A Golden Hour Elopement | Liz & Steve

Liz & Steve. These two make my heart skip a beat. The first time I met this couple wasn't actually the first time.  A lot of my clients are referrals from other rad couples, and knowing who they came referred by, I knew they were good people (shout out to Amanda & Brian!!). But as a couple, with the focus being just them, we met for the first time over drinks at my favourite meeting spot in Queen West. We chatted, we laughed and we really hit it off. Apparently my own wedding (the small little intimate ceremony we managed to have in High Park) was inspiration for part of their wedding plans too. They had me more than smitten. And, I apparently was their lucky charm, as after meeting with me, they got word they got the home they had just put an offer in on. Woot!

Flash forward a few months later when it was finally wedding time. It was a two day event, but it was the Friday that made me heart cartwheel with excitement. Friday was the day that just me, a Rabbi and these two loves adventured into High Park to officially tie the knot. We met at their home, signed the official documents with their family & a few friends, then just the four of us jumped in Steve's truck and headed to a magical little spot in High Park where the sun set by a big tree on the waters edge. The intimacy, the sweetness and the sentiment was so strong and touching that I definitely had to wipe a few tears away behind my camera. These small moments have the biggest affect on me. This career of mine brings me into the most intimate of moments between people who define love in the purest form and it makes you know our world has so much good in it.

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Love at the Broadview Hotel | Melissa & Aubrey

My husband travels a lot. Like a lot, a lot. He's not always put up in the most lavish or glorious of overnight accommodations. Sometimes, when I get to tag along, and it's not in the tour bus that we, out of our own free will, choose to cram ourselves into the same teeny tiny bunk, but a hotel room, with a big bed, those crisp white sheets, and the option of room service, I get pretty excited. To be completely honest, I'm a sucker for it.

Recently, in the east end of Toronto, a new spot opened up and let me tell you, it's one of the sexiest hotels I've seen and I couldn't be more excited about it. And yes, it was originally Jilly's.... if you don't know what that was, do yourself some Toronto research! And some rooms still have poles in them which make me giggle!

Location is everything, and with weddings, if you are gonna have your prep covered, why not have it in a sexy as hell place that adds so much to your photos? OR, if you don't want to do a home-shoot at home, but maybe give yourself an excuse to escape the every night routine, why not shack up somewhere extra special with your love!?

And, that is just what we did with Melissa & Aubrey.

With one week left to their wedding, both very busy jobs going full force, and a huge to do list to do, I thought why not create the opportunity for them to have a little "couple time"  and escape without really going very far at all. So we booked a room at The Broadview Hotel and planned their engagement shoot there.

When I think of Melissa & Aubrey, I think of a glass of Lagavulin 16. Their notes are complex - smoky, sweet, and strong.

These two are no fuss, just chill & cool vibes. They spent most of the time during the session just conversing about things that make their blood race and minds adventure. They exist together in this way that while motivating and pushing the other to go further with the subjects they cover, they also bring out the best in one another. They play. They laugh. And they love in this beautiful unapologetic way that makes your heart know they are just perfect for each other.

These kind of sessions ignite my soul and heart. And I totally fall for these kind of couples cause they really are my kind of couples.

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Motherhood Sessions

The Motherhood Sessions are a new on going little project that myself & Paige from Studio Bicyclette have created to give mamas the opportunity to capture this moment, right now and here, with them and their babes. Too often we wait until big events come along or can't justify paying for a big photoshoot, or just dont have the time to think about documenting the everyday.

As someone who's 36 weeks pregnant, I'm already regretting not documenting some of the things I've gone through.  These last few weeks have flown by, in fact my whole pregnancy has seemingly felt as though I just blinked and suddenly I'm about to have a baby. I am trying to hold on to these next four weeks and savour it all. The things I have documented, well, I truly cherish and am so happy I did make time for and did invest in. Life goes by so fast and I think we get really caught up in the glorification of busy. With these last days waiting for the babe, I've been making promises to myself about how I will be about our time, and my time, as a mom. One thing I know is that I want to document our lives to remember the small moments that most people take for granted and think are so little, but are actually the things that define your family, your beliefs, your quirks and the things that make you totally unique. In part, these sessions are just that, and a way I can give back to others and help them with documenting the things that we cherish so much, but often make too many excuses to actually stop and time stamp into our busy lives and minds.

