Great Locations for Toronto Photos | Fotorflection Blog

Great Locations for Toronto Photos | Fotorflection Blog

Great Locations for Toronto Photos

engagement photo toronto island

One of the aspects I love about being a photographer in the Greater Toronto Area is a seemingly endless supply of great places to shoot.

From urban settings to waterfronts to leafy parks and historic sites, the GTA is full of amazing places to make impactful images. When considering backdrops for photographing clients, I have a number of locations in my repertoire. In this article we’ll talk about some of those locations, why I like them and why I love doing engagement shoots, portraiture and more here.

Urban Vibes

Toronto is one of the great cities of the world, and I love its urban vibes and cosmopolitan feel. That’s true whether I’m just strolling the streets of Toronto on my own, or for when I’m with clients and putting them up against this unique backdrop to create images with a very urban mood.

Toronto is, of course, a multi-culture, and is ideal for urban photography & portraiture in its many diverse neighbourhoods. From Chinatown & Kensington Market to the Distillery District and so many other spots – both iconic (Eaton Centre bridge, Nathan Phillips Square) and more obscure – I love working with people to produce memorable images that evoke a distinctly urban mood and style.

surprise proposal photos

Just walking the streets, amongst Toronto’s unique architecture and the character of its residents, gives me inspiration for great photography here. Some of my favourite photos were taken while walking the streets of Toronto, especially in the hour or so before sunset when the light is magical and both subjects and backgrounds really come to life.

What are some of the spots I like in particular?

Knox College, U of T

The University of Toronto campus is great, and I especially like Knox College. You need a permit to shoot here, but it’s worth it. Great architecture is found here, especially in and around the chapel and surrounding buildings, courtyards and gardens. Elegant in its traditional style, quite dramatic in fact. It’s in the heart of the city, evokes a great urban feel. It’s also convenient for people to get to, easily reachable by public transit and central to folks living across Toronto and the GTA.

Backyard Wedding in the GTA

High Park

You can’t beat Toronto’s lovely High Park for urban nature, especially in May for those couple of weeks when the cherry blossoms are out. High Park is great virtually year-round, though, and I’m always happy exploring its many settings, doing portraits and engagement shoots.

Toronto Music Garden

This isn’t one of those tourist guide or Instagram-saturated places, but another oasis of urban nature (smaller than High Park to be sure) is this spot on the waterfront just west of the CN Tower. That’s what lets us make some iconic, unforgettable Toronto images. Manicured grounds give a green backdrop with the famous Toronto skyline right behind it. Another one that’s fairly central and well within reach.

Distillery District

I still think this is a great area for a stroll, giving a candid, romantic city vibe. The Distillery District is worthy of the amount of attention it gets. Having said that, they are doing more to control capacity and are charging more for permits now. With good reason, admittedly, since it’s really a great urban setting. You’ll see Instagrammers galore here. But that doesn’t mean that we should avoid it, I’ll just make sure to plan it out well to get the most of our time and effort here.

winter engagement photos at Dundurn Castle hamilton

I Would Love to Work with You

This concludes Part 1 of our spotlight on GTA photo locales.

There are so many great spots to shoot in and around Toronto. Next time we’ll talk about more great places in and adjacent to the city, as well as some locations elsewhere in the GTA.

Whether you have are planning a Toronto engagement shoot, are looking for an urban location for wedding day shots, or you have other portraiture needs, I would love to speak with you. We can talk about what kind of mood and style you’re going for and how our visions can mesh to work well together.

Give me a call at 289.828.3030 … or use the contact form below if you prefer.

Until next time!

–     Moussa

Want help planning your photography project? Moussa can help | 289.828.2030

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How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot

How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot

burlington headshots photographer

“What do we need to do to prepare for a photo shoot or portrait session?”

That’s a question I’m often asked.

A memorable portrait, just like a great movie or a compelling episode of television, begins with a solid plan. My goal is to make the process as easy, fun and hassle-free as possible for you. Yup! I’ll be asking a bunch of questions making sure I understand your vision, meet your expectations and deliver Beyond the Frame.”

