A Decade in Review: The 2010s
It’s hard to believe a decade is going to be over in a couple of days. For me, this decade has been the most formative one so far. Ten years ago, I was a 25-year-old Israeli kid who just recently moved to a new country, was working a part-time security job at the airport, and had no real direction in which to move in. I was already dabbling in photography back then and had a somewhat decent knowledge and technical skills. 2010 was the year I started shooting weddings. Yes! The very year I’ve decided to focus on this extremely challenging, demanding, yet satisfying genre in this art form called photography. I was taken under the wings of a wonderful human who gave me an opportunity to shadow him during his wedding shoots, and after 2-3 weddings with him, I set off to photograph my own. I haven’t looked back since. Without getting all sappy on you here, I’ll just say that what I’ve learned by being a wedding photographer is beyond compare. The people I met and the places this passion has taken me over the last decade are forever a part of me, some in a wonderfully positive way while others a bit less so. Those of you who follow my work know that I’m not really big on romanticizing wedding photography. It is what it is and the more honest my work is in portraying the day, the happier I am.
The photographs in this post are not necessarily the most beautiful, perfectly executed, wedding photography screaming photographs you’ll ever see. If you’re looking for that the internet is full of them. Rather, the moments I chose to include here are significant to me on many more levels than just pictures taken during some couple’s wedding. There are ten of them, one for each year, and each one made the cut for a reason.
Lastly, I wish I could mention all the incredible people I’ve worked with over the last ten years as a Toronto wedding photographer. There’s no point starting simply because the list will pretty much go on and on and on. And on some more. I am so extremely thankful to have had the opportunities to document so many wonderful couple’s celebrations. I am also grateful for all of the connections I’ve made along the way. Wedding planners, videographers, florists, make-up artists, hair stylists and again, the list goes on. There’s nothing more valuable to me than connection and wedding days allow for so much of that!
This portrait was taken during the last wedding I shadowed Mariusz of Where Heaven Meets Earth Photography in 2010. I was shooting some getting ready moments when I noticed this little girl looking at me. I turned and took this portrait of her. Lucky for me, she was not fazed by my camera or perhaps her interest in what I was doing was just bigger than her. This was one of the first photographs to open my eyes about how much of everything can be documented on a wedding day, and why not every other photograph you take should be of the bride and groom. There’s just too much happening, too much to observe to focus on that alone. Years down the road this photo would get published in photography magazines and often remind people of Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl (totally unintentional on my part to be honest).
I’m curious how many wedding photographers out there can relate or perhaps even share this next experience. This is a photograph I took during my first ever destination wedding, oddly enough taken place in my birth country – Israel. This joyous moment occurred during Erin & Yahel’s wedding in the old Jaffa port as we stepped out after sundown to get a few portraits of these two. Trying to find inspiration in a pitch-black environment, I turned my back and called everyone around to come in for a group shot with the bride and groom. Little did I know that right behind me stood a large group of African tourists visiting the Holy Land. Before we knew it, these guys were absolutely swarmed with all the stranger love one can imagine. In all of my ten years of shooting, this must be the most organic, random moment captured on camera and a testament that sharing love is much easier than we tend to think. I dare to use the word impulsive.
Disclaimer: I took this photo as a guest. With that said, I know that it is the couple’s favorite photo from their wedding and this is why this particular photograph made the cut. Gila and Evia are very close friends of mine, and when I attended their wedding in Israel in 2012 I thought I’d take a few snaps before hitting the dancefloor (definitely hit it a bit too hard that night!). Months after the wedding I found out that the two of them were not exactly thrilled about the photos and a lot of it was based on the experience they had with their wedding photographer. I’ve always been big on providing the best experience possible to my clients and this story is one I often go back to when I meet with couples for the first time. I honestly believe that 50% of what I value in good wedding photography is the experience the couple is left with after everything is said and done.
On more of a visual note, you are looking at Gila and Evia being raised up 10 feet in the air, balancing on a tabletop held up by their loved ones.
Another year, another trip to document love in a special place – New York City. While roaming around with Ilana and Erin in the streets of Manhattan, we enviably found ourselves in Times Square at one point. Trying to be original in one of the most iconic, photographed places in recent American history is not something anyone considers easy to do in my opinion, but definitely was a factor in me taking on the challenge. Standing in the midst of the chaos, I noticed this screen that was basically projecting the crowd standing in front of it. I asked Ilana and Erin to butt in and make it to the middle of the crowd, knowing that alone will create a fun, positive commotion – and it definitely did! I photographed them through the screen and together we made something a little bit different – like each couple is. This moment was a turning point for me in which I truly realized how important it is to make different wedding photos for each couple, and try my hardest to stray away from whatever it is everyone is doing and all the trends we are surrounded by. Creative portraits are one of my favorite parts of a wedding day and taking risks along the way so often pays off – you just have to go for it!
