Lushana Bale Photography in conversation about capturing Sonia and Neil’s stunning wedding at Berkeley Church wedding venue Toronto.
The ceremony in the mezzanine at the Berkeley Church there was an abundance of natural lighting. You beautifully craft the pictures to utilize this light source to create a very bright elegant look. What are some of the ways you maximize the presence natural lighting in your photography?
The Berkeley Church is such a great venue because it has these amazing windows that not only let in beautiful natural light but also add visual interest to the composition. Window light is one of my favorite types since it’s so soft and flattering. The ceremony area is strongly backlit which requires a delicate balance not to blow out the highlights in the window or leave my subjects too dark. I mostly expose for the shadowy side of my subject’s face, which gives an overall brightness to my work, but the editing afterwards (to recover highlights and brighten the shadows) is also a really important part of the process.
You have a BFA in visual arts. How does this background and discipline continue to inform your photography?
I’m so happy I was able to explore and study different forms of visual arts, not just photography. It’s great being able to draw inspiration from other mediums and I think this gives me a unique approach to my photography. For example studying film (one of my other passions) really taught me the power of storytelling and creating meaning through images. My favorite filmmakers – people like Fellini, Antonioni, Bergman, Tarkovsky – were masters at framing, composition and capturing emotion.
There are some very sweet and intimate pictures in the photography of this wedding. In your work you emphasize capturing the unique quality of each couples relationship. What are some of the ways you achieve this?
It’s very important to me to get a sense of my clients’ personalities and what style of photos they’re looking for. I do have my own style, but I also try to adapt it a little to fit each couple. Some couples are very affectionate, some are playful and some are more reserved. Most of the day i’m taking documentary style images with very little direction, but i’m constantly on the look out for moments of natural interaction between my couples that show their personalities. When i’m doing portraits I always try to direct them to a pose or action that feels comfortable and give them the space to have a genuine moment together rather than posing for the camera.
The decor and beautiful touches that were added to this romantic wedding at Berkeley church appear to seamlessly belong to the historic venue in your photography. Is this an effect you wanted to achieve?
Absolutely, little details like this are always an important part of a wedding, but the bride did such a great job choosing the decor that it made my job easy.
How would you describe your photographers gaze at this wedding?
I try to remain as unobtrusive as possible when i’m photographing a wedding so that I can capture genuine candid moments without people being aware the camera. Getting good candid photos takes a lot of concentration and patience. I’m always scanning the room, trying to read body language and anticipate when just the right moment will happen.
There is a picture you took later in the day in the mezzanine looking down into the main ballroom. Its such a unique picture and so impactful. What were you thinking when you took this picture and when you look at it now?
I love that the Berkeley Church offers such a unique vantage point. With most receptions i’m limited to close up photos in the middle of the action. For this shot I was really drawn to the idea of using the ambient light and architecture to capture the mood of the late night reception. I think it creates a kind of dream-like sense and feeling of nostalgia.
Which picture best summarizes the emotional quality of this wedding for you?
It’s always so hard to just choose one photo, so i’m going to cheat a little and pick a photo that the couple told me was their ‘must have’ image when I was designing their album. This photo was taken at the start of their reception when the couple was finally able to relax and enjoy the celebration of their marriage. They were a little bit camera shy and the groom especially was pretty reserved during the more formal parts of the day, so it was great to be able to capture the playful, silly and joyful side of their relationship.
How did this unique venue inform how you photographed the wedding?
Berkeley Church has such amazing architecture so i’m always thinking about ways to incorporate that in my photos. With venues like this I love wide angle shots and I use the architectural elements (like the stained glass windows or arch on the back wall) to frame my subjects.
The Wedding florals appear to be a very significant part of the wedding. What was your approach in photographing them?
Flowers can be such a great way for couples to express their style and personality. From a photography perspective I like to use the flowers to balance my compositions and provide interest in my backgrounds. Incorporating the flowers in my images provides a consistent colour palette throughout the different parts of the day which really ties all the photos together.
What is your go-to camera of choice and how does this vary depending on the setting?
– I usually use a Canon 5d Mark III (two actually, one with a wide angle zoom lens loaded on one and a telephoto on the other). I use this camera for weddings because I think it’s functions are very intuitive which is important when I need to change them quickly, and it has great high ISO capability so I can preserve the mood low lighting without using too much artificial light. I also shot a few rolls of medium format film for the portraits at this wedding on a Pentax 645N, which I only use when I know i’ll be working in daylight and have plenty of time.
Photography: Lushana Bale Photography
Venue : Berkeley Church