Creative, Story Telling Wedding Photography in Calgary Alberta


Rising tide raises all boats

Recent flooding events in the Bow Valley area have prompted Calgary based photographers to band together in an effort help those within the wedding community. The idea started as a simple post in a Facebook group and quickly grew from there. We have all been touched by these floods, some of us are in a position to help those who were affected more severely.


The Idea is simple “A rising tide raises all boats”. Some of our community are in difficult situations due to the floods, maybe events had to be rescheduled or equipment has been lost or people may be unable to fulfill commitments. Other vendors may reeling as well, this is going to take a while to clean up in more ways than one.  In an effort to help those who can are offering up their assistance, how that will look depends on the situation. The motto “lets take care of them first”
Do you need someone to cover a shoot for you, need an assistant, need . . . ?    The list of Photographers willing to help out is growing rapidly:





Kenny and Jill . . . The Hunt is Over.

Kenny and Jill are getting married Aug 3rd  2013.  For their E-session they wanted to have fun doing what they normally do on a “date”.  We headed out into the country for a little shooting . . .  Their love shone through in the cold overcast morning air . We had a great time, these two are good sports comfortable in the outdoors . . . and in the end our targets were hit. I for one am looking forward to the wedding day shots . . . Enjoy.  Kenny and Jill





conceptphotos.ca_KandJ018      conceptphotos.ca_KandJ017conceptphotos.ca_KandJ005

Virtual Wedding Guests

When planning a wedding there are always those people who you really wish could be there but you just cannot accommodate them. Maybe they’re half way around the world or their employment doesn’t allow for travel when you want to have your wedding. In addition there are limits to the numbers we can invite, be it financial or seating restrictions. Whatever the reason we cannot please all peoples schedules all the time. Or can we . . . enter Virtual Guests. Streaming your wedding event is now easier than ever with most venues having dedicated lines for internet access. Streaming providers such as Ustream provide user friendly methods to make any size event available to watch LIVE.  You can have camera(s) covering the highlights of the event and even set up skype stations for interacting with virtual guests! Now you don’t have to limit the guest list to the size of the venue just the bandwidth. Something to talk about with your planners and venues.

Virtual weddings in Calgary AB

Virtual weddings in Calgary AB

For more information check out  Ustream

You are “photogenic” you just don’t know it.

You are “photogenic” you just don’t know it nobody believes it but it is true. Well okay some people may be easier to photograph but that’s because they’re more comfortable in front of the lens than others. Truth is everyone can have a great photo taken of them or a really bad one no matter how “good looking” they are. When people tell me they are not photogenic I give them a seemingly self serving answer “you haven’t met the right photographer yet”, regardless this is a true statement. You see it isn’t the skill with the camera that makes this statement true. What makes this a true statement? The relationship you have with your photographer and their ability to make you feel comfortable in front of their lens. Of course there is a skill to this . . . timing.  More than capturing the moment, anticipating it even creating it that is the real skill. Sometimes it is as simple as letting you be you. When the real you shows it is easy to be photogenic, then the skill of the photographer come in creating the difference between a good photo and a great one.  Weddings, families, children, couples etc. it’s all the same. Take the example below, this young girl is naturally beautiful but looks highly “photogenic” in the bottom photo the difference is timing and her comfort level.

You're Photogenic and you don't know it.

You’re Photogenic and you don’t know it.

Childlike wonderment.

During the month of January I have the pleasure of teaching art at My sons elementary school. The Division one students that I am working with are learning about the arctic as part of their social studies curriculum. The projects involve using polymer clay to create a sculpture of an arctic animal influenced by Inuit stone carvings. I suggested these because the forms translate successfully into clay.

It has been nice to be working in another creative medium, however there has been a constant that I had not considered. As I am working with the children I continue to feed on their joy in what seems like magic to them. My somewhat rudimentary examples of Arctic foxes, Narwhals or Muskoxen never fail to please. Eyes pop and mouths open when a few well placed ovals with ears or horns combine together to mimic an animal’s shape. Exclamations of “how did you do that?” are not uncommon.

