It’s always a great day when you have to head out to the mountains to shoot – be it for the ski hills, scouting new locations, for a commercial client, or on this day for Ashley & Mike. We lucked out and had a fairly mild morning to run around the quaint town of Banff, getting out on the ice and away from the town to capture a handful of pictures for this wonderful couple. Ashley has been in front of my camera before as part of a bridal party, but it was the first time with Mike. I loved their suggestion of bringing out ice skates for a few pictures followed by a warm coffee and stroll down the main avenue. It will be great to see them again, only this time as they prepare to tie the knot!
Of all the detail shots I capture on a wedding day, I have to admit that my absolute favourite is the one of the shoes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pair of red-soled Laboutin’s or a comfy pair of Chuck Taylors, the shoes chosen by a bride speak volumes about their personality and always provide a great opportunity for an image. The shoes set the foundation of the gorgeous woman above, and give her that little something extra on her wedding day. I love the craftsmanship that goest into each pair – with a countless assortment of materials from leathers, to beading, to sequins, to metals, and even jewels. High heels at a Jamaican beach wedding? Why not! Flip flops at the Banff Springs? Sounds great! Converse high tops at Emerald Lake Lodge? Bring ‘em on! Until the next pair of heels finds their way in front my lens, here’s a few favourites from the last few years…
With their wedding coming up right around the corner I thought I’d share a few of my favourite shots from the engagement session I did with Alison & Jay. They are such warm and genuine people that you can’t help but simply enjoy spending time with them. I can’t wait to be there to capture their March wedding day – I know it’s going to be amazing!!
As 2013 drew to a close I found myself looking back at one of the most incredible years. Again, I was lucky to be witness to so many beautiful weddings, and get to meet countless amazing and inspiring people. Every single wedding was one of a kind, and with each picture I captured there are wonderful memories I cherish. I logged a lot of miles both on the ground, on the water, and especially in the air. In May, my wife and I were on our honeymoon with stops in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and reaching Everest Base Camp. We were treated to a blizzard at 18,000′ on Cho-La pass followed by a spectacular morning walk along the Gokyo Lakes. I wasn’t even home for 72 hours before hopping back on a plane to Jamaica for a destination wedding shoot. After returning from the beaches, we again were on the move, this time to Italy for a very special wedding shoot just south of Florence. Before going home, we made one stop at Cinque Terre – a place that I can’t wait to get back to! Back in Calgary for a few weeks, then again I was heading across the Atlantic ocean, this time stopping in Iceland en-route to a shoot in Norway. I’d never been to that area of the world, and was treated to a very unique Norwegian wedding with roots going back to the vikings. With camera in hand, I was also in British Columbia numerous times, up north for my annual steelhead fishing trip, shooting at the luxurious Minette Bay Lodge, and getting as far west as Tofino for a wedding this fall. I was hoping for sunshine, but couldn’t believe the window of amazing light that waited for us in between the ceremony and reception. Stories, images, emotions, sunsets blending into sunrise and the next adventure awaits. Wherever this finds you, I hope that 2014 is an incredible year, the very best one yet. Without further delay, and in no particular order, here are just a few of the images that found their way onto my camera sensor that now reside in my mind & heart.
