I’m a web developer by profession,) I’m always fascinated by the creative class, especially their life stories, and how they make a sustainable career out of being creative and artistic.
It was this fascination that gave birth to our new series called “The Creative Class” – a series of interviews featuring people and friends from the creative class whom I really admire for their stories and great works.
In the first of the series, we sat down with the popular wedding photographer dynamic duo from We Freeze, Jinny Beh and Danny Tan to talk about life as wedding photographers, why they do what they’re doing and tips for couples who will be hiring wedding photographers.
Hi Jinny and Danny. Tell me a little about yourself.
Jinny: We’re wedding photographers from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and we’re the team behind We Freeze.
How long have you guys been doing wedding photography?
Jinny: Around 7 years.
Danny: It’s been 10 years for me.
10 years! Have you guys always been photographers?
J: I actually started my career as a graphic designer. I’ve worked with companies for 5 years before teaming up with Danny to become a full-time photographer.
D: I was a full-time videographer and a graphic designer as well, but photography has always been my part-time job for quite a long time.
Did you guys go to Art school?
J: Not really. We both took Multimedia Design at Tunku Abdul Rahman College. We’re course mates. That’s how we met each other.
I remember Jinny hardly knew photography when I first knew about her from a mutual friend. But now she’s a full-time professional photographer! It’s really amazing. How did you end up becoming a professional wedding photographer?
J: It all started with a wedding photo taken by another popular Malaysian wedding photographer. I saw the photo and it really inspired me because it looks very different. It changed my mind about how wedding pictures should be done, and they don’t have to look like the traditional wedding photos we’ve all seen before. Wedding photography isn’t just about taking the photos of the bride and the bridegroom. It’s a story-telling. That’s why in every wedding photoshoot, my goal is to bring out the best side of the people (the bride, the bridegroom and the guests) while at the same time documenting the whole wedding event beautifully. It’s “wedding documentary” we’re doing, not just a conventional wedding photography.
So your passion started in college?
J: Well, no. It was long after college. I only started learning about photography after I’ve worked for several years as graphic designers. I followed Danny on his wedding photo-shooting job, and that’s when I picked up the skills.
How about Danny?
D: I like photography since i was in high school. You can say I’ve always been a photography geek. During college, I started getting freelance job offers to do wedding photography, and so I took them to earn some extra cash.
How did the idea of WeFreeze come around? Tell me the story.
J: It was me and another friend who came up with the name “WeFreeze”. It’s a portmanteau of “We” and “Freeze” – we wanted to freeze the moment. We were young and we have many plans and ideas, and “wefreeze” was one of them. It was our friend who created the first version of the website. At that time, we really didn’t think about turning it into a real business though. But in the end me and Danny continued to use the name when we decided to pursue our passion.
At what point that you realised wedding photography is what you wanted to do in life? When did you take the plunge and make it your full-time job?
J: It was in 2013 that we officially turned WeFreeze from a part-time passion project into our full-time endeavour. We wanted to end our 9-to-5 lifestyle as graphic designers. I wanted to wake up every morning with a passion, and a freedom to do what I love. And at that time, the pay we earned from photography jobs has become good enough to even surpass our full-time job’s. I love the flexibility of working from home too. So it was the right moment for us to make the jump.
How did you grow WeFreeze as a business at the beginning?
J: It’s mostly through word-of-mouth and through promoting our website. Many of our clients found us through our website from Google.
I know that you guys have been traveling around the world for your job. Tell me about the most memorable client or trip.
J: It has to be our trip to London for a pre-wedding photoshoot for a really sweet and generous couple. Our client sent us to London, and it was our first oversea job after WeFreeze officially went full-time. Our flight and all our expenses were fully covered by our client. The couple even gave us gifts. It was really memorable and fun. It’s a really important milestone for WeFreeze.
That’s really great! But how do you normally stay calm and focused in the middle of a project, especially when it’s an oversea assignment? It must be really stressful because, you know, wedding day or photoshoot trip only happens once, and there’s no “take two.”
J: It’s still OK. We don’t really feel stressed. Pre-wedding photoshoots are OK. Actual day wedding photoshoot is the more stressful one and we’ll be extra careful.
Your schedule must be very crazy sometimes. How’s your schedule normally?
J: It’s very seasonal. We’re busy, but not all the time. Normally, we’d be super busy during the wedding season. When we’re not busy shooting, we’d work on other aspects of our business. We also make time to learn new things and get inspired.
How do you guys manage your role as a team?
J: We both take photos, but when I’m not taking photos, I’m more on creative direction and post-production editing.
D: I’m more on sales and business development. I’m also very technical and I manage our website and other technical stuff.
How do you balance your personal and professional life as a couple that works together?
J: We don’t really have this “work-life balance” because wedding photography has become part of our lives. It’s a part of ourselves now. We often go for vacation when we’re not busy working or traveling for work.
So you guys love traveling during your down time?
J: Yes, we do. Travel is the only thing you can buy to make you richer. We just came back from a round trip to Italy and Switzerland. It was really great! We were in Pienza, Vernazza and etc and I just love those places! It’s just so beautiful. There’s art in every corner.
What’s your favourite local place to wind down then?
J: We both love Pulau Langkawi. It’s easy to get there nowadays with AirAsia. There’s no currency issue. We also love Ipoh for the food. I love the old streets and the heritage attractions there.
And what do you do at home when you’re not traveling?
J: I love gardening. I also love online shopping!
D: I like to get hands-on. I enjoy coffee brewing and cooking. I wish to open a cafe or a restaurant someday.
How do you normally find inspiration for wedding photography?
J: I love browsing Etsy for inspiration.
D: I check out Pinterest. I will also check out the works of other photographers in oversea.
In growing your own business, what is the most important lesson you learned that you wish you knew when you first started out?
J: Terms and condition and contact are very important. It’s a business and so everything must be stated clearly in black-and-white.
What fashion brands you love?
J: There’s no particular brands that I love. My favourite is random and it really depends on the season. Zalora is one of my favourite sites to do online shopping.
D: Yea I don’t have any specific favourite too.
What music you love? What’s on your playlist now?
J: Bossa Nova is my all-time favourite. At the moment, Kina Grannis is on my playlist.
D: Basically, I listen to everything. Or, anything Jinny is listening to.
Do you have any tip for couples who will be hiring wedding photographers?
J: It’s really important to understand the photographer’s works and style before you hire the photographer. It’s always best to look at their past works and then really think about whether or not you wish your wedding photos to look similar. Once you’ve hired the photographers, you should believe in them and let them do their work. Asking a wedding photographer to shoot in another style by showing them a photo done by another wedding photographer is really bad and disrespectful. Because that’s not their style, and the end result certainly won’t end up great.