It’s that time of year again – time to go behind the scenes with us at Samantha Ong Photography and see how we create some of our magic. This post will be a two-part series of our journey through 2017 which was an extremely hectic year for us having photographed 42 weddings!
Our year of 2017 started off in my home town Melbourne, Australia with the gorgeous wedding of Helen and Kim. You can see me below (left) photographing the recessional after their Catholic wedding ceremony at St Brendan’s Catholic Parish as well as the photo I was able to capture (right). This photograph of Helen and Kim exiting their ceremony is one of my absolute favourites as I was able to capture Kim with a crown on his head! So funny! They also both look so happy. Love!
After Helen and Kim’s wedding ceremony, we travelled to the classically beautiful Royal Exhibition Building at Carlton Gardens. I always take the lead in directing the bride and groom, as well as their wedding party. Using steps to create varying heights with bridal party wedding photos is one of my favourite ways to create visual interest in a photograph.
Helen and Kim also opted for a post-wedding session since we didn’t get enough time on the wedding day to photograph their bride and groom portraits. We headed over to parts of the Mornington Peninsula for some beach photographs. My dad is super supportive with my business and he kindly drove me all the way for their session and even helped with the holding Helen’s veil (seen below right) as it was super windy by the beach! On a separate occasion, he also drove me all the way to the Yarra Valley for a pre-wedding session. My awesome dad (seen below left, smiling.. he is usually always smiling)!
As awesome as my dad is, my husband Elliott is truly the backbone of my entire business. He is always there for every step of the way. For my Yarra Valley engagement session, my husband Elliott stood by me (quite literally) and ran in for any location “clean-ups”. That is, wherever I wanted to shoot, he would run in and remove any unwanted debris from the scene that could be distracting from the subject. He is so quick and diligent, like a samurai (seen below left)!
On some engagement sessions, he’ll also help me in photographing from different angles and lenses for extra variety. This helps speed up our session and really maximise the photo time we have together (seen right).
On wedding days, my husband is pretty amazing. Not only is he my second shooter and helps me capture varying angles and extra candids, he’ll also help grooms with their bowties (seen above left)! I’ve lost count of how many grooms have thanked him for getting their bowtie perfect.
Not only that, he is my second eye when it comes to family photos and bridal party photos. With so little time on a wedding day, it sometimes means we have to rush through the photos to capture everything the bride and groom had wanted. Because of that, Elliott helps me to make sure every single person looks perfect. Stray hair? Falling boutonniere? Elliott spots it (as seen above right)! You can view some of the photos from Lauren and Chris’ Niagara wedding here.
If you ask me what is my favourite thing to photograph, it has to be photographing couples in the spring when everything is in bloom. I love love love capturing them completely surrounded by spring blooms. It is so romantic and colourful! You can see me (below left) capturing Louisa and Jeff for their Niagara engagement session and the image I managed to get (below right).
But on a wedding day, one of my favourite moments is capturing the bride getting ready. It is such an exciting time when all the elements come together (seen below left).
Some of the things we do on a wedding day can sometimes involve rearranging furniture. For Rahima and Nadeem’s wedding, we had to remove a whole lot of chairs to capture their family photos along this white wall after their ceremony (seen below right). It was quite the task but something we have to do as wedding photographers!
My other favourite thing to do on a wedding day is capturing the details! Stylizing them can sometimes be a bit of work like finding the right light, finding the right space and finding the right background. This is the exact same when it comes to bridal portraits! Finding the right light, the right space and the right background. I love the final outcome of Laura and Jim’s wedding despite it being super rainy and dark that day (seen below)!
Sometimes my husband will sneak a snap of me, like from the time we were waiting for Rahima and Nadeem to make their entrance to their wedding reception at Bombay Palace.
For Lesley and Brian’s wedding at Graydon Hall Manor, I spent a bit of time making sure Lesley’s hair was perfect as well as her dress.
For Lesley and Brian’s wedding, we went to both family homes before their ceremony. We first made our way to Brian’s house to capture his getting ready and then we headed over to Lesley’s house for their traditional Chinese tea ceremony, seen below.
Above, you’ll see myself capturing Joanne and Vincent’s wedding tea ceremony alongside some of their wedding guests at Deer Creek Golf Course. We then took them out quickly for some portraits out by their cute little white gazebo.
Below is myself at Christie and Stanley’s wedding capturing guests arriving for their wedding ceremony at the Ancaster Mill. I always love getting to the ceremony early so we can capture all the guests greeting each other. I’m able to grab some great candids at this time!
Sometimes, you may not be able to find me as I’m always drawn to photograph where the best is. Above right, you’ll see that I’m tucked in a really tight place in between the bed and the window sill! Below you’ll see what I was able to capture with Christie’s hair clip and headband.
Even though for some weddings, I’ll be the only photographer but my husband comes with me and helps me with my equipment. I can’t tell you enough times about how amazing he is. I was able to capture him sitting patiently from the other side of where I was photographing, keeping my equipment guarded and safe. Gotta love him!
