Oak and Myrrh Photography discusses Colleen and Ryan’s Berkeley Church Toronto wedding venue and the process of capturing their essence in the images.
You created beautiful visual vignettes of the wedding couple getting ready and all the pretty details of their day. Was this something that was important to the wedding couple?
Part of the photography experience that I offer is capturing the whole story of the day, and this was important to Colleen & Ryan too. Each section of the day, every little detail, is woven together to create the full essence of the wedding story. A lot of planning and styling goes into an event like this, with a lot of personal touches, and I find the personality in those details helps to reveal an aspect of the couple as well. You can tell they had some unique aspects to their day in the form of details!
There is a stunning fashion editorial feeling to your work in some striking images you create as wedding portraits. What are your thoughts on creating these beautiful photographs?
I really like to showcase the images as a whole, but also like to get in close to get more intimate shots of details (ie. the ring, florals, dress details, etc.) I love photographing long veils, and seeing the wind sweep through them. I like my clients to be moving naturally, and talking to each other, whispering in each other’s ears, kissing; It’s from that natural place that I will direct my clients in certain poses. As much as I want to capture beautifully posed images, I want to also capture their essence in the images — their love. That’s what speaks to me.
The table styling of Colleen and Ryan’s Berkeley Church wedding reception was exquisite. Your photographs showcase all the elements in beautiful style. How do you approach taking these still life photographs?
I adored the table styling at Colleen & Ryan’s wedding! It’s hard not to photograph that well. I love to showcase the details of the table styling as they fit together, and then to showcase pieces on their own (such as the Mr. & Mrs. forks, bride chair sign, etc.) . I find in this way, seeing some pieces stand alone, brings your attention to how beautiful it all is.
The Berkeley Church has a lot of natural light pouring in through the historic windows. How do you work with this lighting in such an effective way?
Being a photographer, my eye is naturally drawn to where the light is. I adore natural light and using it in it’s full glory. I was so lucky to be able to photograph in a venue that does have so much natural light pouring in. I usually photograph the room and details based off of where the light is coming in the best. It was evening light, and that’s the best light anyways! Sometimes I will move detail towards the light slightly to capture it.
In addition to the natural light there were a lot of shimmering reflective surfaces throughout the wedding design. How did you navigate this to showcase the wedding decor so beautifully ?
I love natural light, and although sometimes it means thinking outside of the box, that is what I love to do. I often readjust my self to find the best way to photograph someone or something. You can photograph something from so many different perspectives, and I feel like I am seeing those perspectives all at once. I will try a few angles to see which I prefer and work with the light, the reflections and use them to make the image then be at a tension with them.
You took a series of wedding portraits of guests and the wedding couple in the cocktail reception that took place in the mezzanine of the Berkeley Church. Was this something you planned or did it happen spontaneously?
I love to photograph guests at a wedding! They get all dolled up and I like to have a few pictures for them. So that was planned! But when we were up there photographing the cocktail reception, I was so inspired by that space. I asked the couple if I could grab them for 5 minutes to take a few more pictures of just them. The cocktail session was ending and everyone was moving downstairs. It was a quiet moment, just myself and Colleen & Ryan. It gave them a few minutes to look at each other, and let it sink in that they are husband and wife. This is when I was able to photograph them sitting by the windows and these are some of my favourite portraits from their wedding day! So that was a spontaneous moment inspired by the space, but I often find those are the best moments.
You are able in your work to translate the energy and fun of the subtle gestures and interactions that are the essence of a wedding celebration. What is your philosophy of this ability?
Photographing the in-between moments makes up the full story. Every little moment, the small gestures, the unnoticed laughs, are all woven together to completely the wedding story. I am always looking around, seeing what is happening. My clients often look back on their wedding images and see a lot of things they didn’t even see on the day of the wedding and that’s special for them. Those big moments, you know, the ring exchange, first kiss, first dance, are amazing moments but I know there is a story of the day and I try to find that when I photograph.
What were the guiding ideas and inspiration behind capturing the wedding day of Colleen and Ryan?
Colleen had shown me her dress months before the big day, and when I saw the lavender dress I knew this was going to be a unique wedding. These two bring a lot of style to the table. I wanted to photograph their day in an elegant timeless manner, but leaving room for those beautiful unique moments to break through as well. One of my favourite shots is when I had them sitting down in the corner of their venue. Her dress was all puffed up around her, and they were just gleaming from ear to ear and laughing with each other.
” You need to understand, feel and respect the people you are photographing. And they have to accept you, otherwise you risk not getting the full picture.” Sebastiao Salgado What do you think of this quote and how do the ideas brought up by it come into play in your work?
This quote is 100% true and the philosophy of it impacts my work greatly. It’s so very important for me to be able to connect with my clients on a personal level, and for them to be able to let go and trust me fully. My clients don’t always see what I see, and so when they just go with my ideas and trust me to capture their full wedding day story it makes my job easier. Colleen & Ryan were the ideal clients. The week of the wedding we even grabbed some beers and went over the schedule one last time and had some good laughs. This made photographing their day go beyond just taking pictures, and being able to photograph real moments and real emotions. They let me in, and I was oh so grateful.
How did the style and design of this wedding fit the Berkeley church so comfortable and what choices did you make based on this how to capture the wedding day ?
This wedding was elegant, charming, and had touches of unique aspects. Berkeley Church was the best option to continue the flow of the unique day and bring it all together. The wedding had a classic timeless feel, with a edgy hint. Berkeley Church was the absolute perfect choice for this wedding. I wanted to make sure I captured the atmosphere of the whole day from the details of the table styling to the venue details. I loved the cocktail hour being up on the mezzanine and I wanted to show that off by photographing the different levels and how they look in the setting.
A big part of a photographers job is curating images, being able to select which ones in post production to edit and present to the couple. Can you speak to this process?
This is a hard process! I like to give lots of options for my clients. When I am culling I am looking out for images that stand out to me, that I feel some sort of a connection to. I try to stay true to my vision, because this is what my clients trust in me for. Making sure I include all the detail shots, and the standard wedding shots (ie. first kiss) but I also look for those ‘unseen’ moments. The small moments that can sometimes go unnoticed are a huge part of my work and being able to weave together a full story of the day. It’s a hard process, but I put on some inspiring music and tune out of the world and into the wedding story of their day and make sure I am portraying an accurate story.
Photographer : Oak & Myrrh Photography
Venue: Berkeley Church