Erwin Loewen was an artist long before he ever became a photographer. Years were spent as a pencil sketch artist learning to capture the shape, form and fall of light on his first subjects: horses and beautiful women. Since learning the art of photography, he has managed to transfer his artistic vision and skill to the camera lens. If you've ever browsed Erwin Loewen's website or albums, you'll see that his work is a production of gorgeous wedding photos, each one seeming to show close attention to detail and a strong influence from the fashion industry. He describes his approach as "less traditional and more spontaneous in nature with a candid and photojournalistic feel."
Over the years, Erwin has acquired a reputation for photography that has brides looking like supermodels and for his extensive use of almost entirely natural available light when on location. Erwin also aims to balance the traditional poses that brides expect with playful and fashion-inspired shots that truly reflect his brides' personalities, Erwin strives to customize his style to each wedding. We sat down with Erwin to get a closer look at his portfolio and to learn more...
Erwin became interested in photography because, as a young sketch artist, he found that working from photographs was easier and more convenient than working from life. He began to pursue the craft as a supplement to his art, and soon after he met David Ritchie, a local commercial photographer. "David was my technical teacher. When I worked in a photo lab for him, he used to critique my work. He could be harsh, but whatever he said was always right. His advice was immensely valuable to me.
David was Erwin’s mentor and teacher for a number of years while Erwin worked to learn invaluable skills and also gained the confidence to step out on his own and take on independent jobs. He shot his first wedding at just sixteen, Erwin told us. "I earned $85 for my first wedding. And it was a huge struggle just to get the shots that I wanted. But I discovered something amazing - photography." Since then Erwin’s business has grown extensively, mostly through word of mouth by plenty of satisfied clients!
Making the most of it
Leaning on past experience, Erwin has figured out how to be both resourceful and versatile with his photography. He really knows how to work with what he’s got and make the most of it. "I was raised in a home with lots of love but little money for the luxuries," Erwin told The Ring. "So when I was learning the art of photography, I learned to work with what I had. To this day, I still prefer to use natural light in my photos." Though he now has all of the assorted equipment to do studio shoots, and knows the ins and outs of how to use it, Erwin still believes that people belong outside in the natural light in order to look their best. "I use a flash indoors if I have to, but I prefer not to use it. Usually, it’s only necessary for the reception shots."
Style on demand
Erwin says he can shoot just about any style. His goal with each wedding is to customize his style to suit the personality and preferences of his clients and has shot everything from photojournalistic, to fashion, to the more formal, posed photography that many couples still expect from their wedding photographer. He is fantastic at fun, unique shots, like a bride decked out in all her finery roaming a produce market in the midst of carrots and melons, or a bride and her maid of honour dancing and twirling on the lawn, their crinolines swirling around them. For Erwin, wedding photography is about the passion and fire of a relationship on film. "I let them get so wrapped up in their love and passion for each other that they forget I'm there," he explained, adding, "I capture the sensuality of the relationship but it's always appropriate and G rated..."
Even supermodels need direction
Erwin loves to make women look and feel beautiful in their photos, which is another reason this photographer sets his sights on brides. "They're gorgeous, they're in love..." With the beauty of fashion-inspired poses, combined with Erwin's own style, the result is photos with candid feel where both you and your groom look stunning. Erwin does use posed shots, but in less traditional setups that feel relaxed and realistic. Regardless of the style that he shoots, there is one quality that is distinctive to Erwin’s photos - his subjects are always full of motion: twirling, laughing, walking, kissing, dancing... there is a real sense of life to his photos. That said, Erwin admits that he's quick to add a little direction here and there to make sure the couple is not only comfortable, confident and looking fabulous in print. "Even supermodels need direction."
The Photoshop advantage
Erwin also shoots every wedding in digital format. He is an absolute whiz with Photoshop! In addition to the usual playing with colour that you see from other digital photographers, Erwin is able to work with backgrounds, or switch heads seamlessly. If you love the pose of one picture but your eyes are closed, he can alter it without anyone ever knowing the difference. This specific skill has its roots in his artistic background. Having studied and drawn the body in detail, he knows what it should look like in different poses and where the shadows and highlights should be.
