The Mama Journal | No Words

I don’t have a story or a brilliant thought process to accompany this cheery set of photos. I just want to remember and document those eyes, that smile, those rosy cheeks, and how cute she looked in a bright pink snowsuit that, now only two weeks later, doesn’t fit her anymore.

London Ontario Wedding Photographer | Rachel and Jason

Since launching Raw Footage Photography, I’ve specialized in lifestyle family photography, but have always taken on a handful of weddings every year, and I’ve always loved them. I’ve decided to open up my calendar to take on more weddings this year, and am SO excited about expanding my business in this direction. When my lovely friend Natalie Young of Mint Photography asked me to second shoot this beautiful November wedding with her, I was thrilled. She normally shoots with her husband Ron, but he was exceptionally unavailable. Which meant I got to spend the day with a talented friend, a gorgeous couple, and add some shots from a fabulously styled wedding to my portfolio. Win-Win-Win (fist pump!).

You can see my take on Rachel and Jason’s beautiful wedding day below (You’ll notice I hung out with the groom, hence the lack of pre-wedding bride shots!), and then do yourself a favour and check out the all the amazingness on Natalie’s blog here.

xo

London Ontario Family Photography | The Harris Family

Before our session, Erica sent me photos of different wardrobe ideas for her entire family. And let me tell you – this girl’s got an eye for style! I just loved the amazing mix of colours and textures she came up with, and everyone looked amazing! We enjoyed exploring the grounds around King’s College, and that unpredictable November sun even came out for us. Here are some favourites from our session!

Behind the Lens | Growth

If you’re a photographer, then I’m sure you’ve found yourself caught between “wow, look how far I’ve come” and “I’ll never be as good as -fill in the blank-”. We’re always progressing and growing, and yet it’s so easy to look at those who inspire us and let admiration turn to self-criticism.

As a self-taught photographer, I have always strived to continually grow and learn, try new things, seek advice and critique, improve, and work hard to be able to produce the images I saw in my head. I set out to learn how to really use my camera and made it my mission to understand the variances between the light at different times of day, the intricate components of perfect exposure and how to process an image without compromising its integrity. It’s always been hard not to let self-doubt creep up on me, and oh – how I’ve often wished I had a framed degree on the wall that could justify to myself – and to others – that I was, indeed, a photographer. But I have continued to push forward, to grow. And now when I look back on my early work, in addition to cringing a little, I can’t help but smile at how far I’ve come. I certainly have not “arrived” – and I hope I never do. The journey continues and there is much growing left to do. But it certainly is encouraging to see progress in my photography.

This collage was put together to illustrate just what a difference two years of learning, searching, trying, failing, asking and growing can make. When you simply let time pass, nothing happens. But when you actively seek to improve and learn, time can be a powerful tool. That bottom row does not represent perfection, but for me, it represents growth.

To photographers just starting out: I often get messages from photographers just starting their journey asking for advice and critique. I am always so astounded, because it’s crazy to think that I can be an inspiration to someone else, but I am also always so touched and honoured. And I do try and respond to as many messages as I can! To all those photographers out there doubting whether or not you’ll ever achieve your goals, look at the comparison above and take heart. Time and practice really is a winning formula. Don’t give up. Keep trying. Keep growing. Don’t ever get too comfortable, and don’t ever stop chasing that perfect light, emotion and technique that will take your photography to the next level. I know I won’t!

To my clients: Thank you. Thank you for believing in me as I learn and grow. Stick with me and I promise next year your photos will be even better. To the Charlebois family pictured above, thank you for your loyalty and your support when I was just starting out. And thank you for coming back to see me.

To photography enthusiasts: The two sessions above were both shot with a “fancy camera”. A good photograph doesn’t come from a good camera, it comes from a good photographer. It comes from time spent learning, it comes from an understanding of technique, light, composition, exposure, posing and post-processing. I still love those first images I took. But when I look back on them, I am able to identify many areas that needed improvement. Even though they were taken with an impressive piece of equipment. Just like two years from now, I’m sure I will look back on my work and see how far I’ll have come. Please remember that the camera does not make the photographer. Look beyond the equipment.

