First Look at Liberty Grand Wedding
Photography by Calin
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Photography by Calin


This photo of the first look was captured during a wedding at Liberty Grand in the Renaissance Foyer. 

As a Toronto wedding photographer, I learned to cover weddings both as a photojournalist but also as a movie director. Let me expand my statement. First, a wedding photographer in Toronto and anywhere else in this world has to be able to tell the story of the day through his or her images. Most of the time the photographer needs to feel the flow of the wedding day so that he can capture the moments. At the beginning of my career, I was always in reactive mode. However, by covering numerous weddings at Liberty Grand and some other marvellous wedding venues in Toronto, I learned to develop a proactive wedding photography style. After a while, I learn to anticipate the moments as opposed to react to them. Much of this training came when I switched from using zoom lenses to prime LENSES. While those zoom lenses have a plethora of advantages were not going to discuss here, they have a major flaw. In my humble opinion, zoom lenses make a photographer lazy. Zoom lenses allow a wedding photographer, even when he is not positioned  in the best angle to catch a moment. On the other hand, fixed or prime lenses if you want are quick to punish the photographer who is not in the right place at the right time. If the photographer is shooting for example if 35mm lens and the action is happening far from him, chances are his image will be unusable. Why so? Well, to put it simply, the subject will be too small in the frame for the photo to be usable. On the other hand, if the same photographer uses a zoom lens, he can zoom in and still catch the moment as if he was right next to the scene. That benefits of zoom lenses has a tendency to dull the photographer's sixth sense to which he can anticipate what will happen next.

After such a long preamble, let me jump into the subject of this article: the picture of the bride and groom's first look. For the first look, I neither take a photojournalistic approach nor a posed photography one. Rather, I use a hybrid method. After I had scanned the surroundings for the perfect backdrop and light, the main ingredients were a perfect wedding photo, I direct the bride and groom separately, and I encourage them to be themselves. If they feel like crying, that is fine. If they want to laugh, I will take it as well. No matter what their emotions are, I will be able to create a visual essay of their first look as long as they open up in front of the camera. For this first look at Liberty Grand, I instructed the father and the bridal party to stand in front of the groom. He could see their reaction but not his wife to be. I find that method to increase the tension so that when the bride and groom see each other for the first time more often than not they cry. Tears and laughter make for perfect wedding photos.

In this image, the bride and groom are shown in the foreground hugging, mere seconds after they saw each other. We can see the groom smiling with his eyes closed while crushing his wife in a loving embrace. In the background, the father of the bride and the best man are looking at the couple about to get married. Now, most Toronto wedding photographers would probably focus on the bride and groom in this image. That would be the logical thing to do. However, I know better so offer to my first shot (the safe one where the bride and groom are in focus) I captured the second shot, the more artistic one, which focuses on the reaction of the other participants at the scene. That, but she's a couple of things. First, as usually, the guests/relatives always look towards the bride and groom which are autofocus. As such, your eyes play a ping-pong between the main subject which is out of focus and that secondary subject which is in focus but looks at the main subject. Second, rarely do the guests know that the focus is on them. As a result, the are always them and never pose for the camera.


I photographed this image using a 35-millimetre lens shot at F4. In post production, I made the image black and white and dodged and burnt areas of the photo so that I can emphasise the main subjects. I also added grain to simulate a film look in this image.


If an image does not evoke strong emotions, then the photographer just captured a pose. We can definitely see here the protagonists of this photograph expressed a wide range of emotions. The groom is smiling with his eyes closed, obviously happy to see his bride and somewhat tense anticipating the wedding ceremony. The father of the bride, in the background, has a sad smile. On the one hand, he is happy for his daughter was getting married. On the other hand, is losing a good daughter and he cannot hide his sadness.

Location: 25 British Columbia Rd, Toronto, ON M6K 3C3.

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