Family Portraits: Ypelaar Siblings

Family Photography in the Humber River Valley, Toronto

Last month I ventured into the Humber River Valley with the Ypelaar siblings. I actually really love this type of fall/winter vegetation, where everything is sort of dying and wasteland-looking. It makes such great scenery! I really love it. This park is a place where these siblings always come on adventures and walks and they seemed right at home as we ventured through the park. We got chased by ducks, had some yummy coffee and Greek food, and laughed a ton. It was so much fun!!! I’ve never taken photos for adult siblings and I was a little nervous–how do I catch them naturally? What will we do? Can I make them laugh? They didn’t even need me. They just made each other laugh. We were there until the sun went down; a great afternoon! So here are some shots from our adventure.

 

For other family photos, check out my time with Erin & Pete or Leah & Caleb (kids all included)!


Adventure: Toronto Santa Claus Parade

Photographing the Toronto Santa Claus Parade

It’s almost Christmas! So it’s time for a sort-of Christmas themed post!

A few weekends ago I went to my first Toronto Santa Claus Parade! It was actually the first one ever created. It started in 1905 and is still going strong! It was pretty cold and by the end my toes were numb but I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the marching bands and drumlines–I am a huge marching band/band/drumline dork so that was great! We were in a perfect spot, not too many people, and so I got to play around with my camera.

It’s so important as photographers to also shoot for yourself, and I like sharing these types of photos as well as the photoshoots; these are just another facet of my photography! Enjoy! 🙂 Remember to go out and take photos for fun too!

 

 


My Favourite Photographers: Fred Herzog

It’s been awhile since I managed to write about another of my photographic influences (like… 5 months). As I say in almost every blog post: school is crazy! Life is crazy!

Just to recap: I started these blog posts because all photographers have their influences. For me, it’s important to talk about and share those people throughout history who have inspired me. My first post about Vivian Maier explains my feelings in further detail!

 

Who is Fred Herzog? 

Fred Herzog was born in 1930 in Germany, but had to be evacuated as a child during WWII. His parents died during the war and he found work on ships until he emigrated to Canada in 1952. He moved first to Toronto, then Montreal, and finally Vancouver. He primarily took photographs of Vancouver, BC; this might be why I feel such a strong pull and connection with his photographs, since I lived in Vancouver for 6 years! He is a street photographer and I love his ability to capture remnants of Vancouver that are no longer around, particularly the infamous neon light signs on Granville Street.

Photography

Fred Herzog’s street photography focuses on working class people and their environment, primarily the city. He worked with slide film, in color, which somewhat limited him from exhibiting since most photographers were shooting in black and white. He hasn’t been recognized really until the 2000s, despite his prolific work since the 50s. Unlike Vivian Maier, who I talked about last time, he did not include himself in his photographs or take many self photographs.

His photos do not need people in them; he also takes photographs of buildings and streets, the echoes of humans and their movements in all of his photos.

A lot of his photographs are portrait, or vertically shot. I find this absolutely fascinating. It helps in numerous occasions: to define the height of the buildings and make the photographs feel like you’re walking down the street; to get most of the body of a person when he shoots; and captures most of posters, windows, etc. Going through his photographs you’ll definitely notice an affinity for vertical photographs. Just a little tidbit!

Why Herzog is a Favourite

I find that Herzog is an astute photographer, able to capture and see humanity no matter where he is or what he photographs. These shadows, these traces, these small glimpses, are what draws me in to Herzog’s photography. He also takes many photographs in Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is my favourite part of the city!

 

I love when he photographs people but just as much I enjoy his photographs of light, shadow, and color. The way he uses architecture to create photographs is something that I am fairly certain I’ve taken and run with in much of my street photography. There is nothing I love more than a good staircase or doorway that tells the story of a neighborhood or building. Herzog’s photography makes me see and feel just how important location is to a photograph. His work also makes me yearn for an older Vancouver I never knew, but feel like I do at the same time… somehow?

