Who am I? I’m more than just the little blurb on the front page of my website. I’m also more than what Instagram or Facebook shows you. I’ve lived in different cities, provinces, and countries, I’ve traveled, I write, I play music, I am obsessed with certain video games (Zelda, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, just sayin), and a lot more!

So I’ve decided to write this blog post so that clients can get a better sense of me before contacting or even after contacting or maybe you think I’m really weird and you want to check out this post to see if it’s true (probs?).

So let’s go back and learn a bit about Kristen!

A SORT OF BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHO I AM

I grew up in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

That’s closer to the Northwest Territories than the States; it’s technically included in Arctic Circle events. I grew up going to the same school from kindergarten to grade 9 and because of this I still have so many close friends from this school, even though we live all over the country now! As a kid it was a quiet prairie farm sort of town. My family on both sides have been farmers in the area since the early 1900s. It’s a part of my history I’m particularly proud of. We have an AMAZING collections of old photographs from their pioneer lives and I remember being a kid and flipping through all the photos and realizing I was related to those people. Pretty neat!

PS: I’m the younger kid! 

My parents are super cute and the ultimate love story. They met in junior high but didn’t start dating til grade 12. My dad was like, too cool for school basically and my mom was a good student so it’s like Grease, maybe, that’s what I tell myself hahahaha. They are still married and I love them so much! They are wonderful supporters, so friendly and thoughtful, and took me and my sister on many adventures as kids. My dad introduced me to photography, and my grandma bought me my first camera at 8! I was obsessed. I took so many bad photos of my dog on the couch, running around the house, and I would set my TYs up against a blanket backdrop. I was obsessed.

I have an older sister and she is way too cool for me. When I was younger I always looked up to her reading choices and politics, I forced myself through Jane Austen in like grade 6 because she was reading her and I wanted to also. She’s a gifted writer (my sister, not Jane Austen. But also Jane Austen)!!

Above are some examples of my early work. Hahahaha.

I was always a part of the music groups in school, and I played flute and saxophone. It might sound dorky but it was SO much fun. We went on trips to Vancouver, CUBA!, and Toronto, and it showed me that living in bigger cities was possible. After all, the closest big city to us was Edmonton, about six hour drive south. I actually continue to play flute to this day, and I was President of the Simon Fraser University Concert Orchestra in my undergrad—but we aren’t there yet!

I got my first car at 16 and fell in love with driving around the prairies, exploring dirt roads I didn’t know, catching wildlife in the fields, and especially taking my camera out and taking photos of sunsets and sunrises, stormclouds, and especially canola, which is like a neon yellow field in the summer. Me and my friends also loved going out and taking photos of our explorations and there are so many old embarrassing photos of us on Facebook checking out forests and driving around. V exciting but it was so much fun!  

There’s not a lot to do in GP when you’re in high school, and I guess driving around with my friends was my big joy haha. I also LOVED going camping. I still do! It was nice to grow up only 5 minutes away from nature. There is the boreal forest right to the north, big rivers surrounding the town, and the Rockies aren’t too far away either. The winters are bitterly cold, and it was normal to wake up and scrape frost off my car to go to school in -35. I don’t know how many times I got stuck in snow or my battery died. A lot! The summers are dry and beautiful, they can be in the 30s, and the rustle of fields of grain in the sun is one of my fave sounds. Unfortunately, right now with climate change, the summers are quickly becoming fire smoke-filled months. It’s heart-breaking. Still, you can’t beat prairie sunrises and sunsets!

After high school I took a year off to decide what I wanted to do. I thought it’d be great to be a photographer or novelist, but I thought I could pursue those endeavours outside of school and should pursue something more realistic. SO, for SOME REASON, to me that meant archaeology! In case you don’t know, archaeology is the study of human history through material culture. Not dinosaurs. Not buildings. Anyway. In this year off I worked at a grocery store (I’ve been working since I was 14! My first job was the GP Public Library), and then I decided I wanted to travel so I went to Southeast Asia, because at that time it was very affordable. This would have been… 2010. I went to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, all by myself at 19, and it was a wonderful, important, eye-opening, sometimes scary but mostly exhilarating, experience.

Then I did a year at my local college to get my basic classes for university done, and then I had to decide where to go for university! I was still into the idea of archaeology and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver has a great archaeology program. So I applied and accepted without ever having visited it or checked it out. Omg! Luckily my mom came with me a couple months before to scope out the scene. Sometimes I take risks hahaha.

Then my family drove me to Vancouver and I officially left home! It was crazy. It was also just the beginning! I was pretty busy in my undergrad. I continued to work, take classes, joined my student society, joined the SFU Concert Orchestra, met new friends (some of whom are still my dearest pals across the country/world), did a nude archaeology calendar photoshoot (it was awesome and it sold so well and we had 12 archaeologist models!), went to work in Peru (archaeological work) for a summer, and lived in England for a semester, where I took some neat archaeology courses and then also explored the UK and Europe. Phew! I think I also got my scuba diving license. I’m sure there’s more??

