Five River Studio.
Aali and Fauzeen Qureshi are the husband and wife team behind Five River Studio (formerly aQfolio Photography). Their love for photography started early in life albeit in different forms. Aali was raised in Africa, the son of an avid amateur wildlife and portrait photographer. “By watching my dad, I learned the basics of composition,” says Aali, “plus I was lucky to have access to a lot of interesting wildlife to use as my subjects.” Fauzeen, on the other hand, studied photography artistically and technically in middle and high school.
It wasn’t until Aali’s brother (a fellow photographer based in Chicago) asked him to photograph a client’s wedding that Aali considered turning his passion into reality. “It happened kind of by accident after that, one inquiry led to another…” remembers Aali. After documenting several weddings, Aali was hooked. “There is sheer joy at a wedding!” says Aali, “Plus, I love the challenge of capturing the fleeting moments that will become the couple’s family heirlooms. There is something fascinating about forever immortalizing a moment in time…and of course, the adulation and love from all the relatives and friends doesn’t hurt the ego a bit”, he adds with a chuckle!
His wife, Fauzeen, shares his interest in the creative arts with equal fervor. Before becoming a wedding photographer, Fauzeen had a career in advertising. “I love what I do now,” shares Fauzeen, ‘It is quite an honor to be the recorder of such an important day!”
According to Aali, the couple’s style doesn’t really fit into a particular category. There work is a contemporary yet classic blend of formal portraiture and candid photojournalism, mixed with a blend of fashion. Aali states, “If I had to coin a term for our style, I would call it ‘PhotoVogue’.” He feels that his favorite piece of camera equipment is the 15-30mm mkII L lens, which he believes is instrumental for his unique style.
One of the places the couple likes to find inspiration is in fashion magazines, such as W or Harpers Bazaar. “We are also inspired by other photographers,” shares Fauzeen. They particularly like the Bebbs, the McLellans, and Redleaf Studios. “We are in awe of them,” states Aali, “They all do outstanding work!”
As to their approach to their business, Aali and Fauzeen believe that it is important to develop a rapport with the couple before the wedding. “I try to create a genuine friendship with them and I sincerely take every opportunity to help them build their trust in me,” says Aali, “When the couple has confidence in us as their friends, it naturally translates in their pictures. Through this confidence they truly believe that we will do a good job for them and they let down their guard. This allows for more natural moments between the couple.”
Five River Studio is based in Macomb, Michigan. Most of their weddings occur in the local area, however, they have traveled within the United States, and internationally to photograph weddings. “In 2007, we shot in many new locations including Burgundy, France, Tahiti, Tampa, and Virginia, and next year, we are shooting in Italy” shares Fauzeen. In addition to weddings, they also shoot seniors, pets, and general lifestyle portraits, with plans to expand to video within the year.
The couple finds that their most useful editing tool is Adobe’s Lightroom. “It makes a big impact in workflow, and is easy to use,” says Fauzeen. Aali and Fauzeen are also active members of multiple photographer associations. “We’ve met a lot of great photographers and learned a fair amount of techniques by joining these groups,” says Aali.
Aali and Fauzeen are developing their business on two fronts. The first is by developing their networking circles by continually raising the bar on their work, and the secondly through the enhanced website they are developing. “I am developing a desktop application for my business that serves as a studio and portfolio management tool,” adds Aali. Since other photographers could also benefit from this tool, he is planning to offer a subscription-based version of the tool to other interested photographers.
Another one of the couple’s business plans include moving from their home-based business into a storefront studio-shop. “We are excited about this idea because it would allow us to display our work and it would bring added credibility to our business,” says Fauzeen.