Vendor Love: Stardust Photography
My name is Emily, and I've owned Stardust Photography since early 2015. We have a team of six photographers and two videographers available across Manitoba and Saskatchewan and have shot weddings in Canada as well as internationally. Named one of Winnipeg's Top Three Professional Wedding Photographers three consecutive years, with awards from the International Society of Wedding Photographers and Fearless Photographers, I take my role as a wedding photographer not as a job, but as an honour - I have high standards that enable me to push my creative boundaries each and every time I pick up my camera, and truly deliver images that wow. My tagline is "wedding day storytelling for the romantics and the adventurers" - I love to serve couples who are seriously in love, who aren't afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves, who have personality and passion, and are up for an adventure. I love working with people who love to laugh, and who is more excited for their forever than for their wedding day. People who are unashamedly enthusiastic about their love and their shared passions, and who want to invest in an experience rather than just a set of photos.
- How and when did you get started in the industry?
I used to model a little bit in my twenties, but I realized I loved being behind the camera more than in front of it. I loved doing creative, conceptual shoots, so when I moved into photography I looked for the opportunity to create magical scenes. I've always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic, so making the move toward the wedding industry was kind of a perfect fit - I LOVE love (something clients have commented on!), I love creative challenges, and I love giving people an amazing experience - becoming a wedding photographer satisfies all of the above :)
- Where are you based and where do you meet with clients?
I'm based in St. Boniface in Winnipeg, MB. I usually like to meet with clients for coffee, dinner or drinks at a lounge, bistro or coffee shop, or on my back yard patio in pandemic-free summer months! Most of the team is based in Winnipeg, though we have one photographer in Regina, SK.
What services do you offer?
Engagement sessions, wedding day photography, additional shooters, videography, elopements, graphic design, custom designed stationery, albums, prints, canvases/wall art, thank you cards, holiday cards, slideshow videos, SFX sessions, family photos, maternity photography, newborn lifestyle photography, and on occasion, music! (One bride found out I was also a singer-songwriter - thanks, Facebook, lol - and requested me to sing her down the aisle as well as be her full-day wedding photographer! Thank goodness we have a team!) I also get really excited when we're asked to shoot a proposal. We've had a few of these, and it's always fun to be the secret keeper and find creative ways to hide, move without making any noise, and capture the moment without any lighting and without being seen. My absolute favorite proposal happened in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, when one partner asked us to not only photograph but also video her proposal to her partner in a park. We'd scouted out the perfect spot the week prior, and on a hot summer's day (with plenty of mosquitoes!), it was a challenge to get three people and all their gear in the bushes without our big lenses giving us away. Luckily, the client's sister called us the day before letting us know that not only was she proposing, but her partner was also planning to propose to her on the same day! She had no idea. We were so glad she reached out to let us know so we kept filming. Surprise double proposal! It was a gloriously happy day, and the footage went a little viral, even ending up in a music video by The Rock's wife, Lauren Hashian.
- What is the biggest trend you have seen since being in the industry?
If we're talking strictly fashion, it has to be the blue suit and brown shoe combination! It's funny to think that not too long ago, plain black suits were the go-to. I love seeing the inside details on jackets these days, too - you literally can get anything printed you like. (I'd totally get the schematics of the USS Discovery, personally. Or maybe some sheet music to one of our favorite songs?) Aside from clothing, I'd say the first look (before the ceremony) would be a big trend, with less focus being on the traditions of seeing each other for the first time at the aisle. I really love this shift - the first look in this case is only between the couple (and us, off to the side, capturing the magic from a distance!), so there's much less pressure and stage fright - just a natural expression of anticipation and joyful commitment, away from the crowd. Having shared this moment together and shaken off the nerves, the couple can then go hand in hand, riding the rush of giddy excitement as they approach their nearest and dearest, going forth into the most certain, wonderful, celebration of forever. (Bonus: photos before the ceremony means guests don't have to find a way to entertain themselves between ceremony and reception!)
- Which venue do you work in the most frequently?
