Journal


"Don't accept the old order. Get rid of it." - John Lydon

Voted Best Wedding Photographer in Montreal

Best Montreal Wedding Photographer

I was recently voted Best Wedding Photographer in Montreal in the Lux Wedding Awards. It came out of the blue as I never even knew I’d been nominated but it’s always great to be recognised, especially since I only moved to Montreal recently.

The thing is I’m not really a fan of photography awards or competitions. I really don’t know how a photographer can be deemed the best at what they do when photography is such a subjective and personal art form. I know some people love my photography but I’m under no illusion that many won’t. And that’s fine. In fact, it’d be really weird if everyone liked my photos. People like different things. Not everyone likes Ed Sheeran even though he’s the most popular music star in the world right now. A lot of people really dislike Ed. I’m sure he’s fine with that though. Music, like photography, is something that’s totally down to the individual’s taste.

If somebody won the 100m race at the Olympics then we can probably say they were the best. On that day anyway. We can safely assume that the best chess player in the world is currently Magnus Carlsen. Magnus is the reigning world chess champion and has been since 2013. It’s not an opinion. It’s just fact. But who decides if I’m the best wedding photographer in Montreal? Am I the best technically? Definitely not. I’m no geek when it comes to photography equipment. And to say I’m the best wedding photographer artistically is totally down to the viewer’s opinion and personal taste. Some would judge my photography on whether it’s in focus and the colours are true to life. Others would judge the best wedding photos to be the ones that make them feel something emotionally. For me, I aim to make images that are different, but also creative in a way that evokes an emotion of some kind. I also love certain tones and have a distinctive style when it comes to my editing.

Steve Gerrard Photography from Steve Gerrard on Vimeo.

Think about this: the photo below of The Clash‘s Paul Simonon was taken by legendary music photographer Pennie Smith. It’s considered one of the best concert photos ever taken and was used on the cover of the band’s classic London Calling album. It almost epitomises rock n roll or punk rock in a single image. But… it’s out of focus. Does that mean it’s a bad photo? Some might say it does. Obviously, I’d be the first to disagree with them. It captures a fleeting moment in music history. Pennie was the only person to be in the right place at the right time and pressed the shutter at the perfect moment. It gives a sense of what the concert was like and has an energy and rebelliousness to it that perfectly represents The Clash. It’s a classic image that is part of history. But technically, it’s not perfect. Do we care? No. Similarly, if a wedding photo captures a moment and evokes emotion in the viewer then it’s a great wedding photo in my eyes. Even if it’s not composed perfectly or it’s out of focus.

Not long ago, when I was back in England, I was voted Best Wedding Photographer in the UK. That’s the only other time I’ve won an award for my wedding photography, and there’s a good reason for that. I never enter wedding photography awards or contests. I feel weird submitting my images into something that I don’t really agree with. The UK award was voted for by the general public and I had nothing to do with my name being one of the nominees. The fact that I won was absolutely great, don’t get me wrong, especially as it wasn’t decided by a panel of judges.

Best Wedding Photographer Montreal

There are many wedding photography awards where the photographer has to pay to even enter. So the person who wins best wedding photographer is actually the “best wedding photographer who entered and agreed to pay the fee”. Not sure how that counts for much. Each to their own though. Any recognition is gonna benefit a photographer. And maybe the fact that they were voted the best wedding photographer in their area will instil some added confidence in their clients. I hope that my clients book me because they love my photos and feel some kind of connection with me as a person. That means they will trust me to do the best for them on their wedding day. They know I’ll give them a set of wedding photos that will transport them back into a moment in time, and hopefully, they’ll love some of them enough to display on their walls or in an album or photobook. If that happens, then my job is done.

best montreal wedding photographers

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Amster-damn!

Justin Timberlake Montreal Bell Centre

I caught JT in Montreal this week. No photo pass. This was taken on my Fuji X100T point n shoot.

