I recently wrote a blog post reflecting on what an amazing year 2016 was for us at Samantha Ong Photography. We continued to photograph weddings in Toronto but also became more known as a Melbourne wedding photographer as well. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes of wedding photography and just like I mentioned in last year’s behind the scenes post, I couldn’t have done it without my trusty, reliable, sweet husband, Elliott.
Thank you babe in helping to make sure everything always runs smoothly! Some of my grooms have been so thankful to him for being able to affix boutonnieres and make the perfect bow-tie. He’s also been able to be my trusty stand-in model to test the light, my equipment holder, dress fluffer, scene cleaner, and I usually always trust him with one of the most important jobs in photographing the bridal dress and get the groom reaction when the bride goes down the aisle! As you scroll down, you’ll see how essential he is to each and every wedding day!
With every first look, we always try to stage it in a way that will ensure we capture the reactions as well as be able to allow the bride & groom freely be themselves and enjoy the moment! As it was winter time, we had to do Morgan and Adam’s first look indoors at the Gladstone Hotel. We found a little corridor for them to enjoy this special moment intimately and away from all on the on-looking guests. This allows for the best reactions!
Right after the first look, we went straight into bride & groom portraits. At the Gladstone Hotel, they had a gorgeous art exhibit at the time which included hanging gold ornaments. This was just perfect since both Morgan and Adam are lovers of Christmas! Although we were indoors, I still wanted Morgan’s veil to wrap around her like as if we were outside so we staged her veil to look that way!
Above, my husband spotted this ultra-cool pink staircase. I asked them to stand in the corner for an intimate photo. Elliott helped me to fix up Morgan’s veil for this shot!
I always like to light up the room in a “magical” way, especially for the bride & groom’s first dance. At Morgan and Adam’s Gladstone Hotel wedding, I asked my husband to stand in the middle to ensure the light was perfect before they graced the floor.
We always like to be as discreet as possible especially when it comes to the ceremony! We don’t like to get in the front and block the view of guests. Here, Elliott works discreetly by sitting at the back amongst the guests and takes a shot.
If my husband isn’t photographing cocktails, then he’s out with me helping to organise the family portraits! We always want them to go as quickly as possible so the family can go back to enjoy the rest of the evening. Here Elliott is checking with our bride and groom, Ann and David, to make sure we got all the combinations they had wanted!
Not only do we want the family photos to go through quickly, we also want to get the portraits done quickly too! That way we can maximise time and get as many photos as we can. Here, I spotted the gorgeous arch in the entrance of the Doctor’s House Chapel, and thought it would be perfect for a stunning bridal portrait of Ann! Elliott helped me to clear up the scene for the perfect shot.
In the morning, I like to set up near a large window to do some of the bridal details. Here I am setting up the shot for the rings as well as the invitations. Below, I am telling Ann how I’d like her to pose on the balcony and she does it so beautifully!
For Trang and Tung’s wedding in Melbourne, they had the traditional Vietnamese ceremonies in the morning including some massive firecrackers! I stood up the front to get them going off. There were so many firecrackers that it burned a hole in one of the videographer’s shirts!
Above, you can see all the equipment laid out on the table at the reception! So much gear! O_O
Below here I am photographing Chermain and Alex’s engagement at the beautiful Parkwood Estates.
While waiting for the client, my husband Elliott likes to photograph me at random. Eeks!
And sometimes he goes in for a shot.. And helps the groom with falling boutonnieres.
Below are some behind the scenes shots from Lauren and Chris’ engagement session at McMaster University.
At Ashley and Ryan’s Piper’s Heath wedding, they asked for a “Bridesmaids” movie wall shot and I always love to photograph in this beautiful barn!
Below I am adjusting my settings before going in to the bride’s hotel room and fixing up the groom suit for a photograph. Elliott is a ninja, working to get all the candid moments!
I love photographing in natural settings. Here I am with Josie and Chris in Niagara for their engagement session amongst the beautiful yellow flower field!
I’m always trying to guide our clients in posing for beautiful romantic photos. Here I am with Josie and Chris in Niagara amongst the blossoms.
Here I am showing how to pose again!
When we wrapped up the shoot, I wanted to show Liz and Jin some of the shots we got from their beach engagement session in St Catherines.
As I said earlier, my husband is excellent as a stand-in model to quickly check if I like the light.
We often arrive early to locations and scout locations and I use him again as a stand-in model!
On a wedding day, we help our clients get into location. Here I am with Janet and Livingstone for their wedding portraits at Cherry Beach.
Here I am with the bridesmaids, I love shooting against big bright windows!
Photographing a Toronto Boulevard Club wedding was so much fun..
We had so much fun shooting an Elora Gorge engagement session that Elliott even got down flat on the ground for a shot!
Positioning bridal parties is just one part of my job, but getting them to laugh naturally is another!
Staying at the back to capture the recessional..
