Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lose yourself

I miss writing my blogs from a single girl's perspective. Don't take this the wrong way. I'm not dying to be single again. But there is a certain je ne sais quoi about shooting straight from the heart, with nobody else's privacy to shield. Because let's face it, throughout the years I've certainly put it all out there. You know more about me than people who don't read my blogs but have been in my life for umpteen years. And you sure as shit have let me know how you feel about my daily, errr lately weekly musings. It's mostly been positive. Met by some silence. And then I wonder if I've said too much when I hear nothing in return. I wonder....are they judging me? Did I take this too far? I do after all run a business based on happily ever after and the persona of my own seemingly perfect life. And I am after all, a wife who can't exactly just carelessly act, speak or do.

I so often wish that I had an outlet to express myself when I was a lunatic living in the big city. I was a hot mess, hopping from bar to bar, address to unit number, friend to frienemy and well sometimes, bed to bed. {Shock value! I was once a young and wild woman trying to figure out her place in the world and using alcohol, random friends and hot men to get me through it.}

Fast forward to present day. I'm a self proclaimed introvert who also takes mild medication to calm my sometimes impulsive behaviour. I am so thankful to the friends and family who have stuck by my crazy fun highs and sometimes uncomfortable lows and just have accepted me for who I am. A sometimes lovable, sexy, witty intellect who also can hit rock bottom, shut out her loved ones at the slightest whiff of any potential mistake and turn this usual heart of mush into an impossible impermeable steel door? Does this make me bi-polar? Schizophrenic? Or just a woman with many facets, many needs, many faces, many layers?

Your single behaviour seems to be shelved as soon as two become one and I find myself in that strange abyss of "we". We love this. We do this. We think this. We are one. But what about the two people that came together to form this union, prior to becoming uno numero?

Why does wanting to go out for example, and get my dance on once a year, directly correlate to a diss at my husband? Can't I just take a night to myself, to feel like my old know that person that I once looked at in the mirror and recognized? I should be careful how I say this. Words can certainly be twisted to misinterpretation. And it's not to say that I have a bad life with someone I don't cherish and someone who doesn't let me be me. I'm speaking for women in general, with an occasional side of personal experience.

I've been that bitch of a judge who looks at other women and silently questions their choices. But really...who are we to judge? They are mothers, wives, daughters...sure. But after all their moral obligations are complete, when is the time for themselves? Or does wearing so many societal hats instantly equate to an expiry of cashing in any tokens for "self" time?

My whole life I've had people trying to push me to conform to mediocrity. Grow up and be a teacher, a mother, in a small town, with nothing else to yearn for. And I would secretly cry to be that person. To fit in. As a friend recently wrote, round girl, square world. Or peg? Or something like that. You cannot push yourself through that hole no matter how hard you try. And why would you want to? It's probably why I'm so addicted to the non-conventional love of tv show couples. I actually thrive on the tension of Will and Alicia in The Good Wife and argue with my husband about the complexity of Carrie and Brody on Homeland.  Some things can't be packaged, labelled and presented in a nice old fashioned manner. Some things are just, well, complicated. When I was single, I actually sometimes enjoyed being single. But I would somehow feel ashamed and pitied at the party. The same people who were absolutely vocally miserable in their marriage would try to push me into the same drone. I had to do things on my watch. When I was ready. And I am still constantly searching for how to be the best possible me and still function in this linear society.

For now, my advice is to suit up, and carry on. Or should I say Carrie on? Remember that episode in Sex and the City where Big and Carrie had separate living arrangements and the girls scoffed at it? Remember how that ended up for all of them? We may not have the luxury of having a separate postal code for when times get rough but you can still lose yourself, if for even a couple of hours. When you get lost, you'll be surprised at how much you can find. Oh and like, girl power, and all that stuff.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A different corner

I'd say love was a magical thing
I'd say love would keep us from pain
Had I been there
Had I been there
I  would promise you all of my life
But to lose you would cut like a knife
So I don't dare
No I don't dare

'Cause I've never come close
In all of these years
You are the only one to stop my tears
And I'm so scared
I'm so scared

Take me back in time
Maybe I can forget
Turn a different corner
And we never would have met
Would you care?

