the wedding guest

I remember the first time Scott brought Jenn to the house.  I immediately had a crush on Jenn - she is smart, funny, sweet, and beautiful - the whole package - and after ~maybe~ an hour I said to Scott, "That's the girl for you."  After Scott bringing Jenn around about 80 more times, I said to Jenn, "Hey, what do you think of Scott?"  She kind of shrugged but I knew better...

Now, Scott's not one to rush into things.  It took him almost 2 years to finally ask the poor girl if she'd date him, and despite buying a house, raising dogs, and buying RVs and skidoos together, a few more after that to ask the poor girl to marry him.  So when the engagement announcement finally came, NO ONE could have been happier for them than me!!!

I left my camera in my bag for most of the night.  Scottie & Ferfer didn't ask me to take their pictures, and I was so incredibly grateful that I would be allowed the luxury of being there as a witness to the event instead of the journalist.  (I was horrified with the behaviour of their photographer, but that's a whole other post lol)  Anyways, I figured I would have been useless anyway, all that weeping and wiping of joyful tears.  They had actually asked me to perform the marriage ceremony but since Alberta doesn't allow that anymore, I got them a quartet instead.  (Stringbeans - they are AMAZING!  One of the quartet had a vehicular breakdown and was unable to make it, and even as a three-piece ensemble they totally kicked butt!)

Of course, I had crappy seats for picture-taking, but I did sneak a few shots for my own personal records.  When they entered the reception and Jenn gave a triumphant shake of her bouquet a collective cheer rose from everyone who had waited ever so patiently for Scottie to do what we all knew he should do and make an honest woman of his bride.  Truly, it was a perfect day for a perfect couple.  All I have to say now is, "I told you so."

a little bit of Fringe

Bill & I took the girls out to visit with my dear friend N. who was up from sunny California (stupid me I didn't get a shot of us together lol...)  We met at Starbucks (we've both lost about 30lbs, and were both drinking peppermint tea - we laughed at leading parallel lives as we've ended up unwittingly doing over the years and the fact we were ~still~ both peppermint tea drinkers) then headed over to the Fringe for a bit.  

N. had to run so Bill & I took the girls off to see one last act before heading home.  The girls were mesmerized by the hula hoop girl.  Heck, me and Bill were mesmerized by the hula hoop girl lol.  

These first two pictures occurred something like this.

Me: "Hey, Madisyn?"

Me: "Hey, Serejane?"

This shot was, "Hey, Bill?"  but I got this cable knit sweater and neck shot 'cuz I didn't aim very carefully... oops.

It was much easier to do some footography.

And, of course, there was the amazing hula hoop girl, who amoung other things did two-man hoop spinning...

...and had volunteers from the audience literally throw hoops at her...

...until she was spinning what must have been about 40 hoops at the same time, wearing flippers and brandishing a parasol!  WAY crazy cool!

my new toy

One man's trash is another man's treasure. On Monday at Serejane's daycare eyespy'ed an abandoned vintage pram, slightly bent, but totally serviceable. I couldn't take it with me on the bike so I left it there, meaning to go back and pick it up, but also thinking I should wait another day in case her rightful owner returned to collect it. Tuesday she was there. Wednesday, too. Today I happened to drive instead of ride the bike, and when eyespy'ed the pram still sitting there, all lonely an unloved, I sauntered on over there, loaded 'er up in Miss Kitty, and brought 'er home. Bill's going to straighten the bars out and I'm going to clean it up. I'm having visions of pictures of babies sitting in the pram in all kinds of wonderful places - the park, a wheat field, in front of graffiti, in crosswalks... lol. Isn't she beautiful?

shifting focus

I went out on Monday night to weed my garden one last time for the year. I needed to so I could see what needed pruning, what should be transplanted, what needed thinning, and what to uproot and be done with. As I stood there enjoying the smell of earth and the crisp late-summer air, wincing at the presence of a few freshly yellowed leaves scattering across my lawn, it dawned on me that I had taken inventory of my life in much the same way this spring, figuring out what needed to stay, go, or be modified.

When I felt I was at risk of a bulimic relapse, a large part of my conversation with my counsellor revolved around what was causing me to stress-eat, and it was no secret that I really just had way too much on my plate: work, kids, husband, reno projects, and, of course, all things photography. I seriously felt like my whole life was careening out of control, that I had lost sight of what was important. "Well, what can you give up to make more time for yourself and your family?" she had asked.

