This month I was delighted to become a member of APNPI (Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International). The organization provides safe handling techniques and testing to ensure parents their photographer has a certain level of expertise when handling their most precious little gifts. In addition to the safety aspect the organization also requires members submit an extensive portfolio of newborn, maternity and baby images to show a competence with technical skill and artistic expression. Be careful of other similar organizations which will accredit photographers if they pay a fee, and require no training, testing, or portfolio reviews. For example, when photographing young siblings like baby J and her big brother here, the standard laying on the floor photo was not a safe option. I could have tried to get a photo of big brother next to a prop, and then taken a photo of baby J in the prop, and photoshopped the 2 images together, but I would not have baby held by her big brother without an adult. Instead we used biggest brothers arms to hold her safely at a height where he could reach her, but also where she could easily be whisked away if he decided it was time to jump around or practice some karate. Though I myself have been primarily on maternity leave this year, I have made a point to shoot a newborn each season so I can keep the skills I have developed though the years and several hundred hours of training sharp. Photography is certainly a skill that can fade if not used regularly in my experience, so while I photograph daily for my own family newborn posing is something know I need to always be doing. This next pose is one I just learned last winter and practiced on my own little one in February to perfect. I vary the pose using different colours, and textures, like this felt wool used as a wrap here and this gorgeous hat by Mag Mugs.
Sweet baby J was 2 weeks only for her session, right at the end of the recommended age for photographing newborn babies in the sweet cuddly poses you typically see. My sweet spot tends to be around days 6-9 days, however every baby is different and this little doll was content as can be as long as she was wrapped up in some way. The pose above is easily transitioned into a prop to get a completely different look, relatively quickly, and without bothering baby at all. The yellow floor drop here is actually a one of a kind hand painted canvas I made! I may have a new obsession! Also, she’s the sweetest thing ever right? This is a photo that should be printed and hung on a wall to enjoy EVERY day. That’s my goal for all of my photos, daily enjoyment <3
This family may look familiar, as I shot mom and dad’s wedding when I first started out, and shot big brother’s newborn photos a couple of years ago. I love watching families grow and helping preserve memories.
The last couple of years I have been trying to break into fine art graduation photography; but between the fire last year and having a spring baby this year it hasn’t really worked out. I’m determined that next year will be my “Third time’s the charm” year though! In preparation I did manage to get together with this sweet and stunning member of 2017’s graduating class from Westwood High School. Even though the weather prevented us from doing multiple dates to include a casual look, I think it’s important to incorporate the school as well as a more whimsical location, so we made sure to do that. The first few photos are taken within steps of the Westwood Entrance, while a nearby park was the second location.
I’m a strong believer that beautiful photos can be taken anywhere, and the light has a lot more to do with the beauty of a photo than the location. However trees never hurt! She was rocking the poses and fierce and powerful looks to celebrate her fierce and powerful self!
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If you are pregnant in Fort McMurray you either know this sweet momma, or you should! Jessica runs Blossoming Bellies and Bosoms, which is an amazing store full of quality maternity and nursing clothing (as well as a few super cute baby items). Jessica kept me from wearing PJ’s all winter, instead dressing me in luxurious hoodies and wrap sweaters made in Canada! Then about half way through my pregnancy she became pregnant with her second child! We’ve had some chatty shopping sessions and photo sessions and she is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, so definitely check out her shop for a little sunshine in your day.
Jessica asked pretty early on if I would photograph her new baby, and of course I knew I would be honoured to. Her former family photographer had unfortunately lost her home in the fire and moved out of Fort McMurray, however Jessica and her husband really value beautiful photography, displaying it in their home and gorgeous albums, so I was honoured to be chosen to add to their life art.
Shortly before baby her boy was expected to arrive Jessica and her daughter came by to capture a few photos. One of the most impactful moments of my life was seeing my oldest daughter for the first time after delivering my son, so I absolutely love capturing moments in those treasured final days before a new baby joins the family.
Once sweet baby M arrived everyone was in love! He has such incredible and unique features, and I fawned over him the entire time I photographed him. Being my first newborn after having my own baby, he seemed so tiny and my own little one sure didn’t seem so little once I held her again afterwards! They grow too fast, so I’m so glad I was able to capture his teeny-tiny-ness before it starts to fade away <3 Enjoy!
And after the family had a chance to cuddle him for photos it was my turn! This sweet boy was a posing pro and showed off his cute pouty lip, gorgeous eyes, and spitfire tongue <3 Thank you for choosing me to capture this incredible time in your life and the beginning of baby M’s <3
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I had the incredible honour this month to photograph the Fort McKay NorthWind Dancers, and thought this would be the perfect day to share a few photos! Fort McKay has a special place in my heart, as I taught Junior High there for 2 years when I first moved to Fort McMurray, and met some of the most wonderful people I know. My heart is always full thinking about those wonderful years. When my family evacuated during the fire we went to Fort McKay the first night and were taken care of by many of my former students and their families, from them allowing us to park our camper in their driveway, bringing us blankets, air mattresses, food, toys and most importantly their support.
