#005 Capturing Moments with Toronto Wedding Photographer Aron Goss

In this episode of the Wedding Insider Podcast, I speak with Aron Goss. He’s an award winning Toronto based wedding photographer (from ISPWP and Fearless Photographers). He has been shooting weddings for years and has some amazing (not at all obvious) tips on how to get great photos and have an amazing wedding day. You can find him on instagram here: http://instagram.com/arongoss#

In this interview, Aron shares answers to these questions:

  • Why are time buffers (in your wedding day schedule) so important?
  • Do you really need an engagement shoot to look your best or your wedding day (hint: the answer is not what you think)?
  • What is the most important thing to look for in a venue if you want to look your best…natural light is one of the things, but what happens when the sun goes down?

Audio only:

You can subscribe to this podcast on itunes: click here.


Justin Jacques: Hello everyone, Justin Jacques here from the Wedding Insider Podcast. Today I have Aron Goss, formerly of Calculated Style, now it’s just Aron Goss, right?

Aron Goss: Just Aron now, yeah.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool. He’s an award-winning photographer from the International Society of Wedding Photographers and Fearless Photographers. Is that right?

Aron Goss: [Agrees]

Justin Jacques: And my favorite award that you’ve won is you’re voted the best photographer in the world by your own mom.

Aron Goss: Yeah, I had to work harder for that. Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. Thanks for being here. So let’s get started and just give everyone kind of a background on where you got started in photography and how you ended up being a wedding photographer.

Aron Goss: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2009, early 2009. It’s when I first started actually taking money for gigs. I’ve been shooting forever. I think you get from a lot of people we grew up taking pictures. It’s something we always did. We had film growing up. My dad almost became a photographer. He shot growing up our entire lives, but it wasn’t something he had ever decided to take on as a career. So I’m lucky I was able to do this for a living, I still am.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Cool. So yeah, like how did you end up moving into weddings? Like basically it seems like for a lot of photographers, you do a few friends and then you end up realizing that you can do it on the side, or is that kind of where you moved into when you started to decide that that’s what you wanted to take on as your profession?

Aron Goss: I’ve only really ever been interested in taking pictures of people.

Justin Jacques: Okay, cool.

Aron Goss: I don’t take a lot of pictures of mountains and water and still life. It’s always been people, and just trying to tell [cut audio 00:01:52]. Weddings just kind of made sense. Weddings allowed me to tell a story, to shoot people which I’ve always been drawn to, but also to be able to take pictures that mean so much to people, and then pictures that people are going to treasure forever.

I was interested in weddings right from the start. So that’s always been my goal. I really only shoot weddings still. That’s definitely where my passion is, so yeah, I don’t shoot a lot of models and I don’t shoot a lot of babies and families. Well, I have shot some of them, it’s primarily just been for previous clients. Other than that, weddings is probably 95% of my business.

Justin Jacques: Cool. All right, so we’re back. We had some technical issues. We’re just trying to make sure we got the best audio possible, and Aron went and grabbed a different computer, and now we’re going to continue the interview. So we left, yeah, and hopefully, everything comes through what we’re saying.

So we left off just with how can a couple find like an awesome photographer. What should they be looking for when they’re looking for a photographer?

Aron Goss: The big thing for me when I meet a client, I don’t want them coming to me hoping to see more pictures. I’m going to assume that you’ve already gone through a ton of my work online. It’s all up there. I’m happy to share galleries as well if people request it.

When I meet with clients for my meeting, I’m hoping that we’re just feeling each other out personality wise. I want to make sure that I’m the kind of person you want to have around on your wedding day. I know I’m not the perfect photographer for everybody, but I hope that I’m the perfect photographer for the clients that do hire me.

So I want to spend a lot of time with them. I want to get an idea of the personality, of their sense of humor, to see if there’s that comfort level there. That’s really what I would push clients to spend a lot of time doing.

