Today is Monday! And I’d like to introduce you to #MangoMondays during which I’ll be bringing one of our wedding photographers into the spotlight. We all became one big family over the years and I can’t be more proud of what everyone has achieved! Aside from being kick-ass wedding photographers, everyone is also really fun to hang out with. So, each Monday I will introduce one of our wedding photographers along with their favourite wedding galleries and images. Let’s start with our Fine Art photographer: Liza!
Born in beautiful Belarus, Liza has travelled the globe working and photographing her adventures. After completing a BA in Economics, she followed her gut and moved to Toronto where she quickly became a favourite wedding photographer here at MANGO. Since then, Liza’s couples have taken her to document amazing weddings in Mexico and the Caribbean. She’s worked on such high profile clients as the Park Hyatt, TIFF, SAG-AFTRA, American Psychology Association, BELL Canada, Caledon Capital, and the Gordon Foundation. Inspired by fashion and portrait photography, you can find Liza’s work in the pages of Wedluxe, Weddingbells, Elegant Wedding, 100 Layer Cake and Style Me Pretty.
You moved from Belarus to Canada to become a Fine Art photographer. Tell us about your journey:
When I was finishing university, I just got my first DSLR camera and took up photography classes. My first models were my best friends and we would go on long photo walks to experiment with different light, composition, and settings. When it came down to choosing a formal photography program, I chose one in Canada. By that time I had already visited Toronto twice and really fell in love with its people; I think they are very nice and sweet. I made a decision to study photography, and moving to Canada was the first step in achieving my goal.
By the way, how do you pronounce your name?
It’s pronounced like Liza [Lee-zah] not to be confused with [Lie-zah]!
What or who got you started in photography?
I was always interested in photography, but the real light-bulb moment was when I went travelling to the US on a school exchange. While travelling I met a good friend there who asked me: “What is it that makes you happy?” My answer was photography. I started thinking about it and it hit me: I would love to do photography for a living. That year I set myself a goal to become a photographer in one year. I took up photography classes to improve my skills– that was really a life changing moment. I found my true passion.
What photographer/artist are you most greatly influenced/inspired by in your work and why?
Some of my favourite wedding photographers are Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina, Erich McVey, among many others. I’m inspired by their organic style, it’s very clean, soft, and just very pretty.
If I were to choose my personal favourite photographer it would be Richard Avedon, who is a fashion and portrait photographer. He was the first to introduce motion in fashion photography and started creating stories in every image. For example, he would photograph models as groups of friends sitting in a restaurant, having fun, and wearing fancy clothes as opposed to just having a model on a plain background. His portrait series capture the personality and soul of their subjects. I love how Avedon is able to focus on the inner worlds of his subjects evoking emotions and reactions.
As a wedding photographer, what part of the wedding day are you most excited about?
My favourite part of the wedding day is the early morning when the bride is getting ready. I love when there is enough time to photograph such an emotional process and that I get a chance to capture soft and quiet portraits of the bride before the big day really takes off.
What do you like about being a Fine Art photographer?
I love meeting people and getting to know their stories. I think that’s the best thing about weddings. I’m meeting them at their happiest moment and get to see their whole family together. As a wedding photographer, I’ve got to be a part of such big celebrations! I really do enjoy being in that moment with my couples, seeing their love story from inside. It makes me very emotional.
What is your favourite wedding day memory?
I believe every wedding has its moment. I have too many great couples with the sweetest parents and grandparents! There are things that are very meaningful to some people– it might not be the same for others. I love seeing family and friends coming together from all over the world. Sometimes a wedding is the only occasion where you can bring everyone together. Once I had a wedding where they flew in all of the 45(!) family members from BC for the first time to attend the wedding. It was the first and likely the only time all of their family was at the same place at the same time. They didn’t really care what their wedding looked like – the flowers, the bridesmaid dresses, the centrepieces weren’t that important – what they really cared about was how everyone felt at their wedding: having fun, feeling loved, and excited about being all together.
Do you have any pre-wedding-day rituals?
Coffee. A lot of it.
What do you think of the wedding photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
I think the wedding industry is very diverse now. There are a lot of great photographers and everyone can find a good match for their big day. However, it’s very important to find a wedding photographer you get along with. Here at Mango, our couples can choose their photographer based on their individual work. A photograph tells a lot about the person and the clients choose the one they’d be the most relaxed with. In my case it’s a good match every time!
Do you create personal work often?
I believe it’s important to create personal work to stay inspired. As for me, it’s usually all about creative portraits (female portraiture/ models) and taking family pictures for my close friends. I hardly ever take my camera with me when I travel. I’d like to enjoy things with my own eyes and be present in the moment. For my personal work I tend to shoot film. I enjoy the process and the anticipation before you get your film developed and scanned.
Some might describe your style as editorial, timeless and elegant. Is that a good characterization?
That’s very flattering! I usually go with the flow of the wedding day, making sure I sense the couple and see what kind of people they are. It’s important to talk about your photography preferences and what you want with your photographer beforehand. If you like an editorial approach, I’ll make sure to use it. If you’re more of a candid couple, I won’t be in your way. I usually adjust my style depending on my client’s expectations. I think combining documentary style with a bit of editorial is the best way to go. It creates a good mix of wedding photographs, and that’s what we are all good here at at Mango.
Do you have any favourite locations in Toronto to shoot?
Knox College at U of T is my all time favourites. It has this beautiful, moody light that makes the images look very intimate and magical. Any open fields and long beach walks are also a great idea.
What do you recommend for couples who are shy in front of the camera?
I know it sounds impossible at times, but my advice is to try to forget about the camera. You don’t have to look at the camera all the time. Talk to your fiancee, laugh, and enjoy the moment. You’re getting married!
At the Studio, you’ve dealt a lot with wedding submissions to wedding magazines and blogs. Have you noticed any photographic trends lately and what are they?
I think right now many wedding magazines and blogs are encouraging diversity, which is a very good thing! Don’t be afraid to be different and do things your way! You don’t have to have a wedding cake if you hate desserts. You can have a cake made of cheese if you wish! You don’t have to follow traditional routes if you’re a “blue-dress” kind of bride. Dare to be different!
What do you love in life, beyond the lens?
I love my family, friends, travelling, good food, coffee, and big dogs. And wine.
What is something you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my family and best friends. I’m the luckiest person and I have the best friends!
What is the last TV show you watched?
What’s the cutest thing on planet Earth?
Dogs are the cutest 🙂
What do you love about being a part of MANGO?
I feel I’m a Mango baby, literally! I joined the team right after school a few years ago and I’ve learned so much from everyone here. It’s more like a family to me than just work. I love being surrounded by creative people, because we all share the same interests and learn and get inspired from each other every single day. Everyone at Mango is very supportive and they just make you feel at home.