These sessions are just half an hour, in the heart of Queen west, in a bright studio that makes you kind of feel like you are floating in the sky. We get you a bit pampered and we even style you from the wardrobe collection of pieces we have selected just for these sessions. Our aim is to capture candid & real moments with an editorial feel. Nothing cheesey, nothing staged or forced. We will let you snuggle or chase your little ones around. Then you get to pick your favourite images and ta da, this time in your life is forever documented. And we have so many new things coming to the series too so it's just gonna get better and better.

Our first round of motherhood sessions were three mornings in one week and we photographed 16 mama's and babes. We are not sure the next dates, as I'm about to pop and gonna be focused on that for a little bit, but we do know it will be in late August. If interested, join of VIP waiting list and we will be in touch as soon as everything is set in stone. I cannot wait to have you a part. Until then, take a look at some of the moments we captured with these sweet souls.

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Katherine & Her Little Ones

Some motherly advice from Katherine:

As exhausting as motherhood is, these two juicy babes fill up my cup every day (though they still can't pour a decent cup of Earl Grey) . At times I'm so drained—'please, I only have so many hands!'—but then I look down and see how full my arms are, and how dependent they are on me, their big blue eyes looking up at me and I remind myself how grateful I am to be their mum. These photos are reminders of my greatest accomplishments.

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Robyn & HER Boys

Robyn's words:

I don't have the words to truly describe what these photos mean to me. As a photographer myself, I am usually the one taking photos of my husband and kids together. It's very rare that I am in them. I stress the importance of being present and capturing moments with my own clients; but that is something I also need to do with my own family. It's moments like this where I am reminded why I became a mother and why it is so important to capture life. You don't need an occasion, nor do you need a reason to document a moment and share a memory.

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Jayme, HER MOM & Daughters

Some motherly advice from Jayme:

To me, motherhood is the most challenging and most rewarding thing I've ever done. It tests your patience, understanding , sensitivity and trust everyday, but to see the impact you are making on a human life is unbelievable. Watching your children from birth, grow and become more like you everyday, is a blessing that could never be described. 

The best part about motherhood is even on the hardest day, your kids will always do something hilarious to make you smile and forget everything but that moment. 

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Rebecca & River

REbecca's words:

The best part of being a Mom is the overwhelming feeling of love, the snuggles and the giggles. My favorite part of each day is when she wakes up in the morning and is so happy to see me. We spend the first part of the day cuddling and laughing its just the best!  She makes everything and every day so much more special. Sometimes I catch myself tearing up with how proud I am to be her Mom.  She is my 1st child and in 6 short months she has completely changed our lives for the better. 

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Sam & Poppy

Some motherly advice from Sam:

I only have a few photos of my own mum and I when I was little. But the handful, I treasure. Seeing the love and joy in those photos is so beautiful. I want my sweet babes to see the joy I have in being their mum; I want them to know the trust and love and deep connection we have built. I think as Mamas it's easy to stay behind the camera, but the photos our children will treasure the most will be the ones of us together. I am so grateful to have such a beautiful capsule of photographs with my sweet girl.

 

Sara & Zoey

 

When another photographer asks you to document them, it is such an honour and gift. Sara has this heart of gold that truly makes me smile and her amazing patience, tender love and all around inspiration in being such a beautiful mamma mesmerizes me. I feel really lucky being able to capture these moments between moms and their babes.

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Abrianna

When I first put the feelers out for this series, I reached out to Instagram. The community there is by far my favourite form of social media and it truly has been a place for me to share my journey, my work and keep up with all other people's journeys. Abrianna was one of the first to write about her interest in this hush hush motherhood project I was working on and so when I did announce it, I was so very flattered as she was one of the first to sign up. Our due dates are close and I'm so excited to see as she welcomes her little babe in the world soon!