We spend so much time with them on their wedding day in a lot of really intimate moments. I want to make sure you feel completely comfortable and completely trusting when I’m there shooting on your wedding day. It’s funny, I usually spend more time with the bride on her wedding day than the groom will.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: You’ve got to love your photographer, and you have to feel completely comfortable that they’re going to be able to handle you, your friends and family the way you want your friends and family to be handled.

Essentially, we’re the only guest at a wedding that isn’t truly invited. We’re just there as a vendor, an important vendor, but just a vendor. So I would want all my clients to know that they feel completely comfortable. If they’re not around and I’m there moving their family around or just interacting with their guests, that they feel comfortable knowing that I’m going to treat them like they are my family as well.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah, it’s crazy, I mean, just having photographer friends and talking to photographers, how many intimate moments you’re there for where you’re there when the bride is putting on her dress. You’re there when her mom sees her for the first time or her dad sees her for the first time, and when the groom sees her for the first time, and all these like really important moments, and you’re sometimes the only other person there for some of those moments.

Yeah, it is. I think having that personality match is super important, especially with somebody that you’re going to be with all day long and working in such an intimate, I guess, way.

Aron Goss: Really, absolutely.

Justin Jacques: So where do you think that if brides and grooms are just kind of starting their search, do you have a place that you would suggest for them to go if they’re looking for a photographer? Like where do they search? Like there are so options it seems, and do you have something there?

Aron Goss: There is a ton of options. Referrals are huge. I would definitely speak to your friends, speak to your family, find out who worked for them. It’s definitely a great place to start.

If you don’t want to be so pigeonholed with regards to wedding vendors your friends and family might have contact with, then definitely the next best spot would probably be a wedding planner. Wedding planners know how to match a client’s budget to the talent level that’s available.

So if they’re feeling like they’re not finding the quality of photography that they’re looking for with a simple, basic Google search, then definitely I would consider bringing in a planner.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: Talking to a planner. Let the planner know what your vision is, what your budget is, and that’s the planner’s job to match those and make sure that you don’t just get lucky finding a photographer that ranked very high on Google, but you actually find the right photographer that will work best for your personality, for your vision, and for your budget.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. So I think planners are awesome, and I think they have a huge amount of knowledge around vendors especially, and just to navigate that, it doesn’t seem like it would be overwhelming, I’m thinking, so people get out a little bit into it, but then…

Aron Goss: It’s completely overwhelming.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: It’s completely overwhelming, and I’m going to say, hopefully, but its everyone is going through this for the first time.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: So there are so many questions that come up that I find most of my clients don’t have an answer, and when I got married, I didn’t have any answer to those questions either. People would ask me, “What’s your budget?” You don’t even know where to start sometimes. You don’t even know how you can interact with vendors. What vendors are you able to haggle on price perhaps? How many hours are really required for photography coverage? What’s a good price to be spending for specific vendors? So weddings are worth their weight in gold, both for coordination on the day of, but especially for planning.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: So you had mentioned that, just before we started the interview, you started now shooting both film and some digital?

Aron Goss: [Agrees]

Justin Jacques: Like what difference does that bring to images? And like also can you kind of describe like your style and what are some options if people are looking at a different wedding photographer styles.

Aron Goss: I have such a hard time describing my style or anybody else’s really. I started shooting the kind of pictures that I really enjoy with the hopes that I find clients that like what I like. So to try to say that I shoot specific things, I’m definitely not a photojournalist. A photojournalist is more of someone who doesn’t interact that much with the clients, and doesn’t really touch things.

I like to massage the day of a little bit. So I don’t want to change the day too much, but I want to make sure that we get everything we need as required for that day. So if a groom goes in and hugs his bride, I’ll be like, “Let’s do it again, but let’s do it over here.” I just like making sure we get what we need where a photojournalist would stand back, just take pictures and hope they sort of got what they needed.

So I like knowing that I’m getting what’s expected of me, but with regards to my style, it changes every year. I also just take pictures that I like taking, because if I don’t, I find I get burnt out really, really quick.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: I’m starting incorporating a lot more film lately, but partially, that’s just for me, and it sounds horrible, but I need to love the job that I’m doing. I need to be excited to shoot those weddings. So by incorporating film, by incorporating things that get me excited, it relates essentially back on to the clients when they get their work back.

