mission: accomplished


See the rest of the weekend's frivolity here.

star gazing

WARNING, WARNING!!! This might be the last nice day of autumn!!!

Fortunately, it's free admission day in Edmonton - check out all the stuff you can do FOR FREE!

I'm totally going to meet John Acorn. I am going to get an autograph.

it was all about a boy

Get a hot chocolate and settle in for a silly autumn story.

There's something undeniably nostalgic about September, when one can't help but become steeped in memories of years gone by. It represents a change in seasons, a time to take inventory, to reap what you have harvested, to buckle down and prepare for the cold months ahead. Against a crisp azure fall sky, the trees change into golden and russet hued robes then strip before us, standing naked in the face of the coming storms while we bundle ourselves in cozy turtlenecks and layers of fleece.


Growing up, fall meant my mother (the Orange Fairy) buying us school supplies and stiff new pants and uncomfortable ugly running shoes, spending hours sharpening the entire box of pencil crayons, and scrolling your name on every binder, scribbler and duotang in the neatest possible printing. It meant eating soup and toast with your hands still reeking of binder paper and wax crayons. It meant starting swimming lessons again, and music - flute with the sexy rock star flute teacher with great hair and too-tight pants for me, piano with the bearded man who wore patches on the elbows of his tweed blazers and smelled of coffee and mothballs for my sister - and preparing to pass notes with all the friends you had missed over the summer. It always carried the hint of a new beginning, a fresh new chapter, and every year I'd look back at the previous year, vow to not make the same social faux pas, and just. be. cool. Every September, I'd blindly think, "THIS will be the year my whole life changes..." I would be sporty, popular, smart, funny. In short, I'd be invincible.


As an adult, I still find myself in a reflective mood in Autumn, looking back, to look forward. This year, a strange twist of fate that has reunited me with some bosom buddies from back in the day has awakened some latent memories from my troubled teenage years. Many of them I've chosen to erase because they are simply too painful to relive, but with them I took the good memories, the silly memories, the memories of those few precious friends who were the lifeline I clung to as I struggled to survive that pivotal phase of my teens.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was late autumn, probably November, and I was 15. A girlfriend's parents had gone out of town for the weekend, and I was attending my first real live, "My parents are gone for the weekend let's have a party" party. I remember spending hours trying to decide what to wear, because there might be boys there, boys I could snuggle with in the coming cold of the winter months, a boy to call my own, to hold hands with between classes and neck with against my locker... I packed my swimsuit and a towel for the hot tub, carefully applied my signature red lipstick and smoothed my hair down into a long ponytail at the nape of my neck. While my head swam with visions of being seduced by ~insert name of some cute popular boy who would yank me from my pathetic existence and catapult me into social invincibility~ I tucked into my cream coloured turtleneck, inserted the velcro shoulder pads, pulled on my opaque tights and floral-print shorts, then slipped on my flats to head out into the brisk night air. (Stop giggling - I looked stylish and it was TOTALLY a practical outfit for a snowy late autumn gathering...)

I rode the bus there, nervous and excited at the same time, and got lost finding the house. I was cold and on the verge of tears when I heard giggling and music. I followed the noise and entered the house, the front porch blocked by smokers, the front entry littered with mountains of shoes, the hallways crawling with couples groping each other with reckless unsupervised by parents abandon. I didn't belong there, and I knew it, and in my paranoid teenage mind where I was completely transparent, I knew other people must have known it, too. For all my careful preparation and romantic fantasies and practiced bravery, I said a few hellos then made a beeline for the bathroom, put on my swimsuit, and went out in the gentle snowfall to slide into the abandoned hot tub where someone had left a cassette tape of Milli Vanilli playing. A few people came, and went, and I sat there playing aloof as best as I could so no one would see me trembling in all my awkward misfit glory.

When I was sufficiently pruned and everyone else was sufficiently pickled, I ventured back inside. Several people had left, or passed out, and so I started tidying up a bit, stepping over bodies to pick up bottles and cups, putting dishes back into the kitchen. Imagine my surprise when the door opened and in walked a boy. Not just any boy, but THE boy, the one I'd been silently crushing on for fives, nay, TENS of days already. He had great hair. He smelled good. He wore Levis. He was perfect... ~swoon~ He arrived with some other guy who was faceless and insignificant in his presence. There I was, eye makeup streaked down my face, lipstick worn off, hair all wet and scraggly, with an armful of empties. "Uh, hi..." was all I could muster before scurrying back to the kitchen and cursing myself for being such a dork.