To everyone: Let’s always remember to celebrate our small victories, our improvements, our successes. Let’s always keep pressing forward, never giving up on our dreams, and not allowing someone’s else’s perceived success to become our failure*. It’s been said that comparison is the thief of joy*, and this is SO true. Let’s be happy with how far we’ve come without being complacent, and let’s admire the talent around us without being self-critical. Deal?

xo

*These are my fragmented versions of two inspirational quotes I’ve heard in the past. I have no idea who said them, but didn’t want to take credit for clever wording that isn’t mine!

London Ontario Family Photographer | Nadia,Yousef, Tara and Aubrey

Nadia wins the prize for travelling the longest distance for a session with me! After we started corresponding, I was surprised to learn she was writing me from Egypt. Not where she was visiting, as I had understood, but where she lived. Ok, ok. So she didn’t come all that way just for a session with me. But I was still honoured that she asked me to photograph her with her beautiful son Yousef while she was in London visiting her friends and family. One of those friends, the lovely Tara (whose adorable family I had photographed just a week earlier), joined in on Nadia and Yousef’s session along with her daughter Aubrey.

It was so neat to learn about their long-lasting friendship that is rooted in their childhood. Everyone wishes they had a friend like that –  And now to see their little ones interacting together must be such a special feeling. We had a blast exploring the trails behind the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate while chatting about motherhood and capturing some memories that I hope they will treasure forever! Here are some favourites from our session!

London Ontario Family Photographer | The Frost Family

Large extended family sessions are guaranteed to be busy, and this one was no exception! With three adorable, energetic little boys to chase, I certainly had my hands full. But if I’ve learned one thing about photographing young children it’s that it’s better to have a happy, engaged and comfortable child doing his thing than a miserable, uncomfortable, awkward child doing my thing. So we played in the water, collected stones and ran around, and I was able to capture some fun candids of these adorable kiddos as well as some individual family shots and – the money shot – everyone together! It was so sweet to see how much these boys love their grandmother, and how much she loves spending time with them. Such a sweet family! Here are some favourites from our session!

Behind the Lens | Choosing Light Over Background

When I was first starting out as a photographer, one of my biggest “mistakes”, if we can call it that, was focusing almost entirely on the background, and not nearly enough on the light. I would try and scope out the coolest locations with the most interesting backgrounds – an old building, a barn, a wild field, etc. I would then always position my subjects in front of these great backgrounds, but I was often disappointed with my results. I’ve since learned that light is almost everything, and that perfect light makes the shot, not a perfect backdrop. I’ve really found my style as a photographer, which is essentially to capture light (specifically, backlight)and emotion. Perfect backdrops are a bonus, but are not essential. Not to me, anyways.

Being an on location photographer, the backdrop is always different, and the light is always in a different spot. While everyone has their own shooting style and positions their subjects accordingly, my shooting style is to almost always backlight my subjects. On overcast days, this is less important, but when the skies are clear and the sun is shining, the time of day and how you position yourself and your subject makes a huge difference. Huge. I always plan my sessions around the location of the sun. With locations that I use more regularly, the end result of a sunrise session will be completely different from the end result of a sunset session. The location is the same, but the sun is in a totally different spot. Sometimes this means forgetting the prettier background and opting for something more unexpected… but with gorgeous light. Again, every photographer is different. Some prefer shooting front-lit subjects. Some don’t care. Some prefer to always shoot in shade. And you can most certainly create stunning photographs in any lighting condition with the right approach. But as for me, creamy, delicious backlight almost always wins. And on rare occasions, this has even caused me to disregard otherwise “pretty” locations when the light is blocked or when I simply can’t work with the background in the direction I need.

Below are a few examples of times where I’ve chosen light over background and positioned my subjects accordingly.

While walking around downtown with this cute couple, we stumbled upon this cool empty parking lot. I really wanted to shoot them with the neat brick building (behind me) in the background, but that golden sun peeking through those houses was calling my name. I think I even said out loud “argh I wish the sun was on the other side of this parking lot!”  - but we went ahead with it, and these shots turned out to be some of my favourites from the entire engagement session. In retrospect, those houses looked kind of cool. But in the moment, had it not been for the light factor, I would have never positioned my subjects this way. I was especially not a fan of the parked cars (which I opted not to try and photoshop out because of their tricky position). But in the end I am so glad I chose light over background.

