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!


Adventure: Canada’s Wonderland

Last weekend I visited Canada’s Wonderland for the first time with some friends. Although roller coasters and scary rides terrify me, it was still fun! I went to the water park, got a sunburn, and enjoyed the amusement park atmosphere. Best of all, I brought my camera with me and got to explore while my friends rode said scary rides. A bonus of living in Toronto is going to this place!


Technique Tuesday: What to Look For on the Streets

 

 

What is Street Photography?

Street photography–or what I also like to call documentary photography–does not necessarily have to take place on the street. It’s sort of a colloquialism that has grown out of the early 20th century when photographers traversed their cities and took discrete photographs of people living their lives in the city. It’s a way of capturing the candid world around you; people, buildings, relationships, quirkiness, sadness, humanity, and so on. I find that what many would call street photography also fits into other categories: documentary, candid, photojournalistic, etc. These are all along the same line and I use the term street photography to generally talk about photographs of the world around us. However, there is some debate that street photography can be more artistic than documentary-style… go with whatever works for you!

Despite not really marketing myself as a street photographer, it is one of my favorite things to do and I absolutely love it. It’s a passion project, for now. 🙂

PSA

HOWEVER.

There is a debate about the merits of street photography. It is seen as voyeuristic, preying upon the obliviousness of people on the street to snap a photograph you then use for your own reasons: in a show, in your home, to sell for commercial gain, etc. This is actually a concern and something photographers need to think about. The days of no ethics are gone; one must try to be as responsible as possible. I find that asking people for permission for a photograph does not necessarily take away from the ‘candidness’ of a moment; you can still get a great photo, a laugh, a dour look, etc. It does feel a bit weird though. I also know that I don’t like even my friends and family to notice my camera; you can instantly tell a shift in how they are holding themselves and acting. Unfortunately, this is a battle I cannot answer. Every photographer just has to try and do what makes them (and their subjects!) comfortable.

 

 

My Street Photography Woes; and Yours Too?

I have a crippling fear of being called out in public. I try to discreetly lift up my big ol’ camera and snap photographs from the shadows. Then I will try to look away inconspicuously, shuffle around, fiddle around with my camera. It is scary stuff, and I’m still learning. That’s why I wanted to make this post: what do YOU do to take successful street photography photographs? I would love to hear more tips!

So how do we get over this hump? My first suggestion would be that if you are interested in pursuing street photography ONLY, to grab a smaller point and shoot camera: such as a Ricoh, a Canon G-series, or Fuji. It’s still a goal of mine to grab one of these little babies. I am jealous of the Brownie era, when one could walk around with a camera box discreetly hanging from your side and take great street photographs. I mean, some of my favorites have been on my iphone!

Another is to just take photographs CONSTANTLY. Get used to taking your camera out in public. People may look at you and wonder what you’re looking at. They may avoid you. That’s fine. Just keep doing it! Take photographs of everything. I have usually 1 photograph I actually really like to every 150 photographs I throw out. That’s the magic of the digital era. Take them all of the time! Soon you will get comfortable and have no problem whipping out your camera when you see a great shadow falling across a group of people.

 

 

Another suggestion is to use an old film camera. I am blessed that my dad gave me his old SLR Nikon. These cameras are very discreet (well, more than the new DSLRs) and with a 50mm attached they take beautiful film photographs. Go out and try! I am a huge fan of film. Something about knowing there is a set number of exposures makes you really think about the positioning, angles, shapes, and expressions in your photographs. Nothing helps you perfect what you are looking for like film (sorry, interjected personal opinion).

 

 

 

 

What to Look For

So what do I look for on the street? Here are just some ideas to get you going!

a) light and lack thereof: shadows and shadow shapes make great photographs. Look up Henry Callahan for some beautiful examples of light and space in street photography.

 

 

 

b) angles. Building corners, leading lines, symmetry, poetry in shapes.

