ASK A WEDDING VENDOR: KAYLA YESTAL PHOTOGRAPHY
Kayla Yestal is a fine art wedding photographer based in Muskoka, Ontario with a passion for storytelling through heirloom imagery. According to Kayla's instagram bio, she would walk 10 blocks in the opposite direction to pet a cute dog and that really resonates with us! All kidding aside, Kayla produces jaw-droppingly gorgeous photography and we're so excited to get to know the artist behind the brand!
How did you become a photographer?
I was one of those super lucky kids who knew what they wanted to do from a really young age! Photography was my go-to form of expression as a teenager and I studied at Sheridan College right out of high school. I initially wanted to work as a fashion photographer but booked my first wedding in 2012 and fell in love with the freedom of it! It has a lot of parallels with fashion photography but it’s almost as if I’m a photographer and art director simultaneously.
What inspires your work?
As simple as it is, light is normally my biggest inspiration! I think this is why I love the challenge of photographing weddings. It isn’t often that they take place in a controlled lighting environment and I truly enjoy being able to jump into a new setting and create something beautiful out of what is provided.
What is your favourite part of shooting a wedding day?
I get asked the question “if one of your friends is getting married would you rather attend as a guest or photograph it?” super often and I think that the reasoning behind my answer really fits here. In almost every situation, I’d rather photograph a wedding than attend it. Reason being that even if I were a relative or a bridal party member, I’m by a couples side far more as their photographer. As a wedding photographer, we’re invited into these super intimate moments that not even your closest circle are witnessing. To be present for those memories is something really sacred and powerful for me.
How would you describe your photography style?
The term “timeless” is tossed around in the wedding photography community a lot, but without a doubt this is the goal with my photography style. I ultimately just want to create imagery that my clients can look back on in fifty years and still love as much as they did the first time they saw their gallery! For me, this means images with colours that are true to life, natural posing, and a focus on connection.
Do you have any tips or advice for couples when choosing a wedding photographer?
Don’t overlook their personality! Your wedding photographer is ultimately the vendor who you’ll spend the most amount of time with on your wedding day. When you mentally think back, you’ll likely find that most of your memories include interactions with this person. It’s incredibly important that you feel comfortable around them and enjoy your time together!
How have you adapted your business during this pandemic?
I started a digital print shop! My husband and I decided to use our unexpected free time in the Summer of 2020 camping throughout Ontario. We purchased a used rooftop tent and camped for a total of 38 days with our dogs over the course of a few months. Travel has always been a huge passion of ours. After adding some landscapes to my repertoire this year, it felt really natural to start selling print-ready artwork online. It’s been a fun side project that will be continued long after the pandemic is over!
What is your dream wedding destination/venue?
Without a doubt, Tofino, BC! I spent quite a bit of time on Vancouver Island growing up and there’s something so magical about that area. The Pacific Northwest in general has such a unique quality of light. I’m not sure if it’s a result of the constant mist but nothing seems to photograph as beautifully!
What trend do you predict for weddings this year? Any trends you're loving right now?
One trend that I’m loving and would love to see continue are more intimate weddings! I think there’s a beautiful sentimentality that comes along with elopements and micro weddings. Since there is often so much extra time in the timeline, it makes space for really intentional moments with the people you love most.
What are your passions aside from weddings?
When I’m not working or out in nature, chances are that I’m in the kitchen. I absolutely love cooking and have a reputation for dropping off Neapolitan pizza’s on my friends doorsteps.
What's in your camera bag?
- (2) Canon 5D Mark IV
- Canon 50mm 1.2 L
- Canon 85mm 1.2 L
- Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art
- (2) Canon 600EX-RT
- Magmod flash modifiers
- Pentax 645N II
- Pentax 75mm 2.8
- Zeiss 80mm 1.2 (Modified to fit Pentax)
- Sekonic Digi Master Lightmeter
- Hoya Macro Filters
We love that you advocate for inclusivity and human rights within your business! What can other wedding vendors do to ensure this level of acceptance and respect becomes the standard in our industry?
I would love to see other vendors being more mindful about using gender neutral and inclusive language! This really is such a small and simple change to make but has such an impact. It’s just as easy to start a social media post by addressing “couples” instead of “brides.” Replacing terminology that could be alienating to social groups is such a great place to start!
What advice would you give an aspiring photographer?
Don’t overlook the less “fun” parts of your business! I think when a photographer is first starting out, they’re so focused on making sure that they’re refining their skills as an artist. While that’s obviously important, I think that it’s so much more crucial to set yourself up for success as a business owner first. Make your business legal, start collecting taxes properly right away, invest in good contracts and a CRM system that will make serving your clients easy from the very beginning!
What does your mentorship process look like?
I personally find that the business side of photography is far more important than the artistry. You can have an absolutely stunning portfolio, but if you don’t understand how to market it, how to create a client workflow that encourages referrals, or systems in place that reduce your working hours, it doesn’t really equate to success.
What do you find most challenging about wedding photography?
I think that most of my challenges stem from being a small business owner in general. There are so many stressors that come along with being a “solopreneur” like losing your work-life balance and having so much of your self-worth attached to your business. The very personal nature of working with clients during one of their biggest milestones just escalates those feelings and anxieties! I focus a lot on having regular check-ins with myself to make sure that I’m separating my own emotions from my business.
What is the best compliment you've ever received from a couple/client?
I tend to work with a lot of couples who consider themselves to be awkward in front of the camera and who are nervous about being photographed. Any time that a client specifically mentions how comfortable and natural that I made them feel really hits home for me!
It is apparent that Kayla has a beautiful, kind soul that she pours into her work. If you've become a super-fan of her artistry (like we have!) here's where you can find her:
Website: Kayla Yestal Photography
Etsy: Kayla Yestal Print Shop
Tale of Tulle, Canadian Wedding Magazine