Wednesday, November 25, 2009

{dan & cynthia: wedding...}

Halloween has always been my favourite holiday of the year!

When I was a little girl, my Mom and I would decorate our house with candles and spider webs and my Mom would help me put together a fantastic costume that was comfortable enough to endure for the entire day while still being warm enough to last through the brisk October nights that we often had in Ontario.

My friends and I would head out with a pillow case in hand and return home with chilled fingers and an excessive belly ache from too much snacking along the way! Unlike the country kids who had a kilometer between each house, I lived in a townhouse division which meant that we always got a far better return on our investment!!!

One year when I was in high school, we lived in this beautiful heritage home in the south end of London; an area of town that served as the perfect backdrop for my favourite spooky holiday! My Mom dressed up like a scarecrow, put a carved pumpkin on her head and sat perfectly still on our front porch while our cat’s recent litter of six week old black kittens sat perfectly perched on our stairwell just inside our door. My Mom placed our bowl of candy on her lap and waited patiently for the neighborhood kids to come and help themselves. As the night went on, I proceeded to spend hours being highly entertained as my Mother very strategically “made her move” depending on whether it was a young excited Halloween rookie or an over ambitious teenager hoping to run off with all the goods! It was, by far, one of my favourite Halloween memories!

This past Halloween was my first time spending it away from the house and the dressed up munchkins that roamed the streets. This year, I spent it photographing Dan and Cynthia’s gorgeously masked wedding in Rockland. As their guests began to fill the reception hall sporting their elaborately decorated Venetian masks, the room equally began to fill with a sense of mystery and magic that only Dan and Cynthia could create. From the candy bar of delicious treats to Grandpa wearing his proudest face…this too, has gone down as one of my favourite Halloween memories…

The lady of the evening...

The groom and his little princess...

Creative problem solving for a slight costume malfunction!!

I totally wish that it was socially acceptable to wear these every day!!!

Shake it!!!!

Click here to see the rest of Dan & Cynthia's romantically mysterious night...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

{same time next year...}

I think that few things in this world are quite as unique as families; the way that they build over time and create generation upon generation of legacies. It’s actually really amazing to trace back the roots of any family and see just how far back they go and the stories that have been told along the way.

When I was growing up, all of our family on my Mom’s side would go to our cottage in the Muskokas at least once a summer and every year we would gather at the same spot along the lake and take a family picture. It’s priceless to look at how much the pictures have changed over the years and who has joined us along the way; boyfriends and girlfriends, various furry friends, neighbors. Even the lake itself has changed in its own way. But time and time again, we do our very best to capture a tiny piece of the years that seem to pass us by far too quickly.

Family dynamics are so amazing to photograph and now that I’m about to be starting my own family, I have an even better appreciation for them. Having generations come together to record a certain time in their life is such a special thing to do and frankly, more of us should be doing it because before you know it, the landscape of our family portraits begin to evolve; grandparents get older, babies are born, in-laws are inherited, pets are adopted…and things change.

Marie-Josée and I started planning her family’s photo session way back in the summer, long before the cool Ottawa air started to roll into town. We were armed with spreadsheets and flow charts in hopes that I could keep all of the relatives straight but in the end, the youngest generation and the piles of crisp autumn leaves prevailed…and we had a blast!

My words of wisdom after my morning with this dear family…? Take the time to record the evolution of your family because it is forever going to change from one year to the next. As weddings and birthdays and graduations continue to occur…you’ll be glad that you did.

Oh…and when it comes to children…forget the spreadsheets! Just click your camera like a madman and hope for the best!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

{just because...}

...this picture makes me smile that much!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

{hopeful remembrance...}

This past summer I was asked to do a photo shoot with one of my most favourite families in the entire world. I’ve had to keep the pictures under wraps this entire time because they were to be a gift to a brave pilot heading off to Afghanistan for nine months as a reminder of the beautiful faces that will be patiently awaiting his return. With Remembrance Day being tomorrow, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally post them.

