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The Magic in Unscripted Moments

It’s close to seven years ago when I started out photographing families (other than my own) and it’s been one wild, adventurous ride so far and it’s only getting better. Why is that? Well, it’s simple – I stopped worrying about composition, lighting and all of the rest of the technical know-how and started concentrating on what really matters: people and what they do, how they interact and the way they show how they care for one another.

Last month I had the opportunity to work with one of the families who hired me in those early days of my photography business. Back then, it was all about frame-worthy portraits. They actually came to my house and the session took place in my yard and on our trails. Don’t get me wrong, that session was great (and I especially loved seeing those photos framed on the wall), but meeting up with them again last month was all about bringing their family story to life. There’s nothing wrong with pretty portraits (in fact, we still took time out for a few relaxed, fun poses). Yet everything is so right about showing what it really looks like on a random Tuesday summer evening.

Now those little cuties are full fledged tweens and a teenager. There was no elaborate plan for our session other than hanging out with the kids. Mom had explained that the evenings were still the “coming together” time for her family – 11 year old triplet girls and a 17 year old son.

“The kids are getting older and more independent, but we still have a strong family bond.”

Showing that bond became my mission. I could barely wait for the session.

It turns out Mom wasn’t kidding – they are all as tight as can be. She also mentioned they are generally quiet, but failed to share how energetic they all are at the end of the day! The kids played in the backyard on the trampoline and then we moved out to the front to the basketball net in the street for a solid hour and they genuinely enjoyed being together. It seriously was non-stop action (even when we went inside, the girls continued practicing splits and kartwheels in their gymnastics room!). Throughout it all, Mom didn’t miss a beat – watching their every backflip and free throw with great enthusiasm – and I know it wasn’t just because there was a camera around. This family understands what it means to spending quality time with each other.

Whenever I’m invited in to a family’s home, my only hope is that show me their real. After just a few minutes with these people I could feel the tingling deep down in my bones; this is where I’m supposed to be and what I’m meant to do.

Here is the M Family doing what they do best and showing nothing but their unscripted, magical real.

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Just for fun, we had to take one of the four kiddos and their old Gemma photos:

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Thank you all once again for opening your home and your hearts and embracing me as part of your summer fun, even if only for an hour or so.

 


KANATA FAMILY DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY

If you live in Ottawa, Kanata or surrounding areas and are interested in savouring these types of simple memories with your quickly-growing children, we need to chat. Please visit the Session Information page or send me a note to learn more.


 

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it’s not cold | Renfrew baby photography

The last time I met with this gorgeous mama, little Sakku was in her belly. Michelle and her family live in Nunavut, but her parents have recently moved back to Renfrew and they were here in the fall for a visit with Grandma. As you can imagine, compared to Nunavut the fall chill in Renfrew was balmy. As a bonus, this little fella was all about playing in something unfamiliar to him — the grass. He could have sat there for hours running it between his fingers and yanking it out of the ground.

Inuit traditions are a major part of this young family’s life. Michelle takes Sakku on walks in a custom baby wearing wrap and Johnny feeds his son the same way his ancestors fed their babies; by pre-chewing meats and feeding it directly by mouth to the little ones. And if by chance Johnny looks a little familiar to you – he’s  an actor and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient for his work improving the health of Northern communities. He’s also a champion Inuit High Kick athelete (check out the awesome video here).

We spent a quiet afternoon together playing outside, going for a little stroll, having a snack — and the down for a nap!

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RENFREW BABY DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY

If you live in Renfrew, Arnprior or surrounding areas and are interested in savouring these types of fleeting moments with your quickly-growing baby, we need to chat. Please visit the Session Information page or send me a note to learn more.


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turning 90 | Upper Ottawa Valley event photographer

OTTAWA VALLEY EVENT PHOTOGRAPHER – Turning 20 is a big deal. Turning 40 is another milestone event. But imagine turning 90?? Now that’s something not everyone gets to experience. If you’re fortunate to be the matriarch a great family like this one, there’s no way they will let it slide by without a real celebration.

Renfrew Family photographer

The birthday girl was only expecting a quiet dinner with just her two children, their spouses and a dear friend. However, behind the scenes you can be sure that everyone was scheming to make it a memorable event. Part of the surprise plan was to have the all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren travel from Toronto and south of Ottawa to Deep River for the festivities. All four generations in one place over the Thanksgiving weekend.

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They also made sure to include Olga’s brother who couldn’t make the trip in person – they had him set up to chat with his sister on Skype. A Skyping great-granny, it really doesn’t get much cooler than that.

