My dear friend Kristin (of 10 years now) and her partner Bob have great genes and together made one gorgeous kid – Lauren. Two-years old and full of energy, she was the perfect subject to hone my photographic skills.
We started early Saturday morning with breakfast at the Howard Avenue Diner. Lauren was pumped! Jumping, dancing, skipping and singing all before we got into the car to head out. According to Kristin, Lauren was in a very hyper mood. I thought, this could be good or mean I would need a high shutter speed and lots of coffee! Both Bob and Kristin thought a heavy breakfast would slow her down. Lauren was all about sausages that morning – pilfering one from each of our plates. Mom and dad were wrong about the food – it didn’t slow her down …at all! It possibly gave her MORE energy! But she was completely content with a full belly. Well fed and ready to take some photos, she (and I) were raring to go.
We shot in Kristin’s parents’ backyard, a picturesque oasis in South Windsor. A freshly cut lawn and a manicured garden glistening from early morning showers was the perfect backdrop. An overcast day made the colours even more vibrant and crisp.
There were a lot of things working in my favour – we were in a familiar surrounding for Lauren, I had a photogenic subject in a playful mood and two great parents who were involved, yet laid back (thankfully not breathing down my neck). We had great fun and I think that’s what helped with the results. I was a bit spoiled – Lauren was a fantastic model who didn’t fuss once during more than 1 hour of shooting. I can only pray that future subjects will be half as cooperative and outgoing. Thanks again Bob and Kris for letting me borrow your gorgeous kid!
I’d love to do more of this kind of shooting – kids, couples, families, pets! So if you or someone you know is interested in having a photo session, contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk shop!
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Over the past three days, Tom and I planted our first veggie garden and I’m beaming! Admittedly, Tom did most of the grunt work, digging up the patch, shoveling in the dirt, lugging the bags of dirt and peat moss. I did most of the delegating – “This should go there”, “Nope, it should be done this way.” – I actually did all the planting so it was teamwork.
It’s not a textbook set up – we gleaned ideas and tips from the internet and print articles, picking and choosing the things that made sense to us. We built a 6X16 box-like structure that came to me in a dream and filled it with a soil mixture. We have rows of tomatoes (two kinds), zucchini, squash, chives, cukes and herbs including oregano, basil, lavender and dill. Our first critter encounter happened even before we had the plants in the dirt! We had placed our plants on a picnic table until we were ready to plant. The next day all the zucchini and broccoli containers were on the ground with no signs of green left. We’re thinking it was squirrels or the ‘wascally’ rabbit that visits our yard every morning. I checked the web for solutions to keep them away and we’re trying tin foil around the perimeter of our patch. Apparently, bunnies are afraid of the sound and reflection when they step on it. Not sure if it’ll work on the squirrels since they can drop from the trees above.
Just prepping for the soil was a lot of work! We were laughing at how tired we were and this is just the beginning. We definitely have a new appreciation for farmers. I’m looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt to pull weeds and water our precious little rows until they bear fruit (or in this case vegetables). We tried to do gardening in pots – but were very neglectful. Who knew you had to water more than once a week!?
Here’s to lots of bruschetta in the months ahead and sharing our bounty with family and friends…
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I’ve recently absconded this photo from my parent’s home. It’s black and white, an odd size, somewhere between an 8X10 and 5X7. I’ve seen the photo more than a dozen times during the course of my life, stuck to the back of one of the many albums my parents keep with family vacations and grade school pics. I’ve never had any real interest in it before – spending only a minute or two scanning the faces of relatives that have long since passed or with who I have no emotional connection with. But in recent years, I’ve come to realize how fortunate I am and what this photo means and how it was the beginning of my life.
This photo was taken the day my 22 year old mother left the Philippines with her two children, Lynn, my sister, who was just over 1 year old and me, 6 months old. You can find us towards the centre – My fair-skinned, beautiful and tall mom, her hair in a high bun, stands behind my aunt who is holding my squirming sister. I’m the chubby baby nearby with a generous amount of hair, sitting like a lump in the arms of my paternal grandmother/Lola. In 22 hours from when this photo was taken, she would travel alone with two babies to Vancouver then to Toronto where my dad awaited her arrival. He had left our island nation first to find a job and home in Canada before his young family joined him in Hamilton, ON. The job paid less then $1/hour and the home was a one room apartment over a storefront. It was humble beginnings, but a beginning nonetheless.
I won’t go into the entire journey of my parents leaving the comfort of home, family and familiarity of the Filipino way of life to come to Canada where the weather, people and customs were so far from their frame of reference. I cannot fathom the bravery it took to leave it all behind to begin a new life in order to give their children all the opportunity they could ever dream of. I’ve only started appreciating it. I wonder what my life would have been if they let fear take over and we stayed put. Would I be like many of my other cousins today, struggling, with no job, no prospects, married with too many kids?
When I peruse the picture now with new eyes, I see the faces of the dozens of family members that drove more than an hour to see us off at the airport – their expressions are a mixture of joy for their sister/daughter/niece/grandchild/cousin, sadness that they would not see us for years and fear – fear that they were being left behind to an unknown fate, when there was a world of possibilities they would never know across the ocean.
