Today we have a Spotlight Interview with Shauna Heron, an Ontario, Canada wedding photographer who calls herself a “very simple photographer.” But I think that what she does is pretty extraordinary! Her work is unstaged, without complicated posing or crazy compositions, documenting the natural, in-between moments of life. She draws our attention to the beauty in these slight glances, subtle touches and emotional interactions. Shauna’s work is honest and unexpected, and beautifully communicates how the day must have felt to her clients.
Where/what is home? I’ve spent my entire life a wanderer. As a kid I was rarely in a school longer than a year or two before my family picked up and moved again. Then at 16, I left home and moved to Toronto. A bajillion apartments in between and then I was off to Amsterdam where I lived for 12 years. I’ve finally put down roots in the most unlikely place of all, Sudbury, Ontario –a small, northern Canadian town. It’s quiet and relaxed but with a rugged, exciting landscape that keeps me inspired. Key point is that it has an airport! Super important for me living so isolated.
What was your photography education? School? Self-taught? Workshops? I have no formal education. My story is a very archetypal, mom with a camera type. I got a little D90 for my birthday when Felix was almost a year old (he’s now 4). When I picked up the camera I was blown away at how wonderfully I was able to express myself through that viewfinder. I just couldn’t put it down. I started my business about 3 months later. It has been a very fast progression since then. I took one or two smaller workshops to get me started, then in 2012 I made an investment in The Foundation Workshop. I had shot I think 3 weddings at that point…it was insanely hard…but I can’t deny that my photography was changed forever. Not to mention all of the lifelong friends and family I have now thanks to it. Absolutely priceless!
What gives you ideas or inspiration? I am inspired by all sorts of things. I am inspired by my son…the way he see’s the world…how uncomplicated and simple it is to him. I try to find that simplicity in my work. I am inspired by fashion photographers, classical and modern artists, music, and of course by studying photography greats like Alex Webb and Henri Cartier-Bresson. I would have to say though that my biggest inspiration comes from my clients themselves. After all, it is all about them for me.
Describe your dream destination wedding? Hmmm at the moment, a small intimate wedding in Spain or Italy would suit me just fine.
Besides weddings, what/who/where would you love to be able to photograph? I have an idea for a personal project that for one reason or another I just haven’t found the time or made the time to start. One of my goals for this coming year is to make that time. Time to hit the streets.
Describe your workspace/studio? My kitchen! I found that I couldn’t work anywhere else! I’m a single Mom so I need to be in the hub of the house. Unfortunately there are times that I have to work when Felix is home. I try to limit this, but it happens! So, when I do have to work I want to be near Felix and available at any moment to him. It’s not an ideal work situation but it works well for me most of the time.
How do you prepare for a shoot or a wedding? The night before I usually go through my gear and clean lenses etc. I check that everything is in working order and then format my memory cards. It’s funny…before a portrait shoot I am insanely stressed out. But before a wedding? I’m super calm, with only a touch of anxiety linked to wanting to shoot the wedding better than any other wedding I’ve shot before. I think that pressure is a good one though. I hope I never stop wanting to be better.
What is your favorite moment or tradition at weddings? I don’t think I have one, it depends on the wedding and the people. The one thing I absolutely love about weddings is the overall vibe and feeling that that particular group of people give off. I find it fascinating and wonderful that I am given such intimate access to people and their relationships and emotions within such a short period of time. I feel the people so quickly, feel their connections and relationships, both good and bad and I am grateful for this, for their trust in me. People and emotion are my favourite part of weddings.
Do you have a favorite camera or lens? I don’t have a favourite camera. I mean, I’m a Nikon shooter so I guess Nikon bodies, though I have no experience with other brands to compare. I shoot with a D3s and a D700, the D3s is my favourite in low light but it’s so big and bulky, the D700 is my favourite all around, light ninja camera. As far as lenses go, I absolutely could not live without my 35. I shoot 90% of a wedding (or more) at this focal length and would feel completely comfortable documenting an entire wedding with it. A dear friend recently rented a Fuji X100s for me and I loved it. It’s definitely on my list to pick up!
What are your favorite destinations locations? I don’t know. I haven’t discovered them yet! I obviously love Mexico, but beyond Cancun, Playa and Cabo I would also absolutely love the chance to shoot a real Mexican wedding. It’s on my bucket list. I would also love, love to get to Europe or Asia next year.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Hands down it would be the ability to teleport myself anywhere I’d like to be at any given moment. Airports are my nemesis.
Do you have any advice for beginning photographers? I honestly still feel that I am a beginning photographer, I’m still super new. So, I will give some advice that some of my dear friends have given to me. Work HARD. There are no shortcuts. Ask for critique. Be true to yourself and your vision. Be patient enough to allow that vision to make itself known to you. Be patient…did I say be patient? Be hungry. Be passionate. Be stubborn.
What is your creative vision? What do you desire to express with your photos? I keep saying it, but I am a very simple photographer. For me, it’s all about people and connections…not complicated posing and crazy compositions. I just don’t see them. I focus on what I do see; connections and translating those connections in honest and unexpected ways. That’s always my mission. I want people to fall in love with my couples when they look at their images without even knowing them.
Describe what gets you up in the morning, literally and/or figuratively. My 4 year old son. Every. single. time!
What is your favorite reaction from a client when you deliver their images? Tears.
Best advice you’ve ever received about being an artist? My dear friend Fer Juaristi is the one I contact when I feel like I’m losing myself and need a kick in the butt…he’s always there to remind me not to care so much what other people think, especially other photographers. He reminds me to be true to my vision and to have the patience to wait for that vision to fully develop. Sometimes we need to turn to our friends for a little kick in the pants. I’m grateful to have such brilliant friends to count on for this very thing.
Thank you, Shauna! See more of Shauna Heron’s incredible photography at her website and blog.