Name: John Kung & Iku Motonaga
Business Name: harustudio
Where are you based out of? Sydney, Australia
Are you currently a part-time or full-time photographer? Full Time
What is your predominant photographic specialization? Weddings and Engagements
What camera(s) do you currently shoot with?
Fuji X-Pro2, Nikon D750
How would you define your style?
Honest. We’re trying to capture the best version of what we see. We don’t use presets that completely change the colour of the world we’re in, and we’re not trying to edit a photo to be completely different from the moment we captured it. We lean in, we embrace the moment and commit to capturing what we see.
What motivated you to become a photographer?
We’re a husband + wife team, and Iku was already a wedding photographer in Japan (where she’s from) when we met. She started as a photographer in her 20s while I was studying to be a graphic designer. We bonded over photography and when we moved to Sydney (where John is from) she suggested that I try my hand as a photographer as well. Ten years on, here we are!
What is it that you try to convey with your work?
We want to make you feel the moment we capture. We want to put you in the room, in that same space. For the couple, we want to put them back there in that moment, we think photography isn’t just pretty pictures to look at, it’s the key to go back in time to relive moments and spark fresh conversations.
How do you accomplish that?
There’s so many parts to this question! Firstly we have a firm grasp of our craft, we’ve learnt to see light as a kind of clay to mould, and how light at different times of day interacts with the environment to create different tones and colours. We’ve also mastered our tools and how they contribute to creating the images we have in our heads. But I guess most importantly, and it sounds a bit hippy-dippy, we are guided by how we feel about what we see. If you’re completely present in the moment and let yourself feel everything around you, all of that information can guide you to being in the right spot and spotting the kind of moments that make beautiful photographs.
This is true even for the parts of the day where we have to be more hands-on in our guidance. We try to find the kind of environments that make both our couples and us feel something and try to capture that feeling.
What do you do during a session or wedding day to help make your clients feel comfortable?
We always try to meet our couples in person if we can, that helps to break the ice and get to know each other. Our wedding packages include engagement sessions, which is a great way for us to work together and to give them the opportunity to work through the awkward. Hopefully, by the wedding day, we’ve already spent time together so it’s like seeing a friend rather than being super conscious of the camera all the time.
Have you had a photographer inspire your work, and if so, who and why?
We tend to find inspiration from everything around us rather than from other photographers, but I’ve been utterly transfixed by Maddie Mae’s adventure elopements work!
What is your most memorable accomplishment so far in your photography career?
Making the jump to full time! We met in Japan and moved to Sydney after we got married, so we spent years juggling jobs. John started assisting other photographers early but for us, both to make the jump to freelancing (with a baby no less) was a huge achievement.
Another major achievement was this year John was listed in Capture Magazine’s Australasia’s Top 15 Emerging Photographers in the Weddings category, and he also had a photograph make the semi-finals in the Moran Photographic Prize. That felt good.
What is one important lesson you have learned during your career?
Be persistent, and singular in your work. Stay true to what you love, don’t chase someone else’s look. Even if you manage to master that look you’ll at best only come second. You don’t need to be the best, you just need to be unique.
Which Photographer Supply Company products do you currently use?
We’re new to Photographer Supply Co, and we’ve only just received our branded wooden USBs. They look amazing!!!
How have Photographer Supply Company products helped your business?
We struggled for ages to find an affordable and dependable supplier of USBs. We’ve tried ordering locally but they’re either incredibly expensive (seriously the price goes up every time we order, what other computing product goes up in price over time!?) or we never know when it’ll arrive. With Photographer Supply Co. it came in the time frame that was stated and we couldn’t be happier!
How has packaging elevated your brand?
How you present yourself is so important to your brand. It’s just us, so if there’s a less-than-ideal customer interaction we have nowhere to hide. From our first emails to the final delivery we want it all to be beautiful, and a huge part of that is how we package our goods. It’s the little details that show people you care about what you do — your work could be amazing but if the details aren’t up to snuff then clients will always remember.