spreadLOVE: inspired artwork

Heavily influenced by Heart & Stroke month...

iLOVE: step by step "how to" instructions

Whether you are shopping for child, family, wedding, boudoir, pet or some other kind of creative portraiture, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the number of choices and options available to us, especially when every other site is handing out advice that ranges from the irrelevant (their individual interpretation of what a professionally taken picture looks like which is really nothing more than sharing their opinion) to outright emotional blackmail (threatening that if you can't or won't afford them your memories are forever lost.) I'm all about instilling confidence and common sense in the general public instead of misinformation and fear. So, without further ado, I offer step-by-step instructions on how to find a photographer. I'm hoping to make it into a flow chart one day lol...

Photographer Shopping in Eight Easy Steps:

1.) Review their work. Anyone can pay for a membership or enter a contest or write up something nice about themselves (I have a friend who wrote her own testimonials when she first started up because she was too shy to ask, silly girl...) And maybe your best friend waxes poetic about how much they LOVE their photographer which if you trust your friend is valuable information. If she tells you you'd be stupid not to love them, too, but you have very different aesthetic preferences, you don't have to feel bad not liking your friend's beloved photographer's work. Ignore the professional memberships, the awards, the testimonials, the pressure from friends, and all the other distractions and just actually look at pictures. You don't get to take home the photographer's awards and memberships and admiring fans, just the pictures they took of you and your loved ones. You know what you like when you see it, so look. Do you love their pictures? Does their style jive with yours? Do you love how the pictures make you feel? Do you love how they are post-processed? If you do not like what you see, keep looking. If your answer is yes, move to step 2.

2.) Check prices AFTER checking portfolio - you never want to hire a photographer because they are the cheapest or you just might get what you pay for. We all know a good photographer is invaluable and a beautiful photograph is priceless, but it's a wise idea to check if you can (or want to) afford them. Every photographer out there has a different pricing strategy and different packages. Price is set according to what they feel their time, skill, and talent are worth after covering overhead expenses. While you are welcome to put in a reasonable offer, you should not negotiate price, lowball them, badger them, or tell them another photographer offers a better deal in the hopes they will make themselves more affordable - you will just make them feel unhappy and unappreciated. If they seem a little too eager and keep dropping their price or throwing in extras, or engage in emotional blackmail by trying to convince you that your memories of your wedding or children will be forever lost by not paying their price, RUN. If you cannot (or do not want to) pay their asking price, thank them politely for their time and go back to step 1. If you LOVE the pictures and are both willing and able to pay their asking price, congratulations - you are on to step 3!

3.) Make sure you love the photographer. This is the most important thing because if you don't love your photographer, even the most beautiful pictures will be ugly when you look at them. Get to know the photographer as much as you need to get a handle on it. This can start with you reading their blog or personal profile on their website - it might give you a bit of a gauge on their personality and background - and after that it's on to conversations, either via email or phone (or both.) Maybe even coffees and a dinner date... Generally, the more time you need to spend with them, the more time you should spend getting to know them. While a few emails might be ideal for setting up a headshot for your business card, you might need a little more time to determine if you can spend an entire week with them on your destination wedding. Are they easy to talk to or do they seem abrupt or cold? Are you OK with them dropping the f-bomb in the middle of your conversation because you drop it all the time, too? Think you would be OK spending time with them while they point a camera in your general direction? Personality clicks well with yours? If you feel like you'd rather hit the photobooth at the food court than let this person take your picture, go back to step 1. If you feel like you've just met a kindred spirit or reconnected with an old friend, proceed to step 4.

