Early Life

                                That’s me in the middle. Nice Shoulder pads Mum!

That’s me in the middle. Nice Shoulder pads Mum!

I’m gonna be honest with you, I didn’t crawl out of the womb with a camera in hand and a deep conviction that I was an “artist” that needed to show the world my unique point of view. I was born here in Victoria, the middle of 3 boys, with english parents who were raised in Montreal, so that’s where my weird kinda French double first name comes from. Our family is very passionate; As kids this manifested as lots of fights between brothers, and as adults it means 3 separate political debates happening simultaneously across the dinner table at family gatherings with my Nana giggling in the corner while we empty a couple of bottles of wine. I wouldn’t change it for the world. In a family of strong personalities and opinions, I have always been the one with a very particular aesthetic taste; Intensely critical of what I didn’t like, but quick to observe and praise what I did. I realize now that that quality is probably what enabled me to become a photographer and refine my own work.

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Photography for me probably really started near the end of Elementary school with a disposable film camera that I took to summer camp to take photos of my friends and girls I thought were cute. I remember eagerly anticipating getting the photos developed at London Drugs, never knowing how the photos would turn out, and sometimes having forgotten I had even taken the photo at all. It was magic.

As I went through high school, I started borrowing my dad’s old Minolta film SLR; I didn’t know how to do much beyond composing a photo and focusing, all the numbers and settings and film speeds meant nothing to me at that point. Despite that lack of understanding, I somehow landed on the idea that the school needed a photography club, so a friend and I started one that to the best of my understanding is still operating at Esquimalt High School 15 years later.

I still have shoeboxes full of many of those photos to this day. Those images of my friends, my car, working at Mcdonald’s, spiked hair with frosted tips, Discmans and countless other priceless early 2000’s paraphernalia. One day I’ll digitize all of them.





Starting a business

So how exactly did ‘becoming a photographer’ happen? Well, back in 2007 I was an amateur photographer; I loved taking my camera on hikes, shooting landscapes and taking portraits of my friends. I was always a bit of a nerd for things so I would experiment with long exposures and light painting and HDR right from the start.

Back then, memory cards were smaller and harder to come by, so I remember getting a special connector to plug in my camera to my iPod Photo which had a whopping 60GB of storage which enabled me to take extra landscape photos on my holidays.

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                                   Sweet frosted tips bro!

Sweet frosted tips bro!

And then somewhere in the middle of all that my older brother got engaged; Him and his fiancee didn’t have a lot of money and knew I was into photography, and asked if I would be the wedding photographer... And a groomsman... And the MC. Naturally as a headstrong 20 year old I obliged all requests, and despite a few embarrassing selective colour wedding portraits
( I swear they were cool at the time ) the photos weren’t half bad. Facebook became a thing and friends and strangers started asking if I could do engagement photos and portraits and weddings.

After a little more practice I decided to put up a website in 2008, and within a couple of months I had booked so much work I had to quit my job. In the years leading up to that point as a 21 year old, I had worked as a Mcdonalds manager, a Starbucks manager, and as a house painter and had never imagined making my living as a self employed “artist”. While I don’t have any formal training, I hesitate to say I’m “self taught” since I made use of any educational resources I could get my hands on at the time from the Strobist blog to Scott Kelby books and endlessly pouring over every wedding photographer’s website I could find.

Now, 10 years in and I’ve shot weddings in 7 countries for hundreds of couples, and have refined how I work to something between an art and a science. I’ve realized that the key to loving what I do is working with people I love spending time with (Groundbreaking, I know). Authenticity in images is crucial for me, I don’t do fake laughs or stiff poses; I direct and move and joke and refine and laugh and climb trees and lie in the dirt.

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 The motorcycle I sold to fund starting my photography business

The motorcycle I sold to fund starting my photography business

One of the most important things to me is that my clients and their friends and family are enjoying themselves, and that the photography is a highlight experience in and of itself rather than an addendum to the other parts of the day. Informal professionalism is my goal; I want you to feel at ease but know that you are in capable hands. I think that great wedding photography shows authentic, creative, and technically masterful coverage of the day that feels involved and engaged rather than from the perspective of an onlooker.

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All of this ties into the way that I work and why I want to meet with every single couple before they book with me and making sure they feel that I’m the right fit for them, and why doing an engagement session is so important to me and is so much more than just putting a couple in front of a pretty backdrop. Everything I do is to build trust, comfort, rapport, and ultimately a relationship that with many of my couples means I have documented everything from their surprise proposal down to family photos with their third child.

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When I’m not shooting for clients, I’m shooting out on the trail. Hiking and backcountry camping experiences make up many of my favourite moments. Every year I try to carve out at least a week or two during my busiest summer months to get out on the trail and explore our incredible province since I love the summertime so much. I don’t have a ton of natural insulation so I can’t get enough of the summer! I love playing soccer and squash and video games, listening to audiobooks and podcasts that dive into how we work and think, reading about tech and politics, and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family who seek authentic conversation; People for who the term “Too Much Information” doesn’t exist, people who wrestle with the million shades of grey that make up our human experience and aren’t afraid to talk about it. I live here in Victoria with my beautiful wife Mandy and our talkative cat Pickles ( affectionately known as “Bink” ), and one day hope to own a small piece of land with tall trees where we can set up a fire pit in the backyard and enjoy a few drinks together while talking about the universe, the latest version of Android, or my favourite brand of wine gums.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I would love the opportunity to make you a coffee here at my studio in Victoria and find out your favourite brand of wine gums too.

- Jon-Mark

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