For The Bride Who Does Things Her Own Way: Tropical Wedding Inspiration

I love photographing weddings that have different and unique elements tucked into them, and one of the core messages in my business is supporting couples who want to do things their way.  So, we thought what better way to style this than as a bridal inspiration shoot focused on a couple who is really rocking it and doing everything their own way to make the wedding day feel meaningful for them!

I partnered with the lovely Melissa from Melissa Twist Events to create this shoot. We set out to style a tropical styled wedding for all the couples getting married close to home in Canada, but wishing they could elope to Miami Beach or Barbados instead!  Our vision was Miami Beach meets the June Motel, and wanted to create a set of wedding day inspiration that was relaxed, fun loving, summery, and oh so easy!

It’s one of my favourite things when the bride and groom spend their whole wedding day together, rather than having to wait until their ceremony at 4pm to finally see one another.  So, we decided that our lovely couple would do everything together all day, from getting ready together, to going for margaritas and tacos for a relaxed lunch date, to taking a couple of hours at the beach to enjoy a beautiful summer day off together before finally heading to their ceremony and reception.   If you’re not sure about straying from the traditional wedding day timeline, take a look through the shots below for some inspiration!

While I love a good classic white and green bouquet, this summer I found myself craving colour!  I contacted Sherry from Willow and Stems to envision and create the colourful florals for this shoot because she has such a unique and creative way of approaching every project.  She created a spectacular colourful bridal bouquet, tropical inspired arch for the waterfront ceremony, and spectacular bohemian bridal table.  She even set about designing the most creative floral installation for the front of a paddle board, but sadly the wind and waves kept our couple from enjoying the wedding day paddle boarding session of my dreams.  Our groom was styled with a sharp floral tie in lieu of a boutonniere, and I truly can’t think of a better summery groom style if flowers for your lapel aren’t your thing!

My favourite part of the shoot by far was our lunchtime trip to Bent Taco, for our bride, groom, (and styling team), to enjoy a lunch time taco and margarita break.  I don’t know about you, but compared to most wedding days when I see parties barely picking at questionable sandwich trays while they’re getting ready, I would definitely schedule in a fun lunch break for food and drinks that everybody actually enjoys.  Your wedding day is one big party, and food is such an important part of every party, why not have some fun with it!

Overall this shoot is meant to be fun, relaxed, and flirty.  Long gone are the days when weddings were mainly transactional and religious affairs for a couple and their families, but many of the old traditions from these days still remain.  If you’re leaning away from much of the expected ‘traditionalism’ of a wedding day, but aren’t sure what you can sub in instead to make your day unique, take a look through the shoot below for some inspiration.  Your wedding day can basically be a big-ass party to celebrate your love with your closest 10 or 100 people, so why not make it what a part is supposed to be, fun, relaxed, and flirty!


- Planning and Styling: Melissa Twist Events
- Photography: Corynn Fowler Photography
- Models: Kate Moore and Steve Cook
- Props: The Miller Island Company
- Table: BeReclaimed
- Florals: Willow and Stems
- Dress and Accessory Boutique: Loversland
- Dress: Rue De Seine Bridal
- Groom Style: Loversland and Leuk
- Tie: Pomp & Ceremony
- Dessert: Palmer’s Baked Goods
- Makeup: Makeup by Sarah Leggatt
- Hair: Ania Wazny Creative
- Venue: Bent Taco, Collingwood

How to Plan Your First Look

If you’re hoping to have some great first look photographs taken on your wedding day, it’s worth chatting about ideas with your photographer in advance and creating a plan together.  First looks are such individual moments to each couple and wedding day, and there’s no magic formula to create the best photo-ready first look together.  Here are just a few things to consider when planning the big reveal. 

1.     Is the lighting good for photographs?
If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’ll know that good lighting is a key proponent for your photographer to create magical photographs.  If your first look will be indoors, try to choose a bright location with lots of natural light.  If you will be outdoors, try to avoid direct overhead light.  This usually means choosing an area that is shaded by trees, buildings, or overhangs.

