You talk about taking creative portraiture as one of your main pursuits. What about this intrigued you?
Creative portraiture is definitely one of my main pursuits throughout the course of a wedding day. I always want to give couples something they have never seen before, something magical, at venues that are very popular where photographs can appear repetitious. I think it is important to go out and create something new every time; it makes you better, other photographers better, and provides your couple with a photograph only they can have.
You express that photography should bring the viewer back to the moment the picture was taken. What are some of your techniques for achieving this?
Moments are a combination of all our sensory memory. Our memories come from what we see, hear, feel (to name a few!). For most of the day, I am observing the atmosphere, anticipating the emotional moments and finding the most advantageous spot to capture them. When I’m working directly with couples, I try to pose less and instead direct into happy moments and let them take over. I don’t ask couples to hold a smile or stay still; I do encourage them to talk and to be intimate with each other and move as they feel fit. What always happens is that couples interact with each other how they would any other day of the year. Those photographs create amazing moments that feel timeless.
It is important for you as a photographer that you “bring out the souls of your subject”. Is this at the forefront of your mind when you are taking pictures? How important is this in your wedding photography?
I believe this should be a critical component for any photographer who works with other people. Taking photographs of people without highlighting the unique characteristics of them is only taking 2/3rds of an image. It is akin to only cooking half the recipe of your favourite dish. Beyond the technical execution of lighting, it is the singular most important thing that I focus on when taking a photograph of a couple.
You took a stunning picture of Jacqueline and Chris outside the Berkeley Church at night. It has such a cool urban vibe to it. Was this something you were aiming for? What considerations have to be made for the elusive successful night photograph?
Thanks and yes! This photograph was on my agenda so to speak. I told Jacqueline and Chris that I was going to pull them away at some point in the dancing to do a quick portrait outside in the night. They’re both eager and loved the idea so it didn’t take too much convincing. The main consideration I had to make was where the best background was going to reveal itself and the safety of the couple. Lighting the couple properly at night is usually the easiest task; the hardest is finding that amazing spot that really draws a viewer in. We actually walked outside and realized right away Queen St. had gone totally quiet. I asked the best man to come with us to watch our backs so that we didn’t impede traffic or cause a scene. Two bicycle police officers rode by only a few seconds later asking us to be safe and watched for a few seconds. As a wedding photographer, this shot of one of Toronto’s busiest streets still mesmerizes me!
Did you plan your locations at the Berkeley Church where to take the couples pictures in accordance with the lighting or was it more spontaneous?
Bride and Groom wedding portraits requires a little bit of both. Jacqueline, Chris and I visited the venue a week before the wedding to quickly walk around and draw inspiration. Most of the portraits you see were pre-planned; I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted it to look like in the end; but I always trust my judgement when I see something that inspires me. The photograph with Berkeley’s historic doors was fairly spontaneous. I actually did a couple moments in front of another set of doors but when Jacqueline, Chris and I saw just how the lighting was hitting these particular doors we had to take advantage of it!
The picture you took outside the historic doors of the Berkeley Church has such a lovely vintage look, what was your inspiration for this ?
It is funny, but I find these doors to be one of the most beautiful aspects of the building and I rarely see them shown off in other weddings in a classic way. The main inspiration for this photograph was to give the couple a photograph you would want to hang up in your study or living room. I used a free-lens to really separate the couple from the gorgeous detail, but placed them close enough to make sure the viewer felt connected to the environment. The colouring and toning was left almost as natural as possible to let your eyes take in the beautiful tones and hues of the brick and wood. I guess you could say the vintage door inspired my editing to feel modern but have a historic flair.
Jacqueline and Chris had their reception at the Berkeley Church. As a photographer what were your first thoughts of taking photos in this historic venue?
When Jacqueline and Chris first approached me and said they were going to host their reception at the Berkeley Church I was, as pretty much any wedding photographer in Toronto is, really excited. I only moved into the city in the last few years, and I have been by the Berkeley Church so many times that I had been itching for the opportunity to really showcase the venue for how beautiful it really is. It’s important to use your environment as a photographer and when I did my first walk-through I was amazed by the amount of old-brick and original features still in place. The Berkeley Church is such an amazingly beautiful venue in the city and we’re lucky to have it available for couples to have their weddings in!
You captured the wedding dance of the couple with some black and white photos where you utilized some bright light flares in the frame. This added a beautiful ethereal quality. How did you do this ?
The first dance is one of my favourite parts of the night; you get to focus solely on the couple as they enter the floor for their first dance. Once I knew where the first dance was to be taken, I wanted to have a background that pulled you into the intimacy of Jacqueline and Chris and that required shooting with a longer lens to compress the background. The lens flare you see is actually one of my own lights. The trick with this particular image is anticipating the couple as they dance around the floor; you want the light to be just peeking out from behind them and not overpowering the rest of the image. These particular ones of Jacqueline and Chris are my favourite.
Telling a story with pictures is important to you, what do you have to consider on the big day to make sure you tell the story?
All weddings have a story and it is important for me ensure I tell that story throughout my imagery. Photography is very simply the medium that I use to tell a couple’s story on their wedding day and using storytelling elements that make a collection breathtaking is a crucial part of my wedding photography equipment. Wedding photographers have to consider what they want to tell and what is naturally occurring in front of their eyes; we have to consider that we need to be ready to take a photograph in a split second or risk missing something just awe-inspiring. It can be difficult sometimes to be just taken over emotionally by what is unfolding that you forget to shoot, but experience and anticipation will eventually get you to be emotional and keep shooting. I’ll admit I have continued shooting with tears in my eyes.
What is your current passion that you are pursuing outside of photography that ends up making you a better photographer?
My fiancee is an ultra marathon runner and after running a few marathons myself I’m starting to get back into running after a bit of a hiatus. Regardless of the weather outside, I am always amazed that she always gets up, puts on her running shoes and gets outside. Her dedication to the sport has rubbed off on me throughout the years and I’m learning from running to be patient about progress, and remain true to the passion and interest you had when you first started.
venue: Berkeley Church
Photographer : Callum Pinkney Photography