STEVE + ANNE TRUPPE
WNW creative couple Steve + Anne Truppe are Tru Studio, a Chicago-based photography and videography team. They've been working together for eleven years and married for five. (Fun fact: Anne actually met Steve's parents before she met him.)
Studying architecture at the same college, they quickly discovered how effortless it was to collaborate...and date. In the interview below, these college sweethearts open up about pursuing a joint passion for photography, and how the collaboration and coupling processes harmonize in exciting ways.
Hi guys! Tell us a bit about yourself, where you're from and what you're currently loving:
We are photographers and directors living in Chicago, both with backgrounds in architectural design. This is year number 11 that we have been together; married for 5 of those this year! Lately, we have been photographing various food, office culture and fashion projects and just recently shot a personal project involving live ducklings which was a blast. London Grammar has been blasting in our studio and at night we absolutely love cracking up to Veep and Jimmy Fallon sketches. Every Friday we make homemade pizza, which we have dubbed Pizza Friday!
What do you admire about Anne?
She is extremely thoughtful and intelligent. People love her and immediately feel comfortable around her. Also, if she’s passionate about something she will let you know, convince you why you need to try it/experience it, and soon you will be doing it.
Through working together, I have discovered that my partner is...
...way stronger than she lets on. Also, she loves a good snack break.
What do you admire about Steve?
His take charge attitude when necessary. He thrives on being inspired in the moment and creates some of his best work when he has to think and work fast.
Through working together, I have discovered that my partner is...
... the funniest person I know. He makes me laugh constantly; his 1 foot height advantage over me is a BFD when photographing; and put a camera in front of his face and he’ll trip over anything–he’s in the zone, you better watch out.
STEVE + ANNE
What came first, romance or work?
Romance! We met the second day of college. Anne met Steve’s parents in the elevator of their dorm while moving in. Anne: “I was very shy and I was chatting with my mom; I was a ball of nerves and the last thing I wanted to do was talk to random strangers. Steve’s dad and mom are very friendly and mentioned they had a son moving in on the floor below who was also studying architecture. They wanted us to meet—I rolled my eyes. The next day in the lounge I met a group of boys, one of which was Steve. There was an immediate bond, we became instant friends and were nearly inseparable. A few weeks later we started dating and have been together since.”
How did you start working together? What was that transition like?
Our architectural program required a lot of collaboration in group projects, and we learned early on that we worked extremely well as a team when we’d pair up. Near the end of school neither of us particularly wanted to pursue a career in architecture, and when we graduated in 2008, the Great Recession hit, the building industry tanked, and it was nearly impossible to land an architecture gig. During college we had talked about one day starting a creative business together, but the economy forced us to evaluate that sooner. We have always said that the crash was the best thing that ever happened to our careers: it forced us to figure out and go after our creative passions.
Do you have work/personal boundaries? If so, how do you draw that line?
It is definitely difficult at times to just be a couple since our business is deeply rooted in our lives, but over the years we have found a pretty good balance. We work out of our home studio which is an added hurdle in turning off “work mode,” but we have found that keeping to a regular schedule and containing all of our materials/equipment to the physical space of the studio has helped us to separate that part of our lives. We are strict about setting aside our evenings for our relationship; eating a meal at the table together, lounging around watching tv, going for a walk around the neighborhood—it’s important!
Ideal Coupling: Not Coupling ratio
Always a couple, but never letting our relationship affect the quality of work.
Do you find that it helps to promote the fact that you’re married? Ever hide it?
We promote that we are a team and photograph side-by-side which most people tend to connect with. Being married doesn’t typically matter—people just like that we are two creative minds, but are almost always utterly mystified that we can work together and aren’t ready to strangle each other at any given moment. We never hide that we are married, but there’s a time and place to be ‘coupley’ and a time to be professional, although it would be really fun to make-out on set sometime just to see the reactions!
Favorite thing about working together. Hardest thing.
We understand completely what the other person is going through, and there is always someone to bounce ideas off of. We feed off each another’s moods so if we are having an off day it can easily pull us both down, which is really hard to get out of. On the upside, when things are good we both are riding high!
As a couple: how have you seen your work evolve? As a professional, how has your relationship evolved?
We both started at the same place with the same amount of experience (read: none.) We had only each used a point-and-shoot camera! It’s been extremely rewarding to learn and grow together—to look back at where we started, where we’ve fumbled, and where we’ve excelled, knowing that we have both put in the same amount of work and gotten to where we are as a team. That journey is a point of pride for each of us. Our relationship has deepened significantly during these years. Owning a creative business reveals a lot of insecurities and vulnerabilities—you really learn a lot about yourself and your partner, who they are at the core. We have learned how to better support one another and better love each other, flaws and all.
Are you friends with other creative couples? Why do you think people date each other in this field?
We are friends with a bunch of other creative couples—it’s the best! People in creative fields probably date each other due to common passions, interests, and lifestyle. It’s always nice to have someone know what you are going through or to get excited with about a new piece/project/idea you created.
Advice for other creative couples?
Create an environment where you can share your passions and ideas without judgement, listen to each other, and set aside time that isn’t revolving around work.