In this article we’ll talk about what some of those questions are, why I ask those questions, and how you can best prepare for your portrait session.

The Objectives of Portrait Photography

The objective of the portraits I create is to tell visual stories using compelling imagery.

What’s your story? Are you funny, elegant, professional, academic, goofy, athletic? Are you a friendly, funny dentist? An experienced life coach? A veteran lawyer or a political candidate?

burlington headshots photographer

For headshots, let’s tell your story in marketing-worthy portraits that communicate your brand and your personality. LinkedIn should light up after you upload your portrait.

For engagement shoots, families, etc., let’s tell a story that will last for generations.

After we establish your story, I tell that story visually by shooting your portraits:

  • in the best possible surroundings
  • with the least amount of distractions
  • in the best light
  • from the best angle(s)

It’s up to me as an experienced photographer to create the best composition – lighting, angles, environment, etc. I’ll ask you a series of questions to come up with a plan for the best portraits possible.

Which Locations to Choose for Your Portraits

Part of the conversation that we’ll have while planning your portrait session revolves around location.

If we are shooting at your home or business, for example, you probably have a pretty good idea of what makes for the best background, and even when it looks the best. Maybe you have a favourite café or nature spot? No problem, we can make it work!

I also have a depth of experience shooting at many photogenic locations around the Greater Toronto Area. From urban portraits in Toronto to picturesque portrait shoots at Niagara wineries, and practically everywhere in between, I can offer great GTA photo shoot locations that are best suitable for your objectives, the time of day, time of year, etc.

What Does the Background Look Like?

While I want to make you the “star” of the images, it’s also nice to have an atmospheric and photogenic background for a portrait.

Family portraits in front of your parents’ home of many years, for example, are something to be treasured for generations.

A couple’s autumn engagement shoot at Dundas Peak can be incredible. Some people like a more urban look, which Toronto’s streets provide nicely. Maybe you’re in love with the Marilyn Monroe Towers in Mississauga, or one of the many beautiful wineries in the Niagara Peninsula. The options for portrait locations are practically endless.

For headshots, the goal is usually to put you in flattering light and then blur out the background, making you the sole focus as subject. Sometimes headshots are appropriate with a sharp background, however, such as an office or boardroom for business shots, or other environments for different fields. That’s part of the conversation we’ll have.

What Time of Day Are We Shooting?

Any photographer worth their salt will speak with you about time of day. Why is this important? The simple answer is “light.”

wedding photos at toronto aga khan (1 of 15)

Light is the essence of photography. It’s literally the first part of the word “photography,” with “photo” being Greek for light.

As a photography teacher, I’m always emphasizing the importance of light with my students: How to read the light, how to harness available light, how to make your own light, and so on.

Natural sunlight is at its most glorious in the short time after sunrise as well as in the hour or so before sunset, depending on time of year; the warm and soft light at these times lends itself to wonderful photography. Conversely the light at midday or “high noon” is a harsh, unflattering light (unfortunately many weddings take place at noon, adding a challenge for photographers to deliver great images on that big day!).

So when I ask you on the phone, for example, something like “how is the light on that old barn at four in the afternoon?” – now you know why it’s important. I want to put you in the best light possible.

How’s the Weather?

One note: Despite the best planning, sometimes weather ends up being a wild card. “Oh no, it’s cloudy,” some people will inevitably say. Don’t worry! In fact, clouds can be our best friend. Remember that harsh light at high noon? Solid cloud cover can act as a giant soft-box in the sky, reducing the harshness of the light and creating a more ideal situation for portraits.

Even a little rain is something we can work with. Of course, if it’s a downpour or a blizzard, we may need to postpone that outdoor session or make alternate (indoor) plans.

How to Dress for a Portrait Session

burlington portrait photographer

To get the most out of your portrait session, it’s important to consider the wardrobe and accessories that you’ll be wearing. You want to look your best for your portraits, after all. There are also considerations for how the camera will pick up certain patterns and materials.

