Charlottetown photographer Rachel Peters is captivated with capturing love.
In fact, her unbridled enthusiasm for photographing all things amour at weddings has garnered her recognition that she never thought possible when she left her well-paying desk job to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time wedding photographer four years ago.
“I am totally in love with love,” laughs Peters, who was recently named one of Canada’s 25 most inspiring wedding photographers by Wedding Bells magazine.
“I love when couples are really cute together. It’s almost like it spreads to me. It just makes me feel happy.”
Peters has been fascinated by photography since the age of five when she was given an old film camera to play around with.
“That’s just where the love and appreciation for everything and seeing things differently started,” she says.
Living in picturesque North Rustico was a bonus for the young shutterbug, whose natural talent was accentuated by years of trial and error.
“I think I learned from my mistakes of how to do things. When you’re working with film you learn pretty quickly. You don’t have (the luxury of) a digital camera where you can go back and delete, delete, delete and keep trying,” she smiles.
Peters first focused on landscapes and later added portrait-style photography to her interests.
“They kind of go together. If you can get the landscape (in mind) and then put the people in, that makes a big difference (in the overall image),” she says.
Peters became fascinated with wedding photography more than five years ago.
Then four years ago she decided to rethink her career path, which for the previous decade had been a desk job at the Summerside Tax Centre.
“Every day was going by and I was thinking ‘Should I be doing this or what should I do?’ and I just thought ‘You know what? I’m going to follow my dream,’” she remembers.
“The night I gave my notice that I was going, everyone was just like ‘Oh my gawd, you’re actually going to do it?’ and (my response was) ‘I’m not going to sit around here thinking about it. I might as well just do this and see what happens.’”
And so in the dead zone of January 2009, she became a free agent in the entrepreneurial world and Rachel Peters Photography was born.
“I felt free. I just needed to make that decision and once I made that decision I was happy with it,” she says.
“I knew obviously things weren’t going to be easy right off the bat. You can’t just say you’re a photographer and then all of a sudden phone calls are going to be coming in.”
Peters started with a base of potential clients. Business picked up as the busy summer wedding season set in and has increased.
Two years ago, she and a group of savvy local wedding vendors married their talents to promote P.E.I. as a prime wedding destination.
Their stylized wedding photo shoots, at locales such as North Rustico Harbour, Cavendish, Woodleigh Replicas and Charlottetown, have been published on major online wedding blogs and in publications, such as Style Me Pretty, Wedding Bells Magazine, Wedding Chicks, 100 Layer Cake and more.
And their personally created package deals include the finest they have to offer in trend-setting décor, stationery, hair, makeup, photography, accessories, cakes and more.
Peters says wedding shoots have expanded far beyond the typical bride, groom and family shots.
“It’s details, details, details; the paper products, for example. Now people aren’t just doing invitations from (a retail store). Now they’re completely custom designed and they have posters on the walls that may have the story of how they met and so on. It’s the whole wedding (package) — everything flows together,” she adds.
Sometimes the best shots come in unexpected ways, so it pays to be able to go with the flow.
One of Peters’ favourite spur-of-the-moment captures is of a groom dipping his new bride for a romantic kiss as their bridal party surrounds them with a halo of sparklers.
“That was the last shot of the night at a wedding. We literally said ‘The sparklers! We have to use the sparklers!’ So we tried it . . . ,” she says.
“I said, ‘Kiss her’ and he just grabbed her and kissed her. I thought I couldn’t have made you do that any more perfect. Even their kissing looks totally perfect.”
Sometimes Peters is asked to travel with the bridal party to wedding destinations such as Jamaica or Cuba to shoot on site there.
But a growing number of off-Island-based couples are choosing P.E.I. as their wedding location choice.
“P.E.I. is so beautiful you can get married anywhere,” says Peters, whose wedding portrait image was chosen for the 2011 Award of Excellence at the annual Wedding Professional Photographers International conference in Las Vegas.
“I literally sat there in shock. I didn’t know what to do because the people who are judging are world-renowned. There are 15,000 photographers there and then some,” she says.
Peters was also the only P.E.I.-based photographer and among a select few from Atlantic Canada who were named one of 25 Most Inspiring Wedding Photographers for 2013 by the editors of Wedding Bells.
“If you can get a shot that makes each couple happy, like ‘That’s my ultimate favourite. I can’t get enough of it!’” she says. “That’s what I want for everyone.”
AT A GLANCE
Charlottetown wedding photographer Rachel Peters was recently named as one of Canada’s 25 most inspiring wedding photographers by Wedding Bells.
One of her wedding portraits was chosen for the 2011 Award of Excellence at the annual Wedding Professional Photographers International conference in Las Vegas.