The Business of Luxury Wedding Photography, with James x Schulze

03/23/2023Link0

No matter how you slice it, wedding photography is a fancy business. On this week’s podcast, we take that fancy up a notch in a conversation about luxury wedding photography with James Christianson and Otto Schulze. These former competitors took a giant leap to reinvent themselves as the collaborative partnership James x Schulze, while also adapting their sales strategy to a marketplace where the driving force is want rather than means.

Listen in as they describe how they balanced economic risk with the creative freedom to chase small moments and beautiful light. You’ll also gain insight into how a luxury client’s buying psychology differs from the norm, and the essential importance of taking a client-first approach to projects.

“Confidence is the currency of the successful,” explains Christianson about the necessary shift in mindset. “If you can bring confidence in who you are and what your skills are—whether that’s skills with a camera, skills with people, or both—that will take you a long way in being able to move through any room.”

Guests: James Christianson and Otto Schulze

Above photograph © James x Schulze

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An elegant engagement session in the middle of Great Sand Dunes National Park, a remote location that offers couples a unique way to celebrate each other.
An elegant engagement session in the middle of Great Sand Dunes…
Editorial bridal shoot at Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.
Editorial bridal shoot at Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.
James x Schulze had an epiphany of sorts when making this intimate portrait at Great Sand Dunes National Park. “[It’s as if] we discovered a new way we shoot portraits together,” says James. “It’s one of those shots where just everything aligned.”
James x Schulze had an epiphany of sorts when making this intimate…
The bride, just after the ceremony at Auberge Mallouhana, Anguilla.
The bride, just after the ceremony at Auberge Mallouhana, Anguilla.
A bird’s-eye view of Chateau de Villette, a wedding and event venue just outside Paris, France.
A bird’s-eye view of Chateau de Villette, a wedding and event venue…
Guests enjoy cocktails during a wedding event at Le Mas de Poiriers, in Provence, France.
Guests enjoy cocktails during a wedding event at Le Mas de Poiriers, in…
A formal garden makes a picture-perfect aisle for this bride to walk. Le Mas de Poiriers, Provence, France.
A formal garden makes a picture-perfect aisle for this bride to walk…
Environmental portrait captured inside the Chateau de Villette, France
Environmental portrait captured inside the Chateau de Villette, France
A private moment in the gardens of Ireland.
A private moment in the gardens of Ireland.
Otto Schulze and James Christianson at work with a wedding couple, Golden Ledge, Telluride, Colorado.
Otto Schulze and James Christianson at work with a wedding couple,…
A couple takes a drive through Napa Valley in their classic automobile, California.
A couple takes a drive through Napa Valley in their classic automobile,…
A classic beauty portrait of the bride at Chateau de Villette, in France.
A classic beauty portrait of the bride at Chateau de Villette, in…
The wedding party gathered in an idyllic setting. The Conservatory San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The wedding party gathered in an idyllic setting. The Conservatory San…
James Christianson and Otto Schulze have spent the past 20 years chasing experiences; each one unique and primed for exploration. Together, James x Schulze blend styles of documentary, fine art, and editorial work to create unparalleled imagery.
James Christianson and Otto Schulze have spent the past 20 years…

Episode Timeline

  • 2:55: The logistics of and locations for the luxury wedding photography market.
  • 6:38: Balancing the economics of a collaborative business with the creative freedom and flow of chasing small moments and beautiful light.
  • 10:42: Shaking the middle-class sales mentality and adapting to the buying psychology of luxury clients.
  • 14:45: Put your client first by asking open-ended questions and taking a genuine interest in connecting to best identify their wants.
  • 17:56: The logistics of working with wedding planners in the high-end photography market.
  • 21:40: Destination weddings in a post-COVID world, and the luxury client as a recession-proof market for wedding photography.
  • 26:10: James X Shulze’s go-to camera gear—from the medium format FUJIFILM GFX to the Leica Q—yet always being mindful of the special atmosphere of the venue.
  • 31:27: Episode break
  • 32:32: Introducing James X Schulze’s education brand Sage. Tap into the mindset and confidence needed to cultivate luxury wedding photography clients.
  • 37:14: Distinguishing between premium and luxury wedding clients, and the relative budgets for each.
  • 40:10: Develop the story the client wants to tell with their wedding, rather than approaching the wedding as just a photo shoot.
  • 45:14: James and Otto’s approach to education involves more than great photographs. Equally important is being a better business owner and consistently putting in the work.

Guest Bios:

James Christianson started his career as an educator and entrepreneur. He has more than 20 years of photography experience under his belt, combined with a business and education background that brings a distinctively clear voice to his work.

Otto Schulze traveled the globe as a documentary photographer, spending the past 20 years in pursuit of the “decisive moment.” His ability to see outside the box makes him an inspirational and visionary imagemaker and educator.

Working together, James x Schulze have achieved world-class brand recognition as luxury wedding photographers, combining editorial, documentary, and fine-art styles. Named as one of the world’s top 50 wedding photographers by Harpers Bazaar, they are hyper-focused on communicating each client’s unique story through a final portfolio of unparalleled images. Most recently, they launched the online education platform Sage and the online course “The Business of Luxury Weddings” to inspire other wedding professionals seeking to take their business to the next level.

Stay Connected:

James x Schulze’s Wedding Website: https://www.jamesandschulze.com
James x Schulze’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamesandschulze
James x Schulze’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamesandschulze
James x Schulze’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamesandschulze
James x Schulze’s Education Website: https://www.sagejourney.co
Business of Luxury Weddings Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebusinessofluxuryweddings
Sage Journey Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sagejourney.co


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Mike Weinstein
Executive Producer: Yermy Weiss
Editorial Director: Shawn C Steiner

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