Melia Sorenson: Light in the Shadows

“When I was a newer photographer I put a lot of effort into choosing a string of locations for the sake of variety but now I try to choose a spot that holds several possibilities and spare my people getting in and out of cars and breaking their groove, so to speak.”

Melia Sorenson: Light in the Shadows

You’re walking through the forest at Stanley park, gazing at the beautiful light filtering in through the tall cedar branches seeing it cast an endless scene of light and shadow. The challenge now is how are you going to use that light? Will you fade out the scene and focus on the pools of golden light or create a glow all around by lighting the shadows, creating an ethereal scene?

These are some of the creative decisions photographers make throughout a wedding day. The constant alter of light and shadow and how to paint the scene and subject can make for very different directions in the outcome of a photograph. Moda Member, Melia Sorenson of Lucida Photography is one of the masters of this duel, creating breathtaking yet simplistically elegant images with the game of light and shadow. I have been eagerly awaiting this interview as I have always admired the beauty of Melia’s work. I asked her to share with us her secrets to achieving her signature look and the processes she goes through before and during the shoot.

“I will almost always location scout at the time of the portrait session before the wedding. I want to see what the light will be doing at that time of day and choose my locations largely for lighting — I like to work along the edges of shadows and with filtration possibilities. In one location different moods and looks can be achieved without moving much at all.”

Top: Melia Sorenson Bottom: A great example of Melia’s simplicity and beauty of uncomplicated imagery.

“When I was a newer photographer I put a lot of effort into choosing a string of locations for the sake of variety but now I try to choose a spot that holds several possibilities and spare my people getting in and out of cars and breaking their groove, so to speak. It’s often the case that the more time we have to explore without interruption, the more I discover in the subtleties of light and mood available in one fairly small area. Some of my favourite portraits have nothing to do with the location as such but just the mood achieved through light and gesture.”

“I tend to favour an understated, simple elegance. I’m constantly editing in camera – editing out. Simplicity is not always about minimalism, though. I love forests and so do a great many people who get married on the west coast. Forests are visually busy scenes, generally speaking, and the trick is often finding a way to feature your subject in that setting- of course it has to do with finding and submitting to the light (and maybe the right lens too.) As for the content of portraiture it’s always nice to capture some unscripted warmth between couples but I’m also happy with some quiet, still and classic portraits. I often think of my great grandparent’s wedding photo taken over a hundred years ago in Norway– yes, they had just one wedding photo to reference. It’s so simple and unassuming, technically spot on but not in any way overproduced, just two people on their wedding day standing tall and looking their best. The experience of a portrait session is also important- one of the last wedding portrait sessions I did was on a hot busy Saturday downtown and we just stayed on the top level of a parkade in the shade for the two hours we had allotted in the schedule — we kept cool, had our own private rooftop in the city and weren’t heckled or stared at and just moved with the sun.”

“I tell people straight away that I fully expect the first little while of a portrait session to be awkward. It’s awkward for me and for them and that’s how it’s supposed to be as we’re figuring each other out. I want to observe them a bit without throwing too much direction at first, just to see what their inclinations and body language are, let them set the tone. Ideally I can work from what they give me, build on it to ensure that we have some variation and maybe something a little unexpected too. If people are feeling really stuck or needing direction I will give them a framework (pose is a dirty word, right?) with which to start and then capture the disintegration of it – sometimes this starts by me telling them to ‘warm it up’.”

“I started photographing weddings while in art school; I was working on my BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design back in 2001 and I was so excited with the idea of having someone foot the cost of my film and developing. Outside of my early weddings I would ration one roll of 36 exposures per month. Any more would break the bank. I would be depressed or elated for days after getting my proofs. I shot weddings on my dad’s one old film camera and had to crank a big lever with my thumb to advance each frame. I had a blister by the end of a shoot and lived in intense anxiety until the proofs came back from the lab. Digital is much easier on my nervous system.”

See more of Melia’s beautiful work on her website: Lucida Photography

Kristy Ryan: travel, weddings and living a dream

Expert destination wedding photographers and Moda Members, Kristy Ryan and Ken Yiem of Blush Wedding Photography have been travelling the world for the last 7 years capturing people in love. Having been awarded by the CWIA, WeddingBelles Magazine and many others, their work is continually recognized for outstanding quality and beauty.

Kristy Ryan: Travelling, dreaming and weddings

It’s early morning and owners of Blush Wedding Photography, Kristy Ryan and husband Ken Yiem, thoroughly commence their last minute check over their gear one last time before heading out, yet again on another amazing adventure. Kristy and Ken, seasoned travellers, have been shooting destination weddings around the world for the last 7 years and have shot in some of the most beautiful places on earth, all in the name of love.

We caught up with Kristy as she was heading out on her next adventure, chatting about the ups and downs of this exciting world of destination wedding photography.

When you first started travelling and shooting weddings, what did you think it was going to be like?

Our first thoughts were like what most people think, that it was going to be a party, relaxing and sipping margaritas on the beach. Don’t get me wrong, travelling to exotic places, filled with all sorts of new and beautiful places is definitely a plus but people don’t realize, when you do this as much as we do, there are many things to consider before you even start. First, most people think it’s just a few days away, which is true, but there are also the days leading up to the travel as well as the days after, getting back on top of business things from your time away. It may be a few days away but it’s about a week of work to get everything prepped. We have definitely learned to charge appropriately for our time. We value what we do and the time we’re investing into the couple when we’re away.

On the road in Europe, spending time in Spain and Paris.

What has travelling and shooting turned into for you now?

Both Ken and I met while travelling and that’s how we fell in love. We spent years travelling, over 60 countries and counting and we don’t plan on stopping. Travelling and doing destination weddings really brings a big part of who we are into our work. Basically, in July and August we’re home in Vancouver and the rest of the year we’re off travelling. We recently connected with a wedding planner in Thailand which has turned out to be a regular client which is exciting.

Travelling keeps us really inspired. Shooting in the same places after a while, you start to lose your passion so doing destination weddings really reignites my passion. Having so many different locations in our portfolio also helps to diversify my images giving us a unique look to our work.

How did you feel when travel inquiries first started coming in?

We’re always excited, as much as we were when we first started, I do my happy dance at my computer. After photographing for so many years abroad, we’re a little more choosy about the weddings we accept as new places and special weddings are really what gets us going.

Where do you see the future of destination weddings?

When it comes to Mexico normally people will book an all-inclusive but most places only offer low-key wedding décor with not much creativity and uniqueness. We’re finding a lot of people are now choosing smaller, more boutique hotels with the capability of producing much more elaborate weddings. Basically, couple are looking to recreate what they could have done here in terms of style and décor but do it in a tropical setting.

We have seen the biggest changes happen in Europe. With increased access to the internet, pinterest and instagram, weddings have really taken a turn from traditional to modern with more current styles and décor. I also feel that people are just travelling and more than they used to giving themselves greater exposure to what’s been happening all around the world in terms of wedding styles and trends.

What is your favourite destination wedding so far?

We took a helicopter up to the mountain peaks of New Zealand to photograph an elopement. We then went down to the valleys and landed in sunset bathed lavender fields for the final shots of the day. Later, the couple, who travelled form Macau, treated us to 5 star dinners and wines, it was quite the experience.

Expert Destination Wedding Photographer, Kristy Ryan and husband Ken, spend their days travelling the world with people in love. She shares with us what it’s really like to be on the go and some of her favourite experiences in this exciting profession. Based in beautiful Vancouver, BC they are available for world-wide travel. See more of her amazing work here!

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