4.) While it is a good idea to be aware of legalities, it is your photographer's responsibility to ensure they have obtained any necessary business licenses, remit any taxes they have collected, insure their studio and equipment, etc. If something sets off red flags for you, don't be afraid to ask about it but don't be surprised if they don't answer. Often there are logical explanations. For example, if your photographer insists on being paid cash at their business address only, while it's possible they are working under the table or laundering money or something, in some cases this will be because you have asked them to shoot in a city they do not want to have to purchase an additional license (in some jurisdictions as long as they accept money at their business address they do not need additional licenses), and don't like having the bank put 5-day holds put on personal cheques. If something seems really off and it makes you feel uncomfortable, go back to step 1. If it's all good, their portfolio and references are solid, they can easily explain their business practice, proceed to step 5 with gusto. If something is a little off but you're considering risking it anyways, proceed to step 5 with extreme caution and fair warning - THIS is the photographer that everyone has good reason be afraid of because they are too good to be true... they may be consciously undercutting the competition, extremely inexperienced and unprepared, a pepper and pray hack, and/or operating illegally. THIS is the person who you do not want to entrust your precious memories to, if nothing else because it's not worth being asked to take the stand when they get incarcerated for something lol.

5.) Regardless of what you are hiring your photographer to shoot, there's probably going to be some kind of binding contract with all kinds of fine print about copyright, inclusions, exclusions, licensing, printing, deposits, delivery times, etc. Find out about your photographer's copyright and licensing policies. Will you be expected to sign a model release or does your photographer use a digital download or broken seal release? If so, are you protected by the model release or just the photographer? How long do you have to wait for delivery of your proofs or prints? Do you have to sign a minimum purchase contract and if so, for how much? Do you have permission to post some or all of the images on social networking sites? Do THEY? Is your deposit or retainer refundable, and if so, under what conditions? If you are going to a specific venue that requires rentals or admission, who pays? Your photographer will usually have a pamphlet, web page, or verbal spiel - pay attention and ask for clarification so you know what you're signing up for!  If you feel reassured that the fine print makes sense and protects both you and your photographer, proceed to Step 6.

6.) Set up a date, time, and location. This may take a bit of work - most photography happens on the weekends and occasionally in the evenings, when everyone's not at work, which can make finding a mutually agreeable time a challenge. Be considerate of your photographer's schedule - they are in high demand and while Saturday afternoon might be perfect for YOU, it might be your photographer's only time to spend time with their own family, or they may reserve Saturdays for weddings only, or the venue you want may not be open to photographers on Saturdays. If you cannot, after a reasonable number of tries, find a time that works for everyone, it's back to step 1 with no hard feelings. If you are able to pick a time, date, and location that works for everyone, move along to step 7.

7.) Go get some pictures done! At this point you have no doubt done everything in your power to ensure that you and your loved ones are going to have a fun, amazing portrait session that results in fun amazing pictures that you love AND can afford. Enjoy! Now, your photographer might move, raise their prices, or retire, and sometimes you receive pictures that aren't 100% what you thought they would be (you DID review their portfolio and talk to referrals, so you can't blame the photographer at this point) which might send you reluctantly back to step 1, but on the other hand, you may never have to look for a photographer again. Either way means that you are on to the last step!

8.) The best and only correct reason to ever refer your photographer to your friends and family is because you LOVE them. They provided an exceptional experience and you'd hire them again in a heartbeat. If you were lucky enough to get a phenomenal deal by taking a risk on some new talent, it's tempting to feel like rejoicing publicly about it, but it's damaging to your beloved photographer's growth as a business. We love referrals, but it's very discouraging to learn that we've been chosen because we were the cheapest, especially if we gave you a special, introductory, or personal favour price and have to explain that our prices have gone up. Alternately, if you invested a fair amount of money and believe your photographer was worth every penny, you don't want to scare people off by blurting out something like, "Yeah, for what we paid they BETTER be nice pictures!" When your friend says, "I love your pictures!" the first thing out of your mouth regardless of how little or how much you paid should be, "I love my photographer!"

spreadLOVE: I believe...

I'm not really a HUGE sports fan, but there's something about Olympic fever... it's catchy...

If you don't know Joannie Rochette's story, you should read about it. To sum up, her Mom died at the age of just 55 of a sudden heart attack this past Sunday while shopping in Vancouver just a few days before her daughter's Olympic moment. Despite what I can only imagine was overwhelming grief, Joannie won a bronze medal for Canada - our first in women's skating since 1988 - and like my friend P. so aptly put it, that Bronze sure feels like gold.

I believe that dreams come true. I believe in the human spirit. I believe in our ability to detect and prevent disease. If you haven't donated this month to the Heart & Stroke Foundation (or your own charity, for that matter) I urge you to do so now, in honour of Joannie, in honour of her Mom, in honour of Canada, in honour of LOVE.