I hid out until Cute Boy and his Faceless Buddy had cleared out of the front entry, then promptly headed out to the front porch to smoke as many cigarettes as it took
to stay as far away from Cute Boy as possible. I stayed outside, shivering, for a very long time. I had no smokes left, and cute boy was showing no signs of making an exit anytime soon, so I figured it wasn't too late - transit was still running - I could still catch a bus. I'd pack up and go home. Decision made.

I opened the door to see Cute Boy standing there, a cigarette dangling from his lips. "Got a light?" he said. "Uh - yeah - sure... here..." I lit his smoke. "Want one?" he asked, scrunching up the side of his face where the smoke was curling into his eye. Filterless Camels. I choked on a chunk of tobacco that I'd sucked into my throat, he thumped me on the back and laughed, I recovered, we made small talk. My heart was soaring. He touched me. He was talking to me. My stomach was doing flipflops. We finished smoking, and I followed him back into the house and figured I'd better go check my make-up, and pick the camel-shit flavoured tobacco flakes from my teeth.

I found him several minutes later, talking to the house party girl. HPG didn't even KNOW him. How dare she? There they stood next to the stack of pop cases, making
a date. A DATE. To go for a walk. Sometime in the coming week. How could she? Didn't she know it was against the Girl Code to accept dates with boys your friends were crushing on? How could he? Wasn't it obvious I'd cut off my limbs for him? Heartbroken, full of rage, I gathered my stuff and resigned myself to walking home if that's what it took. I bumped into Cute Boy on my way out. "Got a light, Hope?" He remembered my name. "Smoke?" he offered again. I gladly accepted the camel-shit flavoured smoke. I melted. House Party Girl was still the devil incarnate, but Cute Boy was forgiven.

I was dressed, packed, on my way out, didn't want to seem despe
rate by turning around and following him back in for a second time, and in parting I said in a half-joking hey you're my buddy you're my pal (but I wasn't joking at all) sort of way, "Well, if you get bored with HPG and want a real girlfriend, you know my name." Instantly beet red and cursing myself, I turned on my heel and left, walking out to the road at lightening speed, grateful to see the beacon of public transit headlights heading towards me. I went home and reminded myself that I was a social retard, that I was out of my league, that it wasn't HPG's fault Cute Boy liked her and not me. I beat myself up for being an idiot with a big mouth. I made myself feel guilty for being mad at HPG. I cried. I went to school on Monday and turned a blind eye to the hand-holding and kissing I witnessed, and through all the heartache played cool about their short-lived and ill-fated romance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HPG dumped him after just a few dates, if I recall correctly, and he never did seek me out, the bastard. I wasn't really worried about him much by that point - I had other bigger things going on. Little did I know that yes, that was the year my whole life would change. Within a few weeks of that party, I was living in my own apartment, estranged from my mother and sister, distanced from my friends, worrying more about making rent than making out, and wondering how, exactly, I was going to survive to see next month let alone next September. I was living in poverty, in fear, feeling naked and vulnerable and ostracized from my peers. Convinced I was unworthy of friendship, I withdrew and hid further and further inside myself. I no longer wanted to be invincible - I wanted to be invisible, and eventually ended up changing schools. I effectively disappeared, and finished off my high school career with only a handful of memories, good, bad, or other.


This September, and the last 4 Septembers since moving into this house, my family and I shop for school supplies, label them all ever so neatly, then harvest the apples from our trees and bake pan after pan after pan of hot apple crisp. I hope these are the memories they carry with them of autumn, especially once they become teenagers, so that when the awkwardness of being a teenager passes the fond memory of fresh homemade apple crisp carries a strong enough odour to kill off how much being a kid stinks sometimes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prompted by a picture on Facebook featuring HPG, pointed out to me by one of the gaggle of girls I've reconnected with, she and I were reminiscing about that particular party the other day. I had all but forgotten about it. The first thing I thought of was my flute case. As a 'hip' classical flute player, I modeled my flute case after that of the aforementioned rock star classical flute teacher's (he was very sexy and very cool - the only reason I actually kept taking lessons long after my skills had peaked and my interest in playing had dissipated...) by decorating it with sticker art and paint splotches.


I think my splotches might actually be fingernail polish but whatever...

