newLOVE: my camera loves Cameron A LOT

I had to share the rest of this album.  Not only did I have a perfectly adorable and compliant subject, I shot with my pancake lens this day and was thoroughly in LOVE with all the images.  I imagine I'll have a hard time resisting the other sessions I shot with this lens, too.  Thank you SO much, ladies - I am seriously smitten with this lens, and sad Ididn't make better use of it earlier.

myLOVE: photography

My dear friend Heather of PixelPie posted this link in a forum a couple of weeks ago, from the keyboard of pioneer children's photographer Cheryl Jacobs, and today, I felt an overwhelming urge to share it because its wisdom was exactly what I needed.

"These are my thoughts, nothing more and nothing less.

I get asked all the time, during workshops, in e-mails, in private messages, what words of wisdom I would give to a new and aspiring photographer. Here's my answer.

- Style is a voice, not a prop or an action. If you can buy it, borrow it, download it, or steal it, it is not a style. Don't look outward for your style; look inward.

- Know your stuff. Luck is a nice thing, but a terrifying thing to rely on. It's like money; you only have it when you don't need it.

- Never apologize for your own sense of beauty. Nobody can tell you what you should love. Do what you do brazenly and unapologetically. You cannot build your sense of aesthetics on a concensus.

- Say no. Say it often. It may be difficult, but you owe it to yourself and your clients. Turn down jobs that don't fit you, say no to overbooking yourself. You are no good to anyone when you're stressed and anxious.

- Learn to say "I'm a photographer" out loud with a straight face. If you can't say it and believe it, you can't expect anyone else to, either.

- You cannot specialize in everything.

- You don't have to go into business just because people tell you you should! And you don't have to be full time and making an executive income to be successful. If you decide you want to be in business, set your limits before you begin.

- Know your style before you hang out your shingle. If you don't, your clients will dictate your style to you. That makes you nothing more than a picture taker. Changing your style later will force you to start all over again, and that's tough.

- Accept critique, but don't apply it blindly. Just because someone said it does not make it so. Critiques are opinions, nothing more. Consider the advice, consider the perspective of the advice giver, consider your style and what you want to convey in your work. Implement only what makes sense to implement. That doesn't not make you ungrateful, it makes you independent.

- Leave room for yourself to grow and evolve. It may seem like a good idea to call your business "Precious Chubby Tootsies"....but what happens when you decide you love to photograph seniors? Or boudoir?

- Remember that if your work looks like everyone else's, there's no reason for a client to book you instead of someone else. Unless you're cheaper. And nobody wants to be known as "the cheaper photographer".

- Gimmicks and merchandise will come and go, but honest photography is never outdated.

- It's easier to focus on buying that next piece of equipment than it is to accept that you should be able to create great work with what you've got. Buying stuff is a convenient and expensive distraction. You need a decent camera, a decent lens, and a light meter. Until you can use those tools consistently and masterfully, don't spend another dime. Spend money on equipment ONLY when you've outgrown your current equipment and you're being limited by it. There are no magic bullets.

- Learn that people photography is about people, not about photography. Great portraits are a side effect of a strong human connection.

- Never forget why you started taking pictures in the first place. Excellent technique is a great tool, but a terrible end product. The best thing your technique can do is not call attention to itself. Never let your technique upstage your subject.

- Never compare your journey with someone else's. It's a marathon with no finish line. Someone else may start out faster than you, may seem to progress more quickly than you, but every runner has his own pace. Your journey is your journey, not a competition. You will never "arrive". No one ever does.

- Embrace frustration. It pushes you to learn and grow, broadens your horizons, and lights a fire under you when your work has gone cold. Nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacence."

cameraLOVE: the newest Pentax

Pentax has really outdone themselves with this limited edition white dSLR.

I totally need one of these. I could get an Imperial Storm Trooper costume to go out, ahem... "shooting." Steal of a deal at just under $800 with 2 (coordinating) lenses.

LOVE it. LOVE it. LOVE it.

Exercises for the week of February 23rd, 2009

Why why why don't you guys email or comment when I forget to post on Mondays???

Alright, folks. This week is all about composition.

Here are your tasks.

Photograph an S-curve.
Apply the Rule of Red to create a point of interest.
Create a pair of pictures, one balanced, one unbalanced.
Create a pair of pictures, one symmetrical, one asymmetrical.
Create a pair of pictures, one applying the Rule of Thirds and one completely ignoring the Rule of Thirds.

Challenge: make at least one of the above tasks involve silhouetting and/or backlighting.

