Category Archives: Fireside Chat

Posted by Sharon Auld

Today we are sitting down with Banff wedding photographer, Kim Payant, the talent behind Kim Payant Photography. Kim and I first met back in 2011. She was assisting another wedding photographer at a wedding we had planned at The Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff. Since then, we’ve worked on several weddings and styled inspiration shoots together, and I’m super excited to team up with her on another wedding in 2015!

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Kim Payant in action

Tell us a little about your background. What did you study and what path led you to becoming a wedding photographer?

As a kid, growing up in Val-des-Monts, Quebec I loved playing with my dad’s camera and slowly began to understand the basic of film photography. At that time, I didn’t know it could be a potential career. I always thought I would become a doctor or work in the medical field. It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I realized I was quite good in art. I changed my college application from Science to Fine Arts. It was a drastic change that no one expected, but it was the best decision I made!

In college, I had a few black and white photography classes and that’s when I really fell in love with photography. I decided to do a second college degree, this time in photography. After graduating, I moved to Montreal to gain more experience. I was willing to do anything to learn more so I took a job as a salesperson in a camera store. I knew I would meet lots of photographers there that I could potentially work for.

On my days off, I would watch a commercial photographer work in his studio. I’d pour coffee and clean. Eventually, I became his go-to assistant! I ended up working for him for 4 to 5 years, and I learned a lot in different fields; advertising, commercial, portraits, fashion etc. I also assisted a few other photographers for weddings, and I started shooting jobs for myself. I photographed a few weddings here and there, and photographed children in daycares all over Montreal. But, shooting runway fashion shows became my main focus. I started shooting shows and catalogs for designers, and photographed Montreal Fashion Week. I did this for 4 years with the goal of eventually shooting New York Fashion Week.

When I finally reached my goal of shooting New York Fashion Week, it was a bit of an eye-opener. It was awesome, but probably one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done! It was both physically and mentally challenging battling for space in the media area, especially for someone of my small stature. I came to see that it was a really competitive environment and tough for an individual to break into working with the larger photography teams that dominated the big shows. With fashion, it’s also a 24-7 commitment.  At the time, I was dating Marc (who’s now my husband). He was working in Banff for the summer and I went along to Banff with him (after NY Fashion Week). After that we went to Australia for 6 months. Of course, I had my camera and was shooting all the time, but I was shooting whatever I wanted. I realized I really didn’t want to go back to fashion photography and I realized there was tremendous potential for a photography career in Banff. I’ve been in Banff for 5 years now, and next year will mark my 4th year of shooting weddings full time. I shot my first wedding when I was 18. I’m 30 now and still love wedding photography as much as the first day.

Why did you decide on a career in wedding photography?

After I came back from Australia, I realized it was time for a change from fashion photography. I began assisting for a few local wedding photographers and saw it was something I could do. Weddings make me happy and I love making people happy with my photographs. In the fashion industry, your photos are appreciated for a season. With weddings, your clients appreciate your work for many years and that’s really rewarding!

Copyright-kim-payant-photography- www.kimpayantphotography.comHow does your Fashion background help you with wedding photography?

My main goal as a wedding photographer is to give good photos to my clients no matter what; whether it’s sunny, pouring rain or snowing! Although I like shooting in natural light when possible, through fashion, I became really experienced at using flash when I need to. I also learned a lot about posing and finding the best angles and body alignment so that clients look their best. A lot of this is good attention to detail. I’m also constantly talking to my clients when we’re shooting. I like to capture natural emotions, but I also like to help them with posing and creating a dramatic portrait. It’s also about making them feel really comfortable! I learned to shoot in very stressful situations and under tight timelines. Because of these experiences, I’m really calm on a wedding day and I always do my best to keep my brides calm and enjoy every moment of their day.

What three words best describe your photography style?

Classic, romantic, storytelling

What are your most popular services?

I mainly focus on wedding photography and engagement sessions. I not only offer engagement sessions, to my wedding clients, but also engagement sessions to couples who might not be getting married in the Banff area, but still want to have their photos in the mountains. Because of my background, I’ve also done a bit of food photography for a few restaurants and some fashion photography for local businesses as well.

