Laura Nicholson of LN Photography in conversation of her process of capturing the magic of a Berkeley Church wedding venue Toronto.
In your pictures of Rachel and Brodie you talk about how the couple really wanted to have happy pictures and what that meant to you. You speak of happiness. Real happiness that you see in a picture has to come from inside a person. It has to come from deep in the belly when you can’t help but laugh because you are overjoyed and completely giddy about the people you love. Can you talk about this a little bit?
When taking photos of a couple or group, I can tell all the jokes in my repertoire (which isn’t that extensive…), I can make a fool of myself, and I can do my best to make sure that everyone has a great time. In fact, I do all these things all the time to set the mood of a photo shoot as light and fun. A relaxed and positive environment is great for getting others to loosen up and feel like they can act naturally. I have yet to experience a photo shoot where people were angry about being there. Everyone I can ever remember working with has been upbeat, polite, and enjoyable to be with. And of course everyone is in a good mood! They look great and they are excited about getting their photo taken! So, you would think that with this excitement as a framework that I would ALWAYS be able to get really happy photos? Right? Not necessarily. When someone says that all they want their photos to be is “happy”, I think of more than just photographing the momentary happiness that happens when you are looking fabulous and getting your photo taken. That happiness is real, but it doesn’t always translate as true happiness because it’s happiness on a surface level. When I am asked to photograph true happiness, it means that I need to capture happiness on a deeper level and not just surface momentary emotions. This is happiness that I can’t create. And that’s why I say that real happiness HAS to come from inside a person. From deep in their belly. It’s happiness that is already a part of them, and they can’t help but let it out because they are so joyful about being with the ones they love. My job is to capture “happy”, and all my efforts of setting a relaxed and fun atmosphere are in vain if the individuals I am photographing are not truly happy.
I love how you posted the pictures in a sequence that really tells the story of the wedding with a lot of attention to the little details of the day. Is this something that is important to you as a photographer.
Yes. Absolutely. Details are what make a story memorable. And details are what make one story different than another. In weddings, it’s the little details that make one wedding drastically different than the next. I think that’s what is amazing about my job, and what makes each day and each wedding job new to me. The people, the stories, and the details are what create a whole new experience. And I think it’s CRUCIAL to take photos of the things that make that wedding day 100% unique and personal.
The pictures of each wedding group waiting in the mezzanine and in the stairwell to go up to the ceremony have a nice giddy excitement to them. Do you look for these moments as a photographer?
Oh yeah! Those photos are what get me going! I am a sucker for them. I look for them, and hunt them down! Oh, and I strategically place myself in areas where my spidey-senses tell me that special moments might occur or be happening…
You really captured the personality of the wedding parties in your pictures. How did you achieve this?
Thank you! I was blessed that Rachel, Brodie, and their whole wedding party were all very easy to take photos of because they were all so relaxed and at ease with each other. But when it comes to capturing people’s personalities, I purposely try and give room for individuals to have that creativity. Actually, when I first meet with a couple, I like to go over my method and style of work with them. I let them know that I always come to a wedding prepared with a list of ideas for different situations and poses. Some people find it stressful thinking of being in front of a camera and knowing what to do, so that takes the pressure off. But, I also tell them that they are encouraged and asked to act naturally within the guidance and poses I have provided for them. With that in mind, on the wedding day, I will direct groups into certain poses, but then allow them the freedom to interact within those poses. I will tell them they are welcome to interact, I will joke around with them to loosen them up, or maybe even poke fun at the guy who is giving me a fake smile.
In a historic venue there are interesting accents and textures including all the natural textures of the outdoors. Your photography capture all these nice little details. Is this something you focus on in creating your images?
Setting makes a world of a difference in photos. Rachel was an awesome bride in that she had this in mind when she picked the Berkeley Church as her venue! She was so impressed by all the different architectural features and the character of the venue and she knew it would be great for photos. And yes, I do focus on this when creating images. One of the first big things that I learned about photography was about content. Specifically I learned that it is incredibly important what you choose to take a photograph of, and that always means deciding what to LEAVE OUT of a photo. Every photograph needs to be very deliberate in terms of details, composition and content, and I always try to apply this idea in every different setting I come across.
The guests and wedding party seem so comfortable around the treehouse and the outdoor grounds. Did you have locations around the venue in mind for the pictures beforehand or did they naturally migrate through the space?
This was a pretty natural process. Having spoken to Rachel and Brodie beforehand about what photos they wanted, I had a good idea of what the day was going to entail. When first arriving, we already had an outline of how things were going to go. Since we were all on the same page, we were able to naturally move through the space with ease. We had the treehouse in mind specifically for a few shots, but the rest of the space was pretty open to whatever sparked something in Rachel, Brodie, or myself.
With so many choices of what to take pictures of at a wedding is it important to know intuitively what your couples priorities were in planning their big day?
Yes, extremely important! The “intuitively” part isn’t so intuitive though. I get in touch with couples about a month before their wedding to get a run down of the day, get an itinerary, and get a list of the photos that are most important to them. I almost always have a very good idea of a couple’s priorities before I even get to the wedding, which is a great thing! Once I get to the wedding, we are already on the same page, and it cuts out on confusion and miscommunications that could happen if we tried to figure it all out on the day of the wedding.
Your pictures have beautiful composition, even the ones that were not posed. Is this something you continually study?
I am a very organized person. My life make more sense when things are organized. I think that’s where I get my attentiveness to composition. It needs to be organized, everything needs a place. In my photographs, everything needs a purpose and space. When I look through my lens, its like I am compartmentalizing the things that belong.
What is your selection process like of the best pictures? When you have hundreds of images and you are choosing which ones to post in your blog story of the wedding?
Oh boy! That’s a hard one. Truly, there are sometimes hundreds and hundreds to choose from. My process involves going through the finished product and flagging my favourites from the day. After I flag my favourites, I will go through those favourites and cut out any photos that aren’t necessarily important to the story, or any that are already very similar to another photo I have already included in my favourites (no need to repeat!). When choosing favourites, I always look for photos that show really great emotion and moments. I also look for photos that have really good lighting and colour. I go “ga-ga” for good colours! Once I have narrowed the photos down, I will sort them in the order that I want the story to be told in.
Thank you so much Laura and congrats to Rachel and Brodie
venue: Berkeley Church