Gia Canali Photography recently teamed up with Borrowed and Blue, a locally-focused online wedding resource, to give couples everything they need to know about our photography services.
Here’s our Q&A with Borrowed & Blue:
How did you first get into photography?
My mother and grandmother both loved photography. There are all these amazing photographs of my siblings and cousins on every sort of occasion–first days of school, holidays, family get-togethers, summer afternoons at the pool or the lake … pretty much any excuse to line us up and make a picture.
When I competed in the National Spelling Bee in eighth grade, my mom and I went together and she bought me my first 35mm camera and a bunch of film. It was the first time I was responsible for making my own photographs and it was a blast! I kept that camera and photographed everything that happened in high school — track and cross country meets and trips, prom, everything. I think that kind of thing is common nowadays since everybody has a phone, but I was rare among my peers to be carrying around a camera all the time.
When I was 19, I decided to buy my first real SLR film camera because I loved making photographs so much, and I started making portraits of people and then I wanted to make more … and more. My mother and grandmother’s love of photography and their deep and abiding value for making and having tangible photographs made such an impact on me.
What wedding photo sums up your aesthetic?
I love the tenderness here! I made this photograph of my friend Sara’s high school friends high above Canandaigua Lake in Upstate New York. It shows off everything I love about photographing weddings — the sweep-me-up tenderness, the being enthralled — and everything I remember about the falls on the lake — the color of the leaves, the warmth of the late afternoon light, the beautiful shape of the hills and water.
There’s this great thing that a really good photograph can do: render what a moment felt like, not merely what it looked like. And this one does that for me.
What is your favorite moment to photograph at a wedding?
I love the ceremony. And I particularly love those exhilarated moments, just after the ceremony.
The father-daughter dance can still bring me to tears.
What are the three top places you love to photograph?
Every single place has its own particular light. In California, we have a stunning golden hour. In New Mexico, it’s the skies. Scotland has this pale light I’ve seen nowhere else. In Anguilla, there’s a pink light I am always surprised by. France has never-ending afternoons in the summer — really! The sun doesn’t set until 10:30 at night!
What is the first thing you ask couples when they approach you?
When couples approach me, I ask questions about what they’re planning for their wedding and how they made those choices, but I’m really getting a sense of their expectations — what they’re hoping their wedding day will feel like and what they’re imagining the photographs (or the getting-photographed) will feel like–what’s really important to them. That gives me a good sense of what they really need to meet their expectations and how we can all work best together.
What’s the biggest mistake the couples make when choosing their photographer?
Budget is a concern for everybody, of course, but couples can really get derailed trying to make a quantitative decision on commissioning photography — how many photographs they “get” in an album or the price of a package regardless of what’s included — rather than a qualitative one. The value is key.
If you want to get what you expect, putting your dollars toward commissioning a photographer with a depth and breadth of experience and a treasure trove of work you love will go much further. Experience means when the day gets tricky, as it certainly will, your photographer will know how to make wise clutch calls. Experience means knowing how to carefully balance all the sometimes-conflicting demands and expectations put upon the wedding and wedding photographs–and even the couple–and prioritize what’s really essential. And what’s really essentially is that the couple has great memories of their wedding day. The photographs will naturally follow, of course, but it’s the memories that count in the end.
What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
Approach is what differentiates artists one from another.
Open-heartedness is the most important thing we bring to every wedding and every single project. It’s essential — more important than strategizing a good wedding day or choosing the right cameras and lenses and film. Those things are important, too, of course!
We think really big picture and really small picture, by which I mean that we mind all the little details — right now, in planning (strategizing the day, figuring out what’s important to the client), in shooting (producing the shoot, knowing which cameras and film to use–and I use all sorts of both!– what, where and when to shoot, managing all the people and personalities on the day of the wedding), and in post-production (making everything cohesive and up to our high standards for color, contrast, etc.) — so that our clients get photographs that look great now, in twenty years from now, in fifty years from now. We don’t allow ourselves to get wrapped up in trends that might fade. Classic is classic for a reason.
I think because I come from a literary background, I work keenly on developing the whole narrative of the day, frame by frame, when I’m shooting but I also find myself thinking about “if I were the bride, what kind of photograph would I want to show my granddaughter?” and “what’s really magical about what’s going on here?” … Actually, I’m pretty restlessly hunting for magic all the time when I’m shooting.
At the same time, we also have a lot of clients in the film and fashion industries. They know what a shoot and a set feels like. We want our clients’ wedding days to feel like real life– not a production! We’re very conscious of that in the planning and in the execution of the wedding day.
When we put together a client’s prints and albums, I bring all my art school and art consulting and historical photographic process and conservation knowledge to the forefront — we use only the highest museum quality prints, albums, and frames made by artisans we know and trust or in-house with our own hands. We want the presentation and the photographs to stand the test of time. I think my grandmother would be proud.
What tips do you have for couples who have never been photographed before?
Set your mind at ease: find a photographer whose work makes your heart go pitter-pat and then get photographed right away! Seeing yourself rendered on film for the first time can be really informative feedback for both you and your photographer. You can find out if you have any funny on-camera habits (!) and your photographer will learn you faster, too. You’ll develop a way of working with each other, which really means a way of seeing and hearing each other! And have fun with it!
Thanks again to Borrowed & Blue for the Q&A!