Name: Kent Drake Morien / Kent Drake Photography
Specialty: Wedding & Decor Photography
CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
K.D.M: I photographed my first wedding in 2009 for a friend out of state, and basically came home and started my business. It was a slow and organic building process from the beginning, as I had only lived in the city for a year at that point and was taking my hobby and creating a profession out of it. So much has happened in the last 7 years, and it’s all built on a solid and evolving portfolio combined with amazing vendor relationships.
CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
K.D.M: Create timeless photography and bespoke experiences for people in love.
CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
K.D.M: I was fortunate to stumble across a natural photographic ability only after spending my educational years focused on business and working exclusively in the service industry to that point. Only after circumstance did I pick up a camera, and a hobby was born. When I look at how I was able to marry all three of these elements into my own business with the driving force coming from multiple angles, my desire to provide impeccable service is paramount. The art my couples receive is personalized and unique to their experience, and my attention to them on a service level will never go unnoticed. Trust is built from day one through dependency and a strong rapport, which allows me to be creative when it matters most.
Lastly, I’ve specialized in shooting decor photography for the last five years. I’ve been able to shoot nearly 150 custom and often lavish designs, mastering my approach and technical ability in a wide variety of venues and conditions. Floral and decor is a huge part of a wedding budget, and I love being able to capture a room with incredible accuracy and detail. I take great pride in providing superior portfolio material for some the cities leading designers, venues and planners.
CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
K.D.M: Two part answer.
Part One: I started shooting exclusively for friends, but over time as my business grew that faded away. This last April I was able to photograph for my most longstanding friend in the industry, who opened so many doors for me as we grew in this city. I was able to photograph her proposal, engagement and wedding in just over a year’s time, and it felt like this incredible culmination to spend the entire day with together and see her beautiful design concepts come to life. Brittanie Navarro of HMR Designs, thank you for letting me be a part of your story.
Part Two: This is strictly personal and much more broad in concept. I remember for the first few years of shooting weddings, moments between the parents & newlyweds, were just another element of the day. However, when shortly after having my daughter and 1st child 3.5 years ago, these father/daughter dances and toasts suddenly felt personal. I now saw myself in their shoes, seeing some of the deepest human emotions on display time and time again. I now share moments with fathers and explain that I picture myself in their shoes, and they always come back with “life goes by too fast.” Having children in general has changed my thought process about life, of course, but what these days mean to everyone involved. It’s so much work raising children, you literally live for these milestones. It is an absolute privilege to jump into the lives of strangers for such momentous occasions, it truly is a constant reward system that will never grow old.
CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
K.D.M: To be honest, in this city, it is the incredible diversity in venues and spaces. I look at Chez, which offers this incredibly clean and modern concept, but right down the road we have some of the most historic and ornate buildings in American history right there for the taking. Push a little further, and you have amazing repurposed buildings that provide when you put it all together offers this incredible eclectic variety that lets events continue to be creative and unique. I truly see the birth of new spaces as a driving force for personalized events that need not be “trendy.”
If you want to speak to trends on a fashion level, I love seeing guys taking bold steps in their formal attire. Whether it’s a vibrant dinner jacket, shawl or peaked lapels, double breasted or even just wearing a midnight blue tuxedo. Anything a guy can do to stand out from his groomsman that isn’t just in the tie and pocket square, is a trend I can get behind.
CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
K.D.M: You know, it’s odd, but for the life of me I can’t think of anything! Boring answer alert…
CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
K.D.M: Focusing, walking, talking, posing, smiling, laughing, reflecting and never sitting unless I’m eating, which I may or may not do.
CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
K.D.M: Photographically: 1: My main camera body: 170,000 photos to date with that one alone. 2: My 2nd shooter: Invaluable to have help throughout the day. 3: My Suit & shoe collection: Look good, feel good, simple as that. Professionally: 1: Planners. 2: Catering & Venue Directors. 3: Cell Phones.
CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you.
K.D.M: 1: I’m a stay at home dad of two (3.5 & 1.5), and have built this business while raising them both. It truly is a gift to have the time with them and a thriving professional life at the same time. 2: I lived in Japan for two years before Chicago, which is where my passion for photography developed and I learned it was the one thing that came most naturally to me in my life. 3: At this point, my wife and I have been together for over half of our lives, 16 years from 16 years old!
CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
K.D.M: Hire a coordinator, especially in this city. Unless you plan events for a living, it is a task that you may not have a true grasp of until you really start digging in. Lean on the advice of those in the industry you trust, and they will do right by for sure. We are a wonderful community of vendors who just want to make our clients and couples happy.
CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
K.D.M: Without a doubt, it’s the design. You can make the space whatever you want it to be. I said from the first second I walked in there, that I would move in if they’d let me!
Thank you Kent! We have thoroughly enjoyed working with you on the many events you’ve photographed at Chez and look forward to more upcoming events.