The wedding industry can be a hard one to navigate when it comes to choosing the right vendors for your big day. That’s where hiring a wedding planner comes in handy, allowing them to guide you through the endless amount of talented players (see that plug I did there?)! The best weddings are a result of putting together the right people with the right personalities and talents for the job. I pride myself on working with the best vendors in the city and beyond who always put their best foot forward for their clients! If everyone is in it for the right reasons, the results are always amazing.
For the next couple of weeks I am going to feature a little “Q & A” with some of my favourite vendors, giving you an insiders look at what makes them and their services unique!
First up, the always talented Tara McMullen Photography! I met Tara about 4 years ago while planning a fabulous wedding that we were working on together. I knew from the first time I met her that not only were we going to work well together, but that she would become a great friend! I've also had the most wonderful experiences shooting with Tara's two associates, Janice & Barb! (A few tidbits in the answers as well from the fabulous Barb!) These ladies are fierce, talented, and so full of heart. Not only will you love your photos from them, but you'll love them as people just as much.
And here we are today, having done over a dozen weddings together (and counting), and having Tara & Janice shoot my own wedding last weekend. Ladies and gents…enjoy!
How long have you been in business for?
Tara: I began my career in wedding photography in 2008 - long before everyone had a digital camera, and even before weddings were much of a 'thing'. It's been so amazing to see how the industry has grown and changed over the last 8 years. We have come a long way!
What services do you offer wedding clients?
Tara: We are a wedding photography studio. There are three of us on the team. Me (Tara), and Barb & Janice (my associates). We pride ourselves on our unique ability to capture natural and unposed moments that are not only beautiful, but remind you of how you actually felt on your wedding day.
We do weddings, engagement sessions, and family sessions. We have the most amazing job because we get to watch our couples grow in their lives together from engaged to newlyweds to parents. It's an amazing journey to be on with our incredible couples.
Being behind the camera, you must see so many wedding trends right before your eyes. Any favourite trends from 2016? Any predictions for 2017?
Tara: I have seen a lot of brides starting to walk away from Pinterest as their main source of inspiration, which I LOVE! I think that wedding trends are finally moving back towards being about the heart instead of the decor. I am seeing a lot less of the 'same-same', and more couples doing things their own way. Bright colours, interesting food (burgers and fries! HELLO!), and unconventional venues. I am loving the individuality that folks are bringing to their days.
Barb: I love that we've seen the rise of folks move away from following major trends and instead translating their real-life style and aesthetic into their wedding day. Among my favourite trends- and things I think we will see more of- is brides choosing to take more risks with their wedding dresses (like cocktail length skirts, two-piece dresses or lace sleeves,) and the influence of architecture and minimalism in decor. I also love that the loose, wild-flower trend has now met the Japanese art of Ikebana and we are starting to see floral installations with unique and striking form.
What sets Tara McMullen Photography apart from other photography companies? What makes you unique?
Tara: I like to think that we are the best in the city at capturing real moments mixed with beautiful portraiture. There are lots of photographers who are incredible portrait artists, and just as many who are incredible documentaries - but we excel at being pretty great at both. And that makes me pretty proud!
What is your favourite moment of a wedding day to capture and why?
Tara: Hands-down my favourite moment of the day is the recessional. All bets are off, the couple has finally said their vows, they can finally relax. This is literally the climax of the day for me. Not the kiss. The recessional. Every darn time. I love the looks on couples' faces while they walk (or sometimes run) down the aisle. The elation in their eyes and the joy that is shared by those around them is second to none. I LOVE IT!
Barb: I love the reveal - emotions are high and genuine, everyone is so nervous and that all makes each reveal so unique. Plus I just love seeing a groom cry and more often than not- a reveal is what breaks them.
Do you have any advice for clients who don’t know where to start when it comes to looking for a photographer?
Tara: Find a few folks whose style you like, and then visit with them in person or via skype. If you have a chemistry, follow your gut. It is my opinion that you and your photographer should be REALLY good friends. We are with you all day long. We are more or less your emotional coaches all day long, too. A good photographer will help you stay in the moment so that you achieve more than beautiful photos. A good photographer will give you beautiful photos that are seeped in emotion and memory.
Barb: I think the best place to start is a strong referral- be it from your friend or a planner- everyone has at some point seen images that have taken their breath away and thats a great place to begin. Next I think it is important to feel like you "click" with the person who is capturing your moments, you end up spending most of your day with your photographer so you should feel comfortable around them and enjoy their company. Finally make sure you chose someone who's skills you trust to execute your day from morning prep, all the way to a dance-floor at night this way you can feel like you have full trust in your team and can focus on enjoying the moments unfolding around you.
Do you have any favourite venues or locations in the city or Ontario to shoot at?
Tara: I love The Evergreen Brick Works because it is the perfect blank slate. I have never had a dull wedding there -- it's the best! I also love weddings at private homes or at the cottage. There is something so special about getting married at home - your heart already lives there.
Barb: I love shooting at the AGO. The architecture and availability of light make the gallery a photographer's dream. It is so incredible that many shows and installations move through the space which allows for fresh inspiration each time I return. It is simply a classic, breathtaking space that allows for endless photography possibilities.
How does working with a wedding planner help when planning photography for a wedding day?
Tara: When my couples don't work with a wedding planner, I usually end up being their faux planner. I don't mind, but believe me - I'm much better at being a wedding photographer! Every couple deserves to have their wedding day be stress-free and full of joy. This is impossible if you are fielding questions about toilet paper and alcohol delivery. A good planner will be two steps ahead of you, and will keep everything working on time. And if something goes wrong - you don't have to deal with it! A planner is worth it every time.
Barb: A wedding planner helps to make everything run more smoothly. I find that my brides who work with planners also are more at more ease simply because they know their event is in the hands of someone they trust allowing them to stay in the moment and truly enjoy their day.
What advice can you give to clients who are nervous or self conscious in front of the camera?
Tara: The best thing that you can do when you feel awkward is to embrace it. Make light of it, and then move on. The awkwardness disappears over the first 20 minutes of the session, and then it's easy. Just be your beautiful, weird, funny, shy, or ridiculous self. Your partner loves you that way, and wants to see the real you in your images.
Do you have anything else you want to add?
Barb: We love working with Shea! If you are her client, or thinking of becoming her client, you have come to the right place. Shea is professional, personable and has an incredible gift for styling and designing events. She has been at the helm of some of the most unique and beautiful weddings we've ever and I am always excited to see what she executes for our couples.
Thanks so much to Tara and her fabulous team of photographers who always put 100% of love and heart into each and every wedding they shoot!