Home on a Friday morning, procrastinating work watching The Carter Effect on Netflix trying to forget about how my Raptors flamed out in the playoffs and noticed it was kind of foggy out. I stood at the large sliding glass door to my balcony contemplating heading out with my Canon M10, staring out at the buildings disappearing into the fog thinking, “as soon as I get out there it’s going to lift.” Decided to head out anyway, and pretty much right after snapping the first picture overlooking the DVP it did, but the light was still ideal and it was a good excuse to walk up Broadview to my beloved East Chinatown for a Hong Kong style milk tea. My neighbourhood is beautiful, but it isn’t always “pretty” … a lot of folks here are just trying to get by.
Erika and Paul’s wedding had an old-timey, Kodachrome quality to it in style, location, and feel. There’s a sweetness in their interactions, in their country home, in their chivalry. The classic car they chose to deliver them to the various locations was a perfect choice, matching the aesthetic of the wedding, and it photographed really well! It was an unbearably hot day — I remember one of the groomsmen telling me that the thermometer in the garden was registering over 35 degrees Celsius, or something like that. I took pictures of Paul and his groomsmen outside in the garden of his family’s home, and they each stepped outside for a quick snap and then right back into the air conditioning. The foliage at Markham Museum had that mid summer burnt look, you can almost hear the grass and leaves desperately asking for agua like that guy at the beginning of No Country For Old Men, but it didn’t seem to affect the happy couple at all, as they were their usual smiling selves, looking at each other with a twinkle in their eyes and joy in their hearts.
I met Joash and Laura a while back through my wife, and last week, I got a message out of the blue from Joash asking if I was free on Saturday and if I do “pregnancy pictures.” I responded “yes, I take maternity photos.” (We all had a good laugh about this over dinner afterwards.) I’m always amazed when couples are willing to shed their winter gear for outdoor photos in the freezing cold. Meanwhile I’m all layered up with a giant parka on and still feeling frosty. I tried to stick with spots that at least shielded them from the biting wind, so we started at the Novotel in the St Lawrence neighbourhood and finished up at the Distillery’s festival of lights. We were lucky that afternoon, the cloud cover was consistent and thin, so we had lovely light that allowed us to shoot basically anywhere (I call it nature’s “soft box”). By the time we got to the Distillery, it felt like we were shooting in the deep freeze, so I fired off a few shots for the 10 minutes we could bear the cold and decided to packed it in. To end our fun yet frosty afternoon together, we all headed back to our flat to warm up a little and then headed out for a warm, cozy dinner at our favourite barbecue joint and talked music and Super Bowl predictions … well, mostly them trolling me for being a Pats fan.
Over the past few years I’ve developed a great relationship with the Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs, who have invited me back numerous times to photograph their annual fundraiser and annual general meeting. I love documenting people who are passionate about their work and helping others. Corporate shoots can often look stale and boring, but I approach them the same way I approach a wedding, portrait session, or even street photography; I look for emotion, interesting faces, good light and visually compelling lines. A couple of things worth pointing out: 1) the guest speaker, Justice Donald McLeod is the first black judge to graduate from Queen’s University, and 2) the gentleman who busted out of his paisley patterned shirt to become Superman helped exceed their fundraising goal by a long-shot.
I love photographing intimate weddings that perfectly reflect the two people getting married. Siobhan and Sunil are outdoor people; their favourite activity together is being surrounded by trees and nature while hiking. They incorporated as much foliage as possible on their wedding day, the most apparent example being Siobhan’s epic bouquet (and yes, I know that “epic” is one of those overused words that gets thrown around mindlessly, but take a look at the bouquet … epic). We started the day at Toronto’s botanical gardens, and they asked me to capture as much of the gardens and surrounding woods as possible, whatever the light permits (it was a bright, sunny summer midday). It took several family members on cell phones to coordinate the “first look” photos at the busy gardens, calling one another to keep at bay the swaths of tourists and wedding guests from other parties wandering the grounds. Siobhan and Sunil have such a lovely connection — they could not hold back the tears when they first saw each other and again at the wedding ceremony while reading their vows. Another personal touch that worked well was having their ceremony and reception at Le Select Bistro, a restaurant on the west side of the city that Siobhan’s family has been going to for many years. Having the bulk of their day at the same venue kept things stress free and easygoing, which always translates well in the photos.