Here’s Elliott helping me to resposition the bridal party. He also helps me to capture the groom reaction and guests at the reception. But not only that, he helps me to test the light again as I wanted to backlight the bride through these gorgeous doors for Liz and Jin’s Estates of Sunnybrook wedding.
Sometimes there’s a bit of gear to lug around..
In downtown Toronto, there’s so many colourful sights to be found!
This mural is so so beautiful, I had to get a closeup shot of their hands! Too cute!
Every now and then Elliott will sneak a shot :)
Trying to stay out of the way to capture the boys getting ready..
Elliott is super helpful in making sure boutonnieres are on snuggly and are not falling down! He’s also the master of getting neat mirror shots!
Once the groom’s boutonniere was put on properly by Elliott (as it was falling down), I snuck in a shot of this handsome groom, Chris.
Here I am at Stephanie and Elliott’s Doctor’s House wedding, where I captured the girls in Stephanie’s childhood bedroom and them cutting the cake.
As no one knew how to put on the boutonniere, Elliott showed Stephanie how to do it so she looked like she was a master at it for photos :)
Above is Elliott being super helpful carrying the bride’s veil and getting wide table shots from above (as he’s taller than me!)
Sometimes behind the scenes shots shows how our feet can get kind of weird at times…. So weirrrd.
Capturing the groom reaction as he sees her for the first time!
Capturing the cute reactions during Josie and Chris’ Chinese wedding tea ceremony in Markham.
Here’s my trusty husband again :)
And again, helping me to position the bridal party for picture perfect shots!
Elliott helping to clear some space for Josie for a photo amongst the long grass
Making sure the bridal dress is fluffed out and straight for photos as well as helping to hold Josie’s gorgeous white orchid bridal bouquet.
At the reception trying to get a same day slideshow together quickly
So I ask Elliott to sit on the log to see if it would be comfortable enough for a portrait. Then he gives me some super wannabe Victoria’s Secret pose.
Below I asked Elliott to pose on the chair to check the light. I also asked Bernadette to pose in front of this gorgeous mirror in the bridal suite at Estates of Sunnybrook. Guests often stand beside me to get photos of the family for themselves and they are more than welcome to!
At Laura and Michael’s Burlington wedding at Paletta Mansion, here I am guiding on how to pose for the shot with lots of hand motions!
Capturing the newly married bride & groom at their witnesses after the signing of the marriage registry
Capturing this beautiful bride, Chermain, as she goes into LIUNA Station for her wedding ceremony.
At Mickie and Sean’s wedding, the church had pretty strict photography rules and we had to be really discreet during the wedding ceremony. So we sat amongst the guests and only came up to the front for family photos at the end. At the reception I quickly used my phone to do a time sync between all our cameras.
I always love to capture bridal prep in front of large windows! The light that falls through is so so gorgeous! For Carly and Sean’s Glenerin Inn wedding in Mississauga, her family home at this beautiful bay window which was perfect for photos!
Capturing the moment Carly’s parents and her bridesmaids see her in her bridal dress for the first time that morning! Love these reactions!
Always running in to make sure we capture that moment!
How lucky I am to have my husband by my side… :)
I normally don’t like to come up really close at the ceremony, but in this case a guest was standing in the middle of the aisle and blocking my view of the bride & groom so I quickly rushed to the middle to ensure I didn’t miss it!
Elliott helping the mother of the groom to affix her boutinniere to her Korean hanbok and me helping the maid of honour to affix Sarah’s veil.
Above, I’m also photographing the formal portraits for Katherine and Scott’s Cambridge Mill wedding. I like to photograph from further away with a long lens (for lens compression) for the most flattering photos!
Below, I’m photographing some groom portraits of Hugh at the Westin Prince Hotel in Toronto.
Sarah and Hugh’s wedding ceremony was set in the most purple of places and we had to make sure we had external lighting to help with the orangey pinky purple that was going on! Below, I’m advising our assistant before the ceremony what settings to use so we all got consistent photos.
Erika’s bridesmaids were so much fun to capture! Look at these smiles!
I knew in advance that Melissa and Alan liked the checkered floors at the University Club in Toronto. So, I made sure to capture it despite there being no light left at the time as the sun had set! I used additional lighting to light up the room and Melissa and Alan were so amazed at how bright it was in there!
Below, I’m setting up the invites and the rings for the shot on the right! My husband also sets up Melissa’s two piece bridal dress from Becker’s Bridal in her home. Love this little white room!
There’s always a lot going on during bridal prep, but when it all comes together and you get shots like the below it is so worth it!
Setting up minimal reception lights for magical reception shots!
One of my favourite shoots of the year was this super fairytale snowy engagement shoot of Leanne and Joshua. As I knew we were going to be photographing with two stunning white horses, I wanted to make sure we weren’t shooting up (it would be unflattering!) So my dear husband lugged a ladder AND all my equipment through the snow for three hours! Love you babe!