next stop, college?

I've watched this family grow since there was just a man, a woman, and a dog named after beer.  Next thing I know these boys will be off to college!


 Love these two delicious little boys.

Don't let those camera-ready smiles fool you.  They're very normal brothers, complete with facemaking and tomfoolery of all sorts...

Thanks, D family, for another special and amazing session and for being so patient while I sort out the issues with my hard drive.

finding inspiration in unexpected places (or how Von Wong made me cry)

Whoa - I know.  Two posts in one day - what is this world coming to?

MES had the distinct pleasure of hosting one Benjamin Von Wong for a lecture last night.  Now, when Edmonton's own Renee Robyn contacted me last week to see if the space was available they were sitting at about 15 registrants, hoping for 20 or so.  On the day of, I watched several people start commenting, joining the event, and saying they were going literally hours before the event, I panicked.  Full on, Holy crap, how am I going to squish that many bodies in the Studio?!

I pedalled home as fast as possible, grabbed my second projector and my amp, our floor fans, and boogied on over to set up for what would end up being 30 bodies.  So much for the sexy set up I had done the night before.  Frantically, with the help of one of the early arrivals, we dragged every couch, chaise, folding chair, and dollar store plastic stool (they're cute - they look like polka dots... ~sigh~) we could find and crammed them around the projection area like sardines in an itty bitty can.  While the seating wasn't ideal, it really became irrelevant as we were taken on a tour of Ben's journey of manifesting some pretty big dreams.  He seems to live in a state of, "What if...?"

I have to be honest - while I had seen Ben's work floating around for several years (the flour pictures have always stuck with me) he wasn't a person I followed much, mostly because I felt like his stuff was SO different from mine that never the two should cross.  Honestly, at weddings I have a pretty good idea of how to plan shots that fit within the confines of the schedule, and with kids, well - as much as you conceptualize something brilliant they tend to have minds and personalities of their own and don't always (and by always I mean ever) magically cooperate...  so throwing flour at the bride and asking her to spin while the groom does a stag leap? Not really enough time to pull off that kind of epicness between the ceremony and the reception... Toddlers in tuxedoes, tiaras, and tutus with torches?   Love it, but probably just a lawsuit waiting to happen...

When I have an event in the studio, I consider myself staff.  I behave like staff.  I try to anyways.  Generally, I will hide, out of sight/mind as much as possible, watching for things that need tending to - delivering waters, directing people to the washroom, finding things, fiddling with the projection or sound.  Often, I will bring something to work on so that I am not sitting idly twiddling my thumbs (and by twiddling my thumbs I mean playing Scrabble or Facebooking...) but last night I couldn't help but listen in, marvel, laugh.  It was Benjavonny Wonget's Series of Fortunate Events.   And what can I say - it's pretty hard not to feel like you need to get off your duff and do *something* after hearing that you are allowed to swing flaming ropes in front of a church across the street from a fire station in Paris without a permit while on a trip to Europe your paid for by your fans through crowd funding.

No shit.  I'm not even making that up.  I have one of Ben's pictures to prove it.  (see above)  Van Wong is the bloody Amanda Palmer of the photography world.  If you're not familiar with Amanda, click on that link to listen to her TedTalk, then watch this video:

(Von Wong hopes to be on TedTalks one day, and cited Simon Sinek as one of his own inspirations.)

You might expect me now to say that I'm going to find ways to incorporate more international ballerinas and homemade flamethrowers into my photography, but what inspired me more than his epic photos, the tale of his journey, or a dream of being famous... was his genuine connection to everyone in the room.  He spoke in detail of the importance of being connected.  Of creative minds colliding, and each person bringing something credible and creditable to the table, a unique perspective, becoming invested by contributing their skill, talent, expertise, equipment...  Of how important it is not just to have a vision, but to have a network of supporters and believers, folks who, when asked to chip in $20 so you can go set things on fire in Europe and photograph them all ablaze will simply say here ya go - have fun!


