Blog

Amelia + Matt | Engaged | Edmonton Photography

These two got to put the craziness of life on hold for an hour and just be together. At one point, I put the camera down and they did not take their eyes off each other. Amelia said “I haven’t got to stare at him in a long time.” I’m so happy they took this time to spend it together (with me and Marina creeping through some tall grass). With the yellow glow of autumn surrounding them and the first nice day in a week, this session was perfect. They waddled in a circle for me and followed my directions like champs. Scroll down to get a glimpse into their relaxed afternoon at Lois Hole Centennial Park.

I can’t wait for their wedding in November!

AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-4AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-3AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-8AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-11AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-10AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-12AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-13AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-16AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-17AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-18AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-21AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-26AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-31AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-25AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-34AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-35AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-38AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-39AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-52AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-42AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-47AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-54AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-46AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-55AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-59AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-65AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-60AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-61AmeliaMattEngaged_BLOG_Sep24.17-64

I HAVE NEWS.

Everything you need to know is in the video, but if you are more of a reader than a watcher, here it is.

I am moving home to New Brunswick! (Saint John area specifically.)

Really?

YES!

I know what you are thinking:

WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE THE WILD WEST AND THE ROCKIES?

I love living in Alberta and being close (ish) to the rockies. I have hiked, camped, swam and skiied in the mountains, and I would do so everyday if I could. BUT, New Brunswick is my home and that hasn’t wavered since we moved away. The plan was always to live in Edmonton for 2-5 years and the timing is right. We will be heading back across country from YEG to YSJ next Spring 2018 – this time with few extra furry family members!

I am now booking 2018 weddings!

If you or someone you know is getting married next year, and are still searching for a wedding videographer, send me a line! Of course, I am always available for travel as well so contact me for my travel rates.

For all Edmonton inquiries, I am available for bookings until the end of March 2018.

 

Do you need to go to film school?

Here is a question that has been debated to exhaustion:

Do you need to go to school to be a filmmaker/videographer?

No matter how many sentences I compose from this point forward, there will undoubtedly be points that I will miss. I am not creating this post in hopes of bringing the debate to a close but rather to throw my thoughts into the mix. The answer to this question is complicated in the details but simple in the summary.

The summary: It’s up to you.

Not a very helpful answer, is it? Well, then let’s dive into some details together.

310302_2478047324132_709397672_n
On the set of my Thesis Film, titled ‘Fuddle’ (2012), with Stéphane Sinclair-Fortin (Gaffer), Christian MacDonald (Best Boy Electric) and Justin Tomchuk (Director of Photography)

First, you need to ask yourself some other questions.

  1. Are you self-motivated enough to learn, practice and network on your own?
  2. What type of filmmaker do you want to be?

Let me explain why I went to film school.

I attended NSCAD* University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Major in Film. Believe me when I tell you that a Fine Arts degree was not my original plan.

*NSCAD is pronounced Nas-kad
388447_2478089725192_1776973325_n
On set of my thesis film, titled ‘Fuddle’ (2012)

In fact, I have a distinctive memory of seeing the High School Art room during a tour as a Grade 8 and thinking “I’m not going to do art classes.” But, Art class was mandatory in Grade 9 and despite my logical brain fighting it, I ended up doing every art and creative class available over the next 4 years. I was completely split between academic and creative courses. Even with art, design and video creeping its way into my life, I still planned to pursue business after high school.

When Grade 12 rolled around and it was time to get serious about post-secondary education, I applied for 4 universities. 3 were for Business and Management programs. To this day, I can’t recall what motivated my fourth application. The only memory I have referring to NSCAD as an option was me thinking “I’m not going there.” upon seeing a promotional flyer outside of the Art room. For whatever reason, I also decided that if NSCAD were to accept me, then it was meant to be. I genuinely did not believe I had a good chance since the portfolio I submitted was rather lacklustre.

The 3 business programs accepted me and offered generous scholarships. NSCAD was the final school to reply and they did not approve my application initially. Before my acceptance, I had to attend a 1 hour workshop with a professor, 4 hours away. Thanks to incredibly supportive parents, that’s exactly what I did. Perhaps the workshop was a success and they saw potential in me, or perhaps the school simply needed my tuition money but either way, NSCAD accepted my application and offered a whopping ZERO in scholarships. Sometimes, things are meant to be despite the associated disadvantages.