WONDERWOMAN was the first person to respond. She said, "Nothing." So, for several more weeks I hung onto everything, for dear life, and took on more, as if to rebel and say, "See? I can handle it all, and THEN some!" - a neat and tidy parallel for what was going on with my physical body. Initially I was in complete denial about the 'obvious' thing to eliminate in order to streamline my life, the 'obvious' thing that would permit me the time and energy to focus on the things that needed the most attention: namely, myself and my family. Emotions ran amok, I debated myself on it fifty times over, I cried and struggled with the decision. I was so torn about how I could give up anything without feeling like I was 'losing' something. And, after reading Aimee Liu's GAINING: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders, the obvious answer won out.

Effective September 1st, 2008 I am on sabbatical from the photography business indefinitely. (I had been saying I'm semi-retiring, but ~some~ people whose Christine names I won't mention thought it sounded too harsh...) Once I internalized the decision to step back from photography and focussed on paring things down and putting my life back into perspective, things literally fell into place - the renovations on the house were in progress again, I was accepted and am now registered in University, and I managed to find the time and motivation to shed the 35 extra pounds I was packing. And, most exciting of all, in order to help fill the gap (and because I adore her, respect her integrity as an artist, and wanted to keep the proverbial enemy closest) effective September 1st, 2008 the amazingly sweet, energetic, and talented Heather Duperron of PixelPie: the Substance of Life will be commencing as a full apprentice.

Now, this doesn't mean I'm going cold turkey and never taking a picture again (cha - right - like I could do that ~smirk~) but what it does mean is I will only be setting aside one day a month for taking clients, whether that's a wedding, a day of family portraits, or keeping the folks who are locked in for Belly to Birthday packages on schedule. If you are looking to book my services, I encourage you continue to contact me; if, however, I am not available I will endeavor to match you up with one of the apprentices or associated workshop photographers whose personality and style work best with your needs. I will also continue running occasional classes and doing monthly discussion groups.

I still struggle with this decision. I imagine as I haunt the blogs of those who are continuing on with their photography careers without me, I will feel sadness and perhaps even envy. I pout and go through fits of trying to talk myself out of it (I always lose the argument) and  WONDERWOMAN has put up a good fight, too - but she's currently gagged and bound in some musty corner of my brain's basement. The bottom line is, even though I ~could~ continue at this hectic pace, it would be at the expense of a) providing decent service to my clients, and/or b) my health, sanity, and family. So I've streamlined things in order to compromise neither of those things, and despite the scary-looking gaps on my calendar that make it completely evident I have indeed started to shut things down, I am 100% positive of 3 things:

#1) I will miss my clients like oxygen;
#2) I am excited to see whatever change and progress lays ahead;
#3) I am making the right decision for me and my family.

To all my wonderful clients who *might* miss me, too - I like coming to BBQs and birthday parties (and I'd probably bring my camera, as long as you're OK with crappy snapshots and no props or backdrops lol.) To all my wonderful friends who have been so sorely neglected - I'm available for dinner and a movie again, please. To my wonderful husband, Oh, how I've missed us. And to our four beautiful children - Mama's back.

from the mouths of Janes

Wednesday morning as we were getting ready to leave this is what our little comedienne had to say.

Serejane: Grasshoppers have their ears in their legs.
Mama & Daddy, glancing at each other, confused: Oh, yeah?
Serejane: Yeah, so they would have to wear thier iPods on their knees.

~don't forget to tip your waitress~

sleeping beauty

Little Miss G wasn't in the mood for pictures much. Nope, not really... she was mostly interested in following up her late afternoon nap with an early evening nap, and so we worked with her schedule as best as we could. Big sister A was all smiles, though - and even had a game or two of peek-a-boo for me - YAY! Thanks for letting me come and make your baby cranky, J & C!!!

oh eight oh eight oh eight!

E, uncle to Wren and Caanan, and his beautiful fiancee J tied the knot in an intimate and moving ceremony at the Hotel MacDonald. Surrounded by a close circle of family and friends, J was also helped to celebrate her birthday! I guess E has his work cut out for him - if he were to forget either the anniversary or J's birthday there'd be some big, big trouble... ~smirk~

Congratulations, you two! May your long happy history be rewarded with an even longer, happier future.

Talking in Loud Whispers: How much are my services worth?

