Tonjanika Smith is a Philadelphia area wedding and portrait photographer. She has a passion for capturing the truth in each and every couple she photographs. Tonjanika describes her photographic style as bright and natural. Because of Tonjanika Smith’s dedication to showcasing diversity in her wedding photography, she is one of Philadelphia Wedding’s Editor’s Choice winners of 2021.
Tonjanika’s Inspiration as a Photographer
Tonjanika Smith also works full-time as a Middle School Math Teacher and gets a lot of inspiration from her students. She is dedicated to teaching her kids about a greater purpose and giving them the tools they need to live a meaningful life. Tonjanika often tries to involve them in her photography, getting the kids to play around with their creativity and express themselves in different ways. Her love for the children she teaches is apparent in the way she speaks of them.
Tonjanika’s dedication to showcasing interracial couples started with her own multicultural family. Her family has people of all shades, ethnicities, and ages- mixes of Puerto Rican, Korean, West African, and everything in between. In our interview, she laughs and calls her family her ‘rainbow squad’. Tonjanika looks back fondly on her memories of her 100-year- old great-grandmother gathering her entire family together and creating her strong family ties.
In an industry that tends to be heavily whitewashed, Tonjanika is a refreshing photographer to have in the mix. Not every photographer has experience taking pictures of people of color, and they aren’t always shown in the best light. Tonjanika is working towards equality in the wedding industry by highlighting every shade of love.
“Everyone deserves to have beautiful photos that can be cherished for decades.”- Tonjanika Smith, Philadelphia Area Wedding & Portrait Photographer
Tonjanika’s Start in Photography
Tonjanika Smith has been in the photography business for 5 years. Although her business is on the newer side, her history as a photographer goes back much further. Working as a photo assistant and shooting part-time gave Tonjanika the tools she needed to ramp up business on her own as time went on.
There is always a learning curve and adjustment period to anything, and photography was no different. Starting her business officially in 2019 didn’t give Tonjanika a lot of time to settle in before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but she has done an excellent job transitioning to the social distancing practices and micro wedding trends.
For now, it is just Tonjanika on the team. As her client base grows, she plans to grow her business as well. Be sure to book in advance if you are interested because her dates go fast!
Tonjanika’s Photographic Style
Tonjanika Smith strives to make everyone feel like their best self on their wedding day. “I want couples to feel like they did on their prom day,” Tonjanika said in our interview together. “You only have a few days in your life where you are pampered professionally, and your wedding day is one of them.” But, on your wedding day, you are no longer a teen. This day is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of your transition into married life. You have grown into a beautiful adult and Tonjanika showcases these moments by making you feel like your absolute best self on your wedding day.
Tonjanika is a dreamer and a doer, bringing her creativity and inspiration to her shoots. Although she does specialize in multicultural wedding photography, she also works with portrait and lifestyle sessions as well. Her eye for modern styles and her natural ability to capture the perfect shot is shown in every photograph she captures.
Tonjanika’s photos focus on the bright and joyful moments that her clients bring into a space. She specializes in adding romantic, soft touches of warm light which is apparent in her photography. Her pictures feel effortlessly natural and each shot reflects the feelings of the day. From happiness, to tears, to pure joy, Tonjanika captures it all.
Tonjanika’s Favorite Spots to Shoot
Although Tonjanika is a wedding, portrait, and lifestyle photographer, her favorite photos to shoot are engagement sessions. She loves creating the scene and watching the moments unfold naturally with each couple. Because with an engagement session, there is no time restraint or pressure like on your wedding day.
One of Tonjanika’s favorite spots to shoot is in downtown Philadelphia. It feels like a date and an adventure at the same time, and each session is unique to the couple. In a city full of life, you never know what may happen or where you may end up. It’s important to keep an open mind and be ready to jump on a photo opportunity. Some of the best shots are spontaneous!
“It’s always a wild ride,” Tonjanika says, “I like to roll the dice with each couple and watch it unfold naturally. Sometimes we will spot a fun alley or people will come up and say congratulations while we’re taking photos.”
Tonjanika Smith’s favorite venue to shoot is Terrain. Terrain is a rustic and natural venue with a backyard vibe right outside of the city. Also, Tonjanika likes to shoot at Terrain because it is naturally beautiful. It doesn’t take much work to make the photos unique and colorful. The venue itself has a fun energy that translates well over to the photos.
Tonjanika Smith- Editor’s Choice Winner 2021
Tonjanika Smith’s bright and joyful personality inspires her clients to feel like their best selves on their wedding day. Her love for her clients, her students, and her work is apparent and shown in every one of her photos. Tonjanika’s warmth easily translates to her photographs and her natural talent for catching the perfect photograph. But, Tonjanika’s dedication to capturing your truth and showcasing multicultural clients is why we are highlighting her as a Philadelphia Wedding’s Editor’s Choice in 2021.
Be sure to check out our other picks for the 2021 Editor’s Choice winners on the Philadelpjoa Wedding’s blog!