Toronto Wedding Photographer Raph Nogal

Toronto Wedding Photographer Raph Nogal

At Kimberfire our specialty is diamonds and many of our clients come to us looking for an engagement ring. People really put their heart into choosing the right ring and we love being a part of such a special moment in someone’s life. After the engagement the next step is finding wedding bands, and we are dedicated to helping people find their perfect fit. It is truly an honour to be a part of their wedding day, as they exchange rings to make a lifetime commitment.

Another profession which works side by side with couples on one of the most important days of their lives is that of the wedding photographer. I interviewed Toronto based wedding photographer Raph Nogal to get an insider’s look at working in the wedding industry. Raph Nogal is a nationally accredited and award winning professional wedding photographer. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and blogs, and he is known for his creative, editorial, and modern photography style.

Sara: How long have you been a photographer for and how did you get started in this business?

Raph: I first picked up the camera in 2007, following my honeymoon in Costa Rica. I became a bit obsessed and found it to be a great creative outlet as I pretty much stopped doing art since attending Cawthra Park’s Regional Arts Program in Visual Arts in 2000. I started my photography business on a part-time basis in late 2009 and have now been a full-time photographer since 2013.

Sara: What is it that drew you to wedding photography?

Raph: It was the fact that as a wedding photographer, you need to be a master of various sub disciplines… you need to be a photo-journalist, a portrait photographer, an event photographer, a fashion photographer, you need to know how to use natural light, studio light, you need to be good with people, with macro work and the list goes on and on. I also love the fact that no wedding is ever the same. There are different dynamics, different weather conditions, different locations, and different family relationships. It keeps things interesting.

Sara: On average, how many weddings do you shoot a year?

Raph: I try to cap myself at 25 weddings per year, but have had 27 last year and again 27 this year.

Sara: How would you describe your photography style?

Raph: It is a fusion of editorial and photo-journalism. I love playing with light and having hard light and deep blacks and high contrast and giving clients some direction to bring out their best, but I also like the natural moments and pure unedited emotion that happens on the wedding day.

Sara: Who or what inspires your work and images?

Raph: Inspiration comes from a lot of places – movies, fashion, music, and my own experiences. Photographer Jerry Ghionis, for example, has played a tremendous role in shaping me as a photographer. I also enjoy the work of Two Mann Studios and get inspiration from the community of Fearless Photographers.

Sara: Do you have any tips for couples who are looking for a wedding photographer?

Raph: Well this may be a bit blunt, but “You get what you pay for”. I have heard all the stories of couples trying to cut prices and hire photographers that don’t have a lot of experience. There is nothing wrong with no experience and we all start somewhere – the problem is when those photographers “practice” on paying clients.

I also encourage all couples to do an engagement session with your photographer. The relationship building and working relationship is so important to put them at ease before the wedding day. Out of all the wedding vendors, you will see your photographer the most – before the wedding, at the wedding, after the wedding, album design, album pick-up. I also suggest that couples get a wedding album. We lost that tangibility of things these days and they have been replaced with awesome gadgets… but there is nothing like photographs on paper. That family heirloom will be cherished for generations.

Sara: How do you help the couple and their wedding party feel comfortable having their photos taken?

Raph: It all starts with trust. The couple has to trust me, or else they will not open up. It has to be fun and it’s up to the photographer to make it fun for the couples. Your personality has to shine though.

Sara: What has been your favorite wedding venue to photograph?

Raph: I don’t really have a favourite. Toronto has so many beautiful venues, each with their own charm – places such as Eglinton Grand, One King West, King Edward Hotel, Distillery District, just to name a few.

Sara: What is your all-time favorite image you have taken?

Raph: This is such a tough question. I really don’t have a favourite. Some images are emotional, some are artistic, so it’s so hard to pick. I guess if I had to pick an image that has had the most impact on me it would be an image I took of a bride kissing her father just after the ceremony. It was an organic moment and I just happened to be there. To me, this image really represents the reason why I’m a photographer. I found out three days after the image was taken, that the bride’s father had passed away. How honoured was I to witness and immortalize that moment for the bride.

Sara: What are the most requested images or scenes the couple wants to have photographed?