I don't understand it
For you it's a breeze
Little by little
You've brought me to my knees
Don't you care?

No I've never come close
In all of these years
You are the only one to stop my tears
I'm so scared of this love

And if all that there is
Is this fear of being used
I should go back to being lonely and confused
If I could, I would, I swear.

~George Michael, For the heart~

Thursday, November 21, 2013

With love and hope.....Amber & Andrew

I received a call from our destination bride Amber that both shocked and devastated me. We cried on the phone together for over an hour as she went on to tell me that her dear father suddenly was diagnosed with brain cancer. She kept me posted as to the progress and decided to do a ceremony at home. She had booked a room in her condo and invited her near and dearest to witness her father walk her down the aisle. As the day arrived, it became more clear that this may not happen. Michael and I drove to Newmarket and witnessed one of the most humbling events in our lives. Their ceremony was performed in the hospital room with family and bridal party watching on. It was all I could do to keep it together. I had never done anything like this before and they were looking for guidance as to where to stand, what to do. It was I afterall, who had pushed to be there to document the ceremony, even though Amber was dealing with her own feelings about her dad's ill health. It was my mom who convinced me that I should gently suggest to go ahead with the photos. She told me that she would do anything to have a photo with her dad again. I mustered together all my nerves and treated it like I would a regular wedding day. I passed Amber her flowers, situated the bridal party and snapped photos, all the while trying to be discreet and hold back my tears. 

I wasn't sure if Neil knew what was happening. His head was lowered and eyes occasionally opened. At the end of the ceremony when we were taking photos, I decided to go for it. I quipped in my awkward, nervous and pitchy voice: "Neil, can I see you smile?" Oh my God! He lifted his head and gave the biggest smile! Indeed he knew what was happening. I brought my polaroid and took photos and he has them taped to his bed in the hospital room. When everyone left for the reception, Neil said three words: That was nice. Amber handed me what looked to be cash....for parking she said. Ummmm. No thanks. But that is the kind of person she is. Thinking about others even in her own pain.

The reception was beautiful and quaint. The celebrations will take place in Costa Rica in March, and we were able to meet all the amazing friends and family that will be attending. My heart ached for Amber. I could see the conflict in her face. At times she was laughing and celebrating with friends, and at times a look of anguish would wash over her.  I tried to put myself in her shoes, and thought about the party taking place just a few short blocks from the hospital where Neil lay in his bed. The family rocked it out to Bruce Springsteen's Glory Days, one of his favourite songs. It was both a celebration and tribute to him. We stayed until the wee hours of the night before we headed back to our hotel. We watched as all her friends feverishly put away tables and cleaned up the room. What a special group of people.

Her maid of honour told her that it was no coincidence that God chose us as her wedding photographers and I believe this to be true. When we were sitting together in that Burlington coffee shop, going over the details of the resort and wedding party, God had other things in mind. He knew what the future would hold and that we would be equipped to handle documenting this journey. 

We could not be more honoured and humbled to be part of this. Below are the words from Amber and a video I made from last Friday's wedding. Please take the time to watch it, appreciate what you have, and love the ones you're with.

God Bless.


When little girls dream about their wedding day, I’m pretty sure most girls don’t picture their ideal venue as a sterile hospital room. But then again, most girls I know didn’t find out their dad had terminal cancer six months before their wedding. 

On April 26, 2013, I got engaged to my soul mate. It was the best day of my life. We quickly planned our dream wedding in Costa Rica, March 2014. On September 5, 2013 my dad had a seizure and that same day was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was the worst day of my life. My dad is a retired firefighter, a world champion curler and the absolute best role model my younger brother and I could ask for. In October, we celebrated my parent’s 37th Wedding Anniversary with a lovely dinner in the hospital lounge. My mother-in-law says life is beautiful…but it’s not fair.

After a whirlwind of brain surgery, chemo, radiation and three hospitals in two months, my perspective on my wedding has completely changed. We kept our plans for our beautiful beach wedding in Costa Rica because we will not give up hope that my dad will be there to give me away before 50 of our closest friends and family.

When my dad was at St. Mike’s Hospital he told me that he wasn’t afraid of what was inevitable but was sad because of the things he still wants to do in life and might miss out on. When I asked him what he still wants to do – through tears he could only point at my engagement ring. I think it was at that moment I knew that the only thing important about my dream wedding was that my dad was there to share it with me.

