How do you arrive at a shared vision with your wedding couples about how they want their day to be captured?
Leading up to a wedding day, I try to not only get to know the couple but also meet up once or twice (or sometime even three times) to chat and make sure we are all on the same page. I like to think couples chose me because of my style, so usually the style of day of photography isnt discussed but if there will be key moments, any surprises, all the high lights and unique details but also, when I hang out with a couple prior to the day, I get to see how they are as a couple in regards to humour, candidness, romance and more and that helps me figure out what sort of photos I will capture.
What in your opinion makes a photographer successful?
I think there are three major things that make someone a successful photographer: 1.patience 2. personality (personable) 3. having an eye for detail.
Patience is SO important and not only just for weddings. A shoot, a wedding or any other project never go to plan. You need to be able to breath, go with the flow and keep your cool no matter what comes your way.
Personality is huge in the sense that you need to be approachable but you also need to be able to approach anyone and speak with everyone while also being fun, creative and relaxed. Again, nothing ever goes to plan but it’s the way you handle it, laugh it off or laugh at yourself and move forward as a photographer that adds to your successes. Having an eye for detail is what defers your photos from the next photographer. I thrive on candid moments and candid emotion and if I wasn’t always on the ball, paying attention and watching for details, I would miss those moments.
How would you describe the lovely wedding of Rebeca and Pat and what elements contributed to its success?
The number one reason it was such a success is because P & R are the perfect couple not only in general, but the kind of couple wedding photographers wish for. From when we met for coffee to make sure they liked me to the day of the wedding and them being the most relaxed and laid back people I have ever come across, it was a perfect couple/photographer match and the photos prove that. Also, they surround themselves with incredibly fun people which was icing on the cake!
How do you evolve as a photographer?
Three things: I try to learn from my mistakes, try to keep an open mind and try not to be scared to be different.
How does your background in graphic design and creative directing inform your choices as a photographer?
I think both my Graphic Design and Art background come in handy, but mostly my art, in helping me notice little things other people may not. With art, I feel like it helps me see a creative shot that another photographer may not see. Whether its unique lighting or simply a unique thing about the subject, I look for those artful details and try and capture them perfectly.
When choosing a composition what are your considerations?
Lighting is always the number one thing I am looking for. Not that a room or set need to be well lit, but there needs to be some sort of contrast happening. I love being able to find and use random window lighting or set up dramatic lighting in order to capture a mood or feeling.
The wedding party shot in the mezzanine with the wedding party holding poker face poses is so striking and creates a timeless quality. How did you direct this shot and what were you aiming for?
To be honest, I have seen one or two bridal party photos where they aren’t smiling and sometimes, they just rock it. I had only ever tried this shot once before, and when I was capturing the guys, they asked to do a “serious” photo so instantly, I thought “this whole group will nail the serious photo”. It helps that the mezzanine has dramatic lighting and is a gorgeous backdrop. There were a few giggles at first, but in the end, they nailed it!
Wedding photography can be viewed as the high performance of photography in that it requires in the moment accuracy, in some cases there is only one chance to capture a key moment. How do you prepare for this and what is your outlook on it?
It’s true and can be scary and I think that’s what differs one photographer to the next. It’s all about what moments you capture and which ones you miss. The best way to make sure you capture what the couple wants and what you want, is again, to make sure everyone is on the same page prior to the wedding day. Prep is key! But also, be aware and focused every…single…wedding.
How do the acts of seeing and listening come into play in photographing a wedding?
Listening to the couple and their wants, their vision and their ideas, prior to the big day, is key to capturing a wedding perfectly but the seeing part, happens the day of the wedding. On the day of, always being aware, watching for those key candid moments and seeing the beauty in a subject in a unique way will always result in beautiful photos.
Rebecca and Pat’s wedding has such a lovely intimate feel to it for a large wedding. How did they achieve this and what were some of the considerations you had for capturing it?
I think one of the major reasons their wedding felt so intimate is because of their guests. All the guests were interacting, always hopping seats, showing emotion together throughout the day, always pulling each other from different tables to the dance floor and also they have an amazing large, shared group of friends. I have photographed large weddings where the two families are separated and there’s no interaction between friend groups etc. and it can pull the wedding apart and make it feel larger then it really is. Also, having the bar, the reception and all the tables in one room, always helps with the intimate feel!
There is a decidedly vintage feel to the photographs while still adhering to the modern look of the wedding. How do you chose the boundaries of how “vintage” the look was?
I believe my style of photography is often considered to have a vintage feel and in this case, Rebecca has a vintage style and her wedding represented that. Again, we were a great match I think!
The lovely shot of Rebecca holding her bouquet with the close up shot of her stunning gown. This photograph is stunning in its lighting and composition. How did you sit this shot and how did you achieve the details?
