I met K & J for the first time in their home. It felt warm, cozy and just like a family home should be.
”Our son wants to have a dress to the wedding. He wants to look as nice as his big sister and he thinks that a dress is a much nicer thing to wear than a jacket and tie.”, they said.
And I thought, wow! What a wonderful strong little boy. When I grow up I wanna be like him! And what an extraordinary family that just lets kids be kids. That’s the moment when I fell in love with them. I could tell them: ” You had me at ”dress”. ;-) And I hoped that he and the family would hold their ground until the wedding day.
On the wedding day, when he came out of the room, there he was. As nice as his big sister, proud, courageous, strong, with the cutest pink swirling dress. And it was fun as well! The whole day went to ”experimenting” playing with a dress. Not as easy when you are used to climbing and running and spinning, but it went just fine in the end. Even with the fancy shoes. Just like big sister’s. Needless to say that Gisela and I were in heaven!
A week after the wedding I traveled to Tallinn for judging in a wedding photography competition. At the same time the competition was taking place, many wedding photographers from all over the world talked about their passion for wedding photography. In the end, it all boiled down to telling stories. Your stories as a base for connecting with your couples’ stories.
When I came back to Stockholm to work on these pictures, it hit me. Yes….it’s all about stories, but not only yours or the couples’. More like a fusion. In this story, you will not only see K & J’s story, but much of my own. Moments that I don’t want to see being lost in time. Moments that work as a catapult to ”re-feeling” things that you wanted to re-live over and over again. I realized that falling in love with a couple can only happen if our stories share some of the same chapters. I realized that if both me and the couple share the same thoughts about what life is all about and how it should be captured, my photography can reach amazing depths.
Everyday life. Joy and happiness in the little mundane things of living with kids. Love as strong as a hammer. That when it hits you, you can only awe and capture it before it vanishes in time. And isn’t it what life is all about? A collection of milliseconds of love and…..true connection.♥
When you have done two weddings at the Ice Hotel, you think that you have a plan. You think you know everything.
Then you arrive and see that nothing was like it had been when you were there. You see that the temperatures are at least 20 degrees warmer and you see that the beautiful snow caped trees you had planned to have in the background of your dream pictures had become average green. And that the Ice Hotel is kind of melting.
You also notice though, that you happen to be there in a weekend of sun storms and a celestial nature show of Northern Lights all night long. And then all the terrible freezing wind during our couple shooting, all of that, is totally forgotten, because the pictures we get are incredibly warm. Their warm embrace. Their warm looks of pride when calling each other Mr. and Mrs. for the first time.
That your cute couple from England that you had only met on Skype is as wonderful and friendly and amazing as you had imagined, becomes the icing on the cake. I had thought that this would be a post with a few pictures, but I’m sorry, I just have to share with you all of these.
Intimate weddings, with family and close friends and an 80 year old grandma that goes up in the middle of the Ice Church and sings ”The Rose” a cappella, after had been doing all the possible winter activities the Hotel has to offer. Picture that. Yeah, Laya and I were in heaven.
That’s the kind of wedding photography we are meant to do. That’s the kind of wedding photography and connection with marvelous open people that touches our souls forever.
”We are going to get married in two weeks. Just the two of us. We get married and then we will send our friends and families a picture we take with the phone when it’s all done. It’s top secret.”
What is the first thing a wedding photographer does when a friend tells you she is getting married? Of course you wonder who the photographer will be.
”Ummm….we haven’t thought about that. We have no photographer. It will be simple, just us.”
What does a wedding photographer do when she hears that?
”ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND????? You will not document one of the happiest, most important days of your lives?????”
And the rest is history. I ended up ”suggesting” myself as a photographer as they were not going to have anyone anyways, right? And I added that I really wanted to do it as a present to one of my good friends whom I love (and also because I would never be able to live knowing they had NO PHOTOGRAPHER! hihih), it would be ok then to have me, right?
And as the pain-in-the-butt friend I am, I started: ”Wouldn’t it be great if he could at least have his family there? What about Astor??? He is part of your family. He HAS to come along. What? He is a puppy and veeery active??? No worries, we will have a fun shoot! You know me, I love a challenge! What about your clothes? You haven’t chosen your dress yet???? You could bring some cool gloves….and then we could try to have some snow in the background for the delight of the Brazilian friends and family…..”
