Wee Three Sparrows wedding and lifestyle photographer shares her experience of capturing the exquisite wedding of Nicole and Kevin at Berkeley Bicycle Club Toronto.
What was the pivotal moment for you when your interest in photography became your profession?
I wish I actually knew the answer to that question! In truth, it was all a happy accident really. I used to run a jewellery shop on Esty so I purchased my first DSLR back in 2007 to take photos for that. As my girls were growing, I began to take more photos of them and post them on Facebook. Then friends started asking me to take pictures of their families and I started practicing a bit but it was merely for fun. In the winter of 2013, good friends of ours asked me to capture their wedding and I jumped in, really having no idea what I was doing. I was so fortunate that things went smoothly (note: I would never recommend to anyone to do what I did! I wasn’t prepared but thankfully things went well!). After that first wedding, I started booking other weddings slowly, merely by word of mouth. I think it was well into my second or third year that I finally had the courage to actually start calling myself a wedding photographer. Those are weighty words that come with a lot of responsibility and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You really need to know what you’re doing to be in this profession. There are not take backs so you need to be sure you’re going to get it right the first time. And you need to really, really love it. So somewhere along the line, I moved passed the circle of people that knew me, started getting my work published and total strangers started hiring me. I guess that’s when I knew it was no longer just a hobby but my profession.
You talk about taking pictures out of passion with your little pink camera back in the 90s. How is that mind set and joy you first experienced with photography still present in your photography today?
I have always loved photography. I remember both my dad and my grandpa taking lots of photos when I was young. My grandpa’s camera actually sits on the shelf above my desk. Despite that love, I never would have dreamed that this could be my reality! I feel so blessed. There is something so amazing about freezing a moment in time and capturing true and genuine emotion. I think I’ve always been a documenter and I loved art (but I can’t draw or paint to save my life). When I re-discovered photography as an adult, I was so happy to bring my need to document life and my desire to create art together in a way that I could use to bless other people.
When you first met with Nicole and Kevin what were some of the themes and visual styles you collectively established for their wedding?
When we met for their engagement photos, I loved them immediately. They have great style and they both had a strong vision for their wedding day. I knew that the uniqueness of The Bicycle Club would really go a long way in helping them create a stylish and beautiful wedding. We didn’t talk about the themes and styles too much leading up to the wedding but I knew they trusted my vision and that goes such a long way in making me feel like I can do my job and capture all the details and moments of the day in a way that they will love.
How would you describe your style of wedding photography? What has influenced you the most in forming your personal style and method?
I would definitely describe my style as candid and emotional. I love the unscripted moments. They make me happy. And I think in years to come, those will be the moments that bring back the most memories. So I really try to capture the day as it actually happens. One of the biggest compliments I’ve heard from my clients is that when the look at their photos, it’s like reliving the day over and over again. And that’s what I hope. That I can capture the details and the stolen looks and the hugs and laughter of the day so that it lives on forever in the images. I also love colour and work hard to keep the colours as close to the actual colours as possible.
You approached the setting of the Berkeley Bicycle club so creatively, finding all the unique vantage points of the historical mansion. What is the key to this success?
We take lots of and lots of pictures! I think that goes a long way. Sometimes I find something doesn’t look that beautiful to the eye but then it looks amazing through the lens. So I test out lots of different angles, getting up high and down low and shooting through other objects to get a different perspective. I fell in love with The Bicycle Club and really couldn’t help myself from capture all it’s beautiful angles and details. It’s an incredible venue.
There are stunning wedding portraits taken throughout the day that tell the story of the emotion of the couple. What are some of your methods for achieving this?
Nicole and Kevin are both beautiful people that radiate with a lot of joy. They really enjoy being together and I think that comes through in the photos. I often tell my couples to, as much as possible, just being themselves and I will capture it. I encourage them to laugh and talk to each other and try to ignore the camera. When they can relax into their time together, the photos show their real dynamic and I think that Kevin and Nicole were really good at this. They were a dream couple to work with from start to finish.
Photography has the ability to mimic how our mind freezes significant moments. What is your process for identifying these key moments during the wedding day?
I never put my camera down and I try to be ready for anything that might come up. I stick close to the couple, gathering up images of them loving their families and greeting their guests. I try to zoom in on the little details of the bride especially. I love images of her hands and her hair and all those things that will be so different in years to come. I’m always thinking about how their children and grandchildren might pour over those images someday.
You tell the story of the wedding ceremony so completely by presenting different vantage points and dynamic composition. How did you prepare for this?
Often times there’s not much movement in the ceremony so the images can feel stale if they are all taken from the same spot. I try to move around and I love it when there’s a second floor or a higher vantage point to grab images from. I work with a second shooter so one of the things I ask of her is to stay with the bride until she’s walking down the aisle. Those final moments before she meets her groom are always amazing and I love the images of her from behind while she descends the aisle. I’ve done a lot of weddings now and part of having experience is knowing where to be and what to expect in the ceremony to get the most interesting images.
You captured a romantic intimate vision of the wedding ceremony with your photographs. Was this something that was important to the couple and how did you achieve this?
Kevin and Nicole are very romantic by nature. They are sweet and loving and they laugh a lot. There’s a genuine friendship between them that comes out in everything they do. This made my job really easy. I posed them a bit but many of my favourite images from the day were not posed. It was just them, loving each other and savouring their day together.
There is an interesting ethereal quality you have created with the lighting to photograph the details of the decor. What was your technique for this?
I shoot details at a very low aperture which creates that look. I also try to stand in a place which captures the best light in the room as I like my photos to be bright and colourful.
What were you most pleased about when you were viewing your photographs?
The images that get me the most excited are the ones that show genuine emotion; catching emotion filled embrace or someone mid-laugh. I love the portraits of the bride and groom together as well. It’s my favourite part of the day. I often recommend that they send their family and wedding party way for a time to they can stop and enjoy one another. It’s also my chance to get a bit creative and capture images that are a bit more dramatic.
What made this wedding a true reflection of the personality of the couple?
There were so many details that made it just them. They both love flowers and the flowers by Coriander Girl were really front and centre on the day. The venue also fit them so well. They had cookies by Bobbette and Belle will little bees on them in reference to Kevin’s nickname for Nicole. But perhaps the biggest surprise was the recording of the Blue Jays’ announcer welcoming them to their reception. Both Kevin and Nicole are huge Jays fans and their families were in on the surprise. The groom was floored when he heard Jerry Howarth announcing his wedding party! It was amazing!
From your perspective what choices were made by the couple in the planning of this wedding that made it so successful?
I think they created the wedding that they wanted. They both have loving and supportive families that seemed to be on board with their vision (which is such a blessing). They kept their wedding small and intimate and worked with really talented vendors. They trusted their vendors to do what they do best and it really showed in the overall look and beauty of the day.
The setting of the Berkeley Bicycle Club is a great venue for a wedding. What were some of the ways you approached photographing the wedding reception in light of this?
Capturing the reception was one of the most challenging parts of the day as the space was very full once all the guests were seated. I had to get creative when it came to capturing the speeches and reactions but thankfully one kind family member didn’t seem to mind that I was basically standing over his shoulder most of the time!