I spent an early morning with Melanie and Michael at the Evergreen Brickworks to soak in the morning light and sunrise.
I’ll admit, I’m not much of a morning person, but the moment I’m out there seeing the sun rise, I’m quickly reminded why I bother getting up crazy early in the summer for these sunrise engagement sessions.
Although I don’t get to photograph their wedding until next year, Melanie and Michael are giving me the opportunity to head out to Canmore Alberta to photograph their big day next summer.
Now living in Ottawa, the two of them decided to get their photos done here in Toronto, where they spent a bulk of their lives together and a place they still consider home. The Evergreen Brickworks provided the perfect scene with the slightly changing colours of the trees, the golden light of the sunrise and the taste of coffee fresh on our lips, it made for a great start to the day.
The golden light, combined with their style, made for a laid-back photoshoot with a hint of editorial flair, but mostly it was easy capturing their down to earth personalities and being (literally) the only people around, the mood was intimate which led to some beautiful quiet moments overlooking the Toronto skyline as the sun rose above the concrete jungle.
If you’re wondering if waking up for engagement photos at the Evergreen Brickworks during sunrise, the answer is, yes, it is. Very worth it.
Song of the Day - Something Here - Day Wave
One thing I knew for sure going into Ali and Sarah’s wedding was that I could expect earnest emotions.
There’s always something particularly special about working with other people from different creative fields. Sarah with a background in theatre, and Ali with a background in music, I had an unconscious comfort in their presence from our mutual visions as artists and people living through the human experience. Both Ali and Sarah are highly thoughtful individuals with an in incredible energy, one that resonated immensely throughout the day.
Like many others that I’ve worked with that have a creative background, both Ali and Sarah expressed the importance in having something tangible and intentional as analog film be part of their wedding day experience. When we first grabbed coffee together we practically chatted about analog film and how I use it for weddings for a bulk of our conversation. They were enthusiastic about allowing an artist to use their creative tools and compass to create something powerful and personal for their future selves. Their appreciation for the nostalgic and tangible element of film photography had me looking forward to their wedding day for over a year.
The day began with an emotionally and spiritually driven first-look before heading off to Fat Pasha’s on Dupont Street in Toronto for the wedding ceremony and reception. Having eaten at Fat Pasha’s in the past, I was 100% looking forward to their incredible food and the ambiance and atmosphere that their space and patio create. You can have an intimate and beautiful experience within a large city like Toronto.
A summer wedding at Fat Pasha’s, with the Toronto Sun peeking through the cracks of wood panelling, was the ultimate scene setter for an incredible evening among friends and family to experience the fusing of two creative souls.
The bride and groom held a jewish wedding ceremony on Fat Pasha’s patio, beneath a beautifully crafted chuppah Ali and Sarah said their vows to one another. I was expecting beautifully written vows that dug deep, but even I couldn’t predict the authentic and candid beauty created from their mere words to one another.
Digging into the subterranean elements of complex human emotion and purpose, every single person in attendance was rapt in attention, most fighting back tears unsuccessfully. Ali and Sarah accomplished what they set out to do, to unite not only themselves in a life-long spiritual bond, but also create an ultimate shared human experience with their friends and family.
The evening went on with the breaking of the bread, amazing catered food by Fat Pasha’s, incredible cocktails, and a few blue hour portraits of Ali and Sarah to help them soak in the atmosphere of what they just went through together.
Most artists appreciate having personal elements of their lives involved in their weddings, often creating a platform for those closest to them to contribute uniquely to their wedding. Ali had his friends play music for the ceremony, numerous friends read a special blessing or reading during the ceremony itself, the speeches were held beneath the blue hour sky and stars, it just oozed mood and intimacy, highly representative of the Sarah and Ali I got to known personally.
For me, I leave behind 35mm and 120 negatives and positives from my experience and artistic contribution to their wedding day. These remnants of my experience, the analog film from their wedding day, is my tangible imprint for them to share amongst their friends and family for generations to come.
Song of the day
Subterraneans - Willie J Healey
When Jenny and Deklon first approached us to photograph their wedding it was clear to me what they had in mind for their special day. Deklon being an entertainer by nature and Jenny being the outgoing free-spirited person she is, I had no doubt that the wedding was going to be a real celebration, a legitimate party where they’d be surrounded by all their family and closest friends to bare witness to their expression of love to one another.
