If Tom Hollow ever wrote down his job description, being able to help couples relax would hover near the top of the list.
“My role as a photographer and filmmaker is to help people relax and enjoy their wedding day,” says the founder of boutique Auckland wedding photography business, Hollow & Co
Having shot around 400 or so weddings over the past seven years, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and the US, Tom is well-placed to help couples do exactly that.
“I think the key to Hollow & Co’s success is taking the time and effort to understand a couple’s wants and needs. What are their anxieties, what are potential family issues that might impact the day, and what can I do to put them at ease? There’s no blueprint or template for a wedding because each one is different and each couple wants different things. But having a relaxed approach as a photographer can help the couple to relax.”
The 31-year-old is clearly doing a good job: Hollow & Co receives around 1,800-2,000 queries from prospective couples a year, far more than the 50-80 they’re able to book.
“We’re booking weddings into 2025 at the moment! It’s great to be top of mind for couples but I like to shoot every wedding myself and want to keep the business as boutique as possible.”
The majority of Hollow & Co’s wedding bookings come via word-of-mouth and are at locations clustered around the Auckland area. Although Tom and his four staff have been known to venture future afield.
“While we capture destination weddings in Queenstown, Wellington and the Coromandel, Auckland and Waiheke Island remain a core focus for us.”
Four years ago, Tom started Black on Black, a companion business that focuses on photo and video production for events such as awards dinners and brand launches. Recently, that arm of the business saw Tom and his team covering the Rolling Stones Music Awards (NZ), the Nike flagship store opening and various TV show premieres.
Being a wedding photographer wasn’t a role that Tom initially envisioned for himself. Born in Wellington, the 31-year-old’s first love was music and he moved to Auckland aged 18 to study guitar and vocals. Along the way, Tom ran an art gallery and a photo lab before moving to the US in 2012 when his family won green cards.
“I got a job at a commercial photo studio in Salt Lake City and over 2.5 years learned everything about how to shoot. It was my apprenticeship if you like. As a side hustle, I started photographing weddings.”
But he missed his then-girlfriend, now wife, Alenka, who he’d met three months before leaving New Zealand. So in 2015, Tom returned to Auckland where he started Hollow & Co (and in 2020 added baby Goldie to the family).
Today the company’s USP is offering both photography and videography services and developing a draft schedule for a couple’s big day.
“At our first meeting, we’ll help draft a timeline for your day, ensuring you have ample time for cocktail hour before heading away for a photo and video session. It’s a schedule you can give other vendors too so they’re clear on what’s happening when.”
It also takes into account weather cover – ie a plan B, and maybe Plan C for photos if the weather isn’t playing ball – as well as family lists of which combinations the bridal party and relatives should appear in photos.
One request Tom says is becoming more popular is First Look, where couples meet for a quick photo shoot before the actual ceremony. “It’s breaking the tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding but it can help settle the nerves for some couples by taking away some of the anxiety associated with seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle. It also allows couples to tick off photos before the ceremony, allowing them to enjoy cocktail hour after the ceremony without having to leave their guests for more photos.’’
Personally, Tom prefers the traditional route of a couple seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle. “Nothing beats a genuine reaction.”
It’s what he opted to do when he married Alenka in 2016 on Waiheke Island. “I did sing my wife up the aisle, though! It was a bit strange being the groom rather than the photographer, but it gave me a better appreciation of how important my job is helping people to relax and enjoy their day.
A week after their wedding, a couple will receive a ‘teaser’ of up to 100 images in a blog format, followed four to eight weeks later by the full photo and video package (including a print package).
For availability and to receive a copy of Hollow & Co’s wedding collection guide, including prices and packages, visit www.hollow.co.nz.
“The first step is to send us an email, and the second is to book a time to catch up. And then we can talk about how we can make your day beautiful, relaxed and, most of all, fun.”