It’s 8 am and I’m drinking whisky in Amsterdam.

Ok, technically it’s 2 am cos I’m still on Montreal time so I can still call this a nightcap, right? Not sure all the European commuters having breakfast in the KLM lounge would believe that reasoning but hey… cheers!

I’m on my way to the UK for a 9-day visit that will include two workshops, nine (count ’em!) family shoots and 3 or 4 concerts depending on whether my Trivium pass is approved. But I have nine hours to kill in Amsterdam first! I guess I could take advantage of some of what the ‘Dam has to offer (museums and galleries obviously) but I haven’t slept for almost 24 hours so I’m just gonna chill in the lounge, listen to the new Møl (I reviewed it here), Wonder Years, Isaac Gracie and Underoath albums, and catch up on some reading. That makes me sound more cultured than I am. My reading mostly involves Rolling Stone and random photography websites.

Weirdly, after so much back n forth since moving to Canada, this may be my last trip to the UK for a few months. 90% of my weddings this year are close to Montreal, which is great, but I still wanna do a few UK weddings every year if I can. I get to catch up with friends, visit my mom, stock up on M&S tea bags and Percy Pigs, have some decent fish & chips and enjoy some real country pubs. Canada doesn’t really do pubs. Certainly not good ones.

I’m looking forward to these next 9 days but I’m also eager to get home for a while. I have a wedding in Mexico coming up but apart from that, and a mystery plan that Evelyne has up her sleeve for my birthday, I’ll be close to home for most of the year now. And I have plans.

I’ve photographed four proposals already this year. This was taken not long after Kimiya said yes to Neal.

For a while now I’ve been keen to explore a new side to my photography, shooting editorial portraits and maybe more commercial work. It’s not a million miles away from the music portraits I do but I wanna push it further and develop my skills on the lighting side. It’s certainly something I think I could be good at and I’m keen to see where it takes me. As I’m travelling less in 2018, hopefully, I’ll have time to pursue this new direction, complete with a new website, and develop some new photographic skills.

cradle of filth in montreal

24 hours after catching Justin Timberlake I was photographing something completely different…. Cradle Of Filth.

The sun is shining in Amsterdam. I’m ready for Spring.

When I left Montreal it was raining and there’s snow forecast this weekend. Prince was correct. Speaking of Prince, and that song, have you heard Meshell Ndegeocello’s cover version? If you don’t cry, you may be dead already!

Anyways….. who’s coming to Rock Your Shot? Gonna be so good! Looking forward to catching up with people. And the weather is meant to be great! It’s 75% sold out but that means there are still tickets. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t join us!

rock your shot sheffield

It’s always humbling being asked to speak alongside photographers who are raising the bar in wedding photography. I’ll try not to embarrass myself. I’ve made the decision not to do any more group workshops of my own moving forward. I’ll still do Online Mentoring and One-To-One Workshops and I’ll speak at workshops when invited but probably no more group workshops of my own. I’ve done so many now. And it was really nice to be mentioned in Alan Law‘s recent interview. Alan is doing great things in wedding photography in the UK and has found his niche in the reportage area that he’s so great at. See below…

So I’ll leave you with some things to check out. Some you may love. Some you probably won’t. Thanks for reading. Sorry if I rambled. I’m tired. And still drinking whisky.

If You’re Giving 100% at Work, You’re Making a Huge Mistake

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KIDS & FAMILY SESSIONS 2018

best family photographers

I’m getting requests to do kids and family photo shoots more and more in both Montreal and the UK so I’m now booking shoots for spring, summer and autumn (fall) 2018.

And all with 25% off!!!

That brings the price down to $450 + tx (Canada) or £300 (UK) and includes all the edited hi-resolution images.

Cool stuff like framed prints and coffee table books are available to purchase after the photos are delivered if you wish. I’m only booking one or two sessions per day so you’ll have time to relax and enjoy the shoot.

best family photographer

Sessions are typically around 2 hours but can often go longer. As for locations, we can head for forests, parks, beaches, urban locations or just stay home. Or maybe a mix. Travel costs may apply.