 

 

 

c) people. This is sometimes the hardest one to do. The thing is, many think you have to take photographs of people doing something interesting. That’s not the case. Many of the best street photographers of the early 20th century took photographs of people walking across the street, turning a corner, or talking to others. The ones with people looking directly into the camera are a bit of a different story: in the past, when people had brownies and other similar camera, they would often take a photo just at the moment the person looked at them and noticed the camera. We never see the moment after, which may include people getting angry, or asking questions, or leaving. It’s that second of realization. Again, today, it has to be a bit different. So how do we as photographers take street photographs of people without stepping on the toes of privacy? Questions, questions…

 

 

 

 

d) composition. Composition is SO important. Street photography is not just random snapshots of the street. Well, it kind of is! But out of the 200 photos you take, not all of them will work. The best ones are the ones that have a composition you like, whether it’s quirky, different, or the standard rule of thirds. Composition matters and the best way to get better at it is to just keep practicing! But I really do think composition and taste is so subjective. What I may see as a lovely stark shot someone else might see as boring… it really all depends, so just go with your gut!

 

 

 

 

e) action. I know I just said they don’t have to be doing anything, but sometimes they are. Try to capture those moments.

 

 

f) on that note, emotions of one kind or another. This delves more into the photojournalistic/documentary style of photography. However, I see them as two halves of one whole. They are different words and frames for telling stories of the candid world around us.

Those are just some of the things I look for. Try them out or try taking photos of what catches your attention: a used candy wrapper on a sidewalk, two people chatting on a park bench, the architecture of a particular street… Try to come at it from a photographer’s eye and just go for it! I am definitely still learning, so let’s all go get better together. 🙂

Summary

I love street photography: I love looking at it, studying it, learning about it, and taking it. The reason I love it, even with all of its problems, is that it’s a second snapshot of the world around the photographer. It can show viewers glimpses of cities, shadowed back alleys or graceful highway lines. It can show the dusty streets of prairie towns or the eclectic pile-on of urban streets to people that might not know it’s out there. We see people wearing clothes or expression we might not see elsewhere. I love just witnessing the world. When I walk or travel I am always staring, trying to absorb everything around me. Street photography is way to capture the world in a certain time period that wouldn’t exist otherwise. I can envision American cities in the 40s and 50s because some of my favorite street photographers are from that era. That’s the gift they’ve given us photographers today. I find that the more I do street photography, the more I start to see the world around me as possible photographs; a weird byproduct!

 

 

 

So go out, try to be a little sneaky (but not in an evil way), and take some photos of your city, your town, your community, your world! The first step to understanding photography is to take as many photographs as possible. And many of my favourite street photographs have not been the picture-perfect photograph. That’s the best part about street photograhy; everything is something.

 

Now go out and explore!

 


My Favourite Photographers: Vivian Maier

Welcome back to the blog!

Some exciting news. Along with my Technique Tuesday posts, I will also be starting up two new columns: My Favourite Photographer, where I go over some of the influences and inspirations I carry around with me, and Exhibit Visits, where I will be visiting photography shows throughout Toronto and writing about them. Since I now live in such a vibrant arts city I thought it was about time! I will be posting at least once of each per month, so expect to read a lot more of me! I am also mulling over a third, but it’ll be a surprise…

Along with these, I will also continue my standard blog posts about shoots, travels, and so on.

So let’s get started!

Why Favourite Photographers?

So why would I want to start something like this? Well, all photographers find inspiration in others’ work. When I lived in England about four years ago I took a class on American Photography, which encompassed many of the greats. I was amazed at the history of photography and how influential some of these photographers were without me even realizing it. It was sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful, but all of the photographs told me one thing: that photography, at its core, is inspiring. And even to this day I frequently look back at old photography to try and really feel it. My copy of The Americans by Robert Frank is one of my most prized possessions. THUS, I thought it would be fun to write up about and share the work of some of those I love the most. Maybe it will encourage all of my fellow photographers to think about their influences and the type of photography that truly captures them!

