Sunday, April 26, 2009

{the best bump of all...}

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be self-employed. Even as a little girl, while my friends played house…I played entrepreneur! Even my Barbie dolls were always fiercely independent women…owning clothing stores and hot dog stands! One of them even owned a cattle ranch in the spare bedroom of our house!! Self-employment really suits my personality and I do hope that one day, in the not so distant future, it will be my every day life.

No matter how or when this happens though, there is one thing that I will miss immensely when the time comes, and that’s having co-workers! The people that I work with at my “day job” are amazing and they make going to work every day a blast. Come to think of it, some of my closest friends are people that I have met through work. Granted, not all colleagues deserve a gold star (I’ve heard stories!) but if there is one thing that I have been blessed with, it has been the highest standard of people with which to share eight hours of every day! In all reality, we tend to see our colleagues more than any other people during our work week and in most cases, my colleagues have come to be my friends first and foremost.

That’s why it was such an honour when my long time colleague, France, asked me if I would go to their home to photograph her and her family in the weeks leading up to the arrival of their second baby.

France and I were hired mere months apart from each other and in the five years that we’ve known each other, we’ve watched each other get engaged, get married, buy houses, have children and just about every thing in between. I will be enduring her second maternity leave very soon and I can say with utmost certainty that her absence in my day-to-day life feels numerous and plenty.

Few things move me as much as photographing a family. The intimacy of watching parents and their children together often leaves me feeling like I should look away because it’s so private and precious. Yet, that’s my job…to catch those little moments that make them such a fabulous family and make their life together such a gift. And really, it’s the very least that I can do for the woman that makes my other job such a hilarious place to experience every day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

{ray of light...}

Many years ago, I was having an especially crappy day at work. It was the kind of day in which I should never really have gotten out of bed in the first place but against my better judgment…I did!

After about five hours of a day that was beginning to feel much like having survived a severe gang beating, my good friend Joanne insisted that a breath of fresh air was a necessity! So off we went for a stroll through one of our city’s most beautiful neighborhoods and as we were standing on the corner waiting to cross the street, an Ottawa cab tore through the intersection, right through a giant puddle and sure enough, Joanne and I were soon engulfed with a tidal wave of murky rain water.

As I stood there horrified at the chain of events my day was perpetually taking, Joanne took one look at me, drenched head to toe, and said “Gen…this is God’s way of telling you not to be in a bad mood!” The sentence was barely out of her mouth before the two of us were in stitches laughing. It was the kind of uncontrollable laughter that causes stomach pains and need for a respirator! I’m quite sure that everyone around us thought that we should be admitted to an asylum but I have to say…I certainly wasn’t in a bad mood anymore!

Not long after that, a similar day was unraveling when the two of us found ourselves standing outside waiting for our ride when the skies opened up and unleashed its rage upon us. She looked at me with the utmost of interrogative eyes and said “Gen…what have I told you about this?!?!” I burst out laughing almost instantaneously as neither one of us even bothered to search for cover. It’s truthfully one of my favourite memories.

And this has continued to be the story of my beautiful Joanne…she (and God!) bring sunshine to my life…even in the pouring rain! We spend most of our time laughing hysterically and getting caught in torrential showers…and I simply can’t be in a bad mood around her.

Would you be able to with a smile like hers around…?!?!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

{sister for hire...}

After having spent a fun filled long weekend with family, my husband and I found our selves sharing stories about respective Easter memories as children. For me, Easter has never been anything but lovely. My Mother was always a huge fan of holidays and Easter was certainly no exception; she would come up with the most wonderful scavenger hunts and I would be in a constant frenzy around the house uncovering one treasure after another. All in all, the Easter Bunny rocked my world!

After having spoken to my husband though, I have come to discover that this was not the case in every household; it appears that if you had siblings, Easter was a chaotic stampede in search of hidden chocolate that may or may not have left bodily harm in its midst. Frankly, this came as a bit of a surprise to me!!