At the time of writing the dates below are the only dates that I’m available in the UK so please let me know if you’d like to secure a date.

April
14th-21st (All dates are now booked)

In summer, shoots can be scheduled in the early evening to take advantage of the best light.

In Montreal, dates are very flexible so drop me an email.

Really looking forward to hanging out with people and capturing some great moments for your families…

Any questions? 🙂

best family photographybest family photographers montreal

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Too Much Good Music!

Steve Gerrard's Best Albums of 2017

Hello. My name is Steve and I’m a music junkie. It’s been zero minutes since my last fix.

Truth be told I’ve been kinda obsessed with music since I was about 9 years old. I’ve never been interested in sports so, as kids, my friends and I would spend our spare time hanging out listening to albums and literally counting the days til the next concert. Back then our music tastes were limited. Lots of 80s metal and hip-hop. We’d listen to albums by AC/DC, Motley Crue, Beastie Boys and Guns N Roses repeatedly, studying the lyrics and plastering our bedroom walls with posters. I’d save my dinner money from school so that I could buy the new Jane’s Addiction album on the day of release, cycling from school into town and then home to stick it on the turntable. Every album was an event and I would indulge myself every time.

But that’s not how it works in 2018.

Now we can check out almost every album the instant it’s released. Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and others make it so easy to listen to whatever we like, and it only costs a small subscription fee. I listen to so much music and care about good quality sound, that I’m subscribed to Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music, although Apple is mostly for Beats 1 radio shows. I prefer Tidal for its sound quality but Spotify has a better interface and has some albums that aren’t on Tidal. Spotify is also better for sharing playlists with other music fans.

But I’ve recently realised that all this access to music has had one definite downside to my enjoyment of listening to the bands and artists I love. Whereas back in the 80s I’d listen to Violator by Depeche Mode til I pretty much wore it out, now I’ll get excited about the new Beck album, listen to it a couple of times before spending hours listening to new music just in case I discover a band I’ve missed. I’m not spending time getting to really know albums inside out like I used to. I’m listening to so much good music, but I think I need to make an effort to spend most of my time with GREAT music. I actually don’t think there’s enough time to listen to music that’s just good. And I have a job that allows me to listen to tunes all day long unless I’m out shooting. Sam Hurd even listens to music on headphones when he’s shooting a wedding reception. I’ve considered doing the same. Especially when I’m at a wedding where the DJ plays Despacito!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what my favourite albums of 2017 have been. I always take this list far too seriously, to be honest, and I have listened to almost every album that made any Best Of 2017 list just in case I missed something amazing. Like the Jordan Rekai album for example. I don’t always agree with the albums in those lists of course. I struggled to get into the LCD Soundsystem album despite it topping so many lists, and I genuinely can not listen to Father John Misty!

One other thing that has changed dramatically over the years is that my taste in music has expanded more and more. There are almost no genres of music where I can’t find anything I love. I’ve yet to hear any ska music I like but feel free to offer suggestions. I love a lot of alternative, metal, acoustic, electronic, indie, hip hop…. the list goes on. And I now have a system that makes the albums I’m listening to sound even better. It all just fuels my addiction.

So I think this year I’m gonna stop chasing new music quite so much and spend time with the albums I truly love. Just like the old days… Some of those albums will be played on vinyl. Most will be streamed via Tidal. But I’ll be spending more time with them. I have no doubt it’ll be time well spent.

So, if you’re interested, and I really hope you are, here are my favourite albums of 2017. In rough order. But that changes weekly. I’ve kept the heavier stuff separate cos so many people would find it unlistenable. I know my tastes can be a bit weird. I like it that way 🙂 My love for atmospheric black metal has really developed recently with bands like Iceland’s Auðn making stunning soundscapes that evoke the landscapes the band evolved from. But then I’ve loved the Rose Cousins album, which is pretty much as far from metal as you can get. It all depends on what I’m in the mood for. And if Evelyne’s in the house with me!

