Georgie & Ray's Engagement on the Barbados Coast

I flew down to Barbados over Christmas to capture Georgie & Ray’s wedding, and we booked their engagement session a few days after I arrived so we could spend some time visiting and chatting about their upcoming big day.   I normally spend some time planning engagement sessions with the couples I shoot, but Georgie & Ray planned their own shoot and it was a complete surprise for me.  After taking a walk around the wedding location, we piled into their old Subaru and set off across the island to  a surprise collection of Ray’s favourite surf locations and Georgie’s favourite hiking spots.

We drove over the island on narrow roads snaking through sugar cane fields, bumped across grass tracks traversing pastures of grazing cows, and invariably ended up at cliff edges overlooking the ocean.  We explored the cliff sides and sea shores, got covered in salt spray from blow holes and crashing waves, and I learned more about the life they were building together in picturesque Barbados. If I wasn’t sold on the concept of island life already, I would have been an easy convert after exploring around with these two talking about sunrise surf sessions and sunset cliff hikes. 

To finish of our shoot, they took me to the new home they had just finished building up on a hill with views over half the island.  They can sit on the balcony of their sweet yellow house and watch the sun go down over the ocean every night.  The garden was filled with young plants Ray had been growing, and the inside of the house was filled decorated with art created by Georgie and her family. 

I wish I could photograph this engagement session over and over again.  Enjoy. :)

3 Tips to Include your Dog in your Wedding Photographs

I clearly come across as a massive dog-lover on social media (and rightly so!), because so many amazing couples I get to photograph ask me about how we can somehow include their dogs in either their wedding or engagement photographs.  It’s always easy to include dogs in engagement photographs, whether it’s at home or on a hike, we usually end up planning an activity that’s dog friendly and perfect for taking photographs with the whole family.  It takes a bit more planning to include your pup in the wedding day photographs, but with the right preparation it’s easy to make sure everyone is included and no dresses get ripped in the process!

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1.     Hire or appoint a dog handler
It’s key that your dog can be present and included in the wedding photographs without either of you having to worry about keeping them calm and under control.  You’ll have enough to carry with bouquets or drinks in hand, not to mention wearing heels and tight suits, making it difficult to manage your potentially very excited and very distracted pup! 

If you have a dog walker, I often find the best option is to hire them in advance to help make sure your wedding clothes don’t get ripped or dirty, keep your pup from running in excited circles, and make sure they’re perfectly behaved with treats held behind the camera in all the photographs.  Your dog walker can either spend the day with you if you want your dog to be part of the whole event, or can arrange for your dog to be brought to the venue for photographs and returned home when we’re finished.

If you don’t have a dog walker, consider hiring a handler for the day, or appointing a family member or friend who loves your pup and will be able to do a good job of keeping them calmly in check for the photographs.

2.     Set realistic expectations
It isn’t difficult to create great wedding photographs with your dog included, but make sure you aren’t planning anything too extravagant and outside of their usual wheelhouse.  Try not to ask them to do anything new for the photographs such as being picked up, or walking on a busy street without a lead.  Be patient if they’re a little overexcited and not listening like a champ immediately.  Most importantly, make sure to schedule plenty of extra time to create these photographs, it’s helpful to give everyone a chance to slow down and get in the swing of things together!

3.     Make sure your dog has a good day
Help your pup be successful in front of the camera by making sure they get well exercised in the morning, and have plenty of treats and water on hand.  If you’re planning on having your dog spend the whole day with you, make sure they always have someone with them (dogs tied up at the side tend to howl pitifully during ceremonies), and consider whether they’ll do well with situations that are crowded, loud, quiet, and anything in between!  If you’re not sure, you can always get your dog walker to bring the pup home later in the day so you can dance the night away without worrying,

Finally, and I’m sure this goes without saying, don’t surprise your photographer with this the day before the wedding!  If you think you might want to include your dog in the wedding photographs, try to make sure you find a photographer who likes dogs, and will be relaxed and comfortable with this added element of excitement in the photographs.  When you plan it out properly, there’s no reason why you can’t have wedding photographs with your whole family, furry members included!

