Behind the Lens | Best of 2012

I can’t believe it’s 8pm on New Year’s Eve… another year is just about behind us, and boy what a year it has been! My first full year as a mama, an amazing year for my business, and a year that has been full to the brim with learning experiences (both easy and hard), moments of intense gratitude and a newfound enjoyment of life’s simplicities. It’s been amazing to sift through all of 2012′s photos and reflect on my growth as a photographer. It was so hard to narrow down a “best of” list, because every single session, every photo I’ve taken of my own family, holds a special place in my heart. Each and every time I pick up my camera, I learn something new about myself, about photography, about the type of photographer I aspire to be. But that said, there are definitely the standouts – those photographs that really make my heart skip a beat when I see them, either because they are simply one of my favourite photos, or because they represent a goal achieved, a milestone reached, an artistic lightbulb that suddenly went on, or an area of growth in my photography journey. Here are some favourites from 2012. I considered writing a piece about why each one was chosen (the writer in my was a little giddy at the thought), but I thought I’d just let the photos speak for themselves. Remember, these aren’t my favourite sessions, or my favourite clients (I love you all… for real), but some favourite photographs. (psst… the last ones are my favourites of my girl…).

A big thank you to each and every client, friend and family member that has been a part of this journey. To everyone who referred me to a friend, to every loyal client who trusted me once again with capturing their family’s special moments, to my photographer friends who have given me advice, encouragement and listened to me vent my joys and frustrations, to my husband who has been so supportive and encouraging this year, like every year, as I pushed myself to reach higher, dream bigger and work harder, to my friends who have looked the other way when my house has been a disaster or offered to take Neve during the busy season’s intensive editing marathon, to the Facebook “fans” I will never meet, but whose likes and comments brighten my day, to all of you – Thank you, thank you, thank you. Here’s to 2013 – may it be lovely, challenging and full of laughter. xo

Best of 2012 – The Photos

London Ontario Family Photography | Melissa, Greg, Cooper & Sawyer

I met this beautiful family on a very foggy and overcast November afternoon, but despite the grey skies, this session was all about fun, laughter and bright colours (loved the bright blues and oranges!). We met at Gibbons Park and explored some of its more rustic areas. The boys were adorable and Cooper definitely kept me on my toes! Coco the stuffed dog, Cooper’s beloved companion, came along too.  Here are some favourites from this very sweet family’s session.

London Ontario Family Photographer | Jessie, Darcy and Max

If I could only write one word for this blog it would be “FUN”. Not only because this was a fun session for me on my side of the lens, but because this family exudes a love of life and play that is contagious and, dare I say, rare. We met at a park for a lifestyle session and our goal was to have fun and capture some real, love-filled moments. Mission accomplished. So many smiles, giggles, hugs and games… Little Max is one of the luckiest boys around to have such an amazing little family, and I was so honoured to spend the afternoon with them.

The Mama Journal | Seizing the Moment (alternate title: Cookies and Cuteness)

I have been trying to make a conscious effort to pick up my camera at home.

My iPhone makes it way to easy to capture all those daily moments of cuteness and hilarity that make my heart skip a beat, and with every Instagram upload I feel like I’ve documented the memory. And while yes, I have, it’s sort of a false sense of fulfillment… because once those snapshots get lost in my Instagram feed and texted to the grandparents, it’s gone. Never edited, never printed, never treasured. It’s not just capturing the moment I want to do, I want to capture the moment in a way that allows me to treasure it. For me, that means picking up the ol’ camera at home and documenting the sweet nothings of our day. Easier said than done. I have a busy toddler who is fascinated with lenses and lens caps and yanking the camera off the table by the strap (can you say “heart palpitations”?). I like to keep my camera safe and out of sight, which means I have to be more intentional about using it at home.

Yesterday, like most days, involved baking. I picked a delicious looking cookie recipe out of my Christmas Cookie magazine and whipped up some – if I may say so myself – pretty fantastic little treats to gift to some of our neighbourhood friends. It’s a yearly tradition that I love, and it allows me to spread a little holiday lovin’ to those near and dear. The leftover cookies were, of course, up for grabs. Neve took one for the team and had a few. As I stood there in my kitchen, leaning against the cold granite countertop and watching my wide-eyed girl lick the icing off her cookie, I thought “I want to remember this moment forever”. 

We bake a lot, and homemade treats aren’t exactly hard to come by around here… but there was just something about this moment… the way her cheeks were still a bit flushed from her nap, the soft light peeking through the window, the Christmas music in the background, the sheer delight and focus in my girl’s face as she systematically licked off all the icing, ate the candy cane bits and nibbled on the cookie without saying a word. It was a quiet, perfect moment. One that I never wanted to forget. I grabbed my iPhone and then put it down, running instead to the office where my camera was safely tucked away. I’m so glad I took the time to capture this simple, sweet moment that warmed my heart so very much. These photos are so precious to me!

