lifeLOVE: Clickin' Cancer's Butt, antonym style...

I've had an emotional few weeks - lessons learned time and time again about appreciating what you have because there always comes an occasion when it's threatened to be, or just is, no longer there: job security, parents and children and spouses and siblings, friends, homes, health...  

The Month of May, 2009, will go down in my personal history as a month of extremes ranging from exhilarating joy to excruciating pain, massive highs to debilitating lows, complete celebration to complete shut-down, huge successes to ultimate failures.  I'm exhausted and overwhelmed.  I made up a new saying about it.  Maybe someone else already made it up, but I'm laying claims to it until otherwise corrected.  It goes like this: Don't count your chicks before they're hatched because you never know when you're looking at a basket of goose eggs.

I think for all of us it is really easy to breeze through the joy, the highs, the celebration, the successes without experiencing the magnification of how much sweeter they are when set against the backdrop of the pain, the lows, the shut-downs, and the failures.  But then again, who in their right mind would willingly dredge up the bad to make the good so much more meaningful?  

Well, whether I wanted the lesson or not, I have learned it 10 times over this month, and as I was sitting down to write this post and feeling more than a little sorry for myself, I realized that the very answer I was looking for was reflected in the images of the incredible people who participate in the Relay for Life every year, who turn stories of hopelessness into efforts steeped in optimism, who turn the loss of loved ones into powerful crusades, who dig deep into their pain not to relive it but to revitalize it - to turn the proverbial sow's ear into a silk purse.

Here are my picks to share from the multitude of images captured at this year's Relay for Life.  I have two other stories to share, but want to leave you with this prod: Life's what you make it, so love your babies harder, give your spouse a kiss goodnight even if you're mad, phone your parents or your children and tell them you love them, wash the dishes before you go to bed and replace the toilet paper roll if you empty it, be grateful for your job, take a picture of the flowers in bloom, and make sure you wear clean underwear - the grass is always greener somewhere else until you realize that you're still on the other side of the fence with yourself.  

I asked who in their right mind would dredge up the bad to make the good so much more meaningful, and the answer is, these incredible, courageous, beautiful survivors, caregivers, friends, spouses, children, parents, aunties and uncles, grandparents, co-workers, and dearly departed, whose incredible spirit and ability to turn despair into HOPE makes me quake in my boots at the power of the human spirit:



And for whatever it's worth, don't worry too much about the goose eggs - sometimes serendipity kicks in and you realize they're just ugly ducklings... c

lifeLOVE: Clickin' Cancer's Butt, antonym style...

I've had an emotional few weeks - lessons learned time and time again about appreciating what you have because there always comes an occasion when it's threatened to be, or just is, no longer there: job security, parents and children and spouses and siblings, friends, homes, health...  

The Month of May, 2009, will go down in my personal history as a month of extremes ranging from exhilarating joy to excruciating pain, massive highs to debilitating lows, complete celebration to complete shut-down, huge successes to ultimate failures.  I'm exhausted and overwhelmed.  I made up a new saying about it.  Maybe someone else already made it up, but I'm laying claims to it until otherwise corrected.  It goes like this: Don't count your chicks before they're hatched because you never know when you're looking at a basket of goose eggs.

I think for all of us it is really easy to breeze through the joy, the highs, the celebration, the successes without experiencing the magnification of how much sweeter they are when set against the backdrop of the pain, the lows, the shut-downs, and the failures.  But then again, who in their right mind would willingly dredge up the bad to make the good so much more meaningful?  

Well, whether I wanted the lesson or not, I have learned it 10 times over this month, and as I was sitting down to write this post and feeling more than a little sorry for myself, I realized that the very answer I was looking for was reflected in the images of the incredible people who participate in the Relay for Life every year, who turn stories of hopelessness into efforts steeped in optimism, who turn the loss of loved ones into powerful crusades, who dig deep into their pain not to relive it but to revitalize it - to turn the proverbial sow's ear into a silk purse.

Here are my picks to share from the multitude of images captured at this year's Relay for Life.  I have two other stories to share, but want to leave you with this prod: Life's what you make it, so love your babies harder, give your spouse a kiss goodnight even if you're mad, phone your parents or your children and tell them you love them, wash the dishes before you go to bed and replace the toilet paper roll if you empty it, be grateful for your job, take a picture of the flowers in bloom, and make sure you wear clean underwear - the grass is always greener somewhere else until you realize that you're still on the other side of the fence with yourself.  

