It’s impossible to start our story without mentioning the person who brought us together. Who in a quest to chase his dream, died not long after. To us both, his last gift.
Dwight was Jai’s best mate & my cousin, who died on the other side of the globe racing sidecars in the deadliest race in the world.
After an emotional funeral where my sister braved the audience with a speech & Jai and Leelou preformed a beautiful song. My mum, after a few drinks to send off Dwight, approached Jai without my knowledge to tell him that he has to give me a job. This is where the conversation began & a week later I started.
It was Jai’s film photography that drew me into his work and is what I respected & loved so much. I was in ore of his photography. I remember showing my housemates when he would put up a new image; “How is this even possible?”. I was desperate to learn from Jai. Apart from a love for film photography I really walked into Jai’s business a wee little pawn.
I started just watching. Soaking up everything that was in front of me. Editing, slideshows, album design, branding, marketing, photography. It all started small, with me asking question after question & taking way longer than you think Jai & Leelou would have the patience for. I had a spark for all things creative & our conversations always ended in great bursts of inspiration.
I’m always asked what it’s like to work under Jai so here it goes… Mayhem.
Jai has a unique perspective on all aspects of work, business & creativity. It’s an idea to action in the same breath. If it’s a good idea then “yep, get the gear, let’s do it now”. There is no dwelling on ideas or trying to ‘figure it out’. It’s just getting into it.
Jai doesn’t look at outside influence as something to peg your own abilities against. He only looks at what we create as a business & pegs it against our last work. Which is constantly improving. This view of Jai’s is insane and I believe why he is so profound at creating impact in all he does. His ability to only focus on our tasks at hand and what we are doing allows him to experience little to no doubt with more triumph as we celebrate in everything we create.
But, it’s not always cheersing a pint down at the local bar…
Sometimes it feels as though you are constantly being thrown in deep end; where if you stand on your tippy-toes & crank your neck to 90 degrees, you can just get enough air to move on with the task at hand. As soon as manage to tiptoe to a comfortable position I am ripped out into deeper water.
Jai: Hey man, I want to make the biggest wedding photography summit in the world with the best speakers America has to offer.. I want you to run the whole thing. Are you up for it?
Me: Far out… Sounds incredible. Yes, let’s do it.
Walking up the stairs of the building where we are broadcasting the summit. A team of four. No idea if all the planning would pull off and I really was ‘up for it’. Hearts pounding, using gear I have only tested a handful of times in a situation we have never experienced. Completely in-charge of tech, camera’s, audio, DJ, lights, internet and streaming to over 8000 people from around the world. ‘One minute until live’. Jai’s doing push up’s to up the energy & shake out the 4am feels. I am running over every situation that could go wrong with doubt creeping in. What if the internet cuts out, streaming platform has been set up incorrectly, audio sounds horrible, and on…
Jai’s talking, but can people see him? hear him?
Chatbox opens and is going at a rate I can barely read. 2,000 people live. No one mentions an issue. Everything is working. (Exhales)… Thank fuck.
Our story so far has been one of growth, friendship, success & failure. From business to business, task to task. We have adapted & changed through anything in our way. My rolls are forever changing and adapting as our business grows and we aim higher taking on more complex tasks.
Through Heartbreak Hotel I helped Jai bring a business from paper to reality, from no work to booming, and from owning to selling, all in the space of four years.
Now, after almost 5 years after starting to work for Jai, I shoot all our video & photography content, edit everything, run our online workshops/summits, design, copywriting, directing & work alongside Jai in all aspects of the business. Thanks to this wealth of knowledge I have attained from working under Jai I have also shot weddings, both photo & video, under my own name.
Every day I am excited to walk into work not knowing what crazy idea we will come up with & execute not long after. Jai & myself work together extremely well. We disagree rarely and when we do it’s usually on what we can do to make a thing we are creating as amazing as they can be. Even then we are able to sit back & listen to the other person, ready to be convinced and for our ideas & perspectives to merge into one complete super power.
I’m proud of all the things I have learned & overcome whilst working for Jai and I’m ready to say yes to whatever insane idea pops up next.
To work in this company alongside both Jai & Leelou is incredible. Or as Dwight would say “living the dream”.
I hope you enjoyed a peak behind the curtains.
Working with Jai & Leelou at a shared studio in Cremorne, 2016.
First time out shooting film with Jai + a model, 2017.
Moved to a bigger shared studio in Collingwood, 2018.
Moved into our very own studio, 2019.
Preparing for the Summit, 2020.
Celebrating a successful summit, 2020.