Now that the summer is here, one of my favourite parts of being a wedding photographer is actually all the engagement and lifestyle shoots I get to do throughout the wedding season, and this at-home session in the St.Lawrence market is one I’ve been looking forward to since last fall.
The low-pressure atmosphere and hangout vibe of at-home sessions always seem to bring out a side of people that is both surprising and ultimately revealing of their truer selves, especially within the realms and nuances of the personal dynamic between the two individuals.
When Steph and Julie suggested we hangout at their downtown Toronto apartment, followed by a stroll through the St.Lawrence market neighbourhood, I was fully onboard since my previous experiences with in-home engagement sessions had been absolutely incredible. So to make things a bit more interesting, I decided to leave the digital camera gear at home and use my 35mm film cameras and 120 medium format analog cameras for this session to keep myself present in the moment and capture the vision I had in my head without the distractions of immediacy, and it truly paid off.
There’s something compelling and nostalgic of seeing the small details that comprises someone’s home; whether it be a glass of water on the nightstand, a stack of worn-out books, memorabilia (like Harry Potter stuff, which I can’t seem to escape), but most interestingly of all (to me at least), the hanging photos and artwork on the walls. All the little things that add up to reveal elements of someone’s personality right in front of me, providing time capsules and insights into their very beings, allowing me to connect with them profoundly without exchanging a single word. Steph and Julie’s apartment was quaint and familiar, lived in and a real home with many if not all of the things I just described, a perfect setting to capture them as one.
During my days as a photojournalist I used to love assignments that revolved around photographing people in their homes and neighbourhoods. The familiarity of space brings an unmatched comfort where people feel safe within their vulnerability as they are being photographed. Although I knew Steph previously from various commercial sets I worked on as a production stills photographer, walking through the St.Lawrence market with her and her future wife provided me a new perspective on their life and the history of their relationship. As we walked they pointed out various cornerstone locations around St.Lawrence market including their favourite coffee shop around the corner, Balzacs Coffee, and their “favourite” spaghetti restaurant where they had their first real date.
It was astounding to see how much of Julie and Steph’s story involves only a 2 to 3 block radius within downtown Toronto. I think everyone can relate to the incredible nostalgia that we feel when we think about days gone of spending time in our own neighbourhood, walking the blocks and reminiscing about memories buried deep within. What was incredible was seeing that through someone else’s experience as it was still in progress. Regardless of the occasional clenched fist, these two walked through the evening hand-in-hand.
The entire experience of exploring Steph & Julie’s worlds made me incredibly excited for their upcoming wedding at the Gladstone hotel and I’m grateful that they both welcomed me into their lives so candidly and freely.
I didn’t plan to release this blog post on the same day as Pride 2019, but this is one of those rare happy coincidences, and I’m fortunate enough to have a platform to champion my friends, families and allies in the community by showing true love between two human beings, and that indeed Love is Love.
Song of the Day
I Shatter - Tomemitsu
Bonus Track of the Day
Roses - Girlpool