The next fours years at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University Film School (phew.) were some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.

317197_2478053084276_77653802_n
On set of my thesis film, titled ‘Fuddle’ (2012) with Director of Photography, Justin Tomchuk

For anyone who thinks a Fine Arts degree is a breeze, y’all are kidding yourselves.

I can sum up my years at NSCAD in bullet points.

  • Year 1: I am doubting whether or not to continue, but only giving it one year doesn’t seem fair.
  • Year 2: I am still uncertain but am now halfway so I may as well continue.
  • Year 3: I am out of my league with the other film majors but only one year to go.
  • Year 4: My thesis film script was selected, I bonded with my classmates and I was really f-ing proud to graduate.
305637_3721805337305_826398945_n
NSCAD Graduation 2012 with fellow Film Major graduates: Justin Tomchuk, Caleigh Childs and Christian MacDonald

Was film school worth it?

Absolutely. It gave me an incredible base for technical and structural dynamics on a film set. It taught me production management and post-production skills which I use daily. Most importantly, it gave me a network of film professionals to reach out to if I chose to continue in the film industry after graduation. University is much more than learning the course material. It introduced me to social dynamics, presentation tactics, industry hierarchies and key life skills. While I chose to pursue other avenues, I continue to refer to lessons I learned at NSCAD.

197209_1762216908819_7504981_n
On set of my student film ‘Her Daughter’s Eyes’ (2011) with the lead actor, Fiona Forsythe

With that being said, I also continue to broaden my expertise with the help of online tutorials and other video and photo professionals. I believe that no matter what degree I received, I still would have began my current business. In fact, my business is a direct result of the one business course I took during university. I am certain I would have figured out my way around a camera, but I may have arrived at my destination a little slower.

As I said at the beginning of this post:

In summary, the decision is up to you.

If you are currently in high school and debating university, I can certainly advocate for attending. If you have already completed post-secondary education and craving a career change, the internet and some self-motivation would be my recommendation for your starting point.

If you are looking for something to do for the next 11 minutes and 30 seconds, here is my thesis film. Someday, I’ll explain why it hasn’t made it past Vimeo for viewing. Until then, enjoy this quirky film about misunderstandings and while you’re at it, remember to forgive the “student-esque” quality.

 

 

How to stay excited about filming weddings (over and over again)

I just had a moment.

I was about to share a wedding video I filmed in 2014. I had fond memories of it and it is the couple’s anniversary so I had the mouse hovered over the upload button, ready to publish… until I watched it. My jaw immediately dropped.

JawDropped

WHAT WAS I THINKING!?

The intro was cheesy. The song was boring. The motion was rough. I was missing key shots. Etc. Etc. Etc.

(Don’t worry, this isn’t a downer post.)

Phewf.gif

It was actually a really good thing that I was shocked. It means that I have improved since then (thank goodness!). As a result, I am more motivated than ever to continue improving.

Say goodbye to behind-the-times wedding videos.

Despite wedding videos increasing in popularity, there is still a reputation we have to fight as a wedding videographer (you know the one I am talking about). While cheesy, behind-the-times videographers do still exist, the majority of wedding filmmakers today are seriously talented. They have fine tuned their editing and keep up with the never ending equipment updates.

Goodbye.gif

Say hello to the new guys.

As with any industry, the best way to stay at the top is to continue educating yourself as much as possible. Thanks to the internet, there is a wealth of tips and tricks at your fingertips so take advantage of it.

Currently, my favourite people to learn from (both from tutorials and by watching their work) are:

  1. Matt WhoisMatt Johnson
  2. White In Revery (Just watch this recent wedding video of theirs. It’s unreal.)
  3. Forestry Films

These are the people I am watching right now but there are SO many amazing wedding filmmakers out there.

Hello.gif

Stay motivated and get creative.

