tips for photographers

2015. That's a wrap. Edmonton Wedding Photography. by Cheryl Lukasewich

2015 was a crazy year and not at all what I expected. I shot, I networked, I learned a lot. If I could give a budding photographer a few tidbits of advice it would be this: Keep shooting even when things look differently than you thought. Keep learning - nothing shoots you in the foot like thinking you know it all. Stop comparing yourself to others - to their bookings, their work, their "success". As long as you're open to growing for the rest of your life, the sky's the limit!! Branch out and shoot differently that you've ever shot - push yourself! Having a consistent style is important but don't let that stop you from learning new techniques in your craft. Network. Be kind. In this industry you will step into people's lives at the most significant times. Strive to know how much of a privilege that is. Thank you to each and every client. I love you guys. It is not lost on me how incredible it is that you trust me to step into the momentous occasions in your lives. So thanks for that trust. Thanks for investing not just in photographs but in me and this business that I love so, so much.

Thank you to the UNBELIEVABLE vendors I worked with this year. Not only have my eyes been opened to even MORE of the incredible talent this city has to offer but I've also made some incredible friends.

So here's a glimpse of just a few of my favorite images from 2015. I tried new things and pushed myself to grow. And here's to 2016: I hope this year brings new challenges, new growth, new friends, new skills, new clients and new community!

Engaged?  I'm booking now for 2016 and am friggin' excited about it.  Shoot me a message and let's chat about your wedding!

Aeris Photography. Edmonton Wedding Photography.


aeris photography: an edmonton wedding photography workshop. by Cheryl Lukasewich

2014-01-06_0047.jpgI'm just wrapping up another year of business and I have to say that every year I've grown. A lot. I'm ready to spread the love and share the in's and out's of what I've learned in my journey thus far so I'm now opening spots to my first Edmonton wedding photography workshop!

This workshop will cover:

-Light. Using natural light as well as on and off-camera flash (and when I use each one).

-Settings. How I achieve the looks I want.

-Posing. From individual portraits to posing a group and everything in between.  We'll also have a styled couple there to practice with!

-How to shoot in numerous wedding situations. Getting ready, details, ceremonies, family photos, Formals and bride/groom portraits, receptions, etc.

-How to shoot in in the best light and the absolute worst.

-Business. What I've learned about style, branding, editing, consistency and vision.

-Contracts.  What you need to know.

-Client Care. What I've learned about booking awesome clients and keeping them happy.

Workshop date is Sunday, February 22, 2015 

Time: 10 am until you feel like you've got a handle of what you've learned!

Where:  Woodvale Community Facility (4540 50 St.  Edmonton)

Cost is $350 + gst.  Lunch, snacks, tea and coffee are included.

A 50% retainer is due to book your spot. The remaining 50% is due one week prior to the workshop.

Shoot me an email if you want in and we'll make it happen! Can't wait to see you there! 2014-11-21_0001.jpg 2014-11-21_0002.jpg 2014-11-21_0003.jpg 2014-11-21_0004.jpg 2014-11-21_0005.jpg 2014-11-21_0006.jpg 2014-11-21_0007.jpg 2014-11-21_0008.jpg 2014-11-21_0009.jpg 2014-11-21_0010.jpg 2014-11-21_0011.jpg 2014-11-21_0012.jpg 2014-11-21_0013.jpg 2014-11-21_0014.jpg 2014-11-21_0015.jpg 2014-11-21_0016.jpg 2014-11-21_0017.jpg 2014-11-21_0018.jpg 2014-11-21_0019.jpg 2014-11-21_0020.jpg 2014-11-21_0021.jpg

my WHY. part one of my reflections on "the art of authentic posing" workshop by justin and mary. by Cheryl Lukasewich

If you follow me at all here on my blog or on my Aeris facebook page you know that my heart and brain are bursting with new and exciting information after having attended 2 workshops hosted by photography duo Justin and Mary in Cannon Beach, Oregon. I previously blogged some tidbits that I learned about off-camera flash and today I'm moving on to some of what I learned from the second workshop, "The Art of Authentic Posing." There are many things I learned from taking this class (I'm pretty sure I'll be digesting that information for quite some time) but the HUGEST thing I took away from this class is actually a challenge to identify and understand my way of thinking; the way and reason I photograph couples. My "Why."

