I love year-end reviews and the start of new years as it helps us assess and be grateful for the year past and look back where we can be better at being real, timeless, personal. A fresh year is also a chance to restart, restrategize and create new things. It is like a fresh canvas, a new slate. It gets us excited with what is in store for us this year if we do our best.
We have always discussed our values internally and with our teams but we have not really shared them with you. So today, as we think of better ways to improve ourselves, we want to be reminded of the values of why and how we started The MelRish Studio.
I read 2 books last year that has impacted the way I think as a leader for my team and as a person. One was Simon Sinek’s Start With Why and the other book was James Clear’s Atomic Habits. These 2 books helped me think back to our WHY and focus on what really matters to us. While James Clear’s book made us think about our WHATs and reevaluate our processes as a company and habits as individual storytellers. We can be better if we know what areas we can concentrate on
“Small habits don’t add up, they compound.”
“Success is not a goal to reach or a finish line to cross. It is a system to improve, an endless process to refine.” – James Clear
Without focusing on our WHY, we will not be able to evaluate and reassess the right processes and work on the areas we need to improve on. We can be better only if we are rooted in our values, our purpose, our WHY. Our WHY can be summarized in just 3 words.
REAL. TIMELESS. PERSONAL.
REAL. When Arish and I got married in 2008, I was disappointed in our wedding photos because they did not depict the real story of our wedding. The images were aesthetically ok. But none of it looked real. When we started with our wedding and event photography, this is one of the main elements we considered when taking photos and videos. We wanted to capture the real moments – real laughter, real tears, real emotions. If the bride is nervous while she gets ready, we want to capture it so she will be reminded of her the excitement and anxiety she felt before she walked down the aisle. If the mother cries and smudges her makeup during the ceremony, we want to capture that even if it is unflattering. Or the kids covering their eyes whenever the couple kisses. What makes a wedding truly special is not only the couple and how they will look like straight out of a magazine in every frame but the stories of the family and friends who joined and celebrated with them as well. For us, realness matters and realness is what tells the story.
TIMELESS. Photography and cinematography are not just about clicking the shutter or pressing the record button. It is an art that takes time to refine. I look at photos and I know what kind of editing is required to make them look better. Some moments are so good in black and white. Some blurred shots are lovely in themselves. Curating a series of photos and making sure they are delivered artistically and not about copying and pasting a preset. It is looking at what retouching works best and treating an event as a masterpiece. Thinking of the best compositions and where is the best lighting will make a lot of difference and can make an image timeless. For videos, when we put together clips, we know that we are putting together a short movie. Making a timeless video is about building up the clips to compose the story, mixing the audio, color grading, and choosing the right musical score. A good timeless video for us should transport us to the event itself and make us feel what everyone else in the event felt.
PERSONAL. When I go to a hotel or visit a restaurant, that place stands out for me if the staff are hospitable. Do you agree? Having a personal experience makes a lot of difference and a lot of businesses fail because of this. One thing I noted with our 2008 wedding was that I never even knew the names of our wedding photographers and videographers. If I meet them again, I will not even remember their faces. Because there was no connection. How can you tell a good story if you do not know the characters? With a growing team (and mostly creative introverts), this is one of the things we continue to work on and improve on. We can be better storytellers if we connect to the main characters of our story. Being in wedding storytelling for almost 13 years, this is one of the important values that made us special. As an introvert myself, I go out of my comfort zone to make sure the bride and groom and their families feel at ease with me. We try to get to know them more and get soaked in the event. When you get selected as their wedding photographer (or even a conference, birthday, or concert), you get to be in the first row of one of the most special events in their life, There’s nothing more personal than that. So delivering a memorable and personal service is an important part of the storytelling process. It is more than just a pretty picture.
Real, Timeless, Personal.
The MelRish Studio is not perfect and we have a lot of things to work on. We do not consider ourselves successful but we have our own share of little successes. Every event and wedding we cover, every story we tell…for us, it is a win. Our goal this year is to be better versions of ourselves – better storytellers. Because we know we can be better.