Wednesday, September 23, 2009

{humanitarianism through art...}

For anyone in or around Ottawa this coming weekend, be sure to drop by La Petite Mort Gallery on Cumberland for an exhibit and fundraiser to support Doctors Without Borders Canada.

In collaboration with the Ottawa Month of Photography, forty area photographers (yours truly included!) have each donated one of their photographs in honour of the cause. The Vernissage is being held on Friday, September 25th, 2009 from 7pm until 10pm and runs right through the weekend until 6pm on Sunday, September 27th, 2009.

This image from our recent trip to Italy was selected to make its exhibition debut…so bring good cheer and deep pockets ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009


I remember this one day about four or five years ago when I was running along the canal. It was September sometime and the sun was just going down leaving the most beautiful orange glow over the water. It was my favourite time of day and my favourite time of year to run. I like to pray a lot when I run. While I send dozens of thank yous a day to the heavens, I can be a bit long-winded when I pray! I like to be very precise in my prayers {I have this on-going paranoia about asking God to open up my heart and then being subjected to open heart surgery one day!!! So I just like to be clear!} and during my runs is the perfect opportunity to do so. On this one particular day, I remember praying the same prayer that I had prayed time and time again; “Please God, help to find what it is that I’m supposed to be doing with my life”

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life in the midst of some pretty incredible experiences. I’d been hired right out of university to work on Parliament Hill and then three years later, I began my career in the fine arts. Even in my teens, I seldom had an “ordinary” job. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my professional life and have been exceptionally grateful for all of the rather unexpected turns that it may have taken along the way. But even then, I never sensed that any of those things fulfilled my long-term purpose…they weren’t what I was supposed to be doing. At least not in a capacity that felt divinely inspired. I constantly longed to be involved in something that enabled me the freedom that I desired while still contributing in a way that was significant and creative…and whatever it was…I knew that it was out there somewhere. I just didn’t know what it was.

This is the very answer to that prayer that I’ve spent so many years perfecting; This place, this art, this craft, this venture, this leap of faith into a world that I’ve never been before is what I’ve always longed for. And it’s been amazing! As each day unfolds into the next, I am reminded that where there is a gift…there is a Giver.

Like all things though, they come with their challenges. Two things that have come to mind lately when I consider the challenges of pursuing this dream have been the art of comparison and wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing! Allow me to address the wolves first; I once read that in the earliest stages of conception of any dream, you should be very careful whom you choose to share it with because sadly, more often than not, it won’t be received with the support that you were hoping for. In my case, it was very well received and the support was overwhelming…but it certainly didn’t come from the people that I thought it would. In fact, in many ways, it came from some of the least expected sources. As the months rolled on, some of the people who were happy to share their photographic knowledge and expertise with me slowly distanced them selves to the point that what used to be a shared passion for a particular craft became two strangers passing each other on the street. I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for the conditional support that comes with exceeding someone else’s expectations and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the fact that some people will not only be waiting with baited breath for you to fail, but they will actually wish it upon you. And that makes me sad…

The other challenge I often face is the inclination to compare myself to other photographers. It’s a very fine line between inspiration and slowly chipping away at your self-esteem through the brilliance of someone else! I’ll be the first to admit that comparison can be a deadly addiction and it can, if you’re not careful, suck the life right out of your dreams. I have a short yet mighty list of photographers that I like to follow and let me tell you…they are AMAZING! Their work blows me away, their creativity makes my heart skip a beat and their constant ability to produce incredible photographs day after day leaves me mesmerized. Depending on the day though, it can also leave me feeling like I’ll never quite get “there” {wherever “there” might be!}. The irony if it all though is that even if and when I do reach that place of higher potential…I still won’t be them…because I can only be me.

So as I’ve been going through my week feeling the weight of these challenges a bit more than usual, I’ve been trying hard to remember that even the greatest of blessings have their bad days…that it isn’t always the perfect light or the ideal location or the string of glorious details. Some days are just going to be better than others. C’est la vie!