At the beginning of the day Mary asked us to think of our own "Why": Why do we do photography in the first place? Why do we shoot What we do and How we do? My first reaction requires a bit of back story so bear with me if you're interested:

I wasn't someone who starting playing with a camera when I was 3, nor someone who recognized some "calling" after participating in photography classes in high school. Yes, I played around with my dad's old film camera with some friends during a few get togethers in junior high but that was more about playing around with fashion (90's fashion... :/) and makeup. After high school, with no clue what I wanted to do, I applied, was accepted, and went to work at a Mexico orphanage for 6 months. I loved my time there and fell in love with caring for infants (which had been my assignment in the orphange nursery). When I came home I thought about possibly pursuing neonatal nursing - long story short - as much as I love babies I didn't actually want to pursue that. I ended up taking general, university-transfer classes at a local Bible school hoping that along the way I'd have some clue what other program I could apply those classes to when I made up my mind. I'm a pretty empathetic (read: emotional) person so I ended up choosing Social Work, thinking/hoping it would be a good fit. I graduated two years later with a Social Work diploma, got my RSW designation, applied for some jobs, interviewed for one then immediately proceeded to get in my car and cry, terrified that they'd call and offer me the job. I should have known that social work wasn't for me - I really struggled with (aka pretty much hated) my practicums in the field - but I wanted to feel like I had FOUND something, you know??

Fast forward a bit: I was desperate for SOMETHING to be passionate about - a hobby, an interest, ANYTHING. I was venting my frustrations to a friend one day who challenged me to think about what I liked playing around with when I was young - before life decisions came into the picture. I recalled those few times that my friends and I dressed up in junior high - how I took their photos and actually liked them enough to frame them and put them up on my wall. I figured "Why not?" and went out that day, on a whim, and bought my first camera. There's a lot more to this story but again, long story short, I taught myself how to shoot in manual and the love story, and my WHY, began.

It is my personal belief that photography, this crazy thing that I love, is a gift from God JUST FOR ME. I believe God had photography in mind for me my whole life and waited until I as ready as can be to open up and reveal it. I think God DELIGHTS to pour out on his kids and that He has a rich inheritance for each of us to receive THROUGHOUT our lives! The name “Aeris” actually came from my belief that God gave me part of my inheritance early and I’m an “heiress” (get it? Aeris!) of the good things he has for me!

So my WHY? Why do I do photography? The only word that came to me was DELIGHT :)

Have a look at some images I took during the hands-on portion of "The Art of Authentic Posing." All of these images are taken from poses set-up by Mary Marantz (literally, I'm shooting right beside her). All credit for posing goes to her. After her demonstrations we had time to practice what we had learned and set up our own posing but I'll blog those separately.

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off-camera flash. some recent learnings from Justin and Mary's "lighting intensive" workshop. by Cheryl Lukasewich

Ok. So I recently attended two different workshops put together by photographer couple Justin and Mary Morantz from Justin and Mary. The first day's workshop was called "Lighting Intensive" and revolved around understanding and using natural light and a one-light setup to shape light, making it work for you to create a more dynamic image. My mind and heart have been churning and bursting at the seams as I've tried to digest this yummy new information and figure out how to implement what I've learned in new and practical ways when I shoot. I know it will definitely be a journey to make this stuff come "naturally" but I LOVE the journey! How exciting to know that I can continually learn and grow! The following images show a typical tablescape setup complete with a floral centrepiece, tableware and a wedding favor. I've heard a lot of different ways of how to capture details - my go-to has almost always been using either only ambient light (no flash) or using my on-camera flash pointed straight up to bounce directly off the ceiling. I have no qualms with these methods as, obviously, they've worked (well, worked enough) for me in the past but I'm utterly convinced that what I've learned takes things up a notch.   Working with off-camera flash can be really daunting which is why I've semi-avoided it.  I do use OCF and actually study new information when I find it but it often feels like trial and error rather than practicing a science, you know? What I learned here is SO SIMPLE, it's bananas.

Ok, first let's look at a recent image I took "pre-workshop." The reception venue was quite dark (as most receptions are) and so I lit up this display of capcakes by bouncing my on-camera flash straight up. If you look at the shadows around each of the cupcakes you can see that they aren't super directional - You can tell the light was obviously coming from almost directly above.  (excuse the fact that my blog compresses single portrait-orientation images oddly and makes them look kinda yucky).