After graduation I did an internship at the SFU Museum while working. Then I decided that archaeological fieldwork in Canada might not be the future for me. So I applied to the Master of Museum Studies program at University of Toronto and got accepted! So that meant another trip across the country, joining another new music group (Toronto Concert Band), getting involved in the student society again, working, taking a full course load, and writing my thesis. Sometimes I worked like 3 jobs. It was insane!

 

Anyway. That’s a summary of my life up til now. I’m still in Toronto, I have a 9-5 in the heritage field, but I still dream of writing and photographing! Funny how you should probably follow your instincts….

Because I took the academic route I did not take photography courses. I’m self-taught. Some people find that horrifying, but I think it’s been great and fun! I do love learning though so I’m hoping to take photography courses on certain things, just to be a better photographer for future clients and myself! But you know, that’s all in the future.

Last year, 2018, I got two poems published, which was very exciting! I’m currently working on a poetry collection that is infused with photographs I’ve taken (two of my loves!) and am attempting to work on a novel but it’s hard when you’re busy! And of course, I have Golden Birch Photography, which hit my mid-year goal on clients. THANK YOU everyone for allowing me to follow this passion. It’s so exciting! I can’t wait to keep growing.

Ummm what else….. I love living in big cities! I always wanted to. In Toronto I ride my bike around now and it’s the best thing EVER. If you ever live in a big city, ride a bike! Or a small city! It’s so fun to be a part of it. I love the hustle and chaos of big cities, the old buildings of Toronto, the streetcars rumbling past, the unique cafes and restaurants and stores, all crammed into unexpected places. The bars are amazing. I loved Vancouver too, for different reasons: the nature, the mountains, the ocean at your doorstep, the beautiful skies. It had some of the same hustle and bustle, but not quite to the extent of Toronto. I’m so glad I’ve managed to experience all the places I’ve lived! I love them all for different reasons.

Still, one of my favorite things is traveling to new places. I love hopping on a plane and landing down somewhere completely new, where I don’t speak the language, where I have to learn and appreciate and respect and try new things. I love exploring new streets and seeing different kinds of architecture, plants, landscapes, foods. I am obsessed with reading and can usually be found with a new book in my bag. I have recently started taking advantage of the Toronto Public Library and it is AMAZING I forgot how much I love libraries (considering I worked in one). I’ve had a ton of jobs, lol, like a lot. All sorts, from bookstores to museums to highway maintenance. I’m all over the map.

I also LOVE gardening, I know like every hip girl on Instagram seems to love gardening now, but when I was a kid my mom and dad let me and my sister have our own gardens and I swear to God going outside and seeing my sweet peas blooming or going out and pulling weeds was like the highlight of my summer days. So I’m happy I can keep growing things and I haven’t killed too many plants (yet).

Last, most importantly, I am with the coolest guy I’ve ever known. He’s kind, smart, funny, talented, cutie handsome, thoughtful, passionate, adventurous, hard-working, and amazing. He’s one of the best things to ever happen in my life, no questions asked!

Some of my favorite things:

-travel
-beer
-wine
-coffee
-good food, like pasta
-plants! Especially when they thrive and don’t hate me
-comfy chairs
-good books
-a crackling fire; campfire is the BEST smell
-on that note, camping
-listening to records
-going to shows, like symphonies or musicals
-going on walks down new streets
-riding my bike!
-video games
-fun earrings
-clothes shopping in thrift stores
-thunderstorms
-driving around the countryside
-writing
-PHOTOGRAPHY, especially film. I am deep into film these days
-pretty notebooks
-nature
-most things, really, I love life

Some of my least favorite things:
-doing the dishes (boooo)
-outhouses
-my hay fever and allergies (currently in the throes of intense hay fever)
-my expensive décor tastes cause I want to buy so many things and can’t
-when your phone dies in the early afternoon, like wut
-how attached I am to my phone
-cold weather
-snow
-mosquitos and wasps
-when you buy something and it doesn’t work/isn’t what you needed
-repetitive noises
-grumpy people

OKAY. That’s a deep dive into my life. I used to be pretty shy, it’s funny, I never would have imagined myself running a business or “promoting” myself in any way shape or form. But then high school hit and I actually discovered I thrive on social interactions and laughing, and then in university I just felt so RIGHT when I was making new friends and trying new things. I’m sure there’s more I could talk about (learning to ride a horse as a kid, dressing up as a pioneer for one of my jobs and the ridonk questions I would get, my obsession with writing fanfic as a youth, great character development in stories) but hopefully this helps you get a better feel for me, understanding of what I dig, and makes you excited to work with me!!!