One of my favourite presents this year arrived in the form of an invitation to join Justyna & Bryan in Italy to shoot their wedding. If you haven’t been, it’s one of those countries you immediately fall in love with. Buzzing through the twisty roads south of Florence in a peppy little Alfa Romeo is something everybody should get to experience. We arrived there a few days before the wedding, allowing us some time to head out to the coast, and scout the locations closer to where the wedding was taking place. Pulling up to the Castello di Montegufoni I couldn’t believe my eyes. They had chosen such a phenomenal place to tie the knot that I fear my words won’t do proper justice to describe what it was like. Walking through the massive wooden doors, past the thick stone walls, and into the courtyard was like walking back in time a thousand years. Just to think that this building had witnessed generations of families, battles, and changes to the world outside left me in a state of semi-daydreaming. On the morning of their wedding I went to join the girls getting ready adjacent to the impressive Italian garden. Many laughs were shared, more than a few tears of joy, and the odd glass of bubbly (and the even ones as well) made the rounds. Between the best friends and close family, there was love everywhere. I felt the same going to capture a few images of the groom getting ready with his brother, and best friends. We did the pre-ceremony reveal in a room that had a rich history and even more ornate decor. Getting to witness Justyna seeing Bryan for the first time, and him seeing her, is something I won’t ever forget. When a couple looks at each other they way they look at each other, you know you’re watching something truly magical. We did a few shots in and around the castle, then packed into the cars and headed off to the locations I had found earlier that week. Getting back to the castle, we had a bit of time before making our way to the courtyard ceremony. Beautiful surrounding, soft music coming off the harp, and the scent of the Tuscan countryside mixing with the sweet scent of roses all made for a memorable experience. From the ceremony we moved over to the reception room, and following the delicious dinner, hilarious and heartfelt speeches, we then were led down to a cellar for the party & dancing. I loved every minute of the trip, and will forever be thankful that Justyna & Bryan put their trust in me to capture this once in a lifetime wedding.
One of my favourite shoots to do every year is with the NHL Calgary Flames Fire & Ice Crew – also known as the Big Country Ice Crew. I had been thinking of a few different shoot concepts that would work well this this energetic and fun group, and knew I had made up my mind when this particular idea took root. Like any commercial shoot, there was a lot of planning that happened in advance, testing different lighting techniques, building the required props, and securing access to facilities and coordinating tight schedules. It was a fair bit of work, but I couldn’t be happier with the results. I had a blast working with them, but I definitely wasn’t working alone on this project. A huge thanks to Ryan for subjecting himself to a shower of sparks and lighting dozens and dozens of sparklers, and for being my extra set of hands and eyes at the shoot. Also, I’d like to thank Madd Pretty for doing a fantastic job of making sure the crew looked their very best in the makeup chair. Also, I couldn’t have pulled this off without the help and support of the Calgary Flames employees (especially Greger), Scotiabank Saddledome, and the Ice maintenance crew. Finally – thank you to all the beautiful and fun women from the Fire & Ice crew!!
Picture this: A man named Mark gets engaged to a woman named Shannon. Just so happens they get a referral to speak to a photographer by the name of Mark Shannon. Coincidence? I think not! I really had to do a double take when their inquiry came in – and throughout both our Sage-supported engagement session and during the course of their wedding day, hearing ‘Mark’ & ‘Shannon’ had me feeling like my head was on a swivel. These are the kind of people that you love being around – very creative, and incredibly positive, and simply a treat to get to know. You could tell a lot of thought went into their wedding, with rich fall colours throughout, and attention to detail at every turn. The ceremony, held at Shannon terrace in Fish Creek Park, was very personal and beautiful, officiated by a close personal friend of Shannon & Mark’s – Abby Charchun (who just happens to be a bride I got to shoot just last year). I think their ring bearer did his best, and just about succeeded in stealing the show! We did the photos close by the ceremony venue, and in the adjacent forest, before heading off to the reception. Again, walking into the room you could tell it was going to be a special evening, with the music provided by Musical Twist DJ’s. Knowing that Mark was an accomplished chef, I knew the food supplied by Devour Catering (his former employer) would be second to none – needless to say I was not disappointed. Both Shannon and Mark had planned some performances for each other, Mark with some beat poetry, and Shannon with a song (with backup vocals provided by the entire bridal party). It was a spectacular day, and I really feel lucky that everything aligned so that I could be there to capture the opening of the next chapter of their lives together.
