In conversation with Liat Aharoni who “specializes in documenting the most joyful thing ever: people in love and their celebrations of it.” Liat Aharoni Photography Daniella and Joe got married at the Berkeley Fieldhouse wedding venue Toronto and the innovative photographer shares the beautiful images and her insight into how she achieves such success.
What are some of the life experiences you have had that led you to choose photography?
I felt very lost and directionless when I was in university. One day in my fourth year I should have been studying for an exam but instead, I procrastinated and looked at different art online. I randomly found a photo of a woman levitating. The photo was minimal but it had so much depth, mood and whimsy. I never saw anything like it before. I spent the following three hours researching the photographer, Brooke Shaden. I learned that she was only 3 years older than me, self taught and made a career out of her art. Up until that moment, I never considered a career in the arts as a viable option and Brooke’s story shook me to my core. Seeing her image gave me an immediate clarity about my own life. I realized photography could indeed be a career that was not only possible but one I could be passionate about. A few weeks after that, I bought a $400 used DSLR camera off Kijiji and spent every available second I had to teaching myself photography. I’ve never looked back since!
What’s the cross over in terms of how your wedding photography informs your personal projects and vice versa?
In both my personal projects as well as my wedding photography, the cross over is my love for story telling and invoking emotion. In my fine art imagery, I invite viewers to step into fantasy-based worlds that are created from my imagination. When documenting weddings, the stories I tell are very much real and unique. Though my personal projects and wedding photography are entirely different, the end goal is the same – to tell vibrant stories that are emotive and artistic!
By taking the photograph of the cake alone in the frame it has become the central character of a story and the viewer becomes intrigued by it. Given this thought, what value do you see such a photograph having for the couple over time?
I love this questions because on one hand, I focus more on documenting emotions and interactions more so than on product photography such as cakes, table décor, shoes, etc. However, I do think it’s important to include photos of wedding items. Telling stories fully is something I strive to do with my wedding photography and including photos like that adds more context and depth to the gallery. Plus, I might simply see a cake but maybe in 50 years time, a couple might see a photo of their wedding cake and remember the role a loved one had in baking it. You never know which photos couples will attach significance to, so better be safe than sorry!
What’s your approach for taking portraits and what are some of the best things you have learned through experimenting with different ideas?
There should not be a one size fits all formula in the way couples should be photographed. Moreover, I don’t think that portraits where people smile vapidly at a camera offer any depth. My approach for taking portraits is to really get to know a couple as much as I can, know how they express love to one another, to read their body language and to show off their personalities more than anything else. One of the best lessons I’ve learned is to go into a session being as flexible as possible with my ideas and expectations for the type of photos I should be creating. Instead, I’ll give subtle directions while documenting the unscripted moments. With this approach in mind, I’m able to create photos that are more natural and truthful representations of the people I’m photographing.
“When your mouth drops open click the shutter” – Harold Feinstein. What does this quote make you think of?
There’s definite truth to this quote! Emotion is what moves me to create and everything else, such as the camera settings, is secondary. I find myself so often shooting weddings and the technical settings of the camera become more of an after thought because I’m guided by how I feel more than anything else. As long as a photo can MOVE you – even if it’s technically incorrect – I believe it to be successful!
How did you approach photographing the wedding ceremony?
It’s a fine line because on one hand, I want to capture as much as possible. On the other hand, I don’t want to bring any attention to myself. I really try to be as quiet and ninja-like as possible in order to not break the natural flow of what’s happening.
All of the people present should be focused on the ceremony that’s taking place – not on me!
Photography is not only drawing with light, though light is the indispensable agent of its being. It is modeling or sculpting with light, to reproduce the plastic form of natural objects. It is painting with light” berenice abbott. You sculpted the light so beautifully in your photography at the Berkeley fieldhouse. How have you developed and cultivated this mastery?
Through trial and error! I love the concept of failure so much because it gives you the opportunity to progress and grow by learning from your mistakes.
The photos you took of Daniella and Joe in the urban garden are so romantic and unique that it’s hard to believe they are taken in downtown Toronto. How did you approach these to get such incredible results?
I love Berkeley Fieldhouse’s urban garden. It adds a serene green escape in an otherwise busy part of Toronto’s downtown core. I approached documenting Daniella & Joe with a couple of things in mind. Understanding light and being able to use it purposefully allowed me to have a strong command of the photos I created. Secondly, the more I observed their interactions and body language, I learned the ways in which they express love to one another. Being mindful of that enabled me to document them in a natural and more honest way.
It’s clear in the photographs that the couple and the guests were comfortable with you. There’s a sense that you could linger and get the exact shot without being in a rush and that takes confidence on both sides of the camera. Is this an ability you have cultivated?
Being able to predict what will happen next is important and a skill that should be cultivated as a wedding photographer. But I think that trying to be a nice person and having a smile on your face goes a long way too!