Please take time to check out any artists in these lists you’re not familiar with. You may stumble across your next favourite album… And if you have Spotify, I’ve compiled two playlists of my favourite music of the year. And yes, that is a Harry Styles song you see!

Favourite Albums of 2017 (excluding the really heavy stuff)

1. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
2. Noah Gundersen – White Noise
3. The National – Sleep Well Beast
4. Ryan Adams – Prisoner
5. Beck – Colours
6. The Bronx – V
7. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger In The Alps
8. London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful Thing
9. Rose Cousins – Natural Conclusion
10. Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life
11. Four Tet – New Energy
12. Jordan Rakei – Wallflower
13. Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface
14. Rise Against – Wolves
15. Leif Vollebekk – Twin Solitude
16. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
17. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
18. Elbow – Little Fictions
19. St Vincent – Masseduction
20. Quicksand – Interiors

Favourite Metal & Hardcore Albums of 2017

1. All Pigs Must Die – Hostage Animal
2. Code Orange – Forever
3. Ulsect – Ulsect
4. Auðn – Farvegir fyrndar
5. Cursed Earth – Cycles Of Grief
6. Helpless – Debt
7. Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven
8. Pilorian – Obsidian Arc
9. Employed To Serve – The Warmth Of A Dying Sun
10. Violet Cold – Anomie
11. Sun Of The Sleepless – To The Elements
12. Axis – Shift
13. Sect – No Cure For Death
14. Fit For An Autopsy – The Great Collapse
15. Pallbearer – Heartless
16. Der Weg einer Freiheit – Finisterre
17. Godflesh – Post Self
18. Full Of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstacy
19. Converge – The Dusk In Us
20. Myrkur – Mareridt

And if you think I’ve missed an album in 2017 make sure you let me know. I need to feed my addiction!

Happy New Year to anyone who read this whole post. Make it a good one. Cheers! While you’re listening to those playlists you could always check out my Best Photos of 2017 post 🙂

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Real Questions for Wedding Photographers

saint justine wedding

Winter has definitely arrived here in Montreal. Dropping the kids off to school this morning felt like we were in a scene from some cheesy Christmas movie as snowflakes drifted down around us. But winter means I have more time to spend on all those jobs I never quite get around to during peak wedding season… like blog posts.

I’ve blogged quite a bit in the past few weeks. And I’ve also been asked by a few wedding blogs to write posts for them. This week I wrote a piece about winter weddings for the WeddingLovely blog. And I’ve just finished a post for MTL Wedding Blog titled THE REAL QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD BE ASKING YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER.

We photographers tend to asked the same old questions by potential clients. Many are fair enough but a few are just taken from some list that they found online and I can tell that they’re not really that bothered by the answer. I recently had a couple ask “what are you go-to photos on a wedding day?” I never have any go-to photos though. Every wedding is unique and all about what happens in that moment when those people come together. I’d hate to feel like I was just shooting the same thing I shot last weekend but with a new couple.

Anyway you can check out my post on MTL Wedding Blog RIGHT HERE if you’re interested. Feel free to share it with anyone you know who’s looking for their own wedding photographer….

questions for wedding photographers

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Transatlanticism

I’m writing this somewhere over the Atlantic between the UK and Montreal, a place I’ve found myself every month or two over the past 3 years. I’m heading west which mean home, and looking forward to seeing Evelyne and our boys. The past week I’ve been working in the UK, shooting a wedding, four family sessions, some band portraits and a couple of live gigs. A few photos are in this post. It’s been pretty non-stop, and I had to postpone a couple of shoots due to some almost cliched British weather, but overall it’s been a fun seven or eight days.