Raph: Luckily I don’t get my couples asking me to replicate images they found on Pinterest. My couples are looking for something different, not the stuffy same old poses… different angles, cool lighting, etc, which is exactly what I offer.

Sara: What is the craziest thing you have done to get a perfect shot?

Raph: Probably going waist deep into water, but I’m known to lay down a lot, as well as climb things – just for a different vantage point.

Sara: Have you ever had something go wrong at a wedding and how did you handle it?

Raph: On the way to one wedding I was cut off on the highway and a car side-swiped my car. Luckily I always leave earlier than I need to, so I had enough time to hop into a rental car to get to the wedding while my car got looked after.

Sara: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Raph: Being a wedding photographer is really physically and mentally demanding. You have to be on-point all day. You have to anticipate things, be at the right place at the right time, find the right light, the right angles and make sure everyone is looking their best. It’s usually a 12-14 hour day so afterwards my brain feels like it’s on fire. I’m pretty much useless the following day – which is why I only photograph one wedding per weekend.

Sara: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Raph: To know that I’ve made a little mark on the world, especially in my couples’ history. When I give them images that are different, unique and beautiful I know they will keep and cherish them forever.

Sara: If you hadn’t become a photographer what do you think you would have become?

Raph: I used to be an environmental consultant so, if I hadn’t quit that to pursue my passion, I would likely still be stuck doing something I didn’t enjoy.

Sara: How much does social media play a part in your business?

Raph: These days social media is a must. It is, however, very time consuming and the rules are constantly changing – you just have to keep up.

Sara: Having witnessed so many weddings what advice can you give to a couple on how to get the most out of their big day?

Raph: Get to know your photographer – it will help with the whole photo-taking experience. Know that the wedding schedule is a “floating schedule.” Don’t plan for a speech to start at 7:47 pm. It will never happen. Don’t sweat the small stuff, at the end of the day you will get married and it will be a great party. Don’t let small things ruin your day.

Sara: Thank you so much for sharing your work and experiences with us. Hopefully some of your advice will help other people find the perfect wedding photographer for their big day.

Raph: Thank you very much!!

If you are interested in seeing more of Ralph Nogal’s photography or would like to book an appointment with him, please visit And if you are interested in finding the perfect engagement ring, wedding bands, or any other type of high-end jewellery then Kimberfire “A Brilliant Way to Buy a Diamond” is the company you have been looking for. Please visit us at

toronto push pin

Our Favourite Things to Do in Toronto

A Few of Our Favourite Things to Do… in the Heart of Toronto

The city of Toronto has a lot to offer, and that’s why we consider ourselves lucky to call it home. Kimberfire’s head office is located in the heart of Queen Street East. And when we’re not busy working in the mines, we love to venture out to a few key spots to see what else is glittering around the city.

Royal Ontario Museum

Not only is the Royal Ontario Museum educational, its nightlife element is unique in attracting visitors of all ages and interests. ROM Night is every Friday night beginning in October and ending in November.

“The city’s most unique social destination includes eclectic eats, drinks, DJs, dancing, live music and unexpected experiences. We switch it up so every event brings new surprises!”

Terroni on Queen West

While this little gem is located in the opposite direction of our office, it is worth taking the time to go the distance to Terroni on Queen West. Best described as a place that is warm and welcoming, featuring an ambient scene and amazing food.

“Terroni’s first location opened in 1992, and is located in the heart of Queen Street West. Terroni is rooted in traditional Italian cuisine, wine, and culture.”

Hugh’s Room

Located near High Park, Hugh’s Room brings back the concept of a dinner club with live entertainment. Hugh’s Room is a performance space for musicians and the like. The scheduling is managed so you can eat and listen to music and be out the door before 10:30pm in most cases. This way we don’t have to stay out too late when a great show is happening on a weeknight, and we can be as bright as our diamonds the very next day.

Fresh Restaurants

With two convenient locations to choose from, both in close proximity to the downtown core, Fresh always keeps me coming back for more. Delicious salads, nutrient-dense bowls, burgers, wraps, and desserts – all vegan! Some of their best menu items include, the buddha bowl, ace of kales salad, sweet potato fries, any and all of their juices and smoothies and, last but not least, their gluten free vanilla bean cupcake. Enough said.