So I ended up being there and feeling soooooo happy that I had convinced her to have me there. They were soooo happy. They were soooo in love. And while other wedding photographers were posing their couples by the structure of the beautiful City Hall in Stockholm, calmly and peacefully,we were running, screaming at Astor NOT TO JUMP and laughing until our stomachs hurt. It was complete chaos for a photographer that doesn’t have a dog and has a dream of having a family picture with all three (dog included) looking and smiling happily and blissfully at me!
I love how chaotic it was. I love how nervous I was for photographing a photographer. I love how my nerves were on top of my skin. I love that Jaanus suit was covered in dog hair in less than five minutes into the shoot. I love that Astor did nothing we asked him to do and still, he was great! I love that everyone around was looking at us as if we were aliens, specially the other wedding photographers. I love that I could capture the wonderful out-of-this-world-awesome people this two are. And I love that I could have another friend with me that kept telling me that everything would be ok (and holding the dog, which was a greeeeat help sometimes!). Thanks Jonas!
I tried to keep this post short, as we only shot for one hour, but it was impossible. Tooooo much love. Toooo much goodness. And as Maira is also one of the best wedding cinematographers here in Sweden, I couldn’t resist being a little film inspired with some photo-sequences…..So here you are, my love statement to M & J!♥
Whenever someone wants to book us for a destination wedding, we book a Skype meeting first.
We feel that connection & affinity are the first rules for us to bring out the best of both of us. If we are going to spend days together, we’d better like each other from the start.
When I talked to Jo & Jason, it was love at the first Skype-sight. Adorable was the least I could say about them. From the first minute, we talked as if we were old friends and everything they said was answered by a big ”me toooooo”. When Maira and I landed in Tromsö and saw that they had booked us all rooms in a 100 year old typical Norwegian home WITH a Norwegian family, my backpacker heart sang. We were then sure we were going to have great days ahead.
I find it really amazing how you can connect and have sooo much in common with people you have just met and come from completely different cultures. It’s almost like you are living inside a dream world where weird coincidences are part of everyday life.
J & J were studying and working in the UK, but were originally from Brunei, where they will get married in April. We knew nothing about Brunei, so our days were spent driving hours around to find the most beautiful locations, eating delicious food, discussing cultures, life, love & how wonderful our world is. I can see that our strong connection has affected how our photos turned out. When I look at them I can still remember our wonderful time together, how brave they were in the terrible cold, their laughs, their hugs, their sweet love and the pure friendship they offered us from the beginning.
I really miss them and our adventures, but I’m sure that we have made friends for life and one day I’ll be showing you pictures of their beautiful family in Brunei! ♥︎
My fiancé and I are hoping to take some pre-wed shots with an artistic flair. We’ve been together for a decade and he is the first and last man that I have been with. Our relationship has withstand adversity and years of long distance much like my favorite phrase ‘ad astra per aspera’ ‘through adversity the stars’. Being avid constellation enthusiasts with a dream to see the northern lights, I am writing to enquire if you would be interested in ‘freezing’ our time in Norway in hope to catch one of life’s wonders, the Aurora Borealis. ”
I can’t even try to explain what happens when I get mails like this. Personal. Warm. Honest. From their heart straight to mine.
And for couples like that, I could walk a 1000 miles. Or better said, I could fly to the top of the world, to the door to the Artic. To freezing temperatures and blue light (read: two hours of terrible-zombie light with no sun) so difficult to work with, that my whole soul started singing just with the idea of the challenge.
YES. I-LOVE-challenges. Or better said: wonderful people who want to go into crazy unknown adventures with us.
Our preparation to this adventure included lots of reading expert texts about photographing night skies and the Northern lights, as well as courses on how to use flashes and video lights in the dark. After much learning and reading, we felt we had done our best to prepare ourselves.
I’ll be writing a special post about these two amazing souls that boarded on this trip with us, as there is waaaay too much to be said about that part of our adventure. Let’s go back now to the challenging-part of our mission in Norway.
Northern Lights. ”Unexpected. Unpredictable. Fast. Moving. Dark. Freezing Cold. Damn hard to catch on camera.”
That’s what we heard when we asked people about their own experiences with the lights. Yeeeeeeeee…aaaa..hhh…hard enough for experienced nature photographers and we would be attempting to do that WITH a couple? Mmm….after a second of thoughts like ”what were we thinking????”, I started to think as myself again and instead of seeing difficulties, I started making a list on how to solve the problems we might have. And of course, list a set of Plan Bs, Cs, AND Ds. A part of plan B was to provide the couple with amazing winter pictures and with a sky full of stars, just in case the lights wouldn’t give us the pleasure of showing up. A part of plan C was staying in Tromsö for 5 days, to maximize our chances of witnessing the lights.