My dear husband was also super amazing that time we were at Mont Royal and there were so many people wanting to view the spectacular Montreal city skyline. He helped me fix Si Hua’s wedding dress and then kindly ask people to move from the shot for a little bit so we could get the image on the below right. We wanted to do it very quickly so people could go back to enjoying their sightseeing.
On Si Hua and Ga-Fye’s actual wedding day at Le St Martin in Montreal, I had to be very creative with where I photographed around the hotel. You wouldn’t ever imagine photographing here in the parking lot, but it was one of my favourite spots. Now becoming a professional photographer, I find that I appreciate everything a whole lot more because I can see the beauty in everything! There are so many more spots than you can ever imagine that you use and get great photographs!
One of the other great things about being a photographer, is seeing your photographs on the walls of your clients! When I went to Si Hua and Ga-Fye’s home, Iwas so happy to see all their engagement photos displayed in their home so beautifully. There was so much more than seen below and I absolutely loved it!
Above, you’ll also see that Si Hua and Ga-Fye also so kindly included us with their wedding favours. THANK YOU! I really love little plants because I can display them in our home and we honestly appreciate it so much!
You know, my husband Elliott is a hard working man. Whenever I stop to look over at him, he’s not missing a beat in capturing those moments.
I have to thank Norris at Norris Films for the below behind the scenes shots of me hard at work! Here’s how I styled Shirley’s bridal details as well as captured some of her bridal portraits. The photo of me on the below right is when I was trying to backup all the files from the day.
Above are the final images of these gorgeous white Christian Louboutin heels and the beautiful bride out on the balcony of the bridal suite. You can see more from Shirley and Gifford’s wedding at Graydon Hall Manor here.
Long aisles are amazing because then I was able to get so many happy reactions of the newly wedded bride and groom! You can see more from Katherine and Kevin’s wedding here.
And there’s my dear husband again. Always there to help move things along more quickly. He is my “people mover” to help move people more quickly, my “second eye” to see things I can’t see in a hurry and my “loudspeaker” when my voice can’t carry as far and even a “furniture arranger” when I need to add/remove chairs for large groups. He is so so helpful when it comes to large group portraits! I wouldn’t be able to whip through the portraits as quickly without him!
Then there are those moments where he brings a little comedy into the day. He always makes me smile and lifts my spirit up. Below are some hilarious photos where on the left I was doing a test photo to make sure my lighting was okay as the bride and groom wanted to do all their family photos along this wall. On the right, I asked Elliott to hang the dress for me and then he stood by it, pretending to admire the dress and be the bride. Hahaha!
Making sure my clients look and feel their best is my ultimate priority! I’m no hair stylist by any means but sometimes it means taking matters into my own hands to make sure their hair and veil are perfectly in place! I’ve seen SO many veils come undone during ceremonies and picture time, it’s so so imperative to have the veil double pinned so it doesn’t fall out. Good thing is that we carry extra bobby pins in case things do come undone.
But let’s get one thing straight. Wedding photography is NOT glamorous. It may appear to be, with the beautiful venues, the beautiful people, the beautiful dresses, the beautiful flowers. But as a photographer, we get down and dirty. Below is proof that we do whatever it takes to get the perfect shot.
At Emily and Kelvin’s wedding at Fantasy Farm, the best space with great light was in the wedding reception hall. I knew that their wedding style was slightly rustic, so we made use of the pretty wooden floors for their rings. This meant literally lying down on the floor in my white lace top and using a reflector to bounce light back and fill in all the shadows. Below is the final shot of the rings.
Want more proof that being a wedding photographer is not glamorous? Well, here it is! Sitting on the floor to backup files as there was nowhere else to do it! It is one thing that we ALWAYS do and that is back up the files before we leave. SO SO IMPORTANT!
There is one thing for sure. To be one of the best wedding photographers, it is you have to get good at being a creeper. Forget all the picture-perfect portraits, weddings are about moments. Beautiful true moments. It is really important to us to capture non-interrupted moments as they are. Often, I find that people tend to act differently when they see the camera so I’ve learnt to get really good at creeping (as seen below).
If there is one thing for sure, it is that we work hard and are there for you for every moment. On a wedding day, there are no breaks. We are there to capture every special moment. We are there so you can have the memories preserved for the rest of your lives. And boy do I love it.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is the need to keep physically fit so that we endure the long days. The strange positions we put our bodies in to get the best shots. The excessive weight we put on our shoulders to carry all the gear around from place to place.
But more than anything, we have fun. I’m so lucky because I have my husband by my side to support me and cheer me on. Just by looking at his sweet face, I smile. Just like that.
No matter what we do, I always have fun just by being by his side. Thank you for being my number one fan. I couldn’t do all of this without you!
Stay tuned to Part 2 of our Behind The Scenes 2017 series.
Photographer: Samantha Ong Photography