There’s something truly magical about the west coast. I have felt the draw to head over the rocky mountains and to the rocky shores of BC ever since I was young. I lived on Vancouver Island for 6 years, and there is definitely part of me that never leaves the island when I left for Calgary so many years ago. When Courtney and Owen mentioned that they were planning a wedding in Tofino I had a hard time holding back my excitement. Even though hopping on a plane would’ve saved some time no doubt, I savoured every kilometre of the drive, the ferry, and then the twisty highway that leads across the island from Port Alberni to the picturesque town of Tofino on the west coast. Being the rainforest, it definitely lived up to it’s reputation on the wedding day save for a couple precious hours when we were out to do photos. I couldn’t believe our luck, walking outside mere minutes after buckets of water were falling from the sky, to see bright sunshine and blue skies. The attention to detail at their wedding was amazing – you could tell a lot of thought had been put into every personal touch. After running around with the crew for photos, we returned for the reception, capped off by a beautiful display of fireworks launched from the beach. Whoever came up with the idea of playing the theme song from ‘Reading Rainbow’ during the cake cutting, brilliant! I loved every minute of that trip, their wedding day, and relish the thought of heading back out to the coast for the next adventure.
It was a year and a half ago that I first heard from Amrita & Avneet about their wedding. From our first communication and my experiences covering Sikh weddings, I knew this would be an amazing event. When we met up to discuss what kind of photography coverage they were looking for, I was already seeing beautiful vibrant coloured saris, ornate jewelry, family gathering from all over the world, music, non-stop dancing, and special ceremonies that have taken place for thousands of years. For the uninitiated, a Sikh wedding is truly a feast for all of your senses. As a photographer, it is a treat to say the least – and Amrita & Avneet’s wedding week did not disappoint. I spent five straight days with them at their homes, with their families, and at the gurdwara for their formal ceremony. Many thanks to Steve Dutcheshen for coming along as the very talented second photographer on this massive undertaking. There were lots of laughs, some tears, and memories I won’t soon forget. The following images took place over two of the five days – witnessing the opening of the next chapter for this incredible couple. I can’t wait to see what Ricky and his team from Videogenic put together from the footage captured along the way. A huge thank you to the family for making me feel so welcome during the week, and for helping things move along so smoothly.
It’s pretty rare that a wedding goes off exactly as planned. Sometimes it could be something little such as slightly mismatched socks. Other times, you could find yourself shopping for bridesmaids dresses on the day of the wedding because the ones you had custom made weren’t completed in time. Yes – that’s the situation that Holly & Chris faced the morning of their wedding, and with the help of their bridal party they pulled it off. I couldn’t believe how well Holly & girls handled it – nothing could hold this group back from what ended up being a fantastic wedding & reception! It was a bit of mad dash to get everybody together, dressed, and to the ceremony close to the planned start time. It was a beautiful Saturday out in Cochrane, and following the ceremony we did some shots on site, down by the small stream, in the forest, and then off to another location I had scouted with just the newlyweds. Returning to the reception, they had some very heartfelt speeches, a surprise beer keg delivery, and the groom’s brother pulling a triple shift as MC, groomsman, and DJ. I loved getting to spend the time with these two – picking up right where we left off from the engagement session we did out near Radium BC.
I just had to post a few from the engagement session I did with Lacey & Adam the other week – an amazing couple I got to know almost a year ago in Mexico. Their wedding next summer is definitely going to be a blast!!
This incredible couple came my way through a referral by the very talented Jenn Dystra of Open Image Photography, and in hindsight it was like I was being given an amazing gift simply getting to get to know Shafeena & Hussein. I was lucky enough to work with them both in Toronto on their engagement session (part 1), and their cowboy themed Calgary engagement session (part 2) in addition to the Pithi ceremonies and their Nikkah (wedding ceremony). From the first time I spoke with them during our Skype meeting I knew I liked them. They are such genuine people, and after meeting their loving parents I knew where this came from. Their wedding day was a classic August summer day in the prairies, with endless blue skies, warm sunshine, and wheat fields slowly making the transition from green to yellow. Prior to the wedding day, I scouted a beautiful location on the edge of the city limits. Normally the kind of place you might just drive by, this one stood out and worked as a perfect venue for their reveal. From there we headed off to another location in Cochrane closer to Glen Eagles golf course. Shooting the Nikkah outside was a treat, as every other Ismaili wedding I had done was indoors. It was incredibly heartfelt and barely a dry eye was to be seen. Following the ceremony we headed off to do a few more shots on a bluff overlooking the quaint townsite, with the towering peaks of the rockies far off in the distance. Again, watching them get to see each other for the first time all dressed to the nines in more ‘western’ wedding clothing was something I won’t soon forget. These two are in love – the way they look at each other, the compassion they show for each other, and how they talk about each other – the term soulmates couldn’t be applied more appropriately. Hussein’s speech had me in stitches – his now being able to get rid of the other ‘men’ in Shafeena’s life – Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton… etc… good luck with that!! Going through the process of editing their wedding I realized that my heart & mind are still processing what my eyes witnessed and camera captured that day. Thank you both.
