Let’s Meet: Chris Ziemann, Director of Photography
Why He’s Awesome:
- Collector of old school cameras (it’s sweet)
- Dream photo shoot location: Europe
- Outdoorsman = hunter, fisherman, lake life
- Can’t pick one favorite wedding photography location in Detroit
Get to Know Chris 1 on 1:
When did you first pick up a camera?
Chris: I picked up my first camera when I was 12 years old. I started shooting with film when I was a kid because I thought it was a cool adult hobby I was able to do. My mom did it, that’s how I learned it. But back then it was different because it was film. Once I learned how to develop my own film and print my own stuff — that was really cool. There was something really magical about taking a blank piece of paper, throwing light on it and then putting into a bath of chemicals and all of a sudden this image appears.
What do you love about working with people on their wedding day?
Chris: It’s exciting because we’ve been given the privilege to capture the moments from their day; they could have hired anyone and they chose us. Having the opportunity to be able to document their wedding day – you really become a part of their day with them. The reality is there is no wedding vendor, other than the photographer, that has as much communication with the couple the day of the wedding. Plus, we’re there! The first time a dad sees his daughter, we’re there. The first time the couple kisses, we’re there. It’s really incredible to know that we’re creating the images that they will hang on their wall forever.
Real talk about wedding albums – GO!
Chris: Your wedding album is your story book. Hanging a CD on your wall looks really dumb. The wedding album is the thing you’re going to show people. An album is what you’re going to look at and what other people are going to see. It’s something that you can take off the shelf and enjoy for decades. Plus, having a super high quality, beautifully bound album gives reverence to your wedding images.
Where do you get inspiration?
Chris: In addition to being inspired by every couple I work with, I also find from challenging myself and from teaching other wedding photographers. It reminds me why I got into this to begin with — it brings out that fire in your heart to do amazing stuff you don’t know if you can do. I actually look for inspiration in other things to apply to my wedding shoots.
What settings do you love putting brides and grooms in? Any favorite locations?
Chris: I think my favorite places are the more unique venues. We do a few shoots at the Homestead in Traverse City, that’s a really cool venue. Around metro Detroit, the Crofoot is a really cool venue because it’s unique, quirky and fun. Colony Club, Masonic Temple — the architecture of Detroit is the best. When you get a barn wedding or a client that total DIY’s everything, it shows ownership and personality and that’s what’s exciting because it’s different.
Let’s talk post production — what’s your favorite part of the wedding day to sit down and edit?
Chris: The Romantics are always our bread and butter as far as excitement. That’s the really fun, exciting, intimate part of the day where it’s just the bride and groom or just the couple and their bridal party. I always think a really sweet moment is when a bride does a ‘first look’ with her dad. But my favorite moments are always after the ceremony.
Mike Staff Productions is known for fast turn around — how do you get couples their pictures so quickly?
Chris: We have a system that’s down to a science. Our guarantee is one month. The reality is our photographers have to go home, download all of the images and send them to us. We’re still at the liberty of the mail, believe it or not. We have a certain amount of staff that can deliver on the schedule, if not quicker. The goal — we never want to rush it, we don’t want the process to get sloppy. We want everything clean and high quality. But we know the quicker you can deliver the better because we now we live in a Facebook society. Even though we can get select images done in two weeks, the couple is seeing Facebook images 5 seconds after they got married. Now that people’s iPhones can live stream around the world in seconds, it really makes us step up because we’re competing against an instant gratification society.
Our company started with a few DJs in a basement, meeting over pizza & beer. That grew into a few more DJs, throw in some creative photographers, add a couple passionate videographers — and Mike Staff Productions — an award winning wedding company — was born.