2019 Shoot and Share Contest round up

The Shoot and Share 2019 photo contest is a wrap. Each year photographers from all over the world submit up to 50 photos each to this contest. Photos are then voted on, over 4 weeks by the public. This year they received over 580 thousands entries and over 90 million votes. I didn’t submit 50 photos but did pick a few favourites to enter. It is always fun to see which image make it to the final rounds and even more fun to see so many familiar photos from photographer friends make their way into the finals. Yesterday I received my results and was able to see how my images did. Honoured and overwhelmed to see that one of my photos received 33rd place out of 52,643 entries in its category. Below is my top placing photos as well as some of my favourite entries.

Why in-home Family Photography Sessions are the best

When many people think of family photography sessions they think of a beautiful outdoor location during the summer. Even I am guilty of this, during the winter I sometimes have to remind myself to pick up my camera to even take my own family photos, which is just silly. There are so many reasons to plan a photography session in your own home.

Lets talk about the most obvious reason. The weather. Now here in Saskatchewan sometimes we get a nice spring and it seems like months of endless summer, but other years we have snow on the ground right into April with a cold and rainy May. Lets not even talk about those early winters with snow in September. It’s a pretty short season, and this makes outdoor sessions harder to plan for. As a photographer I hope that out outdoor session blesses us with a beautiful sunset on a calm warm evening but often that is not the case. Sometimes there is rescheduling, sometimes we work between wind gusts, and sometimes we have to stop to warm up during the session. Plan a session in your home and we worry about none of that. There’s way less rescheduling, you can wear what you want, and we don’t need to worry about wind messing up everyone’s hair.

The other amazing thing about a session in your house is how comfortable your kids are. Regardless of where we hold your session, I give kids plenty up time to warm up to me. But sometimes with younger ones especially, we get to our location, but it’s new, I’m new, and it takes longer for everyone to get familiar and comfortable in the space before we start to get those beautiful images that show that connection we are going for. In your home, you’re child can show me their favourite toy, they can cuddle up on their favourite chair and they have all the familiarity of home.

Now I know what your going to say! Maybe your home is due for some updating, or maybe the kids have toys everywhere. Maybe you just don’t feel your home is quiet camera ready. Well, I am here to assure you, it is! When we plan your session we can talk about what rooms you want used, and which ones you don’t. Your home does not need to be spotless and in show home condition. If you have clutter, which if we are being honest, who doesn’t? Do not worry! I suggest you gently clean one or two rooms and we focus on that area. Put some the the clutter away if you like, but make sure to keep the essence of your family present throughout. Open up the curtains and let your windows light your home ( and don’t worry you don’t need big picture windows either) and I will take care of the rest from there. During your session I use the best angles and light availability to make sure you and your home look great so that when you look at your images you see nothing but love, connection, and sweet family moments.

I usually suggest we book sessions during the daytime hours of 10-2pm and that we book the session around when the kids are happiest.

What to wear you ask? Well if we aren’t outdoors, you can wear whatever you like. Maybe your kids love wearing all shorts, all the time, or maybe they have a favourite dress that they love to wear but it’s just too cold to wear outside. Basically I want everyone to be comfortable and feel like themselves. For me, as a Mom. I know I am all about the leggings, a basic tee, and a long cardigan. This is perfect for an in-home session.

Still have some reservations about holding a family session in your home? Let’s chat! I am always happy to answer any questions you have.

Connecting over Coffee

My journey into photography was similar to a lot of Mom’s that pick up a camera . Having kids gave me the opportunity to slow down. Not in the sense that life got slower, because we all know that’s not what happens when you add kids into the mix. But it gave me time to sit, time to observe, it reminded me to be present. Between rocking babies to sleep, sitting on the floor and setting up endless block towers, I started to notice light. I would watch it throughout the day. I noticed how the right light could make the most ordinary moments seem extraordinary. That light drove me to pick up my camera, and start to chase it, start to try to capture those moments as I saw them. As my kids get older, it seems those moments become few and far between. The kids don’t always want the camera around, and with school, activities and friends, those days of sitting on the floor are behind us. I find myself missing those moments and opportunities.

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One afternoon while having lunch with my Grandmother, as we were sitting catching up on life, we started talking about food she would cook when I was younger. She use to make us THE best oatmeal. I have tried her recipe on my own and I can only assume she makes it with special Grandmother magic because my oatmeal tastes like garbage compared to hers…… But I digress. Sitting there talking with her, in her kitchen, a kitchen that holds memories of my childhood, watching her, completely comfortable in her own environment. I felt like I really saw her. In the same way that I “see” my kids. I really felt like I needed to capture that moment. I got up to grab my camera. She tried to tell me she wasn’t camera ready, her hair needed to be fixed, the table needed to be cleaned. Fortunately I convinced her that everything was just the way it should be and that image is everything I think of when I think of my Grandmother.

