As far as everyone knew, they were getting dressed up for a night at the Citadel to celebrate Christina and Anthony’s graduations. I’m telling you, there is nothing more exciting than being able to photograph gigantic surprises and joyous ambushes on people.
Wendy + Anthony, we’ve said it a million time, Thank You. “Fun” does not even begin to scratch the surface on this one!
Want more? Here’s the slideshow
Sometimes we shoot a 16 hour wedding day and sometimes we shoot a 3 hour wedding day.
Melinda and Ryan (and Henry, of course) came back to Nova Scotia for a visit and decided to get married right in the living room, with family and friends right there with them. I love shooting these small, intimate weddings. It really makes us realize that when it comes right down to it, the wedding is a celebration of a marriage. This marriage happens during a ceremony and emotions are at their highest during this point…regardless of where you’re standing and how many people you’re standing in front of.
I love me some huge wedding ballrooms with uplighting and the finest decor…but when you take all of that stuff away, the emotions still remain. It’s such a huge rush to be a part of and I want to do this more often. Melinda and Ryan, thank you!
We were supposed to go skiing. Just Marse and I. A little ski weekend getaway that we’ve been trying to plan for three years now and everything was booked…until the kids got sick. Kids being kids, they lick everything in sight which meant we all got sick. Ski trip cancelled.
The next thing I know Marse, Lola, Ruby and I are on a plane headed for Jamaica. 7 days and 7 litres of sunscreen.
I packed the minimal amount of camera gear. Our backup backup gear. 2 lenses and 16G of memory. I hadn’t planned on shooting a whole lot. I was going to be Daddy…but what was I to do when fate drops a bomb on you? As we’re checking into the resort, we’re standing next to a really nice couple and she happens to be holding her wedding dress. Not one to shy away from conversation, I ask, “Getting married…and do you have a photographer?” I feel a sharp pain and realize Marcia is jabbing the pen between my ribs with the force of a Mom who’s about to be left alone with two kids under four on a beach.
After a bit of chatting, I found out that Peter and Sarah, from Halifax, didn’t have a photographer so I said,”Listen, I’ve got very limited gear but I’d love to shoot for you guys for a few hours. Just let me hang out and grab a few shots for you.” I wasn’t doing this for money. I was doing this because I can’t help it…and because my wife loves me and lets me work, even on our vacation.
They agreed. I was stoked.
All I wanted to do was get them a few shots of the ceremony, some family pics and a few shots down on the beach…and then I saw the Infinity Pool with it’s tiny little ledge and 5 foot drop off. “So I have an idea” I said to Peter and Sarah. “I really want a shot of you guys up on the ledge of that infinity pool. Up to this point, I had been getting the lifeguard whistle tweets any time I even leaned on the edge of the pool so I had no idea how in the hell I was going to get a bride, in a wedding dress, up on that ledge in the middle of the afternoon.
Now, whenever there are kids around, they’re always great for photographs. They laugh, they jump and play, they cry and…they shit. Luckily for me, as we’re plotting, planning and about to bribe the lifeguard, someones kid shits in the pool and the whistle started blowing. “Everybody out of the pool!” Seriously? This could not have worked better. People were scattering (pun intended?) and everything I had hoped for was suddenly falling into place. We told the lifeguard what we wanted to do and he said we could do it if we were quick, like, 30 seconds quick.
So I stripped down to my shorts and jumped into the
toilet pool. Peter and Sarah climbed up on the wall and I realized that what I saw in my head was not what was going to happen at all. I only had 35mm and could only get back so far. Also, as you would expect when someone gets IN a pool thats just been shat in, crowds will tend to gather and watch. They gathered along the ledge and I just crossed my fingers that when I got home, Steph would be able to photoshop them out. I had been planning this shot for 3 days and no little turds or tourist heads were going to stop me.
…and then I went back to being Daddy. It was the perfect trip.
There’s got to be some secret society of grandparents, an elite club you join when you become a grandparent. I’ve never seen it happen but, from what I can tell, it gives you license to stock your cupboards with cookies and calm the craziest chaos with a warm and simple hug. It’s a superpower I recall from all of my grandparents, one I see now in our kids’ grandparents and one I’m looking forward to many, many…many years from now.
Jamin and Jeff both lost their Moms to cancer but were watching over them on their wedding day a few weeks ago. Some would even say, and I would have to agree, that it was their Moms that brought them together.
When we showed up, it took no time at all to realize the bond between Jamin and her Nanny. From the rings passed down to Jamin and Sally, the cake topper and the meticulously detailed journaling she did, we knew Nanny was going to play a big role in the day. So much so that I really wanted to do this kind of a blog after I saw some of the final shots.
