Leanne Weston Photography at Airship37 in discussion on How she creates something unique, yet purposeful with her photography
In your wedding post you include a quote about the music Nathaniel Rateliff, “Howling at Nothing”. How did this song and the music inform your photography?
Actually, these lyrics were from the song that the couple used for their first dance. It’s my own little way of customizing each blog post. It’s like an inside thing for me and my couples and it takes them back instantly to their wedding day and the romance of first dance as husband and wife.
How would you describe the vision that Aviva and Matt had for their wedding and how did you strategize your coverage of their big day?
When I first met with them over cocktails at Miss Thing’s in Parkdale, we hit it off instantly and our meeting lasted nearly three hours. They are such an interesting couple, that we barely even chatted about their wedding! Aviva and Matt have big personalities and huge generous hearts, and the most important thing to them was being surrounded by their incredible friends and family. Of course, the venue looked amazing that day, with a garden of florals from Patchouli Design, an incredibly unique scarlet-coloured cake from Chocolada, and the amazing help of Airship 37’s coordinator Vanessa Crapsi pulling it all together. And in this beautiful setting, there was more love, laughter and tears than I’d ever seen at a wedding. I choked up half a dozen times that day behind my camera. For every wedding I cover, I capture what is most important to the couple; and for Aviva and Matt, it was the memories of the guests that joined them that day.
It was ALL Aviva and Matt! Seriously, we were laughing the entire time – they were just THAT excited to get married! And Aviva’s dress was definitely the star of the show – she bought it in a vintage store and with every step she took, she made that fringe spin!
You chose to include behind the scenes shots in the venue and the street photography showing the textures and authenticity of the unedited location. The outcome was interesting.
Aviva and Matt are also work in the creative industry, and were very interested in showing the realness of the environments we were in. Most of their portraits were taken in the alley just outside their gorgeous Leslieville loft. It was incredibly humid that day, but the alley provided the most delicious breeze to keep us cool and happy.
We’ve all heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And so I hope for all of my photos to show a complete story of emotion and context. Less to show more.
What is your process for showing the true personality of your wedding couple?
What I’ve learned over the years is that every couple is unique. And yet all of them want the same things in the end – they want their photos to be an honest reflection of them. I think understanding the nature of each couple’s chemistry when they’re together is really important. Some people are whimsical and animated; some are quiet and gentle. Staying true to their nature is what I try to achieve for each of my couples.
What about the Airship37 location suited this wedding day?
I’ve shot at Airship 37 more than any other Toronto venue – it’s like my second home during wedding season! I love the bright openness of the Hangar, which is a little like Aviva’s personality; while the warm, cozy Gooderham Lounge is a great reflection of Matt’s personality. The astroturf patio with it’s string lights overhead, and that big ole’ silver bullet bus in the background, are just the right elements that suited this quirky couple perfectly.
You alternated between seeking out the bright natural light and the contrasting shadows in the venue to achieve great results. What are some of the ways you trained yourself to get the best results in the moments.
I’ve been shooting weddings for ten years, and although my style has changed a bit, I’ve always sought out those hard slivers of light in dark shadows. This kind of light excite me like nothing else. And so I always look for the brightest spot in the room, expose for it with my camera, and then wait for the right moment and the magic to happen.
You have a wonderful ability to find the candid moments that reveal the wedding guest as a character in the wedding story. How do you do this?
Although I would love to engage more with my couples and their guests on a wedding day (I love meeting new people!) My shooting style is to keep my camera up and wait for those amazing moments to happen. They always do if you’re patient.
I find when there’s a smaller amount of guests, they get used to seeing me, and so are more relaxed when I’m around them. It’s also easier to capture great candid moments of everyone, as I can keep my eye on most people in a smaller ceremony.
For me, there’s always so much more energy in a photo that conveys movement. The question I’m always asking myself, however, is when is it appropriate to drag the shutter to show that blur of movement. It can affect so much the context of the story I’m trying to tell. It doesn’t always work out, but when it does, the results are so amazing.
How do you create authenticity in your work?
Ahhh, I think this is the struggle of every creative. How to create something unique, yet purposeful? In the end, I think authenticity lies in capturing your subjects in an honest way. Let them be who they are, and let them surprise you.
What creatively motivates you when you are approaching a wedding day?
Lately, I’ve been looking at the work of people who are not in the wedding industry for inspiration on how to see light and form in a new way. The work of Annie Leibowitz, Gregory Crewdson and Saul Leiter fill me with awe and inspire me to push beyond my comfort zone. But I also find a nice long walk through High Park will clear my mind and help me stay open for those surprising moments.
How do you advance and develop your ways of seeing and creativity on an ongoing basis?
Throughout the year, I’ll swing from moments of wanting to shoot non-stop. But then I always take long breaks from it, to clear my mind, to work on other creative projects; to reconnect with friends and family; clean and organize my house, exercise and read and sleep in a little; so as to come back to photography again with a huge yearning and energy. Balance for me is key.
Toronto Florist : Patchouli Design
Toronto Cake: Chocolada
Catering : Berkeley Catering