Cat and Adi Benner started Next Exit Photography in 2003, a year after they got married. The native Angelenos (Cat, then Cathryn Krantz, went to Palisades High School; Adi went to University High School) are still working out of their West Los Angeles studio, a central enough location that allows them to serve “loyal clients and cherished industry partners” all over Southern California. If anybody knows how to frame a couple’s tender moments in this vast city, it’s them.
When shooting couples in love, what are your favorite iconic places to shoot?
“If we had to choose just one, it would be the Santa Monica Pier. Shooting on and around the Pier enables us to shoot a surprising range of backdrops but all in one single location. The beautiful variety of natural light and vibrant color we find at the Pier adds so much to the final image collection delivered to our wedding and family clients. Everything from the brightly painted walls, the Ferris Wheel, the epic sunset glow that peeks through the pylons, and of course splashing in the waves at the water’s edge. We can offer so many ‘looks’ all in one shoot. All this and we are still able to focus on capturing our clients’ unique personalities—our primary objective. Very few of our clients have had professional photos taken before we get to them (and, some have had many—after all, it is L.A!).”
How does shooting in L.A. differ from other cities?
“There’s a beautiful energy in the photos when using Los Angeles as the backdrop for our wedding and family clients. Even though we have photographed love all around the globe (Cabo, Paris, Tahiti, and New York City—to name just a few), we love our hometown and showing it off in heirloom photographs. We usually recommend that our clients pick only one location for their shoot. Our ultimate goal is more about capturing real emotion in our photographs than showing off a cool venue. We just happen to live in a city where we get the best of both worlds at every single shoot. We used to shoot a lot in the alleys behind the 3rd Street Promenade in front of an endless supply of super cool painted walls, exposed brick, and gritty walkways. It was an iconic part of architectural Santa Monica where we both spent a lot of time as kids. Now it’s been modernized and some of that old charm is gone…but we still have our secret spots that we keep all for our clients. As Angelenos, we are grateful for those iconic areas of the city that are preserved for generations to come.”
How do you make a one-of-a-kind photo in a well-known place?
“We try to make our clients feel like they are having a private moment, even if they are surrounded by hundreds of beachgoers or museum visitors. It’s about identifying what makes their relationship unique and emphasizing that in the camera. Using special lenses and shooting from certain angles, we’re always able to achieve our goal of making our clients feel like they are the only ones in the frame. We have a very relaxed but creative style, so Los Angeles is the very best place for us to work.”
How do you get your subjects to loosen up in front of the camera?
“Both of us use humor as the number one way to relax our clients in front of the camera. We love to make our clients laugh and it always makes for the best photographs. If there’s ever an awkward moment, we might have our clients do a fake laugh, which immediately turns into a real laugh and we’ve achieved our goal of capturing a spontaneous and genuine interaction. We are known for putting our clients at ease, for delivering on the promises we make, and for our determined craftsmanship. Having run a thriving wedding and portrait photography studio in Los Angeles for more than a decade, we firmly believe that our success comes from a recipe of integrity and passion in addition to an unmatched quality of service to our clients. And a little talent never hurts…”