I recently got the amazing opportunity to sit down with the awesome husband wife team, Tony and Jenn Laiacona from Cona Studios. We chatted, over some delicious burgers and bevvies, about their company, history, family and a little bit about their personal lives.
Laiacona Studios, newly branded “Cona Studios” began December 17th, 2011 when Tony shot his first wedding. It’s also serendipitously the same day of Tony and Jenn’s first date - Don’t worry, they went out after the wedding, not during 😉. You could say that the rest is history. We’re going to dive into their business history, a little bit about their amazing working and personal relationship, and get you all the information you need to work with this stellar husband-wife team!
Let’s go way back to the beginning. How did you get started in photography? Were you born with a camera in your hand or was it a slow burn?
Tony: Definitely a slow burn. My dad always had cameras around the house but I really started playing with them in high school during art class. The school had cameras available but since we had some at home, I just borrowed my dad’s. I started out doing graphic design work but realized I needed pictures to supplement those designs, so I started taking the pictures myself.
Chelsea Arthur (SYD) on Tony's Camera 😉
Did you start with weddings or did you enter the career photographing other things?
Tony: I was volunteered to shoot a family friend’s wedding. It was 20 people on the beach and it ended pretty early. Jenn and I actually ended up going on our first date that same day after the wedding.
And so began Laiacona Photography and Design…and a beautiful relationship, might I add.
Tony is the man behind the camera and the editing but what role does Jenn play?
Jenn: I try to make sure that all Tony has to worry about is shooting, editing and designing. I take care of finances, communications, marketing, social media, client experience, scheduling, research, contracts, and sales.
Most times, if you’re talking to someone about the logistics of your services you will be talking to Jenn. If you’re talking about the creative side of things and getting to know your photographer, you’ll be talking to Tony. But I can tell you, both of them are so fun to work with and get to know, you’ll be smiling the whole time!
Do you love working together as a couple?
Jenn: Tony is very right brained and I’m very left brained and sometimes that can make for a difference in opinion, it’s natural, but we always work it out because in the end we both want what’s best for the company.
Tony: Yes, Jenn said it right! We always work it out and compromise because we want what’s best for the company and our family.
Any fun hobbies you enjoy in your spare time?
Tony: We love to travel, eat & drink and spend time with family.
Jenn: We definitely love spending time with family and value experiences above all.
How do you balance family life and work life, especially because you work together?
Tony: We have a great support system!
Jenn: Yes, we have a village! We have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and great grandparents that love on our kids so much. They support our work fully!
What would you say your editing style could be described as?
Jenn: I would describe his editing style as natural, bright, timeless, and true to color.
Tony: Yes, what she said. 😃
How do you make couples feel comfortable in front of the camera?
Tony: I talk to them. I really just talk to them and get to know them first through multiple phone conversations. I also highly recommend an engagement shoot. It’s where I get to know the couple, for example, do they like to be posed? Do they need to be posed? Are they shy? Are they outgoing?
Jenn: We also ask for inspiration photos and we ask what kind of photo they’re looking for to hang on their wall, what kind of frame it’s going to be in. We get into the details of exactly what they are looking for out of their photos and try to bring that to them.
What makes your company stand out from others?
Jenn: We do so much!! We do photo, video, graphic design, drone work!
Tony: We also have repeat customers for a lot of things. We have one customer who started with headshots with us. She was a realtor and we shot a house for her and she loved our work so much that we shot her engagement photos, wedding photos, and maternity photos.
Do you offer any unique services to your clients?
Tony: I started in graphic design and I still offer that service. We are a one stop shop for your wedding photography and graphic design needs! We can make your menus, your invites, your save the dates, your programs, your table numbers, your seating charts. We can custom design your stationary and your signage. This makes for a cohesive style and theme throughout all of your printed products for your wedding. And we can incorporate your photos into those products too!
How big is your team?
Jenn: We’re a solid 2 but we have several trusted associates. For example, if you get a photo and video package, we have an amazing videographer that captures all the footage the way Tony wants it while Tony shoots photo. Tony will then do all the editing for photo and video.
What is your booking process like? Due dates, deposits, payments, contracts, etc.
Jenn: First we start with a questionnaire for each couple to get to know what it is they are looking for. Then we send them more information about us and our pricing and schedule a consultation call. Then we send them their unique package based on their wants and needs. They then have 72 hours to decide during which we hold their date. Next we sign a contract and request a $250 deposit to secure the date. Next comes the fun part where we communicate with them regarding timeline and photo list. About 3 months out we send an email to touch base and another one at 1 month out. Final payments are due on or before the wedding date. The final payment is the total cost minus the $250 deposit.
How long until couples can expect a full album delivery? Sneak peeks?
Tony: You will get sneak peeks within 24-48 hours and we get full albums delivered within 6 - 12 weeks but more on the 6-8 weeks side.
What are your package prices and what does each package include?
Jenn: Photo starts at $1,750 and video starts at $2,300. When you book photo and video together you get 10% off. Any package with over 8 hours automatically gets an engagement session. We can customize any package, for example, for an elopement we can do less hours.
Do you require or use shot lists?
Jenn and Tony: YES!! Highly recommend!!
Jenn: We even provide a sample shot list AND a sample timeline. We try to give you all the resources you need to help both of us be successful on your wedding day.
Tony: Shot lists really help to organize the chaos that is portrait time. If you don’t use a shot list, 10 family portraits could take 45 minutes when it could have taken 20.
Time is precious on wedding day. We recommend telling your family members who are on the shot list to stick around after ceremony to make sure they’re ready to go when it’s time for their turn! We love working hand in hand with Tony during family portraits for this reason, we make up a dream team that creates a stress-free family portrait session!
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring photographer what would it be?
Tony: Just shoot. Shoot as much as you can, learn as much as you can, ask as many questions as you can. Put in the work and be okay with starting at the bottom. Be patient.
What’s one thing you learned about the wedding industry that you had no idea about when you started?
Jenn: It’s a small but saturated industry. It takes a while to prove yourself.
Tony: Every couple is different!
If you could give one piece of advice to a couple planning their wedding what would it be?
Jenn and Tony: HIRE A PLANNER!!
Tony: And if it fits in the budget, hire a videographer. And definitely just hire professionals, not your amateur cousin or neighbor. We professionals do this every weekend and you want someone who knows what they're doing for your special day!
We love hanging out with Tony and Jenn and we know you will too! To learn more about their services and start a conversation with them about preserving your wedding memories head over to their website: https://www.conastudios.com/