When I was in public school, they used to gather all of us into the gymnasium and we’d watch black and white videos of war while reciting In Flanders Fields. I can’t say that I understood much about war back then and in all honesty, I can’t say that I understand a whole lot about it now either.

A few summers ago, the Canadian War Museum opened here in Ottawa and for the official opening, Ottawa hosted a huge parade for all of our military men and women. I feel as though I learned more history during the two hours of watching that parade go by then I did during years of taking history classes because instead of reading books or watching videos, I watched people; I watched the real life faces of those who have been there and come back to the tell the real stories. I watched little kids on the side of the road holding signs of support for their grandfather who was walking by in uniform. I watched as thousands of people cheered and clapped for victories that have already been won and for others that are still being fought to this day.

And I cried.

I sat on a little patch of grass in downtown Ottawa during a warm, sunny, summer day…and I cried. Because what else is there to do when you can finally put a face to the stories? What is there left to do but cry when you see that war isn’t just stories told at school assemblies once a year?

It’s my brother-in-law that has now left for Afghanistan. He’s flying our soldiers around in helicopters because they keep getting blown up in road side bombs. So this year, not only will we spend tomorrow remembering but we’ll also spend tomorrow being hopeful; being hopeful that this is the only Christmas we’ll have to spend without him; being hopeful for his return next July and being hopeful that these beautiful faces won’t have to spend a moment longer than they have to without the brave man in their life…

Thursday, November 5, 2009

{keeping it real...}

"People often say that motivation doesn't last.
Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."
- Zig Ziglar

Jasmine Star wrote this on her facebook page the other day and I actually found myself laughing about loud because it couldn’t be more true! Motivation, regardless of how much you love your work, can be really, really hard sometimes.

I think that a lot of people (myself included at times) assume that once you begin pursuing your passion and your dreams…that the motivation just “happens”; that the energy and creativity just effortlessly appears and radiates its way through your fingertips. I felt relieved to find out that I wasn’t the only one to discover that this is a complete and blatant lie!

Motivation, in my humble opinion, is one of the great gifts of life! Nothing makes me feel more alive than being truly motivated and when I get going with the proper motivation, there is really no stopping me {why else does one train for a marathon four times?!?!}. But even with great passions, there is the tedious, there is the discouragement and there is downright forgetting how and why you got here in the first place!! I think that in the beginning it can be even harder and at times, it can altogether suck; the learning curve can be very steep, the frustrations can be high and seeds of doubt seem to plant themselves a little bit easier. But then again, if it was easy, everyone would do it!

There were a couple of months during this past year when I felt like I was in the midst of the perfect storm; when all the things that could be deemed a challenge appeared all at once and left me feeling very depleted. I even remember asking Steve one night as I was getting ready for bed if he thought God was trying to see how easily I spooked?!?! You know, just testing me out to see if I was a flight risk! And I’ll admit that it did cross my mind; the idea of just bailing on this whole thing, just throwing in the towel and saying “the hell with it! Whose bright idea was this anyway?!?!” But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let something that made me so happy slip between my fingers because I was tired of the mistakes and tired of the excessive amount of learning.

I guess my point of this rather long winded blog is to remind myself {and anyone else that needs it!} that the challenge isn’t going to be just taking pictures or learning about business or explaining the art of copyrights. Part of the challenge is keeping going in the midst of those things and again, if it were easy, then everyone would do it. But it’s not. Some days it comes easier than others but in the end, it’s always worthwhile…because our dreams are always worthwhile.

And since photo blogs are actually better with a photo…here is one of the extremely beautiful Andrea that I took this past weekend for her maternity shoot. When I loaded the memory card on to my computer, I was so thrilled with the results and instantaneously fell in love with this one…that smile proved to be great motivation!

More of this lovely lady to come soon...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

{all hallow's eve...}

So it turns out that Halloween isn’t just for little ghosts and goblins! It’s also for lovely, mysterious, masked brides who also have a trick or two of their own up their sleeves!

Stay tuned in the weeks to come for more of Cynthia and Dan’s Halloween Wedding!