There were tears before her makeup went on as Shannon practiced her speech. In the room next door Ben was bent over his laptop, the same sentiment clear in his expression as he made a few last minute revisions.
Don’t leave out anything important, leave nothing unsaid.
It is a sentiment that echoed throughout their day, as Shannon and Ben’s parents and best friends spoke of the love and admiration they have for the two of them. It was the reason I followed up with the videographer at their wedding and got a hold of a few of the audio files from the night and mixed in the best bits with the music below. Between Shannon and Ben, and their practiced speeches they said everything that matters.
Before I get into the photos I wanted to share a piece of an email Shannon sent me a year or so ago, as it gives a little context to their story. She put into words what I hope my work says silently, and I’ll feel forever grateful as it is truly one of the greatest compliments as an artist when your work is not only seen, but in a sense understood.
In terms of your style, it [your photography] is exactly what Ben and I are looking for. We had spoken to one other photographer and we were telling him that what we want is for it to feel very editorial, very photo-journalistic and nothing that one would traditionally think of when it comes to wedding photos. We came away from that conversation feeling really nervous that we might not be able to find the type of person we wanted to shoot our wedding, then I found you!
I love that you have a low key set-up and blending in is exactly what we are looking for. I am so grateful that you are interested in telling the whole story of our day, because obviously it is about more than the day and I really think (after seeing your work) that you have the ability to say so much more about the couple and actually just the small joys of life in general. I have to tell you I was glued to your website yesterday and I felt so overwhelmed looking at some of your images, you really have a gift for capturing the truth of moments and are not so concerned with things that appear to be superficially romantic. You are clearly very good at what you do.
In terms of my story with Ben…it actually started in Uganda if you can believe it! Ben and I are both from Toronto, he is a journalist and I do community development work (both in Toronto and overseas). Five years ago one of my best friends decided to go to Uganda between her two years of a masters program in journalism. She ended up renting a room off Ben and to make a long story short she introduced me to him. After twelve days of knowing him I had decided to pack my apartment up and fly to Kampala. A few months later there I was in the Entebbe airport with a backpack, no job and a feeling that I had met the guy.
It wasn’t a straight line from there, Ben and I are both travelers and have been so lucky to see so much of the world both together and apart. After Uganda I went off for the better part of a year on my own, and met up with Ben where I could. When I got back to Toronto after a year of no work, it was time to buckle down. By that time Ben was en route to start a new job in Paris and the next few years were hard for us. In 2012 we started to find our way back to each other and by this point Ben was living in Nigeria. I finished a contract in Toronto and once again packed up my apartment and flew here. So now we call Lagos home, and likely that will change again in the next 6 – 8 months.
I guess there is so much more to this story, but those are the bones of it.
Below are the bones of their wedding day, and all the emotion and love in-between. It was my true pleasure to be there to witness it.
Venue: The George on Queen
I photograph so I can say I was truly paying attention and 2015 is a year I refuse to forget.
This year more than any year in the past I’ve felt as if I’ve become friends with the couples I’ve worked for, and their weddings were an invitation to share in their happiness as much as document it. Your stories mixed with mine, and your memories I’ve appropriated in a sense as my own. Thank you all a million times over for having me there with you, for bringing me to some of the most beautiful places on the planet, and allowing me to live out a dream. In return I recorded for you what I hope is the essence of a day spent with the most important people in your lives and it is this simple exchange that has made my year truly gratifying and my work so fulfilling.
Personally this year I explored every nook I could on Vancouver Island, weddings and then a subsequent bike journey took me to the Gulf islands for the first time in my life. I fell more in love with the west coast. I photographed, played piano, solo hiked, and watched for whales every time I took the ferry; winter was slow and good to me. Spring came, work began, I spent less time in Victoria, and more time on the road. I saw Ontario on three separate occasions, Quebec, St Lucia, Wales, England, Germany, the Dominican Republic in the span of four months. In between it all my aunt, three of my best girlfriends, and a dear Australian came to visit. My little apartment with my craigslist-roommate-turned-best-friend had a revolving door of visitors, and I enthusiastically fell into the role of Vancouver Island aficionado. November came, and as the lease on our apartment expired the weather changed again. I got a surprise Facebook message, and surprising myself I decided to move across the ocean to the big city of Vancouver.
It was one hell of a year.
I thought 2015 would give me a chance to breath and for a few months it did. Summer as I’ve come to know it, was complete chaos, and I would say it was a bit of a blur if it wasn’t for the thousands of sharp photos I have to prove I was there, truly paying attention, fractions of a second at a time.
Here is to 2015 and below my visual protest against forgetting.
If you told me I would be living here a year ago I wouldn’t have believed you. I was/am in love with the island but after a facebook message of calling opportunity, a week of debating, and just a few hours of packing I was on the scuffed hardwood floor of my new home in Mt Pleasant, furniture search planned for the next day, wine in hand, pizza on the way.
Welcome to the city, surprise, you live here now.
The draw to Vancouver is practical. I was travelling here for work almost every weekend this summer, and if I wasn’t working I was flying out of the Vancouver airport. My photography community is here, and the outdoor companies I work for are here. The mountains are just a little more epic, and the ocean isn’t too far, and I thought if I am going to live in a big city once in my life it may as well be now.
I can’t wait to see what it has in store, and with Victoria and the island so close nothing will change for the weddings and travel photography work I already have scheduled. I am forever portable.
Just a little addition to my map collection
Half a century ago my Baba and Didi (My grandparents) bought this little bungalow in Toronto where they added a pool and three kids, but not quite in that order. It’s where my Dad and his brothers grew up, and hockey equipment stunk up the basement. It’s where my Mom entered into the picture at a house party, and where the wallpaper in the kitchen has acted to the backdrop to many more family additions since. Eight grandkids, Thanksgiving dinners, family golf tournaments, christmas craft sleepovers with all the cousins, and a fridge of photos to prove it.
This past August marked a move for them out of that house where my whole family grew up and and into a smaller apartment with a view.
I was home visiting Ontario in June when the move became official, and it became the deadline I needed to ask to photograph them and their house before all the memories saved in each room, in every trinket, were packed away into boxes or sold at an inevitable garage sale. I’ve wanted to take pictures of my grandparents for a long time, but sometimes personal projects only happen when there is a push, and the move was it.
In June we had lunch and ice tea, looked through albums of photos, and my Uncle Trevor stopped in to pick up a ladder. I learned my Baba had sewed the pillows in her bedroom, and she remembers which Christmas our family pooled our money to buy her the painting that hung above the kitchen table. That afternoon I tried to photograph the little things that made up my childhood – the pool, the snowman chef christmas ornament, and the tiny paper cups that were always stocked in the bathroom. I took photos of the post-it notes my cousin Shannon would leave as little presents, and of the book I’d crafted when I was eight full of trivia questions about each grandkid.
I spent hours after that searching through their archive of film shots that tied every era of my family’s living history to that house. It was the cookbooks, and powdered ice tea on the counter, that inspired the double exposures you’ll see below. Some things don’t change and I wanted to somehow combine the past and present. Every combined photo (because they aren’t true double exposures, they were done in photoshop) are from the same space – years apart, and I hope they tie all the photos together.
I wasn’t able to help on their actual moving day in August, I was on the other side of the country, so these photos are for my family, my little contribution. Zach, Bray and Mitch – thanks for picking up the slack and the boxes
« Older posts