About Joel & Justyna
“Art is the Flower. Life is the Green Leaf. Let every artist strive to make his flower a beautiful living thing, something that will convince the world that there may be, there are, things more precious more beautiful – more lasting than life itself.” ~ Charles Rennie Mackintosh - Joel and Justyna are international destination wedding photographers, based out of Ottawa, Canada. “In all we create, we aim to leave the world more beautiful than we found it.”
Behind The Brand
Your best piece of advice for event planning?
If we had to plan our own wedding all over again, we’d start by hiring a fantastic planner, and with them choose our date/location. Planners have wonderful insight and have options that you probably hadn’t even considered. A wedding is so much more than a ‘big party’ – and the right planner can really help you create not only the celebration of your dreams but a once-in-a-lifetime celebration that really suits your tastes and who you are. We most likely would have gone the destination route as well….
An under-rated vendor is a lighting designer. If you value the quality of your wedding photos, a lighting designer can ensure that you are in the best possible light during your reception/speeches/ceremony. Sometimes what looks ‘pretty’ in real life, doesn’t translate as well through a camera lens. While a great photographer can always work with any lighting thrown at them, a lighting designer can really elevate the mood and atmosphere from the get-go.
What was the spark for Joel & Justyna? Where did the story begin?
Back in 2012, we were entrusted to photograph small, backyard wedding – we hadn’t yet photographed a wedding so beautifully curated and casual. It was a different pace than we were used to; the couple really gave us space to not only create beautiful imagery but also showcase their celebration with a more ‘subjective’ lens. There was no strict timeline, they didn’t mind showing their true emotions, and their friends and family really made us feel like old friends. It was then that we realized our role was more than ‘just a vendor’ – we were there to immortalize a beautiful day in this couple’s lives. We stopped thinking about how we were ‘expected’ to photograph moments during a wedding day, and really started finding our own perspective and philosophy.
What inspires you creatively?
Joel: It can either be travel; visiting an old estate, strolling through the grounds, exploring the gardens…dropping by an art gallery and exploring a previously unknown collection, or simply driving through a beautiful landscape and noticing how the light can change and interact with the surroundings. Inspiration also comes from studying our peers – other photographers’ techniques and subject matter can provide new ideas to draw from.
Justyna: Beautiful, passionate eccentrics that live life by their own rules. I love photographing humans who don’t conform to what is expected of them, who are confident in who they are, who don’t feel the need to blend. Eccentric, passionate weirdos, haha. I love them.
Most memorable place you’ve travelled?
Justyna: We’ve been so lucky to see so much of the world, and it’s really tough to narrow down just one. My top three though are Tucumcari New Mexico, Paris and Vietnam. Joel and I drove across the US in 2015, and in New Mexico drove down old route 66. Tucumcari is sort of the beginning, and it still has all the old motels with neon signs. We were SO excited when we arrived at dusk, we couldn’t stop shooting. Last year we visiting Paris in June and there’s always something so romantic and memorable about Paris. Getting in on an overnight flight, taking a nap in the park before checking in to our hotel an then immediately hitting the streets for Nuit de la Musique – it was fantastique! We visited Vietnam in 2016 and saw most of the country from North to South. Every corner had something so storybook and cinematic happening, I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Joel: I lived in Japan off and on over the course of 5 years. The group mentality shared by the Japanese people is something that’s always stood out to me; there are so many people in such a small landmass, there’s a common understanding that the citizens conform to and it’s visible everywhere from commuting, eating, even walking down the street. Its energy and current – Tokyo, specifically – are rivaled only to NYC, in my experience. When Justyna and I visited the town in which her extended family lives in southern Poland, while on our honeymoon, I felt an immense peace and clarity whether be it from the fresh air, the smell of chimney flues being exercised in mid-autumn, or from our daily long-walks which invigorated the spirit. In any case, the memories are clear to me, even four years later.
On a typical weekend we’ll find you?
On Saturdays, typically photographing a wedding. On Sundays, the occasional engagement session isn’t uncommon, but usually, we’ll be culling the previous day’s shoot, preparing for the coming week, or heading over to Joel’s mom’s house for dinner and to pick up our dog, Bort (Joel’s mom graciously takes care of him when we’re working). Mondays are usually our day off – on that day, Joel usually goes for his 10K run, Justyna will be making something special for dinner, or we’ll both be entertaining friends, or taking Bort out for reacquainting walk.
A favorite quote?
“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative” ~ Oscar Wilde