I’ve been asked to submit one of my photographs for an art exhibit / charity auction next week at La Petite Mort Gallery to support Doctors Without Borders. I feel quite flattered despite my anxiety at seeing if my print actually sells or not!!! But as I was going through my work from this year to try to select one piece, I came across this picture that I took of the beautiful Miss Olivia back in March...

Olivia and Josh were my very first “clients” and this was actually the very first photo that I took of that session. And I love it! I love it with every fiber of my being! I can remember hardly sleeping at all the night before and then singing through the entire four hour drive to Toronto to meet them at the Distillery. It was such an amazing weekend {with approximately three Starbucks runs in between to keep the motors running!!!}! Later that day I shot this picture of one of the most beautiful and most important people in my life...

Both of these pictures are still two of my favourite of the literally thousands that I’ve taken over the past eight months. I’ve decided that I need to print them and post them prominently over my desk as a reminder of why I do this; it’s not so that I can prove something to the people who think that I can’t do it and it’s not so that I can be like someone else…but it’s so that I can spend every day living and remembering that “I’m not beautiful like you. I’m beautiful like me.” ~ Joydrop

Monday, September 14, 2009

{as promised...}

During our first evening in Florence, the night before our fourth anniversary, we walked to the top of Piazzale Michaelangelo to watch the sunset (as per our concierge's recommendation). As we got part way to the top of our final destination, I noticed that someone had spray painted on the side of the wall "take good care of my heart...because I've left it with you". I simply had to stop and stare at it because it really seemed to sum up everything I was feeling at that very moment; about my husband...about our trip...about our evening...about life in general. It's as though it was spray painted there just for me!

So without further ado, and as promised many weeks ago, here are some of my favourite memories of our beautiful trip to Italy...


Rome, from Capitoline Hill

The incredible Trevi Fountain...

The Pantheon...

Ruins from the Roman Forum...

My favourite part of Italy; the cobblestone alleyways...

St. Peter's Square, Vatican City...

St. Peter's Basilica...

St. Peter's Basilica...

Vatican City

The lovely Florence...

To see some more of our beautiful trip, click here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

{courtney & josh: wedding...}

Lovely! That's exactly how everything about Josh and Courtney's wedding turn out...lovely! From the amazing weather to the beautiful venue, from the super fun wedding party to the devastatingly striking couple...everything just oozed loveliness!

I always love seeing how couples like their wedding day to play out. They are all so unique and lend various moods to the day. Josh and Courtney opted to see each other before hand and to spend a few hours with the wedding party before their sunset ceremony in the Vista Room at Lago Restaurant. I have to rocked! We soaked up the sun in the Arboretum before heading for dinner (which, might I add, may have been one of the very best steaks I've ever had!). Then it was time to prepare for their beautiful ceremony before rocking the night away!

Thanks Josh and Courts for all the fun in the camera and I adore you!!!


This was such a sweet moment between Courtney and her Dad (who I'm also a huge fan of!) when she first arrived...

I don't usually include too many family pictures on the blog...but this was too good to resist!!

Courtney, you are

This shot made me so happy when it popped up on my computer screen! I had been teasing Courtney and asking her to give me her very fiercest of looks! This is what proceeded...

Holy Handsome Batman!

Hee hee...

I was in elle oh vee eeh with their ring shot!!!

To see Josh and Courtney's slideshow, click here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

{love at first sight...}

I'll be the first to admit that I've seen a whole lot of fabulous photographs in my day. I've admired some of them for as long as I can remember and those that made a real impression on me have stuck in my mind as part of the reason that I love this art so much. Photographs are memories...they are moments...they are the essence of our lives captured in a way that enables us to hold on to them forever.

But never, in all the days of my life, have I ever seen an image that I have loved more than this one...

Ladies and Gentlemen...we're having a baby!!!