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A Toronto Winter Wedding at the Windsor Arms

Liz and Zac created an elegant winter wedding at the beautiful Windsor Arms hotel in downtown Toronto.  I absolutely love photographing winter weddings.  In my experience they usually go hand in hand with unique and gorgeous bridal styles, as well as stunning indoor venue spaces that photographers dream of getting to shoot creatively in.  This winter wedding was no exception! 

Everything was picturesque, from the gorgeous bridal suite with big picture windows and elegant drapery, to the stunning great hall where they were married under the incredible floor to ceiling tapestry painted by Zac's father.  The rooms were all artfully decorated, and the hotel lent a fittingly cozy and elegant vibe to the cocktail hour in the iconic Windsor Arms bar.  Beautiful florals on the tables, aisle, and alter were designed by one of my favorite florists in the city Leaf & Bloom, and one of the highlights of the evening was when the groom's brother performed a heartfelt set of songs that left us all in awe. 

Be sure to take a scroll through if you're a fan of winter weddings, mermaid bridal gowns, gorgeous floral work, jaw dropping ceremony backdrops, and heartfelt candid family moments.  I can't wait to continue photographing more winter weddings this year!  Also, a huge thank you goes out to Emily from Emily Jarrett Photography for second shooting with me!

xo
-c

Vendors:
Planner: Inly Events
Florist: Leaf & Bloom
Venue: Windsor Arms
Makeup and Hair: Eryn Shannon
 

8 Tips to Nail your Engagement Photos

Chances are, when you’re looking to hire a wedding photographer, you’ll also be deciding whether or not you want to have engagement photographs taken.  Aside from the obvious positives (you’ll have some nice new photographs for your guest book) and negatives (you/your fiancée hates having their photograph taken), one reason I advise couples to take advantage of the engagement session option is that it’s a great chance to spend some time getting to know your photographer.  As a wedding photographer I’ll likely be spending the full day with you on your wedding day, and am there throughout some of the most important, private, and intimate moments.  It’s important that everybody feel comfortable, and engagement sessions are a way to get to know who you are together, how you like to interact, what your sense of humour is like, and all the other little details that will help me do the best possible job on your actual wedding day.

After photographing countless engagement sessions, I can hopefully provide some tips and tricks to make the most of our time together and keep the session fun and pain-free! (I get t-rex arms when you try to take my photograph, anybody else?)

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1.    Pick an activity or location that’s comfortable to you.

The point of the engagement session is to spend some time getting to know each other, and capturing great photographs of you and your fiancée having fun together.  It’s basically a photographer date, and the images we create along the way should really resonate with who you are together at this point in your lives.  The activities you choose can be anything that you enjoy together, maybe this means starting the session off at your favourite Saturday morning café for lattes and croissants; or if a nice glass of wine is more your thing, let’s skip the coffee and head to the best wine bar in the neighbourhood where you had your first date together.  It can be as active as going surfing (any surfers out there looking for a wedding photographer?), or as quiet as making Sunday morning brunch together in your apartment and snuggling in with a book and your cats.  If you’re at all unsure about an activity or are having trouble coming up with ideas, feel free to ask your photographer for a quick engagement session brainstorm! 

2.    Get Creative

If you’re having trouble picturing your favourite activities together as ‘photo-shoot-worthy’, start making a list either together or with your photographer of ways you can jazz it up but still feel like you!  Perhaps nothing makes you happier than a Friday night movie or Netflix marathon; turn it into a drive-in movie date instead, complete with a sunset Frisbee game before the movie starts, a trip to the confectionary to load up on popcorn and twizzlers, and pyjamas and duvets in the back of your car with the hatch open.  Maybe Sunday brunch is your ritual but you’re not in love with the dark apartment you’re currently renting, let’s start the day with a trip to the farmers market to buy ingredients together, make an easy brunch on your biggest cutting board, and enjoy it out on your balcony or with candles lit around the table.  The goal is to tell the story of who you are, and everybody has a photo-worthy story. 