This pumpkin patch was a location I had initially scouted for an evening session, when the sun would be setting on the other side of the field, with no houses or buildings in sight. Because this was a sunrise session, I positioned my subjects to be backlit, which meant there were rooftops and buildings in the backdrop. Of course I did my best with strategic positioning and angling and cropping to make these signs of the city less visible, but they definitely made it into the photos. In the top photo, you can see posts on the left and a house on the right. In the bottom left photo, tall buildings in the far left, and in the bottom right photo, a hint of a rooftop. While the logistics of this session were tricky (these photos don’t do justice to just how many homes and buildings are behind and to the camera right of the subjects), in the end I loved how this session turned out. The light was warm and soft and delicious – just the way I like it!

I’d been wanting to shoot at this abandoned highway-side diner for so long, but I had always envisioned shooting in the other direction, with the actual building behind my subjects. When I arrived and realized that the sun was setting on the other side of the highway, I was so disappointed. But we rolled with it, and I love love love the results. Sure, I had to photoshop out a few passing cars, and the actual dinner didn’t make it into the photos, but the light was perfect that night, and I’m so glad I was able to capture it!

While the background in this photo isn’t too bad, you can definitely see some buildings in the background, and it’s certainly not a spot I would have chosen had it not been for the light. This was actually a patch of grass/trees along the parking lot of a university building. Certainly not scenic or rustic, per se, but that sun was right there, and I’m so glad we grabbed a few shots in this spot!

There is nothing wrong with this background. But again, it’s a spot I never would have chosen in the context of the large park we were shooting in. I was focused on a lovely wooden pedestrian bridge and a tree lined pathway. And had I not been looking for light, this little patch of snow with golden sun rays would have gone completely unnoticed. But when I saw how the light was shining through those trees, I brought this family away from the bridge, laid a quilt down (hint: with a tarp under, so no one had a wet bottom when they stood up!) and took my favourite shot of the whole session.

Just a few examples for you. I suppose the point behind this post is to simply share a valuable lesson I’ve learned as a photographer, that delicious light doesn’t (usually) just appear out of nowhere and beautifully grace your perfect shooting location. Sometimes (often) you have to be more intentional about seeking out a location with really great light if this is something that is important to you. Something that really helps me once I’ve scouted a few new locations (because my sense of direction is no good on the spot!) is to go home and look those locations up on google maps to see where east/west is, and whether this location would be better suited for a sunrise or sunset session (or none at all) based on the background that I’d be working with at specific times.

Happy shooting, friends! :)

xo!

St-Thomas and London Ontario Photographer | The Fletcher Family

Meet Evan, Melissa and cute little Teagan.

 

We’ve been friends with these beautiful people for a few years now and we just love them to pieces! I had the honour of capturing their pregnancy, their fresh little babe and now their first family session. This session took place in St-Thomas and the light was simply perfect. I love the mix of industrial and natural surroundings in this shoot, and as always, my favourite shots are of them snuggling and laughing together. Such a sweet bunch! Here are some favourites from our session!

London Ontario Family Photographer | Tara, Craig & Aubrey

There are so many things I loved about this session: Red barn. Old buildings. Adorable family. Perfect evening light. If I could special order and bottle up the golden, delicious light we had for this session, I would. Craig, Tara and Aubrey were so much fun to work with. Such a sweet, laid-back family. I love it when a family oozes love and laughter at their session, it makes capturing natural, candid, love-filled moments a breeze. There are so many photos from this session that I love, it was difficult to narrow it down for this post! Here are some favourites.

London Ontario Couple Photographer | Melissa, Will and Parker (the dog!)

It was so great to see Will and Melissa again, just over a year after I shot their wedding. They were as sweet and radiant as ever, and they brought along their new addition – Parker the dog – to the session! Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE dog lover, so I had a blast photographing him. I truly understand that feeling of unconditional love you can have for an animal. My dog is truly my baby (and my daughter’s “big sister”, hehe), and we try to include her in all of our photos. Will and Melissa had adorable Christmas accessories for Parker, and he modelled them like a champ. I fell in love with him and sort of wished I could have snuck him home with me! Here are some photos from our session. :)