Perhaps I should clarify here that I am, indeed, an only child...a fairly rare breed of offspring these days! I get asked quite often what it’s like not to have any brothers or sisters as most people have a hard time being able to fathom the idea. Now that I’m at an age when a lot of my friends are either having or contemplating the idea of having children, the question seems to come up a bit more than usual. As people consider whether or not to expand their own families, I seem to offer a perspective that isn’t easily found.

In all honesty, I don’t remember life as an only child being any different than those of my sibling accompanied friends. My experiences and life lessons came from elsewhere and in so many ways, I developed relationships were that were very similar to those shared between siblings. Of course, I never had to share a bedroom or suffer from Easter morning injuries, but sharing is sharing and rivalry is rivalry regardless of how you learned it.

Since getting married, I’ve actually inherited quite a few siblings; I am one of eight “children” now, which has more than made up for my lack of hair pulling in my younger days! I am also the baby of the family now which leaves me being the consummate little sister of the bunch and no one left to pass all of my wisdom to! That is, until two years ago…when I met Jamie!

Jamie and I spend two days a week together over looking the Ottawa River and during that time, she has definitely become the surrogate little sister in my life! Adorable, youthful, ambitious…Jamie is at that fantastic time in her life that is full of new experiences and possibilities. Every now and then, she’ll pick my brain about boys, roommates and careers, and in turn, she lets me live vicariously through her twenty-something adventures! We laugh…we vent…we have constant coffee dates and more times than not, our days end in a sugar induced coma of some kind!

While Jamie has always been an amazing “little sister”…she has raised the bar of sibling support in recent months. As this photographic project has come together, she has been there every step of the way…from its earliest conception to likely reading these very words. She has listened to me express every ounce of self-doubt…she has endured countless hours of excitement when a great moment has been captured…she is the brains and creativity behind the sexy pink design at the top of the page and she has, of course, put up with me following her around with a telephoto lens in her face!! Needless to say that she’s been a really great sport about it all!!

Since my camera can’t seem to get enough of Jamie, I have no doubt that you’ll be seeing a lot of her up here in posts to come but for now, I wanted to share a couple that she let me steal of her in the meantime. These pictures are actually some of my absolute favourite that I’ve taken so far. They were just so awesome right out of the camera. Or rather, she was so awesome in front of the camera. Either way…I just love these pictures; I think they are dramatic, beautiful and alluring…just like my little sister!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Wishing you and yours of the loveliest of visits from the Easter Bunny!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

{the ex factor...}

Have you ever been able to be friends with an ex?

My husband appears to have mastered this skill with his past girlfriends and I always wondered how he did it! I, on the other hand, seem to have adopted the Miranda Hobbes school of thought on this issue; “We didn’t work out…you need to not exist!” Believe me though…it’s not for lack of trying! I’ve actually invested many months of awkward phone calls and painful “updates” (you know the ones!!), all in hopes of being able to find some middle ground and eventually cross over to the other side. It never seems to work though, there always ends up being too much of something; too much history…too much dirt…too many memories from the day you broke-up instead of memories from the days before. In the end, our collective pasts won the battle and they’ve all drifted into the land of lost boyfriends; home to our summer flings, first loves and the occasional admission of bad judgment!

I’m pleased to announce though that I have been given renewed hope as of late, in the form of a short yet sweet relationship from my University days; Josh and I met in our second year of university during a rather strange and oddly inexplicable sequence of events! We met…more than once…in a variety of places…and eventually, we just decided to start meeting on purpose! I have to admit that the randomness of our constantly crossing paths was rather alluring; the mystery…the intrigue…really, what’s a girl to do?!?! I mean, you can’t really blame me for being intoxicated by the “tall, dark and handsome-ness” of it all!!

But alas…I digress…

We did eventually start dating and it was great but much like the flowers he once gave me, our relationship was short lived. Similar to the circumstances that brought us together, new ones were pulling us apart and given our combined track record in dealing with the “ex-factor”, it never even occurred to us to try and take our shared experience to a place that potentially had more staying power than the relationship we had just come out of. With that, we parted ways…until a little creation called Facebook came along and made our worlds collide! Then, just like that, our pasts became present once again and for the two of us, that meant a second chance at the friendship that we let slip between our fingers.