It’s this wide eyed surprise and wonderment that is the common denominator, and I love it. There is nothing more gratifying than sharing wedding photographs with a couple for the first time. Eyes pop, mouths open and childlike optimism takes hold. Gasps and smiles are reactions to well posed and lit situations. Exclamations of “how did you get that shot, I didn’t even see you” are very common.

One might let this go to their head, and in a way I do. I don’t revel in the Idea that I am “that good”. Instead I am thankful to be so blessed that something I do could arouse such wonderment . . . wow I am so lucky! I stand there in childlike wonderment in the amazing gift I have been given and the magic I get to share.


See the possibilities in every season

See the possibilities everywhere

Brr the wind is cold the sky is grey and there is snow blowing around in the wind.  “Yuck” right . . . wrong, see the possibilities!  Bundle up wear that new sweater and those new boots, wear that new scarf and gloves . . . and heck add a hat. The wind, a little bit of drizzle and some grey skies adds mood to a photograph. Your warm clothes and heavy textures also add to the interest in the photo not to mention those healthy rosy cheeks.  Don’t let the lonely beauty of a blustery fall days pass by without taking advantage of them. These days are to be enjoyed and their beauty captured.

Your story how will you plan it?

Storytelling is the number one job of a photographer but without your input the story is not yours.  You need to consider the elements of your story that are important to you. Take the reins with your photographer and drive your story to the place you want it to go. Let’s discuss some considerations that can help you along your way to your story.

Every story has a beginning, middle and an end. Your day is no different you can create a complete story if you consider these elements. This is the reason we photographers like to shoot the bride getting ready, the dress etc. This can be one possible beginning. You may want to do a couples/ engagement shoot to create a beginning to your story. The middle; could be the ceremony, but what parts are specifically important to you? The end; maybe the last dance and a shot of you driving away in the car with the just married sign? Your story has many intricacies and is uniquely yours if you plan it well you will be happy with the results.

What do you want from your story? What elements are important to you? Do you want the entire day captured from getting ready to driving away? Are all these aspects of equal importance? Each part of your story has a level of importance to you and consideration should be given to this when planning. You want all the images that make up your day but which ones mean the most to you? How do you see your images being displayed or distributed as final product?

Product, what’s the role product plays in your decisions. What do I mean by product? Albums, prints, books, social media images electronic displays etc. You need to consider what your dream wedding will look like to you. Is it a beautiful arrangement of prints on your wall? Maybe it is a beautiful album or photo-book. What about the parents or the family and all those friends on facebook? Each of these “audiences” deserves consideration not only in the image type but the medium also. Books or smaller albums are great for the parents with images that showcase the groom for the grooms side and bride for her parents. Images appropriately sized for email and other electronic sharing are what we like to call “social media images” and are perfect for sharing with all your friends.

When working with a photographer you need to consider all these aspects when creating your story. If you leave this to chance and simply ask for the disc at the end you’re setting yourself up for failure. Think about it talk to your partner and friends decide what you want and proceed with a plan. Create a rough draft, an outline for your story. If you want an album and large prints include this. Together you and our photographer can create the images that you will capture on your day.

This one’s for the grooms

This one’s for the grooms so ladies listen up, you’re going to have to tell them to read this. The simple fact is this is the bride’s day and us grooms are there mostly for support. But some of us neglect that and take the hands off approach, this never works well! The following ten tips for the groom will help you be involved on your terms and even enjoy it.

1) You have an opinion let’s hear it. We’re not talking about the usual rant about politics and taxes. This is going to be your day also so express your opinions. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made for the day and you can help here. Music, food choices, photography are some areas where you can put in your two cents. You can steer clear of the lilies or roses debates and the bridesmaid’s bouquets, still maintaining your manhood.

2) Let’s talk about the registry, picking out china and the like not your thing? Maybe you need to look at in a different way.  You get to go to the store and choose things you want that someone else will buy for you! Tools may not be the best choice. How about a cappuccino machine or stainless steel BBQ tools? If you think about it you can come up with some ideas. This is helping, really you’re taking some of the responsibility of your bride to be. You may even be able to convince a group of your friends to collaborate and buy you that new plasma you have had your eyes on!

