ASK A WEDDING VENDOR: SINEAD DUBEAU
Sinead Dubeau (she/her) is a portrait and wedding photographer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia whose work has been published both locally and internationally. Along with running her own photography business, Sinead also mentors other photographers in the industry. As a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community, she excels at providing an inclusive and safe space for her clients to be themselves in front of the camera.
We chatted with Sinead -- an incredibly talented photographer and wonderful human whose work you might recognize from this editorial -- about her experience building a wedding photography business. We love being able to show a glimpse of the heart and soul behind the brand!
How did you become a wedding photographer?
Believe it or not, I never intended on being a wedding photographer. I have always loved photography, but tried following a more “traditional” path by going to university for a few years and working in offices doing admin and accounting. In fact, I shot my first wedding at age 19 and it went terribly - I worked 14 hours, with no experience, and I didn’t even have a schedule for the day! It wasn’t until a few years later, when I got a few more wedding requests, that I decided to give it a second chance. Long story short, I fell head over heels for wedding photography and now I can’t imagine doing anything else!
What inspires your work?
Inspiration is everywhere! It could be as simple as the colour grading and styling in a movie I watch, the change of seasons, the way a wedding dress moves as a bride walks or the stunning location where a couple is about to say “I do”. I try to avoid overly trendy photography styles and focus on moments, movement, and capturing the day as it unfolds, while incorporating individual touches according to each couple and their personalities.
How would you describe your photography style?
I like to think my style is colourful, true-to-life, timeless, and romantic. I am inspired by the colours in film stock (Portra in particular) and I love warm, bright, sun-soaked images.
What is your favourite part of shooting a wedding day?
My absolute favourite part of the day is when I get to be alone with the couple for their portraits. For many, it’s the first time they’ve had a chance to be together alone (well, plus me!) during their wedding day, and it’s the time where I can flex my creative muscles a little more and capture their personalities together. It’s so much fun!
Do you have any tips/advice for choosing a wedding photographer?
There are many things to keep in mind when you’re searching for a wedding photographer, but two of the most important factors are style and personality.
Firstly, does their style match what you envision for your wedding? Will you still love your images 20 years from now? Does it suit what you have planned for your celebration? For example, if you’re having a nighttime ceremony in a brewery with romantic ambient lighting, you’ll want to book someone who excels in low light situations and whose style will work with the ambience of your event. Any photographer you look into should be happy to discuss your ideas and expectations with you to ensure that they are the right fit!
Secondly, having a connection with your photographer is so important and is sometimes overlooked while clients are searching. Your photographer is going to be with you for the majority of one of the most important days of your life - make sure you like them! Don’t just book via email - hop on a call with them and have a chat about your plans, and see how you get along. I always recommend doing an engagement session before your wedding as another way to spend some time with your photographer and get comfortable in front of the camera.
How far in advance should clients book their photographer?
Typically, I book my clients a year or so in advance of their wedding date; that said, I do book a few elopements or “off-season” celebrations within a smaller time frame if I am available. If you have a specific photographer in mind or a few that you want to reach out to, I recommend doing it as early as you can, usually right after you book your venue!
What is your dream wedding venue/destination? Do you travel across Canada or offer destination wedding packages?
Can you imagine a wedding off the coast of Italy, or in the jungle in Bali? Now THOSE would be a dream! In Canada, I would love to shoot out in the mountains - we don’t have that here in NS. I’m available to travel if anyone is interested ;)
Who is your ideal client?
I actually don’t like the concept of an “ideal client” - or at least, what it’s come to mean these days. My ideal clients are people who value photography, love my style and work, and who are excited to work together to capture their memories - and fortunately for me, I get to work with clients like that all the time!
What's the most memorable wedding you’ve shot?
One that certainly stands out is shooting during Hurricane Dorian in 2019 - no power at the venue, we were completely unable to go outside because of the rain and wind, and it was an evening ceremony lit by candlelight. Definitely a challenge, but we made the best of it!
What do you find most challenging about wedding photography?
Every wedding day, and couple, is different - no two work days are the same! I think that the fast pace and the different settings throughout the day are absolutely a challenge, but in a good way. When you’re shooting a wedding, you are combining many different styles of photography - not just portraits, but food, decor, flatlays, floral, lifestyle, candids, and more - which means you’re using a wide variety of photographic skills over the course of the day.
What's the best compliment you’ve ever received from a couple/client?
Last year, one of my couples described shooting their wedding portraits with me as “just like hanging out with a best friend”. It doesn’t get better than that! I think the ability to make your clients comfortable and confident while photographing them is one of the best skills you can have as a wedding photographer.
What does your mentorship process look like?
My mentorship sessions are tailored specifically to each mentee/client. Whether you need help with technical aspects of the job, want to learn how to edit in a certain way, want to define your niche, need assistance arranging your workflow or learning how to connect with your subjects, I’m happy to help! I offer both in-person and online Q&A sessions as well as shooting a session together to learn and work in real time. I really love helping new photographers grow through their work and their business - education is important to me and is something I try to invest in yearly for myself as well.
What advice would you give an aspiring photographer?
Going off what I said about education, never stop learning new things. You’ll never know everything there is to know about photography, and learning new skills and ways to do things keeps you curious and passionate! Secondly, don’t be afraid to reach out and make friends with other photographers in your industry. I am a big believer in community over competition; especially if you plan to do this as a career, having friends within your industry is invaluable.
What are your passions aside from weddings?
I spent some of this morning doing some gardening to prepare for a lovely summer on the patio - I love both outdoor gardening and indoor plants (it’s a bit of a jungle at my house). I also spend a lot of my time with my rescue pup, Frankie, and I love getting out to try new foods and restaurants downtown when I can. Saké Halifax is a current fave, their brunch is amazing!
What’s in your camera bag?
I’m a Nikon user through and through, so you’ll find a couple of Nikon full frame bodies in my bag (my d750 is a workhorse) and all of my favourite prime lenses - 105mm, 85mm, 50mm, 35mm and 24mm for those ultra-wide shots. I also recently picked up a Fuji mirrorless body (since I know things are heading that way in the near future) that I am very excited to play with this season! I also have a few flashes in there too, and some decorative pieces and ring boxes that I use to create flat lay images.
What trend, if any, do you predict for weddings this year? Any trends you’re loving right now?
Weddings in 2021, in Canada, are certainly looking a bit different than they used to. Many provincial restrictions have banned larger events and celebrations. This season, we are seeing smaller guest lists and an emphasis on micro-weddings and elopements - which I actually love! There is something about a smaller celebration that feels intimate and intentional, and the pace of the day is so much more relaxed. Some of my favourite weddings over the years have had less than 20 guests, even pre-pandemic! There is something really special about saying your vows in front of only your nearest and dearest, and you can still incorporate many of the traditions you’d see in a larger wedding, like first looks, first dances, champagne toasts, and more.
Another trend I’m loving at the moment, which goes hand in hand with micro weddings and elopements, is the departure from traditional bridal gowns. We are seeing more jumpsuits, two piece sets, and 90’s inspired slip dresses… and I am so here for it! I also love the sense of adventure that an elopement can bring. Your wedding should be a reflection of you as a couple and your individuality, so I love anything that adds a bit of personality and sentiment to the day.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Sinead! To keep up with Sinead's gorgeous work (and adorable pup!) we highly recommend following her on social media: Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook Here's where you can find more: www.sineaddubeau.com
Tale of Tulle, Canadian Wedding Magazine