How to create a luxury client experience, with Chris J Evans

When Chris J Evans was working at a fine dining establishment in Maui, he learned what it takes to create a true luxury experience. Now as a high-end photographer, with every wedding, he works to create a beautiful, authentic, and amazing experience. Today he shares with Courtney and Dana how all of us can take our customer experience to the next level.


Chris: I know that the images I’m going to deliver to my client are going to be exactly what they want and they’re going to love them, but how can I elevate that product even further? It’s the experience and how we got them to those images. And that really is the most important thing, hands down is the experience that they feel, really makes the product that much better. 

Dana: Welcome to Hustle and Gather, a podcast about inspiring the everyday entrepreneur to take the leap. I’m Dana

Courtney: and I’m Courtney. 

Dana: And we are two sisters who have started multiple businesses together. And yes, it is as messy as you think. Because we know that starting a business, isn’t easy. 

Courtney: I mean, we’ve done it four times. And on this show, we talk about the ups and downs of the hustle and the reward at the end of the journey. 

Dana: And we love helping small businesses succeed, whether that is through our venue consulting, speaking, or team training, we love to motivate others to take that big leap. 

Courtney: You could just use our misadventures to normalize the crazy that is being an entrepreneur, because every entrepreneur makes mistakes, 

Dana: but we like to call those unsuccessful attempts around.

Courtney: And we know it’s just part of the process. And today we’re learning from Chris J Evans, a California based fashion and editorial style wedding photographer, who also shoots in Maui and destinations worldwide. Chris and his team are passionate about delivering an unforgettable experience for their clients. His work has been published by Brides, Style me Pretty, WedLooks, California Wedding Day, Destination I Do, Martha Stewart, Grace Ormonde, and many more. We got the absolute pleasure of meeting him at Engage in Baha Mar this past December and Chris, welcome to Hustle and Gather. 

Chris: Hey guys, thanks so much for having me. 

Dana: Yeah. That’s a long list of things you’ve been geatured in.

It’s a long list. 

Chris: It’s been 10 years ago and I just keep plugging away. 

Dana: Yeah. Awesome. Well, we’re so excited to have you. I know we met you in The Bahamas, thought would be a great podcast guests. Such great energy, so fun. 

A lot of fun. Yes. 

Chris: Yeah. Thats the name of the game, you know, you’re not having fun, it’s not worth doing.

Dana: So why don’t you start off telling us a little bit about your background, you know, kind of what got you into this business, what made photography so intriguing for you. 

Chris: So I started back, i’ll date myself a little bit, but I started back in the mid nineties. One of my mom’s dear friends, I was a professional photographer, gave me my first Canon film camera and I just loved it.

I grew up in Laguna beach, so I was like, I was always surfing, skateboarding, all my friends were like all really cool and good at sports and things like that. So it was just really fun to always have a camera with me and just be capturing that lifestyle that we all love. I just like stuck with it forever.

And then, you know, long story short ended up moving to Maui in 2010 and then I fell into weddings and then it just kind of snowballed. 

Courtney: Wow. That’s a lot of space in between there. So what did you do between the nineties and 2010? 

Chris: So much space in there? So I was, I was playing in bands for a long time, so basically through music culture, again, always had my camera with me. So I had access to shooting friends, bands and taking great pictures there. And then when I was like 20, I was doing some modeling work and then that sort of exposed me to fashion photography. And I really loved the process of creating the art and, you know, it was fun being part of the art, but really like creating the art was what really intrigued me the most. 

So then I started doing fashion photography, and then when I had moved to Maui, I thought I was going to continue doing fashion photography, but the industry there, there’s just, it’s so saturated with photographers and there’s so many people who are just willing to work for trade, that it wasn’t a viable business at all.

So at that point, that’s when a friend of ours who was a model that I’d shopped before, asked me to shoot her with. And then it just snowballed from there through Facebook and word of mouth. 

Dana: Well, you definitely, your style is definitely editorial. Yeah. Like when you look at the wedding pictures, they all look pretty.

They all are high end, but they all look very high end and very like you have like, all your clients are actually models, but I can see how that inspired your weddings. But what made you think, did you graduate? Did you go to school? Like what made you say that you wanted to start your own business?

Like what, what was the turning point for you when you said this is what I want to do with my life? Like a hundred percent. I don’t want to go have a safe corporate nine to five. 

Chris: For sure. So like when we, again, when we first got to Maui, I had a, how to survive right off the bat. So I got a job waiting tables. I was working at this great place called Mama’s Fish house, which is like a Maui staple, fine dining, it’s incredible place. And I really learned a lot about servicing luxury clientele there. You know, aside from the food we brought to the table, it was the experience that made even that food that was delivered tastes that much better, you know?

And so through waiting tables, and then on the weekends, I’d be doing like family pictures. I’d be doing, it’s like some here and there weddings. And it finally just got to a point where my business for photography started just, it was just became too much to do both. And it was at that point where I was like, you know, I was like, I have got to go full steam ahead. It was the only way to continue to, um, to grow and achieve my goals. And it honestly took me about 10 to 15 weddings before, I guess this is going to be a viable path.

I kind of fought weddings for awhile in the beginning. I didn’t think that they were going to be that creative or they could be that fun and intriguing. I thought it was like, I honestly thought weddings weren’t that cool, um, for a long time. And then after it just like, oh wait, you guys will pay me how much? It’s just got to start at a snowball. And honestly, like going to a wedding, it’s such a fun experience. I got to really channel all my favorite things of photography.

I got to be a product photographer, shooting her shoes and jewelry. I got to be a photo journalist capturing the candid off the cuff moments. And then, you know, ultimately I got to do my passion again, which is shooting fashion and editorial, except now, instead of like some crazy avant garde Haute couture outfit, she’s in this beautiful gown.

That’s already tailored to her. She’s been pampered the best hair makeup, and everyone’s super happy. And it just, all of a sudden it clicked and I was like, oh yeah, this is definitely a path forward. And then I put my tunnel vision on and just went straight ahead.

Full Episode Transcript

Hustle and Gather is hosted by Courtney Hopper and Dana Kadwell, and is produced by Earfluence.  Courtney and Dana’s hustles include C&D Events, Hustle and Gather, and The Bradford Wedding Venue.

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