Sitting in a payphone booth in Vancouver International Airport on her way to photograph a wedding, Nancy Critchley recalled the moment that she and her husband Hugh made the decision to become homeowners in Sun Peaks.
“We had always been fans of Sun Peaks, and we had come there a couple of times renting,” she said. “My husband had quite a few friends that he worked with…who also had property at Sun Peaks.It kind of became a destination of choice for us.”
Following her husband’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, the couple decided there’s no time like the present and purchased their Sun Peaks home in 2009.
“Sometimes you don’t get second chances, and we just decided we really wanted to have a place there and really wanted to live there more often than not.”
At the time Critchley was working as director of communications for United Way in the Alberta Capital region and was transitioning into a career as a photographer. She was taking classes and working to build her craft. She started by shooting photos on holidays with her family before moving into family portraits for friends.
Soon her friends said it was time she started taking payment.
“Reculanty I started charging a small fee for my photography services, and then I thought if I’m really going to do this I better jump in with both feet,” she said.
Critchley was working two full-time jobs and it wasn’t until her eldest daughter told her to pick one that she transitioned fully out of communications.
“I had built it, and I had worked so hard at it, and I was getting a lot of business. I was really enjoying myself and I thought, you know it’s time. So I clicked my heels together and I jumped, and I’ve never looked back.”
Critchley has been working as a full-time photographer specializing in weddings, corporate, and family photography out of both Alberta and British Columbia since December 2016.
Cautious about her bookings, Critchley has two sets of everything. She often travels between the two provinces for weddings, scheduling her time in Sun Peaks around her B.C.-based bookings.
“That’s the nature of the beast. That’s the nature of being a wedding photographer, spring, summer, fall are my busy times,” she stated.
Critchley’s tone changed when she spoke about what she loves most about wedding photography. She eagerly explained she enjoys getting to know the families, adding some of her best work is done when puts the camera away and helps her clients de-stress on their big day.
“One of the things I always tell people is at the end of your wedding you have two things; you have photos and you have a spouse, and you better love both.”
She also believes in the importance of capturing candid moments couples don’t necessarily think they want, but they do.
“You don’t only want to remember how you looked on your wedding day, you want to remember how you felt and when you look at photos that capture those candid moments, like the moment the bride walks down the aisle with her father. That last moment with her dad, sometimes those are very emotional,” said Critchley.
She admitted her favourite part is after the ceremony when she gets to spend time with the newlyweds and witnessing the moment they realize they’re married. When asked about how she handles the stress that accompanies wedding photography, she said that there’s nothing that can’t be fixed or looked after.
“There’s always a lot of nerves that go along with weddings. I still have those butterflies when I first start shooting a wedding because I want to make sure that I get it right. I feel like that just keeps me on my toes.”
While capturing some of people’s most important life moments, Critchley said she’s seen enough stress in her life in her professional world to know that you can’t let it get to you.
She operates her business with the mantra “you’re only as good as your last mistake” and stays humble.