"Smile."

I am always humbled by the the incredible people, hidden locations and experiences my job graces me with. A recent experience was bigger than life.


Back in the winter a lady booked me for a family of 6 photoshoot to commemorate their first time on PEI. She was apprehensive about a beach session because of a past experience their autistic son had at the lake, and didn't want the beach to create a trigger for him. I am so thankful they eventually decided to head to Lakeside beach for their photos. 
The day came, we met in the parking lot of the beach and instantly their youngest child and I connected. He is 6 and still hasn't spoken a word, but throughout the shoot he and I communicated non verbally together like it was second nature. My heart felt so connected to his and we spoke with our eyes. It was really one of those experiences I cannot put into words.
His siblings were energetic and stole the show in front of my lens while he was more reserved and shy. I wanted to make his beach experience memorable so I asked his mother if her and I could leave the rest of the family behind and take him to get his own photos taken. I told him he could choose the spot he wanted his very own special photos and he pointed in the distance then took my hand and lead me to a hole in the sand. I have no idea how he knew the hole was there, but it was like he built it himself and waited years to sit inside of it. The joy that came across his face as he played in that sand pit brought tears to my eyes. He was laughing and snorting and then all of a sudden he turned to me with a huge grin on his face and said "smile". Just like that. His first word. Staring right at me. Smile. His mother fell to her knees screaming at the top of her lungs before she ran to her son and smothered him with hugs. The rest of the family didn't know what the screaming was about and ran over very concerned. The mother told them what happened and they all jumped into the hole at once, hugging and crawling on top of each other while cheering for the little boy. 
After 15 minutes of celebrating we ended the shoot and walked back to the parking lot together. What started as family photos, ended as a family milestone in more than one way. Now they all, including me, will always remember how a simple word like "smile" can change a life.

30 things I've learned in 30 years.

I am 30 in just 2 days. I can truthfully say the ten year transition into becoming an adult has been illuminating. I am feeling so blessed to have made it this far, a gift many have not been given. I am happy to share a few enlightenments I've experienced along my journey...

 

1. Take care of yourself. Mental and physical health is crucial. You can’t expect to give your all to others and not give back to yourself. Take a day off and go to the beach, exercise 3x a week, make a plan to eat better, or just go for a little walk to rejuvenate. Remember to always listen to your body when it's quiet so you don't have to deal with it when it's screaming.  

2. Recognize when it's time to push yourself to be better. This happens by stepping out of your comfort zone and being brave enough to take risks. Of course it feels so much safer sailing through life risk free in the comfortable bubble we've built for ourselves. But if you're not failing in life, you probably aren’t pushing yourself to your fullest potential or making big enough goals for yourself. Don't be boring. This is your one chance at being alive! Push your limits.

3. Just breathe. During the good days and the bad days, take time daily to check in with yourself. Slow down, feel your heart beating. Close your eyes, feel the air fill up your lungs as you take a big breath in, and slowly release as the air hits your lips. Do this at least 4 times. You're doing great, pal. 

4. You are so beautiful. If you're able to rest your head on your pillow at night and know you've made an effort at spreading good into the world, you are beautiful. But even the tangible parts of you, and even at a cellular level, you're beautiful. You're alive. There's magic there and it's unbelievable how just being you is one of the most gorgeous things about this world. Just give yourself a break. I've always loved this quote...“It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up silent with our chests rising & falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care in your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when your laughing and smiling and pure happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly your authentic self.” – Unknown

5. Take more photos, print them and put them in albums. You will never look back and wish you took less photos. Also, how awesome is it to sit down with some tea and flip through photo albums on a Sunday afternoon? Not to mention the gift of being able to hand down family photo albums years from now to your grandchildren. That's pretty priceless.

6. Your parents and grandparents are a gift. I have always loved spending time with my parents and grandparents but the older I get the more I realize how valuable every moment is with them. It's so comforting to hear stories about their past that relate to my present. Take every chance you can get to ask questions, there are very few people in this world who will give real honest advice like a parent will. 

7. Do what you say you're going to do. My father has always instilled this in me. Staying true to your word says more about you than anything you could possibly say or do.

8. Accept when people have different opinions than you. I think it's just as important to try to recognize the opposing side's arguments just as much as it's important to know what we personally believe in. We may never actually understand, but because of our different backgrounds/experiences, it causes us to all see the world differently. In the end, just realize that we're all sharing this planet and each of us has a personal reason to stand up for what we believe in, even if it's not something you agree with. This can be a hard pill to swallow.

9. Enjoy the process. You have to work hard, put yourself out there, put in the time and think big. The best things in life take time and in order to succeed at something, you need to learn how to enjoy the process of getting there. If you don't enjoy the process, you're missing out on the juice of the fruit! I also discovered that if you're looking for extreme results, this requires extreme sacrifice. A whole lifestyle change. It's all in how bad you want it. 