I asked who in their right mind would dredge up the bad to make the good so much more meaningful, and the answer is, these incredible, courageous, beautiful survivors, caregivers, friends, spouses, children, parents, aunties and uncles, grandparents, co-workers, and dearly departed, whose incredible spirit and ability to turn despair into HOPE makes me quake in my boots at the power of the human spirit:



And for whatever it's worth, don't worry too much about the goose eggs - sometimes serendipity kicks in and you realize they're just ugly ducklings... c

festiveLOVE: make love not cancer

OK, so not everyone thinks of a fundraiser in support of cancer research as a festive event, but the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Edmonton is definitely something to celebrate! Cancer isn't prejudiced - it strikes adults and children or any colour at any time.  Statistically, 1450 Canadians die of cancer every week.  So each year, hundreds of volunteers and as many teams raise money, don costumes, erect campsites, and spend the night hoofing it around the track at Foote Field to Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back.  Last year, Alberta/NWT events raised $5.5 million for the cause.  With honour, Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt has been invited back for Year Two getting team photos and whatever else we can shoot!  We had the official pre-planning meeting tonight... lemme tell ya, we are all have itchy trigger fingers to get to the Relay and click some SERIOUS cancer butt.

Relay for Life is still short a few event volunteers - organizer extraordinaire Christine McCourt sent out a plea this morning for anyone looking for a great way to pull and all-niter this Saturday night to contact Novalee Toronchuk for more info on what help is still needed: 780.437.8418.  If you can make it, stop on by the Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt site and say hello!

Are you a survivor, or has someone close to you passed away from cancer?  Want to get involved?  Please, share your story in the comments to raise awareness, or go to the CCS website and purchase a luminary or donate to any one of the worthy and dedicated teams, or at the very least bring us Tim Horton's coffee at about 3 a.m. - we'll be the ones wearing capes and cameras...

festiveLOVE: make love not cancer

OK, so not everyone thinks of a fundraiser in support of cancer research as a festive event, but the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Edmonton is definitely something to celebrate! Cancer isn't prejudiced - it strikes adults and children or any colour at any time.  Statistically, 1450 Canadians die of cancer every week.  So each year, hundreds of volunteers and as many teams raise money, don costumes, erect campsites, and spend the night hoofing it around the track at Foote Field to Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back.  Last year, Alberta/NWT events raised $5.5 million for the cause.  With honour, Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt has been invited back for Year Two getting team photos and whatever else we can shoot!  We had the official pre-planning meeting tonight... lemme tell ya, we are all have itchy trigger fingers to get to the Relay and click some SERIOUS cancer butt.

Relay for Life is still short a few event volunteers - organizer extraordinaire Christine McCourt sent out a plea this morning for anyone looking for a great way to pull and all-niter this Saturday night to contact Novalee Toronchuk for more info on what help is still needed: 780.437.8418.  If you can make it, stop on by the Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt site and say hello!

Are you a survivor, or has someone close to you passed away from cancer?  Want to get involved?  Please, share your story in the comments to raise awareness, or go to the CCS website and purchase a luminary or donate to any one of the worthy and dedicated teams, or at the very least bring us Tim Horton's coffee at about 3 a.m. - we'll be the ones wearing capes and cameras...

ramblingLOVE: some togetherLOVE in Jamaica

While in Jamaica, the bride asked if one day I could take some family pictures of her Dad's side, since the groom's family had theirs' done last fall. Now, you'd have to meet Stacey, to appreciate Stacey - a day with Stacey isn't complete with her amazing laugh, or her dazzling smile, or her, uh... surprised face.  And meeting her entire family gave me an even better understanding of why Stacey is, well... Stacey: fun, silly, caring, gentle, loving, outgoing, intelligent, and funny, all wrapped up with a generous dose of ridiculously good-looking. We laughed, we looked surprised, we made sand pictures... we climbed trees and did group yoga and HSM jumped... it really was a whole experience in and of itself. Thanks for the great sunset session, guys - I'm glad we were able to find the time... it was my absolute pleasure and joy!