If you are a wedding videographer/filmmaker/cinematographer (or whatever you call yourself), I can’t stress enough the importance of watching what other wedding videographers are doing. If nothing else, it will help motivate and excite you to film and edit weddings! Feeling unmotivated, and generally uninspired is completely normal and rather common. In fact, I am going to write a full blog post soon about staying motivated with your work. For now, my one tip is to go on the ol’ YouTube and start watching other incredible wedding videos.

Keep learning and keep pushing the boundaries. Get out there and capture some love.

Who are you inspired by? Comment below!

WeddingUp.gif

3 things to help you decide if your photo should be in Colour or Black and White

Nine times out of Ten, I am confident in my decision to make a photo black and white (BW), or colour. However, every now and then, a photo comes along that stumps me. It is a strong photo left in colour, but also becomes a dynamic BW. Ultimately, my decision rests on a few key things.

Kuntisky_Jul17-115

In my opinion, editing a photo should not be motivated by the look alone. While we all end up developing our own style (whether we intend to or not), there are certain tweaks we can always make without creating inconsistent work. Editing should enhance a photo rather than distract from it.

Iceland2015-111 copy 2

Colour vs. BW can be a bit of a tricky thing with clients. Ultimately, it is the photographer’s decision but it is very common for a client to request to have a photo in colour when you deliver it in BW. I am always conflicted on how to respond as I understand they are not implying they do not trust your judgement. They are simply curious or perhaps they have an idea for printing the photo and feel that colour would work best in their space. Whatever their reason, as a photographer, you should not take offence (even when you want to).Iceland2015-10

Before the time comes for delivery, you will be sitting in your editing suite and every so often, you will debate colour vs. BW. For those times, here are some things I consider when deciding between black and white.

Mood

The overall look of a photo speaks volumes. If a picture is worth a thousand words, six hundred of those words comes from the final colouring of the image. Whether it is bright and breezy or dark and moody. Both of these moods can be communicated from a colour photo just as much as a black and white photo with some basic contrast and vibrance adjustments (but that’s for another discussion).

Below is an example when I struggled to decide between Colour and Black and White. Ultimately, I went with both but for 2 slightly different poses. I still prefer the black and white in this case because I love how the trees are a stark contrast to their faces.

Lighting

When shooting is low light, it is common that black and white is going to look better than colour. This is because the colour can look off when trying to boost the exposure and gain. Black and white can also help hide some unwanted noise. Black and white can be a saviour if you were unable to capture the correct exposure in camera. It can be a bit of a post-production cheat BUT it can also save your butt and ensure that the moment you captured can still be shared with your client.

The time between the photos below was a matter of seconds and the lighting was drastically different. I simply did not have enough time to accommodate for the kitchen lightning, so black and white came to the rescue!

Purpose

Do you know the final purpose of the photo? How will it be delivered? Is it going to printed on a large canvas or print and placed as a focal point in a room? Do you know the colour of the wall it will be mounted on?

If the photo has a specific purpose, then you seriously need to consider colour vs. black and white BEFORE you press the shutter button. Is the photo for a website? Is it going to be a background image with text in front of it? There are many things to consider to ensure the final photo is a success and matches its purpose.

The photo below is a situation where either will work and therefore, the intended purpose is what determined the final decision. My friend (who is photographed) wanted to share it on her social media page, and colour made more sense with her style.

On my social media, I chose to share it in black and white. I felt the composition and contrast in this photo made for such a strong BW photo that I couldn’t waste the opportunity.

At the end of the day, don’t be hasty in your editing decisions. You do want to remain consistent with your editing but you also want to put some thought into each setting you adjust. A photo is moment captured with a story to share. Use your editing to compliment the photo’s story.

How do you decide between colour and black and white? Comment below!

The Kutinskys [ Edmonton Documentary Family Session ]

Kayla and Damien are very proud parents of Kane and Harley (and of course, their dog, Taz). Kane might be one of the hardest working kids I have ever met. He either wanted to work in the garden or take over my job as photographer. To be honest, I think he’d be half decent at it too. Check out the photos below to see the laughs they had (in between the hard work).