On November 15, 2013, my fiancĂ© and I got married at Southlake Hospital in Newmarket, our home town. The decorations were from my best friend’s bridal shower 8 years ago. My mom dug them out of the basement that morning. My dad woke up on the morning of November 15 for the first time in 5 days. I thought we were going to have to say our vows with him in a mild coma…not knowing if he would ever wake up. For us, this was a miracle. It might not have been what I pictured, but it was the most precious day and I will cherish the memory forever.

To all of the other brides, please take it from me – the flowers, the cake, the dress, the extra 10 pounds, the pomp and circumstance – all of the things that seem so important...don’t really matter. All that really matters is that when you say ‘I do’ to the love of your life that you are surrounded by love. I am lucky because in that plain little hospital room I got to marry the man of my dreams, my dad was there to witness it and the room was absolutely bursting with love…and hope.

You can see the events in both photo and video at this link: (Please note I am not a professional videographer and did not have intentions of taking video this evening, but I thought it important to include, even despite the amateur camera shake)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A sad state of affairs.

Everywhere we go, there is a bombardment of weight loss and age defying strategies that promise to make our lives better. I've got brides that look like supermodels living a life of self-loathing from not being young enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. I've got gorgeous, seriously GORGEOUS expectant moms who hate the way their bodies have transformed and cringe at the photos they've so heftily paid for.

And then I get a note like this:

I've been sick as a dog this past week. Seriously sick. This rarely happens but when it does, I pray to God that none of the stupid shit that I worry about matters.  Just make me feel better, I quietly pray. And then, like clockwork, here I am feeling a bit better and jumped on the scale, secretly delighted to have lost 6 pounds from not being able to eat. And then we are rewarded for such lunacy. "Have you lost weight? You look great!" Queue the recipe for a possible future eating disorder.

I was recently speaking to a woman who was not eating her dinner during a wedding. I asked if she was okay and she responded that she was not able to eat because she had a procedure. Then she went on to tell me that nobody knew. I don't know what it is about people telling me things that they don't even tell their best friends. Maybe it's my uncanny ability to ask the questions at the perfect time. Maybe it's because they look into my eyes and see zero judgement and 100 percent sincerity. Anyhow. I asked if the procedure made her happier. She nodded. She was called fat names since she was little and so she decided to do something about it. A crazy world indeed that allows going under the knife to equate to happiness and a side of Fuck You to her childhood bullies.

I have women constantly telling me that they would love to book a photo session but just want to wait until they lose 10 pounds. I joke with them and tell them that if they keep waiting, they'll be old and skinny. Seriously, do you ever look back at photos and think to yourself, why did I worry back then? 

I've got the tools in my profession to make people feel better about themselves. I am armed with the knowledge of flattering light, poses, angles and lens choices to best flatter the human portrait. But how far can this be taken? I can Photoshop you to look like a totally different person if I really tried. And sadly, those are the photos that people want. They want all their perceived flaws removed, even if it means that those characteristics make them, well them. Freckles, age lines, marks that bear witness to giving birth....gone. Just like that. Babies are airbrushed to perfection. When we are starting this young, what sort of chance do these girls have as a teen?

I admire a woman who, every day checks in to her 6:00 am workout routine on Facebook. While I lazily awake from my slumber, she inspires me to get my ass out of bed and get going on my day. She recently had a child and this past weekend, was asked by a woman when she was expecting as she put her hand on her belly. I was crushed for her. And P.S. she is dropdead gorgeous and most would do anything to have her looks. 

Even my own mother, who in 20 something days will retire from her 40+ years in the workforce, beats herself up about not eating right, feeling flubby as she she calls it. I ask her daily, if you can't enjoy your life now, when can you? Like the song, you are always on my mind, so is that of weight.

I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to feed our bodies good food, get exercise and live a life of healthy choices. But when it's consuming our every thought, our mood, our perceived level of's a problem. Because nothing lasts forever. And no matter what, time keeps on ticking and there will always be a new generation of 20-something gorgeous and skinny knockouts who will also one day become older, and so the cycle continues. And just for once, I would like to go out for dinner with girlfriends over wine and whatever else we want to eat, and have an old fashioned night out, or a night in for that matter. Order pizza. Eat popcorn. Because they say, no good story ever started with eating a salad. And for me personally, the best times in life are enjoyed over good food and drink.