This is especially true if there are two or more people involved as subjects in the portraits (e.g. couple’s portraits, family portraits, team shots, etc.) as mismatched and clashing clothing has a tendency to call attention to itself and away from the best areas of focus. For group portrait sessions we’ll want to coordinate wardrobe and make sure everyone is on the same page to wear complementary or matching outfits.

It’s also a good idea to bring wardrobe changes and to have backup clothing available. Our scenery and light may change as we work through the session, and you may want different clothing for different portrait results.

Textures, Patterns & Colours

Solids are preferable, as they draw less attention to themselves and, when the right colours are selected, are complementary with a person’s skin tone and hair colour, as well as with the surroundings. Solid white on a bright day, however, is not ideal as it can get washed out; while solid black in a darker scene also blends in too much.

That’s why we tend to recommend mid tones – beige, yellow, orange, pink, etc., as well as diluted tones such as gray (and its many color blend variants), salmon, rose, etc. Again, match these colours with skin tone and hair colour for best results.

If you are wearing a pattern, better that it be subtle and not too pronounced. Broad patterns can also work. For example, a thick red-and-black plaid flannel shirt in an autumn portrait session could work well, so long as the plaid pattern is broad (think big squares); tight plaid patterns are best avoided, however, as they create a “moiré” effect that’s distracting with unsightly shapes on the images.

For group portraits, limit the colours involved to two or three colours at most (main colours, with some slight variations possible within that). And have a talk amongst the group about patterns, textures, fabrics, etc.

As far as accessories such as jewelry, scarves, etc. – again think back to the goal of not having anything that draws the viewer’s attention away from the main subject (you). A few accessories that are subtle and complement the subject are good. But the wrong accessories – or too many accessories – are distracting. If we’re in a shoot and I suggest removing or replacing a particular accessory, now you know why.

Classic vs. Trendy

It’s also good to consider something “classic” or “timeless” in your wardrobe choices. You may be wearing something that’s very “in” today, but a few years down the road could scream “dated!” We all have a grad, prom, wedding or other photo that makes us cringe when we look back upon the fashion of the times!

I like to think of portraits as memories that we’re creating with the intention to last years or generations. With that in mind, why not go for a classic fashion choice. I’ll let you be the judge of what that is and what works best for you. Just some food for thought.

A Rundown of the Photo Shoot Process

So with all that in mind, here in a nutshell is the how the photo shoot plays out:

  • We chat briefly to plan the details, storyboard and logistics of the shoot (overall look, location and time). Yup! I can come to your office/home; and of course, we can do outdoor, weather permitting. Unless you want to be photographed in the blizzard (hey, I’m game if this is the look we’re going for).
  • The photo session. A relaxed approach with input from me (my director’s hat is usually on) as needed to make sure things are in place and no distractions are in my frame. You see that clenched fist you have there? Let’s relax that a bit. I don’t want your portrait to convey that you’re nervous. Let’s show that confident smile!
  • As needed, I might show you a few preview images as the shoot progresses, making sure we are heading in the right direction. I know! That yellow shirt looked better in front of the mirror, but now that you see it on the screen you’re considering alternatives.
  • After the shoot I’ll send you a digital copy of the proofs to select your favorites (or we can do that on location before I leave, whichever is easier for you).
  • I’ll retouch the ones you selected.
  • When it’s all ready, I’ll send you a link to an online private gallery to download the images.

It’s all pretty straightforward, and I aim to make things smooth and enjoyable.


I hope this article has helped answer your questions about how to prepare for a portrait session.

Contact me today to inquire more about portraits or other services, or to book your portrait session. I look forward to working with you!

winter engagement photos at Dundurn Castle hamilton

winter engagement photos at Dundurn Castle hamilton

Winter engagement photos at Dundurn Castle in hamilton | with Cristina & Bobby.

Winter engagement photos! You’re probably wondering. Can those be fun? Winter engagement photo sessions can be fun and romantic. With a good plan and timing, the winter chill shouldn’t keep you from getting outdoors and enjoying time together. Go ahead and use the photo session as an excuse to cuddle up extra close to each other and enjoy some sweet moments while I capture them.