Don't forget you only have a few more days to get your images to me for the Technical Critiquing workshop!

newLOVE: becomes babyLOVE

It's hard to internalize the fact Kael is already a year old.

If you look on the new website, and watch the opening slideshow, you'll see a picture of a baby's feet being held.  That's Kael then.

This is Kael now.

There's always the bittersweet time when the babies I shoot from pregnancy or birth on turn a year old, because it means my job is over for probably a year.... but Kael made my day by snuggling with me the way only babies can snuggle.  Warmed my heart all the way to my toes.

Owen was all over being in the pictures, too - you'll have to wait a couple more weeks to see him demonstrating his somersaulting and jumping skills.

Here's Kael sitting in my suitcase, of course.  He fills it up a lot better now than he did before...  ~sigh~  Thanks for a year of wonderful memories, Mom and Dad.  You have two incredibly lovable boys there, and I'll be counting down the days until our next excuse to get together.   We'll have to make a date, for fun...  I'll bring the weenie sticks!

bellyLOVE: at last!

When I think of Jody having a baby, I hear Etta James singing...

Jody is the last of the Spruce Grove Mamampalooza to have baby #2...

She was a little concerned I would miss doing maternity pictures because I was had her booked so lose to her due date, so she went to the lovely and talented Rose Sarich to make sure she didn't miss the opportunity.

However, I needed a couple of pictures for ~my~ books.  And I wanted to see J in all her rounded bellee glory in case she doesn't have another rounded bellee glory moment...  

So I stopped in to say hi, and take a few pictures, and hang out with little miss R.

(Doesn't she have the cutest little feet?  She's pretty excited about having a baby soon.  SHE isn't having one though.  There's ONLY one in Mom's belly.)  Thanks so much for letting me come and see your gorgeous new digs, make animals with your spare change, and take a few pics for my personal collection.  (You look pregnant, not fat, by the way.)

Stay tuned in a couple of weeks to see who' hiding in that beautiful belly!

newLOVE: my camera loves Cameron

Say hello to Cameron.

Cameron is, quite frankly, perfect.

Mom and Dad seem to be smitten, too...

Check out the rolls!  I could eat him!

Yummy baby bum.

My camera loves this baby almost as much as his parents do.  Jody, thanks for shipping me over, and Mom and Dad, thank you so much for letting me strip your baby, stuff him in a basket, and curl him up in a ball on the wonky chair.  P.S.  when you're ready to sell that chair I liked so much, call me...

babyLOVE: turning two

This weekend I got to come and see Miss C the day after her second birthday party.

She wasn't much into smiling for me...

(Are you hearing the lyrics to any particular songs yet?  lol)

But she did like playing peek-a-boo!

We truly had a ball...

Congratulations on turning two, Miss C!

festiveLOVE: mardi gras!

Oh, goodness - it's once again Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday... the day we should all focus on doing our very best binging before giving it all up for lent. Wish I was here doing the beer and beads Halloween instead of going home to shoverl fluffy white stuff:

OK - no - seriously - it really is Mardi Gras Today. If you can manage it, have pancakes for supper. Heavy on the syrup. Your kids/significant other/dog will love you. At our house I'm having visions of painted macaroni necklaces and paper plate masks. Only they'll be edible tortellini necklaces, and you'll have to lick the sauce off the paper plates before you can make your mask. Or use it to paint your mask. Whichever.

Happy Day Before Lent, everyone!!! Next stop: The Easter Bunny! Uh, wait - the pagan goddess of eggs. No, no, no, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Right. I always get those confused, worse than Baby Jesus and that fat guy in a red suit.


Damn Hallmark.

P.S. I'm giving up caffeine this year.

I be come a shrovin,
Vor a little pankiak,
A bit o' bread o' your baikin',
Or a little truckle cheese
O' your own makin'.
If you'll gi'me a little, I'll ax no more,
If you don't gi'me nothin, I'll rottle your door.'


Mein Seetor. I (heart) her. She writes:

Hey Chica :)

First - Holy moly - I think *I* might burst with pride - and I'm just Kaelan's aunt! That is so wonderful :) Please tell him I'm proud of him when opportunity arises. I'll be sure to tell him myself when I see him, too, but just so he knows I saw his pictures and I think they're great.

Second - good luck with your Vampire issues. Sometimes it's useful for me to read about these sorts of things and remind myself to be mindful about slipping into such behaviours. I'd like to think I don't engage in these behaviours - at least not frequently. But, also, to be sensitive to when I might be so that I can stop and think through what's actually underpinning the behaviour. So many counter-productive behaviours and attitudes are symptoms of other things.