I've been in hiding this year.  Yes, this year.  Over a year, actually.  Very much so.  A lot of this year for me has been really shitty.  Super shitty.  Like, one of the worst years of my life shitty.  Some days, slapping on a happy face and being cheerful about life has just been too hard.  And the month of August has been the hardest.  First, I got to spend my long weekend in the middle of nowhere at a memorial for someone with whom I had a very strained relationship.  Next, despite careful planning on our parts, the weather failed to cooperate on our scheduled flight date and we had to reschedule our balloon ride.  Until 2014.  And then we had to postpone our family travel plans - schedules clashing, time off conflict for the hubster, school registration and deadlines, unexpected relatives in from out of town = fuck you, you're staying home.  ~insert sulking here~

Then my hard drive shits the bed.  Epic software failure after installing an OS upgrade a few weeks ago so that I could use my lab's online software because THEIR upgrade was not backwards compatible.  This made it impossible for me to finish designing the album I had already started and it took weeks for my software upgrade (which only comes on a CD direct from Apple cuz it's so old) to arrive.  Factoring in my exams, cheer competitions, and soccer season (which were originally not a worry - I shoulda been done LONG before any of that came up) I ended up finalizing the album design just 6 weeks ago.  ~insert swearing here~  

Upon discovering that I would not be booting my hard drive up anytime soon, I decided I ought to hurry and upload the images from the card in my camera since I had done 3 complimentary sessions and hadn't uploaded them yet.  Plug it in.  Card reader fritzes.  Eats files.  Images fried, lost, gone, unrecoverable despite our best efforts.   I mean, they're freebies, right?  No biggie.  No good deed goes unpunished, right?  ~insert crying here~  

After the devastation of learning I wouldn't be able to recover the images from my memory card, I allowed myself to feel relieved and get just a tiny bit excited last Friday when I learned that a) all the files could be recovered from the hard drive and b) that the albums were in.  I was also excited to head off to my annual ladies camping trip until I opened the package from FedEX and discovered that they had, in all three very expensive couture leather bound metal covered albums, not only printed two pixelated spreads (their fault - my files were fine) but had also engraved the groom's name wrong.  ~insert whimpering here~

No smoothing this one over.  I had to give my first client refund ever.  EVER.  So I skipped out on my annual ladies' camping trip - I didn't want to be a killjoy ~insert lots of sulking, crying, whimpering, and swearing here~


It's hard sometimes not to feel defeated.  Not to feel like it's just too damned hard and oh, sheesh -wouldn't it be so much easier just throwing in the towel and saying, "Fuck it."  I think anyone who asked how my August has been would probably get a punch in the throat.  Of course the cycle works like this: You get invited out, you go but feel like a downer or a loser, you get invited out again, you say no, you get invited out less, you feel worse, you have less to talk about, you turn into a hermit, then one day you feel like you have shrivelled up like that once-juicy grape that fell down behind the fridge and a year later looks like nothing but a nasty little crumb-covered rat turd.  When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and all you see is something that resembles shit, you have a problem.


My dear friend and colleague Kyla of Feschuk Photography, who kicked some cancer ass and is herself an inspiration, asked me last night how I was enjoying my new studio.  I said, "You know, I like it and it was kind of fun for a while being completely selfish, but I miss people..."  Partway through the talk one of the participants sent me a message on Facebook.  "Why are you sitting in the back all alone?"  "I'm the hired help," I said.  On break, I excused myself from chatting so I could hand out water bottles and when we were done, I turned down the invitation to join everyone for drinks after in favour of dropping off the refund.  I did hesitate and texted to ask where everyone ended up going - I think something deeper in me, something bigger than my self-loathing, self-pitying funk, was trying to speak up - but instead of going to the restaurant first and delivering the cheque after, I delivered the cheque first and conveniently decided on the way back that it was too late to bother trying to meet up.  

Ha!  Photographers.  Too late.  Ha! again I say, as most everyone who had been there was in fact online when I popped by to sign off Facebook for the night.  Then I burst into tears when Ben requested an add as his FB friend.  That was more inclusion than I could handle.  And that's how Von Wong made me cry.  The end.  


