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Natural Beauty

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An important step in my process as a photographer is to build a solid rapport with my subject, before they step in front of my lens. Being photographed can be an intimidating concept for many, if I have the trust of the person I am photographing, truly magic can be created in that collaboration. Sometimes from these exchanges, clients who begin as strangers become people I consider dear friends.

Erin is one of those incredible client-friends, who I am immeasurably grateful for. She humbly role models the power of gratitude and acceptance with such grace and intent, I feel so lucky to have her in my life.

When she reached out to me again this year to arrange a new photo shoot, I was beyond excited to bring her concepts to life. We had lengthy conversations about what the ideas represented to her, and how different locations could serve as symbols in the imagery.

We set out on a full day of shooting, with makeup beginning at a very uncomfortable 4:30am so we could make it out to Squamish BC by sunrise. Our small but amazing team made this day a huge success. Leigh Dickson Artistry on makeup, and Victoria Canning photo assisting and shooting some behind the scenes video.

Below you can watch the video of our photo shoot. Hope you enjoy!

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Happy Birthday Canada!

Canada is a beautiful part of the world and for many reasons I feel so fortunate to call this place home. Here is a little tribute with just a few of my favourite spots I’ve explored in just British Columbia in the past year.

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Garabaldi Lake, Whistler BC

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Mountain and Glacier helicopter tour via Sky Helicopters

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Mountain and Glacier Tour via Sky Helicopters

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Waterfall on private property, Yale BC

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Norvan Falls, North Vancouver

Lost Lagoon, Vancouver BC

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Cypress Lookout, Vancouver BC

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Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish BC

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Joffre Lakes, Whistler BC

Location Scouting

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Location scouting is a really important step in photo shoot planning. The environment you are photographed in plays a huge role in the aesthetic direction of your images. Deciding on indoor vs outdoor is a good starting point and below are some considerations as you’re looking for a backdrop for your shoot.

Locations can change unexpectedly and can look different depending on the time of day and weather. To get the most accurate evaluation of a potential location, try to check it out at around the same time of day your photo shoot is scheduled. The season, day of the week and public access are also things to consider. For example, if you choose a place that tourists often visit, keep in mind ideal dates and times to book around potential issues.

When scouting interiors, note where the windows are and how much available/natural light there is. Look for outlets to power lighting equipment.

ask yourself

-What environment will suit your project/vision best. Take a look at locations that are more likely to be a good fit aesthetically.

-Are you willing to pay to use a unique location where the property owner or city may require compensation to grant access?

-Do you have access to unique spaces or places that others wouldn’t?

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Things to Look For

-Multiple backgrounds in a single area or within a close radius (preferably walkable)

-Open unobstructed spaces such as big open warehouse, epic viewpoint of mountains/city, a field, by the water.

-Interesting textures, colours and patterns.

-Shade- This is important especially for a midday session when the sun is high and the light is harsh.

-posing aids such as stairs, chairs, walls, interesting objects you can interact with.

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This may be an obvious note, but be sure to take photos from many angles to give the best sense of the area.
Take a 360 spin from the centre, get closer up shots of details like wall textures or objects that may be of interest during the shoot.

Have fun! You get to explore and find a space that will help tell your story, further your brands image, or at the very least, take a tour of your city.

The Thousand Words

I’ve started a new personal project “The Thousand Words” Each episode an individual is featured sharing the meaning and story behind their most valued/treasured printed photograph. In this first video, Brock talks about owning a Yousuf Karsh original, but that it’s sentimental value is equally as significant as the famous photographer who took it.

Coffins, Cookies and Chai

This time two years ago I was exploring India. In some ways it feels like years ago, but simultaneously somehow also feels like just a blink of an eye. Time sure likes to play tricks..

One of my favourite moments travelling along the Southern Coast of India was in Kerala. My friend and I spent a few days in a little town and our guest house was near a row of coffin makers “shops”. Every day we walked by we were both fascinated by them, and finally one day we stopped and said hello and asked to photograph the craftsman. He didn’t speak a word of English, but his smile and soft demeanour made him so approachable.

