"A client once told us that if there were a thousand photos placed in a pile, the NyghtFalcon ones would be clearly distinguishable from the rest. We like to think this is true." —Falcon
Starting a business can be a daunting experience. Decisions must be made and bills must be paid, but it's all worth it in the long run. At least, that's the plan.
When the House of NyghtFalcon opened their original studio in Greensboro, NC, in 2002, it required some tough decisions that were critical to their success—namely, no one gets a salary. "Our company is all incentive-based, and not all incentives relate to sales," explains Falcon, founder and senior partner of the wedding and commercial studio. "We decided success meant staying debt-free. We knew we wanted to pursue technical excellence, as well as artistic excellence, which means having the best cameras and lenses and a repeatable, consistent workflow."
Building the studio led to Falcon's creating something larger than himself. "I felt that the traditional approach undervalued the individual photographers who did much of the work and received little of the rewards. Instead, I decided to use the model of a fashion house. We share a common workflow and commitment, but we each speak with an artistic voice that is our own. Sometimes it's difficult to find the line between what's best for the company and what's best for the individual, but we manage to do so and to grow as a company and as individuals."
With our home base in Greensboro, we also have locations in Raleigh, NC; Brooklyn, NY; Miami, FL; Boston, MA; and Louisville, KY. The House of NyghtFalcon has four senior photographers: Falcon, JD, Dakota, and Rayn. JD and Dakota head up operations. They make sure that what the studio needs arrives when it's needed, as well as do the research, determine where to purchase product, and more. Falcon focuses on sales and marketing, as well as building and maintaining relationships. Rayn is developing a line of fashions based upon their logo.
Falcon is ultimately responsible for the company and therefore is the final judge of the quality of an image. But it doesn't matter who took the photo. If it's one of the studio's photographers, it will be processed the same way and it will have a similar look and feel. "We think in terms of what we refer to as 'consistently identifiable quality.'"
All four photographers work to maintain the key elements of style that have helped define their niche: deep, rich colors; incredible texture; strong contrast and bold shadows; low light; and an unmistakable Gothic edge. "A client once told us that if there were a thousand photos placed in a pile, the NyghtFalcon ones would be clearly distinguishable from the rest," says Falcon. "We like to think this is true, and so we practice such close adherence to our common workflow."
In the beginning, NyghtFalcon learned that cheap gear is cheap gear. It will fail, and always at the worst time. So they have learned to buy only the best.
"Until we see hard-core technical evidence to change what research has lead us to conclude, we are a Canon shop," says Falcon. "The EOS-1Ds Mark II is the camera of choice for us, and each senior photographer is required to own one of his or her own. Why? Eight frames per second, full CMOS sensor, 16.7 megapixels. Until someone makes a better, faster full-framed camera and Canon fails to match it, there isn't anything to debate."
The same is true with lenses. "We use only Canon L series lenses with Image Stabilization. There is a difference, and a trained eye can clearly see it. If Canon falls behind and can't or won't keep up, then we will move to another brand. This isn't about the brand—and it isn't about Canon versus Nikon. It's about the best camera technology."
A year ago, the studio decided to migrate to DxO Optics Pro Elite from Canon's Digital Photo Pro. They labored over the decision, did research, used the product demo, and quickly learned that they could take their work to a new level, effectively allowing them to extract better images from the RAW files. This has enhanced their profitability and productivity.
"On average we take 5,000 photos per month per photographer, but in the end it was a decision that has had a radically positive impact on our workflow," he says. "Tools like DxO Optics Pro Elite enhance our ability to create powerful images that are technically superior."
Sense of Style
Their niche is "fine commercial photography." Weddings are part of that, as are high fashion, fine autos, fine cuisine, architecture, and more.
NyghtFalcon photographers view themselves as silent witnesses at a wedding—to observe, capture, and create memories of moments that will never occur again. "We always have three components of our work in mind: the technical, the artistic, and the emotional. In an ideal world, we work to create photographs that have artistic value, are technically superior, and which capture the emotion of the moment."