This is part of an on-going series of interviews by Yinsey Wang with East Asian voices around the globe. The series aims to introduce perspectives from different walks of life.
Owin Studio has been running for five years now, specialising in photography, videography and event organisation for weddings. Having served over 560 couples over the years, their team has had unrivalled and extensive experience, particularly in catering to the East Asian demographic in Britain. Meeting some of the members of London-based Owin Studio was fun, refreshing and heart warming as they shared their love of what they do as well as their views on what ensures the success of a bride’s big day.
Tao Tao, the founder of Owin Studio, started her journey in the United Kingdom as a student but eventually progressed into becoming an entrepreneur. Her own unpleasant memories of her wedding’s organisation propelled her towards a mission: to provide a great service, especially to those who have specific needs and tastes from the British East Asian population. For example, neglected by most Western wedding organisers were the cultural backgrounds of couples. Many Chinese couples, for example, want to incorporate a traditional tea ceremony and homelier choices over the aesthetics of hair, makeup and clothing. Tao Tao was also shocked by the high prices that wedding companies charged. Hence, with the creation of Owin Studio, Tao Tao wanted to give couples the opportunity to have their dream wedding without completely clearing out all the money in their banks.
In this special edition of her Global Voices Series, Nee Hao Magazine’s Yinsey Wang visited the studio to chat with some of the team members.
Tell us about your kit.
I use a Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III. I have camera sliders, a steady cam, EFL Lens 50-85mm, and a zoom lens (24-105mm).
Tell us how you got started in videography and photography, and how you found your style/techniques.
Initially, I started by doing some acting and directing, and then started to consider wedding photography. I was quite disappointed with a lot of wedding shooting because I found the techniques and styles that people were using were quite out-dated. Many videographers don’t help direct people or try and get the most out of the shots. I prefer being more creative, giving some tips on how to pose, and making use of different angles.
What are the most important characteristics of a successful wedding videographer?
You’ve got to be creative and a team player. It’s important to understand the needs of the couple and how to direct them to achieve that. Every person is different and they want to show different things in their videos.
What is the most challenging wedding videography experience you have had up to date?
I had to do a castle wedding in Newcastle. Not only was there no signal and poor transportation links, everything was really rushed. Whoever was responsible for planning the wedding forgot the cake and flowers, so we tried to comfort them. Sometimes it’s really difficult to organise all different aspects of a wedding. This is why Owin Studio offers a full-service package if clients want that.
If you could shoot anyone’s wedding in the world, who’s would it be? What would it be like?
It would be mine! If I could relive mine with my current wife! My wedding would be creative, funny and show the humorous side of my personality. It would incorporate Chinese traditions and get together my best friends from Singapore and China.
How did you get into wedding planning?
I acted as a bridesmaid a few times. I just loved being a part of people’s celebrations so much, especially as there are so many interesting challenges to organising weddings prior and during. I was originally a makeup artist but I really found my calling when I joined Owin Studio. I enjoy making sure things run smoothly and tend to thrive on making others happy, as it’s a fulfilling feeling like no other.
What has been your most challenging experience in wedding planning so far?
Least year, Tao Tao left to do some business in China. I was so busy and had to run things from here in England. I had to single-handedly lead two wedding projects in the span of a short time, and it was really tiring getting things done – finishing off seat covers and sorting out trimmings on chairs, and so on. It pushed me to develop effective time management skills.
What are some unique skills that you have picked up through your work?
Learning about centre pieces! It’s interesting how hard and complex choices can be. Also, when I was in Lancaster, I got to grips with the fidgety nature of seat covers and sashes.
What is your working relationship with Tao Tao?
I love it, because she’s always helping me, leading me yet giving me the chance also to do things on my own and teaching me to be independent. She always encourages me to think fast and think for myself.
Photographer: Raymond Wu
I’ve been involved in the photography field for 15 years now. What started as a hobby developed into a passion – and I got to know others who shared in my love of it and became hooked! I’ve now been with Owin Studio for about two years.
It’s just amazing to see the world from a frame: it’s totally different. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you can decide what element you can focus on and share that unique perception with others.
What is photography to you?
For me, photography is an art. It is up to you to figure out what is the most essential thing, and you capture it in the frame, focusing on the beauty that attracts your eyes. It’s a way to see the world.
What are the essential components of good wedding photography?
You want to be able to capture the moment and the happiness that everyone is feeling at the time. You want to be invisible so everyone can just be as they are without intruding on the purity of the occasion. It’s important to secretly observe what is going on and create images that preserve these special instances for your client. At the same time, you want to make people feel comfortable, so direction can help a lot.
Which image in your portfolio would you say is your best?
There’s this photo of a bride saying good bye to her relatives and kneeling during a tea ceremony. It was very emotional and beautiful.
What’s your favourite location for a wedding photography shoot?
An English traditional manor house as it serves as a well-balanced and traditional venue.
Founder: Tao Tao
What is the most important thing about your service?
Being ready for anything. Making sure you give the best value for service and treating the client’s needs as a top priority.
What services does Owin Studio offer?
We act as a classic one-stop wedding business, making sure that every element is perfect for your big day, so you need not worry about a thing.
What is the working environment like?
I make sure people have the support they need in the planning stages. I think it is important to nurture a creative environment where everyone puts their best into everything.
Tell us about your experiences planning weddings for different cultures and suiting different needs.
We’ve planned traditional Western, Arab, Caribbean, Thai, South Asian and Chinese weddings. It’s been fantastic! We are also helping clients achieve their dream weddings in continental Europe, such as in Santorini.
What direction do you see Owin Studio going in?
We want it to be a reputable service that has a strong brand presence. It’s amazing because Raymond, our photographer, has even taken pictures for celebrities from China after they were referred to us.
In any case, I want to ensure that we continue to improve, and always get better in everything we do.
Tell us about an interesting talent you’ve picked up in organising weddings.
Providing lettering in a different language – we had to create signs in both English and Vietnamese with beautiful glittering. It was pretty difficult dealing with Vietnamese, because if you lose a piece, you get rid of an essential component of the meaning.
If you could plan anyone’s wedding whose would it be?
Anyone’s. Anyone can be our goddess. I just love what I do and every bride deserves our best service!