Today we catch up with Jessica and Julian Milberg, AKA Ferris & Sloane Photography, to see how they’ve been faring in lockdown, find out what inspires them, and to get an insight as to what to expect from your wedding photos with this duo behind the camera…
Q. Hi Jessica & Julian! How are you? No REALLY, how are you? How have you fared on the Coronacoaster?
A. Hi Helen! Thanks for asking. Well, I would love to say we are so amazing and have really been bonding as a family etc. BUT, we have a ten-year-old and a puppy, so I think Coronacoaster is a good word for it. We aren’t those people who post how awesome life is on Instagram, we are very honest, and honestly, it has been extremely hard at times and worrying, but we have also rediscovered all the lovely walks on our doorstep, and have been given the time to really listen to each other and our daughter. Like many in the wedding industry it’s been tough with no work and lots of rescheduling but it has really given us a chance to think about how we want to move forward in the future and what is important to us as a family and as a business.
Q. Can you tell us how you describe your photography style?
A. I actually love the way you described it to me once, “raw, gritty, but funny and beautiful.” I think that is pretty spot on. Both of us come from a background of documentary and fine art photography so it’s hard not to have that be the main visual language of our style. We take pictures of what is happening, everything that is happening, even if it’s not pretty, or happy. Life and emotions aren’t always shiny and glossy so why would our work be?
Q. Can you tell us where the name Ferris & Sloane comes from?
A. It is from one of the most epic movies ever! Basically, we decided to rebrand a few years ago when my husband Julian started taking a more active role in the business. We decided it should be representative of both of us, but also really let people know who we are as well. Ferris and Sloane are the couple central to the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (one could argue that the main couple is really Ferris and Cameron but…maybe we will add him when our daughter Nora joins the business). Julian and I first bonded over favourite films of our childhood and FBDO was one of them. And just in case you were wondering, I’m definitely Ferris and Julian is a total Sloane…
Q. What inspires you?
A. Wow, that is a big question. What doesn’t inspire us?! We both find loads of inspiration in films and tv but also music. We are really inspired by music of all sorts. We love the environment/landscape, from countryside to urban jungle, all the shapes and layers inspire us. We also love architecture, especially mid-century modern. Most people go to Palm Springs for Coachella, we went to look at buildings. I am incredibly inspired by books and history, but most of all we find people inspiring. People are so interesting and amazing. That is what makes our job worth doing.
Q. Who’s your ideal client? i.e. your perfect wedding to shoot?
A. This is one of those questions you get asked a lot as a photographer, especially a wedding photographer, and I think it’s because it is such a personal service. Our ideal client isn’t a particular kind of wedding or people. We are very invested in our clients and their families as people celebrating a milestone event, not how many bells and whistles they have at the event. Don’t get me wrong, if you arrived at your wedding in an apache helicopter, we are taking pictures of that badassness, but that isn’t our focus. People are our focus, giving our clients a full picture of that day, with all their friends and family, all the mouth open laughter, the ugly tears, the breath-taking moments of human beauty and emotion. That is what we do.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with Olympus?
A. It’s actually only me, Jessica, who is involved with Olympus. Basically, I was looking to switch to a mirrorless photography system (boring tech talk), because I had injured a disk in my neck from having two very heavy DSLR’s hanging on me for 18 hours straight every weekend. I tried out quite a few systems but landed on Olympus. After that they asked me to be one of seven UK Brand Ambassadors, which is such a lovely honour. Everyone at Olympus UK has been wonderful. It’s like a little family and there is never any pressure on us to push the brand. They just want us to make our work and share it with them so they can share it with a larger photographic community. It’s not a paid thing unless I run a workshop for them, it’s mostly just nice to be appreciated.
Q. You’re a husband and wife team. What are your individual roles within the business?
A. So, we actually identify as a wife and husband team. I started out as Jessica Milberg Photography and Julian would help me with admin, website, and the occasional second shooting. Some life stuff happened, and it meant that Julian could be more active in the business which was fine with me. He started taking over all the web stuff like blogs and web design etc. He pretty much does all our social media stuff (although we don’t have much of a presence by choice) and we changed our business model to include two photographers always. I guess if we need to assign roles, I am the primary photographer and he is the second but that is mostly because I have more experience with the flow of a wedding day and I’m good at wrangling people with my American accent. At the moment I do most of the final editing, but he does the initial cull and the slideshow (all our clients get a highlights slideshow).
Q. What’s good/not so good about working together?!
A. Ahhh, do you really want to open that can of worms? But seriously, like every relationship there are pros and cons to working together. I think I can safely say that the pros outweigh the cons. One really great thing about working together (and having been married for 17 years) is that we literally can just look at each other and know what the other one is thinking. Not all the time in life, but pretty much always when we are working. We are like a hive mind of photographic precision. The other great thing about working together is that our people strengths are in two different areas. I am excellent at crowd control, keeping things on track without being pushy, being heard and seen when necessary, and I am the extrovert. Julian is a calming presence. He disappears into the crowd, watches from the sides, and is always ready with a funny quip to break any tension. It is a great balance. The only con to working together is that sometimes we get people assuming that Julian is the boss and I’m his second shooter. It’s not a big deal but sometimes it means that Uncle Bob thinks its ok to block me when I’m trying to shoot a ceremony or when I’m doing group shots etc. Sometimes Julian will get asked questions about things and he has to shrug and say, “I don’t know, she’s the boss.” Mostly it is so great working together, we always know we have each other’s back and that we are looking out for one another.
Q. What does the perfect weekend look like to you (if you’re not working?)
A. I am going to add ‘and if we weren’t under COVID measures’. Our favourite thing to do on the weekends when we aren’t working is hang out with our friends and the kids. We love to go do something outside with friends and then let that flow into making dinner with them and letting that flow into drinks and impromptu dance parties and sleepovers. Oh, I miss those days.
Q. Has the pandemic changed your outlook on life/work? If so, how?
A. Yup, massively. Neither of us were very good at just “being”. We always needed to plan, be busy, etc. This past year has really made us be ok with just existing. We have had to let go of plans and control and face challenges (mostly parenting) we never thought we would have to face. We have learned to be “good enough” and remind ourselves of that when we inevitably forget. We have had to think about how to diversify our business moving forward and what that might look like in line with our values and personal life. What we do know is that our focus is very much on family whether that is our own or our clients’. There will be some new and exciting changes for Ferris and Sloane on the horizon, but no matter what happens, we will continue to enjoy being a part of life’s important moments for those around us.