Finally - I wanted to tell you I completely empathize with your sentiments about finding places that really touch you. Lots of places are fun/beautiful/interesting... most don't grab you by the heart and imagination and proceed to shake you awake. Not everyone goes to a rich-white-honky tourist trap like the DR and sees things to be as complex as you did. I hope you have many more opportunities to head back to the DR. Maybe next semester you can take a Spanish class??

Love you muchly,

youLOVE: N, A, and S

I met up with these ladies a couple of summers ago. There were jeans and sweaters involved - late summer I suppose. Very casual. Going for the client prize of 'Most Unlike Our Own Previous Sessions' they showed up in Christmas dresses Mom bought them at the Bettie Page store in Las Vegas. I had such a great time shooting these ladies - it's too bad it wasn't a bit warmer out or we'd have gone longer. (They wouldn't even do jogging-in-heels pictures. Damn ice.) There are many more to come, but I wanted to get a teaser up for them since they are currently at the bottom of a rather long waiting list... Thanks for the AMAZING day ladies!!! ANY time. Call me!

myLOVE: Kaelan

Today my 11-year old son accompanied me on my shoots. He took the Crash Course last summer and has proven time and again that not only can anyone learn to use a manual camera (he learned on my old Pentax K1000) but that he has a natural eye. He's very excited to share his pictures. We even created a new watermark just for him! Without further adieu, may I debut the first ever images from Schock Schots!

(I just might burst at the seams.  Just.  Might.  Squee!!!  He's one of US!!!!  lol)

Bill & Hope's Dominican Adventure January 2009: the sad departure

I think I've been procrastinating this post because it kind of finalizes the fact our trip is over.  The bride and groom have been shown their wedding pictures and are off celebrating in Saskatchewan this weekend with family who couldn't be in RD.    We've added pretty much everyone we travelled with to our Facebook friends, and have made dates for get-togethers already.  Not only did I gain a whole new family of Canadians, but of Dominicans.  Kind of an overwhelming week, really, and I have my name on the list for whenever the next seat-sale comes up so I can return.  

There's not really an accurate way to sum it up.  I've traveled enough to know that some places resonate with my soul and other don't.  I can take or leave Paris, but Seattle I'd visit a million times, Texas was fun but Italy was amazing.  RD, on the other hand, just feels like my other home.  And so, the best as I can tell, here's how the story ends, and hopefully begins.

The day after the wedding we were all blitzed, and took it easy at the resort.  J & T, who had come to Sosua and Peurto Plata with Jose on Day 5, had heard about a village beyond the resort, just past the beach where Eric and Darcie said their vows.  We only had a few hours to kill before getting on the plane, so we set off bright and early to get some last-minute souvenirs, then to wander off to the mystical village.  

By the time we had finished our tour with Jose I had fallen deeply in love with RD.  It was only solidified by our last day, when an entire village adopted us, showing us into their homes and their hearts.  It was this day that makes me want to learn Spanish and return, so that I can have real conversations with people, especially with the crazy lady who fed us rice from the palm of her hand and tried to teach me how to make it.  I had to decline because we had to catch our plane, dammit.  I will go back, with enough Spanish to ask her important questions like, how may children do you have, and what do you do when you aren't abducting whities and making them hungry with your yummy bottles of marinade?  I really can't put into words what happened this day.  I just accept it for what it was, and what it is, and what it will one day be.

can of worms: bloodsuckers

Oh, it's been a LONG time since we opened a can of worms here! I was going to call this post bloodsuckerLOVE but figured that might weird people out a bit. Love+hearts+blood - it's all related, isn't it? I digress.

Today I was pondering things that suck my will to live (don't ask - I try and not venture into the scary dark corners of my brain but every once in a while my mind wanders...) and I decided there are four categories of bloodsuckers.

Mosquitoes. These are the annoying people who always try and get a little something here, a little something there. They are easy enough to swat away (or squish) but there can be a LOT of them buzzing around at the same time, and they are seriously annoying. Luckily, they are seasonal, and never hang around for long.

Leeches. Leeches are relatively painless. You usually don't notice when they've managed to attach themselves, and with a little salt you can rid yourself of them. You don't really feel like you've lost anything even if you don't know about it until after the fact, but you feel squeamish and icky about it anyways.

Lampreys. These bastards cling on for dear live and will literally bleed you to death. They don't know that if they keep sucking they are going to kill you and leave themselves out of a lunch ticket. If they figure they've gotten everything they can, they go off in search of fresh prey but not without leaving you feeling like a shell of your former self.