Now, check out the tablescape images from my workshop. The lighting was, again, quite dark but instead of using my flash on-camera, bounced straight up I used my flash off-camera in a medium-sized softbox. I had an assistant hold the flash directly to the left of the table, angled straight across the table (not angled down towards the table at all). In effect, the flash was 90 degrees from where I was standing. Because the flash is placed inside a softbox the light source becomes 1) larger, 2) less intense and 3) more dimensional. Try to picture where the light is when you look at these.

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Can you see the difference? It's actually incredibly significant! It's such a simple change but the results make everything more luxurious! I'm in love!

I also tried using this OCF setup (with a softbox) with one of the models in our class. In this triptych I started with my assistant holding the softbox to the right of the model, about 90 degrees from where I was standing. Again, the softbox is directed straight across as opposed to angled down at all. In the centre image I got the assistant to move slightly to her left (the assistant's left; not the models) so she was more around 85 degrees from me. The image on the right I moved my assistant a bit more to about 80 degrees from me. Can you see the subtle differences?


I'm in LOVE with this new simple way to "up my game" and can't wait to try it out at my next wedding in December!


Interested in off-camera flash? All you need is one flash and a set of wireless remote triggers (there are also triggers that don't have to be wireless but if you're buying them anyways, I'd recommend wireless). One of the triggers attaches to your flash (off-camera) and the other attaches to the hot shoe on your DSLR). If you shoot Canon, you can also invest in 2 of the 600 EX-RT speedlites (which I have) that have the wireless trigger system built right in!! I'm in LOVE with my 600's and would highly recommend this option but prior to this I used a Canon 580 speedlite (no longer in production, I think) and pocket wizards :)  You can find a medium-sized softbox like this one online or at various photography stores around your city.

wedding photography tips and information. aeris photography. edmonton wedding photographer. by Cheryl Lukasewich

Here are some tips that I plan on passing onto my brides for their wedding days! Enjoy! · Planning your timeline -I’ll be contacting my brides a few weeks prior to your wedding to request a timeline with the where’s and when’s of your day but here are a few things to consider: - Wedding activities typically take longer than you think. If your ceremony starts and ends on time that’s awesome but assume it will take a little longer. -Are you having a receiving line after your ceremony? If so, do you want me to come pull you away from it after a certain amount of time or do you want it to just run as long as it does? Guests typically want to chat with you so during/after a receiving line so let me know if you want me to keep things on a tight schedule. -How much time have you set aside for photography with your bridal party? “Formal” photos vary in priority from couple to couple. I recommend between 2-3 hours for formals (less than 2 can be a little tight/rushed; more than 3 is rarely necessary).

· Prepping your Getting Ready space -Rarely is a house abundant in beautiful natural light and it’s definitely not a requirement but it definitely is an asset. Consider getting ready in a room with the best natural light. -Consider the overall look and details of the room you’re getting ready in. If you keep pinning images that have a bride admiring herself in a gorgeous, tall mirror then consider purchasing/borrowing a mirror so that photos like that are an option. If you have gorgeous details be aware of their surroundings (cluttered dressers, shoe racks, etc.). I’m a “shoot in your surroundings” type photographer so I shoot things “as they are”. I happen to think that a dresser covered in hairbrushes and makeup is just fine because it says something about the busy-ness and fun of getting ready but just be aware that if it’s there during photos it will likely be IN your photos.


· Bridal Boudoir -A few of my brides have allowed me to whisk them off to a private room for a quick shot of them in their bridal lingerie. Let me know if you’re game for this :)

· Getting into your dress -I’ve had some brides only want their mom in the room helping them get into their dress for a more “intimate” type feel as well as brides who want their bridesmaids helping them get dressed for a different vibe. Think about if you have a preference. -Again, consider a room with the best light. -Get into it earlier than you think. A lace up dress is never done up in 10 minutes (in my experience).


· Are you doing a First Look? -Are you doing a “First Look” and/or having all of your formals taken prior to your ceremony? This is becoming a common trend and can be really fun (not to mention that you might feel your “freshest” for the photos seeing as you just had your hair and makeup done)!


