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For this installment of Events by RHC’s blog series, In The Biz, we had the opportunity to sit down with legendary photographer, Michael Jurick, the founder of Michael Jurick Photographers & Design.

RHC: Michael, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today. Easy one first—how long have you been in the events business and what gave you your start?

MJ: My 20 year journey began as a portrait and family photographer. Holiday cards were a big part of the business. Then, as their children grew into Mitzvah age, there was a perfect moment in time of meeting Harriette Rose Katz and Melissa Rosenbloom of Gourmet Advisory. We “clicked” and began a wonderful collaboration photographing events of larger and larger scale.

RHC: In your experience, how important is food in the success of an event?

MJ: Food is vital to the experience at an event. When guests arrive, they are enticed both by the presentation and the aromas of passed hors d’oeuvres. Photographing the unique presentation of food with specialized lighting has been so fun for our team. I just want to reach into the photograph and eat it because we never have a chance to eat during events because there is so much happening every moment.

RHC: How do you encourage clients to prepare for a photoshoot? Do you suggest any prep?

MJ: We have a detailed conversation with them about expectations, locations, and wardrobe. We have a collection of photographs and color palettes to inspire ideas. We roll with a  portable changing tent to enable clients to change into multiple outfits with minimal time loss. Changing outfits in the middle of Times Square is quite convenient (and fun) to maximize our time together keeping the flow going!

RHC: What is your favorite part of an event day?

MJ: My favorite part of the event day is my yoga practice before it, lol! Mentally preparing and visualizing the importance of the day is critical for best results. After that, I love the portraits window of an event. We set up Hollywood lighting to bring out the very best in every subject. It can be the most stressful part of the day for clients, but that’s why we love it so much. It enables us to share our confidence and personality to set our subjects at ease and even let them peek on the back of the camera to show them how good they look (which relaxes them) and becomes a positive feedback loop.

RHC: What are some qualities in a dream client? What kinds of people do you like working with?

MJ: The dream client is the family/subject that actively seeks out our services because they appreciate and are fans of photography. That gives us the inspiration to truly deliver on what it means to make people look their best. Another great quality is when the client is playful about the themes of their party and creatively involved in the decor, timeline and special moments. It gives them skin in the game and makes the event more fun and personal. One of the best qualities of a dream client is their involvement after the event when they are most excited about reviewing the photographs. When they review, favorite/select and collaboratively work on their book within 4 weeks of their event, there is a “halo” effect which keeps the client on cloud 9. Their wonderful memories of the event are stronger and more indelibly imprinted in their minds. The faster they receive their book, the more emotionally connected they are to the event. That’s the mark of a dream client. 

RHC: Do you think there are elements that can make or break a party? If so, what?

MJ: After photographing decades of parties, there is one element that I see that truly makes a  party rise to the top. If the party is Bar/Bat Mitzvah and the Father of the Mitzvah child is on the dance floor and is at the center of the action for a sustained portion of the party, then all his friends will ALSO be there too. If the Father is a bit more reserved or hanging at the bar, then the other men will also be there with him – away from the action and the energy. I’ve seen many parties depleted of energy because half the guests are drinking at the bar or not contributing to the energy of a party.

RHC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

MJ: Do as much R&D as you can.  No, it’s not what you think. Not research and development…rip-off and duplicate! In the creative world, we are all inspired by others because we are immersed in a creative field – it is all around us every day / all day. Take the inspiration you see and add your own twist. That ensures you are always inspired and continuously giving back to the community with your own spin on creativity.

RHC: Who were some of your inspirations/mentors in the events industry?

MJ: The great Monte Zucker, Clay Blackmore and David Ziser. These were all lighting masters who knew how to pose and make everyone look their best in every situation. Harriette Rose Katz was a huge inspiration and mentor to me because she made you a better version of you with great opportunities spiced with a bit of tough love.

RHC: Do you have a favorite event you’ve ever worked on?

MJ: Every event is special and I look forward to every single one no matter how big or small. However, sometimes when the party becomes a huge event with multiple showcases for creative talent and special guests, then it becomes just a bit more energizing. It can sometimes push you out of your comfort zone, but that is when your creativity can truly shine for your client.