PRO2PRO: Pro DJ to Photographer/Videographer
By Gerald Johnson
VISION EXPERT SNAPS CLEAR PICTURE OF WEDDING DJ’S ROLE
PRO PHOTOGRAPHER/VIDEOGRAPHER: TOM CHAPUT
In my area one of the best values in wedding photography and videography is Tom Chaput, who, with only eight years in the wedding business, has etched a clear mark in his trade. From a previous life of office supply sales and a lifelong interest in technology, he began his new career as a videographer working for a multi-op but eventually branched out on his own. He works with his wife Bonita, with the husband and wife team operating either as a tandem photography team or as a camera/video camera combo. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Tom regarding his thoughts on DJs, the wedding business, and the roles we all play as professionals:
Gerald Johnson: Let’s begin with DJs. During your time in the wedding business, you definitely have noticed that DJs have an effect on the event. In a positive sense, what can you say that DJs add?
Tom Chaput: I would say that good DJs help the guests to stay longer and enjoy themselves by providing quality entertainment with the right music. Also, a well-organized DJ can keep the flow and pace of the night moving along-which makes the guests more content and also removes stress and pressure from the bride and groom.
GJ: So the biggest piece of a DJ’s job you would say is “piece of mind?”
TC: Absolutely. If the event is planned out well in advance and followed through by the DJ with the right events, announcements, and music at the right times, then the bride and groom are almost always more relaxed and able to enjoy their reception. We can always tell if the DJ is a professional in the first few moments we work with them by how well they are organized and how well they work with you.
GJ: On the same note, I bet you have seen times when things didn’t quite go so well, and the DJ was at fault…
TC: The problem almost always begins with the actual scheduling of the event. In some cases, the DJ will not coordinate with the couple before the event, and as a result the event suffers. Sometimes names are wrong, the event has no flow, and before you know it the party was over because of a lousy DJ.
GJ: What, then, are the biggest problems you see when working with DJs?
TC: I am very surprised at the number of big (multi-op) services that will not divulge who the actual DJ will be before the event. With some services, the couple finds out at the event or the week before, which is definitely very stressful for the bride and groom, because, lets face it-some big services have one or two DJs that are bad. I’ve also seen DJs that show up dressed completely inappropriately for the event and some that are late. The biggest problem, though, are DJs with “an attitude” and those that make the show about them with too much mic time and cheesy shtick.
GJ: Let’s talk about sales. What is your best sales asset when meeting with new brides and grooms?
TC: For us it’s looking the part. We have a nice, clean office that serves the sole purpose of meeting with clients and doing work related to the business. Even though it is in my home, the office is on its own floor and is separated from the living space by stairs (meaning you don’t walk through the living space to get to the office). The whole space has been completely remodeled and we have our work hanging on the walls with accent spot lighting highlighting it. When couples are introduced to this setting, they see how serious we are about our work instead of a messy kitchen table or kids screaming in the background.
GJ: I suppose that’s the same on our end. If you are a client, you are inevitably going to look at those who have made the investment in a dedicated work space as more professional than those who simply meet with clients in their living room or another location.
As for your business, what is your approach to shooting weddings?
TC: Our concern is making the process as easy and fun as it can be for the bride, groom, and family. I know from experience that hiring “comfortability” over work that is shown will in the end always produce a better result because the experience making the photos or video will be better. If you hire by personality and not brand, then all will be better.
GJ: How does your typical planning meeting go?
TC: Well, we review with the client what the wedding day will entail and then they normally pick the specific package they want, whether it be length of shooting time with photos or the amount of videos and kinds of effect they want for the videography portion. We’re not Soup Nazis, and so our clients really can choose what suits them best.
GJ: Tom, thanks for your candidness. Are there any parting words you would like to give to the DJs before we wrap up?
TC: It is amazing how much a great DJ can enhance an event-and how a lousy DJ can ruin a day. Please don’t be the lousy DJ. Prepare, plan, and have fun!
Filed Under: Issues from 2010, Profiles
Leave a comment