I met Janice & Daniel a few years ago while in Mexico shooting a destination wedding for their friends Lindsay & Aaron and immediately liked them. They’re both incredibly fun people, and when they asked if I would be interested in doing some photography for their Calgary wedding reception I didn’t even hesitate. The had a very private ceremony in Vancouver, then threw a huge bash at the delicious Bonterra restaurant in the beltline area of Calgary. For those of you who’ve never been, the food is amazing and enjoying out on their secluded patio makes it all the better. I joined the girls at the Sheraton and had a brief window to get some shots of her dress, and the final touches of them getting ready. I had arranged for Daniel to meet us close by, and it was such a treat to see them see each other all dressed up for the first time. Janice looked stunning in a very slim fitting Nicole Miller dress, and Daniel looked pretty sharp in his tailored suit. We had a little over an hour to do some shots in the core, then headed over to the restaurant for family photos and dinner. It was a beautiful night and I had a lot of fun getting these two in front of my lens!!
It’s not every day that going to shoot a wedding involves three flights, with stopovers in Toronto & Iceland, followed by a 4 hour drive North of Oslo, but this summer I did just that. I had met Monica and Jonas six years ago while shooting at a cat skiing lodge in Fernie, BC, and at the time they dropped the hint that when they got married they would bring me over to shoot it. That’s exactly what they did and getting to be there in Norway for a little over the week was an incredible experience. I immediately fell in love with the people, the welcoming friends and warm family that surround Monica & Jonas. Needless to say, my first trip to Scandinavia blew me away and planted the seed of what will be many trips to come in the future. Their wedding ceremony was a perfect reflection of their personalities ranging from the unbridled energy of Jonas and Monica to the wonderful historical Norwegian customs and wedding attire. Monica made her way down to the ceremony serenaded by local musicians, and Jonas arrived via wakeboard and peeled off the drysuit James-bond-style to reveal his Norwegian bunad (ceremonial attire). The rain didn’t even make a dent in the experience as the ceremony carried into a massive lake-side party / reception with skits, more live music, speeches, and revelry. I think I’m really still only part of the way in processing everything I experienced those 8 days in Norway – a country and people that now hold a very special place in my heart.
This summer I’ve been lucky enough to work with a bunch of very fun and creative couples, and suffice to say that Molly & Robbie have just set the bar that much higher. I met Molly some years back when she was in a bridal party I shot, and got to know Robbie when we met up for their stampede-themed engagement session last summer. They are both incredibly animated and fun-loving people and the same holds true for their friends & family. I joined the girls at Lather salon in Kensington in the morning, then headed off to shoot the guys and get the photobooth up and running for their reception. (The photos from this photobooth shall remain for the exclusive viewing pleasure of Molly & Robbie, unless they decide otherwise, or I put a disclaimer on my blog!). The ceremony was held at the beautiful Ranch restaurant in Fish Creek park – a venue that I always look forward to visiting for the great surroundings, and delicious food. I have to say that the flower girl and ring bearer pretty much defined ‘cute’! We had a beautiful warm summer day to have the ceremony out on the lawn, and used the time between the ceremony & reception to get a few shots with the family, bridal party, and of course with just Molly & Robbie. The fun continued right through the dinner & dance, and they even went as far as bringing the grilled cheese truck by for midnight snacks – how awesome is that!!!?? All in all a blast getting to work with them and be part of their wedding day.
