Trying to find a photographer that combines emotion-filled shots with artistry? Lee Simmons of Island Life Photographics, based in Campbell River, is the photographer for your special day! Lee's style is gentle, detailed, and personal, towards not only the couple, but friends and family. As well, there are some shots sprinkled with humour and wit! Besides his talent for capturing emotion, Lee's ability with scenery is impressive!
Lee grew up in Australia and brought his love of the ocean with him. After many years of building up his photographic reputation in the mountain parks of BC and Alberta, he set up shop in Campbell River. His love of nature can be clearly seen in his work but his talent at capturing feelings and precious moments is what drew him to wedding photography.
So how did an Aussie start taking wedding photos in Canada....?
Across the pond
Lee became interested in photography at a young age. In his youth, he competed in the Junior Iron Man Championships where a film crew came to capture footage of the action. He was ten years old, and remembers innocently making suggestions as to how the filmmakers could get some better angles for the shots. "I remember being patted on the head with a smile!" says Lee. "Now that I look back on it, I believe I was born to be a photographer. Appreciating moments in time is something that has captured my imagination well before I even knew what a camera was."
When Lee first arrived in Canada in 1995, he worked as a ski instructor and tour guide. He began selling his first images for ski hills and tour companies. Lee's father owned his own business, and once Lee got married, Lee also felt natural to work in a field he was passionate about. He opened his own studio in Hinton, Alberta in 1999. Lee had the opportunity to photo celebrities such as Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, Justin Trudeau, Jack Nicholas and Greg Normans. Lee even had a photo published on a stamp, not to mention numerous books, calendars, magazine covers and postcards! So it was a difficult decision to move and start over again - thankfully, his reputation is once again building here on the Island and especially in Campbell River!
Now, Island Photographics' studio is nestled into the Willow Point Market building, and boasts a lovely area to sit down and visit, or preview photos. Lee spends a lot of time out and about in the community as he is well known for children's sports team photography. This might explain his great rapport with kids!
A style that adapts to you & your wedding
When we asked Lee how he would best describe his photography he used the words, 'professional but easy going, with style". When shooting, Lee aims for emotion-filled images that have an artistic approach of their own. .
Levi and Nancy, married November 5, 2011, say Lee’s images are "artistic, creative and visual…" whereas Mandy, married on March 31, 2012, described Lee’s shooting style as entertaining! Scott and Corynne (married August 27, 2011) called Lee “a professional, easy going, artist who cares and has a passion for what he does and his photos are classic with a new age twist"!
Lee himself feels that style is something that should adapt according to the couple. “Diversity can keep you fresh and inspired and help you to continue to grow as an artist. To really nail down my style, I would have to say it's photography of authentic emotion."
Lee feels that he is hired because he works hard at keeping the day all about the couple. "I capture their story in a way that makes them feel as if they are the center of the world - which, as far as I am concerned - that day, they are! I am most interested in refining my skills to offer images that are packed full of emotion. That type of style will be as beautiful today as it is tomorrow."
Lee likes couples who like style......
What keeps Lee returning to wedding photography after all these years? "I am kept inspired by my clients with their stories and personalities. I see each wedding as a blank slate to be created and infused with the life and essence of the day. Each wedding is unique, each story is unique and I love the ever-changing challenges of expressing that story. I think viewing it like this lets the whole story be told."
Lee is adaptable when it comes to staying connecting with his clients. Especially when those clients are destination wedding clients . Scott and Corynne were married on August 27, 2011 and say Lee was very open to different types of communication, whether it be e-mail, phone or in-person meetings.
They explained, “We always felt at ease with Lee and when he showed us an array of his recent wedding photos, I got so excited I nearly cried!"
Corynne and Scott came to Island Life with an interesting story. "We chose Lee because of some photos that were seen by Corynne's mother on the wall of their financial adviser's office! Everyone fell in love with the artistic photos. So we went for a very reasonable engagement session to get to know Lee…” The couple ended up getting a full day for their wedding - from getting ready in the morning to the final garter toss. “It was very important to us to have a true professional and artist for the day and we felt we found that in Lee." They remember it being a super long day for Lee but said he never faltered!