myLOVE: demolition and vintage ads

I spent some time on Sunday with the husband and children helping out with some demolition - an old trailer, circa likely early 40s, with a renovation done circa 1951 - we presume this because there was a layer of newspapers laid down on top of the original lino under the subfloor. (There's something therapeutic about demolition.  Seriously therapeutic - too bad I got wind-burned when even the storm that blew in wasn't enough to break our stride, dangit!)  Twas a fantastic way to spend a Sunday, hanging with Billie and lil bro Joel (the one whose engagement pics were blogged yesterday.)  Last year when we went to Prince George over Thanksgiving we visited two railcars that were specially decorated for Queen Elizabeth's visit to the commonwealth; the newpaper we found had highlights of that very royal visit!  Very very cool!  Some pics to share, and check out Wil's new black hair...

tubeLOVE: while we're on fiddlin'

tubeLOVE: Owen Pallett

Love my Canuck talent.  Thanks to my hubby Bill for listening to this (again ad again and again lol)


nowLOVE: coming full circle

The very first wedding I photographed was for a lady I picked up on the internet.  We belonged to a chatroom for Mommies, and she was the first person crazy enough to trust me with such a huge undertaking.  It wasn't without its problems - I had a camera malfunction, didn't spend nearly enough time doing formals, and ended the night off with having my camera stolen and 2 rolls of film left to deteriorate in a puddle of antifreeze in my garage.  I tearfully contacted Billie, terrified of whatever repercussions were about to come of it, but she was only grateful for the pictures they did have, and has since become one of my dearest friends.  So dear, in fact, we've betrothed out last-borns...  ~smirk~

So this spring when Billie's little brother contacted me and asked me about photographing his wedding I was tickled.  In just a few weeks, Jenn & Joel will make it official, out at their Mom's amazing acreage.  It was fitting that we'd do their engagement pictures there, too.  I came to take pictures, spent my time there laughing with a very sweet couple (she's good for you, Joel lol), and left with an invitation to come back after Jamaica for the May long weekend demolition party.  (Pictures from that to follow...)

Congratulations to Jenn & Joel - I'm SO excited for your wedding!  Despite the work that lies ahead, I'm sure the next few weeks are going to fly by and it'll be over before you know it.  And come on - you have your wedding colours all sorted out thanks to your home decor and all, so it should be smooth sailing from here on in...





ramblingLOVE: Stacey & Kyle get hitched in Jamaica

It was an exhausting week, to say the least, filled with new friends, crazy antics, and enough love to spin the world on its axis double-time.  And besides learning a bit about Jamaican history and culture, I learned a few things about myself.  Predominantly, being surrounded by so much love and friendship was a double-edged sword: for as much as it was beautiful being in the midst of a large and very close-knit group of people, it had the adverse effect of making me miss my family and friends more than I thought I would.  I had initially thought I would make use of my time alone and be very productive (which to a degree was true) but really spent more time watching the newlyweds so obviously in love with each other and pining for my husband, or seeing other families vacationing together and wishing my own children could be there to enjoy the fun.  By the end of the week, more than anything I was starved for physical affection - a hug, a touch, a hand to hold, a kiss goodnight, a head on my lap...

On the up side, I'm not experiencing the same sense of alienation I did after returning from the Dominican Republic.  I'm not sure if this is because I didn't experience the same degree of cultural submersion (there was no Jose to say farewell to and no village to adopt me) or because the shock of going to RD prepared me for visiting a developing country (maybe once you've seen one corrugated metal and rotting wood shanty town you've seen them all?) but whatever the case may be, I enjoyed my time there and met some wonderful people (Dain the sweet bellhop and Murphy the driver stand out the most) but I don't feel like I left a piece of my soul behind.  I'm relieved, to tell the truth - I don't think I could realistically handle having my heart torn between three countries and three cultures.

