The weather is turning and we’re leaving this dark winter behind. As a wedding photographer, with every year this change in weather brings a flood of couples who have their wedding photography booked with me for the season to reach out about scheduling their engagement photos. Something that I normally do going into each new wedding and engagement season is review my last year’s photos for inspiration. As if to pick-up where I left off, so to speak. This season however, I decided to look further back than just the past year’s weddings and engagements for inspiration. That lead my to revisit Aileen & Mark’s engagement photography. Although this shoot was done a couple of years ago, looking through the photos really took me back to a point where I was solid in my photography style. By solid, I mean that I was my own biggest influence, and I had a strong style that was my own. I was almost unaffected by whatever any other Toronto photographer was doing at the time, and had a certain characteristic photography style that was my signature. Not to say that I feel that I’ve lowered my standards in any way since, but I must admit, that I have since allowed other current styles and trends influence my approach to photography somewhat since, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There is something to be said about being your own influence and having a strong signature style though.
For Aileen and Mark’s engagement photos, we met at School Restaurant in Liberty Village. As I walked in, they were just finishing lunch and coffee. I remember seeing the two of them together before they saw me, and thinking that this scene looks perfect. The two of them just chatting, enjoying each other’s company. I asked them if they could just pretend that I’m not there so that I could get a few shots of them, exactly as they were. What was great about working with them throughout the afternoon was just how natural and comfortable they were. That’s always one of the keys to working with any couple for me; getting past the nervousness and any awkwardness, and to the point where they are relaxed and comfortable. It’s only then that a couple is able to be themselves in the photos, whether it’s engagement photography or wedding photos. I remember when they stood in font of me together for the first time as I was about to officially begin the photoshoot, and thinking that there is quite a height difference, and that always poses a challenge. This ended up not being an issue at all though, as their level of comfort negated that height difference. I remember talking with Aileen and Mark about their wedding, and they managed to get me excited for the food, as they were going to (and did!) have one of my top 5 favourite dishes at their wedding; Chicken & Waffles. I wondered how this couple could be so lean and fit, thinking that they must not eat chicken and waffles too often. At one point, Mark flipped his collar to reveal his name stitched into his bespoke suit jacket. I remember appreciating that the couple put as much thought into the shoot to wear something this nice.
It’s an amazing reminder of just how powerful photography can be; to remember all of these little nuances and even tiny thoughts from years ago, just by looking at the photos. It reminds me of one of the purpose of a photograph, and that’s to bring you back to that moment when it was taken. No, we can’t go back in time, but with good photography we can hang on to moments forever. That’s the goal. That’s the reminder that I needed going into this season. In the end I don’t know that it matters where my influences come from, be it internal or external. Styles and influences are ever changing, but it’s that mission of the photographer that remains the same. My job is to capture moments in a way that couples can hang onto forever.
It’s going to be a good year:)