If you haven't heard the Olympic song yet, I believe that you should. And I believe that it has a whole other meaning after tonight, not just for Joannie, but for me. Maybe it will for you, too. I believe I officially LOVE this song.

iLOVE: skipping work to be classroom mommy!

Today was cabane á sucre day at the school for the girls. In kindergarten, each student at their school gets to make a kid-friendly version of a traditional ceinture flechée on a hand-operated loom, which they will use each year for the cabane á sucre celebration through 6th grade.

Indoor events included crafts, songs, and other festivities, topped off with some always amazing and guaranteed to have you dancing entertainment by Les Bucherons. Outdoor events for cabane á sucre include rolling up hot maple syrup in a stick which is called a "tire" (pronounced like 'tier' or simply called "maple taffy"). This is always a sticky mess that everyone loves. They're kids - why would they NOT love sugar for breakfast, especially when one of the other events was drinking hot chocolate at the firepit? My job was to read the little English blurb about the factoids and history of maple syrup in Canada. (Really, they need to vamp it up - I was falling asleep reading it, and it was impossible to keep the kids' attention...) After, we kept kids from kicking snow, placing styrofoam cups, or getting too close to the firepit. I also made the kids jig while the fiddle and spoon players played, since no one else was. I *may* have had my camera with me.

Une tire.

spreadLOVE: cuppa love

Our new teacups arrived earlier this week. We busted them out for supper tonight. :)

spreadLOVE: doubling up...

Today's heart is being brought to you courtesy of my amazing photographer friend Svetlana in Calgary, who is donating 100% of her Facebook profile pic proceeds to the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Check out her gorgeous pictures here, then go to her Facebook group and become a fan and to get details about the FB profile shoot here.

I would gift wrap this present for all my Cowtown peeps, but that'd be tough. So, you can have a picture of LOVE(ly) gift wrap instead.

youLOVE: some naked truths about boudoir

This article is copyrighted, but feel free to share the link to this post by pasting this address: http://hopewallsphotography.blogspot.com/2010/02/youlove-some-naked-truths-about-boudoir.html

In case you didn't notice, January is usually wrought with photographer announcements for boudoir specials (which may be called boudoir, pin-up, glamour, solo, spirit, etc.) This is no accident - not only is it a popular idea to gift one's partner with a sassy book or a set of racy prints for Valentine's Day, but it's the off-season for most photographers since family sessions and weddings happen with greater frequency during the warmer months when going outdoors is possible, and because of temperatures around these parts we have little choice but to shoot indoors during the coldest months of the year. Boudoir is usually an indoor kind of event anyways, and so it works out well. If you missed out on the January events, fear not - February successes usually result in March repeats. Who says you can't do a boudoir book to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Or Easter? Or Canada Day? Or Tuesday? Or the first day of kids being back at school? There are photographers who specialize in nothing BUT boudoir... but if you missed out on the winter specials with your fave photog, fear not - lots of us start up with calendar-making sessions in November along with their Christmas Card specials.

So what's the big deal about these "woman alone" sessions anyways? you may be wondering. Women, especially mothers, often don't take much time for themselves. They spend a vast portion of their time being caregivers and looking out for the needs of others, often before their own. It's not because we have to - most of us (even if we complain about it from time to time) totally love it. But, we easily forget what it was like to be the centre of our own universe, when most of what we did served no greater purpose than to fulfill our own wants and desires. Sure, a woman can go take a spa day or a weekend alone in the mountains every now and again, but there's something empowering about having your girly glory documented, in full-colour high-definition photographs that make men drool and other women envious. With few exceptions, even women who are terrified to step in front of the camera walk away from these personal sessions feeling powerful, sexy, and reinvigorated. They experience a high from seeing themselves in a way they can't when they're just looking in the mirror, and THAT is why these sessions are such hot sellers.

Now, there are a tonne of sites out there where you can get educated about what to expect or look for when booking a boudoir shoot, but since you're here already, instead of making you look I'll just give you a few tips and hints.