· Do you have a videographer? -If so, please let me know so that I can plan on having to work around them. Did you hire a professional videographer or is it a friend or relative? Do you feel like either the videographer or the photographer is a priority? These questions might seem harsh however there are reasons why I’d like to know the answers. You’ve paid a few thousand dollars to have me photograph your wedding; if a cousin is video-taping your ceremony (and/or the rest of the day) as more of a favor then it may affect my decision to cut in front of them at certain times to ensure I get an important shot. One bride asked her friend to video tape her ceremony and he set up his gear right in the middle of the centre aisle. Needless to say, he took away a lot of opportune shots by being there and so, in order to get what I needed, I had to step in front of his camera on occasion. On the flip side, if you feel that video is a priority then I can definitely work with/around a videographer with your understanding that I might not get certain angles/shots due to staying out of the videographer’s way.

· Consider an “unplugged” wedding (or at least an “unplugged” ceremony) I 100% understand that your guests want photos of you at your wedding and I’m cool with it. However, something to consider is the number of cameras, phones, even ipads that somehow seem to be snuck into that shot of you walking down the aisle. The industry calls them “Uncle Bob” (the guy who’s in the background or foreground of your wedding, always with his camera up, often in the way of your hired photographer). Like I said, it’s ok. It’s something that happens at every wedding. However, you hired me for a reason so it’s also cool if your guests are invited to leave their cameras away and simply enjoy your wedding :)

2013-05-31_0004.jpg Image on left courtesy of Amber Wilkie Photography. Image on right courtesy of

· Family Photos -If you’re having family photos taken then create a family shot list (I’ll ask you for this a few weeks prior to your wedding as well). Let the family who you’d like to be involved know so that they stick around. -Obviously, I’ll photograph your family photos wherever you’d like but I would really recommend having them done immediately following your ceremony, somewhere right outside the ceremony venue. Family photos taken at a second location tend to take a lot longer than anyone plans for due to the number of cars that need to get to that second location.

· Go easy on the Pinterest requests -Pinterest is AMAZING for ideas and inspiration for planning your wedding. Photographers drool over the idea of shooting a wedding full of pinterest-inspired details but try not to get too caught up in “must-have” shots. I see so many pins that say “Make sure my photographer does this!” and “A photo with my groom doing a fist pump during the first kiss is a MUST!” I’m totally game for trying new things but, your groom might not do a fist pump while he’s kissing you and I always hope that my brides can just stay in the moment and go with what’s happening during their day. Also, I hope you’ve hired me for me and my personal photography style. If there are photos that you really want to try then maybe try to limit the list to around 5 ideas and then understand that I can take that idea and create something (rather than duplicating something) based off of it.

· Laugh and Love the skin you’re in -If you’re hiring me I’m assuming you’ve looked at my portfolio and liked what you saw. I’m also assuming that the things that might have drawn you in are, in huge part, the emotion, fun and laughter I’ve had the pleasure of capturing. I’m assuming you weren’t scouring images for stomach “bumps” or arm size or double chins. I’ve taken a bit of a stand on how I don’t do body altering in my images. Yes, I sometimes make a note of which angle is more flattering than another but I will not interrupt your groom from whispering something into your ear in order to make the scene “more perfect”. What could be more perfect that catching that moment on its own?? So I suggest you just relax. People are drawn to the real you, not a “perfect” you. So just be yourself :)


· Light -Sunny, hazy, photos taken at dusk won’t be the same as midday photos taken in January. Both can be awesome but they won’t be the same. It’s just good to know.


· What if it rains? -Consider bringing matching umbrellas for your bridal party (clear or neutral colored umbrellas are ideal) and maybe even coordinating rainboots. -Although I can absolutely give suggestions for both indoor and outdoor locations it is your responsibility to have a backup plan in place should weather require that we shoot indoors. Be aware that the majority of locations in and around the city require that they are booked in advance and typically come at a cost (even if you don’t end up using it) so I recommend looking into this a few months prior to your wedding.

· And what about snow? -You may not be able to have all of your photos outside during the winter but consider bringing some “cover-up” styling options for a few unique photo ops outside (scarves, cardigans, belts…even toques/beanies!). You’d be surprised at how far a bit of creativity goes!