This post is also just in time to tell you about Treaty Days happening in Fort McKay starting tomorrow and going through to Sunday. The Treaty Days will include a traditional Powwow this year which you won’t want to miss! To see more photos check out my instagram and Facebook pages! The link to the event schedule is at the bottom of the page, so check it out! I enjoy getting out there every year to see the festivities and catch up with former students <3
Grass Dancer (and my handsome hubby!)
Fancy Shawl Dancer (and the wonderful woman behind organizing the Fort McKay NorthWind Dancers!)
It was almost a year ago now that we all urgently fled the city. That dark day and the weeks that followed were filled with constantly checking for updates and hearing heartbreaking news day after day, week after week. We were the lucky ones though. We came home, and not only did we come home, but we came home with the best souvenir despite not knowing it. Shortly after returning to Fort McMurray we found out we had a surprise stow away, and are so in love with our newest addition, Nova Willow. Like many Fort McMurray families we have a new light to shine through the dark memories.
And because Photographers need family photos too, I am very thankful to have the wonderful photographic community we have in Fort McMurray. Below is a photo I love, taken by the talented and very sweet Christine Gogolinski of Uncontained Photography.
And the next one, which I also love, was taken by Amie Roberts of Amie Roberts Photography, a talented photographer who first started out taking a momtography course with me a few years ago <3
The truth is I just didn’t know what to say. For a while I thought it would just come to me so I waited. I waited, and waited and nothing has come. I still don’t know what to say so instead I’m going to share a few photos instead. What I’ve been most inspired by through all of the devastation is the children. The children of Fort McMurray, the children of Alberta fro embracing them, and those from across Canada who have reached out to them. As they prepare to go back to school on Tuesday, for the first time since May 3 for some, I think it’s time we recognize and celebrate their resiliency.
Though this fire has taken so much from our community and loved ones, it has also given to us. It has strengthened bonds, clarified priorities, reinforced values, celebrated heroes, shown hearts, and it has also given my family the greatest gift possible; a new baby who will be joining us in February.
When I made the decision in the fall to focus my photography on children and families I joined the National Association of Professional Children’s Photographers so I could make sure I was always doing my best to improve. For a while I have known that I’d like to start entering professional competitions because you can pay to have the images critiqued by master photographers, which is an incredible opportunity to learn and improve. I had just missed the competition deadline when I registered for NAPCP so I started putting some of my favourite images as I shot them into a competition folder on my desktop this winter. I knew that I wanted to enter recent images, in order to receive critiques and tips on my latest work so they would be most beneficial.
Last week I had a dream that one of my images placed. I woke up and was a little bit sad that it was just a dream, but mostly I felt silly for thinking that one of my images would be capable of competing with the incredible work of other NAPCP members, many of which are my photography idols. I had entered the competition knowing that there was a possibility, but not getting my hopes up, mostly just excited to have feedback on how to improve my work.
I’ve been told that I have a very confident demeanour…like intimidating confidence even. Actually, the first time I realized I may come across too confident was during my teaching practicums when my mentor teacher told me he didn’t want to teach in front of me because he would disappoint me. I’ve had the blessing of being raised by parents who instilled confidence in me, but the artistic world is full of self doubt. Recently I attended the Canada Photo Convention in Vancouver, and realized it’s certainly not just me. In this room full of hundreds of awe-inspiring artists there was so much negative self-talk! We put our hearts into every image we create, so rejection doesn’t feel like it’s just an image being rejected, its a rejection of the artist and the artists worth. It’s all ridiculous really, and we all know it, but somehow the feelings persist.
So today I was wrangling 3 kindergarteners and my 3 year old as they raced through the obstacle course that is my living room when my phone vibrated. I had a message from one of my idol photographers Dana Pugh (Former NAPCP Photographer of the Year, and also a winner today) congratulating me on my performance in the NAPCP competition. I had no idea what she was talking about an my first instinct was that she must have me confused with someone else, but instantly began to cry anyways; that’s a perfectly natural reaction right? So I snuck away from the kids before they were able to notice the tears and red face. I raced to the website to check out the gallery and not only had one of my photos received merit, but another had placed 1st. My phone lit up with messages from another idol photographer Jennifer Kapala (NAPCP Photographer of the Year) as I managed to text my husband and message my mom. I stumbled through contacting the families from my two images (I don’t enter model images, only images from actual sessions) and post the announcement to Facebook.
The funny thing is that my clients are so supportive and encouraging that despite my shock, they mostly reacted something like “Oh cool, this doesn’t surprise us at all.” As thankful as I am to receive this incredible recognition for these images, I’m infinitely more thankful for all of you who encourage and support me every day. So thank you so much, for allowing me to do what I love, letting me into your lives, and cheering me on <3
But just in case, nobody pinch me!
Oh also a big shout out to Alberta Photographers! Whoop whoop! Alberta consistently has photographers winning and placing in international competitions, and really fosters an amazing artistic community atmosphere.
Photographing Angela is a bit like photographing a celebrity because she’s stunningly beautiful and a Mary Kay superstar! Even if you don’t think you know her, you probably have seen her around driving her Mary Kay pink Cadillac. Some super exciting news in Angela’s life right now though is that she and her husband are expecting a baby girl any day now. That means this handsome Lego Master Builder is going to be a big brother!