A wedding with Island Life, in the words of brides…
Lee prefers meeting couples himself and finding out their quirks and what makes them unique. "We have a 'get to know you' session where I share images and ideas and learn about their aspirations and desires." When a couple decides to book Lee Simmons, a deposit and contract marks the date on the Island Life shooting calendar. “We also run through the day, discuss the timing as well as location, photography likes and dislikes and more… Then we play!"
Lee's relaxed personality lends itself well to wedding day stresses. "I loved how he worked with us and our wedding party, making us laugh… And how he captured moments we hadn't seen ourselves that day." And Corynne noticed that Lee took amazing pictures all day long. “We loved how he directed us with a smile on his face and so friendly. Friends and family told us that our photographer was everywhere taking photos on our wedding day and I honestly don't remember seeing that much. He moves quickly!!"
Levi and Nancy Aitken chose Lee to photograph their wedding because of his “reasonable pricing and amazing work.” The couple say he’s a fantastic photographer. “We had our engagement and wedding photos done by Lee. He had a good sense of humor, listened to what we were looking for in our photos and we had fun during our session. He captured our special day beautifully."
"Lee will make you smile… He will capture every moment - and he will capture them with absolute beauty", says Corynne.
After the wedding day, Lee goes to work at editing the best shots. Images receive extensive post production work to achieve the award winning look and style. With the permission of the couple, a selection of shots are posted on Facebook and blog entry is added to Lee's website.
However, when it comes time to show a couple their engagement or wedding photos, he goes to great effort to make the occasion special. Usually, it's a sit down at the modern studio to view a slide show of images. Mandy describes their lovely preview this way, "My favorite memory of our experience was the personal way Lee presented our pictures to us. He put on a slide show of our pictures after he edited them and put on some nice music while we watched. I almost cried!"
A few of our favourite things…
- Lee's self-deprecating humour and his ability to sense what is happening around him and respond to it. Corynne had a story to share about Lee helping her remain unruffled on her wedding day. On her wedding day, a wardrobe malfunction occurred with her mother's dress, and she felt the stress. "Lee noticed I was not taking it well and he took me outside for "self portraits", showing me some of the photos already taken and how beautiful they were. Not until later did I realize that he was actually removing me from the stressful situation, and turning the moment into a "it's your day" moment. I am so thankful I was not around to watch my mother's dress get fixed with duct tape - instead I was off with Lee in a magical world of pretty pictures!"
- We love that Lee's clients love him! Mandy says, "Lee himself is such a great guy that he could probably put any price he wanted on his work!" Corynne agrees, saying “Lee is the best investment of your wedding - overall awesome!"
- He’s kid-friendly (with experience photographing children) - which can be quite useful when there are young ones in a wedding party! Mandy's experience was that "Lee was more than amazing. He made sure that he knew all the names of the wedding party and our kids. We are so glad we chose him. Our experience was better than perfect."
- We love that Lee has a Craftsman of the Photographic Arts Award from the PPOC!
- We got a kick out of one of the couples we interviewed. They stated that their biggest problem with Lee was that he took "too many great photos to choose from"! We should all have this problem with our photographer!!
Pricing out our Island Life photography package
Lee feels he is best known for beautiful images, great fun, stylish yet affordable photos. Full day packages are the most popular service that he offers.
All day (usually eleven hours) is $2250.00 and an eight hour package is $1950.00. All applicable taxes are extra. A $250.00 deposit to save a date.
Lee is currently exploring multi-media presentations as an additional offering to album prints. His product line continues to grow with collages, albums and a range of products to help you tell your story.
Mandy felt that Lee "offered us the best quality and made the experience priceless. It wasn't just the photos that made the money worth it. There are tons of packages that you can choose from and one is bound to be in your budget."
Scott and Corynne told us, "Lee's pricing is accurate for what he gives. He does awesome touch up work when needed and makes sure only great photos make it into your hands. I will be hiring Lee for all our special life moments in the future."
Details, details, details
A $250 deposit books your wedding with Island Life, based upon availability. Prices range from $1,750.00 to $2,350.00 (taxes are applicable) for wedding day coverage. A la Carte items, such as albums, are priced separately.
Wedding images receive approximately 16 hours of post-production and include ownership of enhanced digital photos with rights released.