Number One, and Most Important of Everything, is finding a photographer whose style AND personality mesh well with yours. Most Important. If you feel uncomfortable with your photographer or aren't sure if they will create images you like let alone adore, then you're dead in the water. So, where to begin...

The first step is knowing what kind of pictures you want. If you want classic 40s glamour, hiring a 'tog who specializes in soft 80s retro style is a bad idea because you aren't going to have any pictureLOVE afterwards. If you want vintage 50s rebel, hiring someone who specializes in architectural nudes isn't your best bet. If you like a particular photographer's work or have worked with them before and want to know if they do boudoir... ask. They can probably show you a few pictures or at least answer your question, even if that answer is, "I've never done it but would LOVE to try!" If you're satisfied that they will create images you can love, you're on to the next step.

Once you've viewed their portfolio, if you haven't already met them, make a point of at least talking to them on the phone because emails aren't really the easiest way of getting to know someone. You may even want to meet them for coffee if you can both swing it. If you talk to the person on the phone and they are super energetic and enthusiastic, you may love that, but it's OK to be put off by exuberance, too, and find someone who is a little more mellow. If you don't feel comfortable with your photographer on the phone or meeting over Frappaccinos at Starbuck's, how hard is it going to be to feel comfortable in your skivvies with them? Probably not going to be the best experience for either you or your photographer.

Shop to Drop Jaws. Your photographer is presumably skilled at posing, using flattering lighting, lenses and angles, and coaching you on facial expressions, so your only job is to show up and be the goddess. Often photographers have professional hair and make-up teams on hand, but the clothes are your responsibility. Maybe you don't know your body type, but there are some fabulously helpful people at most lingerie stores. They can professionally fit you with a bra and show you the latest additions to this season's lines that will play up your best assets and boost your confidence by not highlighting those body parts that you maybe feel uncomfortable with. If you have great legs and your hubby loves your breasts, but you're very self-conscious about your belly and thighs, your salesperson should be quick at finding you a variety of babydoll dresses that will cloak your tummy and thighs while allowing you to have killer cleavage and gloriously exposed gams. Likewise, if you feel your breasts are too small but think you have the cutest butt ever, your salesperson should be able to produce a push-up bra and a pair of frilly-bottom Cuban style undies in a flash. And, if you're just not feeling like you can have that much skin on display, you can still pull off totally sultry and sexy with a little black dress or even a silky bathrobe paired with killer spiked heels. (Hint: You'll know you've found the right outfit when you feel inexplicably spicy when you put it on.)

Besides your lingerie, you should have two or three outfits and lots of accessories picked out because it gives both you and the photographer lots of choices. Your tickle trunk might include a feather fan or a strand of pearls to go with your bustier and garters, one of your partner's dress shirts and their motorcycle helmet or work boots, great jeans or yoga pants and a muscle shirt, your favourite pyjama bottoms and fuzzy slippers, a pleated skirt and knee-highs... If you are going for more of a stylized glamour or pin-up look, consult with your photographer on where to find great dresses, shoes, and hair baubles, where you can rent a costume, or how to pull together a vintage grease-monkey look at the Goodwill.

If at all possible, try and incorporate things that have special and maybe secret meaning to you and/or your partner. Bring in your framed degree or your Weight Watchers card. Or grab the colander you were asked to bring to your partner's house the first time he cooked you dinner because he discovered his roomie had used theirs to sift the cat box. No object or article is too strange or silly - as long as it has special meaning to YOU, it will make your pictures totally unique.

Once you get your outift or outfits ready, practice makes perfect. If you are surprising your other half, this might be tricky, but if you can muster it, practice making faces, strutting, prancing, lounging, and especially laughing and smiling. If you are doing your own make-up and hair, you should be rehearsing that as well - it's better to know ahead of time if you're going to need the help of a professional hair and make-up team to get the false eyelashes on right and make your hair look look tousled instead of bed-head-ish. Spend some time looking at pictures that you love and channel glamourous, sultry, cheesy, playful, seductive, and everything else. Spin, arch, twist, kick up your heels, and get into the spirit - the sillier you feel doing it, the better. If you don't feel like a giddy 13-year old doing it, try harder, because if you make your focus on having FUN the rest will fall into place.