Copyright-kim-payant-photography- www.kimpayantphotography.comYou and your husband traveled to India for your honeymoon? What was that experience like and do you find inspiration for your photography in your travels?

India was one of our favourite countries so far! I can’t really describe India, you need to see it to understand. It might be hard to imagine but India has some really romantic cities; Jaisalmer, Udaipur and Jodphur!

Copyright-Kim-Payant-Photography-www.kimpayantphotography,comWhen I travel, I only bring a small SLR with a 50mm and I focus on taking portraits of people in the streets. I like to focus on their real emotion and lifestyle. I do apply these type of portraits to my wedding photography.

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You’re a new home owner in Banff, congratulations! What room are you most looking forward to spending time in?

The sunroom, when it’s finished (I still need to paint it)! We have an awesome view of Cascade Mtn. and I can see myself sitting back in a rocking chair enjoying a nice glass of wine after a photo session. 🙂

What do you most like about living in Banff?

I love that it’s a small town and you can walk everywhere (much like the neighbourhoods in Montreal). It’s a stress free environment without the hustle and bustle of the big cities. But, the main thing I love is that it’s always a beautiful backdrop for wedding photographs. The light is constantly changing in Banff, and your photos never look the same.


Copyright-Kim-Payant-Photography-  www.kimpayantphotography.comI know you like baking, what’s your go to recipe?

I do love baking and one of my favourites is a pumpkin cheesecake that I transformed into a pie. I won the best pumpkin pie a few years ago at the Banff Harvest Festival! Just like my photography, I like to mix things up when I bake. Yes, I follow the basics of the recipe but I always like to add little things to make it my own! 🙂

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning (when you don’t have a wedding)?

Well, if it does happen, I will definitely sleep in as late as I can and then likely go to breakfast at Coyotes for their awesome Huevos Rancheros or to Tooloulou’s for their amazing breakfast poutine!!

Banff Questions

Your husband plays in a band (Elk Run & Riot ), what are the best hangouts for great music?

One of the biggest venues with the best sound is Wild Bill’s, but if you want to discover local or independent band’s I recommend the Elk & Oarsmen, The Rose and Crown and Melissa’s.

Where and what is the last great meal you ate in Banff?

The Primrose! I just love that restaurant! Delicious food, nice presentations, good service and amazing views of the valley! I also try a lot of restaurants when I’m photographing weddings, and the Rimrock is definitely on top of my list. 🙂

What’s Banff’s best kept secret?

I have two! The first one is the ‘Roselline” at Giorgio’s. Unfortunately, they closed and will reopen in June 2015 with a new concept restaurant, but they are keeping their signature dish! Yay! My second secret is the lamb shank “Arni Psito” at the Balkan. It falls off the bone and it’s just delicious! Their bartender also makes some killer drinks especially in the summer. Try the cherry drink, it’s awesome!

Thank you so much to Kim for chatting with us today and thank you for stopping by!

Kim’s also a member of our Wedding Directory.

*You can contact Kim via her website at Kim Payant Photography. You can listen to Elk Run & Riot here, or purchase their cd here.

posted by Sharon Auld

Today I would like to introduce a talented photographer, Tara Whittaker of Tara Whittaker Photography! Tara’s a photographer and stylist living in Calgary, Alberta but she also photographs weddings in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (Banff, Canmore, and Lake Louise areas).

I’ve known Tara for a couple of years now and have been fortunate to work with her on several occasions. We’ve done some fun collaborations together too. She’s smart, organized, energetic and always a lot of fun! She’s also super creative and you can count on her to always have interesting projects on the go!

Tara-Whittaker-PhotographyTell us a little about your background. What did you study and what path led you to what you are doing today?

I became interested in photography after high school and have been taking pictures ever since. I focused a lot on landscape and still life photography and had some shows in local galleries. The transition to wedding photography happened when some friends twisted my arm to take their wedding photographs. In preparation for that, I took a wedding photography workshop with Bebb Studios. It was like a light came on and I thought to myself “I could really do this”.

What 3 words best describe your photography style or business?

Fresh, Luminous, Playful.

Photo by Tara-Whittaker-PhotographyWhen you combine your photography style and your personality, what’s the result?

I approach every wedding with an ideal blend of photojournalism and impeccably styled imagery, while bringing along my own sense of fun and originality.


