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Should You Hire a Wedding Coordinator

The short answer to the question, “should you hire a wedding coordinator?”, is most definitely yes. However, not all coordinators are equal and just as you have “weekend photographers” the wedding industry is loaded with inexperienced, self proclaimed coordinators.  Over the past 20 years we have had the opportunity to work with many wedding coordinators and we can honestly say that if you hire an experienced professional coordinator you will be glad that you did.

Weddings are expensive, we all know this, but for most couples it is a once in a lifetime event, so we urge all of you engaged couples not to cut corners just to save a few dollars.  Unfortunately, many couples still choose to trust part time photographers with their most precious memories and it usually ends badly.  A working professional has been successful in making a full time career out of their craft, thus proving their worth and ability to be a great photographer. Their entire livelihood  depends on their success so by nature they tend to be the best.  Well, a professional coordinator is no different, their career is successful only if they can demonstrate that they are best in what they do.  Full time professional coordinators understand the needs of the couples they work with and how their task is related to all the other professionals working with the same couple.

Unlike most amateur or part time wedding coordinators, professional planners/coordinators aren’t there to just enforce a timeline and snap their fingers, they ensure that everyone’s needs are addressed to their best of their ability.  Great coordinators understand that while our prime concern is the wedding couple, the rest of us have particular needs as well. A photographer’s assignment can be much easier to accomplish when they have a good coordinator working along side them with a common goal. This is true for all the professionals that a wedding couple will hire.  Everyone’s work will be enhanced with the right facilitator, so we encourage all wedding couples to consider retaining a professional coordinator.

Photo Thoughts by a Toronto Wedding Photographer

The Inspiration of a Photograph lll

toronto wedding photographer

 

This past January I was booked on an assignment that ran into the late hours of night.  After shooting images all day and night I was ready to just sink into my couch and sip on a glass of well deserved scotch.  I drove by countless subdivisions of homes covered in ice, not really giving much attention to the spectacle that nature had created.  Just then, as I pulled into my own driveway, I paused for a moment  and looking through my window I was captivated by the frozen scene I had chose to ignore on the long drive home.

That’s what photography does, it awakens you, gives rise to your senses, and inspires you when you least expect it.  I observed how the strings of Christmas lights lit up the ice covered trees, with the street lights adding an overhead glow.

Even better yet there wasn’t a sole around, which spurs your creativity on even more now that you don’t have to share this great atmosphere with anyone else until your ready to.  I pulled out a camera, slapped on the lens I thought would bring to life what my own eyes could see, and made a few photographs.

I don’t often make time for this sort of leisure photography, mostly because I put all my effort into every paid assignment and by the time I’m free I just feel spent.  Professional photography is much more demanding than most people realize.  Physically and mentally you have to push yourself on every new assignment, trying to equal or better your work under new and challenging circumstances.  Occasionally though, on a night such as this was, you can’t walk away from an inspiration that really deserved to be photographed.

 

 

 

 

Toronto Wedding Photographer | Cinematography | Commercial Photography | Mississauga Wedding Photographer

 

 

Photo Thoughts by a Toronto Wedding Photographer

The Inspiration of a Photograph ll

toronto wedding photographer

 

Window light is the greatest gift that nature gave to us photographers.  You can find it almost anywhere you’re assigned to work in one form or another.  Knowing how to use is something different altogether.  Looking at our photograph here, you could accuse us of staging this image with a hired model and a borrowed dress, and you’d be wrong.  We had the usual 5 or 10 min’s to create and capture what our client saw when they booked this venue.  Working with Julia was terrific; she understood our direction and really enjoyed the whole process.  Our understanding of window light and our ability to get the best from our clients really comes through in this photograph.

I look at this image and see a bride whose subtle gestures and relaxed posture tell me she’s enjoying her day.  Julia knew what she wanted to experience on her wedding day and she was confident that we would capture those experiences naturally. She sits in a window sill prior to saying her vows, taking in the moment and reflecting upon the new life she’s about to begin.  This is the inspiration of this photograph.