Justin Jacques: Cool. I mean, we kind of talked about now obviously getting to know your photographer before you even hire them is a a huge thing because they need to feel comfortable in front of their camera.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Are there other things that couples can do? They’ve hired the photographer. They know that they’re going to be getting married. What can they do to get the best…

Aron Goss: This is happening.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, this is going to happen. What can they do to get like the best photos possible? Are there other tips that you can share with them?

Aron Goss: Yeah, absolutely. A big one is to just trust your photographer.

Justin Jacques: Oh yeah.

Aron Goss: Trust what they’re doing. They spend a lot of time and work really, really hard ensuring that you’re getting the photographer that you want, but once you’ve done that and your wedding day comes, the best thing that you can really, really do is let them work the way they work best. So when you start limiting them, you’re really limiting your own pictures.

So that would definitely number one. Trust is huge. There are times where I had clients say, almost second guess, how I’m posing them or how I’m setting them up. So trust goes a long, long way.

Work hard. Work hard for your pictures. Your photographer is going to work really, really hard with you, but if you meet them halfway, you get so much more out of your images. So be willing to work hard, be willing to spend an extra 15 minutes getting some extra pictures if you can. Be willing to go out for a night picture later in the night if you’re up for it. The harder you work, the more pictures generally you’ll receive.

I would also limit the alcohol early in the day. It sounds horrible because it’s such a big party, and I don’t want to take anything away from that party, but if you can have the party happen during party time, and especially for your bridal party, if they can be more involved and excited and interested rather than already in party mode and kind of passed all of that, limiting the alcohol until the reception will go so far. So that’s something that I try to suggest to all my couples. Obviously, the ultimate decision is up to them, but it goes a long way.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s a super good tip.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: I don’t think it’s something that people even really think about because they just want a party a lot of the time, and you can definitely tell when people are, you know. One drink or two drinks, I don’t think is going to be end of the world, but a few drinks or beyond, you can definitely tell in photos. They just don’t look their best.

Aron Goss: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely, and so that’s definitely a big thing. I would also make sure that clients invest, and I’d like to say invest in your photographer, but most clients can’t have the best of everything.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: I would figure out what’s really, really important to you and invest in those couple of things rather than trying to have the best of everything, or budget everywhere. So figuring out what’s important to you and then spend maybe a little extra money on what’s really, really important to you, and then know that you’ve invested as much as possible towards those products.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, I know. That’s another thing I wholeheartedly agree with. I mean, I’m a bit of a premium DJ service, and I don’t think I’m at all worth it for a lot of people, but for people that really care about music, then yeah, like this is it. Spend your money on something you care about for sure.

Aron Goss: Absolutely.

Justin Jacques: And I think the same thing for people that really are going to care about their images.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: You do get what you pay for a lot of the times. So okay, I mean, I’ve seen some of your award-winning photos, they look awesome.

Aron Goss: Thank you.

Justin Jacques: Obviously, you’ve picked those out to submit into contests and stuff like that, and like what defines an awesome wedding photo for you, I guess?

Aron Goss: Three things. Lighting is number one.

Justin Jacques: Oh cool, yeah.

Aron Goss: Lighting is photography. If you don’t have good lighting, you don’t have a good shot. The moment could be the best moment in the world, but without good light, it’s really half of what the picture could be. So lighting is always number one.

Composition is number two, it needs to be interesting. Layers in the frame are completely interesting to me, but also directing the viewer on where they should be looking at an image is huge. So when I’m talking about composition, I might see something in specific way, and now it’s my goal to catch that in a way that I see it and know when someone looks at my image, that they’re looking exactly where I want them to look. So composition is huge.

Justin Jacques: Is there anything a couple can do to help you with that?

Aron Goss: Trust.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, the same thing, okay.

