Sophia & Nick’s wedding was supposed to happen on a nice warm, clear sunny summer day… Instead, it rained. Following the Greek ceremony in Toronto, they had an amazing outdoor wedding reception planned on the family’s old farm property. Every single detail was painstakingly hand crafted, and had a rustic charm. As a a wedding photographer, I had plenty to visual candy to consume. Although I would have preferred more time and less rain, we were able to work well with what was in front of us. Thankfully, the rain held-off until the reception under the big white tent began. Once the reception was under way, I was reminded pretty quickly that there’s no better food than Greek food! Not to insult any other culture, but that late night gyro station was probably the greatest single food item I’ve ever devoured. I was also reminded of just how crazy the Greek folks can get on a dance floor. I’m sure I actually saw some flips happen, which is impressive, given the amount of alcohol that was consumed! Rain or shine, we had a great time, and the wedding was an absolute success.
Meet Mandy & Lu. Mandy is from the US, and Lu from Toronto. When we were discussing their engagement photography, they wanted to include some component of their Canadian/American relationship, and the traveling theme. I had already done Union Station and used flags as props for another couple who had a similar request. Mandy and Lu are also very fashion-forward and the shoot had to be stylish. We through some ideas back and forth, and then when the idea of a road trip with a classic American car surfaced, we knew we had our vision. We planned a 50’s era shoot, and sought after some details. The Diner seemed like a must have, however there just didn’t seem to be any available diner that was in the right location, with the right look, and the willingness to allow us to shoot. I ended up calling the Wimpy’s Diner in Scarborough, and they were more than happy to host us. Awesome:)
The car was a very similar story; we knew what we wanted, but nothing seemed to check all boxes and be available at any decent rate… Then I met John Cilia at an unrelated engagement shoot in Markham. John had a 1956 Cadillac convertible that he was showing. He let us grab a few shots and gave me his card. The car was perfect. I mentioned the mint green Cadillac and John to Mandy and Lu, and they loved it. We contacted John and he was gracious enough to meet us at the Scarborough Bluffs with the car for the engagement photos. All I can say is that it couldn’t have worked out better. It couldn’t have fit our vision better. Sometimes things have a strange way of working out and presenting opportunities even after every other avenue has been exhausted.
Mandy & Lu’s wedding is coming up next weekend, so I thought it would be nice timing to blog the engagement shoot now. If anyone is interested in renting the Cadillac for either their own wedding, or a photo shoot, there’s more info on John’s services HERE.
In my last post I talked about some of the struggles that I’ve been going through, and how Tim unknowingly inspired me to find the will to face them. I now want to focus on one of the most inspiring wedding events that I’ve ever had the fortune of covering; Natalie and Tim’s “Access-a-Wedding”, as they put it.
Wedding Photography in Toronto has been good to me over the years. I’ve been able to witness some things that I never would have otherwise. I’ve shot over 300 weddings as a Toronto wedding photographer, many unique in their own ways. Why it took 9 years before having the privilege of covering the wedding so unique, I have no idea, but it was a privilege none the less.
I met Natalie and Tim when I was the photographer for Natalie’s brother Cooper’s wedding. Their family was so caring and open that I really became close to everyone in a way that doesn’t often happen as a wedding photographer. When I learned that Natalie and Tim were engaged, the idea of covering their wedding intrigued me. After 9 years as a wedding photographer, anything that is different or challenging is a good thing. I was happy when Natalie and Tim contacted me with their wedding date, wondering if I was available.
I had probably thought about Natalie & Tim’s wedding and engagement session before hand more than any other event that I’ve ever covered. I found my self thinking about things, ideas for the shoots months before. I spent time visualizing the shoots, in an attempt to prepare. In the end, I realize that I thought too much. This is often the case with wedding photography I find; over thinking things can be more damaging than good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a few ideas ready to go, but nothing beats being in the moment with the couple and letting the creativity come. I really found this worked best with Natalie and Tim’s engagement shoot, and tried to continue with it on their wedding day.
Of course once Natalie & Tim’s wedding day came, so continued the ridiculous record run of rainy wedding days that I was having. I think it was about the sixth in a row by this point. Nonetheless, rain or shine we were having a wedding. The entire wedding took place at the Evergreen Brickworks, and featured an amazing level of hand-made visual elements. Natalie’s wedding dress was created from scratch by herself. The green theme was accented in almost every element of the wedding. There were even a few serendipitous existing visual elements that seemed so perfect that we had to include them, like the “2040 Personal Mobility Concept Vehicle” that touched on both the mobility theme and the green accent. Sure, it would have been much nicer had the weather cooperated, but we were finding plenty to work with inside the Brickworks – even if we were limited to the small corner that was ours for the night (there was also some sort of festival taking over two-thirds of the building and bringing in droves of people). Sometimes obstacles are really opportunities in disguise.
