An Off-Season To-Do List for Photographers

Oh hello there.

There are still mountains of snow outside my window, and this has been one of the quietest winter seasons in recent memory, as our nasty stormy weather has crushed the spirit of myself and nearly everyone else. That said, I’m the master of “make work” projects and I can’t say that I’ve been bored! I’ve enjoyed having the occasion to really sit down and look at things from the inside and have the time to do those tasks that seem impossible in August.

Summer is coming, my friends, I promise! But maybe not for another 2-3 months, so here are some projects to keep a photographer busy:

  • albums: design and order new sample albums, photograph them, update album info guide for clients
  • client communications: review and create/update canned emails, contracts, session information guides, timeline worksheets & questionnaires, etc; re-evaluate your workflow to make sure it’s consistent with how you actually work/connect with clients; achieve inbox zero and keep it that way
  • computer: clean up your system, update software and applications, backup presets and scripts
  • gear: clean or send away for maintenance, record your serial numbers somewhere safe (I use Lenstag), update firmware, consider selling things you’re not using
  • office/studio: clean! it! out!: read and discard your hoarded industry magazines, shred unneeded documents, organize your receipts and bookkeeping, etc.; it’s tax season so make sure you’re on the ball with that, too!
  • photography: is there something you’ve been dying to shoot? try to make it happen! submit work for publication consideration, share your work on social media, book things like massages and biz travel in advance
  • product packaging/stationery: re-evaluate it, order inventory, prepare/assemble anything you can do in advance
  • website/portfolio: update, maybe re-edit images if necessary if your style has changed, check links (especially for press features), catch up on blogging sessions
  • workshops: watch/do them!
  • and finally… personal: Enjoy it! Read books, do fitness, unfuck your habitat, print your images… try to form good habits to take through the busy season, so that you can return to work with fresh eyes and a renewed enthusiasm!

I’ve completed pretty much everything on this list over the past two months (still to do: finish cleaning out my office, make prints, and watch tons of workshops!), so if there’s anything I’ve overlooked, let me know!

Fredericton Winter Engagement Photography: Jenn & Kyle

Continue reading Fredericton Winter Engagement Photography: Jenn & Kyle »

Month in Review: February 2015

I only published one post in February — an updated look at my wedding albums. Two if you count January’s review post. That should give you a clue as to how magnificently leisurely February was. Client meetings, a photographer meetup, and one lovely shoot on the very last day of the month (coming soon!) got me out of the house. That said, it’s pretty hard to work up enthusiasm for shoots when there’s 6+ foot snowbanks and subfreezing temperatures the entire month, so I accepted my fate and turned to indoor activities.

For the second month in a row, we spent it entirely at home — practically unprecedented! — so knitting, visits with my niece, yoga, reading, the Oscars, restaurant trips, and recording the antics of our cat are just some of the ways I whiled away the hours. We finally booked our honeymoon (September! Peru!), so I’m learning Spanish with Duolingo. I tackled a “decluttering” challenge and managed to do every room, closet, and junk drawer in our home… except the one that needs it most. That, of course, is my office. Looking at you, March.



Wedding Albums!

Awhile back my album company introduced a load of new colour options (they went from 7 to 30!), and recently I decided it was long since time that I saw them for myself, so I sat down and designed a bunch of sample albums… plus a huge one for AG and myself!

The result? LOVE! Bright, vibrant, and so customizable… you can go classic with black or white, or match your wedding with the other 28 options. The actual construction hasn’t changed much: the leather album with its extra-thick pages is an absolute tank, weighing in at around 4 pounds with the maximum number of spreads, while the linen books are light and modern. The spreads are printed on real photographic paper, and I am so pleased with the colour and rendition of the images. It’s heads and tails above the quality of a press-printed book like Blurb (and I know because I own many of those as well).

This snowy, indoors season is a great time to order books, so if you’re interested, get in touch!