Kuntisky_Jul17-1Kuntisky_Jul17-9Kuntisky_Jul17-6Kuntisky_Jul17-15Kuntisky_Jul17-23Kuntisky_Jul17-27Kuntisky_Jul17-26Kuntisky_Jul17-28Kuntisky_Jul17-32Kuntisky_Jul17-34Kuntisky_Jul17-35Kuntisky_Jul17-42Kuntisky_Jul17-49Kuntisky_Jul17-63Kuntisky_Jul17-65Kuntisky_Jul17-75Kuntisky_Jul17-71Kuntisky_Jul17-91Kuntisky_Jul17-87Kuntisky_Jul17-93Kuntisky_Jul17-134Kuntisky_Jul17-138Kuntisky_Jul17-96Kuntisky_Jul17-101Kuntisky_Jul17-102Kuntisky_Jul17-106Kuntisky_Jul17-107Kuntisky_Jul17-117Kuntisky_Jul17-119Kuntisky_Jul17-115Kuntisky_Jul17-121

The Fosseys [ Edmonton Documentary Family Session ]

It’s a toss up on who runs the house between Elliot and the dogs.. but I’m pretty sure Elliot takes the gold on that one. The afternoon I spent with Amy, Taylor and Elliot can be described as perfect. They decorated a cake (and ate it too), played outside, built lego (which would be Taylor’s highlight), watched a movie and read books together. I simply adore this family. Take a look at the photos below and I think you will too!

Fossey_Apr17-3492Fossey_Apr17-3505Fossey_Apr17-3512Fossey_Apr17-3543Fossey_Apr17-3606Fossey_Apr17-3610Fossey_Apr17-3614Fossey_Apr17-3650Fossey_Apr17-3653Fossey_Apr17-3669Fossey_Apr17-3691Fossey_Apr17-3700Fossey_Apr17-3816Fossey_Apr17-3846Fossey_Apr17-3888Fossey_Apr17-3892Fossey_Apr17-4622Fossey_Apr17-3939Fossey_Apr17-3950Fossey_Apr17-3957Fossey_Apr17-3998Fossey_Apr17-4011Fossey_Apr17-4015Fossey_Apr17-4020Fossey_Apr17-4086Fossey_Apr17-4081Fossey_Apr17-4068Fossey_Apr17-4077Fossey_Apr17-4085Fossey_Apr17-4080Fossey_Apr17-4087Fossey_Apr17-4104Fossey_Apr17-4112Fossey_Apr17-4129Fossey_Apr17-4211Fossey_Apr17-4257Fossey_Apr17-4308Fossey_Apr17-4313Fossey_Apr17-4316Fossey_Apr17-4472Fossey_Apr17-4384

The Garcias [ Edmonton Documentary Family Session ]

One of the main reasons why I love photography is the memories that are captured with it. Portrait sessions are beautiful but a documentary session allows real moments to be locked in time. When I arrived at the Garcias’ home, I told them to simply do as they normally do. After some snuggles on the couch, it was time for the real action to begin. I spent a few hours with them that afternoon and it was filled with mini sticks and baseball. I served as referee with the camera. Thank you to Mario and Camille for inviting me into your home to document a sliver of your everyday. Matteus is one lucky, hockey-loving, kid.

Garcias_Apr2017-2445Garcias_Apr2017-2441Garcias_Apr2017-2459Garcias_Apr2017-2467Garcias_Apr2017-2628Garcias_Apr2017-2532Garcias_Apr2017-2675Garcias_Apr2017-2683Garcias_Apr2017-2686Garcias_Apr2017-2691Garcias_Apr2017-2698Garcias_Apr2017-2835Garcias_Apr2017-2880Garcias_Apr2017-2774Garcias_Apr2017-2783Garcias_Apr2017-2790Garcias_Apr2017-2865Garcias_Apr2017-2932Garcias_Apr2017-2985Garcias_Apr2017-2987Garcias_Apr2017-3083Garcias_Apr2017-3116Garcias_Apr2017-3168Garcias_Apr2017-3126Garcias_Apr2017-3204Garcias_Apr2017-3227Garcias_Apr2017-3276Garcias_Apr2017-3281Garcias_Apr2017-3296Garcias_Apr2017-3325Garcias_Apr2017-3330Garcias_Apr2017-3331Garcias_Apr2017-3361Garcias_Apr2017-3390Garcias_Apr2017-3437Garcias_Apr2017-3315

How to choose your photographer

I will save you some time and tell you this: choose a photographer whose work you absolutely, 110%, no-doubt-about-it LOVE!