Kendall & Eian Wedding Web 2017-117.jpg

2.     What will your approach be?
Take time to discuss the approach and angles with your photographer before the moment unfolds.  Don’t feel stuck in the more traditional route of the bride tapping the groom’s shoulder if that doesn’t feel like you.  Make it your own, plan a reveal at the same moment, slip in a butt grab if that's more like you, open the door as a surprise….anything goes, just chat with your photographer before to make sure everyone is prepared for the plan.

Amena & Adam Wedding Web 2017-34.jpg

3.     Will your moment be private or part of a group?
Think about whether you want to have a moment with just the two of you, or if you feel it’s important for any family or loved ones to be present with you.  It helps to decide this beforehand, as many people will want to be there for your first look if you haven’t already established a plan!

Haley & Joe Wedding Web 2017-71.jpg

4.     How will you make it your own?
The originality that each couple brings to their wedding day is why I love this creative job so much.  Don’t be afraid to bring elements of yourselves into your first look, whether that’s emotional, funny, or flirty.  This moment can be anything from a long hug, to a moment to share songs, letters, gifts, or funny surprises.  Again, just let your photographer know what to expect so you can be sure to have the memory beautifully captured in photographs. 

Codi & Jon Wedding Web 2017-29.jpg

Overall, don’t worry you can’t screw it up!  The main point is to get to see your loved one, take a deep breath, and relax together before the ceremony.  It’s a great chance to catch some beautiful and memorable photographs, but remember that it’s not about the camera.  It’s about you getting to spend some private time together on your wedding day, the photographs are just a bonus.

Susie & Tristan Wedding Web 2017-90.jpg

Port Stanley Engagement Session

Sara and Luke's engagement session in Port Stanley was well worth the drive from Toronto, I have to send a shout-out to CAA for making it happen!  None of us had ever been to Port Stanley before, and we were all excited to checkout the beaches, quaint little town streets, and waterfront houses during the off-season.  It really is a fabulous area, and we were lucky to go in the shoulder season to miss the crowds and have miles of white sand beach to ourselves as the sun was setting!  These two were so fun to photograph and explore a new area with, and really I don't think anything can beat sunset photos on a beach by the lake-shore.  I can't wait to kick my wedding season off to an amazing start with these two in just a few more weeks!

Roy & Kat's Winter Brickworks Wedding

I always struggle with the words to describe how amazing each and every one of the weddings I get to photograph is, so I can only say that Roy and Kat's January wedding was an absolutely stunning kick off to 2016.  I couldn't have asked for a better start to the year!  After getting ready all morning, we headed down to the Evergreen Brickworks to take photos with the family and wedding party.  It was a chilly day out, but everybody was too happy and game to notice.  The photos are full of beautiful misty breath, the bride kept her bridesmaids warm with sweet wooly arm and leg warmers, and we sipped on steamy hot apple cider from the Brickworks' winter market.  I love winter photo sessions!

We then continued on to their lovely ceremony and incredibly delicious dinner at the farm-to-table style Globe Bistro on the Danforth.  Guests ate and danced the night away, speeches were full of laughter and tears, and a unique German wedding tradition from the bride's cousin found the bride and groom racing to cut their way through a sheet while their guests watched and took sides cheering them on.  Needless to say, everybody present was thrilled to spend a crisp January day celebrating Roy and Kat's marriage, and I can't imagine a better kick-off to 2016 than celebrating with these two. :)

Venues: Globe Bistro, Evergreen Brickworks
Florals: Leaf and Bloom
Hair and Makeup: ESBridal
Dress: The Bride's Project

Studio Tour: Honour Bright Paper Goods

Alex and I drove over the escarpment and back down again to get to her old barn studio, tucked into a country property near Collingwood.  As we arrived, she apologized for the state of the place (as all creative types with inspiration everywhere must do), but I stepped inside and immediately fell in love.  Two studio cats ran around my feet and into the back room, a horse walked by the window (and later stuck her head into the studio through the horse door on the side), and we immediately turned on space heaters to warm the old wooden floors.  Plants fill the corners, little paintings and stitches of inspiration cover the walls, and the whole room has the beautiful smell of paper and old books, courtesy of her enviable collection of antique books in the back room. 