My friend Ruby posted this the other day.

"He sat down at the table next to mine and I said hello. He didn't respond at first, but when he realized that I wasn't on a cellphone, he quietly and sadly said 'Sorry, I didn't think you said hello to me. Kindness is rare these days, but your hello was a delightful surprise, so thank you.' "

It's a sad state of affairs, this generation we live in.  The old fashioned pleasantries have seemingly flown out the technology window. Nobody talks on the phone. I mean really talk. And really listen without distraction. I know even my phone rings, I grimace at the caller and wonder why they are interrupting my day. We can't seem to have a conversation without our gadgets in our hands.

I don't claim to have a solution to all of this madness. We all seem to agree that things are amuck. The world is spinning on an uneven axis and things in the universe just don't seem right. We are all chasing the unattainable dream of perfection whether it's in looks, number of likes on Facebook, the best dressed kids, the model home. We are glued to our phones reading about mindless shit about what people ate for lunch and all that jazz.

And it's only when there seems to be some sort of disaster in the world, be it natural, or by way of terrorist that we stop, if even for a second to hug our loved ones tighter and vow to take stock of what's important. And then we get back to whatever it was that we were doing.

We are photographing a wedding in Costa Rica in March. Everything is booked and paid for. Most brides, months before their wedding are frantically rushing around looking for all things pretty and perfect for their day. This bride is frantically trying to get her ceremony in order for tomorrow night because her father's health is quickly failing and she wants to recite her vows in his hospital room. I pray to God he makes it.

Usually I have some sort of witty conclusive silver lining to the world issues and personal strifes I write about. Today I am an empty vessel, fresh out of wise and uplifting poetic analogies. So as I write this post and look out my office window at the day that awaits me, I wonder.

I wonder where this world is headed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Alison & Frank {Atlantis Toronto Wedding Photographer}

Alison and Frank are quietly adorable. We brought them out of their shell during our summer engagement session and have been looking forward to their wedding this past Saturday at Atlantis in Toronto.

I had done a lot of research leading up to this day in anticipation for the mixed lighting conditions. We knew the ceremony would be well past sunset and the floor to ceiling windows chanced some nasty reflections if we didn't do things properly. Like all weddings, all you can do is overplan and then go with the flow. You never quite know how things will turn out.

It was a crisp but lovely fall (almost winter) day so we were lucky. There was no rain and it was nicely overcast. We knew we had to be in various areas of the city, from the Danforth, to Woodbridge to downtown Ontario Place area. We didn't anticipate the many detours in the downtown core which had us sitting panicked at a standstill on Lakeshore and our first destination not yet arrived. We are never late. It's our absolute pet peeve. And we still made it everywhere on time with ample room for photos in the timeline. But it was a close one. I also didn't anticipate being as sick as I was. I silently prayed I would make it through the day, and made a call for a backup shooter just in case. Thankfully, I didn't need plan B.

Fortunato, the groom's father who is lovingly nicknamed "Lucky" welcomed Michael into his home. He photographed the groomsmen while I worked with Alison and the girls. The two limos arrived almost side by side into the Atlantis parking lot. With another wedding on the way, limited time, space and light to work with, Michael photographed the groom and his guys while I was with the bride and her gals. The candles were lit in the ceremony room. Frank stood at the front of the room, looking every part the groom; a mixture of nerves and excitement.

Alison's dad Peter walked her down the aisle while all the guests looked on. The ceremony was short but meaningful. The reception hall looked absolutely gorgeous with the backdrop of the city playing second fiddle to the beauty of the guests of honour. It was a lovely evening. Alison's mom Kim danced with her new son and oddly had suggested a song; not knowing that this was a favourite song of Frank's mom who had sadly passed away. Oh what a wonderful world it truly is.

We are thankful to have been chosen to document this day and we wish Alison and Frank nothing but love and happiness. We hope they are enjoying their relaxing honeymoon in Hawaii.

Please enjoy the sneak peeks. This is how we saw their day unfold.

With love and light,