I think the first thing baby girl is going to learn is that she has a big brother who loves her, and nobody is going to mess with her because he has muscles!
As much as he loves being kicked by his sister right now that probably won’t last once her feet get a little more range. Angela already appears to be loving the relationship her children are building, and I know she is going to continue to be so proud of her big boy as she watches him embrace being a brother. I absolutely loved the expressions and emotions both of them showed during this session.
I’m so glad we had a chance to take a few photos of Angela and her son before they add another sweet child to their family. I remember in the weeks leading up to my due date with my second child really cherishing the time I had with my oldest before she was no longer an only child. Once the next baby comes along there are so many emotions, so much pride, so much thankfulness, but I also felt like my big baby had grown immensely in the short hours I was away from her to deliver.
Before I had my second child I had a very wise loved one tell me some advice, and while usually I really take advice with a grain of salt I’m going o share because it really rang true for me.
Take a mental image and make a mental note to really remember that last hug and kiss with your first born before you go to deliver your second, because it will be the last time you see them that little. You will be blown away by how incredible your big kid is, how much he has learned but also how grown up he is. After you hold your new baby and then see your big kid suddenly you will flash through all of the things your he has learned and been through since he was that tiny baby in his first minutes of life. It is one of the most emotional realizations I have ever been through, and although bittersweet it is so, so joyous.
Also, be nice to the nurses, they know too much.
Congratulations on what is soon to be a family of 4!
This beauty brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “Dirty Thirty!”
When she contacted me with the request to do a cake smash to celebrate her big upcoming birthday I was thrilled! I’ve been so anxious get someone who was enough fun to try this out and Renata was the PERFECT person for it.
First thing you should know is that this isn’t your toddler’s cake smash! Decor was inspired by one of mine and the birthday girl’s favourite pastimes, drinking wine! HAHA…
The cake was made for Renata by a friend and incredibly talented local cake maker Brenna Kimball, and wine bottles were painted with Fusion Paint from local shop Belle & Bee. (as were the wall and floor mat). Banner and cake topper are from Canadian paper artist Paper and Parties Co.
I know, I know, there’s no way she can be 30 right? Well, she’s not…not for a few more days anyways. She started off dainty but soon got into it, that cake was delish!
Gorgeous but not afraid to have fun and be silly!
After all that cake she was feeling a bit thirsty, and what 30th birthday celebration could be complete without a little bubbly?
after all that mess it was time to wash up, and why not do it like the little ones, in a vintage tub?
Thank you so much Renata for taking me through this wonderful experience with you! It was so much fun and I hope you love the images as much as I do! You are stunningly gorgeous, even with cake on your face 😉
Kids love getting mail (it’s a time before mail means bills), so when I saw a Facebook ad for a subscription based educational activity for kids in specific age ranges I figured we’d give it a try. I ordered the Koala Crate as well as the Kiwi Crate, because I have a 3 year old son and 5 year old daughter. My daughter had a friend over when the mailman dropped these off and was busy in dress-up-ville, so I took the opportunity to have some one-on-one time with my son. We both had GREAT time with his crate from the moment he got to excitedly open the mail with HIS name on it exclaiming “It’s for ME?!?”. I didn’t have the camera handy because I hadn’t realized it was going to be a photo opportunity until we were pretty far into the activity, but I did take the note that I better get it ready for my daughter’s turn!
After her friend went home and my son went to have some play time with his newly created toy I went into the living room to see my daughter had already anxiously gotten into her box so I grabbed the camera and sat down to help. I wish I had a chance to put the vacuum away, but nonetheless, this is what our house ACTUALLY looks like when I don’t get to prep the area haha.
There were excellent instructions with photos, this crate which is for 5-8 years olds still required a bit of help for my 5 year old but once we read the instructions together she was able to follow the photos herself. In addition to the craft projects below there is a colouring/activity/storybook that relates to the project.
She was constructing a wooden claw toy! There were little cardboard guide templates and stickers to help line up the holes properly, using her knowledge of colour and direction (right/left, top/bottom) in the instructions.
I’m pretty sure this is the first time she has successfully tied a knot by herself, I showed her a couple of times and then she did it on her own. We talked about why tying it twice works a lot better than just once (because the instructions said to do it twice and she wanted to know why) and then tested it out to see how easily it fell apart if only looped once.
The crate came with all of the premade pieces you see, all the accessories and even the scissors, so everything needed to complete the activity. It was great practice for fine motor skills as she was required to screw on these tiny nuts, and attach elastics to them.
Next she needed to create little pom-pom guys to be able to pick up with her new claw contraption. More fine motor practice, with winding the thread and cutting the loops.
Then for the grand finale, her claw hand works! She then cleaned up the pieces from this activity using her claw, which took her the better part of an hour ONE PIECE AT A TIME, but hey, if it makes cleaning fun I don’t care how long it takes! Thanks Kiwi Crates, we can’t wait until next month to see what fun is to come!
http://tinker.kiwicrate.com/Refer?i=CrystalM48 Her’s the link to save $10 on the crate, and save me $10 off my next subscription at the same time!