cookie completion!

The first 7 cookies are photographed and  new blog and Facebook Fan Page have been created.  Check out the blog here or become a Facebook Fan here!

some things you should know about Art

When Art naps, his tail stays curled.  When he's deep deep asleep, his tail goes straight.

Art's belly is really bald, really pink, and really smooth.

Art, like my sister's dog, excels at napping.

Art's forehead is super soft and when he raises it he gets fabulous furry little wrinkles - it's the best place to give him kisses.

Art loves a game of fetch with pretty much everything, but pine cones are his preferred backyard toy.

Art is like a movie star - most people who meet him say he's a lot smaller in person than he looks on-screen.

Blowing leaves freak Art out.  When he sees leaves whipping about he does donuts around the yard so fast he straightens his tail out.

Art is a happy dog.

Art really REALLY loves pine cones.

Art looks great in profile.

season's eatings!

I learned some things about cookies today.  Namely, cookies are easier to buy, bake, or eat than they are to photograph.  I honestly thought the hardest part would be not eating the props, or maybe keeping my children and husband from eating the props.  But alas, cookies are really crumby subjects and I spent a lot of time plucking up stray bits of cookie crumbs and wiping up trails of melty chocolate cluttering the set.  But, I'm always up for a challenge, and round one of the great cookie photo-marathon has been completed.

(Why is she taking pictures of cookies?)

A-ha.  I'm glad you asked.  My dear friend Sherry has a hidden talent: making gourmet cookies.  In fact, her cookies are so delectable her friends have asked her to go into business.  My part in the mix is to get a visual out there for her.   And trust me, pictures don't really do these cookies justice - they're generous in size and PACKED with uber-yummy fillings.  Shown above: Blueberry Oatmeal, Oatmeal CinnaRaisin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk, Mint Condition, Peanut Butter Kiss, and Chocolate Brownie Overload.  But don't take my word for it -  without giving it ALL away before she launches (just in time for Christmas, I might add) I thought I'd offer my friends here the opportunity to place an order...  Sherry is ready for business even if her website's not quite ready.  Check out her not-so-standard cookie combinations on the ticdesign web consortium resources page (scroll to the bottom) and place your order here!  

Featured below is the chocolate candy cane cookie, a soft chewy chocolate cookie topped with fluffy, refreshing mint icing and crushed candy cane.  In a word: irresistible!

comatose? HA!

This last week, with my term paper off my plate and my clients completely processed if not delivered, has been a rare treat.  Last weekend was the 80s shoot (I'll be blogging those as soon as I have the other model release YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) and the pictures are simply FANTASTIC!  I also got to hang out with 3 wonderful ladies to do some private tutelage (I'm pretty sure all 3 of them never want to hear the term 'law of reciprocity' EVER again...) and am really hoping to add their blogs to the blogroll (hint hint YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.)  

Our Saturday and Sunday are chock-full of family silliness.  Wil & I already went and snuck in some Christmas shopping after getting supplies for our cook-a-thon, AND I found a $250 London Fog maxi-coat for $90.  Could life BE any better?  Oh wait, yes it could!  I've been asked to photograph some product shots for a new business.  The company is (get this) GOURMET COOKIES!  (I get to keep the props - squee!!!)

We're planning on catching up with a couple of friends, and Art will be mastering the command 'sit' - we're busy, so I don't have time to be comatose!  So far, sabbatical ROCKS.

Watch for some pics on Sunday...  until then, have a great weekend, everyone!  MUAH!


it's what you want for Christmas...

I only have 4 spaces left in the DLS workshops. If you haven't signed up yet, now's the time - tell your spouse it's what you want for Christmas!

and they called it puggy love

You know how sometimes you're surfing around and just kind of stumble on something that really strikes a chord? Well, my friend Lynda stopped in to say 'hi' on my last post about Art. Some things you should know about Lynda are: she's really tall, she's funny, she's generous, and she LOVES LOVES LOVES animals. And, she does work with rescue animals. I clicked on her profile and, you know, surfed along on various heartbreaking links about puppy mills in Quebec and eventually stumbled across this amazing photographer whose kitsch-phrase is 'shooting one dog at a time across southern Ontario.' Ah-ha... A photographer after my own heart...

I went and checked out her website (for inspiration - I do have a dog of my own to shoot now and I'm in totally unfamiliar territory) and then her blog, and came across this post about Sweet Myrtle, one of a pack of puggies rescued from a mill. I cried a bit, and sighed, and realized that I have been holding back with the camera. So far, Art only has a handful of pictures in my hundreds of thousands, and I was thinking, OK - it's just too chronic to take a bazillion pictures of my dog - people will think I'm weird, or something...