Massey Hall

Noted as one of the best, and described as one of the most historic concert halls in Toronto, Massey Hall has seen a lot of legends, from Stevie Nicks to Norah Jones and everything in between.

Distillery District

Welcome to the home of the largest collection of Victorian-era buildings in North America. From Victorian brick wall buildings, to artisanal coffee roasters, and alternative art galleries, nothing quite matches the Distillery District in Toronto. There is always something to experience, from the nightlife and entertainment, to exploring the sights of the restored buildings.

St. Lawrence Market

There is something about a market that features various eateries, bakeries, fresh fruit and most importantly, wine stands, that draws me in. In my opinion, there is no better way to start off your weekend on a Saturday morning than to visit the St. Lawrence Market.

My favourite stop-in is the ice wine shop, which offers samples. I always stop and marvel at the fruit stand, the plethora of baked goods (of which I buy many …) and the huge fish stand.

The market is a one-stop shop that allows me to restock my fridge and also pick up a quick bite as I browse. From sandwiches to fruits, cafes to baked goods, we love the abundance that the St. Lawrence market has to offer.

Trinity Bellwoods Park

Trinity Bellwoods Park is a connection between Ossington and Queen West, two very popular and trendy neighbourhoods.

From hockey rinks to baseball diamonds, to an off leash dog park, anyone can find their niche here. After a Saturday morning of window-shopping on Queen Street, this park is the ideal place to disengage from the bustling boutiques and enjoy a relaxing picnic, jog, or even join in on a drum circle.

All That Glitters in Toronto

Don’t take our word for it though; get out and experience all that Toronto has to offer for yourself, and help us add to our list of hot spots. While you’re in the neighbourhood, why not stop by our offices and let us distract you with all that glitters?

Please be sure to check out our Pinterest page for more details on these hot spots.

So, what is your favourite thing to do in Toronto?

Katie and Jon Engagement Photo with Graffiti Wall

A Toronto Engagement Ring Story: Jon & Katie

Part of our ongoing series profiling Kimberfire’s diamond engagement rings in Toronto, and the awesome people who wear them.

Will you be my partner in crime?

I’ve seen Katie pull off many a stylish ensemble – and pretty soon, she will be all dressed in white. Artistic, and a natural beauty, Katie describes her fiancé, Jon, as “sweet, rambunctious and caring … and he can always make me laugh.”

Jon was drawn to Katie’s easygoing, positive personality and fell in love with her adventurous spirit and ambitious drive, as well as her creative and silly side.

Katie and Jon Engagement Photo

The couple initially met through an online dating site. After a few emails back and forth, they realized that they worked in neighboring office towers and decided to grab a coffee and meet in person. After their coffee date ended, Jon wasted no time, and asked Katie out right away. On many of their dates, you could find them gallivanting across the city of Toronto, checking out funky restaurants, jazz clubs and art galleries.

Katie still remembers having their first kiss in the middle of David Pecaut Square. Jon must have remembered that kiss as well because that’s where he proposed to Katie.

Katie can’t pin point an exact moment when she realized that Jon was ‘the one’. What she does know however, is that over time, Jon went from being her goofy boyfriend, to best friend, to true love.

“I’m lucky to have him as my partner in crime for the rest of my life.”

Katie would say that her engagement ring buying process (rather than just the ring itself) represents her relationship with Jon, ‘to a tee!’ Jon and Katie started discussing diamond rings a few months before he proposed. Being the artistic type, Katie had many ideas on the cut she wanted.  Initially she desired a marquise diamond with baguette diamonds on the side. Then, she had her sights set on an emerald cut diamond with a skinny band.  “Poor Jon, I basically made him so confused. So, just as he does with everything else, Jon tried to ground my decision making process by taking me to try on a few rings.  That’s when I realized that I wanted something simple – round cut with a halo.”

Enter Kimberfire

Jon and Katie are both ‘entrepreneurial wannabes’ and do their part to support small businesses. When they found out that Jonathan Goldberg had left investment banking to launch a fine jewelry business, they just knew they had to get their ring from him.

