Laura Kelly Photography Blog - Ottawa Wedding and Engagement Photographer
Luxury Wedding Photography for a Modern Bride - Featuring work from all over Canada, including Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston, and Toronto. Light, bright, airy wedding photographs for happy people in love -- it's simple.
Grace and Justin had their first date at Loft Board Game Lounge in the heart of downtown Ottawa. It obviously went well because two days ago they returned to the same spot to have their engagement photos taken.
It's been a long time since I shot a themed engagement session like this one, but the reason it WORKS is because it's authentically "them." A bowl of candy, The Game of Life, an Italian soda for Gracie and a beer for J, and the sweetest heart tattoo on that ring finger.
I am obsessing.
We also had to switch to Scrabble at some point because it's just such a classic.
I will always have a deep love for ring shots in bowls of candy. Seriously, if you go back on my blog far enough you will see SO many examples of this.
Woopsie, did I forget to mention I'll be travelling to VEGAS with these two in the Winter?! NBD.
PS, you can see Loft in the background of this photo. We stopped here to chase the good light for a few minutes before moving on to another location!
Oh hi, this is perfect.
An obvious choice for the first sneak peek to share on the night of the shoot...
Okay but I also love this one because anytime the hair goes out of place I get really excited and LIVE for it.
You are a beautiful angel. I am not fully ready to talk about it so let's move on.
Hashtag Ottawa Tourism...
...With a side order of happy people in love. My speciality.
Grace & Justin -- you guys gave me your all and I ADORE you both. I cannot think of two people who I'd rather travel to Vegas for -- it's going to be magical!
So pleased to introduce another incredible couple from my 2019 wedding season! Meet Julia & Matt, who are planning one of the largest weddings I'll have the pleasure of photographing this year.
They chose to have the engagement session in their new home, nestled on the loveliest little street in the country just 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa. And of course their two adorable pups had to make an appearance!
Enjoy a few of my favourites from this beautiful summery sunset shoot:
Florals and diamonds and sunshine in a single photo -- yes, hello, take my heart-eyes emoji already.
Their backyard was FULL of gorgeous little areas to shoot!
(And run around...)
Julia was having the BEST time while we were shooting! I feel like it shows in this photo:
This was right around the time we decided we could go for a glass of wine...
Let the record show they brought out three glasses. That just shows how thoughtful and kind Julia & Matt are -- always looking out for the people around them.
If you're lucky enough to be a guest at this wedding, you're in for a real treat.
Hands down fave.
As I drove away that night I couldn't help but feel so grateful for the amazing group of clients I have on my calendar. I love that the engagement session gives us the opportunity to get to know each other a bit more before the wedding day.
In this particular case, it was my first time meeting Matt. Even just 10 minutes into the session I could see he was totally at ease knowing I consider it my job to give a ton of direction and make everyone feel comfortable in front of the camera.
It's definitely that time of year, so the engagement sessions are going to keep coming and coming! Next up: and adorable session in downtown Ottawa featuring the location of the couple's first date! Stay tuned!
I'm so happy to be sharing this beautiful engagement session with you today! Kathleen and Matt were so easy to work with and I learned a TON from the hour that we spent together.
I always tell my clients that the engagement session is basically the homework that ensures we can make MAGICAL wedding photos without having to go through a big learning curve on the day. I give instructions on how to walk, how to fidget in a way that leads to natural looking candids, and it's also my opportunity to see what kind of direction works best.
After spending an evening together in Major's Hill Park and the Byward Market, I feel so confident about what we'll be able to create together in October. They're the most easy going couple, and I'm thrilled to share a big collection of favourites from their recent engagement session:
This was approximately 3 minutes into the shoot, so we're already finding our groove...
We kicked off the shoot with a few "family photos."
Kat immediately made this photo her profile pic, so I feel like I've learned where her true priorities lie.
We spent our time searching out little pockets of architecture and light. Our city has so many of these gorgeous spaces!
This is one of my favourites:
So right around this time, we started hunting for patios where the two could share a beer. It was a busy night in the Byward Market and the first 3 places we tried were absolutely packed.
We walked for a few minutes and considered briefly getting a table at a really ugly looking patio with ripped red gingham tablecloths, but ultimately chose to give it one more street.
Our patience paid off because we discovered this adorable patio right on Clarence, with neutral umbrellas and a hint of the last golden sun of the day.
Living for this little set of sips before saying our goodbyes and leaving Kat and Matt to finish out the evening in peace.
I love the feeling of a full and happy heart, walking home as the sun goes down, knowing just how beautiful the collection will surely be. Kat & Matt, so excited for us to do it again this Fall!! xo
My favourite class in high school was always yearbook. I don't even know how it counted as a real credit because it was just so darn FUN.