These hands have many stories. This is one of them.
5 things I learned from a whiteboard. Two columns, four rows. A dry erase slap in the face.
1. we’re wedding photographers. no question.
2. chill out man, embrace the off season.
3. i don’t pose a soft hand on faces very well. stop doing it.
4. shoot way more personal work.
5. turn personal work into portraits?
This is the result of all five of those things.
Jimmy, thanks so much for letting me and my camera tag along on patrol in the wee hours of the night, thanks for the photo talk while we fought crime and thanks for playing along with us for this shoot!
Blog 2 to 3 times a week. Give 60% content. Ask 40% questions. Tag images. Titles w keywords. Act busy. Look busy. Follow the formula and ye shall find success.
Are you fucking kidding me? For the life of me I cannot understand why a creative industry is being driven by those telling us all to follow a formula. Did you ever notice who stands out at work or school or in a group? It’s the weirdos, man. The loud mouth, the funny guy, the sleeper, the jerks and the nose picker. Everyone else just sorta blends in.
It seems like everyone becomes a photographer so they can do their own thing but the message boards and Facebook posts are full of people asking for foolish advice, second guessing everything they do and looking for some kind of permission to do things. In the words of the wise and eloquent Spencer Lum, “Fuck Permission!”
You wanna know what I’m not very good at? Taking photos without reason. I find it REALLY hard to shoot for people ‘just because’. Engagement shoots in the park, for example, are so tough for me because I can’t find the Why. So, while it seems the entire industry is offering the standard engagement shoots with wedding collections, Steph and I decided we’re not doing our clients any good shooting for them ‘just because’. Photographing people is such a huge collaborative effort for us and ‘go stand over there and kiss’ is being done by, well, pretty much everyone. I quit my well paying job to do this…the least I can do is be honest w clients and myself about what we love to do.
Enter Jill and Tim (again). Our love for these two runs deep and not just because they bring 40s of Jagermeister to a photo shoot. Tim’s a man of the outdoors and Jill supports that in every way. Almost every story at their wedding was about hunting and fishing and how big a part that all played in their daily lives. So, after a few episodes of Duck Dynasty, it came to us…Jill was the Miss Kay to Tim’s Phil Robertson and ‘stand by your man’ was born.
When they pulled up to Sandy Lake in a huge truck w the 4 wheeler loaded on the back, Jill in her wedding dress, I realized the enormity of the shoot and how much they had to invest in just getting ready. We were trekking into the woods for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon for one shot. One single concept was all I had in mind and one single shot (ok maybe 2) was all I wanted. Of course there were variations in pose and looks and we may have even thrown in a few smokes as props for a few shots but the camera didn’t come off of the tripod and there are no other scenes from the shoot…and I love that.
“Put your foreheads together and close your eyes” just doesn’t work for me. I’d much rather shove my photographic finger right up my nose and hope the right people notice.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in my furnace room lately, thanks to a faulty and discontinued electric boiler. As much of a pain in the ass is it is, good fortune sometimes favours the bored. While I stand there, waiting for the temperature needle to drop below 170 degrees, I find myself rummaging through old boxes. I’ve found some old books, our wedding disc (I know, I know…but don’t do as I do, do as I SAY!) and I also came across my transcripts from Saint Mary’s. Most of my courses were Icthyology, Entemology, Parasitology and everyone’s favourite, Drugs + Behavior. For some reason, I also took a Greek Mythology course and aced it. Not sure why I took it but I loved it and my only A+ in university proved that! That prompted me to go looking for my Mythology book and I found that too.
So, after a few late night trips to the furnace room I’d pretty much finished the book and my inspiration was now fuelled by greek gods and goddesses.
Enter Jill + Tim’s wedding on December 29, 2012.
Steph and I knew that Jill had set aside a few minutes early in the day to put on her Mom’s wedding dress and take a few photos. That was all we knew and nothing in particular was planned.
It was already turning out to be one of those days where the light just shines in the right places at the right time. Daylight has a tendency to slowly creep away and what was once a great location in a house for an incredible photos can quickly became a dark corner of nothing…but not on this day. Jill walked up the stairs and it was as if the greek gods has all stopped, opened up the skies and let the light shine through this one window for what seemed like an eternity. If you’re not a photographer then you’re probably reading this and thinking, ‘what a photo nerd this guy is’ and while part of that may be true, this is my version of a game winning goal. Shit just goes right sometimes. It’s the reason we go to work.
Anyway, here I come again, barrelling down the pre-school steps w something to show you. I love this photograph of Jill in her Mom’s dress. I love the transition from shadow to light and the simplicity of the pose. I love the fine detail in Pam’s dress and the strong feeling of nostalgia and pride in Jill’s eyes. I love that my furnace broke down and led me to a book that led me to some inspiration to create such a simple photograph. I love that moments like this make up for all the times the light slips away and leaves us with dark, uninspiring corners.