-xo

London Ontario Children Photography | Kingston, Charlotte and Oakley

When Kingston was a baby, his mama (my friend Jen) brought him over for me to take some Christmas photos. He was one of my very first “test subjects” and it’s hard to believe he’s now a big brother to two equally adorable siblings. I’ve also had the pleasure of photographing Charlotte on her own as well as capturing some candid moments of the whole family during a recent lifestyle session. These three littles have a special place in my heart – I’ve had the honour of holding each of them as fresh little newborns and watching them grow up. Charlotte has become a sweet little friend to my own little girl, and Oakley has had to endure my daughter’s “hugs and kisses”. It was so fun to photograph them all together, looking as cute as can be. It was a chilly afternoon but everyone stayed warm and cozy and we got some amazing shots. Here are some favourites. :)

London Ontario Family Photography | The Charlebois Family

The Charlebois family was one of my first families when I officially started Raw Footage Photography back in 2010. At that time, they only had two children, Andrew and Sophie. I was so excited when they contacted me again this year and told me the exciting news that they had a new precious addition to their family – sweet baby Trevor! This was such a lovely outdoor family session. I met the Charlebois family in a wild field and, despite the chilly weather, we captured the sweetest moments between all of them. I love this session because it really shows the different relationships within the family between both parents, siblings, and each parent with the individual children. You really get a feel for how much each member of this family loves each other. Every time I look at these photos, I feel warm and fuzzy and I can’t help but smile! I hope  you enjoy this sampling of favourites.

The Mama Journal | Christmas Tree

I’ve always journaled in some way, be it with a pen and a diary as a pre-teen, in a never-ending word document that was saved on the old desktop computer that sat in my room as a teenager, through countless photo scrapbooks growing up or, more recently, through blogging. It’s always been important for me to relive those moments in my life that take my breath away and reflect on life’s beautiful simplicities. Writing and reflecting on life’s moments has always been a key component in my quest to be intentionally grateful, and to try and see the good in everything. Writing helps me process, reflect and appreciate. Keeping a blog has motivated me to keep up with photographing my own family and has acted as a way to document the precious moments and milestones of our little life. So when I took an indefinite hiatus from writing my personal blog a few months ago, it felt like something was missing. I would literally lie in bed and “write” in my head about my thoughts. It’s different from plain old thinking in a way I can’t explain. Everything in me was eager to sit, reflect and write. I longed for a place to share the lifestyle images taken of our simple everyday.  

I’ve decided that keeping two blogs is more work and trouble than I can handle right now. I’ve come to really love my little space here, and the Raw Footage Photography blog has become more than a place to simply share recent sessions (although there is still much of that happening). The Behind the Lens series has given me an outlet to reflect on my journey as a photographer and has received such a positive response, which I am so grateful for. I’ve decided to add The Maman Journal to the lineup. A place where I can share some photos of my perfectly imperfect little life at home as well as thoughts on my journey through motherhood, which is essentially what my personal blog had become after the birth of my daughter. I worried that maybe my readers here, clients as well as fellow photographers, might not be interested in a glimpse of personal life. This is, after all, a space previously reserved for my photography business. But the reality is that my passion for photography spills over into every area of my life, and the images I take for me are a big part of my journey as a photographer. And as more and more clients began asking me about me during our sessions, even asking “So, how’s Neve?”,  commenting on her Halloween costume and on her big blue eyes, I realized that many of them appreciate the opportunity to connect with me on a bit more of a personal level, just as I enjoy connecting with them.  I’m all about building relationships, both on a professional and personal level, so I think incorporating a more personal touch to this blog is really a true representation of who I am and what’s important to me.  So here we go. The start of The Mama Journal. I hope you’ll join me on this journey! xo

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Last Christmas, my girl was 5 months old. Wide eyed and cute as a button in her Christmas jammies, but a little bit oblivious to everything going on. This year, at 17 months, she is truly living out her first real Christmas, and I’m just a little ridiculously excited about introducing her to the many joys of the season. Our days have been filled with holiday renditions from Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Amy Grant and more modern favourites like Michael Buble and She and Him. Neve loves “Caroling Caroling” by Nat King Cole the best, because she can sing “ding dong ding dong” while swaying her head back and forth from left to right (cute, right?). We’ve been obsessively baking cookies – trying new recipes at home and whipping up old favourites with Grandmaman and Grandpapa – and I’ve discovered that Neve has acquired a taste for drops of spilled molasses and fallen brown sugar crumbs.