Even though we had all the extra plans, we got both the beautiful sky/snow/stars pictures and FOUR days of Northern lights, including seeing the lights in the first five minutes we sat together in the car towards our BB house. ”And to your right, you can see our famous Northern Lights playing in the sky tonight”, said the taxi driver. We couldn’t believe it!
For you who are planning on photographing the Northern Lights WITH a couple, here you have some things we have learned:
-Have extra plans. Talk to your couple about the extra plans. The only thing you should promise is that you will do your best, as you cannot control nature and order Northern Lights to show up whenever you want.
-Have patience + dress warm, specially on your feet and hands= the best combination for waiting for the lights for hours in -10 C.
-Keep your car warm and bring a Thermos. We brought two (plan B), one for us and one for our couple. Those thermos were used every night to give us some extra warmth and energy while we were out in the wild hunting for the lights. Also good to bring those warm pads we talked about in our post about the Ice hotel. The warm car was a life saver for warming our brave bride after the pictures she was just wearing her wedding dress.
-Bring a good tripod, video lights, if not to light your couples, to light them long enough for you to focus on them. After you focus, put your lens on Manual, and ask the couple not to move for the 15s you will be leaving your shutter open.
-Don’t light your video lights or Flash a Flash when you are near groups of people that are just there to photograph the sky. They will literally KILL YOU if you destroy their images with your flashes of light. Do as we did: find a place where you can be alone!
-And last but not least: shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot…..you will NOT get your perfect picture if you don’t stand for hours in the cold and don’t try every single thing you have learned!
ad astra per aspera
What an exciting month this has been!
Many months ago I got a mail from Australia. E & A, who had found me through the wpja.com, were wondering if I could be their photographer at their intimate wedding at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Kiruna, 200m above the Polar Circle, in the north of Sweden.
They were looking for our photojournalistic approach that reflected their fun & happy personality and at the same time, captured the beautiful winter surroundings of the Ice Hotel, where E had spent some time working as trainee a couple of years ago. What a dream! Just my cup of tea!
We checked the weather and to our delight, it would be -34 C that week. Well, if you are shooting in the North Pole, let’s have North Pole weather, right?
Thankfully, the temperatures just reached -24 C that week, so we didn’t freeze as much as we thought we would. We succeeded planning their couple shoots for three hours and thanks to E’s amazing family, who came along with us with warm jackets, gloves and hats, we could ”uncover” them, take a picture, play a little, and then go back to covering them all over again!
When we got to Kiruna, we also noticed that everything was ”blue”. Really blue. Blue snow, blue people, blue everything. When we googled it, we learned that from December 15th to January 15th, a phenomena called ” The Blue Twilight” happens above the Polar Circle:
The blue hour
Around 1–2 o’clock in the afternoon, the residual light is reflected off the blue sea and the white snow, and the landscape is bathed in a glassy deep blue color. This wonderful blue stays with us as long as the snow covers the ground and there is twilight. However, the blue hour occurs a few minutes later every day during winter, as the sun gains strength.
The Blue was wonderful but not as wonderful for us photographers, as every single person looked like they had come out Avatar. Thanks to our research previous to our trip, we also learned that having our cameras’ WB on Kelvin degrees, we could fix the blue out of peoples’ skin, as well as using the flash at all times inside the Ice Hotel. For me who avoid as much as I can to use a flash, this was really an amazing learning experience, nothing better than a challenge to become better photographers!
E & A also decided not to have the wedding ceremony in the Ice Church, but inside the beautiful hall of the Ice Hotel.
Our groom surprised the bride by bringing her favorite Swedish artist to sing at the ceremony. Wow, how wonderful it was to see her reaction and to hear Jens Lekman sing a song he had composed specially to our cute Australians -January 15th (http://jenslekman.com/records/smalltalk.htm ). I looooove the lyrics! Please do note that there’s a little ”cloud” of smoke on every picture: their BREATH! ;-) As it’s -5 C inside the hotel, you can see everybody’s warm breath in every picture! ;-)
After the ceremony, the couple left for their nine month trip around the world before they go back home to Australia. Wow, what a couple, what an experience, what a wedding! We had soooo much in common that I’m sure I’ve made friends for life! ♥
Artists for the pictures below:
ICEBAR by ICEHOTEL Jukkasjärvi. Boom av Wouter Biegelaar, Viktor Tsarski & Maurizio Perron
ART SUITE: Hot Type in a Cold Setting av John Bark & Charli Kasselbäck
ICE CHURCH: IN THE GLADE David Andrén, Johan Andrén, Tjåsa Gusfors, Sweden
Winter weddings. Wonderful warm furry coats, fluffy mittens, snow slowly falling, warm hugs that keep the cold away.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of photographing a winter wedding and just when the couple was leaving the church, it started snowing. Everything became suddenly magical.