How do I put this gently? I SUCK! That’s right…you heard it here first; I’m the suckiest suck that ever sucked!!!! I vowed that I when I returned from vacation I would proceed to be my usual wonderful blogging self and of course, that hasn’t happened! I seriously bow my head in shame!

But do allow me to explain {or at least try make up something that resembles explaining!}; I most definitely assumed that when I returned from Italy, I would be rested and rejuvenated…ready to dive into all that awaited us for September. As it turns out, my body feels exactly that; fully rested and rejuvenated…and apparently it doesn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize that in any way! Long story short, my body has apparently gone on strike from all things that seem to fall under “other related duties”!! Even coming in to work every day mildly felt like I was crossing the picket lines!

I have spent close to two weeks sleeping twelve hours a night, taking naps during the day, reading my books by the pool and for all the moments in between, eating delicious Italian food and admiring amazing Roman architecture. Really, can you blame my pampered self for rebelling?!?! So, all of this to say that my first week back has been a bit harder than I anticipated. Going back to work for eight hours a day, five days a week just feels so counter-intuitive all of the sudden…like trying to leap into a raging fire!! “Why?” my body is asking. “Why must you play with emotions like this?” it whimpered as I dragged it in for yet another early morning at the office. It was all so sad!

So all of this whining has forced me to really try and ease myself in slowly so that the shock to the system is a little bit less traumatic!! This, my friends, leads me to my lack of blogging presence over the past week. Pitiful, I know! But I blame Italy and why shouldn’t I…it’s the one that infused me with delicious pasta and afternoon naps!

I can’t quite report on how long this state of “real life denial” is planning to stick around for but hopefully, the two sides will soon be able to negotiate an agreement that happily allows blogging to be put back on the table! After all, there’s tons to catch up on; Courtney and Josh’s wedding, the catalogue that I’m shooting this weekend, Caroline and Brent’s wedding next weekend and of course, the lovely Italia…oh how love thee…let me count the ways…

{aaannnnd…we’re back to the picket lines…!!!!}

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

{there's no place like home...}

So I didn’t have to click my ruby slippers because Northwest Airlines brought us safely home, but it sure was lovely to see the Ottawa skyline as we approached in the dead of the night. It seems that no matter where I go in the world…how long I’ve gone or how much fun I’ve had…the very best part is always coming home. There truly is no place like home.

I had the intention of posting as soon as we returned from Italy but instead, I just found myself relishing in the pleasure of having returned; I would spend leisurely mornings at Starbucks, browse the bookstore for new reading material, catching up with friends, providing much love to our fur ball and just settling back into our routine. It seems that while we were away, autumn has descended upon the nation’s capital and there is a lovely energy that has invaded our city as all the students return and big yellow school buses fill our streets again.

The enjoyment of returning home aside, I certainly shouldn’t neglect to mention that Italy was incredible! In fact, it was better than incredible; it was all I imagined it would be and it has left a magical impression on me that very well may spoil every day life forever! We walked among the cobblestone streets until our feet ached, stared at beautiful fountains until our eyes were crossed and somehow, never got tired of it.

I was left though with one very puzzling question that I have yet to figure out…how on earth do Italian women look so darn amazing in that wretched heat?!?! For all of the ways in which Italy and I got along, I certainly stood out as a foreigner amongst their luscious women. Despite the forty degree heat that we endured every day of our visit, Italian women would stroll through the streets with their flowing hair, their strappy sandals, their beautifully tanned skin and all the while…simply oozing sex appeal. Me, on the other hand…not so much! I spent my time in shorts and a t-shirt, sweating profusely and dragging my butt around while my rapidly melting gelato dripped all over the place! Please allow me to be the first to say that I was hardly the essence of grace!!!

Nonetheless…we rocked Italy! We showed the country just how much gelato the Smyths can really consume and while much of it may have ended up spilling down the front of my shirt…it was well worth every mad attempt!

Photos to follow very shortly...!!!