I talked to my sister about my guilt issues over not rescuing a dog. She has the most irritating minpin on the planet (her and her dog are inseparable) and put it into perspective nicely for me. "Some irresponsible jackass doesn't bother getting his rotty cross fixed, it breeds with the neighbour's shepherd cross, and I am expected to forego practicality in what my lifestyle can offer a dog for the sake of 'rescuing' this dog or be labelled a heartless witch?" I'm not particularly fond of her dog, but they are definitely well suited to one another. I was never one on purebreds, but I'm beginning to understand. Sort of. For her she needed a lapdog, a companion who could keep her company and join her for field work. For me, it's all about shape and hair - I like a smooth coats on short, stocky dogs, broad in the chest and short in the hindquarters. Beagles, bulldogs... pugs... something big enough to be a real dog, but small enough to be portable. (Admit it - there are places you can take a bichon frise that you won't ever be able to take a great dane...)

I fell in love with pug-mutty Art before we even met him, and after a few false starts trying to find a suitable rescue dog, Bill & I agreed a puppy of known lineage would be the best match for our family - we needed a puppy that would not outgrow the space we have for him, and one that could grow up with the kids. Most of the rescue dogs available locally are large-breed puppies or adult (any size) dogs that have been surrendered because they are 'behavioural.' Two stories, true stories:
My mom, who lives alone and has substantially more time to walk a big dog than we do, rescued a big 'behavioural' border-collie cross she named Danny Boy. He had been abused by his former owner and was so painfully shy and terrified that we don't think he knew how to wag his tail. He is now the most gentle, even-tempered, sweet dog on the planet, and if he wasn't so big and hairy, I'd kidnap him. A single girlfriend of mine rescued an ill-tempered yet adorable purebred shih-tzu from the pound and ended up having to bring him back 6 months later as he simply would not stop barking, biting, and ripping apart her furniture and she did not have the time, skill, or patience to re-train him.
I am realistic in that I know we would not have the time or resources to a) own a huge dog or b) retrain an animal. I did not want to go into the pound with a bleeding heart and bring home a dog that I'd have to bring back because it grew too big or kept urinating all over the house - that would be unfair to the dog. And of course I know there are no guarantees that a puppy won't develop issues, but it must be said here that I don't really believe there are as many bad dogs out there as bad owners. And I am not a bad puppy mommy. Well-loved, well-trained dogs don't end up in the pound. Regardless of whether you get your dog from a reputable breeder, a puppy mill, a pet store, or the pound, many people don't do the research temperament or potential health problems nor realize the time and effort raising a puppy takes. Teenaged girls find a chihuahua is an encumbrance to their social life, families find there's no time left for the chocolate lab between hockey tournaments and swimming lessons, parents fail to train their KIDS how to treat the dog and the dog turns 'mean, or the vet bills get too high and the dog is surrendered to someone, anyone who can love them enough and love them right... but, alas, not to me, not this time.


Art quite obviously came from a gentle, loving environment. His fat round belly and easy-going temperament show he's led somewhat of a laid-back and pampered early puppyhood, and one of the preferred prerequisites the owner had for the pug-mutty's new home was kids - so far, it's easy to see why. And when he's full grown he'll be just as portable and busy-lifestyle friendly as he is now. The transition has been smooth and easy for us all, much easier, I imagine, than bringing home an inbred battered dalmatian with an appetite for couches. Dogs (or any pet, really) and owners need to match up. With 4 kids in school and extra-curricular activities and full-time day jobs, right now we are not the right family for the unpredictability of a rescue dog, and I'm OK with that, but maybe YOU are the right family for a rescue dog. In addition to the large-breed rescue puppies and dogs they currently house, the Edmonton Humane Society has been participating in a special rescue project, bringing up several small-breed dogs from California puppy mills, all needing loving homes. There's not much history on them besides the fact most of them have probably never seen the light of day and need a whole lotta love to recondition them. Maybe your new family member is waiting to meet you. Not a dog person? Go check all the Humane' Society's (hopefully) temporary residents out here!
As for me, I realized most people already think I'm weird, and thus... you will henceforth find me unapologetically crouching around on all fours after the furry-footed puggy-mutt, camera in hand. You can fully expect the Art project to really take off now - he might even need his own blog... In the great words of Bob barker, have your pets spayed or neutered~ Goodnight!

perfectly Art-liscious

Some people are dog people, others are not. I am. And, Art is perfect. Already he knows how to come. He also knows how to fetch (though sometimes his preferred toy is a rotten apple or a pine cone instead of his blue rope toy, but whatever...) The cold weather has been a blessing - he has figured out that if he does his business quickly he gets to go back inside sooner, and he knows to go to the door if he has to pee. (He doesn't make a noise though and will pee on the floor if you aren't paying attention.)

