This photo of Nina and Ryan was taken steps from Old Mill in Toronto. Old Mill is a perfect venue to get married with its Tudor architecture buildings and perfectly manicured gardens. As a Toronto wedding photographer documented weddings at hundreds of venues in the area, I can appreciate the character and beauty of this establishment.
The complex was originally a First Nations and more specifically Huron territory in what is now Humber River Valley.
Trading helped the Humber Valley prosper and mills started being built on the rivers’ banks. In 1793 Kings Mill was built as a saw mill and that is considered by some the start of the industrial city of Toronto.Kings Mill proved poorly built so a new one was built, only to be burned in a fire in 1849. The new building was again lost to fire in 1881 and the mill was abandoned. Water mills were no longer popular with the advent of the steam power.
After 1900 Robert Home Smith, a businessman who invested in railways and real estate acquired a large area in the Humber Valley and began its metamorphosis.
Old Mill’s original name was the Old Mill Tea Garden and its motto was A Little Bit of England far from England. It opened on August 4, 1914 the same day when World War 1 started.
Over the years new buildings were added to the complex and most notably in 1919 the print room was built. Old Mill became e a place where people would meet for tea, live music dancing and weddings.In 1928, the Dance Hall and Garret Room’s construction started. When the Great Depression started in 1929, the place was well known in Toronto so it weathered the storm relatively unhurt as the local elite continued gathering at Old Mill for what was best known for: good big band music, food and dance.
Why is this venue great for your wedding?
This image of the bride and groom was taken on a cold October day in a park nearby Old Mill. A few minutes before this image was taken, we saw several deer and tried to photograph them, but to our utter disappointment they left seconds before we could set up our gear and immortalize the moment.
Soon after that it started raining and we continued photographing and we created some amazing images. The beauty of this particular photograph is given first by the emotion between the bride and groom. They are seen holding each other and kissing while trying hard to stay serious. While I can not remember what I told them to create that reaction , I can share this with you. Right before I take the shot, I usually say something to the couple that makes them laugh so I get a nice reaction. If a wedding photographer does not inject a bit of emotion, he will only photograph a pose with two bored people who can not wait for the photo shoot to finish. Among my well kept secret formulas, here are a few: smell her eyebrow, find a pimple, pinch her butt and the easiest tool in my arsenal: tickle her!!! The last one works all the time, I promise you!!!
As the wind was blowing strong and the veil kept covering their heads, I asked them to place the veil over them purposefully and kiss softly. The newlyweds started giggling and having a blast. At this time it was getting fairly late and my assistant had to leave, so I had to fend for myself so to speak. I placed my photography umbrella and my flash on a light stand and preyed that God would not destroy my setup. It seems I wan not convincing enough as the wind knocked down my umbrella, which broke and became unusable. It was Saturday evening and I would not be able to find any replacement umbrella in a camera store nearby Old Mill, so I thought of an alternate solution , Fortunately, I am a creative person so I found a fix for the problem. I placed the flash in a camera plastic bag - some sort of a zipped bag if you wish - and that became my new light source. I placed the flash on behind the bride.
It started raining and when I pressed the shutter and looked at the back at the camera I was really impressed with the result. The droplets became tiny bubbles of light if you wish.
In the background we can see a graffiti wall which is in fact a huge bridge that is nearby Old Mill.
One of the challenges photographers face during photo shoots is how to keep the energy of the couple high and this was a tall order on a rainy October day. I showed the bride and groom the image and they were so excited that we photographed for another hour. After that, we headed to the Old Mill Presidential suite where we took some more images, this time in the comfort of a warm room.
When we finished taking pictures, the couple ordered a pizza and they sat on the nuptial bed eating pizza. I went out and took some snapshots of this beautiful photo journalistic moment. Immediately after they played some music and the bride removed her shoes and laid on a lavish couch while the groom was getting ready for the next step of the day. The big party. The groom had a drink, then, energized, pulled his beautiful bride and started dancing slowly. I went on the balcony and photographed their reactions. That was the last photograph we took that night as after that, The bride and groom, accompanied by the bridal party and some family members went to a club and spent the whole night dancing.
In terms of processing, it was very straightforward: I softened the bride's skin and removed all the blemishes. Brides have sometimes a bad night sleep before the wedding and they look tired. This was not the case here as Nina looked flawless. The next step was to add a very discrete vignette around the couple and feather it. That in effect makes the couple pop or jump out of the page. Finally, I increased saturation in the image and sharpened it so that it looks crisp.
It took me about two months to finish all the photographs I took at this wedding and when I met the couple, I prepared a surprise for them: I prepared a 20"x30" print and they were stunned by the quality of the image.
Going back to the couple, they were impressed with the crisp look of the photograph. A few relative of theirs were around and I started showing them the images. It is so interesting to see everybody's enthusiasm. Their reactions were priceless!!! You should have seen the little kids gathered around the laptop screen remembering moments from the wedding. Because couples selected me to document the best day of their life and because I spend countless hours in front of a computer editing wedding photos of the bride and groom and their family, I feel like I am one of them despite the fact we are not related.
After I photograph a wedding I become more than an acquaintance, I am almost a friend and I keep in touch with couples whose weddings I photographed. Often couples let me know when they have children and invite me to do a photo shoot. We often chat about the wedding day and sometimes we go over the wedding album over a coup of coffee.
Finally, if you want a venue that combines old elegant charm with modern trends, contact Old Mill to book your wedding.
Location: 21 Old Mill Rd, Toronto, ON M8X 1G5.