Creative, Story Telling Wedding Photography in Calgary Alberta

Wedding photography tips

Outdoor wedding pitfalls to be avoided.

So you’re getting married, are you ready? Do you know the pitfalls that you could be headed for?
Some would have you believe that there are horror stories awaiting you at every turn. Although this could become a reality a little common sense and some planning will help you avoid or overcome any challenge that comes your way. I have compiled a list of some possible pitfalls that you may encounter when planning an outdoor wedding and simple planning that will help you to shrug them off.

Winter spring summer or fall: Every season has a myriad of possible weather challenges that can creep up on you.

What if the weather takes a turn for the worst? Rain, snow, and worse can happen. Have a backup plan! Have an indoor or covered venue picked out or ready to go just in case. Also consider the temperature, if it drops suddenly (here in Calgary this is quite possible) be prepared with either layers or heaters. You don’t need to “have” all this but at least consider it and know what it will take to source it in a hurry! A good rental company can be your best friend. For an outdoor wedding, find a rental company with a rain policy; this agreement will get you a tent at the last minute.

Mud: Have a plan for dealing with mud not rain but mud. Even the warmest blue sky day can be ruined by mud. Heavy rain or a late spring (this never happens in Calgary) can leave you wallowing in mud. Plastic bags are your friends just slip them over your shoes. Or just go with boots and have fun with it. If your venue has multiple spots choose if you can one that is higher ground or be prepared to move to the higher ground if necessary.

Wind: even the nicest weather can get a bit breezy, are your decorations going to survive a sudden gust? Don’t opt for skipping the guy lines on your event tent because the sky is blue! Be practical if the worst happens you’re prepared. Fully set up and secure the event tent, if the weather is perfect it is a lot easier to open up the walls than try to put them up in a panic!

Know the temperature: What . . .  didn’t I just tell you to plan for the unexpected? Yes but you must pay attention, or seek knowledge about the “normal” temperature. Specifically you need to plan for the time of day you want to be outside. A sunset ceremony in May might be a bit cold for a light taffeta strapless number! Consider your guests too, by making them aware of the typical weather to expect.  Have some water available for guests in case the heat spikes.  You can even post weather updates on your wedding site.

Know the light: Which way does the sun shine at that time of day/year? Plan to have your guests with their backs to the sun not the sun in their eyes.  Keep in mind that you will don’t want the sun directly in your eyes either, most of the time you will be facing each other. This changes slightly from season to season and time of day so do some research.  As a photographer I am always aware of the light and will take care of that aspect for your photographs.

Food: There are a couple of pitfalls to avoid here but most of the guess work can be solved by asking your caterer the right questions: Do they have experience providing food for outdoor weddings? Can they recommend what would taste good in the typical weather? Some hot foods will taste better in the fall and vice versa cool foods for the summer.  

Bugs: Every season has its nuisances often the winged variety can be lured into traps or other areas with citronella candles etc. Have some good bug repellent that really works on hand and use it! Make sure to consider the guests also a few cans between tables and you’re covered for less than the cost of one plate of food.

Allergies: Spring flowers and autumn foliage can wreak havoc on allergies, yours and your guests. Red, puffy, watery eyes just won’t cut it in your wedding photos. Watch the pollen levels for the area and be weary of the natural surroundings. In your emergency kit (I have talked about this one before) keep some allergy medicine and eye drops even if you don’t usually need them.

Conclusion: Make several trips to your venue at different times of day to see what how things change, consider all the aspects, all the possibilities and you will be covered.  Remember to consider you and your guests in your decisions.  A little common sense will go a long way to ensuring your day goes well. It’s your day plan for the worst and you’ll have the best day of your life.

Have you encountered any wedding pitfalls that you can share we would love to hear from you.  

A good rental company can be your best friend. For an outdoor wedding, find a rental company with a rain policy; this agreement will get you a tent at the last minute

Shabby Chic Weddings in Calgary Alberta

Shabby Chic Weddings in Calgary Alberta, often the trends in fashion and decorating make their way in to wedding trends, one such trend is “Shabby Chic”.  As a photographer I am excited to capture many amazing moments influenced by Shabby Chic. The juxtaposed elements create interest in the photos, especially in the details. Shabby Chic may just be the perfect metaphor for Calgary. Our beautiful city is just that Shabby and Chic. This look fits . . . well everywhere, grand halls and pavilions but feels just as home in community halls and old barns. Photographically speaking vintage settings, old automobiles etc always make for great elements within wedding portraits and Shabby Chic only strengthens this visual relationship.