2014 was a huge year for me. The number of wedding bookings tripled itself and I immersed myself in the genre on a whole new level. With so much practice, that year brought quite a bit of maturity and creative growth in the way I observed everything around me on wedding days. April & Max’s wedding was truly one of a kind. It was hosted at the family’s cottage right on the beach in Long Ontario, on the shores of Lake Erie. There was so much going on that day, it feels like I could write a book about it. To give you the quick and dirty summary, some of the highlights were us driving to the wedding in a huge white van (the ones they rob banks with in the movies) because the car rental company messed up our reservation, shooting the whole wedding in swim shorts and flip flops (couple’s order), and photographing parts of the ceremony from within the water. The energy of the day was something I truly long to experience more often and if I could use one word to describe it “freedom” would be it.
This photo always stood out to me as an early exploration in layering subjects, and composing photographs that don’t just live on the surface. The same moment could’ve been easily captured with just the couple and the beautiful lake – but why? Why not create a visual conversation, make the viewer wonder, and most of all add a little humor? I always said that in this photograph, there are about 15 years in the gap between those two pairs. A glimpse into a long future of partnership if you will.
This is Cheryl and since photographs don’t have sounds I will share what she was screaming at the top of her lungs at that very moment: “I’m married!”. On her wedding day, Cheryl’s number one priority was eating at a fish & chips truck right after the ceremony was over. Talking about getting your priorities straight! You see, a lot of people tend to think of weddings as grand events that need to turn into massive productions in order to be enjoyable. The reality is that none of that stuff matters. If you plan your day in a way that will make you (YOU!) happy, what else can you ask for? No bells and whistles, just fish & chips, right?
On a different note, I have photographed both Cheryl’s daughter’s weddings as well as her own so the relationship I have with this family is so very special and I’m extremely thankful for that. Coming back to photograph another family member’s wedding is one of my favorite things as a Toronto wedding photographer. It always makes everyone much more comfortable (on both ends of the camera) and as a result, the photographs turn out so much more natural and relaxed!
I feel like you should also know that right after Cheryl & Scott’s brunch wedding was over, they drove straight to the airport and hopped on a plane for their honeymoon in Paris. PRIORITIES. ON. POINT.
Before I tell you anything about this photograph, you should know that you are looking at two of the most special people I am fortunate to call my friends of the last decade (and as many more decades we stick around for). What makes this ceremony moment even more special to me is that it happened in my studio, where we hosted Supinder and Matt’s wedding in 2016. Yes, these two got married in my studio on Wade Ave., with all the photo equipment kicking around and 12 or so of their best peeps.
As a wedding storyteller, my biggest consideration while documenting a day is the way I visually represent the people involved in making the day what it is. Showcasing personalities is a big one and is only possible when you make a genuine effort to connect to the people you work with. Emails, phone calls, engagement session are all opportunities to learn more about my couples and definitely one of the things I love the most about my job.
In this shot, you can see bride Jo gently removing a bug off of her wedding dress. The reason this moment was extra sweet is that Jo is actually a veterinarian assistant and takes care of animals for a living. For Jo & Adriel engagement photos, we went out and released bunnies back into the wild after being tread by Jo. All of that to say that I truly believe there’s huge value in just listening and getting to know people. That connection helps me photograph the day with so much more background and knowledge of what’s important and makes sure the final results are extra personal.
In recent years, I’ve photographed quite a bit of orthodox Jewish weddings alongside Avital Zemer as his 2nd photographer. It’s something that I’ve been enjoying for many reasons but the one that makes this an obvious choice is the idea of community. It’s been incredible to observe this community and learn more about their customs and traditions. Being Jewish myself I’m always amazed by the number of things I learn about my own culture by photographing these weddings. Of course, that is just another community out of many I photograph every year, each teaches me a little bit about diversity. And speaking of diversity, as a Toronto wedding photographer, I get to be a part of celebrations of all kinds. Over the last decade, I have photographed couples of all geographical backgrounds including Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Polish, Croatian, Trinidadian, Jamaican, African, British, Russian, Australian, Iranian, Korean, Pakistani, Italian, South African, Greek, Israeli, Finish, Columbian, Dutch, Swedish, French Canadian, Portuguese, and American.
All of that and it’s incredible to see how little differences we all have between us. One thing I can say for sure, we all love the same.
This last year of photographing weddings was an interesting one. Working on choosing quality over quantity, revaluing myself and my work’s worth, and choosing to not get swept in the rivers of trends have all been ongoing themes during this wedding season. Just like any other job, this one can get repetitive and finding ways to reinvent yourself as a photographer can be difficult at times. This photo reminds me that observation will always be above everything for me in my photographic practice. The need to reinvent is a healthy one but should not be caught up in if you believe in what you do. And I believe in what I do. Time and time again I find that just when I think I’ve seen it all, there’s always something to be documented right behind my back. That notion is one I hope to keep with me for the rest of my photographic career and will be the one thing that will always sustain me as a visual storyteller.
That’ll for now! I tried my best to sum things up but a decade is still a decade and I appreciate how full of stories to tell it was!
2020 I AM READY FOR YOU!