The second I saw Rebecca’s dress, I knew I had to focus on the unique details/parts of her gown. Her gown was stunning and what I as a wedding photographer love to see. Flowy fabrics and (almost) hidden details made her dress one of a kind. But when you are in the wine cellar area of the church, the lighting is dramatic and beautiful, which made me want to photograph any details of her dress in that room. Both that photo, and the one of Pat spinning Rebecca, both taken in the same spot, both show the beauty of her dress.
The photographs of Rebecca and Pat in the wine cellar are so natural and expressive. You managed in a handful of photographs to cover a huge range of emotional expressions and exchanges between the couple. What was the key to this success?
If I have captured your wedding, you know my famous line “pretend I am not here (meanwhile I don’t stop talking so it’s a bit hard haha)”. My goal with that line is, I don’t want awkward poses, I don’t want the couple to feel silly or uncomfortable, I want them to be themselves and for their personalities to shine through in each photo. I always follow that line with coaching the couple through the photos, but I like to see what they gravitate too first, naturally. It helped that P & R are so perfect together and so in love, they made my job easy!
The first look shoot is such a great opportunity to sneak in a visual record of all the importance and energy of a couples big day. You describe Taylor and Sarah’s first look at Berkeley Church as one of the best you have ever witnessed with emotion, laughter sounds and love. Why do you feel this is such a success and how did you orchestrate it?
I didn’t have to do any orchestrating, like Pat & Rebecca, these two are such a naturally beautiful and in love couple and are so candid with their emotion, laughter and love. I simply chose the garden/patio spot as the location, and the rest unfolded naturally. I have never witnessed a first look like this one. Before Taylor even turns around, there are tears coming down his face, and when he sees Sarah for the first time, he is naturally overcome with emotion. After the crying, they both broke out in laughter because of Taylor’s crying and from there just turned into hysterical laughing all around (myself and my second shooter Anna included, sorry Taylor!). I believe their first look will forever be my favorite, misty eyes and all! (Doesn’t everyone want their photographer to cry with them? That’s what I thought anyways)
You decided to have the beautiful shots of the wedding party getting ready in the Berkeley Church. Such a lovely juxtaposition with the venue being prepared for the big day. What was the inspiration for these pictures? what are your thoughts on the results?
I really can’t take credit for this one, as this was Taylor & Sarah’s decision BUT I was totally on board for this idea and love how the photos capture the venue in a different way. My second shooter, Anna Baker, did a great job capturing the guys getting ready.
This Berkeley Church wedding took full advantage of the natural light in the historic venue. How did you prepare for working in this lighting and maximize its potential?
As mentioned before, I always put my focus on lighting and want to use all lighting to my advantage. Berkeley Church has all aspects of the lighting scale: natural, dramatic, dark/ominent, romantic, artificial (spotlights). It’s one of my favorite venues for the lighting as there are so many options and no photographer will ever capture the lighting the same way.
There is a great sense of play and fun in the interactions in this wedding while there is also a very emotional impact of the love and joy present in this union. How as a photographer do you make sure to capture a range of all the emotions and times of the day?
I try to be ready for anything and everything and at the drop of a hat, the mood can change or a key surprise will happen and I make sure I am always ready!
How would you describe the wedding and what were the elements that made it a success?
Candid, Romantic and Fun would be how I would describe their wedding and it all stems from Taylor and Sarah. Like you mentioned above, the fun, love and joy shine through in each photo but also their dance floor was something to be reckoned with!
You spend your free time with an organization, Photographers Without Borders (PWB). How did this come about and how does it impact you?
In April 2014, when I wasn’t sure where I was going with my photography business/career, I knew I needed to do something that inspired me (and hopefully others), help people and I wanted to do that somewhere that wasn’t Ontario. I stumbled upon PWB, saw they were looking for a photographer to travel to Guatemala to photograph and work with an organization called Casa Guatemala in Rio Dulce, Guatemala. I applied without hesitation knowing that this is what I needed to do and WANTED to do. Within a few days, I was given an acceptance email saying I had 48 hours to decide if I was going, and I decided yes. That project and experience forever has changed my life. Upon returning from Guatemala, I applied to be a full time volunteer with the organization as Creative Director. Now, almost two years later, I am still the Creative Director and I have since been to Colombia to photograph another project, have produced 4 magazines and on February 2nd, I leave to photograph a photodocumentary workshop we are hosting in Costa Rica which will be taught by the PWB founder, Danielle Da Silva. PWB aims to give a voice to those whose voices go unheard. I will forever be grateful for all the experiences I have had, people I have met, places I have seen, people I (hopefully) helped, all because of PWB and I hope to continue to inspire people but also help those who need it worldwide, for years to come.
Second Shooter on wedding of Taylor and Sarah : Anna Baker