We recently put up our real Christmas tree and it was so special to watch her reaction. Lots of pointing and exclamations of “wooooowwwww!”, followed by her usual monkey-business – getting tangled up in ribbon, systematically removing every ornament I would hang and trying to feed the pinecones to the dog. Decorating the Christmas tree has never taken me so long, but it’s never been quite so magical, either. It’s hard to put into words the joy it brought me to see the excitement in her face as the lights went on and watching her hold up shiny ornaments in wonder. My husband and I are getting to experience all the wonders of Christmas through they eyes of our beautiful little girl, and it truly is a gift. Here are some shots I snapped of my girl as she decorated the tree for the very first time.

xo 

 

London Ontario Maternity Photographer | Anna and Taylor

I love maternity sessions. There is something so special and beautiful about a glowing mama-to-be and her adorable round belly, a proud and excited papa-to-be and his loving, protective touch. I get excited about every type of session I shoot, but I must admit I get particularly giddy before a maternity shoot. When Anna mentioned that Taylor had suggested a family friend’s amazing farm property as our location, my excitement multiplied 10 times. A big red barn. An old tractor. An old abandoned house full of colour and character. Stone walls. Open fields. Need I go on? I was over-the-moon with anticipation, and this amazing location and sweet expecting couple managed to exceed my expectations. We had such fun exploring the grounds, and I am so thankful to the owner of the property for granting us special permission to use his land as the backdrop for this maternity session. Anna and Taylor exude kindness and joy and were an absolute pleasure to photograph. They recently welcomed a beautiful baby boy named Asher into their lovely little family, and I wish them lots of giggles and cuddles and sleep as they enjoy this time with their new little bundle! Here are a few favourites from our session.

Behind the Lens | Reflecting on November (aka: the joys of giving back and the work-from-home/family balance)

I can’t believe we’re 1/3 of the way through December already. The blog has been a bit quiet these these, partly because I’ve been giving a big push to get all of my November sessions out the door in time for Christmas cards and gifts, and partly because my website was down last week. I can’t wait to start sharing my November sessions here with you, but first I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the whirlwind that was last month.

In early October, I posted this announcement for the November “It’s Better to Give” special, offering clients 40% off a regular session in exchange for a minimum donation of 8 non-perishable items to the food bank. I crossed my fingers and hoped that people would go for it. I was definitely hoping to attract some new clients as well as offer a great discount just before the holidays, but my main goal was to use my passion and gift to give back to the community. Photographers all over the world are using their gift in different ways and through different organizations to give back, and I was inspired to do something significant for my community.

The response was overwhelming, and this past November beat out October’s record for being my busiest month yet, with 20 wonderful sessions. We had a bit of everything, unseasonable sunny days, snowy mornings, foggy evenings, you name it. I got to try out some great new locations and meet some amazing new families as well as reconnect with some of my beloved loyal clients! And at the end of this whirlwind of a month – I got to make a HUGE donation to the London Food Bank on behalf of all my amazing November clients – over 200 non-perishable items to go to those in need this holiday season. I was blown away by their generosity and enthusiasm, and I can’t say THANK YOU enough to everyone who gave and allowed me to capture some memories for them!

As amazing as it was to have 20 sessions booked in a 30-day month, it definitely taught me a valuable lesson about balancing work and family time, a tough one for someone in the early stages of both motherhood and full time self-employement. I found myself so busy between shooting, editing, putting together packages, answering the flood of emails and fulfilling my promise for a ten-day turnaround for November sessions. As much as I love what I do, there were days when I longed to just snuggle with my girl and a pile of books, far away from my camera and my computer. It’s all about balance, discipline and time management. I’m still learning the perfect equation to being an involved full-time mama and a successful and efficient work-from-home-super-woman, all while keeping the house clean, cooking healthy meals, maintaining my relationship with my spouse and friends and getting some exercise. I have a feeling this will be a lifelong lesson. I also have a feeling it may be impossible…haha!

The November rush taught me exactly what kind of workload I can handle while maintaining my high standards both as a photographer and as a mother. I’ve come out of the last month with a clearer picture of the type of business I want to run and the the kind of home I want to keep, along with a schedule and an action plan to make it happen. I never want my passion for photography to get in the way of my commitment to spend as much time with my daughter as I possibly can during these precious early years. I also don’t want to make promises I can’t keep on the business side of things and am committed to providing my clients with an amazing experience from the first email to the session to the package pickup. I’m sure there will be many bumps along the way, but I am so excited to start the new year with this fresh outlook and many exciting plans for Raw Footage Photography. It’s a wonderful feeling when people respond positively to their experience with me, and I am so grateful for each and every one of my clients who has trusted me with the huge honour of capturing some of their precious memories.

December promises to be much slower, on purpose, with only a handful of portrait sessions and one wedding. This month will be for mornings spent in pyjamas, afternoons spent baking holiday treats and experiencing all the joys of Christmas with my wide-eyed little girl. Wishing all of you a family-fun-filled December.

-Sophie :)