When we first moved to Montreal in 2014 nobody really knew who I was as a photographer except a few other photographers. It was over a year later that I booked my first Montreal wedding, so having work in the UK was pretty important. Actually it was kind of essential. Shooting weddings does actually mean I can travel back and forth over the Atlantic and make a good living, even when we take off the cost of flights etc. I don’t charge any travel expenses for UK weddings. I don’t want that extra cost to discourage UK couples from booking me, and if I do a couple of weddings in one trip it actually works out pretty well.

Having work in the UK allowed me to breathe a little after the big move. I wasn’t relying on getting work in Canada to pay the bills so I had time to get settled, work on my SEO, make connections in the industry and build my business in Quebec. Three years later and I’m far from the established Montreal wedding photographer, but most of my weddings in 2018 will be in my new home country. That’s exactly what I want but I do definitely still want to be shooting a handful of UK weddings each year. In my head, that number is around ten to twelve, with maybe 15 Montreal weddings and a couple in other countries. In the next year I already have weddings coming up in Bangkok and Mexico. I do love destination weddings but sometimes it’s not quite as glamorous as it might look on social media! I’m planning a Journal post that goes deeper into the subject of destination weddings soon…

I realise that couples looking for a wedding photographer in the UK may feel a little uneasy booking someone who lives so far away. When I was based in Birmingham, England I had one enquiry asking if I travel as far as Lichfield. That’s roughly 30 minutes drive! Some people just assume wedding photographers cover their local market and that’s it.

The tricky thing for me has been working to build a name in Montreal but still making it clear to UK couples that, as far as booking me to shoot a wedding there, nothing has really changed. I always fly at least 3 days before a wedding just in case of travel issues (so far I’ve had almost none of those) but the amount of enquiries I get from British couples has understandable dropped dramatically. Hopefully I’ll continue to get a few UK weddings. I love shooting in the UK and it gives me the opportunity to catch up with my mom, hang out with friends, stock up on M&S teabags, Bisto and proper Cadburys chocolate, as well as visit some good countryside pubs. Seriously, you don’t realise how good you’ve got in for great pubs in the UK. I’ve yet to find any in Canada that even come close.

The other thing I got to do this week was hang out for a day with my friend and mega-photographer Ross Harvey. Every year I try to do at least one workshop where I see what I can learn that will take my business and my photography to the next level. Ross is a great guy and I have a lot of respect for him. He’s also far more technically minded than yours truly and I learned new things about my cameras, editing techniques, new SEO tricks and general business practice. It was only yesterday that I was with him and the eagle-eyed amongst you may have already noticed a few slight changes to this website. More to come.

Ross Harvey Steve Gerrard

So, tomorrow I’ll be shooting a small wedding with my friend Lindsay in Quebec and, after that, things calm down a lot as winter approaches. I’m really looking forward to having time to look at other things once my editing is up to date. I have more learning planned, including improving my French, and will also be preparing for my own workshop that I’m hosting in Montreal in April.
As New Model Army once said… no rest for the wicked ones.

Ok I think we’re gonna be landing shortly. “Tray tables up and laptops stored”.

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You Got Lucky Babe

Steve Gerrard wedding

Today is bittersweet. One of the musicians who soundtracked my life passed away way too soon. Tom Petty was still touring and creating amazing music and we’ll never know the songs he was yet to write but we’ll always have a huge catalogue of magnificent music. I was lucky enough to see him in concert a couple of times. He was a fantastic performer, musician and songwriter. RIP Tom.

But today is also a milestone for Evelyne & I. It was 3rd October 2007 that all the photos below were taken when we had our wedding at Polhawn Fort in Cornwall surrounded by some of our favourite people on the planet. And our dogs. It was a super-relaxed day. We did it our way and just wanted everyone to have fun with us.

Considering it was October we were crazy lucky with the weather and had an outdoor ceremony overlooking the sea. Elliott wasn’t even 3 months old at the time and was our ring bearer (they were tied on a ribbon around his neck).

