Sapphire Studios is a project formed by dream duo Ashleigh and Blake; based in their studio in Auckland, New Zealand. With a strong focus on wedding and event photography, Ash and Blake create visuals that tell authentic and meaningful stories.
We had a chat with the creative couple about the birth of Sapphire Studios, what inspires them and how they’re spending their time in isolation during a global pandemic.
What inspired you to launch Sapphire studios?
Sapphire Studios was born naturally. Blake and I had full time jobs, but both knew that we wanted to start our own creative venture together. Our love for photography and now growing passion for videography led us to create a studio with a focus on wedding, content and product photography. I must admit the wedding industry isn’t something that I had ever imagined entering, but we saw an opportunity to capture a more raw and authentic style of wedding photography to what we saw was out there. We just want it to be relaxed-and fun.
Since we met, we’ve always talked about how we both want to find a creative way to live and work, and to work with people. I’d say we’re both pretty bad at sitting still and need to have projects on the go to keep our minds at ease. Sapphire Studios came naturally to us as a home for the projects we’d been working on and ideas for more in the future. I think we both bring a different set of skills and interests to it and when we realised, we could make it work, it started to roll from there.
Weddings, brand content, campaigns, surf & lifestyle films, live streaming for weddings and basically, we’d love people to be able to come to us to help them tell their story. I think that our style may not necessarily be for everyone, but if people love it then we couldn’t be happier about it.
How are you spending your time in isolation in New Zealand? What do you think is important to keep in mind as creatives and business owners in a time of global crisis?
Being in an industry that relies almost completely on large gatherings, most of our work has been put on hold for now which we are pretty gutted about- but we are so thankful to have captured a few weddings just before the lockdown period to keep us busy and inspired for the next wee while, and (we are) also incredibly lucky to have really understanding couples that have had to postpone their special day. It’s such a tough and crazy time for everyone. It has also allowed us to slow down a bit and really focus on shaping the brand and building out what we want the next few years to look like. I think you can get so caught up in working job to job, project to project that it can take you in its own direction. I think having a clear goal and direction gives you so much clarity and allows you to say no to work that may not be adding value to yourself or your brand. So, we are really trying to focus on what that looks like.
We are currently parked up on Waiheke Island for the lockdown. We came out (to stay) for a week and on day two level four was announced- not a bad thing! We’ve been editing projects from the past couple of months and been really focusing on refining our brand. I’ve really appreciated having time to think and work through ideas without being distracted by other things. It’s kinda nice being forced to slow down.
I think it’s probably a given for everyone but I feel the most important thing is being true to what we’re about and telling our story so that when people come to us, it’s what we do and offer that they get. I also think fine tuning the way you function as a business, systems and processes, all the not so fun parts need to be solid and if they aren’t, really spending some time working at it.
What does a normal day at work look like for you?
Each day is different, they always start with a coffee and then we are either editing projects/ weddings or heading to a shoot. We are lucky to work for ourselves, so some days we may take a cheeky lunch break to the beach or for a surf.
Pretty sporadic to be honest! We have routine for when we get into a project, but the time of day isn’t always the same. As most of the weddings are across weekends, it allows us flexible workflow in the week. I tend to work best early in the morning and late at night. Start with coffee, emails and get into our project soon after. If we can sneak in some time for a wave, that will definitely happen.
Where are you from? Why do you guys choose to base your studio in Auckland?
Blake and I are both from Auckland, so naturally we have stayed here and that’s where we have based our studio. We find most of the work we do does keep us here, but we do have many dreams of moving out of the city and somewhere more remote and coastal. It’s trying to find a middle ground with work/life balance, I guess. But we will admit, we love Auckland.
I’m from Red Beach up on the coast and have had family scattered around Auckland throughout my life. Ash and I moved around a bit and really felt Auckland, as much as the chaos and traffic sucks, we really love being accessible to people and find that our work for other businesses mainly happens in the city or just outside of it. Auckland is really the centre location for most of our weddings or projects, most of the work is within 2 hours north or south of the city.
What is your favourite part about capturing a wedding day? Do you feel as though you form close relationships with your clients?
The one thing I love so much about capturing weddings is that they are all so different, even if the aesthetic is similar or location there are so many mixed personalities and every couples love story is so unique. We meet so many amazing people and always come home with full hearts. They really are so special. We usually meet our couples before they book with us and we love to get to know them on a personal level so they feel like friends when we’re there, imagine having two strangers following you around of the biggest day of your life- not ideal.
To be honest, it’s hard to not enjoy a wedding day! We are stoked to be able to do this for work and love to be part of people’s day. You become friends with new people, have a laugh, share the happiness and get front row seats to a bunch of weddings (normally you need to be family to make the front row). We both love getting home and having a flick through of the day when we transfer all the photos across to a safe place, even if it’s a ridiculous hour. The best part is sharing the photos with them once their finished - love seeing people so stoked. Knowing that they’re going to look back on these photos later in their life, years later. it’s rad to be giving them a visual piece of their history to hold onto.
We normally grab a coffee, beer or wineoo with the couple well before the wedding day which is kind of like a blind double date. It’s the most interesting and fun time. We hear about them and learn their story, talk about the wedding day and they can get to know us too. In the case of Isolation, we’ve been using the inter-web to meet couples. Creating that level of ease and communication is as important to us as it is to the couples.
Tune into what the dream teams been listening to below.
Interview by Jasmine Mallinger