"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
Spending your first wedding of the summer within the beautiful grounds of High Park is without a doubt a great experience. Despite being a huge urban city, Toronto has its fair share of fantastic outdoor venues. Being West-Enders who love the outdoors, Rochelle and Jason chose to hold the first part of their wedding day at Colborne Lodge, a beautiful rustic venue hidden within High Park. Another factor I’m sure that played a role in their decision was that the venue and grounds are dog friendly, so their beautiful rescue dog Betsy was allowed to be in attendance and escort the bride and groom down the aisle and watch over them throughout the entire ceremony. The beautiful pup provided more than a few amazing candid moments, outside of the stunning Bride, Betsy got her fair share of attention, hugs and kisses (and hot dog treats of course!).
It was a beautifully eclectic melange of old and new traditions. Upholding their traditional Chinese values, Rochelle and Jason started their wedding celebration with the traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony inside the rustic lodge, followed by a beautiful outdoor ceremony among the trees behind the Colborne Lodge Museum. The vintage elements and aesthetics were naturally at the forefront due to the Colborne Lodge’s authentic setting. The first half of the wedding day was intentionally private and intimate, with immediate family exclusively being present to witness Jason and Rochelle commit their love to one another. It was special to be part of such an exclusive and small wedding ceremony. To be among such important people (and animal) in the couple’s lives isn’t something lost on me and it’s something that’s always really sunk on for me within the moment.
To cap things off, they had their closest friends and family unite at the George Restaurant on Queen Street East in Downtown Toronto, a well kept secret in the heart of the city. The hidden and secluded outdoor back patio made for the perfect atmosphere for Jason and Rochelle to mingle with their friends and family prior to their outstanding dinner.
I really admired how both Jason and Rochelle structured their entire wedding day. It goes to show that you can get married in Toronto and still keep things intimate and modern without completely letting go and abandoning who you are and the culture you grew up with, sometime I can personally relate to coming from a European immigrant family myself. A small intimate wedding within High Park’s forest, what more is there to say?
Song of the day
Another Good Morning - Breakup Shoes
It’s that time of year where warm weather is frustratingly close, but the longer days and frequent sunshine create this unwavering ability to help me see an intrinsic beauty in every day life. Spring is without a doubt my favourite time of year. The congruence of the death with new life, the plain brown colour palette of the world slowly transitioning to bright greens, it all brings together a larger picture while playing close attention to finer details that are otherwise overlooked.
As a creative individual, I’m always looking to creative industries outside of my own to learn something new and find creative inspiration I can use in my own new and unique ways. Meeting Clarissa and Peter was a gift since they are both incredible architects with a beautiful creative eye for modern, minimalist design. They designed and built their home together, and were kind enough to have me over to photograph them over the course of a morning and afternoon. (Check out the beautiful in-home session we did together here)
The entire wedding had a nearly methodical planning that directly and indirectly related to their lives as architects.
Their first look location at the Bay-Adelaide was an homage to Clarissa’s career in architecture. She worked for the firm responsible for the building’s design and watching her take the long walk from end of the building to the other was truly a special moment.
It goes without saying that their venues were in themselves a love story to the art of architecture. St. Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Toronto, followed by The Chase Restaurant in the Financial District showcased an extraordinary polarity between the classic and modern takes on architecture and design. Clarissa played on this dichotomy and had two wedding dresses for each venue. A traditional, modern and minimal gown for the church ceremony, and a more modern lace cocktail style wedding dress for the ceremony that elegantly harmonized with her urban surrounding.
A great bonus for me, outside of the most amazing food I’ve had at a wedding, was the opportunity to shoot some 120 and 35mm film. The Hasselblad 501 c/m and Leica M4-P were fed Kodak Tri-X and Portra generously throughout the day. It was the perfect opportunity for this since I got to share in the wedding day shooting experience with my very talented friend Erich Deleeuw. His approach to art and photography is one I truly respect. His approach to fine-art documentary photography is very similar to mine, so it was a natural partnership.
Classic, vintage, modern, fine art, minimalist and urban all mixed into one. Leave it to a pair of architects to flawlessly execute such a naturally eclectic combination with unexcelled results.
Downtown Toronto vibes written all over this one.
Song of the day
Kendrick Lamar - LOVE, Feat - Zacari