Toronto Lawyers Turned Professional Photography into their passion and vocation: See how Let Us Go Photo’s world travel impacts their technique at Airship37 Toronto Wedding
What is the story behind your photographic beginnings?
To set the stage, we were both lawyers in a big downtown Toronto corporate law firm. To escape the all-consuming nature of the practice of law, we traveled as often as possible. We traveled to faraway places. We took off to places that were more “off the grid”; in part because we loved adventure, but also so we couldn’t be reached on our devices! We had both loved photography long before meeting, but our passion really crystallized as we took more and more photos on our travels together. One day, in Antarctica, sitting among our closest 700,000 penguin friends, we realized that corporate law wasn’t for us. What we really loved was taking photos. From that day forward, we dedicated ourselves to figuring out how we could do what we loved every day. Every minute of our spare time was filled with taking and editing photos and attending seminars to hone our skills. Eventually, because we loved telling stories so much, we concluded that we would give the wedding photography biz a shot. We assisted other established photographers in the city until we felt that we could be trusted with one of the most important days of a couple’s life together. Our first solo wedding was in San Francisco. Trust us, there couldn’t have been a better start to our wedding photography career than in the hills above the Golden Gate Bridge!
How do you feel your beginnings as world travelers has translated into your ability to create stories and capture the adventure of each couples special day?
Traveling, much like a wedding, requires a lot of planning. We spend a lot of time before our couples’ wedding chatting with them, sending them tips to ensure that we can provide them with the best possible photography, and figuring out the most important elements of the day to them. That said, a wedding day, again much like adventurous travel, often does not go according to plan. You have to be ready for the unexpected and embrace the surprises along the way.
We started off telling our own stories through photos. In these stories, all the little details were essential to our memories of our adventure together. Our couples spend a lot of time planning their day, agonizing over colours, themes, all of their personal touches. It is critical for us to capture these details so our couples don’t forget them. Our hope is that, years later, seeing our photos of these little details will trigger memories of the excitement and emotion they felt in planning and living their wedding day.
The series of pictures you shot in and around the vintage bus at Airship37 are stylish and have a great editorial feel to them. They are the perfect blend of posed and naturally animated. How do you direct these shoots so successfully?
By the time we got to the bus we had already spent several hours with Alex and Joel. We had met them for drinks at Drake 150. We had talked about living in East End houses, being professionals, and reading on a range of topics, including Toronto celebrity chefs. Alex and Joel had already been in front of our cameras during their engagement shoot. We had also spent a few hours with them during the morning of their wedding, documenting their prep, chatting with them, and helping to ease any nerves. In short, Alex and Joel knew us and trusted us. At the vintage bus, we started by asking Alex and Joel to take a couple of minutes together away from the hustle and bustle of the day and used the bus as a backdrop. Knowing how Alex and Joel interact with each other already, we could let them be themselves and then just make minor adjustments to achieve a more editorial feel.
How did having two shooters benefit the outcome of capturing the wedding ceremony and how do you co-ordinate getting all the key moments on film?
We’ve worked together since the start of Let Us Go Photo. We always work together and have prearranged roles and responsibilities. If something unexpected happens during the ceremony, being a team personally and professionally means that we can pretty much read each others’ minds, moving in a coordinated way to capture the moment. You better believe that if we can negotiate making pizza in our tiny kitchen together, we can certainly share the space down the aisle and at the front of a ceremony space! To provide our couples with a variety of looks during their ceremony, we each always have two camera bodies apiece, with different lenses on each camera.
The fun times shared by the wedding party shine through in your photographs as do the unique interpersonal relationships among the group. What do you attribute your success to?
Having spent the morning with Alex and Joel’s wedding parties, we had gotten to know them a bit. By portrait time, we knew everyone’s name, what animal they would be if they were an animal, and their favorite colours. We’re joking, we didn’t (at least not the last two). But we’re careful observers and we had chatted with everyone and determined out how they fit into Alex and Joel’s story. We also often kept shooting even after the portraits were “finished” to catch the way the members of the wedding party interacted with each other. We swear they forgot we were there sometimes.
Your photography reflects an understanding of and highlights the qualities of the open industrial venue Airship37. What considerations did you have when approaching shooting in this space?
Prior to shooting every wedding, we scout the venue and the portrait locations. We do this no matter how many times we’ve shot in a particular location before – things are always changing – think construction, trees cut down etc. Scouting allows us to use our couples’ precious wedding day efficiently and to be creative in each location as we’ve already planned where we’re shooting. We had done our usual scout prior to Alex and Joel’s wedding and were ready. We love Airship 37. We love the big, open, modern minimalist feel. We love the white, the windows, the light, and the outside space with the vintage bus. Airship 37 really is a photographer’s dream space – it’s a giant softbox with hipster accessories.
This Stylish wedding has a modern minimalist beauty to it that you captured perfectly. How did the couple communicate the design of their wedding to you so that you could sync your photographic approach?
We provide our couples with an extensive wedding prep email. Among other things, we ask our couples to tell us about the most important personal elements of their day. With Alex and Joel’s responses in mind, we were ready to capture their theme as they imagined it.
A big part of the planning of a wedding is all the little details that personalize the experience for the couple and reflect to their guests their vision. How do you ensure that you get all of these details in your pictures?
There definitely are a lot of details to capture during a wedding day! As a team of two primary photographers, we have the ability to shoot in multiple locations at the highest level simultaneously. To ensure that we could capture all of Alex and Joel’s personal details, Naomi spent the morning with Alex and Mark was with Joel. Because Alex and Joel’s ceremony space converted into their reception space, we only had a fixed window of time to capture their reception details and this was the same time as their portraits. Our planning with Alex and Joel made it work though. Essentially, once the reception room was ready, Naomi popped back to the venue to document the room while Mark continued shooting portraits with Alex and Joel in the Distillery.
This wedding had fun whimsical touches that brought out the silly in everyone. Capturing the complete emotional range of a wedding, including the energy of the moment, is important. You so aptly achieve this in your work. How do you ensure you get all the subtle nuances recorded?
We pride ourselves on being keen observers. For a significant portion of the reception, both of us use sports photography lenses to allow us to stand further back. Essentially, we act like flies on a wall, receding into the background. This affords us the ability to capture guests’ genuine reactions from different vantage points.
Where is your go-to place for inspiration as photographers?
We don’t have just one go-to place! We really draw inspiration from all the things we love – travel, film (Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, and David Lynch to name but a few of our favorite directors), fashion, editorial photography (Newton, Avedon, and Sherman as classic examples), graphic design, music videos, architecture, and wildlife. To be honest though, on a wedding day, we’re inspired by our couple – by the two of them as individuals and together, by their families, their friends, and their decision to commit themselves to one another. We’re storytellers and romantics (even though Mark doesn’t like to admit the latter). To us this means that we’re motivated to tell each couple’s story authentically through images.
Venue : Airship37
Photographer: Let Us Go Photo
Dress: Nicole Miller for BHLDN
Shoes: Charlotte Olympia for Kleinfeld Canada
Hair & Makeup: The Beauty Movement Shira Ben
Hair Accessories: Erin Fitzpatrick Bridal
Custom Posters: John Spagnolo
Flowers: Cool Green & Shady