What makes your business different? 

My photography menu includes a few services that are unique in the wedding photography market. One is an option for couples to “style up their shoot”. It’s for couples that want to add a little something special to their engagement session. Here’s an example:

Katherine & Tyler had fond memories of movies in the park while travelling in Europe and decided on a rooftop movie night, complete with popcorn under the stars.

I’ll take an idea, develop the concept, create an inspiration board, plan hair and make-up, assist with wardrobe planning, scout for the ideal location and throw in the perfect props. The sky is the limit!

I also offer one-of-a-kind stop motion videos that can be used as save-the-dates or as wedding reception entertainment. They are a hit with friends and family and couples have a ball in the process. I help plan the video, down to the last detail including concept, hair & make-up, wardrobe assistance, prop scouting & location fees.  A Venetian-themed save-the-date was the perfect way for Michelle and Chris to introduce their upcoming Italian wedding.

How important is customer care in your business?

From the very first email until the wedding album is delivered, my couples can expect to be treated like my highest priority. My communication is prompt, my style relaxed and couples will feel completely pampered throughout the process.  I walk my brides and grooms through the entire process, ensuring that their wedding images are better than they ever imagined. It’s very important to me that my customers are completely satisfied with their wedding photography.  In order to ensure photographic excellence and incomparable customer service, I accept a limited number of wedding commissions per year.

Who makes a great Tara Whittaker Photography client?

When I look back at my brides from 2014, they were all completely different.  Some weddings were big, some small. Some weddings were glamorous and others rustic. I think the common thread would be that they saw what I’m able to do creatively and trusted me to do it.

Having got to know you over the past year or so, I see you as a very creative person. Where did that creative spark come from?

I come from a creative and entrepreneurial family. My Mother honed in on some of my skills early on and pushed me to pursue them, even when a more traditional route seemed easier. The two of us spent hours brainstorming.

Who inspires you?

I’m a huge fan of Grace Coddington, Creative Director for Vogue.  I love flipping through Vogue and seeing the way she brings the clothes to life and creates a story. When you look at her shoots, they have a very cinematic feel.

On a more personal note, I’ve also come to appreciate my Dad’s love for the underdog. It usually relates to sports teams but has also applied to fledgling photographers.

What has been one or two of your favourite projects over the past couple of years?

A highlight from this past summer was shooting Deb & Mike’s wedding in 100% photojournalistic style. A lot of couples say they want a photojournalistic feel but these two meant business. They wanted to capture the emotion and celebratory spirit of the day, without taking any time away from their guests.  We had no family formals and no couple’s session. It was challenging and invigorating, all at the same time.

One of the projects I’m most proud of is a Tuscan inspiration shoot at Cilantro Restaurant.  It had everything from Limoncello to a getaway Vespa.

Can you list a couple of resources across any media that you turn to for inspiration?

Cinema is a major influence for me.  Some movies are so beautifully shot that I find them mesmerizing to watch.  One of my favourite directors is Joe Wright.  You might know his work from Price & Prejudice (the 2005 version) and Anna Karenina (2012).  I enjoy the way he uses light and color in his movies.  A few other favourites in terms of cinematography, are The Godfather and the King’s Speech.

I get a lot of inspiration from my travels. I like to soak up everything from the landscapes to the city streets. Last Christmas, I got the idea to do shoe week  while admiring shop windows in Union Square, San Francisco. I’m headed to Australia and am looking forward to discovering a new place.

What would your dream project or collaboration be?

I was waiting for the call from George Clooney to photograph his wedding in Venice. Oh well…

I’ve always had a secret crush on Darcy Miller, Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Weddings. It would be a dream to work on a project with Darcy and be featured in MSW.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?

Good question. I think I would probably be doing something in a related field but I would definitely want to remain self-employed.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning (when you don’t have a wedding to shoot)?

One thing is for sure, I would have a latte in my hand. I love spending time with my niece and nephews. High adventure ensues when we hang out.

Photo by Tara-Whittaker-Photography

A huge thank you to Tara for taking the time to chat with us today! We hope you enjoyed our very first “Fireside Chat” with her today. Tara is also a member of our Wedding Directory.