For years it has sat collecting layers of dust on the bookshelf beside my ostrich egg and a bowl of Florida sand, relatively untouched except when Christmas or boredom prompt it, and I never really paid any attention to the presence of those stickers. They had lost their meaning long ago. Having their meaning refreshed to me has brought back all those bittersweet emotions - the rush of youthful lust, the pain of disillusionment, the brief moments of unbridled joy, the enduring embarrassment of being a self-made pariah - and has made me feel as naked as the trees along my front street, for though I may not ever know what Faceless Buddy's name was, I now remember Cute Boy's name.


I suppose on some level I've always secretly hoped he'd led a horrible life, because in my mind he was a player, a jerk, a real loser. There is no pain like unrequited love, you see... But, my friend has spoken with him since, and says no, he isn't married to an obese controlling woman who has his balls clutched mercilessly in her icy fists. Too bad. ~smirk~ Actually, she assures me he was always a nice guy, and is still a nice guy (pretty much how I remember him) and if by some chance you read this Tyler, I hope a) you have forgotten that night and b) that you have a great sense of humour about how stupid we all were as kids.

something to do this weekend

My dear old (and I mean OLD ~snicker snicker~) friend Netti Spaghetti is performing at the Arts Alive! Kaleido Festival this weekend. What better way to spend the weekend than soaking in one of the city's last warm-weather festivals?

for Alphonse

G.C.'S GUIDE TO DINING OUT

RESTAURANTS

There are certain clues that tell you how much a restaurant will cost. If the word cuisine appears in the advertising, it will be expensive. If they use the word food, it will be moderately priced. However, if the sign says eats, even though you'll save some money on food, your medical bills may be quite high.


I don't like trendy food. When I hear, "sauteed boneless panda groin," I know I'm in the wrong place. There's such a thing as pretentious food. Puree of woodchuck, marinated bat nipples, weasel chops, porcupine cacciatore. Or fried eagle. A guy said to me recently, "C'mon, we'll go to Baxter's, they have really great fried eagle." I'm thinkin' to myself, "Do I really wanna know this guy?"

However, if you are going to dine with pretentious people, here are some items you can order that are sure to impress: deep-dish moose balls, diced yak, badger gumbo, gorilla fondue, filet of hyena, jackal tartare, rack of prairie dog, free-range mole en brochette, wolf noodle soup, loin of chipmunk, curried woodpecker, stir-fried weasel, penguin scallopini, sweet-and-sour loon heads, whale chowder, toasted snail penises, koala flambe, wombat souvlaki, grenadine of mule, and candied goat anus.

Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there is the decidedly nontrendy restaurant, where the special sometimes is simply "meat." Big sign in the window: "Today's special: Meat."

"I'll have the meat."

"Would you like sauce with that?"

"What kind of sauce would that be?"

"That would be meat sauce."

It's similar to a fish sandwich. Have you ever seen these places that feature "fish sandwiches"? I always think, "Well, that's kind of general." I mean, I wouldn't order something called a "meat sandwich," would you?" At least not without a couple of follow-up questions: "Does anyone know where this meat came from?" "Are any of the waitresses missing?"

DEALING WITH THE WAITER

I think when you eat out you should have a little fun; it's good for digestion. Simple things. After the waiter recites a long list of specials, ask him if they serve cow feet.

But act really interested in the specials. When he says, "Today we have goat-cheese terrine with arugula juice, sauteed cod with capers and baby vegetables, coastal shrimp cooked in spiced carrot juice, roast free-range chicken with ginger and chickpea fries, and duck breast in truffle juice," act like you're completely involved. Say, "The cod. What is the cod sauteed in?" "A blend of canola and tomato oils." (No hurry here.) "Ahhh, yes! [pointing thoughtfully at the waiter] I'll have the grilled cheese sandwich."

Even some low-end places are pretentious. The menu can't merely say "cheeseburger." They have to get wordy. So, go along with them. When you order your food use their language. But you must look right at the waiter; no fair reading from the menu. Look him in the eye and say, "I'll have the succulent, fresh-ground, government-inspected, choice, all-beef, six-ounce patty on your own award-winning sesame-seed bun, topped with a generous slice of Wisconsin's finest Grade-A cheddar cheese made from only premium milk and poured from large, galvanized steel cans, having originally been extracted from a big, fat, smelly, champion blue-ribbon cow with a brain disease."

Continue that style with other items: Instead of asking for a glass of water, say you'd like a "cylindrical, machine-blown, clear drinking vessel filled with nature's own colorless, odorless, extra-wet, liquid water."