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NikKi & HER Girls

It's no secret, Nikki is one of the strongest women I know and one of my very closest friends.. Her journey over the past few years has been one that would have some people doubting all things, but she remains one of the most positive and strongest ladies I have ever met. Charlotte & Sophie couldn't be luckier to have her as their mom. I know just being her friend, I'm better for it. And plus, she's a pretty amazing wife too!

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Diana & Scarlet

Diana's words:

I thought I knew love....I thought I understood every aspect of it and its different forms such as love for a parent, sibling, pet, lover...... I thought I couldn't love anything more than i did those people,  until I met my daughter in the flesh.... when I was pregnant I knew I would love this baby and blah blah blah but now that she is almost 2 i feel my heart going crazy for her and when I think  'wow I love this kid so much'  I start to love her even more, it truly is a crazy feeling and it does surpass all other loves and it isn't to take away from those loves it just adds to them and makes them different and more special. Like when you see your parents with your child, it is such a special feeling. When you see your husband being an awesome dad it just makes you love him more. And when you see your fur babies love and play with your now real baby it is so fun and puts a huge smile on your face.....

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Some motherly advice from lindsay:

I always felt that I was a part of the club, the mamas club. I had a niece, nephews and children in my kindergarten class who I considered to be my own. Then we were pregnant and it didn’t end the way we had wanted. We had miscarried. I never knew heartache like that and wanted so badly to be a real member of the mamas club, not just on the outskirts. Eventually we were pregnant again, but the longing didn’t go away. I anxiously waited to be part of the club. Nine months passed and I officially joined the crew, and it is an amazing crew to be a part of. I have never known love like the love between my sweet babe and myself. It was instant and it is ever growing. When I look at Bowie I know how much my mom loves me, because I feel it each and every time I look at my daughter. I know that I am forever changed for the better, that my husband and I are a stronger team then I thought, and that I have other amazing mamas to rely on when I doubt myself on this new path, which is all the time! Motherhood. It’s amazing, challenging, soul affirming, and not quite what I had imagined, it’s so much more.

Keriann & Lindsay

Some motherly advice from Keriann:

Motherhood cannot be summed up in one word, it is so much more than that.  It is unparalleled joy, and hardship. It is all consuming and amazing.  Raising tiny humans is one of the most rewarding, and difficult things you take on as a person. But it is worth it. So worth it.  The first time you look into that little person's eyes, you know that your heart and soul are forever changed- along with your body. But it's worth it.

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Bianca & Taya

Bianca was a past bride of mine who I've kept up to date with via facebook as she's entered her new chapters of motherhood. It such an honour when she signed up for the Motherhood Sessions. I love that I got to meet sweet Taya and see as she so gracefully has become this loving, fun and totally charming mama.

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Lisa

When this beauty told me she was pregnant I was so very happy although it meant that she was moving out of the building we both live in. But, I eventually I got over my selfishness, I'm just trying to convince her to supply me with monthly cupcakes from her bakery. Hearing how excited she was to be a mama and watching the glow on her as she talked about all things baby warmed my heart. Being pregnant and chatting with other pregnant women has been a favourite thing of mine to be like "are you going through this?" or "did this happen to you?". It's like some secret club and its only for a short while, so it's been pretty fun to experience!

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Ashley & Jake

I know Ashley in so many ways. I know her as the incredible face behind Ashley Lindzon Events; who seriously is one of the classiest, most professional, organized and getter-done Wedding Planners in our industry. I also know her as an incredible friend who is supportive, caring and SO MUCH FUN. And, I know her as the loving, dotting, and totally rockin' mom to Jake, her little firecracker of a son. To have her & Jake (and her charming husband Daniel for a few shots too!) be a part of these sessions made me feel extra special & honoured. There is nothing better than the support of your friends, except well, being able to document their lives, so they never forget all these really good moments.

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Erica & nina

A lot of the moms that signed up for the Motherhood sessions were past brides or past clients I've known for some time. Erica & Nina were brand new to me, recommended by another client who's little ones came down with a not so fun day care germ thing and so these two swooped in to fill the spot. And oh my! The cuteness, the connection, the play, and all the dancing to 'The Wiggles' had me all smiles for their whole session!