Jon went to Jonathan Goldberg with an idea or three… for a ring design. After a few design tweaks and some recommendations on clarity, colour and carat, Jonathan Goldberg brought the idea to life! The end result was a beautiful 19k white gold ring with a round diamond in the middle and a single halo around the perimeter. The diamonds sit in a beautiful vintage setting that sports a skinny band with diamond embedded throughout. Instead of traditional nickel, palladium was used for the alloy, ensuring a very bright white finish. Katie couldn’t be happier and said, “I absolutely LOVE my ring!”

Katie's Kimberfire Engagement Ring in Toronto

Katie also commented that, “even after I received the ring, Jonathan provided nothing but top notch customer service. When I mentioned that my ring felt a bit loose, he got it sized for me right away. Additionally, he added two sizing balls to the inside of my band to stop my ring from twisting on my finger! Such a great idea!”.

Katie says her ring definitely reflects her personal style, which she describes as ‘sophisticated and classy.’  Katie prefers her style to always be timeless as opposed to trendy. Katie’s timeless taste reflects the vintage setting and classic cut of her engagement ring.

We wish this happy couple all of the joys and happiness in their journey together and appreciate them sharing their story with us (and you!).


(Photo Credits: Laura Nicholson Photography)


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Toronto Skyline

Kimberfire On Career Buzz Radio in Toronto

A gem of a career. A career in gems.

I was recently a guest on Career Buzz, on CIUT 89.5 FM in the Greater Toronto Area, as part of a special 1-hour long segment on careers in diamonds! Joining me on the show was a good friend, and former Chief Gemmologist of Ontario, Ron Gashinski.

The show took listeners through the twists and turns in my career that led to the founding of Kimberfire and explored the journey of a diamond from mine to polished gem.

Have a listen!

Career Buzz is produced and hosted by Mark Franklin, president of CareerCycles. Since 2006, Career Buzz radio has been empowering lives, enriching careers and energizing organizations.


(Photo Credit: Jamie In Bytown)

Image with Text "We Believe in a Better Way to Buy Diamonds"

A Brilliant Way to Buy a Diamond

Hey there,

I’m Jonathan Goldberg, the founder & CEO of Kimberfire – a better way to buy diamonds, custom engagement rings and fine jewelry in Toronto, ON, Canada. I thought I’d start off our blog with introductions to myself and to Kimberfire. Please check back often for future posts catered to both men and women on diamonds, engagement rings, diamond jewelry, marriage proposals, personal style and more! Who knows what we’ll come up with.

Diamonds and high-end diamond jewelry are my passion. I am an internationally trained diamond grader with experience working in a diamond-cutting factory in the Middle East, in diamond sector business development in the busy diamond-trading centre of Antwerp and in the wholesale diamond trade in North America. Yes, I actually sat for hours each day cutting diamonds from rough stones into the polished diamonds we’re accustomed to seeing in jewelry – it was an awesome way to learn all about them!

As a break (at times fun and at times not so fun) between all that luxury goods sector experience and founding Kimberfire, I went back to school for my MBA (fun) and spent 3 years at one of the large Canadian banks as an investment banker (had its moments!).

While in banking, my friends who were getting engaged would always ask me about the best place to buy a diamond engagement ring. Should they buy online? Should they go to one of the many retail stores? A common phrase I heard was, “I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars at ‘X’ on a ring online without seeing it, but I don’t want to pay the prices being asked by ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ locally.”

I would always agree with them – as no two diamonds are alike! I have manufactured diamonds with my own two hands and I will not buy one without thoroughly inspecting it in person first. Diamonds come with many different types of inclusions and quality of material, even within the same clarity grade. The diamond that I approve of in person is the one I want to take home with me to give to my loved one.

Friends, and friends of friends, were thrilled when I navigated my relationships with diamond manufacturers and suppliers to source their perfect diamond – at the most competitive prices. They were ecstatic that I was able to find diamonds at the lowest prices possible (those typically only seen online) while also providing the opportunity for them to see their diamond in person alongside someone they trust, the same way they would be able to at only the highest-end stores. These were the fundamentals that shaped Kimberfire.

Kimberlite is the rock in the earth where diamonds are found. Fire is the scintillation and brilliance of our hand-picked diamonds. ‘Kimberfire’ is not only a new word for diamond, but also a new and brilliant way to buy one.

I look forward to meeting you and to building a relationship that will last through many of life’s memorable moments to come!

All the best,