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The other surprise was that Olga’s granddaughters contacted me to document the whole evening. They wanted photographs partly as a gift to their beloved grandma, and partly because they wanted just to be in the moment. It was important that they be able to enjoy the mini-family reunion during their limited time together without worrying about taking their own pictures.

birthday celebration photographertoast to the birthday girl

A few minutes after Olga walked into the lobby, it was evident that the effort to organize a birthday party (with a scrumptious homemade birthday cake) was well-deserved. This young lady is a firecracker who should let us all in on her secrets to raising a thoughtful, loving, very warm family. Cheers to many more years of special celebrations together!

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FAMILY + EVENT DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER

If you are planning a special celebration or small informal event in Ottawa or the Valley that you would like to have documented, we should chat. Please send me a note for availability and pricing options.


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welcoming a new family member | Bradford birth photography

This one is a long one. Like all birth stories, this was a much-anticipated, exhausting, emotional journey. In this case, it was especially emotional on a personal level because this is my brother and his wonderful wife.

Let me preface the story by saying that my younger sister, younger brother and I are pretty tight. We’re typical siblings – we do squabble (as mom says) but deep down we sincerely love each other to pieces. I realize that not many people can say that, and feel fortunate to have been stuck through life’s ups and downs with those two. Our spouses all get along famously, the kids all adore each other and when we’re all together, you can bet on two things – an abundance of delicious food (our mom taught us well!) and hearing nothing but non-stop laughs. We’re always there for each other and can count the other two to be there and celebrate each other’s milestones: especially weddings and the birth of our first child (or children in my case!).

When my sister gave birth to my nephew more than 13 years ago, she and her husband waited until his safe arrival to rally the troops, so to speak. I lived in Ottawa at the time and drove to pick up my mom and dad en route so we could all drive together into the hospital in Belleville to be introduced to their new grandson, my nephew. I will never forget that day. I got to hold and love on that boy when he was just hours old. Now that he’s bigger than me, it’s hard to believe he was ever that small.

For my brother and my sister-in-law, they wanted to have the grandparents to there with them for the whole ride. Her parents would become grandparents for the first time and my mom was anxious to see if she would have another boy or girl to add to our family. We had all been waiting and placing our bets about the gender. (I love that they choose not to find out the baby’s gender – it truly is the best surprise in the world!)

Since they live more than four hours away in Bradford, I knew it would be tricky to meet the little one on the same day, like I did when my older nephew was born. I offered to take our mom and not miss out on being part of the Baby C Welcoming Committee (my husband deserves a big shout out for holding down the fort for the three days I was away – he’s the best!).

Since my brother’s wife was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the baby was growing bigger and bigger by the minute and they were advised to get their son or daughter out sooner than later. She knew she had to head to the birthing centre to be induced on the 21st. So by mid-afternoon, mom and I were on the way to the hospital in Alliston. However, the baby had no intentions of being born on that date. In fact, her labour didn’t progress at all and they scheduled a c-section for the evening of the 22nd. In the meantime we kept them company, brought food, told funny stories… tried to do whatever we could to pass the time.

Throughout it all, my mom did what she does best. She prayed. She worried. And knitted. (I think she made two pairs of socks in our little trip.)

Just after 7 p.m. that evening, Alton Robert came not-so-quietly into the world. He let everyone know he was not impressed about being taken out of his safe, cozy, warm home.

This handsome dude is named after his grandpas. I definitely teared up – our dad’s middle name was Elton and that’s what my mom and close family always called him instead of his first name, William. Dad was everywhere that day and we all knew it. He was born on the 22nd and their hospital room was #222 (dad’s lucky number was 22) and another sign was when we looked out the window. Just before Alton arrived, the sky was all aglow (my dad always loved a show-stopping sunset). Alton is undoubtedly their gift from him.

Even now, I can’t begin to express how moved I was to be a part of experience. I was elated for them to finally meet and hold their first child (we had all been saying for years how gorgeous their babies would be!). However, I did not expect it to be as special as when my own children were born. Even though I (selfishly) wanted to be there with my camera to record their new beginning together as a family, it was humbling to be reminded how miraculous it is to bring a tiny human into the world.  My brother and sister-in-law are total rockstars; Alton is in very capable, loving hands.

All of the waiting was worth it for this kid. Meet the most sweetest treasure who instantly captivated all of our hearts.

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Alton was born very strong and healthy with a unilateral cleft lip – sometimes this is seen on ultrasound examination, but in his case went completely undetected. Fortunately, this hungry man had no issues nursing or any other complications related to his cleft.

Update: If he wasn’t already enough of a lady killer, at 3 1/2 months old Alton underwent corrective cleft lip surgery and rhinoplasty. Mom and dad are thrilled with the results. Huge thank you to the team at Toronto Sick Kids for their phenomenal expertise and care with our boy.
 


NEWBORN DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER

If you are expecting a baby and interested in documenting this exciting time with a newborn (in-hospital or at home), we need to chat. Please visit the Session Information page or send me a note to learn more.


 

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savour the moment

Fun, stress-free, meaningful in-home and outdoor adventure sessions for people who appreciate the magic of an ordinary day

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