I'll post more pictures soon (there are, of course, about a bazillion) but since the bride and groom aren't back for another week and I'm forbidden to post too many before they get back, I'll leave you with this:

People often ask me if there's any way I can tell while I'm photographing a wedding if the couple is going to "make it."  Perhaps it's a morbid thing to think of, but yes, there are weddings where I feel like the couple is facing a long hard road ahead of them and I pray they are able to see it through.  Stacey and Kyle are not one of those couples.  Beyond Kyle's quiet admiration and Stacey's guerilla-style kissing attacks that echo the freshness of any new love, there's a completely seamless integration of the rhythm of their spirits that extends well beyond the excitement of being newlyweds.  Like two tall ancient trees in the rainforest, they sway to and from and around each other, roots are deep and strong and clearly separate, but grown and woven together in such a manner that they stand as one, resilient to twice the storms that may come, capable of providing twice the strength and shelter to those close to them, and able to absorb twice the glorious sunshine.



A hearty hello to all my new friends, and an even heartier cheers to the newlyweds.  More to come next week!!!

togetherLOVE: just having fun

There's a pretty big group of us who make a point of passing along sessions we aren't able to take ourselves.  It keeps the love flowing...  so Brandi passed this session along to me, and I have to say, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

The prerequisites of this session were pretty simple: "Make a good surprise for Mom, and get some pictures of us just having fun."  We started the day off fake laughing, and by the end of it we were just plain laughing.  We warmed up with some group pictures, and in no time we were into High School Musical jumps, jazz hands on the bridge, and random seating plans by the Edmonton Queen.  I tried to pick just a few pics to blog but really, there were so many people and so many great shots I'd have had to blog for each one of them - the beautiful girls, the incredibly funny and hammy boy, the lovely sisters, and, of course, Mom (in the pale pink sweater) with her gorgeous eyes.



This was officially the last shooting day before the Jamaican wedding trip, and I couldn't have asked for a better send-off.  It was SO fantastic meeting you all - I hope my children grow into teens as amazing as yours, and I hope Serejane gets a teacher as sweet as Sister B.

togetherLOVE: going bald for dollars

Some of you know this, but for those who don't, I used to run a dayhome.  I've known these two handsome little boys since little N. was in diapers (he starts kindergarten this year) and Mr. C. still had pee accidents at the park (now he breaks bones when he has accidents...)

Mom decided to participate in the Balding for Dollars marathon in support of the BC Children's hospital in Vancouver, and wanted to get a few snaps of the family (and herself) before she shaved it all off.

Mom's one of those hatefully photogenic people.  Makes my job very easy.

And it's easy to make good lookin' boys like these two with good genes - between Mom and Dad I think these boys are going to be little heartbreakers.

For now, though, they seem to be doing a fine job of just being cute little boys.

Congratulations on your marathon run Mama J. - and for whatever it's worth, you make bald sexy...

newLOVE: a strong family resemblance

I know, I know - I've really been slacking off on the blog - busy busy spring time, though!  And with spring comes gorgeous window light...

If you look at www.HopeWallsPhotography.com you will see a picture of a little girl holding a huge sunflower and licking her lips... this is Miss M., pictured below.  Pictured above is her gorgeous baby brother, Sir N.


There's also a bum on one of the pages... that would be Miss M's bum... and you can really see the family resemblance!  LOVE the dimples!  ~smirk~

In fact, I really really LOVE the dimples!

Thanks for having me out to get some snaps of your gorgeous kiddles, Mom and Dad.  And, thanks for the screen - you'll be seeing lots of it!


ramblingLOVE: headin' to Jamaica...

You may recall the night of debauchery I posted a few weeks ago from Stacey's stagette. Well, long before the hype about H1N1 they began planning their dream wedding to Mexico. Then, last week, their dreams were dashed when the Canadian travel agencies and airlines pulled all flights to Mexico. Fortunately, spirits were only dampened temporarily, and this time 48 hours from now we'll all be in Jamaica, soaking up the sun and getting geared up for their beautiful wedding. The only really crappy part was that I spent 6 weeks teaching myself as much Spanish as I could. I don't have time to learn de Jamaican patois, mon...

We managed to get a few engagement shots at Hawrelak Park a couple of weeks ago, but because things were up in the air I didn't blog them earlier. But, it's official now - we're headin' to Jamaica to get Stacey and Kyle hitched! Congratulations guys - looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

newLOVE: sittin' pretty!

I have five other sessions to blog (and I will get them blogged before I leave!) but HAD to get this one up tonight, special for Gramma S. Guess who sat up for the photographer!? Ryan needed a little help, but Sarah is a total pro!!! Woot woot!!!