Have fun. Be difficult. Order unusual things: a chopped corn sandwich. Rye potato chips. Filet of bone with diced peas. Peanut butter and jellyfish. Ask for a glass of skim water. Insist on fried milk. Chocolate orange juice. Order a grilled gorgonzola cheese sandwich on whole-wheat ladyfingers. Then top the whole thing off with a bowl of food coloring and a large glass of saturated fat.

Issue special instructions. Ask for the French toast, medium rare. Get a pizza with no toppings, hold the crust. Tell 'em you want eggs: "Fry the whites and poach the yolks." Order a basket of poppy seed rolls and tell them to scrape off the seeds and put them in a separate bowl and heat them to 200 degrees. Keep them busy.

Tell your waiter you want to make a substitution: "Instead of my napkin, I'll have the lobster tails." See what he says. Ask him if the garnish is free. If it is, tell him all you're having is a large plate of garnish.

If they have a salad bar, ask how many times you can go back. If they say as many times as you like, ask for a lawn bag. Come back the next day with a small truck. Tell them you weren't quite finished eating the night before. You're actually within your legal rights, because, technically, no one is ever finished eating.

Ask him if the chef would mind preparing a dish that's not on the menu. Then describe something simple but unusual. Like half a coconut filled with egg whites. When the waiter comes back and says, "Yes, the chef said he will be delighted to make that for you," tell him, "Well, never mind, I don't like that anymore."

Giving the waiter your drink order can be fun. If you're alone, show the guy you're a real man. "Gimme a glass of napalm and paint thinner straight up." Be an individualist; order a gin and hot chocolate. If you're with a date, be sophisticated. Say, "I'll have a rum and goat juice with a twist of cucumber on dry ice." Always order your date's drink; that's very romantic. Especially if you're trying to get laid. "The lady will have a martini, a glass of wine, two zombies, and a beer. And do you have any quaaludes?"

By the way, if your date is complaining of constipation, order her a prune margarita with a twist of Feenamint.

When the food arrives, change your mind. Say, "I've changed my mind, waiter. Instead of the roast suckling pig, I believe I'll have a half order of Kellogg's Product 19."

And always, when the food arrives, send something back. It's considered very sophisticated. But make sure you use colorful language. Tell him, "Waiter, this veal tastes like the inside front panel of Ferdinand Magellan's shorts. And I'm referring to the first voyage."

Show him you're a man of new ideas. When he comes with the pepper mill, refuse the pepper, but tell him to sprinkle some dandruff on your food.

Actually, the pepper mill can be a source of great fun. Keep the waiter going on the pepper mill for a long time. Disturbingly long. Like, for about fifteen minutes. Until everyone in the restaurant is really uncomfortable. Then, when your food and silverware are completely covered with a thin layer of ground pepper, say, "Okay, stop! That's perfect!" Then, a few minutes later, call the waiter over and tell him, "This food has way too much pepper on it!"
Now that you have your food, the waiter can begin to ask you if everything is all right. "Is everything all right?" "Yes. Thank you. Good-bye!" Some waiters are very persistent. I had one call me at home the following day. "Did the food stay down?"


Usually, when they ask me if everything is all right, I'll tell them the truth. I say, "Well, I had a problem with the peas. I received 143 peas. Of them, 36 were overcooked, 27 were undercooked, and 18 were not quite the same color as the others."

Or I'll tell them more than they really want to know. "No, everything is not all right. I'm going through a period of upheaval. I have a rogue polyp in my bowel, my wife ran off with a periodontist, and my son has been arrested for defecating in a mall."

And always fill out the "How did we do?" card. It's very helpful to the owner. "Everything was wonderful, except the waiter had some vomit on his shoes and a tiny snot on the end of his nose. It was small, but it was definitely a snot."

I hope these pointers and suggestions will enhance your next experience dining out. Tell 'em George sent you.

~ excerpt from George Carlin's "Brain Droppings." You can buy the book here.

Weekender Workshop Series

Dirty Little Secrets - the Weekender.
just the basics, but shorter

It takes years for photographers to learn their cameras, and then to practice and develop the skills and knowledge it takes to feel comfortable and confident shooting whenever, whatever, and wherever. The monthly workshops are designed to build and develop skills over a length of time to permit participants the opportunity to go out into the real world and apply what they have learned. However, there are some impatient people who want to know it all RIGHT NOW. For those who feel the need to cram as much information into their brain in as short a period as possible, I am offering "Dirty Little Secrets - the Weekender."