The colors are so rich (Kodachrome!) and I love how even when he takes photos of empty street corners it feels like someone has just turned the corner, their arm or leg disappearing just out of frame. Herzog has a natural ability to capture the bones of a city, the essence of a time. Going through his photographs is like going back through time. I can’t get enough of them! I even have some of them hanging up on my wall and they act as daily inspiration.

 

Who are some of your favourite photographers? Who do you find inspiration from to take photographs or to appreciate a good view? Let me know in the comments!

 

All photographs taken from the Equinox Gallery website.

More resources on Fred Herzog

Books:

Fred Herzog: Modern Color


Adventure: Vancouver with Friends

Revisiting Vancouver

This year I took a last minute trip back to Vancouver for my reading week. I lived in Vancouver for about 5 years and so I was so excited to go back and visit! There’s something revitalizing about seeing the blue mountains topped with snow in the distance, the ocean and the smell of salt and seaweed, the weirdly clean streets, Chinatown, my old neighborhoods, and the best: my beloved friends.

My goal was to take portraits of everyone I met up with…. but I got so busy and it got so out of hand in the several days I was there so I only managed it with a few! However, here is what I have to share from my little break back on the west coast. There’s laughter, quiet, and a fake proposal moment to replace my friend’s actual fiance, currently attending school in France and Germany (sorry Greg!). I love taking photos of all those I hold dear to my heart… next time I get out there I will do a better job of documenting my whole time. But until then, at least I have these!

 

 

 


Family: The MacLellans

Family Adventure in Grande Prairie

Oh man! This day was hilarious and fun and a little crazy. I arrived at the house to start a walk with the family at the exact moment Erin and Pete had discovered a squirrel in their bathroom. The girls were amazed. Erin was desperately trying to find an exterminator in GP. It turned out we only had an hour and had to stick close to the house for when the exterminator came to take the squirrel back to the wild. So we had a 50 minute session that mostly took place in the back alley and the forest trails just behind the house. You might think it was a bit too short to get all the photos you need, but I think we did a great job under squirrel pressure! It was a blast. In this family, everyone is hilarious, even little Molly and Cara. I could’ve hung out with them all night! Thankfully, the squirrel is safe and happy back in the wild somewhere (or as wild as squirrels get).

How long has it been since you’ve taken family photos? Do you get them done every year, or do you keep it a special thing for every few years? I’d love to hear your thoughts on family pictures!

 


Return to Nature When in Grief

Grief

Real time. This summer has been one of the hardest of my life. My grandpa passed away in July after a hard end with cancer, and exactly one month later my boyfriend’s mom, Cindy, passed away from a vicious cancer that took her in months while I was in Alberta. I tried to fly back to Toronto in time to see her before she passed and I missed her by 12 hours.

This combined heartache of these months, with trying to do thesis fieldwork at a time when so many more important and difficult family things were happening, while trying to function, while trying to post photos and act like nothing was wrong, while trying to not cry all the time, while trying to sleep, was exceptionally difficult. Barely possible. Of course things were wrong. Everything was wrong. Everything is still wrong. Life is not the same. Life is difficult. It is difficult for me to go to school and care. It is difficult for me to think about the future, about dreams. It is difficult to realize that we can plan our entire lives for a retirement, a life of travel, a break after it all… and you might not get it. So do it now.

So life is tough right now. It will continue to be tough for quite awhile, I think. As we get older we are bound to get human-shaped holes in our lives, people we love who leave us too quickly or too painfully. Still, it’s never easy.

After Cindy’s funeral, we felt the need for nature and respite. It is really true when people say nature helps with grief. It helps with sadness. It doesn’t heal, but it helps. I also find more and more that photography helps me. It gives me focus, it gives me a reason to be out there, it gives me constant perspective, and I feel, for a little bit, like life is normal when I’m taking photos.

So here are some photos from Niagara Falls (a little full of people) and Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It was a nice break from the stress and exhaustion of the last few months. I hope to keep going back to nature over the next year or two. Well, hopefully for the rest of my life. But right now, to try and heal.