Who is Vivian Maier

I heard about Vivian Maier probably five years ago or so when I saw a giant book of her photos on display at the bookstore I used to work at. Once I heard about her life and gazed at her photos for hours, I knew I was hooked. I frequently look through her photos just because it is such a treat. The main thing was: no one saw her photographs until close to her death, when rolls of film were found hidden away in a storage unit and sold to several buyers; however, none really evoked reactions. Only after her passing in 2009 did she reach popularity as one of the great 20th century street photographers.

Since her death, her photographs have reached international acclaim.

Vivian Maier was born in 1926. She worked most of her life as a nanny, which is evident in some of the photographs she would take of children and on walks with them.

Most of her life is a mystery. She moved back and forth between the USA and France. When she was in her 30s she took a world tour on her own and photographed the journey. Not only did she collect the rolls of film and photographs she produced but also piles of newspapers (some precariously high) and audio recordings of conversations with people she had photographed; a journalist if there ever was one!

 

 

 

 

Her Photographs

Maier had a sense of architecture, light, people, and the relationship between these three characters. Her photographs are some of the earliest that show what could be seen as the “woman’s world”, a world that–at the time–was not well-acknowledged. Her most well-known photographs depict the streets of Chicago in the 50s and 60s. I also like to think she developed some of the best first selfies. She played with the idea of people and the built environment, and also seemed to be interested in those who were down-trodden: many of her photos depict people begging or the working class.

 

Her work has been compared to the likes of Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, or Harry Callahan (some more of my favorites!).

If anyone is interested in learning more about the mystery that was her life, watch the 2013 documentary Finding Vivian Maier, which also helped generate buzz about her talents.

Why Vivian Maier is a Favourite

There is something absolutely timeless yet completely caught in time in Maier’s photography. What draws me in is her gaze, wondering what she saw and how she saw it. Knowing about her mysterious life and the sad slow decline it reached in the 90s and 2000s, it makes a person even more curious about her. She had such an eye for detail, such a natural ability to capture people and places, and yet to never publish or even make it known to people is such a heartbreaking detail in her life, especially as she grew poorer and poorer as she got older. Why not? Why not share these photographs?

Perhaps that wasn’t what was important to Maier. Perhaps just the act of photographing was enough. The people she stopped to photograph and talk to stay in your mind long after looking at the photograph. They all somehow manage to look suspicious, bemused, at ease, and bored all at once. Maier captures the humanity of her subjects, and the children she cared for make frequent appearances. In these instances we get to see familiarity and comfort. The streets of Chicago have their own personality, and I absolutely adore her use of light and shapes. Maier is a constant source of inspiration I keep going back to. I admire her for her bravery, her creativity, and also her ability to keep this quiet. No one needed it but her. And that makes them all the more magical and real to me.

Camera of choice used by Maier:

First: Kodak Brownie box camera with 1 shutter speed, no aperture

1952: Rolleiflex (throughout 3.5T, 3.5F, 2.8C, Automat, etc.)

 

 

 

 

 

All photographs are taken from the Vivian Maier website: vivanmaier.com

More resources on Vivian Maier:

-documentary Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

Books:

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer

Vivan Maier: A Photographer Found

Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits 

 

 


What’s In My Bag?

So it’s fun as a photographer to snoop through the Internet to see what others keep in their bags. This intrigues me so much and I’m not quite sure why. Probably for the same reason I love doors and what they tell us about the people inside (but opposite… I guess?). Seeing what other photographers take with them on their travels allows me to see what types of tricks or hints or fun stuff people use in their art. I was thinking about this one day when someone commented how I always have fingerless gloves in my bag. Well yes, I thought, of course I do! Then realized how weird it actually was… which got me thinking about all the other stuff I carry around, some all pertinent in its own odd way.

Tonight I took all of my stuff out of my 2 bags and laid it on the ground. I was pretty lazy when it came to photographing it, I apologize. So I’ve numbered things, in case anyone cares! If not, just look at what a hoarder I am (although to be fair it is split between the 2 bags… sometimes. I have managed to fit it all in my Lowe pro bag. Not ashamed).