When all was said and done, the uniqueness of Natalie and Tim’s wedding had nothing to do with disability. The most unique element was the purity and whole-hearted love that not only their families, but also every single one of their guests exuded. I mean that in the most honest way possible. I went into this thing with my assistant Keith, using the term “the wheelchair wedding” (not in a negative fashion, but as a preparatory reference), but we both look back on it as an enlightening event that showed us what the human spirit is. What family is. That being good has nothing to do with religion or beliefs, or even acceptance. It has to do with embrace, commitment, and love. These are the qualities that empower us. These are the powers that enable us, and nothing can disable one who has these powers flowing through their very core. I wrote in my last post that Tim is not disabled; that he’s enabled… Now you know why. I hope one day you get to meet Tim so that you can see all of this for yourself. In the mean time, here’s a great place to start: therosecentre.ca
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything… In truth, it’s been a long while, and for many reasons. Most people go through a period in their lives at some point that takes them off-course. Sometimes it’s a little bit, and sometimes it’s a lot. Some may wrap it up by saying “It hasn’t been my year” or something to that effect. Regardless, this truly hasn’t been my year. It all centers around an unlucky series of heath issues. I’m not even sure how I feel about sharing everything here but I will anyway, as life’s too short to hide what’s important.
I’ve been a successful wedding photographer, father and husband, with life seeming suspiciously fun and easy. That was until one year ago when a tumour was discovered under my ear. Note, the tumour was not really the problem, and I’m not going to mislead anyone in my writing; I do not have cancer. The problem was that even though the likelihood of this type of tumour being cancerous was very low, it was amazingly the exact same thing that my uncle had two years prior; the same tumour in the same spot, even being told the same thing about how low risk it is by the same doctor… The problem was that my uncle’s ended up being cancerous, and I watched him die four months after his was removed. Needless to say, this created a new health anxiety complex for me.
I worked through the summer shooting weddings, then had the scheduled surgery in September. After almost a month of waiting for the results, I finally got the confirmation that I needed; the tumour was benign, and I was healthy…
… Until November of last year, when a strange new ailment developed; a prostate infection. I was given a couple of weeks of antibiotics for it, but it didn’t clear up. I had constant pain and discomfort “down there”. My doctor setup an appointment with a urologist… Which the earliest they could see me was almost 8 months away – May 28th, which still hasn’t arrived as of my writing this! What a joke.
After about a month and a half of suffering, I decided to see a private prostatitis clinic downtown. The doctor who saw me was encouraging at first, ran some tests, and I was hopeful. Then in late February, the prostate symptoms hit a steep turn for the worse. I had constant bladder pain and couldn’t be more than 10 minutes away from a washroom. Not doable for a wedding photographer.
The prostate specialist decided to put me on an antibiotics cocktail, which is where my real problems began. Two weeks of Zithromax, combined with two weeks of Clavulin, staggered with two weeks of Macrobid, adding in two weeks of Ciprofloxacin, with two weeks of Doxicyclene…
…All of the sudden I noticed I wasn’t right. I was having vision problems, pain in my joints, dizziness, headaches, and major brain fog.
We pulled the plug on the antibiotics, and I was told I’ll be fine in a week. One week later I was in the emergency room, wondering if I was going to die. All tests normal.
After a month of decline, I decided to see a naturopath, who said I have systemic Candida from all of the antibiotics. The treatment is a long, ridiculous diet that consists of only lean meat, greens, nuts, some oils, and water. Not good for an already underweight man. As I began the diet, things failed to improve. In fact, the opposite; I hit an even further decline. I was at the point of being unable to get up, function, think straight, take care of myself -or worst of all – my kids. I didn’t have anything left. I felt disabled. I wanted to die.
Days went past, some better than others. I stuck to the diet and dragged myself to do just about anything that let me feel even a touch of normalcy. I managed to get through a couple of engagement shoots, and received positive feedback on the results. I began to think about the future, and my own strength. Could I ever return fully to what I was?
Today I still wonder if I’ll ever fully recover from this. I will say one thing; The only way to know is to pick myself up and give it everything I’ve got. This is where I begin again. This is also the reason that I have decided not only to blog again today, but to begin with a very special blog post. Tim and Natalie are not your ordinary couple. Tim is not your ordinary groom. I was thinking about him today, and thinking about the challenges he’s faced. The bottom line is that he’s faced them. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know him, and believe me when I say that anything that you take away from knowing Tim is a positive thing. I can’t compare my challenges with his. All I can say is that I’m not disabled. Tim is not disabled. The only thing that disables someone is when they give up. I’ve watched Tim celebrate some of the greatest things life has to offer. With Natalie by his side, he’s one of the most enabled human beings I’ve ever met.
Izabela & Marcello had one thing certain when they booked me; they wanted to do their engagement photography in Ancaster instead of Toronto. That was fine by me, as wedding photography in Toronto can get a little boring if you refuse to ever leave the city. I was very impressed by the amount of thought and preparation these two had put into the engagement shoot as well. Marcello had actually hand-made the little “scout’s tent” that you see in the shoot! I couldn’t believe it. I actually said he could sell these things if he were so inclined. I know I have two kids that would love one.
The entire shoot was just a breeze, and fun. I’ve said it before, and mean it as much as ever; I have the best clients. Iza & Marcello are a nice couple in every possible meaning of the word. Nice people, nice as a couple, nice to look at, nice friends to have. They truly made the day not feel like work, and worth the drive to Ancaster.