Michelle Peek Photography Toronto Family Photographer, Guelph Family Photographer, Muskoka Family Photographer, Candid Family Photography, Lifestyle Family Photographer, Day in the Life

Frequently Asked Questions

General

I’m getting married. What can I expect from you as my wedding photographer?
I love capturing relationships, and beauty in unexpected places, and all the big moments and nuances of your day.

I love small, intimate weddings, short weddings, unconventional weddings, backyard weddings. Big weddings with big ol’loving families are super cool too.

What you can expect from me as your wedding photographer is that I’ll be there for you 100% of the way. I’ll send you detailed questionnaires and shot lists and timelines to approve ahead of your big day, so that we have a clear sense of your needs and timeline in advance.

I thrive on being able to anticipate people’s needs; I will work quietly in the background when you’re doing your thing and need your space, and will take charge when it’s my time to gently direct and take control. And I promise I’ll do everything I can to honour the spirit of the day.

I will not tell you how your day should be, I think you know in your heart how you want your day to be, specifically for you and those you love.

Here is a little snippet of a review from a past client who said it better than I can:

“So many people are quick to say that the choice of photographer is one of the most important choices you’ll make in planning your wedding. They were right, but not just because the photos will be memory-markers of the special day, but because the right photographer will remind you that this special day is about more than just beautiful photos, but about celebrating in the joy and love of your family and friends. Michelle’s photos were stunning, and will be cherished every time we look at them, but mostly we’ll remember her smile, her ease, her warmth. She made us feel special every step of the way, and her joy came through in everything that she did. We definitely made the right choice.”

Planning a wedding is hard, and being inundated with perfect photos all over the interwebs is making it harder. Make me feel better about this.
Sure thing. But I need to be totally honest with you here: I kind of want to punch the wedding industry in the face. I know. Irony. (For the record I have never punched anything in the face). But any industry that tries to tell you how to be, or who to be, can shut the fuck up.

I most certainly feel you, though. But do you know what’s more beautiful than any stunning image of a carefully curated event? You. That something special that makes you, you.

For the most part I happily filter out the noise in this industry, but every now and then I get the urge to interrupt and tell that noise to shut the fuck up. Not because I’m above it or separate from it (I am not; any curation of images creates and crafts a certain idea of desire, of value). I want to tell it to shut up because I don’t ever want this industry to make someone feel like they, or their life, or their choices, or the things they have access to, are not good enough. Ever.

So hear me when I say: your wedding will be beautiful. My own wedding was the best party I’ve ever been to (SO FAR – I hope I can still drop it like it’s hot to Missy when I’m 90, because the love between Missy and I is written in the stars). And even though now I can look back and say I’d have made different choices (from my flowers to the way I did my hair to whatever), when it comes down to it, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Weddings, to me, are about the people. They are a pretty sweet way to declare some big intentions out loud amidst a chorus of voices of loved ones saying, we’re with you, here, today, to celebrate this bold and beautiful act of love, and we’re here for you through the good and the bad, always.

So I say I have major beef with the wedding industry, and I do, but there are plenty of people out there to guide you who know what’s what. Yourself included.

Can you tell me how you approach your portrait photography (i.e. family, individual, newborn, and maternity)?
Yes! Absolutely. I approach all my portrait photography in the same way: I am interested in capturing you as you are, but will also always offer gentle guidance if and when needed. Some call this lifestyle photography, which combines a documentary-style approach with more classic portraiture. What this means is that during our time together, I will be doing my best to create a space for you to be yourself, to be wilfully vulnerable, even, if you so chose, so that I can step back and photograph you and your loved ones in positions and interactions that feel comfortable and natural to you.

To achieve this, I give you prompts not poses (though I can help with the latter too). These prompts are basically conversation starters between you and your loved ones, or you and I, and help you to focus more on the relationships or reasons you’re being photographed than the camera in front of you. Basically, we’ll have a conversation! And since people are generally quite nervous in front of a camera, I’ll start the conversation.

What are your newborn sessions like?
I have two girls. I have been smack in the middle of a (literal) newborn shitstorm more than a few times. It’s rough. But it’s also an incredibly gorgeous time of life (for anyone reading this who’s like ten or less days postpartum and struggling to see the light, I promise that a. it gets better, and b. you will look back and see the beauty, even in the chaos. But also, do not let anyone pressure you into having newborn photos taken if, for example, you’re still finding it hard to sit without an inflatable donut – take care of you!).

I approach newborn photography the same way I do all my portrait photography (see the first paragraph in this section), but with added flexibility. I know intimately the unpredictable nature of newborns, and the fragile time this is for birthing and/or new mothers/fathers, and I want to say that I first and foremost will respect your space. Typical portrait sessions last about 2 hours, but for newborns, I almost always shoot in your home and stay for as long as needed (usually closer to 3 to 4 hours). When you or baby need to take a break, we break.

