Welcome faithful followers and lovelies everywhere, to today’s blog. The bee buzzing in our bonnet today is about one of our favourite subjects – wedding photography.
Readers of this blog and of our Facebook page will know already our feelings on this topic. We get quite stern and frowny about our advice to always hire an experienced professional, no matter how tempting it may be to save some bucks by getting talented uncle Ted to snap a few (“he’s taken some awesome vacation pictures!”) or your cousin the graphic design student who needs some images for his portfolio and will do it for free.
As our mom used to say “it will only end in tears.”
What we say is, hiring an outstanding professional is like an investment in future joy; years from now you’ll still love looking at and sharing your wedding album because the images will be timeless, they will be technically flawless, they will have captured those fleeting moments and emotions that only an experienced eye can see, and most of all they will have that unexplainable patina of magic that makes you catch your breath and want to gaze and gaze.
But, it occurs to us that there’s something else to add to your list of requirements when choosing a photographer. Professional for sure. A personality you get along with (remember, you’ll be in their company for several hours), an amazing portfolio, experience, integrity, technical skills….and maybe you should add to this list the word ‘local’.
This weekend we had a heli-wedding all planned and ready to go when Mother Nature, that minx, went all awkward on us and refused to play ball. She does this a lot in Whistler. Heli-wedding cancelled, what on earth to do?
Luckily, our couple had chosen local Whistler photographer Logan Swayze, (view his beautiful website here) who knew exactly and instantly where to go and what to do, and when we saw some of his breathtaking images taken in tough and challenging conditions, we just had to ask ‘could a non-local photographer have pulled this off?’
Oh don’t mistake us. We have loved working with some amazing out-of-town photographers who produced gorgeous images. But…but…Whistler can present some unique challenges that maybe a locally based photographer is best qualified to handle and overcome.
We are incredibly blessed with some fabulous local wedding photographers, and we love working with all of them. Each has their own unique style. What we love about Logan is his amazing ability to find and create stunning frames for his subject that take in the magnificence of the surroundings, yet draw the viewer’s eye directly to the subject itself. How the heck does he do that? His images combine the drama and atmosphere of the surrounding landscape, weather and light conditions, with the heart-stopping intimacy of a small moment in time, captured forever.
So we sat down with the master himself and picked his brains on what he thinks about the challenges and rewards of shooting wedding photography in God’s Country, aka Whistler.
Here’s what he had to say.
(And sorry ladies, but he’s taken.)
Q – Is there such a thing as ‘Whistler light’?
Yes.The light in the mountains is definitely different than in other places. Usually the best light for photography is just after sunrise or just before sunset, when the sun is low and the light is soft. Because the mountains tend to block the sun at that time of day, you have to learn to get creative and shoot in the not so perfect conditions.
Q – What about Whistler weather? What are the challenges there?
The weather conditions can change in the mountains with very little notice. At one wedding this past season, we had sun with a bit of cloud to start and then it opened up into thunder showers and hail, all within a two hour period! This past winter I woke up to a serious rainfall on a wedding day. Just as I was leaving the house, the temperature dropped just a few degrees, and the couple had a beautiful fairy-tale wedding with snow covering the landscape and falling gently throughout the day. You just never know, and you have to be able to roll with the punches.
Whistler weather can be incredibly unpredictable, and being prepared for this is a must when shooting here. Planning extra gear to avoid condensation on camera equipment from moving inside and out on a cold wet day, bringing a warm jacket or rain jacket, as well as a change of shoes (and possibly even clothes) just in case the weather turns.
Challenging weather can happen any time of year too. In the winter, it could be anything from +5C to -30C, from snow or rain or full sunny skies. Summer can boast a rainy 10C to a sunny 40C. Each weather condition has its positives and negatives, but it is really just about being experienced with Whistler variables, being prepared and able to adapt to what is happening at the moment.
Q – What about choosing locations in Whistler?
In terms of locations, there is huge variety in Whistler. The incredible mountain tops, the deep forests, raging rivers and beautiful village. Of course it helps when you live here and know where to go, but I still am continually walking about and sourcing new locations.
One of the challenges is really bringing in the incredible mountain backdrops, while not drowning out the subject, which is the couple. To take in the vastness of the mountains and try to do it justice from behind the lens, we use longer focal length lenses to compress the image to really bring the mountains into view.
Whistler is a destination wedding for many couples, some of them having journeyed from all over the world to celebrate here. In my work, I really try to show the couples the beauty of the surroundings here; it helps to remind them why they chose it for their special day. Living here definitely helps with knowing the area and being able to offer options of where they would like their wedding photos taken. I love it when I get an adventurous couple and they just trust me to take them wherever! I do let them know though, that if they are not comfortable with something, to just let me know. We always end up having a lot of fun.
Q – Winter is almost here. What do you like best about winter wedding conditions?
I would say, for me, the perfect conditions in the winter would be gently falling snow and overcast skies. It offers beautiful soft light and that touch of winter that’s almost like being in a movie. Many people believe that a blue cloudless sky is the best for photos, but it is honestly one of the more challenging conditions to shoot in. It offers harsh light and deep shadows, limiting the locations we can go to. A very light rain is also much easier to work with, bringing out the colors of the forests and the misty clouds in the mountains. Every season offers its own unique beauty. I am enjoying the fall and the amazing colors it brings, and I can’t wait for winter weddings!
Q – Any words of advice for a mountain wedding?
My advice when getting married in the mountains is just to be prepared and open to whatever happens. If you are adventurous and just embrace it, you can get some pretty amazing wedding images, be it in rain, snow or shine. Oh, and maybe an extra pair of walking shoes for hiking in. Carrying the heels is far easier than wearing them when you are stomping around a forest!
So there you have it. Go local. Here are just a few images, a showcase of Logan’s deft handling of weather and light, and his uncanny ability to choose incredible locations.
View Logan Swayze Photography here