Manuela Stefan Photography discusses her process in creating the stunning wedding photography of Michal and Ken’s Berkeley Church wedding venue Toronto.
What were you initial conversations with Michal and Ken like about their Berkeley Church wedding and how did you come up with a shared vision of how to capture their big day?
I was approached by Michal about the wedding and the conversation was very easy flowing. I could sense his laid back energy from the very beginning. He and Ken chose Berkeley Church for their celebrations because of its architectural uniqueness and convenience of the versatile space. They wanted a simple, classy party for their families and friends, in a venue with enough character to allow for minimal decorations. Loved their vision from the very start.
What brought you to the profession of photography and how do you continue to evolve with each project?
As a child, I loved the black and white photographs my father was taking of me and my brother back in my home country, Romania. He was using an old Russian film camera. I recall being fascinated with it and the smell of its leather case. It was intoxicating.
He never gave that camera up. While in University, I asked him if I could borrow it to take photos during my summer holidays. It all started there. My career ended up being nothing artistic for a few years (I am an Engineer), until I came to Canada. I started working in a wedding studio during weekends, for fun. And I ended up opening my own wedding studio a couple of years later. Since, I have photographed numerous weddings, in Canada and abroad. I also work with animals, horses in particular. I find the variety of my work keeps my imagination fresh, so I go into each project with renewed inspiration.
You describe this wedding as a vibrant and stylish Toronto celebration what choices made for the wedding do you feel made it the most effective?
I loved the grooms’ elegance, they looked stunning against the textured backgrounds and beautiful stained glass. The photographs ended up being very rich in colour and somehow reflective of the day’s beautiful energy.
I love reactions. And this wedding wasn’t short of that. People had a lot of fun, so it was an effortless process for me. I just had to be there, observe, anticipate the next fun moment and have my camera ready. I love being in the moment and flow with what is presenting in front of my eyes.
You created some unique photographs of the wedding ceremony. What is your process for creating unique vantage points to capture these precious moments?
I loved photographing architecture during my travels. I have an appreciation for spaces and always aim to find the best angles to do justice to them. During ceremonies I usually like to move around quite a bit, so I can play with a variety of angles. It works very well and my clients are pleasantly surprised with the results.
First of all, it is not very hard to photograph good looking men 🙂 Then, of course, you place them in a gorgeous space, full of amazing corners with great lighting, and you have a recipe for success.
You describe the Berkeley Church as a historical setting with a contemporary vibe. How did you respond to this setting in your photographs?
The venue played a big part in the way the photographs turned out. There is a lot of character in the images, which adds to the vibrancy of the actual celebrations. I remember being very inspired, the moment I set foot in the space. I get very excited when I can be creative, and I am sure the images show it.
Do you have a favourite picture from this wedding? What makes it stand out for you as capturing the essence of the day?
I do have a series of favorite images, but one of them is quite iconic. It was also the couple’s favorite and it actually ended up on their wedding album cover. It is the kind of photograph which would work well as wall art. I just love that when it happens.
And here is what Michal and Ken wrote about their experience:
“Manuela was a fantastic choice for our wedding! She had a very thoughtful and artistic approach, which we felt really distinguished our wedding photos from the other options we considered and gave them a personal touch.
In the final album, she did a great job of telling the story of our wedding, showcased the venue that we chose and captured the essence of our day perfectly. She was very responsive in her communications, and made me and my husband feel at ease when posing for pictures. We cannot recommend her enough and hope to see her again soon at someone else’s wedding.”