Calgary Wedding Photographer Mark Pawlyszyn | An ISPWP Member Spotlight

Posted by ISPWP Admin on August 3rd 2010 .Comment(4)

Photographer Contact Information

Denver, Colorado, United States Photographer 503-317-2215

See This Photographer's Website

For today’s ISPWP member spotlight, we feature Calgary, Alberta wedding photographer Mark Pawlyszyn who owns Unique Images Photography. Mark has a great eye for bold and dramatic images, but he also has some useful advice to brides on how to enjoy their day.

Photographer Contact Information

Denver, Colorado, United States Photographer 503-317-2215

See This Photographer's Website

Photographer Bio

Mark Pawlyszyn Bio:

My name is Mark and I am the owner and main photographer of Unique Images Photography. Hi.

Since starting my business I have had a lot of recognition in a very short period of time. Only a few months after photographing my first wedding I placed second and third in the 2007 DWF Photographer of the Year contest in the People and Portraits categories. My photos have also placed in every single contest that I have entered since then (except for one).

My work has been published in Perfect Wedding Magazine and I am a regular contributing photographer and occasional writer for the Southern Albertan local interest magazine, Lethbridge Living.

I have also had the honour of being published on several blogs, including Asian Inspired Weddings, The Photography Parlour,, and Wedding Obsession.

It is my life experiences that have made the largest impact on my photography, though; it is the person who I am that helps me take the photos that I take.

How did you get your start and why did you chose wedding photography as a career?

I did not grow up with any interest in photography. I was too busy doing things to be watching people from behind a camera. Then at a particular point in my life, circumstances led me to have almost nothing to do, but there was a camera lying around. So I started taking photos. Shortly after I started I found online photography competitions and entered them regularly. These were great for developing my skills for three reasons.

One is that they were very restrictive of any kind of Photoshopping, so you had to get everything perfect in the photo itself using the camera.

The next reason is that they really called for you to be as creative and different as possible, because a technically good image that was boring never got far. It helped me to think of more abstract ways of photographically going from A to B.

And the third way this helped me is that it was extremely competitive and drove me to improve as much as possible in a short time. It was like having an exam or a karate grading or something every single week. It wasn’t long before I fell into wedding photography. I really enjoy being a part of a couple’s wedding day and seeing their love.

How has your extensive experience in wedding photography helped you in difficult circumstances on a wedding day?

I think the two biggest things which demonstrate the importance of experience is knowing how to deal with problems quickly, without showing stress, and knowing the ebb and flow of a wedding and being able to play around.

In the first instance, I’ve dealt with technical issues, with very stressed clients, with literally only two minutes for all the couple’s portraits, with lousy weather, with crazy venue restrictions, and whatever else. Looking at the photos from each of these weddings, no one would know that I had any problems and the couples never saw me sweat.

The other thing is that once you really know how to do your job and how a wedding day flows you can experiment and challenge yourself to get cool new ideas. I will take many different-looking images throughout the day by changing my lighting setup or using unusual compositions. When you are starting out it’s hard enough to grab all the straight shots perfectly, but with more experience you can do them without thinking, which allows you to be more observant and take more risks.

What are some of your favorite venues?

Some of my favourite venues are the Fairmont Banff Springs, the Juniper Lodge, and the Rimrock Resort, which are all in Banff, Alberta. I also love everywhere in Kelowna.

What advice would you give a bride who is looking for a wedding photographer?

Stop listening to advice and go with your gut. Find a photographer whose work moves you and then talk to them to see if they are someone you could get along with on your wedding day. Trust and compatible personalities are very important.

What’s your favorite part of the wedding day to photograph?

I go through phases with this, but overall I’d have to say that it’s the portraits time. The vast majority of my clients are not professional models. In fact, most of them, when they book me, say they don’t even like getting their photos taken. I like that challenge, because every single one of my couples who have told me when they booked that they hate having their photos taken have later told me that they not only love their wedding photos, but they actually enjoyed the experience during the day.

What kinds of weddings do you love to photograph?

Happy ones! Lol! Weddings are such an amazing social microcosm and, because they are such long and intense days, they tend to bring out the best and worst in people. I really like the ones where you can see that the couple are in love and that they are having a blast. Those are the best weddings. I don’t care whether they’re in a palace or in someone’s backyard.

What are your top tips for brides to help them get great photos on their wedding day?

Relax and enjoy your day.

The day won’t be perfect, but the big picture is that as long as you’re married at the end of it then it’s a success. Keep this in mind when the flowergirl sneezes on your dress.

The most flattering thing you can wear is a smile.

Allow enough time for photos. Then allow extra time. Wedding days run on a loose schedule and the most organized people often get hit the worst, because they’ve timed everything to the minute.

Oh, and don’t talk during the first dance. Look into each others’ eyes, kiss, or silently plan your revenge for the cake-smashing incident, but don’t talk. Talking will result in photos with you pulling weird expressions.

Any other tips for people planning their wedding?

It is easy to get excited by your wedding and to want to make it the best you can. This is all good, but make sure of two things. Firstly, keep your wedding day YOUR wedding day. If there is a traditional wedding event that you don’t care for (maybe the garter toss, for one example), don’t feel obliged to include it. And if there is something you really want to do, because it’s personal to you, but you are worried that people will think it’s weird to do at your wedding, just do it. It’s your wedding day; enjoy it.