He is gentle with the kids, loves to sit on their lap or chase them in the yard (we're still breaking him of the habit of biting coattails) and he LOVES his beds - if you tell him to 'go to bed' he runs over and sits in the bed! He has quirks like any good dog should - he does the Thumper-foot thing when you scratch his back - both sides! - and he doesn't like to eat or drink alone. (Forgivable - who does?) He's not especially fond of his leash yet but I hanker that's more because the ground is cold. Once he figures out what 'walk' means I imagine he'll be all over the leash like white on rice. And, he doesn't whine when we put him in his kennel except when he wants to pee. So far he is nothing shy of perfect.

I know it's probably an old wives' tale about the amount of black in a dog's mouth, but my Daddy always said, the more black in the pie-hole, the smarter the dog. Our last dog Tate had lots of black in his mouth, and the roof of Art's mouth is completely speckled black, so maybe there's something to it. To steal Laura's words, we ruff him. Very much.

puppies and snowmen and forts, oh my!

Kaelan hard at work on his snow fort, which features an attached igloo for Art.

Serejane made a GIRL snowman.

Adding the finishing touches...

I'm sorry to all the people who don't like winter.  I do.

So proud of herself lol

She was talking to her snowman.  "You're so beautiful!"

Nice face.  

Securing the attached Art igloo.

This leaf had THEE coolest pattern on it!

Beautiful snowman GIRL.

Serejane's new Walls Blizzrd Pruf snowsuit.  It's monogrammed. She thinks that's pretty swell.

Even the snaps and buttons are monogrammed!  lol

Art in his argyle.

If I was one of the other dogs, I'd totally beat him up.  However, it does keep the shivering to a minimum so I may have to re-think my position on puppy clothes, at least for this first winter.  ~sigh~  The girls will be thrilled - nothing is better than playing dress-up, unless of course, that's dress-up with a dog.

step in time!

Some of the most brilliant choreography you'll ever see. (And no one pulls the look off quite like Dick van Dyke, hey?)

ART project

work of Art

Art in progress

pieces of Art

Art for the Walls

say hello to General Copernicus Arthur "ART" Walls

we (heART) him.

the last session

I threatened I was going to do it, and it's a fact now.  As of Colton's session, I'm off the grill and comfortably coasting into slow cooker mode.  (Is that better than semi-retired, Christine?)  I'm officially finished all my sessions for 2008 save for some belly to birthdays, and starting in January I will be shooting only one day a month so BOOK EARLY!  I'll be working on my term paper over the next week, too - eek! The 2009 DLS workshops are filling up quickly and I am VERY excited about them.  But, mostly I'm gearing up for a couple of special photography ventures, namely one with my cherished Spruce Grove Stony Plain Mommapalooza children (they're up to 27 children, with number 28 due to arrive in a few months!), one with my DLS buddies that involves a whole lotta fluorescent clothes, a Michael Jackson jumpsuit, and some forest green and peach satin prom dresses... stay tuned for that...  and one extra special ART project that starts today.  So, if I'm a little scarce around here and all you see for the next few weeks are pictures of ART, I make no apologies.

a whole year old!!!

I can hardy believe it's been almost a year since I had the pleasure of meeting Candice & Scott, the beautiful and loving parents of my little sweetheart Jaden, whose smile can warm you up better than a cup of cocoa.  We decided to do these pictures a little early so we could do a special invitation for his big Number One birthday on November 29th.  And, the whole crew of grammas and grampas and aunties and uncles came out to join the session and pour some lovin'  on this sweet little man!  Thank you for a year of wonderful memories, Mom & Dad, and you better invite me over for coffee soon!  (That's a threat.  Totally.)

C is for...

It's been about a year since I met Big Brown Eyes.  As if it was possible, Colton got even more adorable...  S & J, thanks for letting me come over to watch him eat ju-jubes, suck icing from the tube, balance pigs on our heads, and chase him through the back 40!  (I'm still not sure how I feel about that stair-jumping trick...)  And, thank you for the wonderful email - it totally made my day.  

For now, as you can see, he rules the roost, but Colton is about to be a big brother!  I can hardly wait to meet the beansprout in a few weeks.  Until then, you'll have to settle for a little early Christmas cheer, courtesy of the talented Mr. C!

(There's a story here... Colton saw ju-jubes on Mom's 'sample' cookies and decided he would eat those first.  When he was handed the tubes of pretty icing, he tried eating it since it was too hard to squeeze.  Between sucking icing from the tube and chowing down on ju-jubes, he totally lost interest in decorating cookies until Mom drew a C on his belly, to which we glued the gingerbread man, and voila!  Presto cookie decorating!  ~smirk~  You should really check out the whole album - it's absolutely worth a visit!)

a dirty little secret about photography associations

"Should I hire a photographer who belongs to a photography association?"

