About Us: The Short Version
Who we are:
Kyo is a photographer. Janna is a writer and designer. (And we have two junior team members. One is a cartwheeler, the other is a truck enthusiast.)
Together, we are a) a family; and b) a business.
We specialize in natural, documentary-style wedding and lifestyle photography and simple, modern design. We love working with down-to-earth couples and connecting with other people who share our passions: food, travel, art, design, the outdoors, mountain biking, and DIY.
Who we aren’t:
We are not a wedding photography studio who does heavy post-processing on their images. We like the classic film look.
We are not Big Personality People. We are low-key and pretty mellow.
We are not traditional or formal. We love new adventures and taking chances, and we have pretty eclectic taste. (Just a random assortment of things we like: Santa Cruz bikes, Fela Kuti, Marimekko, Tomi Ungerer, GoPro, Sou Sou, the High Line, peonies, Alexander Calder, Muji, Nishiki Market, Dansk, The Dodos, the Readington River Buffalo Farm…. You get the picture.)
About Us: The Longer Version
“I was born and raised in Japan. After I graduated from high school, I was looking for something fun and meaningful to do. So I came to the U.S., even though I wasn’t sure what I would find and I didn’t speak any English. I took English classes at a community college and also happened to take a Photo 101 class. I enjoyed it a lot (and I failed it because my English was so bad that I didn’t understand I had to be present for the final critique). I decided to go to art school in Washington D.C. I met Janna around the time when I graduated with my B.F.A. in photography, and we moved to New York City together.
I started off shooting street and documentary photography. The reason why I love that kind of photography is because I love to capture moments in time and people’s emotions. As it turns out, that works really well for wedding photography. By now it’s been 13 years since I started shooting weddings.
My favorite part of the job is meeting new people and learning about their families and backgrounds and culture. I love to work with laid-back, friendly people who have a sense of adventure. And I love to work in interesting places. Some of my favorite wedding locations have been the Swiss Alps, rural India, the highlands in central Costa Rica, the ancient Heian Temple in Kyoto, city streets in NYC, and a farm in southern Virginia. I love the outdoors and I try to incorporate nature into my photography as much as possible.”
“I first met Kyo on April Fool’s Day in 2001. A friend of mine invited me to a group show of young artists in Washington, DC. As I wandered through it, I came upon a photograph that made me pause: a picture of a man and a young boy striding down a sidewalk in Greenwich Village, deeply engrossed in conversation. I loved the feeling of connection between generations and being utterly in the moment captured in that photograph. I decided to buy it.
After searching the gallery for the photographer, someone pointed me to a guy named Kyo. I paid him for it and started to leave, but he came after me, calling, ‘Wait!’ I turned around, and he handed me another copy.
‘Take this one,’ he said. ‘It’s a better print. And would you sign my guestbook?’
I signed his book, and the next day, there was an email in my inbox, asking if I might want to see more of his photographs sometime. A week later, we met in a park, looked at lots more photos, visited an arboretum, had dinner together, and talked late into the night. Basically, we haven’t been apart since then.
A few months after we met, Kyo and I moved to New York City together. He wanted to pursue his craft by learning from great photographers, and I wanted to break into children’s book publishing. After some years went by, though, we realized that we weren’t completely happy. I spent much of my time in a corporate environment that didn’t feel quite right to me, and Kyo wasn’t thrilled with the administrative burden of building a photography business.
I had my epiphany when Kyo and I were on a 20-mile bike ride together. As I was pedaling behind Kyo, watching our toddler daughter bouncing on the back of his bike, a thought jumped into my head: ‘Why am I spending my days working with so many artists and not my own husband? We have such complimentary skills and personalities… why don’t we work together?’
It took another year of thinking and planning, but in 2010 we took the plunge. I quit my job and Kyo stopped freelancing for other studios to concentrate on our business. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been more rewarding than we ever could have imagined. We have learned so much about each other and about ourselves, have faced and overcome big challenges, and have met so many wonderful people along the way. In the end, we create things that bring so much happiness, even tears of joy to people’s eyes. We feel lucky to be making our living by being creative and making art about people and the friends and family they love.”