With that being said, perhaps you are in a predicament where you love multiple photographers of all different styles. How ever will you choose? Below are my Dos and Don’ts when it comes to choosing your photographer.

DON’T decide based on price

Price should not be your deciding factor. It can be part of your decision but it shouldn’t be the first thing you look for. As the saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for’ and that is most definitely true for photographers. Unless the cheapest photographer is the one you “absolutely, 110%, no-doubt-about-it LOVE”, you are risking being disappointed in your photos. If you are disappointed in your photos, no matter how cheap they were, it was a waste of money.

MessyJeshie30_Photobooth-51

DO consider their specialty

You may be drawn to a wedding photographer, but actually want product photos taken. While many photographers offer multiple photography services, some choose a specialty for a reason. Whatever that reason may be, trust them with it. Demanding a wedding photographer to take your business headshot (or vice versa) may not be as successful and simple as you would hope.

genistagrahamlexiefinn-54

DON’T assume it will be simple

This goes along with the last point I made. One of the most common things I hear is how “easy and simple” my job must be since all I do is point a camera and click a button. At the core, that is accurate. I do indeed point my camera and click a button. I am a professional and am capable but it doesn’t mean it will be simple. There are many factors that go into even 1 photograph. From prepping the equipment to final delivery, there are many things that happen in between that complicate the process. At the end of the day, the process remains the same whether it is one quick photo, or one thousand photos.

Fossey_Apr17-4110

DO have a plan for your photos

Are you planning to create large prints for display, or planning to use the photos on your website? This is an important consideration but entirely subjective. What type of photo do you want to fill your wall? A sharp landscape or intimate portrait? Does your website need detail images or documentary action shots?

Garcias_Apr2017-3390

DO choose someone you like

This is especially important for wedding and lifestyle photography. Your photographer will be spending a lot of time with you and will share intimate experiences. You should enjoy the company of your photographer and feel comfortable to be yourself with them. The more you can be yourself, the better the photos will be.

What are other things you consider before hiring a photographer?

 

A Second Chance for Dogs (and Cats)

I recently visited one of Second Chance Animal Rescue Society’s (SCARS) Intake Facilities in Athabasca, Alberta. I helped photograph some of the dogs, alongside another photographer and longtime SCARS volunteers – John Doyle.

SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-12

I adopted my dog (and 2 cats) through another rescue within the last 6 months. Before adoption, I spent months obsessing over every animal rescue website and social media page in and around Edmonton. I was and still am stunned at the amount of animals in need, in Alberta. It is heartbreaking to learn what many animals endure due to irresponsible people.

I am glad there are so many great organizations and volunteers on a mission to help as many animals as they can. I wish there wasn’t such a great need for them – but there is.

SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-17

Second Chance Animal Rescue Society does more than their fair share to help – but I know they wish they could do more. Sylvia is one of the main volunteers at this facility and my goodness, she is a wonderful person. She cares so deeply about all of the animals they bring in. The Sanctuary dogs (“permanent wards of SCARS due to medical or behaviour issues not likely to find an adoptive family”) have a strong bond to her. They literally give cats and dogs a second chance at a good life. The organization is completely volunteer run – and it is an amazing amount of work.

SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-20

As an animal lover, I want nothing more than to give every dog a home. I’d keep them all if I could! Instead, I help out how I can by volunteering my time and donating money when I am able to.

Check out how you can help by visiting scarscare.ca

SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-11

Penny_SCARS-Mar2017-1Marley_SCARS-Mar2017-4SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-10Hennessy_SCARS-Mar2017-5

Rueban_SCARS-Mar2017-5SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-8Randy_SCARS-Mar2017-3Della_SCARS-Mar2017-3SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-7Queenie_SCARS-Mar2017-2SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-19SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-18SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-16Penny_SCARS-Mar2017-5SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-3Puppies_SCARS-Mar2017-3SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-1SylviasPlace_SCARS-Mar2017-5