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That lunch with Grandma, reminded me that my life is full of amazing people, and moments I should be capturing. My kids might be getting older and sure there will still be many more great moments to photograph with them, but there are also so many other special people in my life that I need to be making time to sit and connect with. These last few months I have made taking the time to connect over coffee a priority , and if the moment presents itself to photograph those around me during our time together I am going to continue to take it.

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A look back at 2018- our everyday life

Holy man, how is the whole year behind us already!?! It seems like just last week I was sitting down to make goals for the year. And now here we are with a year full of memories in the rear view mirror.

This last year brought some really amazing things. A year full of new experiences, challenges, growth, and opportunity. Some goals reached, others readjusted and continued on to this year. All in all a pretty great year!

Here is a little peak into our year, some of my favourite personal images from 2018.

Grown on the prairies

"We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd"  - Laura Ingalls Wilder 

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Daily Life- Spring Break

Spring break this year felt a little like winter break, am I right? 

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We made the most of it by hanging out and having fun around the house.  Playing with favorite toys, games, and baking filled our days.  

I had pictured a spring break filled with puddle jumping but instead we jumped on the bed.  It was much warmer and everyone had just as much fun. 

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Sugar cookies are usually our go to for Easter baking but this year we opted for bird nests made from rice crispy squares and mini eggs. The best part was the kids were able to do everything independently and the clean-up was much easier. 

Here is to hoping for warmer days ahead but until then we will be perfectly happy finding fun things to do while staying warm and dry indoors. 

Daily Life - From the living room

This year I started a personal project where each month I will focus on one area of my home and photograph mainly from there. Seeing how January is cold and kind of crumby we spend a good chunk of time in the living-room so it seemed like a good place to start.  

Our days aren't all movies and couch cuddles but I am not gonna lie that's how we spent much of our weekends last month.  #noregrets

So without further ado here is January’s photos. 

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Goals, Accomplishments and a Whole lot of gratitude

It is hard to believe another 365 days have passed and it’s even harder to put into words the gratitude I feel towards all my amazing clients, family, friends and cheerleaders. I have met so many amazing people this year. I have met nothing but supportive encouraging people this year that I am now happy to call friends.

On the education front, 2017 was a year of growth. I attended 2 in person workshops and 3 online workshops. Learning from Dave Brosha, Wayne Simpson, Karen Osdieck, Colleen Hodges, Sarah Driscoll, and Jayme Ford. All of these photographers are super talented , their workshops pushed me a little further and I took away some valuable lessons from all of them. I was also introduced to some wonderful online communities that continue to be a inspiring, educational and supportive. 

I find that submitting my work keeps me accountable to myself, and keeps me on track with my goals. This year I submitted and received accreditation through the PPOC in both Children and Infant portraiture, and Child Study. I also received an image in the top 100 of the Children category of the Shoot and Share contest, and received a merit recognition with NAPCP in their 2017 image competition.  In June I received the exciting news I was listed in the top 25 of the NAPCP New and Emerging artist contest of 2017. I am so appreciative for the amazing opportunities that have come my way this last year and to have images shared on various websites and blogs. 

It was a busy year but I wouldn’t trade any of it. With all 3 kids in school this year for the first time it was a year of finding our footing and easing into new routines. For me it meant stepping out of my role being home full time with the kids and balancing work and family life. Thinking that with all the kids in school I would have so much time on my hands was a bit of a stretch. With appointments, extra-curricular activities, homework and all that fun stuff it is a lot to manage but I can say that 12 months in, I feel good about where we are at. 

So what’s in store for 2018?  Each January I set out with a list of goals and this year in no different. Lots of continued learning. I am currently enrolled in 2 in person workshops and 3 online communities with ongoing learning.  And I am working with a mentor this year! I was fortunate to be accepted as one of Dave Brosha’s mentor students back in July which has been such an amazing experience. He is a phenomenal photographer and the experience is one I really just am so thankful for.  This year I want to push myself creatively. With a few personal projects on the go I hope to try a few new things this year and can't wait to see where this year takes me! I am also very excited to soon be offering photography classes! So get ready to dust off that camera that you have sitting around, or bust out that new one you got for Christmas because I will be announcing details and opening up session dates within the next two weeks! 

I am looking forward to all the new and old clients that I have the opportunity to photograph this year. Last year I took on 45 client sessions, and am so thankful for each experience.  Helping you tell your story is something that is important to me and something I don’t take lightly. Whether it’s the big moments or the small ones, in-home sessions or the park adventures. The real faces, the tiny gestures, and little details.  I want to help you preserve all the details and memories that make your family what it is today.

Thank you to all of those people who have stuck by me, encouraged me, and followed along on this amazing journey. Pursuing photography is a dream, and I feel fortunate every day to have the opportunity to work hard and continue to do this thing I love.  