Vampires. As vicious as lampreys are, at least they are self-defeating. Vampires, on the other hand, not only want to suck your blood, but want you to ~join~ them. If they get their fangs into you, eventually you start becoming like them. Even if it's the last thing on earth you want to do.

I've had my fair share of all of the above in my life. Here's the question, though - when you realize that you've attracted a certain species of bloodsucker, how do YOU handle the situation? What if the bloodsucker is a family member? A job? Your best friend? Do share... I have a certain vampire in the vicinity and the garlic isn't working anymore...
EDITED TO ADD: If you're reading this blog, I promise I am NOT referring to you. This person is an IRL person who's decided my work email (great tomes of whining and snivelling and fishing for sympathy) is GREAT. She doesn't visit forums or blogs and refuses to go on Facebook. Ever.

would you mind?

Izcariot asks:  hey i was wondering if you could stop by my blog and tell me ur point of view in my photos, thx!!

Well, Izcariot, unfortunately I'd have to quit my day job in order to give feedback to every person who had pictures on their blog.  I offer that level of support to persons taking the workshops as it's a great way to monitor progress and ensure the concepts being discussed are understood.  Otherwise, I'm not sure what you would be looking for in a critique since 'I like' and 'I don't like' are terms I don't really employ.

There are several great critiquing sites out there that are specifically intended for getting direct feedback on your pictures.  Here's one on Facebook:

If anyone else here is interested in critiquing Izcariot's images, please do!

freeLOVE: rock the dress May 3, 2009

Still have your wedding dress?  Available May 3, 2009? Want an excuse to wear it again?  Want someone to take pictures of you in it for free?  (If your bridesmaids are into it, bring them along, too!)  I am looking for up to 4 people to rock their dresses for our group of budding photographers at the beautiful Suffolk House Bed and Breakfast.  Send me an email to admin [at] hopewallsphotograhy [dot] com if you're interested!

freeLOVE: wedding portraits May 3, 2009

Want FREE wedding pictures?  Thinking of eloping?  Hated your wedding pictures and want a do-over?  Available May 3, 2009?  I am looking for someone who wants a VERY memorable wedding photography experience that includes you and a guest list composed of 15 - 20 budding photographers at the beautiful Suffolk House Bed and Breakfast.  Send me an email to admin [at] if you're interested!

freeLOVE: family portraits April 5, 2009

Want some FREE family portraits?  Brave enough to have 5 photographers taking your picture?  Available April 5, 2009?  I'm looking for 3 lucky families to join our group of photography students for a fun-filled afternoon taking pictures in an urban setting.  Send an email to admin [at] hopewallsphotography [dot] com if you're interested!

Exercises for the Week of February 16, 2009

In preparation for the Critiquing workshop, your first task for this week (and right up until the class if you like) is to choose 3 images to be Critiqued in class.  (Remember, we aren't critiquing them on 'like' or 'don't like' only deconstructing them on a technical basis - and you get to tear apart my pictures first anyways...)  The 3 images can be any images you like - they can be ones you worked really hard to capture, ones that were total flukes and you don't know how to re-create, or ones that you take just for this purpose.  Please email the images to me by no later than March 1, 2009 so that I have time to prepare the slides.

Next, to keep you inspired for this week, here's the exercise.  Find a game in your house - Scrabble, Mousetrap, Jenga, a deck of cards - whatever you happen to have.  Create a scene using the game.  It may or may not have people or creepy dolls in it, and can be lit using either natural or available light (no flash allowed - sorry!)  Although we of course want to strive to make the technical decisions behind the scenes to get the exposure we want, the challenge is to start incorporating more creative elements like telling a story or showing mood.  So you want to create a scene that says something more than 'here is a game' - we want more than a knock-off advertisement for the game.  Try and let the picture tell the story of who's winning and who's losing, show that someone was cheating, or what happens when an important element is missing.  You can make it as serious or as silly as you like.  Have fun!

oneLOVE: Eric & Darcie

I figured the best way to start off spreading the LOVE was to post about Eric & Darcie's wedding.  (Yes, yes, I know - there's been a delay - why do you email me instead of post comments?) But I digress.

Now, in spite of all the frivolous fun and personally poignant moments I had while visiting RD (which, by the way, is Republica Dominicana, not me being drunk and getting the letters mixed up) was to be witness, to experience, to share in the joy that was Eric and Darcie's wedding.