As with all of my favorite spaces, Alex's studio is made up of bits and pieces put together over time.  She and her dad re-did the inside of an old barn building, ripped up the grimy old flooring, and white washed the walls, hence the horse-entry door.  The room is furnished with old pieces of furniture picked up at estate sales, found, and accepted as payment for work.  Everything is refurbished by hand, from pain jobs to shelving overhauls, and the little plants, books, and sheets of inspiration scattered around are fascinating to look at.  Everything has a story and a meaning to her.  It's truly a creative's space. 

Alex and I were styling and shooting vignettes of her custom designed paper goods for her website, and I couldn't resist snapping shot after shot of her studio while we worked.  We spent the rest of the afternoon taking photos of beautiful paper goods, dancing to old music (and I mean true oldie goldies.  I loved it.), playing with greenery, and hunting for the cats.  It was arguably one of my favorite ways ever to spend an afternoon. :)

Take a look through below, and be sure to checkout her company Honour Bright next time you need cards, letterheads, or any custom paper work done.  Her wedding stationary is beautiful and was also part of our last shoot at the Tremont Cafe!

I absolutely love doing studio shoots and tours, and am hoping to turn this into a series over time.  So, if you or any creatives you know are interested in taking part please send me a message!

Enjoy the beautiful studio tour below, thank you so much for sharing Alex!

- c

Away in Awenda Park

Although it may not be the prime season to share photos from a fall styled bridal shoot, I just couldn't wait any longer to post some shots from this creative collaboration with Tara from Exchanging Vows Bridal Shop.  I'm also SO excited to see this editorial featured in the 'It'z Your Day' Bridal Guide for the Georgian Bay area, thank you It'z Your Day Event Planning!

We put this shoot together to create a whimsical forest look, while accentuating how simple and classic a fall wedding can be.  Keeping the details simple and letting the scenery and stunning Ontario fall colours do the talking is a fabulous way to achieve a striking wedding look with minimal fuss.  I'm completely smitten with the little details that pull together a wedding in the cooler seasons.  The fur shawl pictured below kept our bride warm though the shoot, and she stayed comfortable into the evening as the sun went down over the water by changing into a thick knit sweater and fur hat.  A beautifully simple bouquet and classic dress make the perfect pairing for what really must be the best venue available, an Ontario fall forest.

The amazing vendors who contributed to this shoot really did an amazing job, checkout their work if you're getting married in the Georgian Bay area, or love the idea of a fall wedding!

Dress and Styling:  Tara from Exchanging Vows Bridal Boutique
Flowers: Leuk
Fur Headpiece: Appeal Boutique
Calligraphy: TypeGrace
Venue: Awenda Park

Shooting Film: An Introduction

Last year I decided that I was going to begin incorporating some good old fashioned film photography into my professional wedding work.  I love everything about film.  The colours, the textures, the way film reads light differently from my digital sensor, the thought and time that goes into planning each film shot, I was (and still am) absolutely infatuated with every aspect of being a fine-art wedding photographer.   So, in the fall I started getting the ball in motion to move my business in this direction.  So far, it hasn't been an entirely easy process, so for the sake of both my own reflection and helping anyone else who is interested in moving towards film, I've decided to write about what I'm learning along the way.