Aron Goss: Yeah. Just trust. I mean, you’re hiring an artist to create a specific look. So take them for their word, just work with the photographer and know, I mean, also that we have the same goal. I want them to look as good as possible, and they want to look as good as possible, so I’m never going to do something or I’m never going to suggest something that is going to make them look any other way than awesome.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, yeah.

Aron Goss: At least, 00:15:23 as you guys are hopefully there. So yeah, just trust is huge. Then another element that makes for a great photograph for me is truth. I think that’s been the biggest thing I’ve been working on for the past couple of years where I loved my compositions and I enjoyed my lighting, but I found that couples sometimes were posed in a way that it didn’t reflect them.

So over the past three or four years I’ve worked really, really hard on setting up an image the way I want and then telling a really, really bad joke that I know will still make them laugh. So now I have this great image that also shows who they are, and then being comfortable in being themselves, so truth goes a long, long way, especially in just a documentary-type image or a candid image, just being able to show people when they’re at ease and showing people when their guard is down.

Thus what’s so great about weddings is people will say a lot of things that they wouldn’t normally say. People who don’t normally say I love you might take that chance on a wedding day because it’s a wedding day. So to be able to capture that means so much to my clients and to myself.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, cool.

Aron Goss: To me that’s what makes a good picture. I’m sure it’s different for a lot of people, but those three things are what I’m looking for in most of my frames.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: Also, I’m sure we have some couples that are listening that started or just got engaged and they’re like, “Oh cool, a podcast, let’s start there.” So they might not even at a point where they have a venue, so from a photographer’s perspective, what should they be looking for in a venue so that they look best in their wedding photos and so that their surroundings look great too?

Aron Goss: It’s such a great question, and what generally seems to happen is they figured out a date, and then they booked the venue and they book their photographer. I would love to see that swapped around. I would love to see people book a photographer, and then figure out a date that that photographer hopefully was available and then use that photographer to help narrow down your venue options. Because who better to help a couple show what their venue is going to look like than their photographer?

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: So I love when clients let me come with them on their venue visits, or show them what those specific venues look like in pictures and then let them decide afterwards rather than hoping and guessing that things will look really, really good in pictures, and there are a lot of gowns that look great for venues and there are a lot of gowns that look horrendous. While they look good during the day, when things get dark, how is it going to look? So I would love to see more couples hire a photographer first, and then incorporate us into the venue planning.

Justin Jacques: Cool. Obviously, having a photographer’s eye with you and somebody who’s worked in the space before is going to be a huge advantage. If somebody doesn’t have that opportunity, is there anything that like you particularly look for?

Aron Goss: Natural light.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, okay.

Aron Goss: Yeah. I prefer a venue that doesn’t have a lot of wood, especially when things get dark and we have to use a flash later on, a flash in wood just don’t seem to get along too well, so that would be a huge thing. There are a couple of venues in Toronto as well that have black ceilings. I would definitely recommend not using those venues. Black sucks light, so those would be the big things that I would point out first.

Justin Jacques: Cool, yeah. That is not something that hardly I think anyone would think about but a photographer.

Aron Goss: Yeah, that’s right.

Justin Jacques: The color of the ceiling.

Aron Goss: Well, that light is going to reflect back onto your skins.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: So that, and also your skin color takes on the color of that wood. So yeah, hire a photographer first.

Justin Jacques: Cool.

Aron Goss: 00:19:19 If you can, hire him first.

Justin Jacques: Okay, yeah. So there’s actually a question I’ve been asking everyone but Andrew who is your officemate.

Aron Goss: Yes.

Justin Jacques: Because he was my first interview, and I meant to ask him, but I forgot, but I’m trying to get three insider tips that wedding photographers know that most people don’t, and it can be about photography or wedding photography, but it can be just generally about a wedding but just how to make their wedding amazing kind of thing.

Aron Goss: Awesome question. Number one, your makeup is going to run late. No matter what your makeup is going to run late, I don’t know how many weddings I’ve shot, I’ve never seen makeup be there on time. I’m sure they’re trying. I’m sure they care. It’s never on time. The biggest issue for a photographer is when the makeup runs late. That extra time now comes out of my time.