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Nicole

When past brides bring me along to keep documenting their milestones, my heart really does skip a beat. Andrew joined in for a few at the end, and their sweet connection, like on their engagement shoot, and their wedding, just makes me feel it all. Nicole & I are very close in our due dates so I was so excited that I could have her on board to do this session. TONS of my past brides are all due around the same time as me, and it's been making me more than a little sad as I have had to send them to other photographers in prepping for their newborn photos. Part of the motherhood series timing was a little selfish as I really wanted to see these loves again in this next chapter! Glad I got to scoop Nicole up for it.

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Paige

SURPRISE! Paige is pregnant!

Paige is the other half of the brains behind the motherhood sessions with me. When I came up with the idea of doing mini Motherhood shoots in a studio, I chatted with her about styling and creating a whole brand to this series. Little did I know, over de-caffeinated tea for us both (I was pregnant and she apparently didn't want to stay up late due to the caffeine), that she had found out that day that she was in fact gonna be a mama. So - these sessions unbeknownst to me, had a whole other meaning to her, which just makes it that much better, and from a whole deeper level of the heart.

Once I found out, I was so happy for my girl and even more honoured when at the end of our first day of the Motherhood Sessions, I was able to photograph her and her sweet little bump! Today she announced her happy news and you can read all about it here.

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Motherly Advice from Paige:

 

Being pregnant has been this surreal experience of simultaneously being in awe of my body and the miracle of pregnancy and also feeling like I have no control over it whatsoever. Which I feel like might be a little similar to motherhood as well?!

The Motherhood Sessions provided this amazing opportunity to get a glimpse at what motherhood looks like for different women, and watching them interact with their little ones and share their stories has probably been one of my favourite ways to gain insight into this new adventure while celebrating the beauty of these special relationships.

And stepping in front of the camera? I never thought I would be one to want to document pregnancy in the various stages, but I can see now how special these are going to be for years to come, capturing these early months and bringing me right back to all the fluttering emotions that accompany this magical experience.

Love By the Lake | Morgan & Colin

They were wed one week ago today at the AGO, but I couldn't not post about the sweet time we spent at their cottage. It was beyond delicious (even better than the breakfast sandwich I'm eating and I can make a mad breakfast sandwich!)

Engagement shoots are such a beautiful experience to have between myself and my couples. It gives us time to get comfortable with each other, which I think is so important when you are inviting basically a stranger into the most personal moments of one of the most memorable days of your life. I'm there when you get dressed, when you share little looks, when you see each other for the first time, when you (but hopefully not) get a little overwhelmed and stressed, and in a way, I'm a part of the memories for years to come. So why not have a time between saying yes to your photographer and sharing all of this? Personally, I think it's such an investment and well, it's also when we both fall for each other, which results in all the good things. Trust me, all the good things!

Morgan and Colin have a tenderness in how they are with one another. It's so beautiful to see, that it in fact rivals the epic sunset at the end of our shoot. Really, really. 

I cannot wait to share their wedding, which has my heart wiggling non stop, and even Morgans, as I know from her super cute & full of exclamation mark email last night (in response to the sneaks I sent from their wedding). But until then, here's one heck of a dreamy love session. Happy Saturday!

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From the Comfort of Home | Esmé, Aaron & Zoë | A Family Session

Funny little fact; some people are still shocked when they find out I do family sessions. It's got me pondering this one real hard. Sometimes I think it's because family sessions still get this bad wrap of all posed, all "awkwardfamilyphotos.com" or lots of photoshopped babies in baskets and/or on pumpkins. And, I've built my business on documenting real life and really moving away from overly posed type of work. Don't get me wrong, this stuff is cute and I super respect those photographers that have a whole business around this, but for me, nothing gets my blood going more than capturing a family in the most honest and most real way. #reallife

There is someone for everyone, and I'm so happy that the families I work with throw perfect out the window and are as real as they can be. They embrace the imperfectly perfect life. And because of this, I get to witness all the things that really truly do melt my heart, especially when thinking about my own family. 