 


Engagement: Cory & Kayla

Grande Prairie Engagement

While I was back in Grande Prairie, Alberta this past week, I got to do an engagement shoot with Cory & Kayla, who are getting married next summer! Kayla is a lady who knows what she wants and even booked us some time at Serenity Acres, an acreage just outside of town that had a GORGEOUS lookout into the creek valley and, in the foggy distance, the Wapiti River. We also got to play with horses (note: keep camera bags away from places horses might just walk!), and then we went out to one of my favourite old barns. There is nothing quite like exploring the prairies with a couple! It is so much fun to catch people just laughing and enjoying their time together in such a beautiful place. Cory is constantly making Kayla laugh and they are so comfortable and adorable together. It’s so great to capture those moments. Cory and Kayla have been through some crazy times the last year and a half, and it is so great to see them come out of it all strong and fun and awesome!

  

  

  

 


Family: Leah, Caleb, & Micah

Family in Edmonton

Earlier this month my cousins graciously offered to let me stay with them in Edmonton for the week while I worked nearby on thesis research. It was so much fun, and I got to hang out with their precious 7-month-old baby, Micah! I love him so much. We also took an evening for some family photographs. It was so nice to walk around and enjoy the sunset, as well as just get to do something nice for my family. The mosquitoes were insane, Micah got a little chilly, but there was dancing in the gazebo, baby cuddles, air tosses, swings, and a visit to the bakery to get cake afterwards (naturally). I can safely say after spending a week with them they are some of the coolest parents I’ve met and I can’t wait to see them all keep growing with each other!

 

                            

 


Wedding: Sarah & Mark

One Island Lake Wedding

On July 22, Sarah & Mark got married. It was my first wedding. I shot for 14 hours and my hands were little claws by the end of the day. It was so fun and amazing and scary and great! I have known Sarah since we were maybe 3 years old and even though we hadn’t talked in a few years, it was lovely to shoot the wedding of a friend, especially one who remembers you in your kool-aid stained lips and bowl haircut days and still somehow believes in you.

These two are the best. So laid back and warm, offering me drinks and bug spray and a couch to sleep on. The wedding took place at Sarah’s family cabin at One Island Lake in BC, a place I even went in my younger days! Everyone at the wedding was kind and casual. The ceremony was sweet, the bridal party ready to actually party, and the dancing went on late into the night. I cried and laughed behind my camera the whole day. These two are so comfortable and happy and you could just feel their joy throughout the whole day! Nothing mattered except their story. One of the greatest parts of the day was seeing 30 or so friends and family help setting up outside while the bride and groom were busy getting ready and just having a relaxed morning. You could sense that community vibe throughout the entire day. I can’t thank Sarah and Mark enough for giving me a chance!

Dress by Castaspella Boutique

Suits by Moores

Everything else by the bride & groom and their friends & family! WOW!

 

 

 


Technique Tuesday: Setting up a Photo Exhibit

Earlier this month I got the chance to hang some of my photographs up at Mitzi’s Cafe in Parkdale in Toronto.

Please ignore my weird half-closed eye and look at the photos instead.

It was a bit of a whirlwind and definitely a learning curve for me, as I haven’t done this before and it was all done in the span of 4-5 days! This includes choosing photographs, buying frames, and getting practice prints and real prints done on time.

However, it all worked out in the end (with a few obstacles that were overcome). It was so exciting to take my visiting parents there this weekend and see my photographs surrounded by bustling crowds in the cafe! I felt really proud of what I had done, and more than anything it made me realize that I would love the chance to show more work.

I thought it would be interesting to make a blog post showing some of the process (I documented it all with my phone so that I would remember!) as well as some of the issues.

1. If things go wrong, that’s okay

The afternoon of I realized that three of my frames were broken, probably from earlier in the day when I had had to carry all 8 onto the subway and someone pushed me into the garbage cans–cool, thanks person. However, I didn’t realize until only a few hours before I was to put them up; PANIC. Luckily, I had time to race to Michael’s and grab new ones, however… there were only 2 stores in Toronto that had the ones I wanted, and they were both a bit of a ways away from the cafe.

2. If your plans have to change, that’s okay too
3. If it’s your first time exhibiting, make sure it is a relaxed place! 

I was infinitely lucky to have Sasha, the owner of the cafe, be the chillest man I have ever met. He was very kind and totally okay with many of the problems I had to attempt to deal with.