 

1. Writing utensils

I seem to carry a pen, pencil and highlighter… You never know when you’ll need them

2. Fingerless gloves

I shoot a lot outside and in all types of weather. I have found even if it’s slightly cold my hands get useless. With these gloves my hands stay warm but my fingers are a lot more dexterous than if I was wearing full gloves. LITERALLY a life saver.

3. Think Tank Camera Bag

This is the bag I usually use in cities as it’s a bit more discrete. Here’s a cool story: I bought both bags at the same time from Beau Photography in Vancouver. They were having a deal that was buy one get one for like half price. The Think Tank bag is gently used, and I got it for like 50.00 instead of (at the time) the usual 200. What a steal! It’s great and has lots of nice hidden spots. The best is the velcro that keeps it closed, you can cover it up for silent shooting so the bag doesn’t make this obvious noise when you open it to change lenses etc.

4. Lowe Pro Camera Backpack

This is my heavy duty bag. This is the one I take on shoots out into the woods. It has moveable compartments inside, fits everything, and is comfortable on my back. It has buckles too! I don’t care how dorky people think buckles are, they save your back when you have so many pounds of camera gear on your back. I also like that it’s rather discrete so you can’t really tell what it is. And it has a rain cover in the bottom!

5. Speedlite 430 EX III-RT and Accessories (stand, filters)

My external flash is one of my newest additions to my team and I am still practicing with it. Suffice to say, I already love it. I also carry the filters around and the stand for radio shooting.

6. Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 prime lens

My precious prime lens that I use for portraits and other fun photo stuff! I always have this one. It has quickly become my favorite for more intimate shooting.

7. Canon EOS 70D

My camera! I am in the market for the Mark series at the moment, but I love this little guy despite the lack of full-frame. Takes beautiful photos, is very sturdy, and great menu system that is intuitive. Love the quick menu on the LCD sooo much.

8. Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4.0 zoom lens

My other go to lens that fits the 85 mm portrait length as well. It’s pretty heavy but worth carrying it around!

9. Canon EF 75-300 mm f/4.0 zoom lens

This one I don’t always take with me, but I do if I plan on using a tripod + shooting wildlife or other things I need to be far away for. I loved this one a lot in high school and I recommend a 300 mm if anyone can get them.

10. Sigma DC 18-200 mm f/3.5 zoom lens

This is my 3rd must have lens. Mine is getting a little worn out but the wide angle is so necessary for variety in your shots. Plus, I have gotten some of my favorite landscapes on this lens. Yes, it’s not a Canon, but younger me could not afford the Canon version! Suffice to say, this has served me well, all over the world. This is such a great lens for when you travel because it allows you to get such a wide variety of shots.


My lenses! The one thing that gets compliments in my bag is my camera strap from Capturing Couture; I bought it probably 4 years ago and it’s still in great shape! The only thing that’s somewhat problematic are the metal bits that hit the camera, although they don’t actually do anything. One time I pinched my finger and it hurt like crazy for days. So I guess… be careful, unlike me.

11. a) polarizing filter 77 mm b) UV filter 52 mm

This polarizing filter fits my 24-105 lens and I love it! Polarizing filters help to get rid of reflection in things like glass and water. It darkens your shots a bit (you can adjust the level by spinning the filter) so sometimes it can be a bit misleading and you have to double check your shots. So fun for nature shots that involve water though! The UV filter is just an extra that fits several of my lenses. ALWAYS have a UV filter on your lens. It helps to not only protect from sun’s rays but also if you drop your lens or something, let that get dented and scratched instead of the lens! Will save you so much $$

12. Rain Cover for Think Tank bag

This came off the clip, so I put in the photo… but really it clips inside the Think Tank bag and sits in there all of the time. Not sure why I put this in here?

13. Fortune from a fortune cookie

There’s an old fortune from a fortune cookie I keep in my bag. It’s good luck. The message is a secret.

14. PRAIRIES toque

Along with fingerless gloves, I find I like to shoot with a toque. It keeps my brain warm. I switch between my beloved PRAIRIES toque from my sister and my Hudson Bay toque. This one makes me feel like I’m back home though and reminds me of where my love affair with photography started: the prairies.