Erwin always has a selection of different locations planned for any wedding, and each one offers its own interesting advantages. He has set up shots at a river’s edge, or with interesting architecture as a backdrop, on cliffs overlooking the beach, or in fields of golden wheat. He chooses several different options for each wedding because, as he puts it, "you never know when the weather will turn. Even the direction of the wind will affect the location that I choose for the outdoor shots. I can’t very well pose a bride in front of a beautiful background if the wind is blowing her veil across her face." It’s nice to know that someone is taking care of the weather!
A few of The Ring's favourite things...
We love that Erwin doesn’t show you samples of just his "best" work on his website (though to us, it's all his best anyway), he’ll show you an entire wedding, from start to finish and all of the shots in between.
When you book Erwin for your wedding photos, you don’t just get an online proof album, he’s one of the few photographers who still includes printed proofs in all of his packages!
There are no pre-designed packages with Erwin. All packages are customized to suit each couple. Erwin starts at $2500 for having him shoot for the day, and there is no limit on the amount of time he will be there. If you want him to shoot the reception as well, there is an additional charge of $50 per hour.
Erwin will make sure that you get of all the photos that you need in order to capture the complete story of your wedding. "I tend to shoot a lot when I’m doing a wedding. Most couples tend to get an average of 400 proofs by the end of the day. Sometimes it’s less, if the couple doesn’t leave enough time for pictures or just don’t want any more." After you get your proofs, you can customize your package based on the album, enlargements and number of prints that you would like. If you contact Erwin with the specific items you are looking for, he can give you detailed pricing info.
It doesn't matter how long you wait to print your photos, either, as Erwin notes that a lot of couples will get their high resolution files right away, but return a few years later for albums and enlargements. That's not the only thing that clients return for - Erwin says that post-wedding photo shoots have become very popular - a shoot where the bride can have some fun without the stress and worry about having to keep her dress clean. And you can also return years after your wedding for Erwin's newly added bellies and babies shoots and his always popular family photos, as well.
Erwin rarely shoots with an assistant. "I’m too much of a perfectionist!" he told us. "When I work with an assistant, I just end up double checking everything again. But brides and grooms seem to like the attention to detail that I give them." This attention to detail and theme for doing things twice is also evident by the fact that Erwin double backs up all of his photos. Always! So you can rest assured that your images are safe as he saves them to disc and to a hard drive.
Details, details, details
• Erwin Loewen Photography shoots an average of 25 weddings per year with room for up to 40 weddings, so if you’re interested in booking him for a Saturday, you should book about 9 to 12 months in advance. Of course, the most popular holiday weekends book up even faster, so take that into consideration.
• Erwin is also willing to travel for destination weddings.
• If he’s available, he’ll take a booking up to the last minute. "I’m willing to book more than one wedding per weekend. I shoot a lot of Romanian weddings and they tend to be on Fridays and Sundays."
• A deposit of 1/3 is due at booking, another 1/3 is due the week before the wedding and the remaining 1/3 is due when the couple picks up their proofs.
• Unlimited coverage for the day (excluding reception) is a flat rate of $1499 with reception coverage added at an additional $50 per hour.
• Your proofs are ready about 2 to 3 weeks after your wedding day.
In other words...
"It was a privilege for us to have you take our wedding photographs. They turned out really well and we've had many compliments on them. I'm going to hire you for all my weddings! lol. After that comment, it's more likely that you'll be hired for my funeral." - Marty & Lydia
"Thank you so much Erwin! Now we just have to choose which ones we want to order! It's going to be tough because they are all so wonderful." - Dawn & Mark
"Thank you so much for being part of our special day. You did an amazing job. You fit right in with everyone and we all thought you were great!" - Michelle & Sarv