Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vivian & John - Beautiful Wedding at the Toronto Botanical Gardens

Vivian & John are such a pleasure to be around as a couple. There's a playfulness to their relationship that just makes them so fun to spend time with - we got a sense of this when we first met, and then really noticed it during their engagement shoot in the spring, where there was lots of laughing (and fluttering of eyelashes!). So of course I was really looking forward to their wedding at the beautiful Toronto Botanical Gardens. And then I saw the weather report. It didn't only call for rain, it said there was a "100% chance" of rain from about 6am to 4pm, at which time it eased of to a 90% chance of rain for the next few hours. And not just any rain, this was "soaking wet from walking 10 steps from the house to the car" downpour. As a photographer, it's not so much the actual rain I worry about, but the affect it will likely have on the stress levels of the bride and groom - which of course leads to stressed-out looking pictures.. but when we showed up at John's house, his grin was ear-to-ear. Vivian's house, same thing. These two were just so happy to be getting married to each other that they couldn't have cared less about the weather, and I loved that :)
 To start the day off, John and his groomsmen had to bring gifts and pass some very creative tests to gain entry to the bride's home, while Vivian waited patiently upstairs..
 The trials included passing a piece of seaweed down the whole line of groomsmen using only their mouths, as well as suffering through waxing strips!
 Tests passed, Bride and Groom united, now it was time for the Chinese Tea Ceremony - I love the richness of colours and patterns in this part of the day :)
I also love how wedding days bring out all the family and cultural traditions that have been passed down through generations.. (I always learn something new - on this day I learned that it was bad luck for the groom to reverse, so with the best man driving they did a lot of circles trying to find parking spots they wouldn't need to back into or out of!)

After the tea ceremonies, Vivian & John changed into their western wedding attire for the next part.. 
Still raining, but our bridal party was up for it! We headed to a fantastic park down the road from Vivian's house. The teal in the bridesmaid's dresses with the fresh green grass is one of my new favourite colour combinations!
I was glad to find out that Vivian & John's bridal party also had a great sense of humour and everyone was really fun to shoot :) Right about now (in spite of the weather report) you can see that the sun is just starting to peak out..
 Even though it had stopped raining for the moment, the decision was to have the ceremony inside just in case.. of all the "back-up" indoor ceremony sites I've ever seen, this one was probably the loveliest - I especially fell in love with the ceiling light sculptures! Aren't they magical?

Every wedding should have bubbles! 
{forecast: 90% chance of rain. On this day I learned to remember about the 10% chance of unexpected perfect weather :) }
 I love locations like this where at every turn it's beautiful :)
This might sound repetitive, but I've seen more than a few banquet halls - The Premier was a stunner. The evening was full of entertainment (from the choreographed catering staff to some outrages contests thought up by the bridal party). Later on, Vivian & John changed back into their Chinese outfits and made the rounds to toast each one of the guest tables.
 This (below) is the best dancing to "Single Ladies" I've seen since Justin Timberlake ;)
Vivian & John - wow. What a full and amazing day you two had. We sincerely hope that the rest of your lives together are just that as well: full and amazing :) Thank you so much for having us with you to capture all these special moments on your wedding day!

Jessica + Norman

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Queen West Art Crawl - September 15-16 in Trinity Bellwoods Park

As you may or may not know, I have about a gazillion travel pictures that probably only a handful of people have ever seen. They've been the unchecked thing on the list at the back of my mind for years now - but I didn't know what to "do" with them. I love them, and I loved the trips they represented for me. And here they were, gathering metaphorical dust in hard drives stacked on my desk...

Roughly four years ago, someone asked me "what do you like to photograph" and although it seems like a very simple question, I didn't have an answer. I liked all the people who hired me to photograph their work or their special life moments - and really enjoy photographing for them - but what would I photograph if it was just up to me..? This question, along with the breakup of my first marriage, led me to book a trip to France by myself in the fall that year. Just to be alone, and to photograph.