Thanks to Ian Proctor of Spirit Photography in Calgary Alberta for grabbing this shot of me at a workshop this spring

Thanks to Ian Proctor of Spirit Photography in Calgary Alberta for grabbing this shot of me at a workshop this spring

Home for the holidays

With the kids back in school this week it sure is quiet around here. This Christmas break we opted to stay close to home. We watched movies, stayed in our pajamas all day, played board games, and gave the kids the time to just be their silly selves. I honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way. I love watching the relationship they have with one another. I love how if given the opportunity they will use their imaginations and play for hours on end. 

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I focused on being in the moment this holiday season which meant not picking up my camera and documenting all of the moments but taking them in and experiencing them. I took the break for me and them. Taking the time to play 50 games of monopoly (seriously soooo much monopoly!)  instead of photographing it. We spent the days cuddling, playing, and baking. It was a much needed break to refocus, re-energize and get ready to tackle 2018. 

Spending this time as a family really draws attention for me, to the fact that everyone really is growing, changing and maturing so quickly. Some days it seems they wake up a whole year older. So I did take a few moments to quickly capture the silliness the was ever present during this break, and I am so glad I did. 

The Great Gingerbread House Tradition

Gingerbread house decorating is my very favorite holiday tradition. When the kids were younger they would decorate a house together but now that they are older they each get their own house. We take a trip to the store together and pick out some special candies and then we put on some Christmas music and they go to town. 

They will spend the entire afternoon layering icing onto candy. The day ends with the table covered in a thin layer of icing, sprinkles all over the floor, and the house smelling of delicious gingerbread. 

I love watching how seriously they take this project. The care they put into precisely pipping the icing, delicately placing candies strategically all over the walls, and then sneaking samples of candy and icing when they think no one is watching. 

After their pieces have dried we assemble the houses, and I am happy to report this year there were no house casualties. 

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An Afternoon with Daniel

This is my sister Nicole and nephew Daniel. Daniel is almost a year old and I just cannot get enough of him! (my sister is pretty great too lol) It has been amazing to watch Daniel grow and develop throughout these last 11 months. 

During my time with them my goal was to tell the story of their afternoon.  When I arrived for the session I began to notice those little things that help tell the story of their day. All those medical syringes, the binder my sister uses to document and keep track of Daniel’s health, the blood sugar monitor, and of course his baby toys.  In the few hours I spent with them I captured a whole gallery full of images but here is just a small glimpse into their day. 

 

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Daniel’s days looks a little different than most babies and that’s what I set out to document for my sister. On this particular afternoon I showed up during nap time. Daniel had a nice long nap which meant Nicole had some time to prepare his meds for the week.  After nap, it was snack time for Daniel and a call from Daniel’s nurse for my sister. Then Daniel and Nicole got to enjoy some playtime. Daniel is working on perfecting his sitting, and loves playing with his toys. 

 

Ps. If you want to follow along with Daniel’s journey he has his own Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DailyDoseOfDaniel/

Why Documentary Family Photography?

I fell in love with documentary photography when I started to realize just how quickly my own children were changing. Realizing that the photographs that I love most are the ones where my children are doing things that they love, in their own environment, just being themselves.  Seriously they grow so quickly! This is something we hear all the time but I never really understood it until I sat back and realized that favorite shirt they used to wear, or stuffed animal they carried around, the way they wouldn’t eat that sandwich at lunch unless it was cut into perfect squares with the crust removed, how they used to reach to be picked up all the time, or play with my hair as we sat and watched their favourite show, all of those moments are behind us. 

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At the time though, when my kids were really young, I was focused on getting through the day, or maybe just getting through that hour, making our way to nap time. We were busy learning our shapes, alphabet, colors, potty training, learning to read, teaching them chores. And don't get me wrong all those amazing things that I miss so much have all been replaced with equally awesome things, but the difference is, now I capture them.  Sure back then I stopped to take some photographs but if I am being honest there are a lot of smile and look at the camera photos. I captured their faces as they were, their size, sometimes their personalities shone through, but those aren’t my favorite photographs. 

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My favorites are the ones where they are concentrating on building that big block tower, reading their favorite book for the 100th time, practicing their piano lesson. Those photographs where I found them asleep laying on top of literally all the books they own, or cuddling with their teddy bear quietly in their room. Those photographs where they are playing together, being silly and you can almost hear their laughter through the image. All of those photographs are my favourites and what have brought me to documentary photography. Real life moments.

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Documentary family photography allows the real moments to be captured. Those family interactions, personalities, those little gestures that they are sure to outgrow. The silliness of childhood, the carefree moments, the calm moments, the sad moments, and everything in between. There is no need to pick out those matching outfits, no need for perfect hair, leave that stack of favourite books on the table, keep those toys on the floor, bring out their favourite blanket, let them wear their favourite shirt. Hey, maybe layer it up with some items from their dress up bin. I go into a documentary session with the goal of freezing these special moments in time. The moments that as we go through the day, seem ordinary but are the most missed as we grow, change, and age.