Continue reading Wedding Albums! »

Month in Review: January 2015

I get asked a lot if I’m busy this time of year. Yes I am, although not with actual photography. After launching the new year with a flurry of end-of-2014 work and recaps, like Amanda & Ryan’s Halifax wedding, Carol & John’s New Year’s Eve celebration, and my Best of 2014 post, work has mostly turned inwards. I scored 37 check-marks on my to-do list, exciting tasks like updating info guides for new clients, registering my gear with Lenstag, updating some of my photography apps, ordering supplies, and revising my workflow. I know, fascinating, but I think that starting the year with a review of the business and being mindful of my goals puts me on good footing for the year ahead. It’s also nice that between the obscenely cold temperatures and seemingly non-stop snowstorms, I squeezed in two snowy engagement shoots as well: Jenn & Dan, and Erika & Phil.

That being said, in January we spent only one night away from home — the first time since November 2013!! Having that much free couch time has been truly luxurious, and I spent it reading books, watching Scandal, brunching and lunching with family and friends, knitting, admiring our wedding photos (even got around to sharing my favourite ideas stolen from you), snuggling with our new cat Sheta, and celebrating my birthday. We got some walks in, caught a movie, I donated 11 inches of my hair to charity, and yes, even got to yoga class a time or two.

I feel refreshed and, even though my to-do list is magically the same length it was at the beginning of the year, more ready than ever to tackle this coming year. First up is February… it’s tax time. I’m going to need that energy.



The 5 Best Things We Ripped Off From Your Weddings

After photographing more than 50 weddings and having attended more than a few on the side, AG and I approached our wedding planning with a pretty clear view of what we did and didn’t want for our celebration. (One cool side benefit of the job is that you essentially get to audition tons of wedding vendors.) We’d never talked much about what our wedding would be like, but we’d talked so much about your weddings, that in some cases our plans just seemed to already exist.

Some of our decisions were pretty unique (starting the day with an 8km fun run even though we’re terrible runners; forgoing flowers in favour of my knitting and trimming some bushes from the yard; getting married in a venue that’s almost completely off the telecommunications grid, closed, and for sale; reversible, bilingual invitations; opening our ceremony with a prologue before we walked in; wedding food that included mac & cheese, beef stew, and garlic fingers; having a DIY open bar; forgetting to task someone to be MC and partially doing it ourselves/partially having a rotating cast of friends tackle it; moving the dancefloor halfway through the reception), and some of them were inspired by general trends we’ve observed (homemade activity books for the kids [again bilingual!]; cupcakes and a small cake instead of a large traditional cake; a photobooth), while still more were plans we’d had that never actually came to fruition (s’mores). Lastly, some of them were completely ripped off from you. Here are some of the best things we ripped off:

Getting Ready Together. Like: Emily & Brad, Amanda & Brendan, Jason & Angele. Here’s the thing I’ve never understood about the “traditional” wedding: you spend weeks, months, or years planning a celebration of your life together, only to spend half that day purposefully avoiding each other. WTF?! For us, getting ready together just made sense. From the spa day before our wedding (where AG learned about the wonder that is the Pedicure Chair) to drinking champagne for lunch, it was a great bonding experience. Plus, nobody but AG could have brought me down from the ledge when my computer blew up hours before our ceremony and took all of our wedding playlists with it. (PRO-TIP: BACK UP YOUR PLAYLISTS.) And even though I’d just seen him 2 minutes earlier, I still cried after I put on my wedding gown and we did a first look. I cried again as we walked down the aisle together. No amount of pre-ceremony hanging out can dull those feelings. Photo by Ryan MacDonald.

Skipping the Bridal Party. Like: Jill & Fen, Creighton & Nadine. We had a small wedding (45 people including children), so it goes without saying that everyone present was important to us (indeed, many people who weren’t there are important to us!). Our people were amazing and did so much to make our weekend special (from decor to readings to bartending and kitchen duties to dancing-through-the-pain to surprise teardown of everything the next morning), that it only seemed right to have them on equal footing. (You’re all our favourites!)