To see more images from this wedding assignment click HERE

 

Toronto Wedding Photographer | Cinematography | Commercial Photography | Mississauga Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Thoughts by a Toronto Wedding Photographer

The Inspiration of a Photograph

toronto wedding photographer

 

It was one of those soggy wet days when it always seems to down pour just when you need to make things happen for your client.  Steve and Purvi were looking to hire a Toronto wedding photographer who could be both creative when need be to produce stunning images and skillful to see and capture the candids that define a moment.  My name came up as a referral which is always great, so I needed to live up to the reputation that Exposé Studios has enjoyed for so long. This is not an easy task on a day like this, but I was confident in my client and our rapport.

 

The image I posted is one of my favourites from that day, it just seems to have it all.  The cloudy skies cast down a gentle, even light all around which really helped to capture the entire tonal range from the whitest whites right down to pure black.  My Nikon equipment performed great even in these conditions, really contributing to the speed in which I was able to create this fantastic image.  Steve and Purvi were great to work with and 100% on board with whatever we suggested, but it was just pouring rain out there so I knew I had to be quick.

 

I like to shoot in manual mode on my Nikon for complete control, but I did rely on the SB900’s TTL to help produce that beautiful backlight you see in this photograph.  Those Nikon flashes did their job and produced just the right amount of light and coverage to highlight their faces, enhance the rain drops, and give the umbrella a nice glow of separation.  To really bring this photograph to life, Steve and Purvi really enjoyed the moment.  The bride has a subtle tilt in her head that conveys a natural and comfortable feeling as she looks to her husband for his thoughts.  The groom responds with his own genuine smile and even though the shot was directed, the photograph still captures a stunning moment of this couple’s day in what appears to be an intimate exchange between husband and wife.

 

I really love this image, it’s one of my true favorites!

To see more images from this wedding assignment click HERE

 

Toronto Wedding Photographer | Cinematography | Commercial Photography | Mississauga Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

 

 

Nikon Equipment

toronto wedding photographerNikon Equipment Makes a Difference

 

A good professional photographer will tell you that it’s not the camera that created a terrific image but the photographer who knows just how and when to use it.  In the film days we all referred to a camera as nothing more than a box.  If we gave praise to our equipment, then it was our arsenal of lenses that received the spotlight.  As important as our knowledge and use of creative lighting is (see my previous article on photographic light) our selection of  photographic lenses play a tremendous role in the outcome of an image.  Many photographers have argued that the glass in front of the camera (or box) is the most important consideration when assessing one’s gear.

In the past two decades I have amassed quite the collection of camera bodies, lenses, lights, and accessories and yet I never considered myself a gear-head.   When my work was done I put down my tools until the next assignment, not really making much of a fuss about my equipment.  Then technology got a hold of photography in about every way imaginable. We said goodbye to film, traditional labs and darkrooms (sadly) and said hello to computers, both in our cameras and on our desktops.  Technology, in my opinion, has re-engineered photography so much so that I believe our choices in cameras is just as crucial as in our choices of lenses.

Here in North America the debate rages on which is better, Nikon or Canon.  Rather than fall into this endless argument, I’d prefer to share my experiences with the gear I use and depend on.  Setting aside all my lighting and commercial equipment, my list of Nikon Pro gear is as follows: D4 bodies, 300mm 2.8 vr, 70-200 vrll, 24-70 2.8, 50 mm 1.4, 60mm 2.8, 85mm 1.8, 16mm fish, 20 mm 2.8, and a pair of sb900’s.

 

The Nikon D4  

The D4 has really brought Nikon to the forefront of modern photography with its combination of great tonal range, ISO range, and accuracy.  I really don’t sweat tough situations, even when a client has demanded that I “work my magic” in lightless conditions with only moments to prove my worth.  I’m not sure if its just television or a social media or a combination of both that has given birth to this popular perception that everything imaginable is just a click away, but I don’t sweat it, I just grab my D4.  At Exposé Studios we still believe that image quality must translate from screen to print without any loss of impact. If an image only looks decent on screen then what’s the point, that’s our view.  The D4 allows us to maintain this strict principal with an ISO range second to none.  I’ve shot images at ISO3200 and higher to stay in the moment, keep with the vision of my client, and sometimes just for fun.  I have then made large format prints from these images of terrific quality.  The D4’s white balance and tonal range hit the mark every time leaving me with the confidence that this is the best DSLR for me.