So what is Shabby Chic anyways? I have compiled some info below that you can use as a starting point to design your perfect Shabby Chic wedding.

shab·by (shăbē)
adj. shab·bi·er, shab·bi·est.

  1. Showing signs of wear and tear; threadbare or worn-out: shabby furniture.
  2. Dilapidated or deteriorated in condition, especially through neglect; seedy: a shabby little park.
  1. Of mediocre or substandard quality: a shabby performance.

chic (shēk)
adj. chic·er, chic·est.

1.      Conforming to the current fashion; stylish: chic clothes; a chic boutique.

1.      The quality or state of being stylish; fashionableness.

2.      Sophistication in dress and manner; elegance

Embracing the shabby chic aesthetic means embracing casual and dress in the same theme. Beware though don’t equate casual with sloppy! It couldn’t be further from the truth, tailoring is very important.  You’re creating a look that mixes high and low new and old but not sloppy or dirty. Faded blues, charcoals, blacks and browns are the staples of a great shabby chic look. Avoid bright colours and always opt for the best tailoring you can afford.

This trend favours suits over tuxes and loose soft unstructured dresses over more fitted styles. Details are mixed and layered but always complimentary. This is true of table decor and wedding favours also. When designing your Shabby Chic Wedding consider; slip covered furniture, old Furniture painted White (freshly painted or old and chipped), distressed, pastel colours with floral prints or faded stripes, vintage or vintage inspired linens architectural elements, painted metals worn out Looking and sophisticated, casual and fashionably deteriorated while still being stylish. A large part of Shabby Chic’s allure is rooted in nostalgia. Lighter hues and softer colours are the name of the day.

Shabby Chic is greener, softer, rougher, more layered, textured, natural but above all stylish. Combine beautifully natural elements and vintage with touches of glamour and high fashion. Shabby chic is a little bohemian and definitely D.I.Y.  But don’t mistake this for “cheap” or “poor” as with any good trend there is no shortage of store bought items and designers waiting to help you plan the perfect Shabby Chic Wedding.

As usual it’s your day lets have some fun with it, do what you want!

Jeffrey Wilkins ConceptPhotos Calgary Alberta Wedding Photographer

P.S. A great source for some hand painted glassware Perfect for a Shabby Chic wedding.

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!

2011 Wedding colours thoughts and strategies

The colours this year are “bold” “bright” “fun” and “whimsical”! As a photographer I couldn’t be happier, your photos will look great this year and the creativity sparked by these fun colours will be endless. We have a fun year ahead of us . . . but first you have some choices to make. I have done some research and here are some of the thoughts I identified with.

Decide on your wedding theme. Are you planning a formal evening event or a playful daytime gathering?  These two don’t mix so well . . . I know your saying but we are getting married in the daytime then a evening reception.  Keep in mind where the colours are more prominent where the most impact will be. Are you getting married in a church or at a hall, outdoors or indoors? All these play a role in making smart decisions.

Consider the season when choosing colours. This is especially important when considering floral arrangements, as many popular wedding flowers are not available all year. Spring colours may look out of place against the subdued pallets of late fall.

Think about your personalities both together and individual. What are your inspirations within your lives together? Consider sports teams, favourite TV shows, favourite restaurants, favourite art pieces, nature etc. All these inspirations have colour schemes and some of them may be appropriate for inspiration.

Consider the bridal party first. While some colours may work well as accents, flowers and announcement cards, those same colours may not translate so smoothly onto a taffeta bridesmaid dress or a cummerbund.

Make sure you go beyond your wedding photographer, look in magazines, at wedding websites, fashion magazines and more. Even the most prolific photographer cannot show every trend especially new trends.

Think about your announcement and invitation cards. These are the first thing that people are going to see and you want it to set the tone for your wedding, not be off the mark.

As a photographer I love the idea of creating something “visual” to help you visualize your look.
Some colours just look terrible through the lens! You can use colour wheels or paint chips to help. Use images of flowers, cloth, ties, dresses etc to create a “vision board” of your wedding.
A great source for inspiration and information can be found at Michelle Mospens’ blog

Make sure to view your colours in the real world not just on a computer screen. Take the colours outside, view them in the artificial light you’re going to be in.  There are significant differences between fluorescent and tungsten or incandescent light not to mention natural light. If you can take some pictures inside and outdoors, focus on the details the colour combinations tighten up or zoom in on your subject.

If you like what you read here please share it, information serves no one if it isn’t shared.

You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, why not test drive your wedding photographer?

So you’re getting married and you’re trying to choose a wedding photographer. No big deal right? Just have a look at a few websites then choose the one with the best site . . . That might not work so well. Let’s think about this, your wedding day, possibly the most important day of your life. Who do you trust with the task of capturing your day? Consider spending the most important day of your life with someone who drives you nuts.  Even if their portfolio images sung to you if they are making your day hell on earth the result will show in the photos . . . your photos!

