Five minutes with: Adrian de la Fuente from Duo Photography

D-Photo talked to Duo Photography’s founder, Adrian de la Fuente, about the business’ beginnings, and what the company is working on now

Adrian de la Fuente

D-Photo: Duo Photography was established in 2004 — can you give a brief explanation of what the company does and how it started?

Adrian de la Fuente: When we first started in New Zealand we discovered a saturated market of wedding and portrait photographers. We soon realized we needed to be different to succeed, and to stand out in this very busy crowd. At the time it was just myself and my partner Nicky — we were busy raising our boys, I was working in my marketing and business­strategy consultancy, and we operated out of our ramshackle back­yard garage. Nobody appeared to offer mobile family-­portrait photography studios, and most wedding photographers seemed to either lean toward formal and traditional or fine­-art–style work. Capitilizing on my experience as a business and marketing strategist, we created a strategy, and split and defined the two brands we had at the time, Adrian de la Fuente Weddings and Duo Photography. Over the next few years we developed a unique style and product offering for family portraits. Everything had to be a bit different from our competitors, so we developed a fresh, vibrant, and personal style that suited our target market perfectly. For weddings I went back to my roots as a photojournalist in the Middle East and shot in a style that reflected that. Just shy of 300 weddings later I retired from that side of it, and as Duo grew we hired more talent and invested in more mobile studios. Today, Duo employs 15 staff and operates four mobile studios in and around Wellington, there’s a franchise in Auckland and plans for another 20 Duo franchises across New Zealand in the next three years. We have developed and grown a sister brand, Project Bloom, a fashion photography studio in Wellington, employing five full­-time photographers. Similar franchise plans are under way for that.

What are some of the features that make Duo Photography standout?

Our colourful orange branding, our fleet of mobile portrait vehicles, the at-­home convenience, and a fun, vibrant experience with modern product offerings.

How does the company help photographers get involved in the photography business industry?

Very early on we discovered how hard it was for photographers to break into this shrinking market. We had a growing business with lots of bookings every week, and we had lots of people knocking on our door wanting to learn photography and to help out. So we developed an internship programme, complete with structured training and resources. Our interns benefit from lots of field experience while assisting our professional photographers, and therefore learn in a very practical way. It’s a win­-win. The programme has been a huge success, and we have had many interns go on to further their careers elsewhere, or stay on and get selected for professional photography positions as they come up within our group of brands.

What opportunities are available to photographers who become a franchisee of Duo Photography?

The biggest opportunity for our franchisees is to earn a decent living as a photographer, and enjoy the amazing lifestyle that comes with that. Today, it can be very hard to make a living as a photographer, and can take years to establish oneself. We have done most of the business footwork for our franchisees, and have taken away all the guesswork. After some intensive training, ongoing support, and the use of our systems and business model, our franchisees can immediately start enjoying the benefits. It does not have to stop there, either. They can grow more studios, employ more photographers under the Duo system, take on more territories, and go on to manage a larger business for themselves.

What are the benefits of having mobile studios, and what locations can they travel to?

There are low overheads, large area footprints, fewer restrictions, and more capabilities. Our studios are not really limited by location.

If someone wants to join Duo Photography, or have family portraits shot, what’s the best way they can get in touch?

They can find us at duofranchise.co.nz or duophotography.co.nz.