15. Memory Cards

ALWAYS bring extra memory cards!! Cannot stress enough!!

16. Battery Charger

Also a charger. And an extra battery if you have one. Oddly enough, I have 2 chargers and I have no idea how I have two. I never bought another one. And yet here is an extra. I should probably get an extra battery, on that note.

17. Hand Mirror

I used to carry this around just to make sure my face/hair was normal, but it became handy as a backup reflector when I had to use the installed flash  on my camera. Just by sticking this in front of the flash it allowed the light to bounce off and hit the ceiling instead of the subject. I still use this trick!

18. Nikon N2000 (film)

My dad gave me his old film Nikon several years ago! I have taken some of my favorite prairie shots on this guy. It’s definitely pretty heavy but so much fun. If you ever want to learn more patience in your photography, I recommend practicing on a film. We are so spoiled by digital cameras; we can delete whatever we don’t like and retake again and again. However, using the film camera really teaches you to be selective and careful with your shots. It forces me to take my time, mull over what story I want to tell, what shot actually speaks to me, and I don’t take (as many) useless photos. it’s a great exercise in creativity. And when you go and develop the roll, nothing beats that excitement of holding fresh prints in your hand, a whole roll to explore…! It also teaches humility, as most of the time I can only salvage 1 or 2 shots from a roll that I actually like (the photographer’s life).

19. Cleaning Supplies

I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to sit in a field, on a dock, on a beach, in the woods, to clean my camera or lens. Yea, it’s sketchy and dangerous. Before I had proper cleaning tools I used to just open it up and blow on the mirrors as hard as I could. OOPS. What I have is a) a little bag to hold it all 2) cleaning cloths for the lenses 3) an air pump that has ADJUSTABLE nozzle. That is literally the best. When you have a piece of weird dust or lint on the mirror inside the camera and you cannot get in and see it, this nozzle comes in so handy to get it out. It’s a life saver. And 4) a cleaning brush that has a brush on one side and the pad on the other. I brush the lens off first with the brush, then rub the pad in small circles to clean off smudges. This also works for filters. Don’t think just because you clean your camera before you leave your home you’re safe: you’re not! When you’re changing lenses on the fly, dust and other particles can sneak their way in and get trapped inside the camera. Be prepared! Also, take your time when cleaning. Be meditative. And do it regularly. You’d be surprised what builds up that you don’t notice.

Also, since I forgot to number it, my remote shooter is on the bottom, below the cleaning supplies. I got this for free with my 50 mm lens and I LOVE IT. It’s so magical!

20. Insignia Collapsible Reflector

This thing is so fun. I love it. It’s also new. It’s not tinfoil! It’s great.

 

And there you have it! Aside from the 300 mm and the Nikon, I tend to travel with all the rest in a bag. Whew! No wonder I have back problems. What do you carry in your camera bag? I’d love to see it!

PS: Here’s a closeup of the buttons on my Think Tank bag. Each one has a special importance and story behind it.

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Engagement: Sarah and Mark

Grande Prairie Engagement

Well 2016 ended (literally, the last day of the year!) with an engagement session for Sarah and Mark in my hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta. It’s a bit of a neat story. Sarah and I have known each other since we were probably 3 years old through play school and our older sisters being Kindergarten pals in school. We grew up making elementary art projects together, gallivanting around school playgrounds, and swimming in the pool (Sarah, being an actual pro swimmer, made her lap around the deep end much easier than me, flailing and bobbing like I did).

As time passed, we went our separate ways and haven’t really spoken for many many many years. So what a pleasant surprise to hear from her about photographing their wedding in 2017! I was so touched and excited and managed to meet up with them over the holiday, which was great! Sarah and Mark are so cute and lovely and were game for anything I suggested, even being jacketless in crazy falling snow and jumping on the spot to stay warm, sitting in the snow and wandering around in the forest. They bounce off of each other so well and are both so sarcastic which is honestly the funniest. They had me laughing like crazy! Hearing them tell me their stories was the best because I could really see and feel their love for each other and did my best to capture that in their photos. Here are some shots from their December 31st engagement session.