Inspire Me Friday Interview #7} Damon Tucci

Meet Damon Tucci and Rosy Usmani.  This tag team will knock you off your feet!

From Damon, “First I would just like to say that both of your websites are phenomenal. It is amazing what everyone in our industry is doing today. Thank you for the kind words!” 

You are so welcome! And how cool do I feel?!!? Damon used the word phenomenal and your website in the same sentence and he was referring to me!!! WOW! 

1.  What’s in your camera bag?  Off camera flash?
I have been shooting Nikon since I was a boy so I have amassed quite a collection. Currently, for weddings I bring my Nikon D3, D700, 16mm fisheye, 24-70, 70-200, 55mm micro (Nikon lenses) and 2 sb 800 flashes. Although, I am totally psyched to get my hands on Nikon’s new D3s, which not only has excellent low light capabilities, but also a slick video option. I’ve got one on the way and will let you know how sweet it is. For anyone that doesn’t know about Nikon’s Professional Services, NPS check them out at www.nikonpro.com. This service let’s you test out different gear before you invest in buying it. Seriously, how cool is that?
And, since I love available light, a 52” Photoflex silver/white reflector. We also have a Lowell mini id light (www.lowel.com/ilight) and some Sima small hand held led lights. I also use a Quantum Turbo sc battery (www.qtm.com) and everything fits neatly in my Lowe pro roller 1. (By the way, I recently had to cash in their lifetime guarantee and was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it was to get a replacement.)
2.  Tell us about Damon Tucci Photography?
In a nutshell, we are a small wedding photography business that caters to discerning clientele. We like to call our approach to wedding photography, “stylized fashion/documentary”. This basically means that while we are constantly searching for candid moments throughout the day, we do employ some modern posed techniques as well. I developed this strategy while working at Disney Photographic Services prior to striking out on my own in 2000.

3.  How do you market yourself?
Our motto is to, “exceed expectation”. We try to weave this mentality into everything we do and it has become the foundation of our reputation. In turn, this has guided us to quality referrals from past clients, key wedding vendors and everyone else we meet on a daily basis.
In the beginning when we were working to establish ourselves, we marketed directly to brides. We invested in print advertising with our local Perfect Wedding Guide (www.pwg.com) and online with www.theknot.com. We offered to provide stock images for articles and shoot for specific features, as well as submit real weddings.
Today, we continue to submit real weddings on both a regional and national level for editorial consideration. Additionally, we maintain a blog (www.damontuccisblog.com), website (www.damontucci.com) and Facebook page.   However, most of our marketing is now targeted towards key weddings vendors with whom we have mutually invested relationships.  
Rosy is the marketing genius that does most of this. She has a graduate degree from Rollins College and has worked as an editor for a wedding magazine. She divulges her vendor relations’ strategy in detail in our upcoming book, The Business of Photography, Amherst Media which is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2010. Rosy will also be exploring this topic during our platform class at WPPI (www.wppionline.com) in March. 
4.  You will be speaking at WPPI this year.  What will you be speaking on and what can your listener’s expect to hear?
This year is going to be totally different from the past; it is the first time that Rosy and I will be speaking together at a national conference. She has designed a program that that will highlight both of our different objectives in our business. It’s kind of like the white angel vs. the red devil sitting on either shoulder. I am sure you can guess who’s who. Her point of view is how we can use the images that I capture at weddings to generate exposure. All of that marketing and vendor stuff. My point of view is focused on the technical aspect. How to get the shots we need and exceed the client’s expectations on the day of the wedding. We have found that to be successful these two factions must come together. So, you can expect some banter along with our typical brand of humor, but mostly it will explore our team approach to running a wedding photography business.
5.  Will you and Rosy describe your typical workday for us?
Rosy get’s up early and I get up late. Seriously, Rosy thinks she works more than me but I remind her that she does not typically come to the weddings. We are both extremely fortunate to work from home and control our own schedules, so every day is different. The daily grind usually involves fielding emails, phone calls, vendor lunch meetings, editing and album layouts.  We try to get some form of exercise in everyday which usually means walking our dog Zeke. Here at DTP fitness is important even though you can’t always tell that by looking at me. If we have a shoot we set up our (fold away) in home studio and of course manage a frenetic five minute clean up. 