So for the past few months, we’ve been catching up on everything that we missed and we’re also discovering that ten years can seem like a lifetime when you consider all that can happen…marriage, children, careers. We’re also finding though that while we may not have been very successful as a couple, our time together has managed to leave a very promising friendship in its wake (and perhaps evidence that our seemingly random encounters weren’t really random at all!). What we lacked back then appears to be the very thing that’s enabling us to be far better friends now. Who knew?!?!

Josh lives in Toronto now and is the Father of a beautiful little girl. I was heading down to his neck of the woods a few weekends ago for a long overdue visit and it also provided the perfect opportunity for a little stroll down memory lane! Shortly before I headed to Toronto, Josh mentioned that he didn’t have any good pictures of him and his daughter so we decided to meet up in the historic Distillery District not only to resolve his photographic dilemma, but also to have a drink and catch up…you know, just like old friends! Ten years may have passed but I’m finding that with maturity also comes the ability to see beyond what was to the possibility of what may be and in so many ways…it was as though not a single day had gone by. The pictures we captured from that afternoon are proving to be a beautiful reminder for me of just how much things change and all the while, they stay exactly the same.

So, without further ado…I would like you meet my new friend Josh, and his absolutely stunning leading lady, Olivia. They take my breath away...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

{not a moment too soon...}

Many years ago, a good friend and I were discussing the elusive quest for happiness. He was about to move out West from Ottawa and as the two of us were preparing to part ways, we found ourselves reflecting on the years that had just past. We were both standing at a particular crossroad in our lives and happiness, at the time, seemed a bit like an old wives tale.

As we spent an afternoon driving through the rural countryside of Eastern Ontario, we concluded that happiness was something that wasn’t really recognized until the moment had passed you by. It seemed more like a state that was acknowledged after the fact because life seemed to change in such small little incremental steps that we hardly even noticed its progression. In short, we determined that we weren’t really chasing it as much as we were looking over our shoulder at it with nostalgia and wondering what all the magical pieces were that seemed to fit together at the time.

Nearly six years has passed now and while the two of us are provinces apart, we still metaphorically drive the countryside together sometimes and during our time apart we’ve experienced marriage, children, death, the loss of jobs and at times, the loss of ourselves but we have also realized one very important thing; that yes, it’s true, life does have a tendency to coast along with changes that aren’t always noticeable until you’re looking at them in the rearview mirror…but life also stops you dead in your tracks and forces you to look straight ahead.

It’s those moments – the ones that stare you in face – that make life magical. They create the change that we’ve always been to afraid to tackle and the momentum that could derail us at any time…and yet you continue on, because happiness is no longer just a part of your past but also right at your fingertips. My moment was this past January when I sat on the edge of my bed wondering how this was happening to me…how this moment was happening to me. It wasn’t long though before I realized that it wasn’t happening to me…it was becoming a part of me; a part of my experience, a part of my past and most importantly, a part of my future.

I’ve spent a good part of my life being afraid of “moments” – sad moments, scary moments, life changing moments, missing the moment, capturing the moment, being in the moment…I much preferred the subtle passing of time that enabled me to experience the transition of life with the least amount of battle scars. But here’s the thing…in the midst of my moment, I caught myself wondering if you can ever really leave a mark on the world if you’ve never really been inflicted with one?

So here I am…four months after impact and having decided that the moment is all there really is. My life has been shaped by one moment after another that I never once took the opportunity to embrace for fear of what I might find. Now, having survived one of the more tumultuous moments I’ve ever known…I want nothing more than to take them all in and if I’m really lucky…capture some of them through the eyes of someone who’s only seeing them for the very first time.

Ladies and Gentlemen…Welcome to Fifteen:Fifty-One Photography!

“Behold, I show you mystery,
we may not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…”
~ 1 Corinthians 15:51