Something that strikes me when I’m documenting a larger wedding is the union between these two large families and collective of friends. An ever-lasting bond amongst them all for generations to come. There’s something captivating about that element of a wedding that I sometimes overlook but this day was a kind reminder of the importance of family.
The entire wedding was a beautifully orchestrated day of entertainment and joy for their friends and family. Caricature artists drew personal portraits for the guests during cocktail hour, a presentation of capoeira (a beautiful dancing art-form that combines element of martial arts and dance) was performed during the reception, not to mention a parody of the movie Mr and Ms. Smith featuring the bride and groom themselves as an introduction to their first dance together as husband and wife. An intimate ambiance amongst a sea of delicate and unpredictable moments like the Bride wiping tears away from her father during their dance together or the groom sharing funny and beautiful candid moments with his mother throughout the wedding day.
The vintage vibe of Liberty Grand’s authentic old-Toronto architecture and design was the ideal location for such a showcase of love and fun. To match, the Gladstone’s beautifully artistic interior and incredible bridal suite was the perfect atmosphere to capture the essence of Jenny and Deklon.
Song of the day
Hypnotize - The Notorious B.I.G.
"To be loved is special. But to be understood, is profound."
A beautiful, yet truly deep revelation that was expressed by Laura during her unscripted wedding speech to her new husband Sean.
A bare utterance that has since deeply stuck with me.
Love is a complex human emotion. Unknowingly melancholic, it's attractively unusual and subtle in nature. When I first spoke to Laura and Sean I immediately knew they understood these delicate nuances in life, and it became strikingly obvious in that fleeting moment during the Bride's speech.
I could sit here and talk about how low-key the bride and groom are, how quintessential Laura and Sean it was for their wedding to have a boho vintage flair, that the Bride's two-piece wedding dress and mustard toned shoes was an acclamation to her personality and ability to set whatever trends she pleases. Or perhaps the Bride's eloquent flower crown and bouquet's colour palette. The groom's incredibly stylish floral tie? Sure, I guess I could, but to be completely forthright and sincere, this wedding wasn't about those things at all.
I will admit however, the Doctor's House in Kleinberg (just outside Toronto) provided an atmosphere that was both quaint and fitting. An intimate and emotional first look beneath the summer’s sun covered by a backyard forest with a classic white picket fence in the near distance. The small vintage and authentic chapel housed the intimate ceremony, followed by an evening inside the Doctor's House reception area overlooking a pink and purple sunset through the bay windows and taking in the candid interaction between guests. The vintage and analog details of the country house / bridal suite brought together by the ambient lighting resembled candle light as the Bride and Groom shared a moment early in the evening just after taking some portraits in the colorful sunset.
Sometimes things are a little perfect, unintentionally cinematic and editorial by nature, but really, all it really is, was two people uninhibited, persuaded by their love and reminded of the perpetual changes they've experienced with one another over the course of their lives together. This is Laura and Sean.
All of these aesthetically pleasing details are what you would imagine most photographers would want to gravitate towards or truly focus on, but for me, I've always found a deep-seated interest in connecting with my work on a personal level. After spending some time in their home area of Liberty Village, walking around, grabbing drinks, I truly got to know both Sean and Laura for the humble and down to earth people that they both are. Both being at similar point in their lives, both having an understanding and appreciate for arts and culture, it wasn't difficult to find common ground with the two of them.
I was very much looking forward to the summer day I'd have to spend in Kleinberg at the Doctor's House surrounded by the bride and groom's friends and family.
While Sean played Bocce Ball at the Local and grabbed some drinks / grub before getting ready in their beautifully decorated apartment in Liberty Village, I had the pleasure of spending time with Laura and her closest in her childhood home in West Toronto. Walking into the classic European household atmosphere that I myself grew up with, I immediately felt at home, not that I wouldn't have otherwise, but this time it was all too familiar to me. The classic blown up wedding portrait of her parents, no different than the one of my parents I spent 21 years of my life seeing when heading upstairs to my bedroom. It was clear that Laura and her squad were close, the love was felt by everyone in the room and it was contagious. Their sincere happiness and emotion when Laura revealed her fashionable two-piece wedding dress to them and her father was an exhibition of true friendship and sincerely selfless happiness for their bride-to-be BFF.