6.  Tell us about an experience where you met a challenge while photographing a wedding and how did you overcome it?
Well, that is funny you bring this up. Just recently in Dec 20th 2009, I was surfing at New Smyrna beach (surfing is my biggest passion, I fancy myself a waterman – I love to swim, fish, dive surf, spear fish. I may not be the best one out there but I am usually the one having the most fun), anyway I digress; I did a face plant in 2 feet of water and really messed up my neck. It is healing fine and in 12 weeks will be as good as new, but I still had to shoot a wedding on January 2, 2010.  I was fairly anxious about it because I was supposed to be wearing a neck brace. I didn’t want to freak out our destination wedding client, who we had never met before. So against Rosy’s and the doctor’s order I elected not to wear the brace. Anywho, you know how it is, the show must go on. We hired an extra shooter and Rosy for extra support. Luckily, I have an amazing team and we cowboyed thru. The wedding is on the blog (www.damontuccisblog.com), posted 1/5/09 entitled Sarasota wedding, and I think it came out great. As a wedding photographer you just gotta do what you gotta do. Preplanning with the wedding coordinator and having extra staff made all the difference.
7.  Can you describe your amazing stylized fashion/documentary approach to your photography?
This technique is documented in my book, Step by Step Wedding Photography, Amherst Media – excuse my shameless plug. Essentially in my opinion time is your enemy at these events, so I try to use mine efficiently. I try to get the “posed” photos out of the way before the ceremony and then let the event happen and document after the family shots and what we call “money shots” are finished. We employ a very fast run and gun style and try to let the B&G really enjoy their day and spend time with their guests. Actually, what I do is very simple. I try to visualize, anticipate, react, and execute.


8.  What advice do you have for individual’s pursuing a career in photography?
Don’t get discouraged. This is a wonderful profession, but there is a ton of competition and better ways to get rich. My advice would be to keep your overhead low. Answer your emails and phone calls promptly. Under promise and over deliver; treat your clients like you would like to be treated. Realize that as a small business in a very tight (wedding) community your reputation is your most valuable commodity.
9.  What inspires you as a photographer?
Art, Nature, my family. I like to look at renaissance and modern painters. I also like the imagination of David La Chappelle or the capture your soul work of Yosuf Karsh. I love photography and enjoy the work of other photographers.
10.  Any tips or tricks you can share with our followers?
I see everything in my head first. In weddings if there is down time, I will go and scout out my next shot. I use available light a lot. It is cheap and easy to carry.
When photographing people I have a way to get them to relax and trust me. I know when they are giving me the cheese or the real thing. I am myself with them and they in turn relax and give a glimpse of their real spirit. I do not really know how to explain it. They know I am going to kill myself to make them look as good as they can and they allow me in. It sounds like some weird jedi thing. It is just a gift.


11.  You have been published in many magazines.  How did it feel the first time you were published and what were the steps you had to take to get there?
It felt great and still feels great everytime it happens. In the beginning it was just right time, right place, right style and luck. Now Rosy has the submission process down to an art form and has established solid relationships with a lot of photo editors. She likes to target each submission to a specific magazine. She says it’s key to follow their submission guidelines to the letter and only submit weddings that mirror each magazines specific style.
12.  Can you tell us about your book Step by Step Wedding Photography?  And were there any other books or workshops that have been helpful to you?

The book, Step-by-Step-Weddings, Amherst Media is a systematic approach to documenting weddings. It is a game plan or blueprint for success. It outlines the shots you must have and how to manage your time to achieve results that will exceed your client’s expectations consistently. It is a reference point for someone looking to get started in weddings or brush up on their craft. We also sell poser guides that offer before and after examples of our photos and how we achieved them.

I think it’s crucial for any professional photographer to join the Professional Photographers of America (www.ppa.com).  Whenever possible you should also attend state and national photography conferences like the one hosted the Wedding and Portrait Professionals International (www.wppionline.com).

Smaller workshops are also great because you get a lot more one on one time with the artists. Now days there a bunch out there and they are usually well priced. Recently, Rosy and I have been to Scott Kelby and Sandy Puc. Both were wonderful and jammed packed with information. I also love seeing the Sallee’s, Jerry Ghionis, Ron Nichols, Kevin Kubota, Jed and Vicki Taufer, and Ann Montieth.
13.  I’m pretty sure we all know what you’d be doing when you’re not working so will you share with us your most memorable surfing experience because I know every surfer has one!
Well, besides the face plant, I really like to surf. My favorite recent surf trips have been to Eleuthra Bahamas, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is my favorite. It is really beautiful there, very much like Hawaii but less crowded. There is a spot there called Wilderness which gets real heavy when it goes off. I like the regaetone as well.
I also love this spot Trestles in San Clemente Ca. My home breaks would be the Streets, Hangers, and RC’s – (central east coast Florida). Oh and I began shaping and making my own boards. It is on the blog.
My favorite thing to do is hang out with Tyler my daughter, Rosy my wonderful partner and our dog Zeke who thinks he is a human. Rosy is still waiting for him to talk like Bryan, you know, the white sassy dog on Family Guy.
Thank you for this opportunity and keep up the great work!



Go{4}Pro is so excited to have interviewed Damon Tucci Photography.  I have to say they were so quick and so thorough with the questions I learned first hand what Damon described as “exceeds expectations.”  Thank you so much Damon and Rosy!!
Damon’s book, Step by Step Weddings, and his Oh! So convenient Poser Cards are available at Damontucci.com.


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