Dirty Little Secrets - the Weekender series will cover everything offered in the extended workshops, but based on feedback from interested participants will be customized to meet the needs of those in attendance. (If everybody wants to know about stock photography there's no point in me going on about capturing meaningful moments at a marathon...) Condensed to 2 consecutive full-day Sundays, the first Weekender will run January 27th, and February 3rd, 2008, with a second series TBA later in 2008 if there is sufficient interest. You won't be a pro when you walk out the door, but this workshop will set the stage for developing and honing the basic skills you need to become the best photographer you possibly can, in a very short span of time. Sissies need not apply. ~smirk~ Sunday, February 27th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, January 3rd from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., fee $250.

Tell your spouse it's what you want for Christmas!

In order for participants to gain the most benefit, this series will be limited to a maximum of 6 participants. Register early by replying to this comment with an email! (I won't publish your comment.)

*Coming Soon*

Field trip schedule! Check out the calendar of events here!

The Weekender Workshop Series

****NEW****

Dirty Little Secrets - the Weekender.
just the basics, but shorter

It takes years for photographers to learn their cameras, and then to practice and develop the skills and knowledge it takes to feel comfortable and confident shooting whenever, whatever, and wherever. The monthly workshops are designed to build and develop skills over a length of time to permit participants the opportunity to go out into the real world and apply what they have learned. However, there are some impatient people who want to know it all RIGHT NOW. For those who feel the need to cram as much information into their brain in as short a period as possible, I am offering "Dirty Little Secrets - the Weekender."

Dirty Little Secrets - the Weekender series will cover everything offered in the extended workshops, but based on feedback from interested participants will be customized to meet the needs of those in attendance. (If everybody wants to know about stock photography there's no point in me going on about capturing meaningful moments at a marathon...) Condensed to 2 consecutive full-day Sundays, the first Weekender will run January 27th, and February 3rd, 2008, with a second series TBA later in 2008 if there is sufficient interest. You won't be a pro when you walk out the door, but this workshop will set the stage for developing and honing the basic skills you need to become the best photographer you possibly can, in a very short span of time. Sissies need not apply. ~smirk~ Sunday, February 27th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, January 3rd from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., fee $250. Pay in installments, or just tell your spouse it's what you want for Christmas!

In order for participants to gain the most benefit, this series will be limited to a maximum of 6 participants. Register early by replying to this comment with an email! (I won't publish your comment.)

*Coming Soon*

Field trip schedule! Check out the calendar of events here!

announcements, announcements!

Dirty Little Secrets

just the basics about photography

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a very firm belief that the equipment is only as good as its operator, and I’m going to put that philosophy to the test. After many months of being hounded by several people who shall remain nameless, I have decided to put together a series of informal and affordable workshops for everyday photographers. As the name of the series suggests, I will be covering the basics plus blowing the cover on several of the dirty little secrets we photographers know. With the right foundation, including some very basic skills that any person using any camera can employ, you’ll be shooting better and more confidently than ever! I will also be offering a couple of advanced workshops for people with analogue or digital SLR cameras who want to learn how to use their camera to its full potential. Lastly, if there is enough interest, I may schedule additional workshops for more specific things like action, macro, wedding, or boudoir photography.

The workshops run approximately once a month, costing between $20 and $40. I require a minimum of 5 participants in order to run each workshop, and to accommodate individual questions will limit the workshops to a maximum of 10. Participants will also have access to live help via this blog, as well as opportunities to participate in no-cost field trips and, for the really brave, curious, or serious, tag along on actual shoots for some practical field experience. For those looking to break into the field and actually get paid to take pictures, I will assist you with some tips for building a portfolio, attracting clients, and setting your prices.

Details of individual workshops in the series are provided over at Dirty Little Secrets. If you would like to volunteer yourself or your family as models (read: get free portraits), or would like to sign up right now, please provide me with your email address in a comment (I won't publish it.) In order to secure your spot, fees are payable a minimum of 4 weeks in advance of each workshop, fully refundable up to 10 business days before the workshop. Payment can be accepted via cash, cheque or PayPal.

I look forward to seeing you all!

workshops

Dirty Little Secrets

just the basics about photography

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a very firm belief that the equipment is only as good as its operator, and I’m going to put that philosophy to the test. After many months of being hounded by several people who shall remain nameless, I have decided to put together a series of informal and affordable workshops for everyday photographers. As the name of the series suggests, I will be covering the basics plus blowing the cover on several of the dirty little secrets we photographers know. With the right foundation, including some very basic skills that any person using any camera can employ, you’ll be shooting better and more confidently than ever! I will also be offering a couple of advanced workshops for people with analogue or digital SLR cameras who want to learn how to use their camera to its full potential. Lastly, if there is enough interest, I may schedule additional workshops for more specific things like action, macro, wedding, or boudoir photography.