Setting your prices is a hurdle we all face.  Deciding how much to charge, what to include, and comparing ourselves to other shooters in the market can be a very daunting task.  This open-floor Loud Whisper will be dedicated to sharing how and why we set our prices, as well as how we tackle the issue of raising our prices without losing clientele.  Sunday, September 7th, 2008, 6 pm - 7:30 p.m., Hope's place.  $2 per person in the kitty for coffee and cookies; please bring a snack to share!

hoodoos and bleeches

With Kaelan gone to visit his Auntie Danna in Calgary, and Wil off camping in Cold Lake with his Dad, Bill & I made an impromptu camping trip with the girls this past weekend. We headed out towards Edson, not really sure what we'd stumble upon, with the idea of meeting up with friends at the lake on Sunday afternoon. It was quite the adventure finding a spot to camp (Hornbeck Creek, if you're ever out that way, is a fantastic little pit stop!) and the logging roads we had to take to access Sundance Provincial Park were none too kind to our wee, ground-hugging, low-profile tired car, and there were 'bleeches' in the lake, but all the trouble turned out to be well worth it. Even Sweet Dolly enjoyed the trip!

Now that we're back in the city, we have the rest of our week off work chock-full of visiting, renovating, and (of course for me) processing pictures. While I'm working on relaxing over here, I hope you all have a lovely week, too!

some Friday hardy hars

This site is just WAY too funny not to check out. Totally appropriate for work, but you will laugh loudly, so make sure the boss ain't lookin'... or is at least in your office lookin' with you...

I'm totally going home to bake now.

times two!

The twins arrived safe and sound about 3 weeks ago. Full term. They were just 17 days old when I took these pictures, and they are about as different as day and night - one blond, blue-eyed beauty, and one raven-haired, brown-eyed beauty, with very unique personalities and a whole pound difference in weight!

These two lovely ladies were kind enough to let me dress them up, then undress them, stick them in flower pots in the dirt, lay them on stuffed horses and real puppies, and curl them up in all kinds shapes and sizes of baskets. Say, "Hello," to V & V!!!

about Kate...

She enjoyed the Lifesavers I had sent along for her.  She wanted to chat last night but I was busy.  I plan on doing some catching up this weekend.  Welcome back, Kate!  ~MUAH!~

for granted

I know I lead a privileged life.  I'm not rich, nor am I poor.  I'm not exceptionally brilliant or especially stupid.  I'm not too tall or too short or too fat or too thin.  I have healthy children, a loving family, a wonderful husband, amazing friends, a good job.  I try not to take these things for granted, and facing death I imagine I'd have to take into account whether or not I have taken these things for granted.

It's a million degrees in the shade here, and my palms are as sweaty as the rest of my body.  That hasn't stopped me from pressing my sweaty palms together for  woman who can't afford to take anything for granted, least of all the donor whose hear & lungs she received today.

My heart aches for the family of the donor, and sings for the possibility of having my sweet Kate to keep me company on those late nights processing pictures, or, come September, while I'm doing my homework.  It'll be a few days before we have news.  I'm trembling.  And praying.  I haven't any more words.  Only HOPE.

every hour, on the hour

Kate's family is sitting vigil with her.  She hasn't been up for much chatting lately and is spending as much time as she possibly can with her husband, family, and friends.  Every time you see the clock strike on the hour I ask you say a little prayer, for strength, love, peace, and hope.

I love you Kate, and I miss your company.  Miracles can happen.

simply lovely

On Saturday, August 2, 2008, Laura Jane of a la mode and I photographed what has to be one of the most amazing weddings I've ever been witness to. It wasn't the biggest, or the smallest. It wasn't the flashiest or the plainest. It wasn't the most expensive or the cheapest. It was, quite simply, the loveliest, because there was so much love. Many layers, many levels of love, flowing through everyone, the whole day, and we were both moved to tears on several occasions. There are about a million more pictures to go, but I couldn't wait to share just a few. M & K, thank you again for allowing us to be part of your day - I will cherish it as much as you cherish each other.

The above picture is of the bride and groom and their respective parents.  Simply lovely.

the graduates

Last year I had the distinct pleasure of photographing some of the most amazing young people I've ever met. The 2008 crop of LWCA graduates was no different. I had the assistance of Amanda Kerr from Lifeprints this year as a ticdesign collboration, and I'm SO excited to FINALLY share our pictures!  Congratulations to all the graduates!