Nikkor Lenses

Your client stands before you ready to go with that look, what?  I guess they’re not as fussy about where their photos are taken as we as photographers would like them to be.  So you have a wall, some sort of aluminum window frame, and your client standing there and you’re not sure how to make this interesting.  Well, grab a Nikkor 300 mm 2.8 and slap it onto your D4 and let your gear earns its keep.  The 300mm places the attention right where it belongs, on your client, rendering everything else around them as insignificant.  Now you can explore the subtleties of your client’s face and create an image even they didn’t expect in a less than a forgiving setting.  Each of my other Nikon lenses possesses the same potential of capturing incredible clarity and quality of light and shape, thus allowing me to be creative and confident with my work.

I have employed many photographers over the years without questioning their choice of equipment.  I can honestly say that those shooters who weren’t Nikon users were definitely at a disadvantage.  Although their creativity was there accompanied by their desire to produce, many moments were lost due to gear that just couldn’t keep up.  Issues such as focus drift, poor TTL  exposure, uncorrectable colour cast, and uncontrollable shadow noise could most likely have been avoided if they had shot with the current professional Nikon equipment.  At the end of the day, wouldn’t you say its better to shoot what you feel creatively and move on, rather than being forced to overshoot just to make up for the images your equipment couldn’t handle.

Too see our review of the Nikon D4s click HERE

Toronto Wedding Photographer | Cinematography | Commercial Photography | Mississauga Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

 

The Right Fit by a Toronto Wedding Photographer

toronto wedding photographerWedding Couples—The Right Fit

 

You can tell almost immediately when you shake hands with a new couple if they’re going to be a good match for a studio to work with.  Just the manner in which they introduce themselves after they knock at your studio door, the enthusiasm in their voices, and the mutual interest they share in sitting down with you to discuss their plans, these are the little tells that let me know I’m in for a treat.

 

I prefer to give my couples a few moments to become aware of the work displayed in our gallery with only a little background music to mask the silence.  As album pages are flipped I pay discreet attention to the reactions that may surface.  Little grins of approval or a tap on the knee to let her fiancé know the images are intriguing, are a good sign that this bride and groom are enjoying the planning process and will be a pleasure to work with.

 

The discussion that follows may start with how they met, which is typically the most enjoyable for me, or what they’re looking for in a photographer.  Rather than entering the classic cliché of trying to persuade any couple that I’m more passionate about my work than the next photographer, I simply mention that I’ve been a fulltime Toronto wedding photographer for more than 20 years and the fact that I’ve made a successful career out or the art is testimony enough to my skill and desire, while the works just speaks for its self.    I do make every attempt to redirect our conversation back to the couple, I prefer to learn more about him and her and what kind of atmosphere they generate as pair.toronto wedding photographer

 

So the details are laid out, a contract is signed, and before you know it the actual wedding day has arrived.  By this time I’ve shared enough time with today’s bride and groom that I feel I’m more than just a pro assigned to cover their day.  I feel I know these two people and the comfort we have in conversation will translate when I add my lens into the mix into some great images.  My goal as pro photographer is to always capture, document, and create photographs that inspire the viewer.  When the moment at hand is natural and full of life, we document the movements and expressions that made that moment special.  When moments are uneventful, we seek to create striking images with our lenses and control of light.  The greatest gift to this process is having the right couple to work with.  A bride and groom that genuinely knows who they are and what they’re about make it easy for me to accomplish my art.  The atmosphere that we all create and take part in, is what I call the “right fit”.

 

ashleyb_109

toronto wedding photographer

Toronto Wedding Photographer | Cinematography | Commercial Photography | Mississauga Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

Photographic Lighting

A Little Bit About Light—a Photographer’s Tool.

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I’ve seen trends in photography come and go over the last 20 years.  Similar to the whims of fashion where a designer’s impulse dictates what’s cool for the following season, photographic fads seem to capture the attention of both the public and professionals behind their respective cameras.  To the shagrin of many pros, the biggest impact of these photographic fads seems to be the inspiration they lend to new comers keen on joining the rest of us who make living with a lens or two.