3.    Make it into a date.

Treat your engagement session like a date and put yourself into the mindset to relax, have fun, and feel more romantic than your average Tuesday.  Take the afternoon off together to do something fun before your engagement session, spend some time getting dressed up without the rush and stress of having to be somewhere quickly after work.  Maybe finish the evening off by making reservations for a later dinner post photo-shoot at that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try for ages.  Turning your shoot into an experience will make it something to look forward to, and something to remember as that great date night you actually made time to plan together.

4.     Dress to feel like yourself

‘What do I wear’ is one of the most common questions I'm asked before an engagement shoot.  There are so many options it’s hard to come up with an easy overall answer!  The best advice I can offer is to dress comfortably for yourself, while also keeping in mind your chosen engagement session activities.  If you’ve decided to go hiking in the fall, wear your favorite hiking outfit complete with big woolly sweaters and your well worn hiking boots with the red laces.  If cocktail hour at the classy bar downtown is your thing, maybe it’s a good chance to pull out that silky dress you bought for a Christmas party and haven’t worn yet.  If you’re at all unsure about a chosen outfit, pattern, or colour, you can always ask your photographer.  The final piece of outfit advice I can offer is to dress to the same level.  Try to style yourselves together as a couple, rather than picking your outfits separately and hoping they work together.  I don’t mean matching white turtlenecks 90’s style, but if you’re planning on dressing for a nice night out together, avoid the couple combo of high heels and hockey jerseys.  Unless that’s really your thing, you do you. 

5.    Let your photographer get to know you

Very few people come into their engagement sessions with hours of childhood modeling experience for the Sears catalogue in their back pocket, and having your photo taken together can be daunting.  It’s easiest to have something to do that you enjoy.  Talk, laugh, be weird when you’re feeling weird, high five if you’re high fivers, and throughout your session help your photographer get to know who you are as a couple.  If you’re set up to cuddle on the couch, but really you’re much more loving when making sarcastic jokes while sipping your coffee in separate chairs, then tell your photographer that you’re not really couch snugglers. This is a practice session for the wedding day, so if you never exchange forehead kisses, don’t let us take tonnes of forehead kissing photographs on your engagement session and wedding day, these will never be your favorite shots. 

6.    Don’t take it too seriously

Seriously.  We’ve already established that having your photo taken can feel awkward, so if you’re feeling weird then let it show!  Don’t be afraid to be silly, and trust that your photographer will capture the best photographs that represent you together.  If you think you’re trying to gaze lovingly at each other while the sun is setting, but are just barely stifling a laugh, let it out!  Snort if you have to.   Chances are you’ll appreciate the photo of you two howling with laughter together at your inside jokes more than any cinematic romantic sunset shot down the road anyways.  

7.    Make it seasonally appropriate

This might be a more location-specific suggestion, but make sure that the activity you’ve planned and the locations you’ve chosen fit well with the weather.  A little bit of rain never hurt anybody while taking photographs, but if you really want to wear that beautiful long dress you love, try to wait until it’s warm enough to wear it rather than dashing back and forth between putting your coat on to warm up.  If you’re keen on a winter engagement session, plan indoor breaks to warm up again so you don’t end up with a pink nose in all your photographs, wearing a miserable expression as you lose feeling in your fingers.  Remember, this is supposed to be fun!

8.    Communicate with your photographer

Keeping in touch with your photographer about your engagement session plans is key.  Ask for ideas if you’re having trouble thinking of something fun to do, talk about the best time of day to take photographs for what your planning, and toss ideas around to find the right outfits together.  It’s all about getting to know you, so the more conversations we get to have the better!  Also, keeping your photographer updated on the locations you want to visit is important to make sure you have the right permits, call ahead to make sure it’s okay to take photographs at that time of day, and generally make sure there are no unwanted photography surprises messing with your plans. 