If you come here from time to time then you probably know how much Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk had an impact on me. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and my heart pounded against my ribcage as each of those 20 minutes ticked by in her talk. I kid you not. There are a handful of things that actually changed my life for the better…things like the birth of my girls, our wedding, my mom kicking cancer’s ass and that damn TED talk. I was always a science kid. I loved cutting open frogs and collecting bugs in school. I didn’t play any musical instruments and I didn’t take any art courses during part any of my educational journey. Now, here I am, a 38 year old artist. I always cringe when I say that because I don’t feel like one. I don’t really feel like I deserve to be one. I mean, what the hell do I know about anything art history related? Nadda. Nothing. If I made an art resume it would be blank.
So all I have are ideas and even saying that makes me wince. I’ve never told you this before, but I once posted a fearless bridal shoot and someone left a comment that absolutely tore me apart. It mocked my ideas, my lighting and everything else about the photos I posted. It was an anonymous post but it stayed with me right up to…well, right now. I killed me. I just HAD to know who it was. I’d dissected that shoot time and time again, second guessing everything because, prior to that comment, I was so happy with what we had done.
At some point soon after that, I pulled up my big boy photographer underwear, grew some thick skin and realized I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life. Plenty of bad ideas and lighting setups lay ahead. I’m telling you, I can’t thank that anonymous, cowardly motherfucker enough. He ranks right up there with Elizabeth Gilbert on the list of things to keep in mind as you work. Just show up, every single day, and go to work. Good things will happen.
I wish we could all shoot like my four year old lives her life. Every single day at 4pm she come barreling out of preschool frantically waving her arms in the air, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, look what I made!” We’ve got a collection, a HUGE collection of 8×10 pieces of paper with sparkles, splatters and smudges that she calls her art. She never asks if its good. In her mind, it’s perfect…and I have to agree. She made it on her own and she made it for us. I swear to god for the rest of my life, I’m shooting with that kind of passion. Its’ terrifying to hand over a wedding or portait collection to clients. Terrifying. Anyone who says it isn’t is lying to you. In the words of a very talented wedding photographer, it’s always personal. No matter what stage of photography you’re in, newbie, part timer or pro…it’s always scary to just put it out there.
So, this is what I made for you. This is me barreling down the preschool steps, waving my hands in the air with a photograph I want to show you. I’m so damn proud of it and I don’t care what you think.
Devon + Darcy were married in Scotland and then came home to celebrate in style. With the help of Chez, the Halifax Wedding Planner, and some amazingly talented and creative friends and family, they held one hell of a party at their Benjamin Bridge vineyard in Wolfville. The Mellotones set the stage and the cracking lighting and thunder stopped just in time to set off a few lanterns.
I hope this is not the last time we shoot at Benjamin Bridge!
I get an email from a friend of a client who’s a friend of a guy who’s about to propose to his girlfriend and then pull the whole wedding planning this off on his own…two days later. Its the kind of email where you think, “This is a scam…or…this guys is CRAZY!”
Fortunately for us it was all real. Jeremy is the greatest wedding planning man in the world. No question.
So let’s talk about the engagement first.
I hadn’t met Jeremy and all of our communication was on the phone or by email. The only concrete plans to photograph the proposal were, “meet us in Point Pleasant Park on Sunday morning at 11am.” So Steph buried herself in the tall grass hoping she was in the right place…and waited.
I sat around the gazebo w Eegn, waiting for a guy in a hoodie and a girl w a camera around her neck. We waited…and waited and waited. Then, eegn took off as he often does…and he almost screwed everything up. I was in the perfect location as ‘guy in park w camera’. As I chased after eegn I saw the guy in the hoodie. Now I’ve never been CIA or FBI or undercover anything but the acknowledging, yet subtle nod that Jeremy and I gave each other was the biggest rush of my life. This guy’s about to propose, Julia has no idea and we get to photograph it! I hoped she said yes!
So Im holding eegn from taking off and all of a sudden, Jeremy is down on one knee and I’m 25 feet away. click. click. click. look away. act casual. don’t panic, she’s not watching you. click. click. click. At this point I had let eegn go and had no idea where Steph was either. What a huge rush.
So Julia’s got a camera around her neck and she hands it over to a stranger passing by to take a photo and as luck would have it, she asked a lady who clearly had never used a camera before. Enter ‘guy in park with camera’. “Can I help?” I ask them. “YES, we just got engaged can you take our picture” said Julia. Hahahaha…this is just brilliant. In all the excitement she neglected to ask my name or how she could get the images from us.