4. Bring a friend to help

Without the aid of my friend Erin, I would have had to somehow measure, level, and creatively decide how to hang 8 16 x 20 frames having never done it before. Luckily she was there to help me plan what would go where, hand me the tape measure, the level, etc. A lifesaver! It also helps so you know your idea is looking okay (or not).

5. Be prepared… like too prepared

I was naive and a bit cheap when I purchased the adhesives that I used to stick the frames on the wall. The frames are light! I only need one per frame! Easy peasy! Until the next day when a message from the cafe told me some had fallen off the wall. They were okay, but I decided to go in at 7 AM the next day and fix it.

Not only that, the morning I came in prepared, even more had fallen! I felt miserable and embarrassed. My hands kept shaking (!).

Then again, it’s all a learning experience. And now I am SO PREPARED for the next one! Tools are not enough. Overthink every step and be overprepared. You will not regret thinking of everything that could go wrong. I didn’t, and then everything DID go wrong (some other obstacles not mentioned for the sake of brevity).

However, I am so proud of the end result!

This set features 8 photographs from my time in Peru in 2012. I hope that these shots can share some of the experiences I had on the streets of Arequipa, Cusco, and in the north near Trujillo. They will be up until July 30th!

The Process

The first thing you have to do is see the space (or at least get rough measurements), envision your work, and think about how you can make it happen. Remember to plan it in stages, as all at once can be overwhelming… particularly when you have to do it on a short timeline! Breaking it up into small doable steps is possible though, and things mostly work out. 😉

Before I had frames or prints chosen, I went to the location and did rough measurements (like with my eyes only since it was a cafe that was open and had customers) of the space and took photos. Then I jotted out ideas of different framing and layouts. I ended up with the more classic exhibit layout, only because of the space, my budget, and symmetry.

Once I knew I wanted them all to be the same size, I had to decide which size with the wall only a memory and a photo on my phone. I made my own versions (with totally accurately sized images of course) and hung them up on my own wall to try and judge which I liked best. I went for 11 x 14 prints so that you could see them when you walked into the place.

So when I knew the print size and the idea of the layout in my mind, I went frame hunting. I ended up getting a simple frame with only one matte, because I liked the space it gave the photo to speak for itself. However it was time consuming to try and decide and figure out which worked with what. Then I had to traverse to the faraway stores that actually had the frames. Here is my dining room where I laid them out playing around with them. Guest starring my Swiffer!

This took awhile, only to gather the frames. In all of Toronto there were only two Michaels that had them. Again, with the help of my dear friend Erin, she accompanied me to the Michaels way out in Scarborough to pick up the originals (not including my detour to the Michaels up in York to get the replacements the day of…). This probably took up the most time/stress. Plus, 8 of these in one bag is SO HEAVY. The bag was ripped to shreds by the end and I was just hugging them desperately on the streetcar to keep them from falling all over the place.

I then got some test prints done to make sure they looked okay at the size. For these I went to Walmart as it was only overnight, cheap, and if they ended up looking awful it wasn’t a huge loss. Here I just taped it overtop the still wrapped frame to get an idea of what it would look like.

Once I was pleased I sent my photos to be printed at Downtown Camera, who–with a phone call from me sort of begging–managed to get them printed the afternoon I needed them, which was a day earlier than originally scheduled for the prints. What a great company!

Be sure to put up a label that has all of your contact info on it! I opted out of signing and dating my prints/mattes, as I wanted the photographs to simply be. This was my sneaky alternative in case anyone was interested in my work. Notice my lovely hand drawn logos…..

The setting up process is always a bit messy. Make sure to have pencils, a tape measure, a level, and your hanging devices. There will be lots of math, calculations, and re-measuring. It is a bit time consuming and your arms feel like jelly after but it is so exciting to be there and see your prints up on the wall, one by one!

So there’s my little blog post on how my Mitzi’s Cafe Peru photo set went up for the month of July, 2017; one of the most exciting/stressful/fun things I’ve done this summer!