Freelance Life: New Zealand

I started to post a styled bridal shoot today, but found myself getting distracted looking through files of all the personal and travel photography work I have on my computer, and decided to post something a little different instead.  One of the things I love most about this life/job as a wedding photographer so far is that I have an on season and an off season.   Shooting my last wedding of the year feels like being a kid again and getting out on summer vacation, and I've decided to use some of this off season time for traveling wherever I can.

Last November, after finishing off my wedding season, I hopped on a plane and flew down to join my old university roommate in New Zealand.  We spend our timing driving north to south and stopping for some incredible hikes, great walks, and surfing days, camping much of the way in our hilariously tiny tent, Bernie.  Of course I took far too many photos, most of which have hardly been seen by anyone.  Although I lost a whole chip card of photos one day (I blame it on the altitude and gravol) the photos below chronicle a trip by foot, car, ferry, boat, surf board, horseback, plane, bus, and helicopter from Auckland to Te Anu.  Over the Tongariro crossing, through the Humboldt mountains, across impossibly blue ocean channels, and under night skies that made us feel so very humble and small.  The soundtrack of the trip was Lord and the Rings and Guardians of the Galaxy, so I recommend humming 'Hooked on a Feeling' to yourself while you scroll.

Not all the photographs are my own, and some were even taken on my Iphone (have you ever tried taking a selfie with a DSLR?!?) but I was feeling like it was time to put this little adventure out into the world and start planning the next. :)

xo
- c

Engagement Session at The Beaches

Meredith and Oliver came into the city to meet me for their engagement session in Riverdale and the Beaches.  We had so much fun exploring and shooting together, I walked away head over heels in love with this couple, and absolutely can't wait to photograph their wedding this upcoming summer!  Highlight: every time he told her she was beautiful, he would follow it up with something like 'and smart' or 'and you make me laugh', Meredith, well done ;).

Thera & Barry's Georgian Hills Vineyard Wedding

Thera & Barry are adventurers, free spirits, fellow entrepreneurs, creatives, and two of the happiest, most loving people I have ever met.  They had the most beautiful wedding at an intimate vineyard in Collingwood, surrounded by their closest family and friends from all over the globe.  Thera's creativity shone through all the beautiful little details she created herself, from a stunning mirrored welcome sign, to the sweetest ceremony backdrop strung between two apple trees overlooking a bright yellow canola field.  Their wedding had an exciting international flare, while also feeling like the most 'Ontario' summer wedding imaginable when a massive purple storm cloud rolled over the fields and the skies opened up on us.  Thera and Barry are the type of people who then continued to dance in the rain, jumping in puddles with the kids at the wedding, and enjoying themselves immensely even when the storm took the power out for a little while.  The night ended with the rain clearing, cake being eaten, and the sun once more casting out over the beautiful yellow fields and guests, with that misty post thunderstorm light as the sun began to set.

A wonderful team of vendors helped pull this wedding together including:
Venue: Georgian Hills Vineyard
Planner:  Amanda from It'z Your Day
Florals: Laurie & Nemo from Art in Bloem
Catering: Oliver and Bonacini
Hair and Makeup: Capelli Hair Studio
 

Toronto Island Waterfront Wedding

Kyla and Skylar were married on the beautiful waterfront of the Toronto Islands.  Their ceremony combined both their New Brunswick and Toronto roots perfectly.  It had a small and relaxed east coast vibe, with the CN tower and Toronto skyline stretching up in the background behind a beautiful arch of summer greenery.  Kyla is co-owner of a sustainably sourced vintage fashion company, and her amazing sense of style shone through every detail of their wedding.  From her stylish two piece wedding dress and gold gladiator sandals, to the suspenders worn by the groomsmen (who doesn't love suspenders???), to the simple crowns of greenery worn by the bridesmaids, every detail was perfect together!

The flower crowns, ceremony archway, bouquet, and boutonniers were all made by Wildernis Florals, a Collingwood based wedding florist and co-owner of Kyla's fashion company Copper Collective .

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