Before revealing a few select pictures from their Big Day, I think I ought to pause to pay tribute not just to them, not just to their families, but to the entire group of people we have the privelege and honour of spending time with.  There are things about the family you must know.  They are:

  1. In order to be part of the family, you must be willing to lick your plate clean, even (especially) at formal dinners.
  2. You have to know how to have a few (read: several) drinks and retain a sense of humour (especially) when one of their nearest and dearest decides to doff some duds.  (I saw more parts of the male anatomy this trip than I did in almost 5 combined years of diaper changing of my own sons...)
  3. There is NO WAY you can spend any amount of time with their family and friends, and not end up as in love with them, as the Bride and Groom are with (especially) each other.

I honestly can't think of a more perfect match than Eric and Darcie.  Their sense of adventure and humour are only paralleled by the respect and love they have for one another.  Suffice it to say that the bar has been set very high.  Without further adieu, here are a select few (and I use the expression 'select few' loosely) from the Big Day.

N, thank you for forcing them to get engagement photos done.  I meant a lot to me, not just coming from you, but BEING from you.


(and I reallyreallyreally mean that)


a special notice to clients

I thought I should take a minute and post a special notice for clients booked prior to February 14, 2009.  Although technically I started phasing out the inclusion of full resolution CDs in September of 2008, there has been some confusion how this is going to affect you.

1.) The quote for services that you received will be honoured, regardless of whether it's baby pictures or a wedding.

2.) You will not be receiving full-resolution images on your disc.  You will receive a set of watermarked webshare images and a full set (not just 20) of 4x6 print resolution images (this means you can make prints up to 4x6 but photo products and/or anything 5x7 or larger will be pixelated.)

3.) You will be able to order enlargements via the new client ordering section of the new website, and will be charged at cost, as per the till receipt, not the stockroom prices.  If you require a full-resolution image for other purposes, please discuss it with me and we will try to come to a workable solution.

I thank you all for your patience and understanding through this transition.  There are more complete details on the website under the tab 'notices' but in the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.





from me, to you


(If you are having problems loading some of the pages please try clearing your cache.  If this doesn't fix the problem, please notify me at admin [at] hopewallsphotography [dot] com immediately.  Thank you!)


catching up: twice the baggage

Mama B teases me about my compulsion to photograph babies in baggage. Let this be a warning: if you mock my fetish, your kids WILL get stuffed into a suitcase. Oh, and Mama B? Hope's suitcases = Mama B's horses. Ha. And neiner.

It's seriously SO hard to believe the girls are already 6 months old! As I've been sifting through the archives for the portfolio images on the new website, it's been like a stroll down memory lane, and yesterday I happened to come across the mat pics, which, if you recall, were taken with not suitcases but HORSES.

(Check out the mile-long eyelashes on Twin A!)

(I'm sure this means something not very nice in Italian...)

(As the one usually pointing a camera around, I have come to accept the fact I often have this effect on people. I'm used to it.)

(At least Twin B was able to turn on some million-wattage smiles for me - all it took was nudity for her, and a lot of weird farting and whistling noises on my part - cakewalk!)

I think these girls are delicious. Sweeter than ice cream. They'd go nice with a side of strawberry syrup.

catching up: basket case

If I had to nominate the baby I'd like to photograph in more baskets, Miss L would top the list.

Miss L was deliciously sweet, with perfect pouty little lips and some of the longest baby feet I've ever seen.

Even though she didn't weigh in like a pipsqueak at birth, I imagine by the time I get to see Miss L again for her 3-month session, she's going to be a relative giant.

Mom and Dad, congratulations - she is nothing shy of perfection.

(And, she looks GREAT in a basket. Remember - you know where to find me if you ever want to borrow the Magic Sleeping Egg Basket...)

catching up: a new addition

I've had a crush on little Mr. B since he was born. I've been telling Mom and Dad they make nice babies and should have more since he was born.

I was relieved to learn they had finally heeded my advice.

Mr B, though, wasn't nearly as excited about my opportunity to take maternity pics as I was. After regaling me with his rockstar prowess he spent the rest of the session (generally) hiding from the camera.

So... by the time I came back, I had missed all the excitement of her arrival. But I did make it out to visit her when she was just 5 days old. And look! Didn't I say they make nice babies? Miss A is absolutely precious. She cooed and pooed her way right into my heart beside big brother B, despite the fact she's already showing the same general attitude towards me as her brother. (I swear, she didn't do that with her finger until I showed up in her face with my camera. She KNOWS.)

As for big brother B, he's still far more interested in musical instruments than the doting gurgling face-making photographer. He did, however, play a song for his new sister.

Apparently, little miss A appreciates his talent.

I know it's selfish of me to say thank you instead of congratulations, but I'm going to risk it this time and say thanks to Mom and Dad for taking my advice and making me another nice baby to visit. MUAH to you all! (And Bear, too...)