10. Feel the anxiety and do it anyway. Every single person at some point feels afraid and has anxiety. Learn how to manage it or it will cripple your life. Feel the butterflies and just go for it.  

11. Compliments are free. We've all had someone compliment us on the smallest thing and it stayed with us all day. Positivity and kindness is contagious so let people around you know that you admire and appreciate them. Also, say "thank you" as often as possible and "I love you" to the people you truly love.

12. It's never too late. If you’re unhappy with where you are in life, go and do something about it asap. Do you feel convicted to apologize about something but feel it's too late? It's never too late. Do you feel you're too old to make your dream come to fruition? When you're on your death bed it will be a huge regret that you didn't at least try. Take the 24 hours you have in front of you and make it happen. 

13. Not everyone is your type of person. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, like you can't be your true self, or less than, listen to your intuition, they probably aren't right for you. There are so many right people for you, who energize you and inspire you to be your best.  It makes no sense to force it with people who are the wrong match for you.

14. What you own means zero about who you are. Stuff really is just stuff, and it has absolutely no weight on who you are as a person.  Most of us can make do with much less than we think we need and most of it ends up in a landfill anyway. Sick. Buy less stuff and make fun experiences the gifts you give to others and yourself. 

15. Try to find at least one positive in frustrating situations. This applies to literally every bad situation in life. The biggest trial for me with this is wanting to be a mom. During the heartbreak, my patience and strength have been tested, but on the other side I have learned how amazingly resilient I am. It is so powerful to know what you're really made of and you only realize that through trial.

16. Siblings will be the best friends you ever have. Becoming a sister is in my top two best accomplishments of life, and I didn't even need to do anything! I am my brother's biggest fan. Nothing like having someone who looks and acts exactly like you to feel like you're fully understood in this big scary world. 

17. Learn to say no. Prioritize what is most important to you and work on one thing at a time. Everything else can wait. People who matter will understand and will respect you for the limits you've set for yourself. There's a difference between hard work and smart work.  

18. Choose love everyday. Who you choose to be your life partner is a huge decision but all relationships, no matter who you choose, will always take effort. Life in general is hard, and when you combine two lives together that can be tricky. As long as you make the effort to set aside time each day for one another's needs and to always go on adventures together, you have have fought half the battle already. 

19. The bible is always there when you need it. When you feel lonely, when you feel confused, when you hate life, when you're feeling the best you've ever felt, there is always advice at your finger tips, even if you don't fully understand what it all means yet.

20. Let others have the spotlight. The world is so competitive because of social media these days, and people love sharing all about their lives. Take a step back and let them have those moments instead of feeling the need to chime in with a similar experience you've had. For instance, say my friend just went zip-lining for the first time in Moncton, I am not going to try to 'one up' them by saying "I went zip-lining over the rainforest in Costa Rica over waterfalls one time, so much fun." Even if we mean well, that's making their experience seem mediocre isn't it? Make them excited about their accomplishment and engage in questions to boost their confidence. Be humble.

21. Send more mail. Everyone has a mailing address so get an address book and fill it with special people's addresses. I love sending off hand written thank you notes or special cards for Valentine's day. Inside tip: when I was in the position to interview people, I once received a hand written note thanking me for interviewing the candidate and it really made me take a second look at their resume.  

22. It's ok you find life...overwhelming. When you're feeling confused or completely lost, it's ok to crumble and ask for help. We're literally spinning on a ball in the universe....like, what?! You're not expected to have life all figured out and there's no shame in not knowing what to do. Slow down and bring it back to the ball you're standing sideways or upside down on. Problems aren't so big when you keep this in mind!

23. Never say something you can't stand up to. Everyone is going to come across situations where people gossip to you, but you have control over what you say. Don't say something behind someone's back you're not willing to say it to their face. Stand behind your words like you would a shield. 

24. Be an advocate for your health. You have lived in your body your whole life, you know what's up. If you feel like a doctor isn't listening to what you're saying is wrong, go to another doctor. Keep trying to find answers. No one else is going to do it for you.

25. Always do what's right. Sometimes people are jerks, don’t be a jerk back. Do the right thing even if you don’t want to and especially if they don’t deserve it. Make your choices not based on how you’re reacting to what someone else chose to do.

26. Be unapologetically you. I have been called weird for as long as I can remember, and that's totally cool with me now. I have embraced my quirks and strive off of the energy of others who line up with my weirdness. I know who I am, and it's been an exhausting journey getting here, so I am going to fully own it, and you should too! 