It seems to change every wedding season. One year I lost count of how many times I shot at the Victoria Inn, yet it's been two years now since I've set foot there! This year was supposed to be the year of the Niverville Heritage Centre, but sadly I only got to shoot one wedding there before the pandemic shut everything down. The Greenwood Ballroom is eternally popular, and I've loved seeing how it can transform to accommodate literally any style or theme - one of my favourite receptions there was a thoroughly gothic event; incredible yet completely unrecognizable from the classic cream, gold and green palette of the wedding before! The Rustic Wedding Barn, Hawthorn Estates, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Fort Garry Hotel, Ashgrove Acres and Fort Gibraltar are equally popular, and I've seen a rise in non-traditional venues lately, such as The King's Head, or restaurants like Cibo, Bailey's, or Hy's. 2020 gave rise to smaller celebrations, and back or front yard celebrations with a handful of loved ones are just as special and wonderful as grand affairs.
- How far in advance do your clients typically book you?
Usually a year, sometimes two in advance. Luckily we have a team, so we can accommodate more than one wedding on any given date. I always edit everything personally and work with the same team I have for years, so no matter which of us is booked to shoot your wedding, you can rely on consistent style and post-processing.
Book a meeting with Emily.
- Can you give us one of your industry tips that brides or grooms don't often know?
If any part of your celebration will be taking place at night, make sure you hire a photographer with the equipment and experience needed to work in the dark. "Natural light photographers" usually don't use flash, and this can leave reception photos dark, dull, and extremely grainy. Plus, most of the fun happens after the sun goes down - you want to make sure it's properly captured! Another tip would be to remember that though most people these days have access to some form of digital camera, that isn't what's going to make your photos. Your wedding is a one-time deal - the photographs are what you'll have years from now to look back on those emotions and feelings of the day. Just because Uncle John has a DSLR he likes to shoot landscapes with does not mean he will be a great wedding photographer - even if he is doing it for free. Usain Bolt wears the best shoes, but that's not what makes him fast. Years of training, persistence, hard work, and performing under pressure in different conditions are what give him lightning speed. When shopping for a photographer, make sure to look for someone whose work showcases their ability to capture what you value, and ability to shoot in a variety of conditions. Sometimes, you can do all the planning in the world, but you can't control everything. I once shot a wedding outdoors on a park veranda by a beautiful pond. The reception was set to be a picnic in the park afterward. Typically a popular summer wedding spot, there was NO backup plan when the skies opened up to an absolutely torrential downpour right before the ceremony. Everything became dark, and the ceremony went ahead (I loved this couple!!) in the pouring rain. I swear the couple could have gone for a dip in the pond itself before exchanging vows and they'd have been equally soaked! Weddings can be met with unexpected and rapidly changing conditions, and you need someone with a versatile skill set, and the equipment and experience needed to capture amazing photos regardless. It's always a good idea to ask your photographer for examples of times they've shot in challenging conditions, because you sometimes just have to be able to take things as they come.
- How you do stand out?
By avoiding the fads and sticking to a dynamic, bold, colorful style. Clients often comment on how amazing the color in the photos is - I personally don't love the muted, desaturated trend that's been popular the last few years, and I feel the pastel, airy look can sometimes look a little washed out. Weddings are vibrant and full of life, and I feel the post processing treatment should reflect that! I also like to truly befriend my couples from the moment we first meet to the wedding day and beyond. Some amazing friendships have resulted from being hired as a wedding photographer - I love keeping it real, learning people's personalities, relationships, and passions, so I can truly capture their story as authentically as possible. I'm also a big believer in transparency - many photographers keep their pricing hidden, but mine is upfront with no hidden charges. All my packages are customizable too (love itself doesn't come in set packages, so neither should your photography!), and high resolution digitals are included (something that isn't common). I also offer some unique services such as levitation photography (which makes for some amazingly unique engagement photos!), as well as graphic design: prior to my career in photography, I worked in graphics for over a decade, and love to create custom stationery that matches my clients' theme and style, starting with invitations and going all the way through albums, seating charts, thank you cards and more.
2020 has shown us all the value of what's truly important. When planning your wedding, it's easy to get swept up in perceived musts and needs and expenses that ultimately people likely won't remember after the day. The most important thing is the celebration of your love - do it your way. If that's with dogs instead of a human wedding party (yes, it happened!), go for it. If you want to wear a jumpsuit, walk down the aisle with a sonic screwdriver in your bouquet, or make your grand entrance to the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean (also happened...), that's amazing. Don't get pressured into meeting the demands of others, or sold on things you don't necessarily need; focus on making the day the most personal, incredible celebration of your unique love story, whether that's a two-person ceremony under the stars, a formal black-tie affair, or a back yard barbecue. Your wedding day will fly by... make sure the details are meaningful, authentic, and worth remembering. (Who really cares if the table linens are a shade lighter than the pocket squares?)