The workshops run approximately once a month, costing between $20 and $40. I require a minimum of 5 participants in order to run each workshop, and to accommodate individual questions will limit the workshops to a maximum of 10. Participants will also have access to live help via this blog, as well as opportunities to participate in no-cost field trips and, for the really brave, curious, or serious, tag along on actual shoots for some practical field experience. For those looking to break into the field and actually get paid to take pictures, I will assist you with some tips for building a portfolio, attracting clients, and setting your prices.

If you would like to volunteer yourself or your family as models (read: get free portraits), or would like to sign up right now, please supply me with your email in a comment (I won't publish it.) In order to secure your spot, fees are payable a minimum of 4 weeks in advance of each workshop, fully refundable up to 10 business days before the workshop. Payment can be accepted via cash, cheque or PayPal.

I look forward to seeing you all!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Say Hello to Your Camera: You just bought a camera, want to know your camera's advanced features, or have a camera you have never taken off auto mode - what do all those knobs and buttons do? We’ll also go over a list of very important terms and concepts, and a little bit of photography history, that will help you understand why the knobs and buttons are there in the first place. January 13, 2008, 1:00 p.m., 1.0 hours, $20

Say Hello to your SLR: If you own or are interested in buying an SLR, this is the place to be. This is an advanced workshop for those who would like a more in-depth look at what SLR cameras can do. We’ll cover the different kinds of cameras available, discuss several types of lenses and what their applications are, and take a more practical and hands-on look at some of the concepts touched on in Say Hello to Your Camera. 2:30 p.m. January 13, 2008, 1.0 hours, $20

Technical Critiquing: If there’s one workshop everyone needs to attend, this is the one. When we look at a photo, we all know whether we like it or not (subjective) but often can't quite put our finger on what it is that we like about it so much. Every photographer I know spends time scoping out other people’s work for inspiration and ideas, and to expand our own roster of abilities. In this workshop, we will critique a variety of photographs using proper lingo and jargon to identify the elements (objective) that attract or repel us, as well as go over some simple techniques to improve these images using even the most basic editing freeware. Most importantly, we will learn how to apply a critical eye to our own pictures, learn from our mistakes, and adopt elements of others’ successful images into our own shooting. Though not a prerequisite, this particular workshop will be best understood and participated in by those who took the 'Say Hello to Your Camera' session. 1:00 p.m. February 10, 2008, 2.0 hours, $40

Composition: whether you are doing landscapes, portraits, or art photography, there are a number of tried-and-true basics that master artists of all types – painters, musicians, sculptors, choreographers – have employed since the beginning of time. We will look at how to apply these classic techniques to improve the impact even our most candid on-the-fly shots have. 1:00 p.m. March 9, 2008, 1.0 hours, $20

The Business End of Things: this handy little workshop will cover things like defining your style, marketing yourself, legal responsibilities, copyright, and other such stuff. 2:30 p.m. March 9, 2008, 1.0 hours, $20

Portraiture: My favourite thing to photograph is people. In this intensive hands-on workshop, we’ll be practicing on live subjects. We’ll learn about posing and ‘un’posing, group vs. individual portraits, creative use of props, and getting tough people and cranky kids to smile. 1:00 p.m. April 6, 2.0 hours, $40

Wedding & event photography: This brief but intensive workshop is designed for the serious amateur who is interested in starting to do weddings, or the unwitting family member who gets volunteered to save the bride & groom some cash. We'll cover the classic pitfalls and how to handle these situations tactfully and professionally. This workshop will set you on the road for increased success capturing essence of the day. 3:30 p.m. April 6, 2008, $20.

Lighting: natural vs artificial/flash vs available light - what are they, what are the pros and cons of each, and how can we use them advantageously? We’ll cover the basics first, and learn some simple problem solving techniques for difficult lighting situations. 1:00 p.m. May 4, 2008, 1.0 hours, $20

Lighting with your SLR: This advanced technical workshop will examine the complex relationship between aperture, film speed, and shutter speed, and how you use these three elements together to solve more difficult lighting puzzles. If you've been shooting in auto-mode, this is the workshop you've been dreaming of. 2:30 p.m. May 4, 2008, 1.5 hours, $30

Breaking all the rules (or making up your own): Gotta know the rules to break ‘em - this workshop is geared towards taking what you’ve learned, and throwing it all out the window, for the sake of being a rebel. We’ll go over some fun techniques like panning and zooming, ideas for getting people to do things that will make your pictures more interesting, doing camera-based photo manipulation, and building home-made filters. 1:00 p.m. June 1, 2008, 1.5 hours, $30

Although it isn't necessary to attend every workshop, the order of the workshops is designed to allow for growth and advancement over the course of the series.

my daughter's betrothed...