Heading to meet up with the girls on the morning of Jamie & Kevin’s wedding I knew I would be in for an amazing day. She had assembled a great group of friends and family to help her get ready, and they definitely kept her entertained. I love working with people who keep such obviously close friendships – makes the day just that much better. Even a little tumultuous Albertan summer weather couldn’t throw things off. The stormy weather would produce some great clouds, and if we were lucky wouldn’t soak us while we ventured out into the countryside to do some shots. Driving south to the church, I had beautiful blue skies in front of me, and some of the darkest clouds behind. Fortunately, it only rained during the ceremony, while we were all inside. Afterwards, we headed on to some spots I had picked out to take advantage of the rural setting of their church. To top it off, we had three cars with us for the shoot – sorry for taking you guys down the gravel roads! The mosquitoes did their best to get in every picture, and find any patch of exposed skin to sample. From there, we headed to Heritage Park and got a chance to do a few shots in the town area, before the rain chased us back to Gasoline Alley. For those of you who have never been there, it’s probably one of my favourite venues to shoot. They had a large wedding group, but there was lots of space, fun retro backdrops at every turn, and delicious food. Eric Electric kept the party going and it was pretty safe to say they were all having a blast when I finally ducked out around midnight. Thank you both for putting on such an amazing wedding day and letting me tag along to capture every part!
When my wife first suggested that we do the Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek in Nepal for our honeymoon I thought it was a crazy idea. Then I thought we’d be crazy not to – and so began over a year of planning, preparing, breaking in equipment and getting everything in order for a month in Asia. As the departure date drew near, and the to-do list finally shrank, we were both bursting at the seams with excitement. We planned to stay in Hong Kong for five days en route, then carry on to Kathmandu just prior to the start of our trek. Getting into Nepal after the week in Hong Kong was definitely going to put us through some serious culture shock as we were about to find out from the moment we stepped foot into the airport. Luckily, Jasmin found an amazing little hotel that was a perfect place to hide from the chaos of the Thamel streets. After a couple days we jumped on a bus and headed to the Chitwan National Park just north of the Indian border. While there we stayed at the Sapana Village Lodge (again, Jasmin tracked this gem down), and explored the area on foot, in the river, and topped it off by getting to see some rhinos by elephant back. While out on a walk one evening we came across the following people and landscapes, which in hindsight really felt like a dream:
Getting back to Kathmandu, we had a day before our scheduled flights to Lukla – one of the craziest airports in the world. The weather gods had other plans in mind, so after camping out at the departures lounge for 12 hours, we hopped on a helicopter and made it the landing site with conditions that made getting on the ground tricky to say the least.
Waking up the next morning we started the EBC just outside Lukla, and were met with incredible scenes at every turn. We often saw these carved prayer stones along the trail, as well as massive carved boulders. Looking up I noticed a building cut right into the side of a sheer cliff that reminded me of some of the Anisazi ruins in the Grand Canyon of Arizona.
During the day we criss crossed a swollen glacial river, often sharing the bridges with long trains of pack animals (donkeys down low, yaks up higher). The one rule we were reminded of was to stay on the high side of the trail since the animals would often try to ‘nudge’ you off the trail. On one of the days a yak broke loose from it’s heavy load and sent the group of scattering as it raced up the trail.
Arriving into Namche Bazaar we instantly fell in love with the place. Maybe it was the natural amphitheatre setting, the hard slug of a hill you have to do to get to it, or the fact it was the first place where you could get a real coffee! We stayed two nights here to acclimatize, and explore the surrounding area.
That night, with the stars again out in force and even less light pollution I headed out with our new friend Claude to do some astro photography. What a treat – hiking in the dark to look back at Tyangboche under a blanket of stars.
The following morning we awoke to a blanket of fresh snow covering everything around us, including the impressive Ama Dablam 22,349′ next to Tyangboche. The skies were clear and blue and it felt like perfect spring day.
About halfway along our hike that day we came upon some traditional structures out in the high plains. I was really inspired by the natural stone construction perched in between the massive peaks in all directions.