Everyone always asks who shot my wedding, and we were lucky enough to have not one but three friends who offered to take photos for us. Bianca Barrett, Lisa Gault and Bridget McCann. Some of their photos are now framed on our walls here in Canada.

And this morning I surprised Evelyne…. with a wedding album. Yes, I know!! It took ten years! But I am so happy we finally have all the best photos in a gorgeous album from Vision Art. Can’t wait to show the kids when they get back from school. And I hope one day they’ll show it to their kids…

So we have been married for 3,653 days.
That’s 522 weeks.
120 months.
TEN YEARS!
A decade of marriage.
And I still love her. A lot.

“Good love is hard to find
You got lucky, babe
When I found you” – Tom Petty

Happy anniversary to us! 🙂

Steve Evelyne wedding
Steve Gerrard Polhawn Fort wedding
Steve Gerrard wedding Polhawn
Polhawn Fort wedding
Steve Gerrard Polhawn Fort
Steve Gerrard Evelyne
Best Polhawn Fort wedding photos



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Happy Birthday to my favourite girl

Evelyne Desilets Grand Canyon

September 22nd. Evelyne’s birthday.

The sun is shining. It’s 25 degrees outside and Evelyne has the day off work. We’re just about to go grab some lunch together. Just the two of us. The kids are in school 🙂

Evelyne’s not big on birthdays. Sometimes she forgets it’s her own birthday! But I don’t forget. She works so hard, always putting everyone else before herself, so I relish the opportunity to make a fuss of her. Not that I only do that once a year of course!

She’s amazing. And beautiful. We have had so many adventures together since we met 14 years ago. She’s the absolute best mom to our boys, she’s my rock and I’m excited to see where our life together takes us next.

In short, she’s the love of my life. Happy Birthday Evelyne xxx

* Photos by Ed Peers, Jeff Newsom, Sean Flanigan, The Crawleys, The Willinghams, Fer Juaristi, Jonathan Canlas, Emma Case…. and us!

Evelyne Desilets by Ed Peers
Evelyne Desilets photos
Steve & Evelyne by Sean Flanigan

Gerrard family by The Crawleys

Steve Gerrard family
Evelyne Desilets
Evelyne Desilets pictures
Evelyne Desilets Montreal
Gerrard Family by Liam Crawley

Evelyne by Ed Peers

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Winter Is Coming

When I posted on my Instagram Stories on Wednesday that I was going to update this journal more often, Evelyne scoffed.

To be honest, she had a point. I’ve always wanted to add to my online journal a few times a week. Like a little diary of what’s going on with me. Whereas my Blog is for posting recent work etc, this can be whatever I want it to be.

I can post interesting videos I stumble across like this:

I can tell you what album I currently have on repeat:

I can tell you about a recent wedding guest who is the Mexican doppelgänger for Jon Snow from Game Of Thrones!

Or maybe I’ll just post something that makes me laugh whenever I see it!

still don't know I'm a dog

So I aim to prove my wife wrong. I’m gonna post more often, and if I don’t, you have my permission to poke me on Facebook (is that still a thing?).

The fact that wedding season is slowing down and the kids are back at school should give me more time to update my Journal anyway. It’s the first day September and the temperature here in Montreal seems to have plummeted already. Winter Is Coming, as someone on my TV recently mentioned. And winter in Quebec is LONG! I have a ton of things I have planned for the down time. Ideas buzzing around my head and things I wanna learn to take my photography business to the next phase.

And I need to improve my French. Anyone have any tips on that one? My kids are all bilingual now so I need to know what they’re saying!

For now though I have plenty of editing to do. Don’t believe me? LOOK!

Oh yeah, and I just blogged a great wedding so TAKE A LOOK.

And, apart from The War On Drugs, there’s a new LCD Soundsystem album. And the new Daughter album. And I just got the new Comeback Kid album. Time to give my speakers some new music…. Speak soon. No, really!

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