In retrospect though, it's probably the one class other than AP English that has had the most impact on what I'm currently doing for my job. I took everything I learned about bleed lines and colour profiles and used it to create my own version of a yearbook: the Laura Kelly Bridal Guide!
This magazine style guide serves many purposes in my business, from setting the tone of quality with my clients right from the get-go, to taking up precious real estate in some of the most incredible wedding boutiques around our city. The bridal guide is also my way of seeing my work improve from year to year, and it helps my clients to see how their photos can be transferred off the screen and into their hands. There's nothing like it!
On the third last page of the guide, I've created a list of some of my favourite wedding vendors in town. I don't always know the specifics of their pricing, but what I do know is that these folks show up and OVER-deliver for my clients every single time. Each of these people add something to my clients' wedding experience, and for me it's just one extra way that we can ensure everything goes smoothly, which makes for the happiest photos ever.
I realized that not everyone gets to see that preferred vendor page of the guide, but that the information could be shared here on the blog for all to see!
Let's kick things off with my favourite venues! Remember, this guide is fairly condensed, so even though I could easily list closer to 10 favourites, I'm keeping it tight:
One of the greatest honours of my photography career has been to hold a spot on the preferred vendor list at Le Belvédère. The feeling is SO mutual because this venue is a photographer's dream. I love how my clients get VIP treatment always, and how the location makes for insanely flawless photos. Plus it's some of my favourite wedding food everrrr.
Every time I step into Stonefields there are new and gorgeous changes to admire! I cannot wait to return in 2019 and check out their latest renovations. This elegant barn venue is a forever favourite, made even better by a killer customer service on the day. There is ALWAYS someone around to make sure everything is running smoothly, and that is much appreciated.
This venue is a clean slate. I've been lucky enough to shoot two weddings in the facility within the last year, and they couldn't have been more different from one another. For this venue, you'll need to make sure you hire a coordinator and stylist to help you make it feel warm and inviting. For the wedding below, the space was envisioned and executed by TOAST Events.
This is one of the newer venues in Ottawa and I'm already smitten! It's another clean slate venue that's waiting to be enhanced with personality. The entire design and setup should 100% centre around maximizing the panoramic view of the city.
The venue is located on the 22nd floor of The Westin in Ottawa, however there's a gorgeous space you can rent on the 23rd floor for your preparations (or your first dance if you're as cool as Kristen & Nathan!). Convenience is KEY, and this venue has it all.
My creative partner in crime! I love working with Elise from TOAST Events at every opportunity. We speak the same language and make magical things happen together. Her clients really get a luxury experience and get to feel like they are a guest at their own wedding. The company is branded with the following sentiment, "for the bride in a league of her own," and I couldn't agree more!
Stacey and her team at The Design Co. are always high on my list of recommendations because they can transform a space like no other. I tend to work with them on weddings with larger budgets and I'm always excited to step into a totally unique ceremony and reception design. Plus the florals by Erin and her team are always stunning!!
Shannon Kennedy and I have been working together since the early days, but it's still not nearly enough! Her team is my go-to especially, and I love that they also offer smaller planning packages including day-of coordination. She runs a very tight ship and makes sure every runs smoothly.
Being a Showpony Bride FEELS like this photo... Glamourously happy, popping a bottle of champagne, not a single hair out of place. My girls are always thrilled with their hair when the Showpony team is in charge, which has such a huge impact on their self confidence. Feeling your best on your wedding day is wildly important, and these girls always deliver. They also work quickly to make sure we stay within our timeline.
I would trust any or all of the team for mobile hairstyling, but the two stylists I work with most often are definitely Shelby and Lori.
Kirsty from Topknot is the quickest and most effortless hairstylist I know! She can work magic in minutes. I always recommend her when someone asks me where they can get that "perfectly messy" bridal look. She's mobile as well!
My go-to makeup team for a hundred million reasons. Many of my brides aren't big makeup wearers, so they're looking for something very natural but tastefully elevated. Shannon and her team of artists are mobile as well, so it works really well when building our timelines.
My girls never look too heavily covered, but it somehow magically lasts all day. Shannon even has her own line of products that you can purchase for mid-day touchups.
I can always tell a Klava bride because she looks like a walking ad for dewey, fresh makeup. Klava focuses on modern, effortless makeup looks that are good for your skin, and I've been recommending her for years. She also does makeup education and can help you shop for the exact products that would suit you best! She's a queen.