The way I document families allows us to capture the quirks and those special habits that you want to remember 10-20 years down the road because they are what makes your family so unique.

When I photograph families, it's more about the little ones leading the shoot in sharing with me their favourite funny voice that Mommy or Daddy make when reading them their favourite book, or getting super messy eating breakfast. Or, even just ignoring me for most of the shoot and doing what they do every day; like looking out the window for the post man, or snuggling with their blankie, or making a total mess with ALL the blocks they can find in the play room. Often as we move throughout the house, it looks like a tornado make have just entered but I promise the photos are so worth it!

In just one session, I learn so much and they get to share so much. The photos are a little snippet of this family's real life and these are the moments I think are the most cherished. Doing these shoots allow you to capture these moments for always. Photos are magical, they hold so many memories. Our minds absorb so much over the years and we forget, but one photo can instantly bring us back to this time & place.

That's what I focus on when I photograph my families and it just fills my heart with all the good things.

And now on to this particular sweet famjam. Zoe, Aaron & Esmé. I've known these loves for a while. And watching them go from dating, to engaged, to married and now to parents, it's been pretty lovely to see how they operate in this beautiful partnership based on love. Esmé is such a gentle, curious and adorable little girl that has such a amazing mix of both her parents. Here's a little view into this delicious family's life. Enjoy, this one holds a special place in my heart.

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A 99 Sudbury wedding | Lindsay & Justin

These two beauties couldn't have been more excited to get married and it was beyond a delight working with them along the way from engaged to married. We hit it off right away from our first meeting, then it's no secret around the time I was getting married, I was a bit of a comedic relief for them while they were going through some crazy planning moments. I couldn't have been more excited when their day finally arrived and you'll see all the love, all the fun and ease, as they sailed through their wedding day.

Couples like these two are so good for the heart. When two people know exactly why they are getting married, it makes the whole day pretty darn fabulous. Enjoy these moments from the wedding of Lindsay & Justin. And, a special thank you to Frances Beatty for coming along to second shoot this wedding with me.

Ps you'll want to scroll to the bottom to see the list of fab vendors too. It was a full deck of awesome. So much so that Ruffled featured this wedding on their blog here.

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Wedding Team:

Photography: Scarlet O’Neill
Wedding Planning and Design: Lustre Events
Floral Design: Patchouli Design
Venue: 99 Sudbury – The Glass Factory
Bridal Store: Kleinfeld
Hair and Makeup: The Beauty Team
Catering: The Food Dudes
Band and Live Musicians: The GriND
Rentals – Harvest Tables, Bar, Woodland Chairs: Marvelle Events
Rentals – White Tuscan Chairs: Divine Furniture Rentals
Table Linens: Around the Table
Runners and Napkins: Linen Closet
Tabletop Rentals: Chairman Mills
Officiant: Jeremy Citron with All You Need is Love
Stationery: The Paper Bakery
Videography: Timothy Muza

At Home & Queen West Engagement Shoot | Lesley & Jon

Winter weddings are my jam and the most recent one I witnessed was the one of this lovely pair, Lesley & Jon. But, before we get to the wedded bliss of these two, let's focus on the day I got to spend some time in their cool lofty home. These two fill a room with so much love and happiness, it makes things pretty wonderful. I think my face was hurting from smiling so much to be totally honest!

It was pretty hilarious getting to them too. There was a bike race happening between where I live and where they live and almost had me getting getting detained by a police officer when I ran across the race path. I eventually got there and it was so worth my little brush with the cops!

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Love (Actually) Exhibition

The Love (Actually) Exhibition is a group photography show that made it's debut last year. This is it's second year running at the Gladstone Hotel (on the third floor) and will be an annual show- which is super exciting for me & the wedding industry.

The topic of the show is one very close to my heart; real moments from weddings.  It's as simple, yet as powerful as that. And, it's other focus is the community within the wedding industry, which is in fact a community, not a group of competitors.