I'm a meticulous planner, organizer, and maker of 'Pro's and Con's' lists.  I spent countless hours researching and agonizing over minute details between camera bodies and film stocks, lens coatings and light meters.  I finally went out and bought my first medium format film camera, a gorgeously restored old Hasselblad 500CM with a zeiss lens; and 50 rolls of film, fuji 400 colour in 120 format.   This used up a significant portion of my savings, so my camera then sat in a heavily padded bag for several months, emerging only to be photographed by my digital camera.  Ironically.  I was too scared to start shooting with it and risk 'wasting' money on developing rolls that didn't work out.

Eventually, I realized that I would have to start shooting with my new investment in order to actually learn how to use medium format film, so I started researching how to shoot properly.  Somehow, in all my hours of camera body research, I had neglected to look up how to actually USE my camera.  I found out that colour film can create all kinds of different 'looks' based on how it's shot and processed, so I turned to the pro's at Richard Photo Lab to teach me all about pushing and pulling film, light conditions, and how I can create my own personal film aesthetic through working with them. 

To start with, the Richard Photo Lab blog is fantastic and I learned so much just by spending an afternoon scrolling through their posts.  I definitely recommend checking out their blog next if you're interested in using film.  On top of that, they've been fabulously helpful chatting with me by email about learning to shoot film.  They're based in California, so with foreign exchange and shipping it's been a bit pricey to develop my rolls with them, but to work with a lab whose work I consistently like, and who have been endlessly helpful to me as a learning resource, it's been well worth it!

Below are some of my first rolls of 120 film I shot.  I created these images at a styled shoot, which was the perfect place to get started.  I could work at my own pace without any of the external pressures of a wedding day, but I also HAD to shoot some rolls because the other vendors involved were keen to see it in action.  I'm happy with some of the results, and not so happy with others.  I still have a lot to learn about using my camera smoothly, and a long way to go to know how my film with react to different light, (to be honest I'm even still learning how to use my light meter properly), BUT I can't wait to shoot my next rolls of film and keep working towards shooting professionally with my Hasselblad (aka learning how to keep track of my dark slide).


Vintage Inspired Bridal Shoot Featuring the Copper Collective

I worked on this amazing bridal editorial shoot in collaboration with the talented girls who own The Copper Collective, a curated online vintage clothing company based out of Collingwood, Ontario.  After finding a gorgeous second hand wedding dress on one of their shopping trips, we started pulling together plans for a clean and rustic styled shoot focused on their amazing vintage find. As with all inspired creative projects, the pieces for this shoot fell into place beautifully, and I had the most fabulous time working with such a talented group of people to pull off our first styled bridal shoot!

Vintage wedding dress:  The Copper Collective
Florals:  Janna Dekker of Wildernis Florals
Calligraphy:  Alex Ruston of Honour Bright
Hair: Pure Organic Hair
Venue:  Tremont Cafe
Jewelry: Jessica Wolfe Design
Model: Claire Woodhouse

Thank you all so much!

- c

Creemore Engagement Shoot

Katie and Jamie planned the perfect engagement session up in Creemore this fall.  Starting out with a beer tasting at the Creemore brewery, we then moved into a quaint Creemore coffee shop, and eventually finished up with an evening at Wasaga Beach with miles of white sand to ourselves.  I love shooting fun engagement sessions that represent a couple, the places that are important to them, and things that represent them together.  These two absolutely killed it, and finishing off with this engagement session has made me so excited already to keep working with my amazing clients in the new year!

Danielle and Duncan's Wedding

Danielle and Duncan got married in the warm summer rain, in a field filled with hay bale aisles, surrounded by the deep green forest that grows on the Canadian shield.  Their closest family and friends played home-made lawn games in front of the wedding tent, while drinking beer brewed by one of the groomsmen, poured from taps made by the groom himself.  The brides grandmother officiated, while the girls all did their own hair and makeup at the mother-of-the-bride's cozy forest home.  Everything was perfect and everything was beautiful, especially the two stunning, loving, happy, and full-of-life people who got married here.  I'm so lucky to get to attend weddings like these and work with awesome people like Danielle and Duncan!