Secondly, there is so much help these days that it can be difficult to know where to stop taking advice. There are magazines, blogs, relatives – you name it! Be a little rebellious and allow yourself to go against the trend or well-meaning advice if you don’t think it suits you.

Do you do “destination weddings?”

I travel a great deal for weddings, but I have focused my business on Canadian locations.

What do you do for fun when you’re not shooting weddings?

I play guitar, go for walks, and spend time with people I love.

How would you describe your style of photography?

Fun, stylish, romantic. These priorities shift depending on each couple’s personality, but there is always a mix of these three things. Most of the day is comprised of photojournalistic moments. I mean, that should be pretty obvious, right? I think if I interrupted a wedding ceremony or reception to ask someone to smile at the camera I’d probably get slapped! I don’t pose people during the getting ready time, either. Well, almost never; I’ve done it once all year. I feel that these photos should be uninterrupted and it is up to the skill of the photographer to capture them well. That said, I am not someone who remains in the background quietly observing all day; I chat and laugh with my couples.

For the portrait time I go all out to create the best images possible through posing, lighting, and whatever else. It’s what my clients tend to expect, though I do tailor this time to suit them and I’m happy to do more or less posed photos depending on their personalities. My philosophy is that even posed photos should have a spark to them – some life and love. I want my couples to see their photos in twenty years and not only should the images be works of art, the couple should remember exactly how they felt at that moment. That is what I strive to do. That is my style and goal all in one.

What do you offer to clients that is unique?

I bring a guitar and sing to them during their portraits. Ok, not really. I am driven to do something different each time. I want to create images that reflect my client’s personalities instead of forcing them into preconceived ideas. Every wedding I try for some images in a way that I’ve never done them before.

I also use fairly advanced lighting setups and Photoshopping techniques that helps to set my work apart. At a recent wedding I used a dozen or so different lighting setups and combinations. Plus, good colour seems to find me. I can shoot with the same camera and same settings as my assistants and my colour and contrast will look different straight out of the camera. It’s weird, but it’s a blessing.

And I am a genuine people-person and I want my couples to enjoy their day. Way back when I was still at school I the guy people would turn to for encouragement and advice. And I was always the one in my group of friends who came up with stuff we do on the weekends. I seem to have a gift of being able to help people feel relaxed and themselves. And studying personalities and psychology for years (including at university) hasn’t hurt.

Do you offer albums? If so, describe the albums you offer and why you think it’s important to provide albums.

I love albums. I think they are the best way to present a whole bunch of images. Let’s face it, when someone gets a disk, they have all these plans for it, but typically they’ll put a few images on Facebook, print a few 4x6s, and then stick it in a desk draw. Albums last and last.

Plus, they can be designed in a way to really show off your images better than just about any other method of presentation. A good designer can do all this and also tell the story of the wedding day. Nothing else does this as well as albums do.

I design all of my albums myself. I enjoy it, but I also think it’s important for me to do it, because I was actually there and know how the wedding went. That helps me to know how to best tell the story and balance the images.

What do you use for inspiration?

Ideas. God knows where those come from.

Have you found any products, services, or seminars that have made a difference to your photography or your business?

My own. Seriously. I’ll explain before I sound pompous or self-promoting. I started out with a knowledge of Photoshop before I ever thought about being a photographer. When I picked up a digital SLR I knew my way around Photoshop very well. That has helped me enormously in several ways. Firstly, because I use most of my own Photoshop techniques I’m not using the same prepackaged Photoshop actions as everyone else, so it’s been a much smoother ride developing my own look. Secondly, if I want to fix something I can do it quickly without asking for help or paying someone else. I think one of the best things that Photographers can do to give themselves a boost is to really develop their essential skills.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

I’ll paraphrase a few from memory. A couple of these were said to me and a couple were said near me.

“Explore the space.” – Jesh de Rox

“You are the artiste! You tell the brides what you will provide, instead of trying to be everything to everyone.” – David Beckstead

“Shoot through the moment.” – David Murray

“People show love in ways other than kissing. Notice those ways.” – Anna Kuperberg

What future plans do you have for your business for the next year?

I want to fine tune my services and take on fewer jobs, so that I can offer my clients the best experience possible in the most timely manner.

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Orange Lemur studio June 28th 2012 at 01:36 AM

Great photos !!! Really like your ideas and colours…

Darren Williams October 14th 2010 at 11:44 AM

World class and a world appart. Really amazing pictures. I used to be a chartered psychologist over here in the UK so I hope that works for me in the same way as you eventually.

Danielle Rabbat August 10th 2010 at 07:59 PM

Enjoyed reading your interview, Mark! I wondered how you got such fabulous colour…you’re lucky that it ‘finds’ you, though I’m sure it’s a skill you’ve developed over time. Fabulous photos! Also, good to know your psychology background is coming in handy (since that’s my academic background as well)! Thanks for sharing.

otto haring August 4th 2010 at 06:45 PM

Great work with light! Beautiful!

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