27.  When you forgive, you welcome love back into your life. Forgiveness opens your heart, allowing you to receive many of life's wonderful gifts that others might have taken away from you. You teach yourself how to let go which is a huge life skill. 

28. Reach out and always be willing to learn during unexpected situations. Every single person you meet can teach you something if you're open to it. Talk to someone in the doctor's office while you wait, ask the cab driver what his funniest moment has been during his job. Interaction brings us together and makes strangers less strange!

29. Make it your mission to leave the world a little better than when you found it. Take responsibility for your actions, appreciate nature, and respect those who are still yet to come. Reduce, reuse and recycle and watch out for the other guy ;) 

30. You only die once. I will leave you with my favorite quote to steal the show with this one: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

2017 Easter Minis

It's almost time to open up the windows and let the spring breeze enter our homes...and let's not forget the delicious Easter candy that lingers around until May! Come get some fresh, fun Easter photos of the kids in your life. Hope to see you on March 25th! Please email me if you have any questions at all!

Gemma is ONE

Here's a little peek from my time with these two lovely ladies! I've never seen a more smiley, happy baby girl during a photoshoot. Gemma and her mom Tiffany are peaches! Thank you for being willing to do some natural 1st birthday photos outside, my favorite! 

The Perks of Simply Being.

Sometimes in life we come across situations or moments that are just simply fascinating. There are a few of those moments that I would love to attempt to capture through photos, but after trying, I've learned not every one is meant to be physically engraved forever through a photo, or it was meant for only a few select people to witness.

While visiting Costa Rica in 2007, there was a group of us that would go walking around the village each morning. I once noticed a teenaged boy walking and singing in the middle of the road with his guitar. His two little brothers followed behind him and danced and cheered at the beautiful music coming from him. One little boy scratched at his brother's knees for the guitar relentlessly as the other yelled and jumped in his face. The teenager passed the guitar down, sat with them in the street, and moved one of the boys fingers to the proper strings without hesitation as the other hung off his back. It was probably some of the nicest 3 minutes I've ever spent witnessing music being made. The majority of teenage boys are normally so disconnected from that life in North America and disregard a younger audience. This teenager reminded me to continue to be humble & collected while chaos tempts you to anger, and he didn't even know it.  

During the same trip, there was a lady who took her lawn chair to the public telephone booth in La Fortuna. She laid on it while talking on the payphone as people and cars passed her by. One day she was there for hours with a pouch on her lap full of coins. Even though I stared at her inquisitively, for far longer than I should have, she always smiled back with kind eyes and white teeth behind her vibrant red lipstick. To this day I wonder who she was talking to. She reminded me to always make time to visit or talk to the ones you love, no matter what trials keep you apart. 

The last beautiful human encounter I will mention for today happened while I was venturing across the city in Edmonton. I noticed a man on the LRT to Strathcona-City Central one afternoon. He was reading the newspaper by tearing it up into squares as he read it section by section....with a magnifying glass. I'll never forget this man and the way he was dressed, which was quite like Layne Pryce, straight from an episode of Mad Men. He was unapologetic about who he was and didn't bother to look up at anyone's reactions. He taught me that being yourself and knowing what works for you in this life (and what doesn't) is far more valuable than worrying about what a stranger who will see you for 79 seconds thinks. Darn, I should have told him that.  

These are only a few examples of things I would love to make short films about or draw. The majority of the population would probably see them and automatically try to seek deeper meaning and end up not understanding, or think I was trying too hard to be artistic, but people are placed in front of us to inspire and teach. I will not take that for granted. 

For those who know the simplistic form of human beauty and all it entails, I'm winking your way and watching what you're up to next! 

Ashley & Travis- Romantic Winter Wedding

When I sat down to write this post for Ashley & Travis' wedding blog, I just stared at my computer screen for a while. As I went through their day in my mind, I realized I had a smile on my face and butterflies of excitement inside just thinking back to December 19th, 2015. 

Their wedding day was originally planned for this upcoming summer, but due to a few circumstances it had to be pulled together within only a few WEEKS (but you never would have guessed it). Ashley's friends rallied together and completely surprised her by decorating their wedding venue with fresh greenery, romantic candle light and classy winter details. It was absolutely s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g. 

The entire celebration was just perfect and I count it as a blessing to have met Ashley, Travis and their family & friends. Hope you enjoy this tiny sneak peek from their special day xo

Christmas Tree Hunt- The MacDonald Family

This little family has a special place in my heart. They were some of my very first clients and have stuck by me as I went (and am still going) through photography learning curves. They have turned into great friends and every time I'm with them it feels like I'm with family. It was definitely special to be invited along to photograph them choosing their 1st real Christmas tree together! Enjoy a few sneak peeks from our session!