Justin Jacques: Yeah.

Aron Goss: Dinner is not going to be held any later. Your guests aren’t going to arrive any later. The rest of your time is not going to get pushed back any further. That time is going to be taken out of your portrait time. So I guess I’m talking more to makeup artists. You need more time you think you need. As long as a couple builds in more buffer time into their day, it can only make them relax more. You need more time for absolutely everything on a wedding day than you think you need.

If traffic should probably take ten minutes, give yourself twenty. If makeup is going to take an hour, which it won’t, you probably need two. The more time the better. The more time even just helps you relax. If you thought you had an hour and a half for pictures and now you have half an hour or 45 minutes, not only had you cut your time in half, but now the stress is going to show on your face.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, for sure.

Aron Goss: So not only do you have less time, but you won’t look as comfortable on your pictures, so buffer time goes a long, long way.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s huge. That’s an awesome point. I love that.

Aron Goss: What else? Every time I meet with clients, it seems like they’ve all read the same tips online which is totally cool, and I love that they’re doing research, but the one thing that I will push back on is that an engagement session won’t make you more comfortable on your wedding day.

A good photographer will make you more comfortable on your wedding day. So you can shoot six times, but if you don’t feel comfortable with the person you’re working with, that’s the biggest thing. That will make you look normal and look natural and feel like you can be goofy or just be yourselves if you have a photographer who just happens to be somebody you would consider a friend around.

So that’s the big thing I’ve always sort of pushed back on. I love to shoot engagements. Do I think you need an engagement to make you more comfortable on your wedding day? Not necessarily.

Another thing I would point out would be that you’re not going to love every picture of yourself. I don’t want couples to feel like if they have a picture, and they don’t enjoy the way they look in their pictures, that it’s a failure on either parties’ behalf.

We’re going to give you a lot of diversity. We’re going to shoot you in a lot of different ways, and some of that you’re going to absolutely love, and there are going to be other pictures that you don’t love yourself and that’s totally cool.

Everybody sees themselves in a specific way, and everybody has features in themselves that they don’t truly love, and seeing some of the pictures, those are going to be highlighted. It’s okay to not love all of your pictures. It’s up to you on which pictures you want to include in your album. It’s up to you on which pictures you want to share online, so don’t feel like you need to love absolutely every picture. Diversity is awesome.

Justin Jacques: Amazing, sweet.

Aron Goss: Cool.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, so far, everyone is giving me a different thoughts, and I think they’re all really great like things that don’t…

Aron Goss: Thank you so much.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, that’s great. Thank you so much.

Aron Goss: My pleasure.

Justin Jacques: Okay, so if anyone wants to get in touch, check out your photos or say hello…

Aron Goss: Yeah.

Justin Jacques: How can they do that?

Aron Goss: My website is arongoss.com. There’s only one A in my name. Blame my parents, not me. My email address is aron@arongoss.com. My phone number is 905-699-6049, but you can find me on Twitter. You can find me on Instagram. You can find me on Facebook. Just find me and say hello. I love meeting new people, and hopefully we get a chance.

Justin Jacques: Yeah. That’s great.

Aron Goss: Yes.

Justin Jacques: I am going to put together some show notes. Those can be found at indieweddingdj.com/podcast/aron, and also if you’re a subscriber on iTunes, if you could just go and give me a rating, preferably 5 stars if you like us, but any rating helps. I just wanted to be able to spread the word to more couples and the more ratings we get the more… You don’t have to leave a review, you can just mark off the stars, it would be greatly appreciated.

So Aron, that’s it. Thank you so much for joining us. I think the information you shared is going to be super helpful. I really, really liked it. It’s great.

Aron Goss: Cool. No, the pleasure is all mine. It was awesome on me too. I appreciate the opportunity.

Justin Jacques: Yeah, my pleasure. Talk to you later.

Aron Goss: Thanks buddy.

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