After a night in Labuche, we trekked on to Gorak Shep followed by an afternoon hike to our ultimate destination, Everest Base Camp. Quite often we would hike along the glacier, which looked a lot more like a landslide, until you caught glimpses of the ice sheet all the stones were sitting on. It was a huge reward to finally see the little yellow tents come into vision at the far end of the glacier and thinking about the people using that area to stage their ascents of the highest peak in the world. It was also the first day that we got a better look at Everest itself – towering above us as a dark triangle of layered rock in behind Nuptse.
It’s hard to explain what it feels like to be hiking at this altitude, and really made me wonder what it would be like to go that much higher like the people summiting that same day. We were tired, but it was unlike anything I’d ever felt. That being said, we still had enough left in the tank to celebrate getting to EBC!
A couple days after leaving Gorak Shep, we were on our way to the highest point of our trek, the Cho-La pass (17,782′). The weather wasn’t playing nice, so we ascended a rockfall that soon became a scramble on wet snow-covered boulders. It was tricky, but manageable, although there wasn’t much in the way of a view from the top – even seeing the person hiking 25 feet in front of you was hit or miss. We crossed a small snow covered col, and made our way down a steep descent to Thagnag.
The following day we awoke to beautiful blue skies which made the hike to Gokyo that much more enjoyable. We were in high spirits knowing that the most difficult ascents were behind us. Arriving in Gokyo we were greeted by some stunning turquoise lakes. Awakening the next morning, the lakes were perfect mirror images of the towering peaks behind. I had to sneak out a bit early to catch some first light, but it was well worth it.
Leaving Gokyo, we passed by some more beautiful lakes and started our long day of trekking back to Namche. The hills were covered in trails going every which way, thanks to the grazing yaks. We passed by numerous porters on their way up to Gokyo, carrying loads of plywood, and one guy we saw had 90kg’s of rice on his back. You really become much more aware of what you’re consuming and how it has to get there when you see guys like this, often as young as 14-15.
On our second to last day we caught a glimpse of two different types of wildlife – the mountain goat, almost too-perfectly posed, and then a little later we came across a pair of musk deer – with some serious “I mean business” front teeth!
Descending further into the valley, things had greened up considerably in the two weeks since we last passed through . The most common crops we saw were potato, millet, and wheat. Again, as we got lower in the valley, we saw more and more prayer carvings – this example was one of the few that were quite colourful.
Jumping forward a few days, after departing Nepal, we landed in Tokyo. I was happy to have my heavy pack stored in the hotel, and only took my big camera out on one of the days. It is an incredible city, polar opposite in many ways to Kathmandu. And then it was over – 5 weeks on the road, the trains, the planes, the elephants, and the boats. Now Jasmin and I will have to plan our next adventure…
Destination weddings are always a lot of fun for me, and this past week in Jamaica was no exception. I had barely unpacked my bags after returning from 5 weeks in Asia, when I found myself back at the airport climbing onto yet another plane. Only this time when I got out of the doors in Montego Bay, I was greeted by hot and humid tropical sunshine. I had never been to this resort before, and was impressed from the moment I arrived. It’s a really large property, which gave it a nice open sense of space, and worked really well for doing the wedding photos. I had a couple days to scout the area before the wedding, so on the day itself I was able to make the best use of the hour I had been given between the ceremony and reception. I had spoken with JC on the phone a few times and by email, but had never met face to face with him or his fiancee Elaine. Once I got to speak with them on the night I arrived, I knew I would have fun getting to capture their wedding day. They’re both incredibly warm and easy-going people and pretty much up for anything I had in mind. I had a great time running around with them and watching them light it up on the dance floor once it was turned over to the DJ’s. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for JC & Elaine, and for my next trip to this beautiful country.
One of my favourite RCR events to shoot every year is the Slope Soaker. Picture a steep slope, a small jump followed by a drop and then an icy 60′ + bath of meltwater to cross. Nobody made it all the way this year – probably because they extended the icy soup by a good 20′ this go round. It was hilarious watching the costumes and attempts to cross the water – most ending the way you see below! Congrats to the competitors for even taking on the challenge.