A photographers dream, An Interview with Dudek Photography on Capturing the Magic and Excitement of a Toronto Berkeley Church event venue Toronto Wedding.
Your lovely pictures of the wedding party set in a floating white background are so ethereal and striking. What was the preparation involved for this series of photographs. At what point did you decide to do these pictures?
Details are such an important element of capturing a wedding day, particularly so because a bride and groom have often spent hours carefully considering them. At times, I feel it is best to eliminate all the distractions from a photo and allow the viewer to appreciate those details. The intricate lace and beading in Amanda’s dress was stunning. By using a very clean and soft background, I was not only able to focus the attention on her gown, but was also able to showcase the beautiful and complimentary bridemaids’ dresses.
You have the ability to turn what could be a documented nice shot into an extraordinary photography. Is this ability to see opportunities in everyday surroundings something you cultivated over time?
When I first picked up a camera over 12 years ago, my first love was landscape photography. I found I had a true and natural enjoyment in capturing a variety of environments, watching closely for how ambient light interacted with them. I have since been able to translate this craft to the wedding environment, where I thrive off the challenge of finding amazing backdrops, being keenly aware of how to use current weather conditions and lighting (whether ambient or artificial lighting), and allowing it all to compliment my subjects.
How did you and the couple imagine the approach together for the photography? For example did you set a series of references from your portfolio?
One thing I really value about couples who decide to work with me is that they appreciate my style and creativity. I’m often trusted by my couples with the complete planning of the creative session. This part of my service is great for couples who have many things to think about leading up to their big day. Along with meeting up a couple at least a few weeks prior to the wedding to understand the flow and desired outcomes for the day, for Amanda and Anthony’s wedding, I visited Berkeley Church in advance to begin my creative brainstorming and get a sense of how best to photographically utilize the lovely venue. My philosophy is always to take any stress related to photography off of a couple’s minds.
How did you co-ordinate the day of schedule for getting all of these beautiful pictures taken at Berkeley Church. Did you have a shot list that you worked through? What was your process?
After visiting Berkeley Church prior to the wedding day, I had made note of all the unique locations it had to offer (there were many!) and visualized how to place the couple, wedding party and families in the space. Since mother nature tends to have a mind of its own, unpredictably changing lighting and weather conditions, I try to stay away with drawing up specific shot lists during the creative session. Through experience, I have found that this flexibility opens up the most amazing opportunities for one-of-a-kind photos.
The first shots of the Berkeley Church all set up for the reception are stunning they capture all the energy and magic of all the planning and inspiration going into the day. Again you gave the setting a range of different looks and presentations, how did you manage this beautiful outcome?
One of the best feelings as a photographer is to step into a venue on the wedding and see the culmination of hard work by the couple, planners, and florists. The whole process of integrating lighting, centrepieces, and flowers with the backdrop of the venue’s charm is truly an art. The Berkeley Church is stunning in itself, and it provides such a beautiful and unique canvas for a wedding day. My goal in this set of images was to capture the incredible space by working with the proper angles, lighting, and decorations to give a real sense of what the bride and groom would have felt upon walking through the doors. I hope to bring the bride and groom that special feeling every time they look at their photos.
The beautiful photographs you took of the lovely couple and the wedding party in the mezzanine had many different looks. You worked so dynamically with the lighting and composition in the space to create this dynamic series. Can you speak of the process you underwent to achieve this?
The mezzanine at Berkeley Church is unique in that you can change perspective of your photo to have the couple ‘pop’ in a whole new way. The incredible back wall with its textures provided a beautiful canvas and lively feel in many of the photos. In contrast, using black and white imagery in other mezzanine photographs helped isolate the tender emotions in a very serene setting. One of my favourite features in the mezzanine space is the elegant stained glass. Because of its location, it would be difficult to capture in a straight on approach. However, by coming down to a lower level and looking back, I was able to highlight the stained glass work on the mezzanine, while framing the couple within the classy string lights.
If you had to choice a series of photographs that presented the big pictures of the Berkeley Church experience that showcase the ambiance and big picture feel of the event which pictures would you pick ?
