Hana Ardelean: I’m from California, Jen's from Michigan. We met in college. She was studying business, I was studying fashion design. We just hit it off. We’d stay up until the middle of the night making weird crafts and jewelry—spray painting jeans skirts and weird stuff.
We’d say things like, “One day, when we're older, we're going to have some sort of a company together,” but we had no idea what it was going to be. We're just like, it'll hit us when it's right. And then, maybe a couple years after college, we were at dinner one night and we said, “You know, we love taking pictures—what if we become photographers?” Jen had a bunch of photography equipment that she had inherited from her father. It was around the time of the Cobra Snake, 2006 or 2007, and so we were like, “We can totally do this. It'll be fun! We can meet people and go party.” And there were no girls doing it at the time, so that helped.
We still had our own jobs. I worked for a real estate firm, was a stylist, and had my own jewelry line, so it was more of like a hobby and fun thing to do. We liked going out, so we figured we might as well make a little money and meet people.
It evolved from there. We quickly found that we loved shooting fashion. So we continued doing events to make contacts and to meet a bunch of people in Los Angeles. And then we transitioned into doing lookbooks, and then into advertising and commercial work.
We got much more serious about it around five-and-a-half years ago.
Jen Dionne: I had a cookie company called Rolling in Dough. It was a lot of work. They were all hand-decorated. We were doing them for the studios and this and that. I don't even know how we got into that, but Hana would help out. And I think that's where the photography equipment came in. People were starting websites at that time, and putting things on Myspace, and so it was like, oh, let's take some pretty photos of our cookies.
We liked going out, so we figured we might as well make a little money and meet people.
Hana: All of a sudden we were getting booked.
Jen: We were working on a job for Fader and traveling full-time. We were, what...
Hana: We were on a tour.
Jen: A tour for 10 weeks straight.
Hana: We were shooting and directing little-
Jen: Interview documentaries.
Hana: Yeah, short documentaries on the different artists that were on this tour.
Jen: But we would go to work for two days and then we'd be like, “Peace, see you on Monday.” And then we’d be gone from Wednesday through Saturday or Sunday. The lifestyle was really starting to kill us.
Hana: We would take the latest flight or the craziest crack-of-dawn flight to get back to do work. We'd land at 5AM or something and go straight to our offices. It was so crazy.
Jen: When I need to relax, I find that lying down to meditate with a facemask on does wonders. I'm awful at napping. But the beauty of this is that I come out feeling as though I just took a twenty-minute nap—and my skin is glowing.
I currently don’t smoke weed. I’ve thought about it. I think it could be beneficial for me but I think the biggest thing right now is that my husband is sober and I wouldn't want to bring that into our home.
Hana: I smoke occasionally but it has always been in social settings. Now that it’s much more accessible, I want to learn more about the different types and uses. Reading, meditation, or thrift shopping help my mind rest. And I’ll super boost any of those by putting my phone on do not disturb.
We're really driven by color. Whenever we work with different clothing brands, we always ask if we can see and touch the line first, because it often ends up inspiring us and giving us direction.
Hana: It’s hard to describe our style. I don't want to use all these cliché words.
Jen: I know. I feel like there's always a romantic element, for sure. And then we usually like to balance with masculinity a little bit.
Hana: We're really driven by color. Whenever we work with different clothing brands, we always ask if we can see and touch the line first, because it often ends up inspiring us and giving us direction. We just love color so much.
Jen: Yeah, we always form a backstory before we shoot anything so that it comes from a deeper place and it's not just, oh, we're taking a pretty photo. We build out the story of who they are and what they're all about.
Hana: Which usually helps the model, too, because we're like, this is exactly who your character is. This is the situation that you're in.
Hana: I think our aesthetics are both similar and different at the same time. It changes. Our ideas are constantly evolving because we bring our different opinions to them. We push each other to be a bit more unique or original. But I think what we like is pretty similar. We kind of found those things at the same time, because we were living together both in college and then for a few years afterwards.
The lifestyle was really starting to kill us.
Top: "You are with me" featuring Michael Bourne. Right: Cover and editorial for Palm Springs Style.
Jen: I always think of this strange TV show that we both watched as kids: Today's Special. I used to fake sick to have my grandma pick me up so I could watch the show because for some reason it would only play during school hours.
Hana: It was a kid’s show.
Jen: I mean, I don't know if it would hold up now, but there was a mannequin and it would get frozen. Do you remember the movie Mannequin? It was kind of like that, but then there's a puppet and everything's pink in the house, and it's the cutest ever. It's muppets with real people.