Billie & I have been joking about Mikael (her littlest one) and Serejane (my littlest one) getting hitched since we were both pregnant with our respective offspring. I adore Billie & Frank, and their wonderfully odd little boys. I picked Billie up on the internet; she hired me for my first 'official' gig as a wedding photographer, and set me on a course for bi-annual vehicle break-ins and a streak of impeccably horrible luck doing weddings...

It's been several years since we met ~ my wedding luck has improved, and now Billie's like a sister to me. Our families mesh well together, so I suppose having the littlest ones get married would make an excellent excuse to see them more often than once every couple of years... and Billie would have her little girl! (I'll share her with ya, Bill... lol)






new big sister!

I'll admit I'm a little slow on the uptake on this one. These are 18-month pictures for beautiful little Maryn (who got hair - LOTS of it, and CURLY too!) since the last time I saw her. Mom & Dad were busy, as you can see. Malayna, the former occupant of the belly below, has arrived - hopefully I'll have a chance to visit her soon, too!

Nancy & Co.

You know Rowan? Yeah - the baby that hates me? This is her in a bumblebee suit. I finally have pictures of her SMILING.


This is her Mom and Dad. They like me, even if Rowan doesn't.


I've met most of Jody's family - mom, brother, nieces, nephews, etc. and I got to meet another one last weekend. (Jody - is ANYONE in your family ugly? lol) I met the three dynamic ladies below - Rowan's sassy auntie Nancy and Nancy's sweet goofy daughters - for a fall session down at Rafter's Landing and Louise McKinney Park. After some issues with glare off the Edmonton Queen and maybe a bug or two, we managed to make it through swimmingly. (Nancy - I think your daughters run their own little gong show on the side, hey?) You guys are a beautiful little family, and were such a hoot to work with!





engagement session - Ashley & Sheldon

Sheldon and Ashley have been together since high school, and they're still going crazy strong. Strong enough to make it official, and mark the occasion with an engagement session at... the Alberta Hospital grounds? You guys were SO much fun to spend time with, and are positively adorable - congratulations on the pending nuptuals!






"How much should a wedding photographer cost?"

"My cousin is looking for a wedding photographer - how much should a wedding photographer cost?"

I got this question from an email I received today, and it's a very good question, excellent in fact, but a difficult one to answer. You need to consider 3 things when shopping for a wedding photographer:

1.) Style. All photographers have a 'style' and you either love it, hate it, or are indifferent to it. Some photographers are really into heavy photoshopping while others are au naturel. Some photographers do really wild and funky shots, while others prefer to stick to very classy formals. When you first start shopping for your wedding photographer, you need to carefully consider what type of memory book you would like created, what style of wedding you are having, and what photographers you think would fulfill your desires.

2.) Value. Unfortunately, there isn't a sliding scale for this sort of thing, and most people are on a budget. Several factors play into the 'value' of what you are getting - the skill, experience, or formal training a photographer has, what's included or not included in their wedding package, and what add-on fees they may require such as mileage, accommodations, etc. Obviously, you are going to want the biggest bang for your buck, so once you've decided on what you are able to spend, you need to decide what you are willing to get for your dollar from the pool of photographers you decided you like in step one. Many photographers don't have their wedding prices listed publicly, but don't be afraid to get several quotes - you might think the guy you love costs a bazillion bucks only to find out he's just starting out and is very reasonable. If all the photographers you like are way out of your budget, unless you are willing to spend less elsewhere in your wedding budget, you may have to go back to step one.

3.) Comfort. It is absolutely 100% important that after you have found a photographer whose style you like and who offers good enough value for your photograph budget that you make a point of meeting this person up close and live. Just like you should be asking for quotes, you should be asking for references from former clients. We're human, and sometimes our personalities are simply going to clash. Imagine waiting until the month before your wedding to meet this person, only to discover you think the chick is an airhead or the guy is a pervert. Wedding photographers book several months and sometimes years in advance, so start shopping and interviewing well in advance. A wedding is a huge investment, running upwards of $10,000 even for the simplest of weddings. We wedding photographers, we are intimately aware of the time and cost involved, and having just the right fit with the person you've chosen to document all that planning and primping can literally make or break your wedding memories.