Getting ready should start several days before your shoot. Make sure you drink your 6 to 8 glasses of water and eat sensibly (not starve yourself - no photographer ever wants someone passing out from low blood sugar on a shoot) and get lots of sleep. These simple steps will help you feel healthy and well-rested while preventing things like feeling bloated and puffy bags under your eyes. The night before your shoot take special care to moisturize (repeat in the morning if necessary) and get a good rest. P.S. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is a good idea, too.

On the morning of your shoot, dress in loose comfy clothes - slipping on a pair of skinny jeans will leave red welts and creases in your skin that even the most expert Photoshopper will find challenging and downright frustrating to minimize or remove. Go commando in slouchy socks, yoga pants with a wide waistband, and an oversized t-shirt; skip the bra if you plan on being topless or strapless, too... Eat lightly on the day of the shoot and avoid caffeine - you don't want to feel over-full and like you need a bathroom break every 10 minutes. But, feel free to indulge in champagne and chocolate covered strawberries provided by your photographer during the shoot... Pack a CD of your fave tunes for the photographer to pop in during your shoot, then, relax and remember to breath...

Don't sweat the small stuff - when you are setting up your session you can't predict a big ugly zit coming along to spoil your day. Even the photographers who don't do a lot of post-processing will help you deal with that. BUT - if you have scars, stretch marks, freckles, wrinkles, or moles you want removed, you need to discuss this with your photographer beforehand, as not all will remove them without an additional fee, and others won't remove them at all. It's also a good idea to be open with your photographer about what you are and are not comfortable with on your body before getting there - maybe you have great cleavage but want the focus on your fabulous abs, or perhaps you aren't comfortable having your legs photographed but love your back. Giving your photographer a heads-up will help them design the best poses, lighting, and angles to flaunt what you feel are your best assets. But, you may also need to trust your photographer if they ask you to try something you hadn't thought of - after all, they're the expert. If you don't like the resulting images, you don't have to pick them for your collection, but often they can help you see something gorgeous about yourself that you never knew.

While most photographers do private boudoir sessions, there are often boudoir 'marathons' which is where a team is assembled in a great location to accommodate several clients in one day. There are benefits and drawbacks to both, and which one you choose is a matter of personal preference including budget, scheduling, and what YOU feel comfortable with.

WHEN: A private session may be more relaxed in terms of schedule and flexibility so you can pick a date and time that works well for you. A marathon is usually scheduled in hour-long slots to accommodate multiple participants on a specific date, which you will need to organize your personal schedule to accommodate.

HOW LONG: You may or may not get extra camera time with a private session, depending on the photographer, but generally speaking because we aren't trying to work with unpredictable children, multiple people and personalities, and sketchy weather or lighting, your photographer can easily get the job done in an hour or less with two or three outfits whether you go private or marathon. (This is NOT including hair and make-up which is at least an hour before your camera time, so budget at least 2 hours plus travel time either way.)

WHERE: With a private session you usually have the option of choosing your own special location such as the hotel room you spent your wedding night in or your own bedroom or your husband's garage, whereas a marathon is at a set location chosen by the photographer. For marathons the cost of the venue is usually rolled into the price already. With a private session you may be responsible for paying out of pocket for the venue, over and above your session fee - make sure you confirm this BEFORE you book.

HOW MANY PEOPLE: A private session gives you a great deal of privacy if you are a shy person. Some of us prefer the intimacy or require the secrecy (some hubbies know what the family photographer is up to!) for personal reasons. On the other hand, booking back-to-back sessions with one or two friends can be a great bonding experience. If you come to a marathon solo, it's also a bonus seeing the women ahead of you come out looking like a bombshell and glowing from the experience!

HOW MUCH: The cost of boudoir photography needs to be examined carefully. Photographers price their packages differently and you need to read the fine print. Most photographers have a few hair and make-up people they regularly work with. Like the price of the venue, boudoir marathons usually have the cost of these rolled into the price, but it varies in private sessions and you may be responsible for doing it yourself or finding and paying for your own hair and make-up team. So, for $350 Photographer A may provide hair and make-up and a 20-page 8x8 album in their home studio, while for the same price Photographer B just shows up at the venue you've paid for to take pictures of you with your hair and make-up already done at your own expense and expects you to buy any images you want from your session at a la carte prices or make what's referred to as a 'minimum investment' or 'required commitment' to purchase $1500 worth of photography products. Price shouldn't dictate what you are willing to spend, but if it conflicts with what you are able to spend you need to make some decisions.

