Frances Beatty Photography on how Above all else, she loves loves, so weddings are a perfect match for her. In conversation with the photographer on documenting the love filled wedding of Anthony and Brett at Berkeley Church wedding venue Toronto.

How would you describe the wedding of Anthony and Brett and what were some of the best parts of their wedding from your perspective?

This was a celebration of their love and the joining of their two families. Anthony & Brett included so many personal elements in their day and really did it their way. They have friends and family all over the world, so it was really special for them to have them all in one place. It’s a hard one to pin point best moments at a wedding, especially when it holds such a special place in your heart. I’ll try: I loved that they got ready together! It’s something that happens so rarely, and is such a special time. You get to experience the excitement and nervous energy together and share those butterflies. There were a number of minor hiccups that happened at the very beginning of the ceremony, and I still tear up thinking about Anthony’s laughter as he reached the front of the aisle and hugged his mom. He rolled with everything and those hiccups broke the tension a little bit which allowed them to breathe and slow things down. The little flower girls giggling to each other during the ceremony. The speeches were so personal and moving, that even I was struggling to hold back tears. Their friends and family were so expressive throughout the day, and everyone was just overwhelmed with love and joy for Anthony & Brett.

You talk about loving to explore new spaces and spend a lot of time outside appreciating nature. These qualities and spirit of adventure translated beautifully into the photographs of Anthony and Brett’s wedding day. How do bring your experiences into your work so successfully?

I approach wedding photography with the same excitement and curiosity as I do any adventure I’m going on. I always encourage my couples to take a little bit of time out of their day so we can go explore something or somewhere together. This gives us a great opportunity to not only create some beautiful portraits together, but it also gives them an experience they won’t forget and time to be alone together. Well, alone plus me. But I tend to give them some space during this time. I don’t think portraits need to be about a big production, but should be about your experience. Exploring a spot together takes your mind off of having your photo taken, and allows you to be yourselves. Anthony & Brett embraced this fully.

Couples you have photographed talk about how your enthusiasm in their day and how you gave the experience extra meaning and made it “feel bigger and more important . What about capturing a couples wedding captures your imagination and invigorates you?

Above all else, I love love, so weddings are a perfect match for me. I love documenting the way people connect with others, the way they hold hands, the way they look at each other, the emotion, the energy, the excitement, the tears, the laughter, the breaths that get caught in your throat. It’s this powerful day full of beautiful and vulnerable moments. People let their guard down and really express themselves. What’s more beautiful than that?

Anthony and Brett fully embraced the potential of the historic setting of the Berkeley Church and held meaningful parts of their wedding day throughout the space. How did you adjust your approach in each of the spaces you photograph in? 

The Berkeley Church is such a stunning building! It has so many architectural elements that I fell in love with instantly. The shape of the windows, the staircases, the pillars, the balcony railing, the arch on the stage, the brick walls. It felt really easy to find beautiful locations to work with. I really want my images to be a reflection of what the space was really like. I think including the ambiance of a space is helpful when couples are looking back at their day and remembering what it felt like to be there. When looking for places for portraits, I really let the architectural elements and the light be the driving force when it came to my approach.

How do you balance your artistic stand point with your technical approach when photographing a wedding?

I feel like my artistic stand point really drives the car. The technical side of things is just what allows me to achieve my artistic vision. If I’m looking to achieve something artistically that I haven’t mastered technically yet, I’ll try things out at home until I feel like I have it nailed.

“The goal of a designer is to listen, observe, understand, sympathize, empathize, synthesize, and glean insights that enable him or her to make the invisible visible.” Hillman Curtis. What does this quote make you think of in relation to taking meaningful photographs?

I think that’s perfect! It’s so true when it comes to photography as well. I’m there to document a feeling, so that my clients can relive their wedding day not just see the images of it. I don’t think that would be at all possible without following those steps.

If you had to pick one picture that communicated the energy of the day which would it be?

There’s an image of Anthony & Brett standing cuddled up by the window after the ceremony finished. Just the smiles on their faces and the way Brett is squeezing Anthony’s arm. I think it sums up the joy and love of the day nicely. These two love each other so much.

Brett and Anthony in the beautiful wedding photographs around the Berkeley Church have such a relaxed demeanour that become meaningful in revealing glimpses into the feeling and personality of the day. How do you achieve this?

I think having a connection with my clients is one of the most important elements for being able to achieve the kind of images that make my heart sing and give them a wonderful experience. Couples spend more time with their photographers than anyone else on their wedding day, so having someone around they like is pretty key. I always meet with my clients before they book to make sure we jive, and to get to know each other better. Annie Leibovitz said it best: “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them.” This is so true for me, so I try to get to know them even before they step in front of my camera. On their wedding day, I make sure to arrive early so I can spend some time just hanging out with them and getting a feel for the energy. I had been looking forward to Anthony & Brett’s wedding for so long, so I couldn’t wait to get there and spend some time with them! I’m pretty good at reading people and anticipating what they need and I try to use those skills on a wedding day. It’s really helpful to know when to help someone out, give someone a hug, jump up and down with excitement, or just step out of the way for a moment to happen. I talk with my couples throughout the day, but I also want to make sure that I’m not interfering when something beautiful is happening. I want to make sure it remains their day.

You worked beautifully with the natural light in the historic Berkeley Church highlighting every detail in beautiful detail. How did you prepare to respond to the natural light in this space?

Light is such a huge inspiration for my work. I think of it as another subject in the frame. I think the only way to prepare yourself to respond to natural light is to constantly pay attention to the light around you and how it changes throughout the day and then go in with eyes wide open.

Is wedding photography art?

Yes. I think art is a truly hard thing to nail down in people’s minds, but in my mind wedding photography is as much art as anything.

What were some of the priorities that Anthony and Brett expressed to you about their wedding and how did these priorities intersect with the pictures you took?

Anthony & Brett said their biggest priority was candids of their family and friends. This is by far one of my favourite things to shoot at a wedding. I love finding a way to blend into the crowd well enough that people stop noticing me and continue to engage naturally. Having been married recently myself, I completely understand the excitement of seeing shots of your friends and family when you get your images back. You can’t be everywhere at once on your wedding day, in fact it’s a little bit hard to make it even around the entire room, so I like being able to give my clients a glimpse into some of the things that were happening while they were in conversation somewhere else.

“If you do it right it will last forever” Massimo Vignelli. How does this quote apply to wedding photography?

There is no going back and doing it again. You only get one shot to get it right, and the last thing you want is for someone to hide their wedding photos in a drawer because they don’t love them. I still have wedding photos on my wall from my grandparents and parents weddings. That’s the way it should be, imho. Not that they have to be on your wall, but they should be treasured throughout the generations. Do it right, and it will be.

Frances Beatty Photography

Berkeley Church