As a wedding photographer, I’m so happy that this Wednesday I have another winter wedding by the Ice Hotel (where we have heard would be getting veeery cold, around -30 degrees celcius…..brrrrrr) and next week we will be flying all the way to Norway for a pre-wedding shoot with a couple from Brunei.
Being able to capture beautiful pictures in the winter and in cold temperatures demands a lot of preparation, so nothing gets in the way of creating your images.
“Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder.” / ”There is no bad weather, just bad clothes.”
A Swedish saying that fits winter weddings perfectly and something very important to remember when choosing what to wear on a wedding day. Both as a couple and as a photographer.
Here you can find a list on what you should think about, based on our long experience with photographing in cold temperatures:
-Warm feet and warm hands. Save your high heel shoes for the church and the reception. When you are out, boots are a must, specially if you want your couple shots taken outdoors. Did you know that UGGs has a “I-do-collection” (yes, I’m an UGGs fan!)?
Groom: forget your nice suit socks. Ski socks are the best and the warmest! On one of our weddings I had to lend my own ski socks for both groom and bestman, as they couldn’t feel their feet after 10 minutes in -20!
Bride: getting married in the winter means having the possibility of wearing a wonderful winter cape on your outdoor pictures. Even though most of the brides want to have some pictures just with their dress, if you don’t want your couple shooting to last 5 minutes, have a warm coat next to you, so you can always warm yourself in between shots.
-Our Swedish Drugstore or any other sports store sell wonderful ”hand & feet warmers” that can be bought and used when you feel you need little extra warmth. Here you have some stores where I’ve found them:
-if you are planning to be photographed for a longer period of time outdoors, it’s wise to be close to a warm car or a warm room you can go in and warm yourselves from time to time.
As a winter wedding photographer, I always have all of that in my photobag. I go to a shoot dressed as if I would go skiing! ;-) This December, when I was actually skiing with my family, I found this heating-vest in a local store up in the mountains. It’s already packed in my suitcase for our trip to Kiruna tomorrow and I hope that it will have three different purposes: warming me, warming the couple, or keeping our batteries warm (you do know that batteries freeze or have a much shorter life in extreme cold temperatures, right?)
This is the NEVERCOLD vest I bought:
And last but not least, remember that the camera mirrors tend to fog if you go from cold to warm. If they fog, it can take up to hours for the glasses to look normal again. A very cool look in some pictures, but not something you maybe want to have in every single picture!
Have fun with your winter photography!
I was in a workshop a few weeks ago when the photographer said that he had found out why destination weddings always brought the best out of him: the fear, challenge and most of all, the excitement of the unknown. As that came right to me as a powerful insight, I realized that I have always felt the same. I loooove the unknown, I loooove to be somewhere I have never been before, I love to feel my creativity and my sensible soul almost screaming out of my skin, as all my senses work together to absorb and capture everything I see that is beautiful. And then I can tell you my friends, that’s when I can see beauty EVERYWHERE.
I’ve been working on this Gotland wedding for weeks now. I was supposed to deliver an amount of pictures that became…..well…..I don’t even want to tell you how many more pictures than promised I’m sending them. I-just-could-not-take-anything-else-away. Everything was…….just magical….
As I want to share with you all the beauty, love & warmth and the gorgeous Gotland Gisela and I experienced, I’ll share this wedding with you bit by bit. ;-)
One of the best thing about destination weddings is the chance we have of being around for a whole weekend. Then we can also be around from the moment the couple start getting ready to the first dance. Those quiet and intimate moments of the getting ready process have a big special place in my heart. Combine that with two out-of-this-world cute boys and tadaaaaaa, you have me in my natural habitat. I love love love each one of those pictures and hope you can also feel the huge love wave coming out this family while they get ready for one of the best days of their lives. ♥
Japan. We started talking about Japan. Or was it that they were so easygoing and friendly I couldn’t resist them? Or maybe it was Farelle’s magical laugh. Mmm….or Patrik’s story about a pair of red socks.
Whatever it was, I was sold. I had fallen in love with those two the moment they walked into my door. And not even a tsunami-happening during our couple shooting (don’t ask!) couldn’t make us forget the loving mood that embraced us all on this August day.