While we were photographing him it started to rain, and very quickly it began to pour.. full on India monsoon style. The man’s wife wandered over to us and by using hand gestures, invited us inside for tea and out of the rain. She walked us into their home, which was tucked behind the “storefront” She sat us on a bed (there was no couch) turned on their little TV and another man came in and put the channel onto the only one showing something American, and it happened to be Good Will Hunting. Their kindness and generosity was overwhelming, and her chai was the most delicious I tasted in India, but it was difficult not to notice the coffin and wooden crosses half finished sitting on another bed just beside us. My friend and I got the nervous giggles when we were alone in the room for a moment and she whispered to me, “the next thing you know, we wake up in that coffin!”

The next thing we knew, we were actually totally awake (thank you chai) and she lead us back into her kitchen and then out through the back to a little mini farm. It was this amazing little house and it was easy to see she was so proud and happy to share and show us. No wonder the chai was so good, it had fresh goats milk.

The rain had subsided by then, so she sent us on our way with a truly memorable moment that had us full of cookies and tea, but also this other warm fuzzy feeling that I get just thinking about it. No words that any of us could understand were exchanged the entire time, I wish I could have learned more about them, but we communicated with smiles and nods, and that was enough.

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Caught in the Wind

I came across a funny set of photos I took when I was on the ferry recently.  A few areas of the deck created a crazy wind tunnels which were kind of funny to walk through.  I pulled out my camera so I could get a photo of myself battling the overpowering winds and it made me laugh so hard, I decided to catch as many people as I could for the next 20 mins.  Here’s what kept me entertained.  The last one is me, I figured it was only fair.

Windy Hair 1

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Celebrating Alopecia

I had an inquiry come in off my website one day from Erin, she had come across my work seemingly at random and wanted to book a session for herself.  When we started discussing a photo shoot for Erin she told me that she has alopecia, and I’ll admit I needed the help of google to understand (she describes it below) The more we talked the more evident it was that she wanted to create portraits that would truly embrace her look.  I didn’t realize until a day or so before our session how symbolic and beautiful the role of this shoot was in her journey.  I asked Erin if she would share her story…

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Celebrating Alopecia

All my life I was known for my beautiful red curls. My hair was my most unique and prized physical feature. Three years ago when my hair suddenly fell out, I was totally shocked. It turns out that I have an autoimmune condition called Alopecia, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair and causes it to fall out. I was devastated. I had never even heard of Alopecia before. I was uncomfortable in my own skin and confused about who I was without my hair. I knew deep down that the loss of my hair was an opportunity to do some soul searching and that I would have to work hard at rediscovering my true self.

I coped with the condition by wearing a wig most of the time. As the years passed, however, I felt less and less like myself with the wig on. I immersed myself in a counseling program and gradually took steps that supported me to “show up” in the world without it. I started to accept myself in new ways and I noticed a shift my perception.

I have now come to a place in my journey where I feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful in my own skin again. Through my condition, I have discovered many blessings and have come to embrace and celebrate myself. It has allowed me to reconnect authentically, take risks for personal growth, and bring myself fully and openly to all of my relationships. In losing my hair, I actually found myself!

As a teacher, my final step was to reveal my Alopecia to my school community. It was important for me to share this part of my life with my students because I wanted to model being honest and authentic with them as well. Just recently, I shared my story with the school and was received with incredible warmth and compassion. The students encouraged me to be the “real me” and helped me to embrace this step.

My photo shoot with Leigh Righton is a celebration of my final ‘reveal’. The greatest gift in my journey is that I’m no longer attached to my hair growing back. These photos represent me fully accepting and embracing my condition in all areas of my life…the ultimate freedom! By living fully and authentically without my hair, I hope to spread a message of acceptance. These photos are a true gift in my celebration of Alopecia.

Photography: Leigh Righton

Makeup: Christine Jairamsingh