 Photo by one of the artist in the show; Frances Beatty Photography

Photo by one of the artist in the show; Frances Beatty Photography


Where did the idea of the show come from?

A few years ago, my view on wedding photography completely shifted.

At this time, where things were shifting for me, I had already been a wedding photographer for more than 10 years and I was starting to get a little cranky shooting weddings. And, I truly believe in shooting weddings, this should never be the sentiment of your photographer. Never ever.

Some of the clients I was working with cared more about the height of their center pieces and were obsessing over the exact shade of barely-there-lipstick, instead of wanting to just spend time being present in the moment, or even over smooching their beloved. The photos were becoming posed and endless look-at-the-camera shots, and moments were being missed. Emotions from the day weren't been felt and the work was just images of things that didn't move me. These weddings were loosing sight of what mattered. The days were rushed, people were squeezing in everything they could, there were massive bridal parties that were stressing the couple out more than being there for them, and things of meaning were getting lost in the shuffle. Even I was getting distracted. 

When these things happen, one must take a step back and get perspective. And, I did just that. I became selective over the people I worked with, the venues I shot at, the vendors I worked with and made sure that love was the first thing that people were excited about when they talked about their wedding plans. Then, everything shifted. My work shifted. My heart shifted.

After a long, heart felt season, I came up with the idea and went to the Gladstone with the idea. It was a quick turn around too. I pitched the idea in December 2016, started taking in submissions over my honeymoon in January and the show opened that next month in February. And now, it's back for it's second show and I'm so happy about it I could burst.


Are all the photographs in the show yours?

NO. Only one is mine. There are 34 images in the show, 33 are images from other photographers. To be honest each year it's a battle if I will actually put my own photograph in the show or not, as I'd love to give as much back to the community and feature as many photographers as possible. When I started the show last year, I custom built each frame that holds the photographs. Because of this, every year there will only ever be 34 images in the show.

A lot of people ask me why I would put so much work into a photography show that is mainly other peoples work? Mainly, competitors work.... and I even get asked if I'm afraid this will take away work from myself. I disagree with this because truly there are enough weddings and work to go around. Not every wedding, not every couple, not every project is a good fit for me too. I'd rather give a project to someone it would match perfectly with.

As much as people might think we are all competitors, I don't believe we are. Over the years of being a wedding photographer, these are my favourite years because the community has become so vibrant and so welcoming. Photographers will refer weddings to one another, mentor each other, and even host events together. It's a very small community too and we are protective over each other too which is kind of nice to know that someone has your back. We have such similar strange schedules & obstacles, and being a community that helps one another allows us to grow in such a positive way. For this reason, it's with a happy heart that I love this time of year even more than usual as its the time of year I can create an opportunity to showcase the work of my peers- especially because often wedding photography isn't seen in an art frame of view.

You can see the collection of this years contributors below. Click on each image to be taken to that particular photographers site and explore. Their work is truly remarkable and I am so excited to have each and everyone of them a part of this show.


Why Real Moments?

I truly believe that wedding photographers don't get the credit they deserve for the work they put into their craft. Often wedding photographs are seen as cheesy pictures. But, they really really are not this!

Wedding photography encompasses so many things all at once. In one image you have million things going on and so often people don't realize that. It's not just point and shoot. It's not just your "fancy camera" doing all the work. It's not all Photoshop. The people in the photos are not models, they are real people, so different from each and every one of them. They are full of culture, traditions and even alternative or non traditions elements. As much as there are two people committing each other, the schedule of the day, the players, the place, the moments and the emotions are truly different at each and every wedding.

To me, wedding photography is art that can move you. It's a million real moments. Photos make it so that this day is never forgotten. Memories can be remembered for generations, making your love story the best real life fairy tale there ever was.

Real moments are the best. Why not have a day full of them, and then photos to bring you back to each one, over and over again.


The Photographs

Here is the collection of 2018 photographs for the Love (Actually) Exhibition.

The photos below are not in the same order as the contributor list below. Click each image to be taken to that photographers website.

And, come to the show to see the show in real life. You'll thank me, they are gorgeous.