By Isis Ava Wilkinson
Somewhere in Lima, Peru’s capital, a small photo album is placed on the lap of an 8-year-old girl. As she turns the pages, she notices the smiles and the stories that unfold with each page. Peruvian scenery and light serve as the background to cherub faces and slightly stoic family members.
The album belonged to Blenda Montoro’s neighbor. Her family did not own a camera — she only has three pictures of herself as a child. The heaviness of undocumented loving moments did not escape this precocious child. A couple decades later, this would propel her to become an artist.
“My ultimate goal is to consciously create art using natural light and no Photoshop,” said Montoro, a wedding photographer who years ago found herself capturing light in silver crystals trapped in gelatin emulsion.
In other words, Montoro shoots with good ol’ film. Yes, film, an incredibly unforgiving medium that leaves little margin for error. And each film roll she uses has only 16 frames.
She points to her computer screen where many of her photos reside after being scanned from film. A bride and a groom smile at each other, a moment seized by Montoro’s lens. The forest backdrop boasts tall trees with angel-wing light streaming through. “This is all natural light, no Photoshop,” she emphasizes.
Montoro’s business, Blenda Montoro Photography, opened in 2007. Her unique classic style has been featured in publications such as Style Me Pretty, Pacific Weddings Magazine, Wedding Wire, BuzzFeed and Magnolia Rouge among others.
She calls her style “classic, chic and contemporary.” Each shot is consciously prepared within seconds to showcase the lighting, the angles, the background and most importantly, the emotions that transpire throughout the day.
Wedding days are filled with a plethora of extraordinary moments: seeing the thoughtful details take full bloom, sharing a moment with a mother while slipping into the dress, the look of each person as they take their first glance to a father dancing with his daughter across the dance floor. These are just a few reasons why Montoro chose to become a wedding photographer.
“There are so many types of photography. I definitely feel connected with weddings because I know emotions are flowing, there is nothing that I need to pose, because it is their real feelings. It is very special for me, as a woman, to get this task to photograph her wedding day,” she said.
One such moment occurred recently, moments after a ceremony. An elated bride and the groom walked the beach basking in the moment, while Montoro shot away. Seconds later, the bride cried out in despair; her grandmother’s pin — a deathbed gift — was missing. The bride had pinned it on her bouquet, but now it was nowhere to be seen. The waves kept splashing on the shore while everyone frantically searched. As the bride dropped to her knees, she found the pin, a moment captured by Montoro’s camera. A mixture of shock, comfort and remembrance is forever graced and locked in the photograph.
As she plans for wedding shoots, Montoro sets the tone early on with the couples to ensure comfort. She meets them in a casual setting to discuss their vision prior to the big day. She says it makes a big difference when she gets to know the couples and becomes a friend who is taking photos. This level of comfort ensures couples can express their love naturally, and the photo sessions give way to wedding stories.
Montoro also photographs “love sessions,” engagements, anniversary celebrations and other special occasions. Love session shoots are simply highlighting or documenting a stage of love. The undercurrent is always the same — love — for this is Montoro’s muse.
- Isis Ava Wilkinson loves the art of human connection. You may reach her at email@example.com.