Another highly poignant moment was during the simple, yet important, group photos between Laura and her friends. During an obscure and random moment while she and her friends were chatting and getting their photo taken, Laura began to be overwhelmed by emotion and nostalgia. She was reminded of her friend’s recent wedding and how she remembers being excited to have this moment at her own wedding, excited to create an opportunity of remembrance between her and her closest friends.
Sean, being the humble and extremely likeable guy that he is, had a large crew of friends arrive via party bus, and without hesitation, they brought the same enthusiasm and energy as Sean did for the wedding day. Dances were danced, beers and wine consumed, good times were had. Not a single person, Sean included, neglected their moment to create memories with one another.
The little things. It was incredible to see both Sean and Laura have the willingness to take in those seemingly ordinary occurrences in life we often overlook and instead completely embraced them as they happen.
Who knows, as an artist maybe I'm a product of my environment, maybe Toronto is just overrun by cool, trendy, low-key casual hipsters who are getting married. and being one of them, I'm naturally involved, but honestly, when people like Laura and Sean allow me to let in and live through the experience along their side it just gives me the opportunity to create something meaningful and timeless.
I've been extremely lucky that all the couples I've worked with basically commission me more so as a documentary photographer than a true wedding photographer. I'm often so entrenched in the experience that I become an active observer manifesting my experience into photographs. If only temporarily, I become close to those around me for an opportunity to capture their innermost self to be suspended in time and , hopefully, a vessel for them to return to that very moment in time. To my own surprise, wedding photography has brought me an unusual sense of fulfillment I never expected to find with this avenue of my photography, but people like Laura and Sean, their friends, their family, really remind me that there's something beautiful and intangible about sharing in such an intimate human experience together.
Once in a while, that entire process of wedding photography becomes downright effortless. Once in a while, I manage to cross paths with individuals who are seemingly in the very same place in life as myself, people who are the same wavelength and just simply understand my work and what I'm about. Because at the end of a day, to be understood, is profound.
Song of the day
Ivy - Ruby Haunt
The main element of Heather and Diptesh’s country wedding wasn’t the beautiful authentic country vintage details, it wasn’t the incredible countryside views of rural Ontario, but it was the incredible unison of family and culture brought together by their love for one another.
This wasn’t their first go around as a bride and groom. With Diptesh’s family being in India, they hosted an incredible Indian wedding for Heather and Diptesh along with their families from the U.S. and Canada. After having such a large celebration back in India, they decided to host a second wedding ceremony in Mono Ontario, Heather’s hometown a short drive from Toronto and the GTA, to gather friends and family from all over North-America to come together and celebrate their union.
It was a truly incredible experience that brought together a beautiful sense of inclusiveness all the while honouring both Heather and Diptesh’s individual heritages. Heather’s understated vintage dress and look complimented her henna tattoos so eloquently Diptesh’s stylish cowboy boots was a great nod to their current lives in Houston, Texas.
The ceremony was done in Heather’s parents’ backyard beneath a large willow tree, a perfect setting to encompass Heather’s childhood and to announce their surprise pregnancy to their friends and family in attendance.
Not far off from the home, we ventured with their wedding party to an overlook that Heather and her sisters used to climb as young children. The sight of canola fields and beautiful pine trees surrounding us created an incredible moment of tranquility, where we all stood in silence admiring the beautiful summer day and taking in the subtle breeze.
The ceremony was followed by an intimate and casual reception at the Mono Cliffs Inn, a genuinely vintage country-town pub and restaurant setting the perfect atmosphere for friends and family to mingle and celebrate. The night was topped off with fantastic food and drinks, and of course, a few traditional Punjabi dances, included one from both the bride and groom.
Weddings like this are an amazing reminder that working as a photographer here in Toronto allows me incredibly unique opportunities to meet and interact with people from very different walks of life than my own, and opportunity for me to both grow as a person and as a photographer through experience. I couldn’t have asked for more from this day - vintage aesthetic, beautiful country-town and country side scenery, kinda hearted genuine people, and a unique metamorphosis between two cultures. These are the moments and events that transcend time and place, and I’m always humbled to be so included in something so special and beautifully human.
Song of the day
Indonesia - Divorce Court