There are three images that come to mind that showcase the ambiance and overall feel of Berkeley Church. I appreciate this first image in that it so clearly demonstrates the innumerable elegant and intricate details that are impossible to find in many modern buildings today. In the second image, the exterior of the Church pays great homage to the traditional aspects of a wedding and makes you feel as if you too have become a small part of history. It demonstrates how beautiful both the inside and outside of Berkeley Church are, with no area overlooked or distracting from your event. Lastly, I love how the third image shows the intimacy that can established despite the comfortably sized venue.
You created such an dynamic textural setting in the Berkeley Church courtyard using shadows and incorporating all the shapes and angles in the space so beautifully. What were all the steps involved from the original idea to the end product?
The series of images with the wedding party in the courtyard was something I had imagined when I first visited the location. I knew instinctively that I wanted to combine natural and ambient lighting with off camera flash to emphasize a dramatic look – fitting for such an elegant group of people. Once the wedding party was in place for the photo, I could really play with the flash to emphasize the long shadows but at the same time allowed a hint of the expressions on their faces to be seen. The lighting in this case took the photo from an ordinary group shot to one with more artistic flair.
here is a filmic quality to your photography as each picture alludes to a narrative beyond the reach of the frame. What is your approach and philosophy of photography?
Above all else, my goal is to tell the story of day as the bride and groom not only saw it, but felt it to be. Using an analogy of a novel, my photos provide you with a sentence, that when strung together, create chapters. When you pull back even further, you realize that all those chapters, whether it be getting ready, arriving at the church, the first kiss or first dance, truly do create the story of your wedding day from beginning to end. When the couple pulls out those photos on their first or fiftieth anniversary, I want them to be flooded with nostalgia and have tales of their day to share.
Similarly in the wine cellar you created a diverse set of stunning pictures with composition and lighting. How do you prepare for this process and what are some references for inspiration you carry with you in your minds eye?
I’m always inspired when I encounter unique locations and the wine cellar at Berkeley Church is most definitely that. It has an edgy feel to it. My goal was to bring that out in the photos, playing with lighting and angles to showcase the backdrop. In the wine cellar series, I particularly loved the contrast between the bride (Amanda) who looks very poised and angelic with the historical, aged background.
When you make the decision to present the photograph in black and white what qualities are you looking for that inform this choice?
Photographs full of emotion are the best candidates for black and white photographs. Quite often, stripping the colour from a photo eliminates the distractions and allows the viewer to instead focus on the feeling and impact of the moment captured.
The photographs of the wedding cake are so brilliant. They are shot in such a way that the cake becomes a piece of art in a brilliant setting?
Amanda and Anthony’s cake was incredible! It was very modern, but the red roses added the element of classic and whimsical romance – exactly how Berkeley Church could be described. To showcase the perfect harmony between the cake and venue, I presented it in my images in front of the lit wall.
The cocktail portion of the wedding in the Mezzanine is so beautifully captured.You gave a sense of the intimacy of the space while capturing all the beautiful accents of the historic venue. see What were you trying to convey with this part of the wedding day?
I wanted to build a vision of what it was like to be there as one of the wedding guests. Capturing the movement of the people within a scene, the bartenders pouring drinks, the food that was served, and the band playing their various instruments, all help recreate the festivities. Ultimately, I wish to convey the positive energy and overall happiness of that evening.
All of the special details and moments of the time at the Berkeley Church were beautifully captured. How do you ensure you get all the elements on film?
In addition to welcomed email or telephone correspondences at any time the couple has a question, I also conduct a pre-wedding consultation with all my couples approximately two weeks prior to their big day. Every wedding is unique in so many ways that I always want to ensure that I understand what is most important to them during the big day. For example, sometimes there is a special relationship with a family member or friend that deserves a bit of extra attention. Additionally, my job as the photographer is to be a keen observer throughout the day and to highlight all the careful planning and efforts that went into making this wedding day special.
What was your favourite part of photographing this wedding?
I always love to be in the middle of the happiness, excitement, and love of the wedding day – it is a very fast and intimate friendship that is formed when you follow someone behind the personal scenes of their wedding day. Amanda and Anthony’s wedding was no exception. I felt very welcomed by their friends and family, and grateful for such wonderful clients. From a photographic perspective, I felt very privileged to be able to capture Amanda and Anthony’s wedding story at the Berkeley Church. The character and rich history was palpable and truly a wedding photographer’s dream.
Photographer: Dudek Photgraphy
Venue: Berkeley Church