3) Don’t be uninvolved and don’t be a pushover. You don’t want to feel like a fool in baby blue just because she thought it would go well with the flowers. If you don’t have any input you could end up with flowers and or rose coloured bedding that you will want to hide when the buddies come over. Step up or take what you get, like a man!

4) Wedding planning is stressful, your bride to be is likely to need a break once in a while. You don’t want her to develop an ulcer or worse a grudge before she walks down the aisle.  Cook her dinner, or take her out for dinner. Take her to the movies or rent her that new chick flick she has wanted to see. Yes chick flick, you need to remind her why she is going through all this stress in the first place. Have some fun together, relax and remember why you got engaged in the first place.

5) Be a buffer, if your mother is calling too often, you can avoid the family feud if you act as a buffer. It is likely to cause less stress on the relationship if you kindly tell your mother to back off. Let her know that you appreciate her excitement and input but it is your wedding and you need to fly from the nest yourselves. You get to keep the peace and live in it, a win win situation.

6) You may need professional help. If your bride to be hits the wall you may need to hire a professional wedding planner to take the reins. Don’t think about the cost think about the value, your bride won’t be needing that straight jacket on your honeymoon.

7) Listen, be supportive but avoid family bashing! If your bride to be is lambasting her mother’s meddling ways DON’T take this opportunity to add your insults onto fire! This will only open up a proverbial Pandora’s Box, something you want to avoid. This is one place where cost outweighs value. Although you might value expressing yourself the cost in one you cannot bear. Listen, nod, hug and shut up!

8 ) Manage your men. You choose your men of honour for their honour right? These are your friends and you know them. If the best man has your back but loses his keys at least once a night then making him solely responsible for the rings may not be the best idea. Know their weaknesses and how that my affect the day then manage them. If they’re always late then have them be a ½ hr early etc. This will relieve both you and your bride to be of stress.

9) Manage you men’s attire. Make the fittings pick up etc, clear and simple. Make all the arrangements yourself and send clear concise emails to all the parties’ even the sales person at the formal shop. Give as much detail as you can include fitting times, directions to the shop etc. Make sure to remind the boys to return their rentals the day after so as to avoid late charges.  CC your bride to be, this way you accomplish two things. You show her you are taking responsibility and you add accountability to your groomsmen because she now knows what they have been told!

10) The wedding day.  Make sure you let the bride to be knows you are thinking of her. Get her a little gift something only you would get for her. Nothing big just something that will make her smile. Get a bit sentimental here, write her a note that lets her know you cannot wait to spend the rest of your life with her and how stunning she is going to look today. If you get a little choked up writing it your on the right track.

This is good relationship advice not just wedding day advice, I follow these rules and have been happily married for 14 years and together for 20. Got some more advice we would love to hear it.

Is Creativity fake or more real?

Creative, storytelling wedding photographs evoke ideas of fairytales but are they fake? Shouldn’t the moments be captured as they happen? Or can created images be more real than simple snapshots?  How will creativity affect your wedding day story? You might say you don’t need someone to be creative, you  just want someone to take the photos. In simplest terms you’re correct. However I urge you to read on conquer your fears of the creative, your wedding day story might just depend on it.

Story # 1: two people got married. Your story: You and the people you love shared an amazing day full of emotion and life. The setting was beautiful the details perfect and everyone could feel your love. They are the same story one just lacks some creativity. Which one do you want?

What is creativity anyways? First let’s discover what it is not: Creativity is not B&W photography, in this digital age there is any number of immediate ways to get B&W. Neither is it creative to have a B&W shot with one colour aspect (unless that colour aspect is a constant and says something about the photo). Is it brides, grooms and their bridal party jumping in the air . . . nope not creative (maybe the first time but not anymore). How about sepia toned images . . . nope it takes some skill in Photoshop to do it properly but it isn’t creative. How about a shot of the rings in a champagne flute? Well that may be a bit overdone but it has potential.