I can see the pattern, a very distinct (and apparently habit-forming) pattern, over the past year and a half of me retreating and withdrawing at every opportunity.  I quit groups and forums, retreated to the safety of working in silence, the comfort and one-sided nature of blogging, the blessed anonymity I stumbled upon hanging out in huge international forums where no one knew me or could get to know me because the topics scroll by so fast you never talk to one person more than twice in a month, and everyone you talk to is as forgettable as you hope to be.  I know how the spiral began - my initial disappearance was out of self-preservation.  

People are usually shocked yet oddly comforted when someone flashes their emotional underwear.  Mine is especially loud and busy, like an astro-brite polka dots and fluorescent paisley on stripes kind of thing.  So you should stop reading now if you'd like to keep it g-rated for yourself.  But the fact is there are ugly things that people have said that echo in my head and continue to haunt me.  I cannot un-hear them.

After a gathering a little over a year and a half ago, a woman I know said that she couldn't stand hugging fat people because they feel gross.  She said she didn't understand how a man could be attracted to a fat women.  This was about a month after she had added me to a weight loss group called "phat photographers" without asking me.  I started avoiding hugs and stopped initiating them completely after that.  How is a hug supposed to feel good when I feel like people are only hugging me because they have to and that secretly they are actually thinking, "Ew, gross..."  This was just one of many velvet backhands I'd received, so eventually I got mad, went into my own personal padded fortress, and went into full reclusion.

I mean, you don't have to feel threatened or stalked or bullied or awkward or ashamed or self-conscious if you just make an active decision to take yourself off the radar.  Amirite?  Alas, you also cannot have relationships or meaningful interactions with people if you're not present mentally, physically, emotionally, or even virtually.  You can't hear what other people have to say.  You can't speak for yourself.  You can't learn to know people or let other people know you when you fail to reach out or foolishly decline a hand that has been reached out to you.  You can put on a good show but you can't have authentic synergy.  What I have realized, thanks BVW, is that after all this time while I've managed to protect myself I've also isolated myself to the point of becoming all crusty and awkward and forgetting how to interact with real people, with new people, with real and virtual people in general.  I shrink away from hugs and always hope that I have something pressing to do so I can excuse myself and go be the "hired help."  I see in the mirror a shrivelled grape that looks like crusty rat turd.


I had a panic attack over whether I ought to accept Ben's add.  I waited it out a few minutes to make sure it wasn't a mistake, you know, like how sometimes you accidentally click "add friend" and have to withdraw the request cuz you actually meant to "send message"?  I've so carefully wrapped myself in isolation it's become like a security blanket.  Or perhaps an insecurity blanket.  Whatever the case may be, I know that I need to force myself to get out there again.  There are folks I miss, I miss their voices, their faces, their online personas.  I feel like maybe it's time to put on my big girl panties, stop hiding out in plain view, and actually plug back in.  I'm making conscious strides to get past the fear and accept this new awkwardness.  Thank you, Ben, for the friend add on FB.  Accepted.  Inspired.  Take that for whatever it's worth, and get used to seeing more of me around.  ;)

where to shoot when the snow flies

With the weather (and some of the leaves!) already turning it's about that time of year when anyone not suspending their business for the winter months in Edmonton might want to consider booking some space indoors.  While the truth is I'd love to shamelessly plug My Edmonton Studio alone, the REAL truth is we photographers need different spaces for different things.  You may want a swank boudoir set-up, a blank slate, a spacious area large enough to handle 30 people (and a hot rod), an intimate venue to do consultations and in-person sales, or a unique location to host a gathering for your clients.  Because most personal photography happens on weeknights and weekends when people aren't working or in school, regardless of what you need the key is to plan your shooting days well in advance and book early so you aren't left (quite literally) out in the cold!

Photographers in the Edmonton area are fortunate to have access to many venues with a wide variety of amenities, aesthetics, and functions.  With rates averaging around $40/hr, here are a handful of other rental venues available with a quick rundown of their highlights.  If you know a space that isn't on this list, please contact me via the contact page and I will make sure I expand the list!

Located in the heart of Edmonton's gorgeous 124th street business district, Garage Photographic is a slick outfit with tonnes of amenities including main floor access, HUGE continuous backdrop area, flexible operating hours, and an enviable collection of continuous lighting.  Geared towards film, Garage has also been used for stills by the likes of Jason Symington MFA of Imagen and Renee Robyn of Renee Robyn Photography.  Contact talented and knowledgeable owner Peter Markowski for complete details.