Here's a REALLY dirty little secret - sometimes we don't like the clients, either, and we reserve the right to turn them down, the reason being that if we don't mesh well with the client, it will show in the pictures we take. Not only is this not ideal for the clients, but it looks awful in our portfolios...

If you know of a couple looking for a wedding photographer, I encourage you to pass this along.

by popular demand


Tentative dates are November 3rd and November 4th, 2007.

completely inappropriate for children

It's catchy, it's musical, it's dancy, but if your kids are older than about 3, they CANNOT watch the video at this link. (Be patient - it's worth it.)

"Do you have a good recipe for a hearty soup?"

OK - I admit - this was one that was phoned in by a friend last night, and she used the word 'beefy' as opposed to hearty, but whatever - this is made with chicken. I figured hell - great excuse to share my fave stewp recipe.



You'll need:



4 cups potatoes, cubed to bite sized pieces

enough water to cover the potatoes in the pot

4 cooked chicken breasts, cubed to bite sized pieces

1 cup of peas

1 cup of corn

1 cup of chopped carrots

4 celery stalks, chopped

an onion, chopped

4tbsp butter

4tbsp flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic granules or 2 cloves minced fresh garlic. Author's Note: Garlic powder and garlic salt suck. If you substitute, your soup will taste like crap.

1 tsp dried leaf rosemary, slightly ground in the palm of your hand to release the flavour

2 tbsp (2 cubes or 2 packets) chicken or vegetable soup stock (you can just steal the flavour packets from Chinese noodles if you're out ~smirk~)

2-3 cups of milk

1-2 tbsp corn starch (if needed)





Pour just enough water to cover the potatoes in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium-high heat to cook through. While potatoes are boiling, in a large heavy-bottomed pot, sautee onions and celery until transparent. Add soup stock, salt, rosemary, and garlic. Add flour to make a roux. Pour 2 cups of milk into the roux a little at a time, stirring constantly and allowing it time to thicken before adding more milk. Once you have your creamy stewp base all ready to go, add potatoes AND the potato water, chicken, peas, corn, and carrots

averted disaster

Few other sessions could ever compare with the disaster or happy ending of this session. First, it was raining, and poor Mom just wanted summer pictures. Just summer, that's all, was it really so much to ask? I arrive a bit early to set up, since it's dribbling outside. Mom wass having issues with the strap on her dress (which she ended up sewing on crossways, re-ripping, and re-sewing while I was reading library books to Arabella and Matthew.) I commence to move every stick of furniture in the house, set up my backdrops, and get ready for indoor pictures. Immediately 6 seconds after Mom gets her dress all sorted out, combs everyone's hair, and I am set up, the rain stops. Outside we go. Pictures are going swimmingly except Arabella won't smile. Dad has a slightly warped sense of humour and apparently so does the sweet little Arabella. Apparently, the key to making her smile is gleefully exclaming, "Dead cats!!!" ~smiles and giggles everywhere~

We get *almost* finished. I am just doing Arabella's portrait, and i need her to put the parasol back just a little bit so I can see her face. She had a bit of tension in her arms, though, and the parasol sprung back, smacking me square in the tear duct. Thinking I'm OK, I continue working until poor Arabella gets this kind of stunned look on her face. Well no kidding - from behind the camera she sees blood dripping off my chin... apparently we broke the skin. A Kleenex and a few "Dead cats!" later, I manage to finish shooting the session, pack up the portable studio, put all the furniture back in place, and head home to nurse my black eye. (Which I got teased relentlessly about at work until it faded...) In the end it was all worth it, though - I got a blue lollipop from Mom, and the pictures are incredible. Especially Arabella with her lethal weapon, wouldn't you agree?

the toughest crowd EVER

Rylie made me work for it like no other baby ever has. (Except maybe Rowan, who hates me...) I loved the lighting this day - mid-morning northern exposure gave the pictures a tint reminiscent of the hyper-saturated film stock used in the 50s that faded once printed to the non-archival photo paper of the day.





my other kids & their relatives

This top picture is of my other kids - my beloved dayhome children, Madisyn & Austin. They brought along some aunts, an uncle, a pair of cousins, and their folks for some pictures. These two hold a very special place in my heart, especially Madisyn, who was my rock last year when I got the news my father died. I am overwhelmed with pride and happiness for having these two amazing little people in my life.