The talented duo of James Tudball and Nick Rieve the principals of The White Tree provide photography, live music and cinematography for weddings and events. With headquarters in Sydney and Melbourne (but, as you will read, their real office boundaries are ‘the world’), all this creativity under one roof must make for a dynamic and exciting working environment – lucky are the ‘creative personnel’ who are part of their team! So without further ado, let’s find out what makes The White Tree tick……
The White Tree is several businesses under the one business name. How did this come about – are you just all plainly multi –talented?
My business partner Nick Rieve is – he can play guitar, paint oils, take amazing photos, produce films and is a great graphic designer. I can only play the drums L Perhaps that’s why I get lumped with all the business and administration duties?!
Who are the principals of the business?
Hmmm, well we aim to understand the needs of every single couple, and absolutely nail every single shoot and gig that we do. We are huge believers in word of mouth – and the saying that “you’re only as good as your last gig”. We also like to have a great rapport with our musicians, photographers and filmmakers. We are all close mates and even though Nick and I are arguably The White Tree’s “directors”, I think that our creative personnel feel like it’s their company too…which is really important to us.
Are you involved in both arms of the business – and what role do you all play?
Nick is probably the creative director and I probably direct more of the business duties, if that makes sense. We definitely have a yin and yang thing going on, which a business partnership needs I think. Also Nick is now busy with another company we run together called Tree House – treehousestudios.com.au This is more focused on photography and film production work…for advertising campaigns etc. We like changing hats and having a few different projects on the go…keeps things fresh for us.
What is the core of your business – the music or photography?
It’s pretty even across the board – for band, photography…and film. In Sydney we’re busiest with the band I’d say, but in Melbourne it’s pretty even…which is great. We never wanted The White Tree to be a lame package business – we always wanted each of our three services to stand alone in terms of their popularity and quality.
Can you explain your music style to us?
Well, we’re playing covers = other people’s music! So it’s hard to claim it as “our style”. But I think we bring a young, energetic…and musical approach to playing covers. We’ve all studied for many years on our instruments so we often adapt the songs and come up with cool mash ups. The main thing for us is our ability to be versatile…At a wedding you have everyone from 10 – 80 years old…so we make sure we can cover everything from 60′s rock to Triple J tracks and top 40.
You mention that you play often with the other band members (and that they are not just called in). When playing for other events, do you play different music to the playlist you offer for weddings?
We can customize what we do depending on the vibe of the wedding or event. We’re doing a brand launch tomorrow where they want heaps of old school Blues – like Muddy Waters, BB King, John Lee Hooker etc so that’ll be a fun gig.
And what sort of music do you love to play for sheer enjoyment?
Well music is very subjective so I’m answering more from my point of view here…I love old school rock, soul and funk. If I try to answer from our musicians’ point of view collectively speaking, I think that they’d answer “original music”. We do love playing cover gigs but it’s incredibly satisfying to perform your own music in front of people.
What is the song that gets guests dancing every time?
Currently…Blurred Lines and Get Lucky. In terms of ones that have stood the test of time…Blame It On The Boogie and All Night Long. Love ya’ Lionel.
You also provide wedding photography and cinematography. Can you describe your style?
I think we try to keep our style fresh and “modern” – paying particular attention to styles and looks that are trending…but at the same time, we like to make sure our work still has a classic feel so it stands the test of time. I know that sounds a little bit contradictory.
We try to really tell the story of the day with both mediums. We love keeping things candid, cinematic and non-cheesy (particularly in regards to film).
Are you the sorts of people who are never without a camera in your hands – finding interesting things to photograph everywhere you look?
Yes and no…I know that both Nick and I love to do things outside the realms of photography/film and music. Whether it’s surfing, travelling, going to cool restaurants, hanging out with mates etc. These sorts of things are interesting to us – and often find a way of inspiring us creatively.
You like to use the natural light in your photography – what does this mean for the quality of the photographs?
I’m going to have to be an imposter here as I’m not a photographer…I’ll just re-hash a lot of what I’ve heard Nick say!!! Natural light is incredibly important…and we love and respect it…particularly for wedding photography as a lot of the work is shot outdoors (the ceremony and location shoot particularly). It can be challenging because it isn’t a controlled studio environment…you need to work with what you have on the day and know how to improvise to utilize the light the best way possible. It’s nice because it means no wedding photos are alike. I know that some of the best shots we’ve captured are when it’s quite overcast, and even rainy…the hardest lighting conditions are actually mid day sun with not a cloud in the sky. So brides and grooms, if it isn’t bright and sunny on the day of your wedding, take some solace in the fact that it will probably benefit your photos! J
Apart from the technicalities, what makes a ‘good’ photographer – is it curiosity about life, or other subtle qualities?
I do know that our photographers always say how important it is to be versatile – to shoot all sorts of things…certainly not weddings alone. Watching from the outside, our photographers are generally quite analytical beings…not in a negative way. They’re just able to notice the most micro things. I’d like to see the world through a professional photographer’s eyes one day…I think it would look pretty cool!
You must travel to some amazing places to take photographs. Can you name some of your favourites?
We’ve shot some amazing work around Australia and overseas. The last few months we’ve photographed weddings in Thailand and Bali, and Nick shot a campaign for Sony in India. He actually produced this little travel diary film shot in Delhi…check it out! http://my.thewhitetree.com.au/film/MTU0
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I mentioned a few things before, but I guess just getting out of Sydney and Melbourne’s CBD to remote locations where we can relax and unwind. We both love travelling overseas, although that can be pretty difficult September – May. If I’m completely honest, we’re two pretty laid back dudes, so just a lot of the typical things like having a beer, watching the footy, checking out a gig, going for a surf…and trying to spend some time with our friends and girlfriends (I think there might be wedding bells for Nick soon).
Thank you James for sharing your story with us. To find out more about James and Nick and their team at The White Tree please visit their website.
Images courtesy of The White Tree