I think about all the immigrants, past and present and the courage it takes for them to travel into unknown territory. I would venture that many of us Canadian-born or raised will ever be compelled to leave this country and sacrifice all we know to go to a foreign land, miles away with no support system, for a better life for the future of our children. When we do leave, it’s usually for adventure.
This photo reminds me to always be patient when I encounter an immigrant who is having a little difficulty understanding Canadian customs or speaking English. I remind myself they also survived a journey here and and I think of the kind of bravery it took for them to start a new life in a new world.
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It’s hard to get away from it… the plethora of plastic and cardboard that helps to merchandise our ‘stuff’. Wasn’t there a time when items for sale were just placed on shelves with a little handwritten price tag tied on with twine? Now, everything is encased in a molded polypropylene and corrogated cardboard coccoon that requires power tools to open! Buy a toy lately and you know what I mean. And of course the plastic isn’t recyclable (at least not in our fair city) plus how many people separate plastic/cardboard packaging so that the recyclable parts goes in the Blue box? I’m guessing not many.
While manufacturers are slow to move into the ‘cradle to grave’ direction, retailers have been making steps – baby steps, but steps nonetheless. And the good thing is that it’s inspiring the average consumer to think about their waste and change their buying habits. Don’t get me wrong – I know the majority is still blindly buying and tossing with no regard of the future or even tomorrow – that’s got to change – now.
Here are just a few of the baby steps I’ve noticed on my travels:
This month the big grocery chain Loblaws/Zehr’s, is charging 5-cents per plastic bag. They have been selling their reusable bags for a while now, but it didn’t reduce plastic bag use – only by a mere 4%. They say that the bag surcharge will reduce plastic bag use by 75% for every $1,000 in sales. My husband will agree – they should be charging 50-cents, or even $1 per bag. I say ban all plastic grocery bags like in San Francisco, Leaf Rapids in Manitoba and the entire country of China, forcing consumers to make the right choice and BYOB habit (bags, not booze . Or levy a tax on retailers who offer plastic bags like in South Africa. While shoppers tend to use more bags at grocery stores, ALL retailers should start charging for plastic!
Ever feel guilty buying take-out because of all the non-recyclable styrofoam and plastic waste that goes with it? Windsor’s Taloola Cafe forgoes polystyrene containers and offers biodegradable sandwich and soup containers. Even the plastic bag you take it away in is biodegradable. A couple summers ago, at the Royal Ontario Museum, they had paper straws for their fountain drinks with no plastic lids.
I bought a pair of boots at Aldo’s shoes in London, ON and instead of a bag, they turned the box into it’s own carrying case – popping a string through the top. They’ve also redesigned them so they are simple white and black and can be used for storage for CDs, etc., and use only soy based dye. It’s their Next Step program that plans to reduce plastic bag consumption in their stores by 70%. So simple! Why aren’t ALL shoe stores doing this?
Ladies, as you know, most if not all make up is non-recyclable. Think of all those compacts you’ve used in your life time that are in landfills now. I found a pressed powder compact made out of recycled fibres, which is in turn 98% recyclable. It’s not the best quality powder I’ve used (by Wet n’ Wild), but I bought it anyways. It did have minimal plastic wrap to keep people from opening and using it – I suggest that a sticker would have done an equally good job.
What’s the solution to all this packaging? There isn’t a simple one, but it begins with you (oh, oh, here I go…) Demand more responsible packaging by being savvy consumers. Refuse to buy over-packaged items. BYOB for gosh sakes. Remember, manufacturers start to listen when sales plummet.
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From the same wedding anniversary shoot I did in my last post, these are a few pics that I adore – they weren’t posed and the subjects were relaxed and unaware that I was shooting while they were immersed in the joy of their youngest grandchild. I would fill an album with these sorts of shots if the client were up for it – but you do what they want or feel comfortable with. I know with my parents, they never understood why I printed any photos in B/W when colour was available!
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The title of this post isn’t entirely true. I get paid to do photography (copywriting, etc.) for my day job, but this, this is what I love. People pics. Portraiture. Some of my favourites Annie Lebowitz and Yousuf Karsh. Local talents like our old friend Michael Pavlov, which we’ve regrettably lost touch with, did a series of the homeless that was hauntingly beautiful to me and Earl Land captures an honesty and depth in his subjects that I aspire to. My mother-in-law, Linda Iler, is a blossoming talent in her own right with an inate skill to shoot some of the best candid portraits I’ve seen. Black and white and sepia photos are my favourite.
While the photos featured in this post are only a jumping off point and limited to the tastes of my clients, I hope to experiment with future jobs and recruit friends and family to model for me, which I will post here. These images were taken three weeks ago for the LaSala 50th wedding anniversary – I was hired by their daughter, my former boss when I worked in retail. Without a huge portfolio to show her, she was confident that I could get the job done and I’m thankful for the opportunity.
I shot these with my Nikon D40 in their living room in the early afternoon, using a tripod, shutter speed priority setting. The combination of a neutral coloured room and great light from an east facing window gave a warm feel to the photos. I did very little editing – using Picasa, I softened the edges.
I can’t say I’m completely satisfied with these pics, but I am pleased at my first attempt. I feel my subjects weren’t entirely comfortable with me – after all the majority of them spoke Italian! I’ve learned a few things about working with clients and how to limit what photos I take and how to charge. I’ll need to work on my people skills and warm my subjects up for more relaxed, smiling faces!
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