· Additional fees, permits -Edmonton venues have definitely caught on to the fact that photographers want to shoot everywhere and, unfortunately, that sometimes means that you need permits for certain locations so please plan/book accordingly. -Please also plan to account for parking costs for your limo driver/bridal party transportation and your photographers.

· Food -Bring water bottles and “no-stain” type snacks for your bridal party. This definitely helps keeps energy and spirits up for pictures.

· Footwear -Walking around in heels for hours is draining even for an avid-stiletto wearer. Consider wearing and/or bringing comfy shoes for the walking around parts. -Consider shoes appropriate to your photography locations. Stilettos that sink into the grass if you’re shooting at a park are not fun for any bride/bridesmaid that I’ve seen. Plus, it gets dirt all over the spike of your shoe. Food for thought.

· Feed your vendors -If you have hired me to cover your reception then please have an assigned place for me (and my second shooter) to sit and eat (Don’t forget to feed your DJ, too!). Consider arranging for your photographer’s table to be served near the beginning of the meal so that we can be finished and ready for when the program begins.

· Are you planning a grand exit? -Credit is again due to Pinterest for the plethora of gorgeous “grand exit” ideas. Something to consider is that if you’re doing a grand “Everyone-hold-a-sparkler-in-a-row-so-that-we-can-run-through-it” exit simply because you want an awesome photo of it then remember to account for that exit in the timeline of when your photographer is still scheduled to be present.


· Relax -Rarely is everything perfect and on-time at a wedding. Something may be forgotten. If you can, send someone for it. In the meantime, just relax and roll with it. You get to marry your Love. And that’s awesome.

my gear. tips for wedding photographers. by Cheryl Lukasewich

Thought I'd share the gear I use (and some images taken with each lens)! -two Canon 5D Mk II's -Canon Speedlite 430EX II -Canon Speedlite 580EX II -Mini TT1 PockWizard Transmitter -two PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers 2013-05-26_0015.jpg

-Canon 85mm f1.8 (My go-to lens! I love it so much I use it on 75% of what I shoot)


-Canon 50mm f1.4 (New-ish to my collection and quickly becoming a favorite)


-Canon 35mm f1.4L


-Sigma (Canon mount) 24-70mm f2.8


-Canon 28mm f1.8


And for editing I currently use Adobe Lightroom 3 :)

Have any questions? Feel free to contact me and perhaps I'll do a blog post on it!

tips for photographers. shooting in a dark ceremony location. edmonton wedding photography tips. by Cheryl Lukasewich

I recently asked on my Aeris facebook page if anyone had any questions about my work or photography in general and was asked this question: "What kind of settings did you use in the church when you were shooting without a flash? Your indoor photos are so bright!"

First off, I have to admit that I'm pleased that this person didn't notice that I was indeed using a flash! It's nice to feel like my shooting isn't as big of a distraction to guests as it sometimes feels :)

Why didn't he notice my flash (as much)? Because I point it straight up :) Although the photo below (please excuse the awful quality of the stock image :/) shows it slightly angled forward, I tend to shoot with my flash point directly up or pointed slightly back so that the light bounces off (in most cases) the ceiling. The results of bouncing your light as opposed to shooting with your flash pointed directly at your subjects are numerous but a main example would be to avoid harsh shadows and the "deer in a headlight" look. There ARE ways to shoot with your flash facing straight at your subject; it does very much change the look of an image and can add dynamic effects if done correctly however I simply don't shoot that way. Maybe I will someday but the style you see reflected throughout my portfolio doesn't include "fill flash" (aka a forward facing flash).


At times when I'm using my flash I also may pull up my white card (a built-in card on certain flashes) that reflects a small amount of light forward even if I'm bouncing my flash off a ceiling. Below are images of both a flash with a built-in white card as well as a "make your own" version if your flash doesn't have one :)


Although I used my flash throughout this ceremony it often still needs a little "umph" in post-processing. Churches/ceremony locations often cast odd colors onto an image due to things like a "yellow-y" wood paneled ceiling/walls, paint colors, pew fabric colors, stained glass, etc. - all of which end up changing the overall tone of an image (If I shot in a room with red walls and a yellow ceiling things may come off looking a little yellow/red, yes?). So, in post, I can correct those tones/change my white balance to better reflect the actual colors that were present rather that objects/people with odd color casts on them. You can also adjust your white balance in-camera prior to shooting in a specific location but again, I usually tweak it in post.