Hana: And the mannequin had curly hair and a stupid painter's hat.
Jen: It was crazy when we realized we were both obsessed with the same show.
Hana: It was that and Jem—the music, the visuals, the colors, everything about it. All those little details get us going. When everything has a purpose, everything has a place.
Jen: So for us to grow up across the country and connect on this one show that no one else has heard of—that's where I feel like, well, maybe fundamentally we're very similar in that way. We also have a tendency to show up on set wearing the exact same thing, head-to-toe.
Hana: Literally every meeting, every shoot, we're either wearing the same thing but in opposite colors or the same colors but opposite shapes.
Jen: We should probably just wear a uniform, so it at least looks purposeful.
Hana: I reached out to this one embroidery artist to see if she could do some sort of a tiger on a sweatshirt we could both wear.
Jen: All black, with an outline of a tiger in white stitching. We got our name from the poem “The Tyger” by William Blake. I always wonder if we should have done the Ys. But then you're in a busy club and you're like, “It's Tiger, but spelled with Ys.” No one will ever get that.
Hana: We were trying to figure out our name and Jen had a book of poetry from her boyfriend that we were looking through in case something jumped out at us. It’s weird because “The Tyger” has nothing to do with photography, but the lines about “fearful symmetry” spoke to us. There's two of us, we're similar, Tiger Tiger. Everyone remembers it.
Jen: I just remember the line of fearful symmetry.
Hana: Fearful symmetry, is that even right? Fearful.
Jen: I can't recite it.
Hana: Oh, William Blake, we’re sorry. We have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the name, though, because we've had it for a while now and we're like, uh, should we just use our real names? But then people are always like, “Oh, the Tiger Tiger girls!”
Jen: People do call us “girls” a lot. Someone wrote something beautiful about being aware of calling girls “women” and it's definitely something that we're way more aware of now, too. It's been great, though, because we've found that our clients will ask us, “How do you want us to address you?” Then we'll just say it. But it's all in the tone.
Hana: Yeah, we are women.
Literally every meeting, every shoot, we're either wearing the same thing but in opposite colors or the same colors but opposite shapes.
Jen: We don’t really have set roles when we shoot. Sometimes it's one of us art directing and the other shooting, and then we'll flip-flop halfway through, or just when it feels right. When it's like, “You know what, I'm not getting the angle I want but I hear what you're saying for the vision. Why don't you step in and take it over?”
Hana: It's really fluid. We've definitely gotten to a point where people don't even notice that we've changed positions because we look similar, too. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which one of us took an image. We can usually figure it out just based on memory, but there's been times where we have no idea.
Hana: We've been blessed to work with a lot of different types of people on a lot of different projects. I guess that’s maybe our thing—we’re going to figure it out, because we’re such perfectionists.
Jen: Hana's retouching skills always amaze me. I always ask her to show me her before-and-afters because it’s like magic to me. Also, her eye for color; she taught me how to see color in a whole new way.
Hana: Jen is a rare bird because she seems to be very right and very left brained at the same time. She is clean, organized, good at focusing on big picture, great at managing a business and leading people. But she’s also a fun, crazy, free spirit who is deeply creative, loves to make things, and has beautiful ideas.
Jen: We might get into arguments or disagree about certain small details of a shoot but it's nothing that’s lasted overnight.
Hana: We are two different people so we know we are bound to disagree at times. It’s healthy, never nasty. It’s important to us that we don’t stifle each other’s creative ideas. We work hard to create a space where we both feel confident to express and run with our ideas, and also feel comfortable to be honest if we see things a different way because that usually results in bringing the idea to another level.
Hana: Maybe that’s why we love doing test shoots so much: there are no boundaries and that means we're able to get just weird and try stuff and play. That’s been a huge thing for us lately: getting back to how it was when we first started when we were just figuring things out and having fun, running around, doing everything in a super simplified way. Being silly and playful and not being scared to just try things. Which you obviously can't really do when you're on a client shoot.
Jen: And I feel like these days it’s just getting more and more complicated with fashion in particular and how much people have to put out on all media platforms. It's changed shooting a lot. It's like, we need to shoot 24 outfits in one day. That means five minutes for each shot and set-up and it becomes a calculated thing instead of it being a free expression.
Hana: That's fashion, though. I wonder if it will shift.
Jen: I mean we've definitely come to a point where everyone's very aware of it and reminiscing about a simpler life and simpler things. But now with all the technology that keeps coming out and distracting everyone, how do we all eventually get there? Or who makes it to the other side?
Hana: Yeah, I don't know if it's possible, unfortunately.