Edmonton Studio Rentals
Photocred: Garage Photographic

Catering to both film and photography, the team at King Oak offers a variety of production services.  Owner Chris is personable and friendly, and will assist with setting you up for your full or half-day shoot.  Contact him for complete information on renting his 1000sq ft 2nd floor south side studio with green room and kitchenette.  

Photocred: King Oak Studios

MES is a 1200sq ft two-room south side studio featuring natural light, large antechamber with projection and IPS salesroom, kitchenette, 200+ costumes, and an evolving collection of props, drops, and furniture.  Located on the 2nd floor of a former flooring showroom, while MES is geared towards photographers it is also suitable for small fitness classes/training, intimate workshops, cocktail receptions, bridal day-of suite for getting ready, sales parties (candles, spices, cooking ware, etc.) and other small- or home-based businesses who do not require a full-time space.  Extras like hi-speed internet, iPod stereo, lighting rentals, and printer/copier on-site just sweeten the deal.  Min 2hr booking, weekly, recurring, and monthly rental options.  Contact Hope for more info.

Rates start at $40/hr to rent this beautiful space with 12ft vaulted ceilings, loads of natural light, and a variety of wall colours for quick shooting.  Nare also features a change room, washroom, and the capacity to set up multiple seamless drops.  Contact Noelia and Rodrigo by emailing them here.  Minimum 2-hr booking.

Photocred: Nare Studio

Located in south Edmonton, Edmonton's largest photography-specific rental space, Studio 42 boasts 26 ft high ceilings, 32' x 22' shooting area, Makeup and hair station, Stereo systems with CD Player and IPod Aux, High Speed WiFi Internet, Telephone/Fax Machine, Client Lounge Area, Free Parking, main floor access.  Half and full-day bookings only.
Photocred: Darren Greenwood

Hands-down Edmonton's brightest natural light rental studio.  Outfitted with a bed and multiple draperies, The Photographer Studio's private 2nd floor location perfectly suits the dedicated natural light boudoir photographer.  With plans to open a second location in September 2013, owners Tammy and Lauri have a membership program that allows individuals the ability to have booking dibs.  Email them here.

Photocred: The Photographer Studio

The Where House is available to rent for photography, videos, rehearsal space, shop space, and more.  20 foot ceilings, full stage, 5000 watts of sound, countless props.  The Where House recently added a stripper pole to its collection of unique amenities for creative collaborations.  Zombies.  Fetish.  Fantasy.  Fire.  If these are the things you're looking to do, this is the place you want to be.  Contact them via their Facebook Page.

Edmonton photographers who have been known to rent their spaces out include Elizabeth Van Der Bij of ENV Photography, who just moved into new digs this month and has been sharing sneak peeks of her almost-ready boudoir suite on Facebook.  Email her here.

Blake Loates of Blake Loates Photography has also been known to share her space from time to time.  Brick and wood with warm window light, Blake's studio is a gorgeous little spot for boudoir or small family sessions.  Email her here.

If you happen to be out in Sherwood Park/Gibbons/Fort Saskatchewan, you are welcome to contact Lareina or Corry-Lyn and inquire about their adorable little space located in the Fort.  With a quaint collection of furniture and drops, this itty bitty space has huge possibilities.

(pics coming soon!)

Still don't see what you need?  You should just check Kijiji - there is always a dance studio, gym, or other new photographer who has their doors open for a once-in-a-while rental.

Don't see your name on this list?  Send me a pic of your space and a brief write-up so you can be added!

pretty in pink

Picking teasers from this wedding was a bit like picking the best chocolates from a box of Bernard Callebaut - impossible to narrow down, and difficult to disappoint.  A huge congratulations to the last of the siblings to get hitched - I feel like we have completed this chapter and I am so excited for the next to begin, whatever that may be - career, children, travel... all of the above...  Best wishes and muchLOVE to you, S&K, on a beautiful day in this beautiful book of life you're writing together.