Live Painter. Like: Ashley & Hannah, Vicki & Robin. Sharon Epic is a fixture of the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, and I’m a huge fan of her work. In some year past I had thought how cool it would be if she painted a wedding. (Mine of course, albeit theoretically: it was totally on my secret wedding Pinterest board.) However, when we started actually planning our wedding, I dismissed it as a completely unlikely pipe dream… until I saw that Ashley & Hannah had a live painter. “Hmm, that’s actually a thing!” Knowing that Sharon was living in another province, I inquired with a few Maritime artists but the quotes were outside of our budget… then I saw Sharon herself painting Vicki & Robin’s wedding! One quick chat later and to my amazement, my dream had come true. It was a wedding gift to myself, and besides how cool it was to see the process happen (and how she interpreted the events of our wedding!), the final product brings me so much joy. We have this big beautiful piece of art hanging in our living room, and just like my memories of our wedding, it’s bright, happy, colourful, and just a little bit fuzzy around the edges. Photo by Ryan MacDonald.

Going Unplugged. Like: a bunch of you! Personally, there was one thing AG & I knew we didn’t want at our wedding, and that was to look out at our friends and family during our ceremony and see phones and tablets where faces should be. Professionally, we’d hired an amazing photographer from the other side of the country, trusted her vision completely, and wanted to give her the space and conditions to do her best work (without say, being elbowed out of the way as we have been at weddings in the past). We also wanted our guests to know that it was taken care of; that they could relax and enjoy the show. We asked everyone to refrain from taking pictures during the ceremony, and as a result we have a lot of wonderful reaction shots of our family and friends laughing, crying, and being present with us.

An Instax Guestbook. Like: Kady & Seth, Stephanie & Tyler. A guestbook was one of the last things we figured out. I was always stuck on the “are we going to want to look at this again?” point, and when we picked up on the Instax trend, we were sold. We ordered a great blank book from Etsy, tons of film, made some signs, and let it go. Almost everyone at our wedding took pictures of themselves and others (some people even took some home with them!), and the next day we got to pour over the photos and enjoy some instant nostalgia about our day. Our guestbook is a bit of a scrapbook as well, with bits and bobs of wedding business pasted in amongst the photos and well-wishes, and makes every read a happy stroll down memory lane.

Now that all is said and done, it’s funny to think of how different our wedding might have been if we did not have the experience of this job to draw upon, but I’m so glad we do… our wedding was absolutely one of the greatest days of my life, a joy-filled experience I’ll try to hang onto forever. So what are you going to rip off?

Our Wedding

The rainbow over the lodge the night before our wedding. Friends and family gathering from Victoria and Vancouver to St. John’s. (Seeing them laugh and connect with each other). Cutting candles for decor with knives heated over the commercial gas stove. A morning fun run, complete with cheerleaders and a water station, and the fact that my grandparents drove by about 5 times offering cheating rides before we finally took them up on it. My computer with the 8 hour dance party playlist crashing in the middle afternoon, and having friends save the day by building an all-new playlist on the spot. Getting honked at by hunters while doing our portraits. Finishing my bouquet moments before the ceremony, with my sister’s help. Looking down on everyone from the patio before our wedding ceremony began and being so excited. Barely holding it together while walking in to “Ceremony”. My grandparents tying the ribbons so thoroughly for our hand-fasting. How well our friends did their readings, and a sparkler sendoff that more or less worked! Hula-hooping, selfie-taking children. Finding out that there had been a (successful!!) afternoon forage in the woods for mint. The weather that did everything from fog and a few raindrops to a glorious sunset. Delicious food and drink. (Friends squirrelling away bowls of leftovers to be eaten later.) Swinging our niece around on the dancefloor while The Bangles played. The live painter who created a beautiful piece for us. My dad shooting off fireworks, then surprising me by knowing all the words to “Landslide” and making me cry my eyes out during our father/daughter dance. (SO much crying. The good kind.). Discovering in the aftermath of the wedding that there had been THREE secretly-pregnant women present! Dancing until almost 4 am, full of adrenalin and catharsis, swirling around in my dress. Being so incredibly happy.

All photos by the wonderful Ryan MacDonald.

Continue reading Our Wedding »

Fredericton Engagement Photography: Erika & Phil

Continue reading Fredericton Engagement Photography: Erika & Phil »

2015 Goals & Resolutions

For 2014, I made a nice set of tiny, manageable goals that more or less went out the window the minute we got engaged at the beginning of February and life became all about wedding planning (my couples: I feel you.). The cool thing about life is that for stuff like this, you can take a mulligan pretty much any time! So here are my new year’s resolutions, same as the old year’s resolutions:


1. Try to walk 150 km/month. (Now that I have a FitBit, I also often try to hit a monthly average of 10,000 steps per day, but it’s tough this time of year!) Maybe throw in some running sometimes.

