Name: Courtney & Michael Kent
Business Name: The Compass Points Here
Where are you based out of? Traverse City, Michigan
Are you currently a part-time or full-time photographer? Full-time
What is your predominant photographic specialization? Weddings and Editorial food and lifestyle
What camera(s) do you currently shoot with? Canon 5DMKIII
How would you define your style?
Fun. Happy. Centered on people and relationships. We want our work to be beautiful of course – but going beyond just pretty imagery, we are hoping to capture the heightened emotions and incredible joy that takes place on a wedding day. We also greatly prefer natural light to artificial sources and want to shoot outside as much as possible!
What motivated you to become a photographer?
When I was young I loved photographs and spent tons of time looking through albums that my mom would put together. I also discovered boxes of much older photographs at the homes of my grandparents and great grandparents, and I would ask them about the images – many of which documented the immigration of my family to the United States from Denmark. I would ask my great grandfather questions about his family and the fishing town he grew up in, and it felt like I was becoming a little family historian at the age of 10. It wasn’t until high school that I started to love actually taking pictures myself.
Michael has a fairly similar connection with videography. He has always loved movies and would spend hours analyzing them with his two brothers – comparing shooting styles, directors, soundtracks, dialogue, etc. Good storytelling has always been important to him. So you can see threads in our current work that go all the way back to aspects of our childhood.
Michael and I met at the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design, so the beginning of our professional development really began there. However, there aren’t courses specifically for wedding photography and videography; that has been largely self-taught. Ultimately, we both have a strong desire to live creative lives and make things!
What is it that you try to convey with your work?
While we love the flowers, the food, the details that make someone’s wedding day truly their own, we firmly believe that the most important part of the wedding day is the relationship between the couple and their family and friends. Our hope is that when a client looks back through their collection of images or watches their wedding video, they will see connection and emotion running throughout; the quiet moment when a grandmother sees her granddaughter in her dress for the first time, the big emotional moment during the middle of the vows, the hilarious joke told by a best friend during cocktail hour, the crazy multicultural dance party at the end of the night. Unique moments like this happen at each and every wedding we have the privilege of being a part of. We want to bring our clients back into that space every time they see our work.
How do you accomplish that?
This might sound obvious, but I honestly believe it starts with taking a sincere interest in each of our clients. We spend a lot of time preparing for each wedding we shoot. Our planning questionnaire is detailed and extensive. We truly believe that a lot of our success comes from attention to detail and preparation. You also have to find a balance between letting things unfold naturally and stepping in to direct a situation when necessary.
What is your most memorable accomplishment so far in your photography career?
Being asked to travel is honestly so flattering. There is so much talent in this industry, so when someone seeks you out specifically it feels so gratifying. We’ve had clients change their wedding dates to work with us or use airline miles to fly us to their wedding. That is still so amazing to me! In 2012 I was also asked to go to the Dominican Republic to document the work of the underwater archaeologist Charlie Beeker. That work has since been published in Discover, New Scientist, Sport Diver and American Archaeology magazines. I’ll always be incredibly grateful for that opportunity.
What is one thing you have learned during your career?
There is so much more to being a professional photographer & videographer than just taking photos and making videos. Customer service needs to be a huge priority for continuing success. Your clients are important and they need to feel important. So if I’m feeling overworked to the point that I’ve neglected communication or some other aspect of customer service, I always try to figure out how to remedy that quickly.
Which Photographer Supply Company products do you currently use?
We currently use – and love – the custom branded USB’s in the light wood.
How have Photographer Supply Company products helped your business?
As soon as I received our first order of custom branded USBs – I immediately felt more professional. And no one is going to take you seriously unless you take yourself seriously.