Creative is a process a way of looking at things and doing things, it isn’t the result but the process that got the result. Every photographer searches for inspiration a starting point. But when you simply do something because it worked for some other photographer then the creativity is gone it’s lost. Einstein said that doing the same process over again expecting a different result is insane. Trying to copy what you have seen out there and expecting to call it creative is also insane. It isn’t the “what” that makes it creative it’s the “how”.  That doesn’t mean you don’t do the ring shot or B&W or sepia . . . just bring more to the table in the “how”. Bring more creativity.  

Creativity is not something you should fear but embrace.  Fairytale weddings are the desire of many brides.  The sad truth is this doesn’t happen that often. But the feelings and emotions are there and can be brought out.  The fairytale is created but not faked! These emotions are real, the connections and the people involved all real. They just need a chance to be let out, created, and captured in the lens. You put on your best clothes went to the salon etc, why? So you could be shot in bad light with bad posture not smiling? Posing, setting the scene, positioning etc isn’t fake it is just taking reality to the salon. Embrace the creative let your true self out don’t hide in your comfort zone flourish in the limelight.

What is the real value of creativity and what do you get out of it? The images that tell your story become more: more real, more emotive, more  connected, more personal and more uniquely you. Creativity adds to the final product, you end up with a more desirable photographic story. The story of your day told through your images compiled in a beautiful album. An album that you can relate to that tells your story not just a wedding day but yours. The timing, compositions, lighting, angles and techniques combine with you and your surroundings to “create” a visual story. The visual story of your day not just a record it happening. It’s your choice which story will you choose?

What does creative mean to you? We would love to hear from you.

Inspiration for “your” Wedding Photography found downtown in Calgary Alberta

It’s Sunday and I have the morning all to myself. The weather is giving us a preview of spring and the partly cloudy mostly sunny light is looking great. I am a man on a mission: that mission is for inspiration . . . not for me but for you! I can find inspiration anywhere. What do I mean inspiration for you? Well as a photographer I will create numerous looks for your wedding photography but what do you want? Where do you want to have your wedding photos? Yes that’s right you, I mean it’s your wedding anyways! So what does any of this have to do with me on a search for inspiration for you? Most of us can find inspiration here in Calgary by simply looking west towards the majestic Rockies. However this isn’t always an option as a backdrop for your wedding.

Here is my suggestion look around you on your daily travels to and from work but really look. Imagine you and or your beautiful partner within the spaces that you find visually interesting. Don’t worry about the actual pose, framing, lighting or any other technical aspects, I’ll take care of that. Just imagine, could you and or your partner fit and will that translate into something of visual interest. Take you camera or your phone and take some pics to help you remember (sometimes shoot the street signs for even more reference). Now when you get together with your photographer, we will have visual support for “your” look.

So back to my mission: cover an easily walked area in the downtown core and capture areas that will produce visually interesting wedding photos for you, for “your” day. I loaded up the car with camera, tripod and other camera gear. On route I stopped for a breakfast sandwich, coffee and a bottle of water for the walkabout. With no set location in mind I set out to discover new inspiration. I decided I would travel a total of 9 blocks in a loop, maybe a total of 5 mins walking time. No sooner after parking did I discover inspiration, in fact every few steps I saw something that would create an interesting backdrop for a photo shoot.

Calgary’s core has an abundance of big beautiful glass windows. These windows serve two forms of photographic support. Reflections beautiful reflections, reflections of the amazing architecture and reflections of you! Another great feature of this abundance of glass is the amazing fill lighting, reflected light fills what would otherwise be darkness of the overshadowing giants. The fill lighting creates infinite possibilities as the sun moves throughout the horizon revealing new pockets if inspiring light. Even the most mundane doorway can serve as a framing device for a visually interesting photograph. Now add unique lighting and reflections and the possibilities are amazing. In my short outing I found no less than 10 strong possibilities.

As I shot one thing was missing  . . . you . . . it would have been great to have a bride and/or groom to pose in all these locations. One of the things I do for myself is to draw the bride on a printed photograph. Today I took this approach one step further. I quickly sketched up a stylized bride, nothing fancy just a line drawing that will represent a bride. I then scanned her into Photoshop then placed the new bride into the situations I had photographed. I thought I would share some of those images here for you. Imagine yourself and/or your partner in place of my paper bride.

I hope this will help you to be inspired to be involved in the creative process with your photographer and see the possibilities around you for your day!