I honestly think having the right florals can change a wedding completely. Katherine was born with shears in her hand, I'm sure, because she is so naturally gifted at designing the floral components of a space in just the perfect way. Nothing is ever oversized to take away from the surroundings, and each bouquet looks like it was crafted to fit that particular bride's hands, dress, location, and overall look.
I am blown away every single time and hear nothing but positive things from my clients about the experience of working with Katherine. Hands down, I have discovered the epitome of floral heaven in Ottawa and this should be the easiest part of your planning process.
My girl Melissa at Makin'It Lovely Decor has been referred to on this blog as the wedding decor Fairy Godmother. That's because she takes whatever stress and worry is on your heart and invites you to her glorious showroom of decor that's available for rent. Mel will come to your wedding, set everything up, and then it will all magically disappear at the end of the day. It's all of these little things that make an event feel really special to you and your guests.
In the photos above and the photos below, Melissa's work is complemented with Pollen Nation's florals. The two (well, THREE if you count me!) work so well together, it's actually infectious. Florals and decor are simply a match made in heaven.
If you're really struggling to imagine how all the remaining little things will find themselves at your wedding this Summer or next, trust me: take a visit to Mel's showroom and you'll get that pep back in your step.
My favourite officiants, HANDS DOWN. Lynne and Keith from Exceptional Ceremonies are so reliable, they are never late, and they pour their hearts into each and every ceremony. One certain (& not named) officiant was late twice during my season last year, and the stress that it caused to the couple was just entirely disrespectful. When I recommend Lynne and Keith, I feel like my clients can breathe a sigh of relief because they're in good hands.
Also, they don't stand behind the couple during the ceremony! They stand in the aisle and it makes for super clean shots of the vows, the first kiss, and all those in between emotional moments where you might not want a relative "stranger" in the shot.
Cat Campbell is my girl. She's got more talent in her pinky than most of the creative entrepreneurs I know. Her cakes are pieces of art, and equally delicious. She cares so much about her work, and I always trust her to bring it!
Mabz is ALSO my girl. If you're looking for hand lettering and calligraphy for signage, invitations, or other paper goods for your wedding day, she's lovely. I don't get to work with her nearly enough so please my friends, let's fix that.
The Ottawa wedding industry needed someone to come in and just SLAY in the invitations department. Christine from LaFabère is that person. Her pieces are intricate, delicate, personalized, and so effortlessly perfect to photograph. Plus, as a Laura Kelly Bride you get a little something extra -- be sure to ask me abot that.
Josh is always my first recommendation for video because of how well we work together. Our styles are similar, and we can communicate seamlessly to make the photo and video elements complimentary instead of competitive. Have a look at his work, you'll understand why I love Up North!
Always my first recommendation for a DJ for a few reasons: one, the set up is super minimal and sleek. No oversized speakers or headsets here, no ugly black draping on gigantic tables with tacky signage -- Stephane can run an entire show from a modern white desk-style table, and control the flow of the ceremony right from an iPad.
He always delivers and has a really incredible talent to watch and observe while he's working, to avoid any awkward moments. Bridesmaids walked quicker than the song? No prob, Stephane has already cued up the transition to the bride's entrance. Love that.
It involves a book, a random question and a salacious answer, and it ends with two people becoming friends after spending close to a year together on the kindergarten pick-up yard. Even after all this time, I'm still learning more about Daniela every time we watch our kids play after school.
Daniela Henry is a local author and blog writer, and you can find out more about her work here!
She was in much need of a few updated photos for her website and blog, so we stopped in at our local coffee lover's paradise, Little Victories. Shoutouts to Showpony and One Fine Beauty for helping Daniela feel her best in these photos!
Bringing you something a little bit different today! I had the pleasure of capturing an in-home session with Meghan Johnston, a yoga instructor and workshop leader here in Ottawa. Meghan wanted to capture both some social media ready images to grow her brand, as well as put a visual to some of the practises she offers to individuals and small groups!
I had heard about restorative yoga, but it was only when I saw it that I really understand the difference from traditional yoga. And that, my friends, is the magic of adding personalized and branded visual content into your marketing game. It's one thing to *talk* about what it is that you do and what sets you apart, it's something totally different to SHOW it to your client.
So excited to bring a few of my faves from this session to the blog today, so that you can see a glimpse of what we can create in just ONE hour together. Kicking things off with a really lovely lifestyle headshot:
Can't get enough of the sunlight that pours into Meghan's home!
Meghan offers yoga and lifestyle workshopping in corporate environments as well, so being able to create some imagery to foster that work is super important.
If you know Meghan in real life, you know this is her true self! A ray of sun. A gift to everyone she meets. Make sure you listen to Meghan's podcast episode about how to find more rest in your life, she was incredible <3
We transformed this space in order to demonstrate some of the workshops and yoga classes that Meghan offers. I recognized most of these faces from The Dailey Method barre and cycle studio where Meghan also teaches -- so cool!
