Shot through the heart

Relaxing in front of the camera, achieving originality in your wedding album and the inspiration behind award winning shots—Jeff Cooke is your adventure guide in finding the perfect photographer.

Jeff Cooke

In the age of Instagram when everyone thinks they’re a great photographer, why is it still so important to invest in a pro photographer?
Hiring a pro takes a lot of the stress off of your day. Professionals are well equipped to not only capture amazing moments and portraits, but have the experience to handle tough situations that may pop up, along with the knowledge of technical details like lighting, exposure and composition. Hiring a professional means one less thing that you have to worry about, and one more thing you can be excited about because, at the end of your day, your photos will be the true reflection of you and your day. So be sure to meet with potential photographers and look through their work to get a feel for their personality, style and expectations.

How do you keep the balance between candid and posed photos?
Some people love portraits, others love candids. Most professional wedding photographers will capture both. But the right balance is ultimately determined through meetings between you and your photographer. My approach is usually the same. I love portraits and put a lot of heart into marking unique, artistic photos. But I’m not a photographer who asks for hours of time with a bride and groom on their wedding day. There is so much raw emotion when you’re surrounded by your closest friends and family—that’s where the memories happen, that’s where we want to be and I don’t like to keep couples away from that for too long.

A lot of people either hate having their photo taken or can’t act natural. What are some of your best tips for relaxing people to get the shot?
Your photographer will be the closest vendor to you on your wedding day… so it’s important to find one someone that you truly connect with. A relationship built on trust and familiarity will naturally put you at ease. When we have couples alone, we try to make them forget about the picture taking… to just chat and reflect on their day. Through natural conversation, something will prompt a story and inevitably lead to laughs and photos that are more genuine and authentic. And I love showing our couples photos on the back of our camera. Seeing something while we’re shooting always gets people excited about their photos.

Often you see a lot of “classic” or “trendy” shots in wedding albums, how do you keep it fresh and personalized to the couple?
We once had a groom who planned on giving his groomsmen life sized “Legend of Zelda” shields as his gifts. After learning that he was passionate about gaming, we went out the night before their wedding, staying up past 3am practicing an idea for a photo that included a bride throwing sparks at a groom defending himself with said shield. The end result was a creative shot that, in my opinion, couldn’t have be any more personalized. So again, by connecting with your photographer, trusting and allowing them to discover your quirks and understand what makes your story unique should always translate into something special.

Where do you find new inspiration for weddings?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, anytime. Some of my influences have come from outside the world of wedding photography, in areas like cinematography, music and other genres of photography. I’m an active member of a few great organizations (Fearless, ISPWP, Junebug) that showcase the incredibly inspiring work of established and emerging wedding photographers from all over the world. I’m also inspired by my family… my three kids have changed the way I see and think about life and the things that matter. But mostly, I’m inspired by our couples and the relationships that we build.

Describe a couple of your all time favourite shots and how you got them.
This is so hard to narrow down because we love all of our weddings. Obviously with each wedding there are always favourites and portfolio images, all with a fun story behind them. My favourites are usually the unexpected moments that happen with us being in the “right place at the right time.” For example, we took a picture of a grandmother passed out next to a bar… it was the end of the night, we were done and about to leave when I noticed her sitting there alone, drink in hand and slowly drifting off. It was a moment that could have easily been missed, but I never pack the camera away, even if we’re leaving a wedding (because you just never know). We’ve had couples climb the edge of cliff, take a dip in the ocean, jump 4 months pregnant over a sunset, get caught in an unexpected downpour and laugh it off, cry their way down the aisle, dance themselves into a sweaty mess, cover themselves in paint… all set in amazing locations filled with wonderful groups of people sharing their memories. We simply love it all.

Full time, award winning wedding photographers located in Halifax, Jeff Cooke Photography’s inspiration comes from the relationships they build and their relaxed approach makes documenting raw emotion seem effortless. Jeff Cooke and assistant Jenn offer a fun, creative and highly sought-after storytelling style to weddings in Halifax and all over the world.

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