Here are two examples of images I shot at a recent wedding. The images on the left are SOOC (straight out of camera) and were taken with my flash bounced off the ceiling (see specific settings under each image). The images on the right are after I tweaked them in post. 2013-05-26_0002.jpg ISO 1250, f2.2, 1/160 2013-05-26_0001.jpg ISO 1250, f2.2, 1/160

Do you have any questions? Contact me and perhaps I'll do a post on it! Please note that I don't by any means consider myself an expert on photography. I know what I've learned so far and, as I plan to never stop learning, I hope I'd have an even better answer in 2 years, then 5 years, etc. :)

tips for photographers. edmonton wedding photography by Cheryl Lukasewich

Are you one of those people who loves seeing before/after shots? I totally am. I LOVE seeing how some of my favorite photographers get their shot SOOC (straight out of camera) and what their final image ends up looking like. Once you've got shooting down, a photographer's editing is the other half of the equation; the other half of what summarizes their style and makes them unique. It took me a few years to discover what kind of editing I seemed to lean towards so it'll probably take you a while too. Once you figure it out it is SO FUN (as you can start to envision how your own personal tweaking will lend itself to your image as soon as you shoot it) and SO LIBERATING (as you no longer feel like you need to replicate every style out there)! I'm pretty comfortable now in my shooting and editing. Yes, I LOVE learning and growing and will never stop but still, it's fun having my own personal style of creating images. Have a look at a few of my own before/after shots! 2013-04-14_0001.jpg 2013-04-14_0002.jpg 2013-04-14_0003.jpg 2013-04-14_0004.jpg 2013-04-14_0005.jpg 2013-04-14_0006.jpg

Feel free to peruse the rest of my site and give me a shout if you're looking for a photographer for your own wedding!

variety is neat. a grateful reflection on photographic style. by Cheryl Lukasewich

You know what I love?  That when I look around at photographers around me, whether they’re friends, acquaintances, or artists whose work I’ve simply viewed online, that they’re all different.  I love that.  I like that someone can love multiple people’s work even though the work may look worlds apart in style and skill. I was watching a video this morning about a photographer getting sued by his client over wedding photos and I felt gross for the photographer.  I can’t imagine being in his position.  I pour my heart into my sessions and, really, (aside from contractual obligations) that’s all a photographer can really guarantee.  I guarantee that I love photography more and more each day.  I guarantee that I’m trying my hardest to get the best photos I possibly can at each and every session/wedding.  There are so many factors that affect photos: sun, clouds, shadows, weather, people, personalities, etc, etc, etc.  I can’t guarantee how any of those things will be on any given day but at least I can give it my all!

Being part of different forums for photographers (mostly on facebook) I get to see and hear a lot of what clients don’t get to see and hear.  I’ve felt the joy of a photographer who said that her clients were so happy with their photos that they wept.  I’ve felt the hurt of a photographer who was ripped to shreds by a client who was unhappy with her photos despite the fact that the photos were COMPLETELY on par with that photographer’s portfolio.  I’ve felt the tears of numerous photographers who have felt pressure to give discounts and deals to demanding clients whilst the photographer’s themselves are struggling to pay their rent and buy food for their kids.  I’ve cringed at the hurt a photographer felt when another photographer criticized the first photographer’s work and pointed out their flaws without an invite for constructive criticism.  I’ve felt frustrated for photographers whose clients have complained that the photographer did a bad job because they captured the client’s wrinkled clothes, tan lines, and double chins.

May I speak for photographers and just say that each and every one of us are on a never-ending journey of learning.  Sure the photographer who has been shooting for 20 years will likely know more (and charge more) than photographers like me who have been working in the field for significantly less time.  There are ways to lessen things like double chins in photos by getting clients to pose in certain ways that I didn’t know about a year ago.  A year from now I’ll probably learn a new trick and then probably another a year after that (haven’t learned yet how to iron an un-ironed shirt by posing yet, but I’ll let you know).  Bottom line is I promise, we’re doing our best.  And we’re all different (thank goodness for that, right?!).