Can you spot the professional?

I hate to shave but the real twist here is that I also hate facial hair. There is this point where it becomes just an annoyance, itchy, food catcher etc. So what does this have to do with photography and more specifically being a “professional” photographer?  Or how does one recognize “professionalism”? Is it a quality you can see like the way some one looks? The flash and style of their website? The music on their website (personally I hate websites with music and the first thing I do is turn it off or navigate away)? So how do you know “professionalism” . . . Well . . .

You see I travel many circles, I am a father who takes his son to school every day, a husband that drives his wife to work, an outdoor photographer that spends a lot of time out in nature, an artist who exhibits and visits exhibitions, an avid longboard skater, snowboarder, and a “professional” portrait and wedding photographer. That adds up to a lot of looks! I don’t and cannot mix all the looks it wouldn’t make sense. Outdoor clothes are expensive and technical but look like . . . outdoor clothes, usually not the thing I am shooting a wedding in. Skate clothes are just that, usually T-shirt and jeans and the cheaper the better, somehow looking somewhat in fashion. Work clothes are expensive and need to look “Professional” I tend to save them for work or events or . . . well you get the picture.

So what’s the point? Oh yeah shaving, and er “professionalism” . . . and what does any of this have to do with it?  “Professional” doesn’t come in a store, a size or a colour, “Professional” isn’t your camera, your car, your website or any of this. So what is it? It is an inner quality that cannot be seen but has to be experienced. It is a work ethic, a philosophy a skill, and many more qualities. Professionalism has no one simple definition.

So where does a “look” come into “professional”? . . . Well contrary to popular belief there really isn’t a look but there is a time when one look is better than another. As a “professional” I need to know when it is appropriate to be in T-shirt and jeans and when to be in business clothes. I also need to know my clients if I am shooting a casual beach wedding I cannot show up in a suit and loafers (I’ll never wear loafers!) I need to look like I belong there not stick out like a sore thumb. One of the worst things I could do is out dress a bride and groom.

So what does being “professional” mean to me? Well, being a “professional” has little or nothing to do with looks and everything to do with attitude and some skill doesn’t hurt either. What do I mean by attitude? Well, a willingness to go the extra mile in every aspect. It starts with the first meeting, it continues during the shoot and doesn’t end after the packages and collections have been delivered. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it’s tiring, sometimes the light or the weather doesn’t cooperate, sometimes the client doesn’t cooperate(but we never say that) . . . a “professional” doesn’t let that stop them from getting the job done. Professionals keep trying, they keep brainstorming, they keep problem solving, and they keep . . . being “professional”!

So how do you recognize a “professional” photographer? If you rely on their look then I think you could be in for a disappointment. Is it their equipment, how about their studio, or maybe their car? If you met me on the bike path with my skateboard I bet you wouldn’t remember my scruffy beard or my tattered appearance but something more about my personality and if you happen to be looking for a photographer, I am confident that we would set up a discovery meeting.  At this meeting I would of course show up shaved, dressed well and looking . . . well . . . “professional” but more importantly I would be “professional” . . .

Jeffrey Wilkins, Professional Calgary AB Photographer

ConceptPhotos Portrait Sampler

I hope you enjoy this video sample of some of my favourite moments and stores of 2010.

Last year I had so many great experiences with so many great people.  I was thinking of a way to show people a more comprehensive portfolio, that is a sampling of the popular types of portraiture that ConceptPhotos offers you. Since all of my experiences this past year had their own unique story I decided to create a story within the images rather than just focus on the generas of portraiture. This is also one of the services that ConceptPhotos offers you to capture your special day, your special story.  A selection of the best images from your day can be combined with music and words that tell your story.

ConceptPhotos Portrait Sampler.

Jan 2011 newsletter

2011 is here and . . .

  Changes are happening, this is a new near for ConceptPhotos and for Jeffrey Wilkins. So what’s changing? Everything and nothing. Photography is my passion and people really bring that passion out. In a word things will be getting more focused (sorry for the pun) Better products and services with a more refined focus on people, portraiture, weddings and photo events.  So check back soon for more updates and a recap of 2010.