Cristina and Bobby did just that at this recent winter engagement photo session. Our chosen locations were the Dundurn Castle in Hamilton and a cozy Starbucks in downtown Dundas, Ontario.

Scroll down to see more images and read Tips on how to plan for a winter engagement photo session.

Winter engagement photos at Dundurn Castle in hamilton | Tips

Winter engagement photo sessions can be tricky if not planned right. Here is what I suggest when planning for a winter engagement photo session to avoid an unpleasant experience and get memorable images you’ll cherish:

  • Time it right! An overcast day is perfect for soft flattering light. The session can be scheduled any time that day. If it’s a sunny day have the photo shoot an hour, or so before sunset. The glowing sun rays hitting the snow will make it sparkle and bring a warm cozy feeling to your images. Avoid at all cost strong windy days. It’s not worth it and you won’t look good in the pictures.
  • Bring blankets. Whenever you feel cold, and you will, wrap yourselves with blankets and cozy up. I’ve captured some amazing candid photos during winter engagement shoots of couples wrapped up in blankets. These tend to be natural and genuine moments of two in love. No makeup or fancy outfit can replace the sweet connections. Accessories as you wish, colorful hats, mittens and scarves add vibrancy and fun to your winter engagement photos.
  • Take breaks. Wether it’s a quick run to your car or a 5min break in a nearby cafe, taking breaks helps avoid the chill and keeps you going longer. If your location is in a rural area bring hot tea, coffee or even wine in a thermos.
  • Enjoy it. As a photographer, I can take care of all the technical elements, composition, lighting and directing you to get the best, but if you’re not enjoying the session and having fun it will show. Don’t be afraid to be silly, goof around, dance, and be romantic. This is your time together. Make the most out of it as if no one is around.


 How to prepare for an engagement session 

 How to preserve your precious photos in modern coffee table books

Do I need an engagement photo session? 

Dundurn Caslte

Want help planning your photography project? Moussa can help | 289.828.2030

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Wedding photographer | How do you find yours!

Wedding photographer | How do you find yours!

How to choose a wedding photographer!

If you’re a bride who values photography, choosing a wedding photographer can be a daunting, somewhat overwhelming task. After all, there are no re-dos and you’re spending a lot of money on your wedding. I can imagine the fear and trepidation you must feel about hiring a wedding photographer. I’ve heard far too many horror stories about wedding photographers and “a friend with a really really good cameranot delivering and newlyweds left heartbroken. From an experienced wedding photographer’s point of view, I thought I’d share a few tips and suggestions on how to select a fitting wedding photographer you can trust.

Not being biased to choose me, as I honestly believe not every couple out there are for me or I am for them. I have my own selection process too and if we are not the right fit I’ll connect you with one of my wedding photographers friends who might be. 

Here are a few tips that will get you off to a great start as you select your wedding photographer:

1- Do you feel something when you look at the photographer’s wedding photos?

“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field”. I like Peter Adams quote. Passionate photographers see the world with their hearts. Each has a unique style and way of capturing your wedding day. You want to FEEL and connect with how they engage the world around them with their cameras, specifically when photographing people, wedding day celebrations, romantic and family relationships.

wedding photographer around burlington

2 – Do you like the photographer’s personality?

Set up a meeting and get a feeling for the personality of the photographer. This is key as he or she will be with you and your guests the entire wedding day and needs to have the ability to engage people in a friendly way, make you and your guests comfortable in front of the camera, move around unobtrusively and direct, adults and kids, when necessary. He or she will also have a keen interest in YOUR story and vision to personalize the shooting style and capture your day in a real and intimate way. Make sure there is a personal connection with your wedding photographer as you select the right one for your wedding day.

3- Have a critical eye:

Timeless wedding photos are those produced with utmost care for technical aspects of photography (proper exposure, focus, composition and editing). Ask the photographers to show you whole weddings they shot and not just their best images. You need to see what a whole day looks like so you can get a proper feel for their work.  Make sure there is a good balance between timeless and trendy wedding photos. Remember Instagram and Pinterest looks are cool, but you might get bored of them by next year.