DEPOSITS/RETAINERS: Make absolutely sure that you understand the terms and conditions of any deposit or retainer you have paid - it is usually non-refundable and non-transferable. Chickening out is never an acceptable reason to cancel - if you're feeling nervous, call your photographer and talk it over - they will help put your mind at ease. You're a strong, beautiful woman and that's what your photographer wants to show you. Now, sometimes things beyond our control happen - your photographer may let you carry your deposit forward to another date if something unexpected comes up and you can't make it (you get the flu, your car dies, unexpected company arrives, etc.) especially if you give enough notice for someone else to take your booking, but always assume that it is non-refundable and non-transferable.

THE DISC: Please note that while most photographers happily provide a disc of low-resolution watermarked images for you to enjoy, many boudoir photographers will not include or sell a disc of the high-resolution images as it protects both you and them from any possibility of the images falling into the wrong hands. You shouldn't hesitate to ask your photographer how the images are handled. Most photographers retain copyright of their images and are therefore free to use the images in any way they wish, but they often make exceptions where boudoir pictures are concerned to be sensitive to their clients who may be perfectly happy getting their child's naked bum picture blogged, but not so much their own. When you are asked to sign a model release, make sure you understand what your rights are in terms of your photographer's use of those images. Even if you have a good relationship with your photographer and have a standing agreement (verbal or written) in place, you shouldn't feel shy about asking for one where boudoir photos are concerned if it will give you peace of mind.

USE OF THE IMAGES: Not all photographers use model releases but deliver your goods sealed in packages that when opened are binding to the terms written on the outside. Ditto for images delivered over the web via ftp site or an online album, where clicking the download button is your virtual signature. Software companies have been using this method for years, and yes, the act of breaking that seal or downloading the images IS considered a legally binding contract. If this is your photographer's method of delivery, make sure you read it carefully before cracking open the Canada Post parcel or hitting "download." Really, though, at the end of the day, when it comes to pictures of you and your loved ones, an ethical photographer will ask you to identify any pictures you would prefer not to have displayed, and will respect your wishes regardless of what the written terms are anyways.

BUT WHAT ABOUT... You may have seen claims that boudoir marathons are impersonal and that the sets aren't hygienic because more than one person uses the same sheets, but that's just silly. If you've done your homework, you've already communicated with your photographer enough to know you feel you can trust them so the session will not be impersonal. Further more, I assure you that unless you've hired a shady photographer who specializes in porn and booked into a motel off the highway with broken neon signs that advertise "cheap hourly rates" it's safe to assume that your photographer has taken great pains to pick an ideal location (usually a quaint B&B, a carefully designed set in their home or office studio, or a swanky hotel.) When you consider how much primping and preening you've all done before arriving, there is no need to be concerned with the cleanliness of the bed sheets (if you even use a bed - some sets involve a chaise long and a leather footstool instead) whether you're first or fifth in line, and if it is, it's maybe something you need to take up with the proprietor of the establishment and not the photographer...

Which brings us back to Number One, which is Most Important: finding a photographer whose style AND personality mesh well with yours. Regardless of what you are willing or able to spend, regardless of whether you pick a private or marathon session, regardless of whether you want to do it for yourself or a loved one, you must feel like the photographer you are going with has your kind of pictureLOVE down in spades.

There's no universal right or wrong answer - only YOUR right or wrong. You know who you are. You know what you like. You know what you want and need.

Now, go get some sexy on!