A new addition arrives

Congratulations Jen and Aaron on their new addition, Halem Sullivan Azure Christensen.

Erica`s Maternity shoot

It seems that Aug was maternity month for ConceptPhotos. This session was with a couple expecting their third child (you would never believe it) and their two young sons. The focus of this shoot was on family. This is a “family” focused family with their two boys anxiously awaiting the arrival of their baby sister. Erica and Scott wanted their shoot to include and even focus on their two boys.  I had a great time with the boys 2 and 5 who made excellent helpers. I think the images we got work well and really say “family”, enjoy.

Erica`s Maternity shoot.

Jen’s maternity shoot

Recently I had the pleasure of shooting a beautiful young woman who is expecting her first baby! Mother hood fits well on her and I couldn’t be happier with the images I got working with her and her partner Aaron. They were fun and adventurous with a willingness to try a multitude of poses and wardrobe changes. The result comes through in the beautiful images I was able to capture. Thanks Jen and Aaron!

Jen’s maternity shoot.

Brookes Birthday Smash!

A few weeks ago I had a rather abrupt meeting with a brick retaining wall while cursing on a bike path. The end result was a badly torn up face and a chipped sinus. Two days later I had a photo shoot scheduled and I was concerned with my appearance.  A mentor of mine (whether he knows it or not) Robert Provencher  of told me that he doubted that this would make any difference especially since the subject was a one year old with a birthday cake to smash into.  So I went ahead and did the shoot.  I am so glad for the experience it was a joy to shoot and get my mind off the accident and my stitched up mug.  Little Brooke couldn’t have been cuter and the family was a joy to work with. Here is a video slide show of the event, enjoy.

Brookes Birthday Smash!.

The family portrait

Family portraits are fun and sometimes a challenge. Now take an extended family of 14+ members (there was to be 18+ but 4 were sick) and one of them is you! This throws a whole new dynamic on composing,  posing, organizing the family members not to mention taking the photos. I think we had a successful shoot here is a link to the video slide show with images from the shoot, enjoy.

Daddy and Me

A recent photo shoot With Ryan and his children “Daddy and Me” . This was a fun shoot in their home which is really convenient for parents of new born babies! Their fireplace and couches seemed like a great place to shoot as the family was very comfortable there.  Ryan and his two wonderful children made for very agreeable subjects. Now I have to return to shoot the whole family and or a “Mommy and Me” Shoot. Enjoy a short clip of the best images from the shoot.

Daddy and Me.

Orville and Carol

A video slide show of raw photos from a recent wedding shoot June 19th 2010. Enjoy, share, promote thanks.

Orville and Carol.

Fairtales and Fiction Teaser

Hot off the preses my latest Photo Shoot Event.

Fairtales and Fiction Teaser.

Leah’s Fairy Day Shoot

One of the first of my Fairy Day videos, enjoy.

Leah’s Fairy Day Shoot.

Fairy Day is in the books!

Fairy day was amazing these little girls just loved the set I created! It was like watching real little fairies stumble across a new moon lit landscape. Each one brought their own version of a fairy to the shoot. There were some tough nuts to crack but everybody and I mean everybody has something that makes them happy! and once you discover that the rest is magic! The ohs and awes from the parents was so gratifying and this before their little one became a fairy. What an absolute blast  . . . Lets have some fun, lets pretend your a beautiful fairy, lets take some pictures of it . . . It almost seems to easy. If it wasn’t for the days, weeks even of preparation and the hrs of set up/take down, it would be. The set I built at home was good but this set went to another level. Key to the success was the space and ample background. Thanks to timwestbackgrounds123 for the great service! Another key was the location of the space, thanks to Richmond Hill Baptist Church. The lighting was taken to another level using three studio flashes and two off camera flashes to create the atmosphere thanks to for helping bend the rules a bit ;-).  Grass, junipers, mushrooms, rocks, water, more rocks, wood chips, moss, more rocks, flowers, bamboo, glass, marbles, more rocks came together in harmonious existence to create a fairy wonderland. So whats next? What about boys? Do you have a good idea for boys? do you have a shoot you would love to see? Here is a teaser image until I get a bit more time with these.