This trip ending up changing my life in more ways than you probably care to know, but there were two "big" ones. After a few days of taking semi-touristy pictures, I found a rhythm in what I was drawn to capture for no good reason other than I loved it. I was particularly fond of the windows and doors in the South of France - all the gorgeous colours layered on top of each other year after year, revealed by the flaking paint or showing bits of rust coming through. The streets actually smelled of lavender. The crepes were amazing. My high school french came back to me and I rediscovered the awesomeness of words like pamplemouse and papillion. Aiming for a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the mountains, I ended up by the sea in a "paniche" (houseboat). I sat in cafes and bars by myself, reading Colette or updating my journal. I spent three days trying to reach a town that turned out to be a big disappointment, but on the way found another gem of a town I'd never heard of before. And on the train ride through the mountains alive with fall colours on my way back to Nice, I realized I would be okay. I could put my life back together. My ex-husband and I had lived together since we were 20 - a dozen years at this point - and on that train ride I started to picture having roommates (which I'd never had, unless you count sisters) and looking for an apartment with only my own opinion to consider. This was the day before my birthday, and I really felt like I was ready for a fresh "on-my-own" start. Exactly four hours later, I met Norman.

We met in line for dinner at the hostel we were both staying at in Nice (named after the writer of the Little Prince). I loved his Belfast accent, and his smiley eyes. We spent a lovely few days together walking the old streets and eating ice cream (mine was rose, his was Bailey's - both delicious). We went to the market. We sat on the pebble beach at night, listening to the waves drag the pebbles down. We had the most expensive cup of tea and pint of beer on a rooftop patio with the most beautiful view of the coast at sunset. And then we kissed goodbye.

Two days later - in Paris and back on my own - I found myself in the Rodin museum, in the room with "The Kiss" (which I'd been saving for last), just as a young man got down on his knee in front of the young lady he was with and pulled a ring from his pocket. There was only one other person in the room at the time, and when I looked at her I was glad to see she had tears in her eyes too. I had to leave. I called my sister (7am her time, and what turned out to be a $400 phone call) and through my tears told her that the most unlikely thing had happened - in the space of three days, I'd fallen in love. The rest is a story for another day, another collection of images, another art show.

This is the trip I chose for my first collection of fine art pieces. I will be showing (and hopefully selling!) these pieces at the Queen West Art Crawl this coming weekend in Trinity Bellwoods park (booth D13). Come on down and see us - we'll happily tell you more stories about the magical places these images came from :)

Here's a glimpse of what I've been working on for the show...

these (on the left) were my "minis", pocket-sized versions I could carry around with me to consider. On the right was "colour-picking day" - one of my favourites :)
 colours picked, paint mixed, boards painted, images printed and attached to boards..
 some lucky guys got decorated along their edges too - I loved this part!
I can't wait for the show, and hope to see you there!

xo Jessica

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Maria & Henry - Gorgeous Summer Family Wedding at Angus Glen

We had so much fun shooting Maria & Henry's engagement photo session with their three-year-old son Tyler, that we just knew their wedding day would be fantastic :) Ahead of time, they had told me that capturing their family together on their wedding day was very important to them - which I loved. They had both their ceremony and reception at the beautiful Angus Glen Country Club, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor summer wedding..

We picked one of Tyler's favourite things - a digger - to include in this shot of the rings :)

 This probably won't be the last time I say it, but I was so in love with Maria's wedding gown! Check out the depth and texture (below) - it's pure Bride Magic :)
 I also love the tension of the minutes leading up to the ceremony...
 My favourite part of the ceremony? When Tyler came over and snuggled into his Mommy's wedding gown.. how sweet is that?!
 I love this shot of Henry, Tyler, and the digger :)
 After some great shots of the bridal party at the rustic barn on-site, we headed to the golf course with just Maria, Henry, Tyler, and the digger..
What a beautiful cake! It was so awesome how the ruffles tied in with Maria's gown :)
 Is this not the best entrance you've ever seen? I was so amazed at how much energy Tyler still had at this point in the day..
 I love this shot (above) that Norman took of Maria & Henry watching the slideshow their friend put together.. also love the Mommy & Tyler dance to the tractor song!

Maria & Henry - you had such an amazing day, and we wish you many many more amazing days together with your beautiful family! Thank you so much for allowing us to be a part of it :)

xo Jessica + Norman