And just like that we were gone.
So she said yes on Sunday and on Monday Julia found out they were getting married on Tuesday. Luckily, Christa (Felicity Bridal) was in on the planning and had a few dresses set aside for Julia and had arranged for the alterations to be done the same day. We showed up 15 minutes into the appointment and the dress was already being zipped into the bag. An incredible effort from a bridal shop in the middle of wedding season!
I wish i could tell you about every little detail but I could go on forever. The tape on the ring because it was just a bit too big, the DeWalt sound system, the cake that City Girls had all ready for them (Shauna was also in on the plan) and the amazing group of 4 friends who gathered for the wedding.
For once, I’m kind of at a loss for words. Kind of. This was just an incredible thing to be a part of. We’ll never forget it.
A surprise proposal and a surprise wedding two days later. This is one of the greatest men in the world. Images and the story coming soon.
The probability of precipitation was about 30% and the accumulation was 0. 0mm of rain was expected on Saturday.
At 9.09pm the walls of the tent were blowing in and the water was pouring from the sky. Thunder and lightning were striking down over the Benjamin Bridge Vineyard with great vengeance and furious anger. I was certain the power was going to go out or we were all going to be whisked away to Oz in a tornado.
The entire staff of Jane’s on the Common handled it like they work in these kind of conditions all the time. Fire up a second tent here, assembly line some meals here, push the water there…you guys were incredible to watch. Well done.
Devon, Darcy and every single one of their guests just kept on partying. Exactly the way it should have been. Its was great.
The lightning continues to strike all over the vineyard and I just thought there was no way we could not try and capture the sky. I’d never even tried to shoot lighting before but we grabbed an umbrella (metal) and the tripod (also metal) and headed for the middle of the pitch black vineyard.
Pointed the camera in a direction we hoped the lightning would strike and waited…all the while commenting on how ludicrous it was to stand in the middle of a vineyard in a lightning storm.
The sky lights up. We wait. We wait. Exposure finishes…and we blew it. Terrible. No idea how to shoot lighting. I mean, how bright is this unexpected bolt going to be? We made some adjustments, lightning strikes…and other failure. Too dark. 15 minutes later we’re soaked but still alive and about to quit. The sky lights up and we finally got lucky. High fives, chimping and the anticipation of getting it back to the studio to have a look.
I fucking love this job. I love that I don’t have a boss or an HR department that will tell me its too stupid to stand in a field and waste time trying to get a shot that’s probably not going to work anyway. I love that we shoot for clients who give us the freedom to do anything we want.
We’re very proud members of the Fearless Photographers group but more and more I believe it’s the clients who are fearless. Not us.
I wasn’t kidding yesterday when I said we’re hell bent on changing the way family photography is done.
The question we’ve been getting since yesterday is, “How does a shoot work?”. So I dug up some behind the scenes video from a shoot we did last winter to give you an idea of what happened on this one particular day. We needed ‘a body’ so Steph doubled as assistant and ‘dead body’ because, well, we’d never put a real client in a garbage bag.
(for what it’s worth, I’m sorry I’m about to play the ‘Christmas is coming’ card)
Christmas is coming! I know this because a lot more often, I find myself in conversations w Marse about what Santa is bringing the girls this year. Pretty soon I’ll be out in the garage getting the decorations. Christmas is coming.
Another sign that Christmas is coming is the sudden increase in people asking about family portraits. I know I probably sound like a broken record but my idea of a family photo is not Marcia, Lola, Ruby and I all dressed the same, sitting and smiling at the camera. The last time that happened in my house was…never. At no point in my life is my house ever silent. Someone is always laughing, screaming, telling on someone or singing opening themes to children’s shows. If we all sit quietly and stare…it’s probably because Ruby poured icing sugar all over the living room.
Knowing exactly how you don’t want to shoot family portraits leaves the door open to everything else.
In June we headed down to Shubenacadie for a family shoot and Joely gave us a pretty good idea of what she wanted, “…I don’t want a traditional family photo but something more landscaping with shadows of us or a very distant shot of us. I would like a picture I can hang in our home and it won’t be outdated in a few years cause the kids are older.”
So we waited, planned, plotted the sun, waited for the right weather and headed out to the fields w the cows.
This family shoot was a little different. When Sean and Jen came in they knew exactly what they didn’t want. It was perfect. It left the door wide open to everything else and we ended up with a celebration of the kick ass backyard they have and the fact that when they’re not working or at the barn, they just love to be outside.
We’re hell-bent on bucking the trend of traditional family photography.
Here’s my number: 233.8567 Call me? Maybe?