This article is copyrighted, but feel free to share the link to this post by pasting this address: http://hopewallsphotography.blogspot.com/2010/02/youlove-some-naked-truths-about-boudoir.html

Can of Worms: let's talk about money

I have some pretty strong feelings about money. They go something like this:

I don't care about your car, your clothes, or your house; how much or how little you make or spend doesn't impress me.
Some of us have forgotten while others have never known what it is like to be looked down upon, ridiculed, or pitied.
I think people often confuse the ability to empathize with those less fortunate than themselves with their urge to be sympathetic, which is little more than thinly veiled superiority.
I think that people who place a disproportionate value on the superficial are incapable of differentiating poor from frugal because they cannot see inability or unwillingness like a Mercedes or a six-figure paycheque.
I think that perpetuating a mentality in our children that calculates personal and professional worth on finances is poisonous to the human spirit because it cripples our ability to ever have or be or see in anyone else the elusive: enough.
If you judge me by my house or car or clothes or bank balance don't worry about your invitation - it didn't get lost in the mail, I simply didn't send one.

For any photographers out there who openly belittle those who cannot or will not afford you I have some advice: get off your high horse and if you're not going to shut up and shoot, at least shut up so the rest of us can shoot.

Week 7 DLS exercises: following the rules

Alright. So you've (sort of) mastered the art of understanding light. The next step is to start making creative decisions about how you are going to compose your image, remembering the elements we discussed in class. This week the focus will be on bringing together proper exposure with carefully chosen DOF, of a very well put together image. Here is your exercise:

#1) gather any 3 objects of same or similar shape.
#2) find one object of a contrasting shape and colour.
#3) set this up on a background of differing texture, any colour.
#4) select a spot that gives you some really fun lighting challenges.
#5) incorporate as many other elements of composition as you can - s-curves, the power of 3, triangles, mountains and valleys, reflections, etc.

Examples might be - 3 eggs framed in a square red satin ribbon on a plush green pillow that is backlit; or 3 red rose petals and a white daisy on a shiny surface that is side-lit.

spreadLOVE: dishes need love, too

Valentine's Day was an awesome time for me to stock up on hearts. I even decked out the dishes with their own sweet drying implements...

babyLOVE: he's walkin', he's talkin', he's a whole year old!

One of my favourite families had me over bright and early this morning to take some 1-year pictures of Mr. R. I'm sad that this is my last of the Belly to Birthday photos, and sad that 2 family members weren't available to participate, but I have a feeling this won't be the last I see of my friends. In the meantime, here are a few teasers from today's totally amazing newLOVE moves on to babyLOVE session!!!

P.S. Mama J - I finally had to stop at Tim Horton's at about 3:30 this afternoon... HAHA!

newLOVE: welcome, baby brother!

JJ is a proud big brother. Wouldn't you be? This was one sleepy, perfect baby! Thanks Mom & Dad for having me over - enjoy the sleepiness now because we all know it won't last... ;)

nowLOVE: he dropped his pen on purpose...

The gorgeous (and ridiculously tall) C sent me an email just a few days ago, and because I had shuffled some clients around I was able to fit her and her "partner" in. Well, on Friday night, it seems that her "partner" C decided he should make it official... and surprised her with a proposal!!! They met about a year ago - he was on modified duties in the office she was working at and dropped his pen on purpose so she would have to pick it up for him. (I think that's the equivalent of pulling a girls' pigtails, don't you?)

Congratulations, you two - what a fun session with the most amazing light I've seen since last year!!! Lots more to come, but this will tide you over...

spreadLOVE: a recipe worth repeating...

Any day is a good day for brownies... these were from our Valentine's Day supper, but they taste just as good the other 364 days of the year.

Easiest recipe EVER: In a bowl beat 1 cup white sugar, 6 tablespoons cocoa, 1/3 cup butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 eggs. Add 1/2 cup of flour and pour into greased 9x9 pan. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. We like to serve our when they are hot, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a little chocolate syrup... YUM!!!

iLOVE: friends with husbands who make skating rinks in their backyards.

Before the City took our easement we had intended to pour a skating/curling rink in the yard. I wasn't sure there was enough room with the yard cut in half. After seeing the perfect little rink at L's house today, I've decided that this is mandatory next year. The tricky part will be convincing Art not to poop on it. I'm thinking we have enough electric fence wire left...

Thanks for a lovely morning, Wizard. We're both older and wrinklier but I smell the same and your laugh hasn't changed a bit. I didn't even know how much I missed you. Definitely looking forward to the next time already.