If you look around, you'll see that some photographers sport the logos of various photography associations on their websites, while others don't. There are many - the PPOC, WPPI, APPA and so forth, and the simple truth is, for most part all it means is that some people pay to have memberships while others don't. While some associations require an application and peer review process before you can become a member, many don't require anything more than your dues being paid each year, and often all those dues allow a photographer to do is attend events and enter competitions within the organization. These competitions usually require an additional entrance fee, and placing in or winning the competitions can increase your profile as a photographer. Although becoming a member of high-profile and internationally recognized organizations may show dedication to the art of photography and a desire to become world-renowned, the cost of memberships may do nothing more than drive up the cost of the photographer because their overhead is higher. Unfortunately, it does not guarantee that they are skilled or professional.

For what it's worth, in Canada there is no requirement to have any formal education or training to be a photographer. Unlike most trades and professions there is no standard level of achievement or accreditation such as a bachelor's degree or technical certificate. In Canada the only recognized professional photography association is the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPoC) and its provincial chapters. They endeavor to ensure a standard of excellence by requiring applicants to apply for accreditation through a peer review process for a variety of subjects (portraiture, wedding, animals, landscape, etc.) to become a Master of Photography. In addition to providing accreditation, the PPoC runs contests, presents workshops and conventions, secures industry discounts, and offers a group health and dental plan for accredited members only. They also try to ensure photographers receive fair wages for their work. And, unlike many organizations whose logos you are free to use once you have paid your dues, you are not allowed to sport the PPoC logo until you have achieved a minimum number of credits. If you'd like to read up on the PPoC and how they work, you can visit their site here. Anything else you see is likely a paid membership for the right to attend conventions or workshops and enter photos into contests.

Peer recognition is, of course, extremely important, as is having a network of like-minded folks to bounce ideas off and share knowledge with. It's fun hanging out with people you 'click' with, especially if you can click with them. (get it? click? I slay me. but I digress.) Should it be a consideration when you are hiring a photographer? Not necessarily. As with all things, it is up to the consumer to check out what the association stands for. Is it a paid membership that you are seeing, or has the photographer actually been accredited with something? If it's a paid membership, have they entered and/or placed in any competitions or are they just displaying the logo because they can? And, would you be willing to pay more for that photographer because they have placed in competitions or have passed a peer review of some sort?
At the end of the day, whether a photographer belongs to a paid association or a peer reviewed association, your best measure of whether you should hire them or not is if you like their work and find you 'click' with them. Everything else is simply a logo.

pitch`n`putt pumkins

When E popped the question, D`s sister gave her a gift certificate for my services. The point was to get a nice engagement photo for their Mom to put in the paper, since they are doing a destination wedding. We got that about 15 seconds into the shoot. I know some photographers who, once they have the money shot they were looking for, say, Well done, thanks! and then they pack up and leave. We were barely getting started...

D was concerend that her and E always looked awkward and weird in photos. In about a third she says she is turning E`s face towards the camera, a third they are making goofy faces, and a third he is licking her face. After talking with D for a few minutes it almost seemed like she was wanting me to say something like no, you would be too difficult to work with - you`re off the hook.

I reassured D we`d be fine. I told her and E to bring a pair of golf clubs and a sense of humour, and I`d bring the pumpkins and a camera, and we`d make history.

It didn`t take long before D & E were goofing around like a pair of teenagers, and the only word I could really use to accurately describe their relationship would be joy-full.

(D - this is the offending sock picture, just for you - I sure hope he figures that out before the wedding...)

I suggested E dip D. It resembled something more like a wrestling throw-down. I hope he gets that figured out before the wedding too...

(aren`t they sweet... OK - so E`s actually warming up his cold nose on D`s cheek, but whatever - made for a brilliant photo.)

Once the mushy lovey-dovey stuff was over it was time to bust out the golf clubs and pumpkins. After a bit of golf-club sword fighting, and a bit of pumpkin racing, rolling, and bowling, well - D & E redefined the phrase pitch`n`putt...

Just throwing and golfing the pumpkins wasn`t enough - D started pitching the busted chunks to E, who was attempting to bat them with his golf club. Eventually the sun dipped below the tree-line and we decided it was time to pack it in.

I think this was the moment D had been waiting for the whole session!

E got her back, but I would argue it was totally worth it lol.
With so much laughter and happiness shared between these two, they are surely starting off on the right foot for a happy marriage.

D & E, thank you so much for being such a breath of fresh air. I honestly don`t think I have ever laughed so much or so hard during any portrait session, ever, and I am genuinely glad your sister (and soon to be sister-in-law) forced you into it.

I hope your wedding is everything you hope it to be, and more!