I’m not into posing your baby in unnatural positions, but I will give you tips and tricks to help get your baby to sleep if you’re after sleepy newborn shots (on your bed, cuddled in your arms, in his or her nursery, with a sibling, all that good stuff).

Where do portrait sessions take place?
This is entirely up to you! I encourage you to book a session in your home, cottage, or some place meaningful to you, but if the thought of narrowing down to one or two spaces is giving you hives, we’ll talk and figure out an indoor or outdoor location that is convenient for you, and photograph your portrait session there when the light is just right.

Can we do a photosession at my home/cottage?
Yes! I believe the spaces and environments we inhabit are living, breathing entities, as much a part of our story and personal histories as any friend or loved one. Context matters: sorrow, joy, history all reside there, in those favourite reading nooks and half-finished rooms.

Because I shoot for interior designers, some of my home and cottage sessions showcase beautifully designed spaces. But please hear me when I say: I don’t live like this, and I suspect most of you don’t either. I welcome homes or cottages that are big or small, quirky or half-done; I welcome the mess, the crumbs, the piles of laundry: all of the evidence that love resides in your home. And hey, if a neat and tidy home or cottage is what makes your heart flutter, I’m happy to meet you there too.

I treat portrait sessions in your home or cottage in the same way I treat any portrait session; we’ll be together for about 2 hours in a space of your choosing (your actual home or cottage, or any place that screams belonging to you), doing your thing. I’ll intervene here and there to get more classic portraits or make sure we’ve hit every shot on your list, but for the most part I want to photograph you engaged in relationship with the people around you.

How do I prepare for a portrait session?
After we’ve talked and decided on a date and location, you worry about what you’re wearing and getting everyone to the right place at the right time, and I’ll take care of the rest.

What’s a 'day in the life' portrait session?
I would absolutely welcome an opportunity to photograph you in your space, completely as you are. How this differs from a standard portrait session is I will be with you in your home for an extended session (4 to 5 hours, rather than 2 hours), and I will do very little to intervene while I shoot. In other words, this is true documentary-style photography in your home. You can view a sample shoot here.

Your job is to pick something you love to do with your family or something you want to remember and commit to showing up with an open heart. The session is longer than a typical portrait session to allow time to settle into the rhythm of the shoot (and get used to the dorky photographer in your space); you don’t need to pretend that I’m not there (that only amplifies the feeling of being photographed), but to think of me as a friend and participant in the process; we’ll chat and laugh and I’ll sneak shots in when you’re not thinking about it.

The point of these sessions is to give yourself permission to be curious with your children; to let them lead you; to hug and kiss a little longer; to notice one another and be present with one another. It’s a truly difficult thing to show up and be present, especially with a camera on you, and I honor that, too, which is why we’re in no rush to get any particular shot.

I so strongly believe that a photo is more than the finished product; it’s also the conditions of its production and I want you to look back on your photos and remember that beautiful time together when you gave yourself permission to set aside your daily stresses and take stock of this fleeting moment in time with your loved ones.

What should I wear to my portrait session?
I encourage people to wear what they’re comfortable in unless that is matching jeans and a white shirt for everyone in your family. I won’t let you. It’s no longer 1983 – even though that was, admittedly, an amazing year. (I kid, wear what you want!) But seriously, I encourage you to wear comfortable, and if you like, loosely coordinating outfits. You want to feel like yourself. But also, if your 4-year-old insists on wearing his ski mask, or butterfly costume, or Star Wars outfit, who are we to argue.

Prints

Why do all your packages include complimentary prints?
Because I love prints! I also sell small and large format Giclee archival prints. I’m a little bit obsessed with prints, but I am super proud that I can say the prints you order through me will last for at least 100 years (literally).

How do I get my digital images off my computer and into my hands?
First, you’ll be receiving a few complimentary prints with your photo session. So that’s a start. I highly recommend purchasing additional prints so that your digital files aren’t sitting on an obsolete hard-drive ten years from now.

Here are some options:

Prints:
You can purchase prints directly through your online gallery (included with every session). To access print pricing, you can go to “buy photo” when you’re viewing photos individually.

Photo Boxes:
Also available for purchase through your online gallery is a handcrafted wooden keepsake box that can house all of the images from your session in print.

Albums:
I work with Queensberry (http://www.queensberry.com/) because they’re the best – they make stunning, individually matted albums that will last forever. Get in touch if you’d like more information!

Other Work

What is Art Not Shame?
I’m glad you asked. And I’ll have more to share soon! Check out www.artnotshame.com to sign up for updates.

What’s your PhD in?
My PhD dissertation is about kinship, and inherited and chosen spaces of belonging in postcolonial, queer, and Indigenous Hawaiian literature. And in a way, it is about the critical work of love. It’s about the quiet, suggestive work of love, as well as its loud, exclamatory presence in struggles for justice. Could I have written my PhD dissertation solely on the work (the blood, sweat, and tears) of love, I would have.

Okay, I want to meet you, now what?
Let’s have tea! Because coffee makes me poop my pants. Get in touch here!