All Photos © Tomasz Wagner Photo & Films
A photographer we have admired for as long as we’ve known him, Tomasz Wagner of Vancouver has something of an ineffable quality that puts him in a class all his own. Thoughts that come to mind are his sincere and humble expression, his departure from the ordinary, and, quite simply, the word “quiet.” Anyone who has viewed his work knows the reason behind this word choice, one that could potentially be misconstrued as undesirable or negative. But “quiet” perfectly captures the feeling his work evokes and the way we imagine him working. There is a tranquil element to his photographs that makes the actual substance silent while the story remains loud. And if you find yourself perplexed at this attempt to describe the ineffable, then just continue scrolling. Tomasz’s own words and photos will guide you back to cognizance.
What is your creative vision? What do you desire to express with your photos?
Having shot in all sorts of conditions, environments, and light with a diverse group of personalities and traditions has definitely shaped my experience and creative vision in ways that I’m constantly exploring for myself and for my clients.
I’ve come to realize that creating depth and meaning in my images is hugely important to what I want to do as a photographer. When you’re tasked with shooting a full-day wedding and producing hundreds upon hundreds of images, this can feel like an impossible challenge. But when I’m able to not only encourage people to take their time with an image (rather than scrolling past), but also express a moment/subject/mood in an interesting, real, and honest way in that image… it’s an incredible feeling.
Describe your wedding photography style in less than 6 adjectives.
Honest, real, different, playful, quiet
Who and what gives you ideas and inspiration?
It goes without saying it’s the people I get to work with who inform my images. I do what I can to incorporate parts of who they are — their connection, personal stories, hidden quirks — into what I’m trying to say. Whether it’s something quiet and restful, or something loud and energetic, or something that combines all of the above and more.
It’s also the people I don’t work with or the events I’m not directly involved in that inspire ideas. From moments that happen on a run-of-the-mill Tuesday to street scenes in a place I’m not yet familiar with, one of my favourite things is to simply observe and experience what I’m seeing, usually without a camera in front of my eyes and while I’m out in the world traveling.
Add a side of shooting 35mm film and absorbing movies with great cinematography, and I feel well-equipped to tackle my own projects and work.
Where do you want to shoot next?
Every opportunity to travel is exciting, but I’d have to say New Zealand and Japan are high on my list. Visiting Japan for the second time in 2014 caused a small but significant shift in my work that I’m really grateful for to this day.
What really gets to you at weddings? Makes you emotional? Makes you laugh?
Unexpected moments: the stepfather and father of the bride walking her down the aisle together; during a touching speech, guests linking arms to signify their bonds with each other; the groom crying (gets me every time). Personal touches by the clients that represent how much they love each other and the people they’ve asked to witness their union: writing their own vows filled with inside jokes; crafting individual haikus to accompany the place cards they had their illustrator friend make with a portrait of each guest (!!!); including a song during the party they know will get their grandparents up and dancing… just to name a few.
How do you know you’ve done a great job for your wedding clients?
I and my partner, Amy, place a huge emphasis on the client experience in our business, from the moment clients book to well after we’ve delivered their images. Being photographers is just one part of the experience. As a result, we constantly receive great feedback throughout the entire process. But what really lets us know we’ve done a fantastic job is arriving to a wedding and feeling so welcomed by our clients. It’s as if we’re old friends and the hugs and smiles are second nature. When it’s time to part ways, it’s such a special thing to be told by your clients that your presence at their wedding made the experience that much more memorable and lovely for them and their guests. So that—plus, receiving messages after the images have been seen/experienced/printed where our clients are more or less speechless.
Any advice for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer?
It’s tempting to jump right into the search for a wedding photographer, but taking the time to think about and discuss how you want to remember your wedding day will make all the difference. You’ll have figured out what’s important to the both of you and you’ll feel less overwhelmed by all the options out there.
Find a wedding photographer whose style, approach, and work really resonate with you — someone whose personality you connect with. Although every photographer operates differently, we all need our clients’ trust in order to do our best work for them. It goes without saying your photographer will be spending a ton of time with you on your wedding day—not only to create photographs but to communicate with you and everyone around you, add a layer of calm and excitement to the wedding day, and be an all around great person to have around.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being an artist?
Create the kind of work that moves you and gets you excited, even if it’s not popular or expected. Opportunities happen and people take notice when you focus on creating work that’s different, thoughtful, and distinctly yours.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t shooting weddings?
I know that for many of my colleagues, there’s a constant drive to shoot, to create. While developing my skills as a photographer/cinematographer over the past few years, I’ve come to realize pressing forward and advancing my craft is just as important as knowing when to rest and disconnect. Watching films, climbing, and cycling all keep me grounded. Traveling to far flung places and going for walks with my better half and partner-in-crime, Amy, keep me inspired and happy.
One thing you’d like couples to know before their wedding?
Even with all the planning, pre-planning, and incredible things you’ve organized for your wedding, the day will sometimes decide it has a mind of its own and that’s perfectly okay. Try not to worry too much about the weather, the timing of events, or anything else. These unscripted moments and details are all part of the story you’ve invited me to tell. Have fun, enjoy yourselves, and by the end of the night (or maybe the morning after), know that you threw one helluva incredible party for yourselves and loved ones.
What are looking forward to most right now?
This evening’s post-work walk with Amy (kidding, not kidding). Basing myself in France for most of August and road-tripping around the south will be a highlight of this year, I’m sure. That, and moving into a new home in Vancouver soon after we return and making the space ours.
Any direction you would like to take your photography?
I want to keep moving in a direction where my work feels fresh but timeless; impactful but personal; interesting but meaningful; beautiful but quiet.
A lot of the qualities I’ve been going for in my wedding images are influenced by interests I’ve been cultivating over the last few years. For example, my love of making prints for my clients has affected how I edit my images and even how I talk about my creative process (observing, slowing down, making thoughtful images). And something unexpected that’s come out of my work in wedding cinematography is how I now play with movement and storytelling when making stills.
Beautiful, right? We cannot thank Tomasz enough for participating! To continue this quiet journey you have begun, head over to his official Junebug portfolio found here.