2. Finish printing my photos from the past few years, and do that album organization. (I made close to 1000 prints last year, so I certainly made progress on this goal, but it’s a huge project!)

3. Cook a new recipe from each of my cookbooks. Now here I really erred, because we have more cookbooks now (33) than we did in 2014 (27). Oops.

4. Yoga. Go sometimes. (I still would like to do that 30-in-30 and 108 sun salutations, but… let’s be honest here. To get there, I need to start with “go sometimes.”)

5. Make my best effort to be the FREX’s Grand Champion Knitter. I knit a few fine things in 2014, including my wedding bouquet, but I certainly did not have time to knit the sheer volume of things required to meet this goal. Even for 2015, I need to get cracking!

Some other things I’m looking forward to include our honeymoon in Peru, and snuggling with our sweet new cat, Sheta!


Unlike my personal goals, my professional goals, or the way I want to do business, were totally revolutionized over the course of the year. Between hiring two very different (but both great) photography studios to shoot us, and my experience of wedding planning that was mostly bad, I feel like I have all new perspective on what is important to me as a photographer/artist, to me as a business, and to my clients who are getting married.

1. Improve my shooting & storytelling. This was my top goal last year as well, and I feel like it always will be.

2. Change the way I deliver photos.

  • All sessions will now be delivered in both colour and black & white. The artist in me has resisted this for years (some photos just look better one way or the other, the end), but the business person in me recognizes that it’s easier to do it this way than to re-edit photos later (or to say ‘no’), and while the client in me might be slightly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of photos, I absolutely see how easy, beneficial, and generally great it is to have options.
  • Weddings will now be delivered on USB rather than DVDs. (Engagement & portrait sessions will still be delivered on DVDs… until my existing stack is gone!)
  • Wedding slideshows. I cried when I watched mine, now my wedding clients are getting them, too.

3. Be more consistent about pre- and post- wedding & session communications. I think that I do a pretty good job of this in general, but this year I want to make extra sure that you know what to expect about things like: how your engagement or portrait shoot will work, how I work on your wedding day, how to build your wedding timeline, and when you can expect to receive your photos.

4. Be a boss. Whether it’s to tell you to tuck your shirt in, to admit that the photo location isn’t working and move on, to talk you into an additional portrait session in the evening, or just to stand up in front of all your guests to get a great shot, my goal is to really take charge of situations to get the best photos for you.

5. Be a person. Can I get to a place where I routinely shut my computer off by midnight? Do something on the weekend without manically trying to clear my entire workload to feel like I “deserve it”? I’m still seeking that white whale known as work/life balance, but I feel like I learned a lot in 2014 that sets me up well to work smart and hard without getting burned out. Three months ago I promised to give AG the best of me, and I can only do that if I’m also giving ME the best of me. Time to start.

Have you made changes or resolutions for 2015?

Best of 2014 | Wedding + Portrait Photography for Awesome People

In 2014 I shot 20 weddings from Edmonton to Annapolis Royal, and 42 portraits and commissions from Phoenix to Charlottetown, resulting in over 16,000 photos delivered to clients!! Got included on Weddingbells’ list of Most Inspiring Photographers in Canada, and had one of my images appear in a book. Visited Salt Lake City, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Alberta, Montreal, Portland, Halifax, Charlottetown, Edmundston, St. Andrews, Saint John, Campobello Island, Cocagne, Wolfville, Cape Breton: over 36,600 kilometres travelled! Gained one new niece and lost two old cats. Participated in one collaborative art project. Spoke twice at NBCCD. Snorkelled, kayaked, hiked, skated, and rode a horse (and narrowly avoided being thrown off a horse). Got engaged and then married. 2014 was a pretty big year.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite frames from the past twelve months.

Continue reading Best of 2014 | Wedding + Portrait Photography for Awesome People »