San-Francisco based photographer duo, Nat & Cody, recently shared with us some insight on what it’s like being a husband-and-wife creative team. The couple explains how they make it work and some advice for anyone else who’s interested in teaming up together!
A: We met in Boston at a party. I, Cody, thought Natalie was Latin, she’s Russian, and walked up to her and said ‘hola’.
A: We started helping each other with shoots 10 years ago in photography school. I was assisting commercial photographers and Natalie was second-shooting with wedding photographers, and we were each trying to build our portfolios on the side. We’d help each other with the backend stuff (editing/ taxes/ scheduling) until one day we decided we should join forces and start working together. Officially, we have been working together for 5 years now.
A: Work and personal life are all jumbled together. We don’t think of it as balancing one with the other, but rather just focus on balancing it all. One thing we’ve learned is that it’s okay for us not to work at the same time. That way we can take time for ourselves, but still get things done.
A: I think a lot of the challenges we face are the same as any photographers. We had a teacher at school tell us, “the trick to making it as a photographer, is to stay in the game long enough for a door of opportunity to open.” We’d say that’s true, except it’s not one breakthrough job and then you’re ‘successful’. It’s a process. It’s a lot of little doors, and it’s not always all that linear. The challenge is trusting that there’s another opportunity around the corner. Another challenge is getting comfortable with money. Estimating, negotiating, feeling confident about our worth has taken a long time to understand and is a work in progress.
A: When we first started working together, I shot more still life, and Natalie more people/portraits. As it is now, though, we each shoot a mix. Recently, Natalie has been directing more while I shoot (it works well when she tells me what to do, and I listen).
A: We always work on projects together. Sometimes we each have our own camera and shoot different angles. Other times, we switch off with just one of us behind the camera, while the other observes on and helps direct. I handle more of the lighting setup, while Nat handles digital tech roles and gives art direction.
A: The biggest reward is the feeling of creating something together. We’re each invested equally in every project. That, and being able to share a unique amount of time together as a couple is also great!
A: We recently photographed Full Belly Farm for New Farm Magazine by the Rodale Institute. Mainly it was just amazing to spend a day witnessing the hard work of people growing food, but it was also especially fun because 5 years ago we photographed at that same farm as one of our first test shoots together as a duo.
A: The photography part of everything is maybe only 10% of the total work. The rest is learning how to run a business together.
See more of Nat & Cody at natandcody.com!