When I speak of fads and trends I refer to any medium, gimmick, style, or tool that people use to render a photograph either more interesting or interesting at all.  The use of digital photo filters is one great example in which an average photo can be manipulated or re-rendered so that it has more impact or apparent creativity than the original capture could convey.  Not that I’m opposed to the use of these tools per se, I myself occasionally use such filters when I’m left with no choice but to go ahead and shoot in less than creative conditions.  When we’re forced to shoot in harsh circumstances or our clients have allotted us with virtually no time to create or capture natural moments, I may incorporate a filter or tool to help with my initial intent, to be creative at all costs.

Recently, I took part in a conversation during a gathering of both photographers and clients, in which the question was asked, “How long will it take before people get tired of over-manipulated photography?”  Shortly after the question was bounced around the room, the next obvious question surfaced,  “What do we do then to make our work interesting?”

As I’ve always said, photography is about light, how you see it and how you wield it.  Whether you’re creating images or assigned to capture moments, light is the key ingredient in photography.  Natural light in its many forms and shades, artificial light with all its possibilities, any and all light is the crucial source of creative photography.  Faster isn’t always better and trendy photo tricks don’t usually last.  So when you look at a great photograph and the reason you like the image isn’t obvious at first, it’s probably the way it was lit that got your attention.

With every new assignment I try to see my client or subject differently than the last.  It isn’t always possible, but when circumstances are kind and my client is into the creative process, I draw on my knowledge of lighting to capture a unique photograph .  There is no substitute, digital filter, or gimmick that can replace real people and real lighting.

Next time you review a photographer’s work, take the time to appreciate how they lit their subject and try to do the same with your own photographs.model014fall 08  029

 

 

Toronto Wedding Photographer | Cinematography | Commercial Photography | Mississauga Wedding Photographer

Dance Photography by a Toronto Wedding Photographer

_D405944 - Version 2A Photographer’s Perspective on Dance

With 21 years of photography behind me I can definitely say that you come to appreciate the world differently.Whether you’re out and about on your downtime or taking in a movie, what you see and the way see it will most likely differ than the people around you who don’t live photography everyday.  Noticing how the warm light of a later sun illuminates a cityscape or how a director was able to capture your attention with only the use of light or lack there of, these little idiosyncrasies can sometimes best describe the thought processes of a lifetime photographer.

Photographing dance, be it modern or classical, gives me an opportunity to act as the movie director and through my use of light I attempt to describe what inspires me when I observe the art of dance.  I have shot dance commercially for many years and yet have found little time to explore my appreciation for the art photographically.  When shooting year end photos for a dance company your goals are a little different, you’re faced with shooting each subject in 1-2 min’s or less and the final image must be solid.  We do this with a tried and tested commercial set and crew so that our clients can be assured that the day is a success.  You don’t want to be getting too funky with these shoots, considering the hundreds of parents expecting good results.

When we shoot the same dancers performing on stage, the circumstances are different yet again.  We can express our creativity much more than with year end photos, but we’re still bound by the lighting and confines of the theatre.  Nevertheless, the theatre does present us with some great opportunities to capture instances of a performer at there best.  We see the art of dance differently than the audience and this is our chance to share our insight and appreciation of the dancers and the studios that nurtured their craft.  

In the fall of 2013 I decided I’d like to express how I see the art of dance on my own terms without any restrictions or limits, so I called upon a friend who also happens to be a professional dancer and we agreed to explore some options.    Ultimately, I’d like to collaborate with a variety of dancers, modern and classical, in hopes of assembling a gallery of images portraying dancers in various instances of light and composure.  I feel the two arts, dance and photography, share many elements of expression with a potential like no other to engage an audience both visually and emotionally.  

I will be looking forward to working with more creative dancers over the next few years and I’m open to any candidates interested in participating in this project. Some of this work can be seen in my dance gallery, 

http://www.exposestudios.com/dance/

Toronto Wedding Photographer | Cinematography | Commercial Photography | Mississauga Wedding Photographer

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