4- Understand prices and value:

It happens often when couples find their perfect photographer, but realize they haven’t budgeted properly. Do your research on wedding photography costs in your area as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Additionally though, try not to shop on price or a good “deal”! Instead of “deal” look for Return On Investment. I learned that from Patrice & Rodney, a couple whose wedding I photographed. They speak about it in the video below. A good return on investment can be defined by the quality of services and products you are receiving. 

I hope you find this helpful. If you have questions, wish to discuss more details on how to plan your wedding photography project with the insight of an experienced wedding photographer feel free to contact me. I’m happy to help.


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Engagement photo session. Do I need one?

Engagement photo session. Do I need one?

Engagement Photo Session. Do I need one?

♥ Have you ever felt that engagement photo session are a waste of time? I’ve heard it countless times. Many couples may feel that this is an unnecessary commitment at a very busy time leading up to their Big Day. However, from experience, my couples have shared with me that the engagement photo session was the best way to establish the connection, and ease the stress of getting in front of a camera.

It’s a worthy investment and here’s why:

  • Experiment! It is the chance to try out your hair and makeup artists before the actual wedding. This would be a good time to see how your chosen style will be captured and work out any changes before the wedding day. You’ll also get a practice run of how it feels to be on a professional photo shoot.
  • Keepsake! To capture this moment in time! Photos are not just for ‘the now’ but are time capsules of the love and commitment that you have made, both for now and for new generations to see. Imagine sitting on the couch with your kids or even grandkids telling stories, sharing moments while showing these precious photos from your engagement photo session!
  • Get “engaged”! Engagement photo sessions are a great way to interact with your wedding photographer prior to the wedding day. It’s an opportunity for us to collaborate, get to know each other more and find out what’s the best approach for you in front of the camera. Do you need direction on how to “pose”? Or is it best all candid for you?
  • Fun Date! Remember that first date? The engagement photo session is not all about the pictures. You will be spending fun time with your best friend, doing what you love and falling in love all over again.
  • Showcase! Share, display, print invitations and tell the world, with creative images, how precious your relationship is!

engagement photo session
engagement photo session


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Outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington

Outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington

Outdoor Wedding Photo Locations Near Burlington

Congratulations! You just booked the Atrium for your wedding in Burlington. The planning is now under way. You know Alex, Lisa & their team will provide unmatched hospitality. The food is out of this world and the desserts will please the most discerning taste buds. Susan Clark and her team from Ettridges will decorate the place and make your wedding venue look like a fairytale. The flowers will be fresh, vibrant and unique. Jolanta from Late Bloom Florist will amaze you with what she can do with a vine branch and fresh roses. After Renée from BeautifiedByRenée has put her magical touches on your skin, you won’t have to worry about smudgy lipstick. But now you’re wondering about outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington. Let me help in this matter! Here are a few suggestions for outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington that are conveniently located near the Atrium. I’ve provided sample photos, location address and interactive maps for your convenience. Scroll down 🙂

Paletta Mansion Park in Burlington 4250 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Approximately 10min drive from the Atrium. This park features tall trees, bridges and a waterfront. Ideal for couples who enjoy wedding photos in natural setting by the water.
Shell Park in Oakville 3307 Lakeshore Rd W, Oakville Approximately 10min drive from the Atrium. This park features tall trees, a beautiful well maintained garden with an arbor. Ideal for couples who enjoy wedding photos with flowers.
Nottinghill Gate Park 1150 Nottinghill Gate, Oakville. Approximately 10min drive from the Atrium. A hidden small gem in Oakville. This park features tall trees, a beautiful well maintained garden. Ideal for couples who enjoy wedding photos with flowers.

Shell Park

outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington

Shell Park

Paletta Mansion Park

outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington

Paletta Mansion Park

Nottinghill Gate Park

outdoor wedding photo locations near Burlington locations for wedding photos in burlington

Nottinghill Gate Park

Contact Moussa for more tips on locations for wedding photos in Burlington | 289.828.2030

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