No lie though, I kinda wanted to be wrapped up in one of Meghan's restorative burritos...
Love love love ya, Meghan! Thank you so much for trusting me to capture your energy and your passion. I'm so excited to see this collection in action for you! xo
Branding and social media sessions have SO much power in growing your business and brand! I would LOVE to work with you if you feel like our styles would be a great fit. I look forward to your email!
I have been pestering my sweet friend Earleen, owner of Revelle Bridal in Ottawa, to do a shoot since the grand opening! Like any successful business owner with a hint of perfectionism, Earleen always tried to tell me that the salon wasn't quite ready. Ready meaning perfect, of course...
But with much convincing (or perhaps through a little propaganda in a podcast episode or two...), I finally got my hands on this GORGEOUS salon, and the beautiful faces that give it life. My friends, I am so delighted to share many of my favourites from a salon tour of Revelle Bridal. Please enjoy!
I had so much fun with this team! It really feels like a family, which is such a testament to Earleen's standard of quality.
UGH, this photo is a favourite because I'm just so proud of what this woman has created. She pours her heart into everything she does and it shows.
When it comes to shopping around online and finding a business to work with, the customer has to feel like they know the people behind the brand. That's why branding photography should always include both individual and team shots!
My best advice for prepping for a branding photography session like this one, is to think about the messages that you usually send out in your content.
In this case, is it information about trunk show events or openings in the calendar for new appointments? Original imagery should be able to serve MANY purposes, and it's my job to help you figure out what kinds of images would serve you best!
Cheers to the incredible ladies at Revelle Bridal who are making brides say "YASSS!" to the dress every single day! xo
To get your hands on a branding and social media session,
Something a little different on the blog today! Wedding season is just around the corner, but for now...a Sunday afternoon couldn't be better spent than on an adorable first birthday party for Valentina!
Thankful for the opportunity to document this event, and for Brittany from Frid Events who coordinated all the details and decor! Enjoy:
Gorgeous set up!
Look at the birthday girl cuteness <3
Sophie Bifield was in charge of this masterpiece -- she did Valentina's parents' wedding cake!
Last week I put out a podcast episode that is TOTALLY relevant for brides and photographers alike. It was incredibly well received which encouraged me to make sure that all of my clients had access to this info.
So here we are!
If you've never checked out an episode of You Might Not Like It before...where. have. you. been! There is no time like the present.
A few things you should know. First, I launched the pod back in November and have been pouring bits and pieces of my soul into it since then.
Second, there's no niche, meaning it's not always photography specific, (it's not even always business specific!), so make sure to take a spin around once you've finished listening to Episode 28 - Engagement Session Secrets! Some of my favourite episodes ever are about relationships, goal setting challenges, and some are simply about storytelling.
Third, if You Might Not Like It had a mantra, it would be: less fluff, no BS or fake enthusiasm, more hustle, and nicer self-talk. There are no rules, which means episodes could be 10 minutes or an hour depending on the content, which makes it perfectly flexible for your busy life.
A few notes about what you can expect to hear during Episode 28 - Engagement Session Secrets:
WHY THE ENGAGEMENT SESSION IS A MUST:
- my personal reasons for making the decision to include the engagement session with each wedding package - how I use the engagement session to garner respect and trust from my clients - and how that trust shows up in the photos and saves TIME on the wedding day
A PEEK INTO MY CAMERA BAG:
- I'll be quickly going over which 4 lenses are included in my camera bag for the engagement session and why - a few notes about the settings I use most often, including how I use my macro lens to get the perfect ring shot - don't worry, I skip the science and keep it moving here
PREPARING CLIENTS FOR THE SESSION:
- if you haven't done your engagement session yet, this episode will totally squash your nerves!! - how I set expectations at the beginning to gently tear down the walls of fear - the exact terminology I use when explaining my tips to clients - example: fidgeting is encouraged, movement vs. stillness
- reading body language and matching clients' energy - tips for posing women vs. men - strategies for working with curvier clients - how to get that natural looking lift shot -- it's all about the butt grab! - why I demonstrate vs. simply describe these poses - getting out of comfort zone
- what I'm looking for when we're walking around a location for engagement photos - what I mean when I say "soft shadows" - a look at what's going on behind the scenes during the shoot
Visit the website for more info on You Might Not Like It! I'm dropping new content every single week, sometimes twice a week, and it just might be the dose of motivation you've been missing.
It makes me SO excited to be able to deliver content to you in this new and exciting way -- I hope you'll check it out!! xo