This is why we get together for a discovery meeting. So you take a test drive!  I highly suggest an engagement (announcement) shoot. This is a win, win situation. We get experience working together and develop a working relationship. You’ll get to test drive my photography and then when you book your wedding package you will receive a credit for the amount of your engagement session.

Below is a list of other common thoughts to consider when hiring a photographer.  Have a read make a list of your own questions. Take some time to consider what matters to you.  Then book your test drive.

Jeffrey Wilkins Wedding photographer
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Some thoughts on choosing a photographer. (with my answers in italics)

Experience Level – Has this person photographed other weddings? Does he/she do this for a living or for fun? Yes I have and this is my living.

Photographic Style – Are the images that you are shown, what you would like to see? There are “buzz” words flying about everywhere about photojournalism, formal, classic candid, and so on. Do you want a mixture of black and white or only colour photos? We will discuss this in detail at the discovery meeting.

Truth in Advertising – Is this the photographer that will be photographing your wedding or will they send in whomever is available. Don’t be shocked, this happens more often than you can imagine. Be certain that you know which photographer is going to be there and that you see HIS/HER work and meet with that individually face to face. I am ConceptPhotos, you hire me you get me.

Personality – Is the photographer that you meet someone that you can get along with? Is the “chemistry” there? Probably the most important question you can ask.

Appearance – Ask the photographer how he/she intends to dress. Is this person well groomed?
Perhaps a more important question may be, how do you want the photographer to dress and then ask if they can meet your expectations.

Price Range – Although, the last thing you want to do is shop by price, is this person within your budget? If not, is he or she worth the price difference? Make sure you understand what everything costs, including reprints and albums. Another of the topics for a discovery meeting, there is a solution for your needs.

Delivery – How long does it take to get your proofs back, thank you cards, your finished album, your bridal portrait, etc.?

Offering – Whether it’s a la carte or a package, do you understand what you are getting? Is there any room for changes and will it cost to do so? Sometimes the packages are fixed, sometimes they can be customized, in any case, ask. How much time will he/she spend? What if you need more time? Make sure that you know what’s coming. These are all things we will discuss at the discovery meeting.

Contract – Do you understand the contract. Is it fair? Is everything spelled out? When it comes down going to court, only what is WRITTEN really counts, not what was promised. Make sure that you have no doubts before signing. Read it ALL.

What about deposits and payments? What does it say about cancellations and the photographer not being there? If the photographer protests, ask him why? This is one area NOT to take lightly. You could be disappointed for a long time. We will talk more about this but simply put if you hire me you get me!

Other Questions: (some questions may be repeated from the list above)

  • Have you shot a wedding at my location before? If I haven’t I will spend a day shooting there prior to the wedding.
  • Do you have an assistant? I have people I trust to work with me.
  • Do you have backup equipment and is it the same quality as the primary equipment? Yes and Yes
  • What time will you begin and how long will you stay until? This is determined by the package and you.
  • When will the proofs be ready?
  • Do we get to keep the proofs? The proofs are yours to keep.
  • Do you mark your proofs? Yes of course.
  • Where and how are your proofs marked? On the front added to the digital image.
  • Do we get to keep our digital negatives? This is negotiated.
  • How long do you keep the digital negatives? A minimum of 5 yrs.
  • Can you work from a photo checklist that we create? This is something I suggest and will work with you.

What is your most important criteria? What would you hope to get out of a test drive?

I hope you find this helpful, please feel free to comment or contact me with any further suggestions.

Jeffrey Wilkins, ConceptPhotos

Calgary professional Wedding photographer


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.

Have fun with your wedding photography.

Imagine having a relaxing time even having fun with your wedding photography. Its your day why don’t you? The best photographs do not come from the best lenses, the most megapixels or the highest price. It starts with the relationship between you and your photographer. We have to click! I need to get to get to know you and what makes you tick. As a photographer it is my job to understand the technical aspects of photography but this alone will not “create” a great photograph. “Fun” is the key if your enjoying the experience it will show through and you get images that you want to show off to the world. We will use a combination of posed and photo-journalistic styles to capture your day, with an emphasis on “fun”.

Recently I had a chance to have some “fun” with a great couple two beautiful hotels in Canmore AB. The majority of the shots are in the penthouse at Blackstone. We then took a short walk to Mystic Springs for some fun around the Ping-pong table. The young flower girl also accompanied us and as usual the best shots happened while we let her just be a little girl! Below is a sample of the shots from the day enjoy!