Thursday, December 30, 2010

Critter lessons

How often have you heard someone talk about how they'd like to simplify their life but don't know how?

These must be people who don't live with pets of any sort. If you have pets or livestock in your life, lessons in simplicity abound.

For a cat like Halo, daily life is simple - eat, sleep, play with the dog and snuggle with the people. That's it. No more. Her life wasn't always like that. She was a stray burdened with litters of kittens at a young age and struggled to provide for herself and her broods until she found her way to the local cat rescue - Paws and Whiskers. When she joined our family six years ago, she worked for a living - mousing in the barn - for a few short weeks. Then, as winter approached, she graduated to the heated garage where hubby built her a number of cozy, warm and soft retreats to choose from for her multiple naps.

Last year we sold the farm and moved. Of course Halo came with us and once again elevated her status - this time to house cat. Now she enjoys having her meals prepared and served in clean dishes twice a day, her litter box attended to on a daily basis, and an unlimited number of potential warm and soft resting places varying from my lap to the pillows on our bed - and all soft surfaces in between.

Life can be that simple for us, too, if we put things into perspective. A lot of the pressure people put on themselves revolves around wanting 'more'. That 'more' means you have to have more money, work harder or longer, and consequently have less time to actually enjoy the 'more'. If we can be content to learn to enjoy 'less', then we might really enjoy life more. Just my passing thought.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Temperature dropping - new year approaching

After a wild, wet and windy introduction to winter, Christmas blew by in what seemed like mere moments.

Now, for a little while at least, the skies have cleared and the temperatures are dropping. There's something about clear, crisp air that engenders clear, crisp thinking as another new year approaches.

A friend asked me if I had any resolutions in mind and I responded quickly that I gave up creating resolutions many years ago. I always felt that the pressure they exerted backfired into defeat of whatever I was trying to accomplish. So instead I try to take some time during the hiatus between Christmas and the New Year to create a plan for the coming months - something that is more concisely defined, achievable and measurable so I will know where I stand at any given moment.

Occasionally it's important to think about not just what one wants, but also what one does not want, in life. Right now I'm making that list that will evolve into my 2011 plan.

In the meantime, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, success and prosperity, however you define it, in 2011.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Silent Night, Holy Night

Christmas is an emotional time of year for everyone. We are bombarded, through the media, with a plethora of messages about home, hearth, family, togetherness, feasts and, of course, gifts.

It is so easy to forget both the religious significance of Christmas to Christians around the world and those for whom families are scattered or non-existent, and those who can not afford to indulge in the rampant consumerism and will be lucky to have any meal, never mind a feast.

Through the many messages we hear and see, great expectations are created. For many, it creates great disappointment.

So, to have a truly Merry Christmas, focus on those you love, remember those you've lost, revel in the wonder in a child's eyes, enjoy what you have, pat your dog, listen to the cat purr, take a deep breath, sigh and know, at least for a little while, all is right with the world.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Families are fun

Last week-end I had the best time shooting a lovely family of five... with my camera of course! The children are adorable and their parents are a terrific couple to work with.

With Christmas arriving shortly I enjoyed spending a few hours with my "surrogate grandchildren".

Merry Christmas to all....

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's beginning to...

OK, so I'm listening to, and singing, far too many schmaltzy Christmas tunes - but hey, that's part of what the season is for, right? This morning I woke early and was out in the yard, at 5 a.m., with Hoover enjoying the absolute silence of a cold, crisp and clear pre-winter morning. With no wind (and thankfully, no rain) it was gorgeous out there looking up at the stars.

My deepest sympathies go to the families in Charlotte County whose lives have been so disrupted by this week's unbelievable floods. The situation is bad enough any time, but 10 days before Christmas is a lot to ask anyone to bear. According to this morning's newspaper, aid is arriving from donations from generous and caring individuals and companies - to whom I say "a tip of the hat". We can all do something to help these folks through a difficult time - and hopefully they won't be forgotten as the rest of us enjoy our Christmas with family and friends.

Christmas can also bring out the melancholy in people, especially those who have lost family members or whose sons and daughters and grandchildren live far, far away. And this is despite the constant admonishments that this is "the season to be jolly". Sometimes it is ok to shed a tear for what we don't have - as long as we turn around and greatly appreciate what we DO have - no matter how big or small.

So, to my friends, relatives, clients and students - I wish you a truly Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Give a book - support a writer

A friend of mine forwarded the following email to me and I thought it was worth sharing far and wide.


ONE:  When you give someone a book, you create a way to share an experience that will continue long after the holidays. Months later, you can ask: "What did you think of the part where he left her?", and the book might mean the world to both of you.  Unlikely when the altnerative question is: "What did you think of the linen spritzer?"

TWO: Have YOU ever tried to wrap a Round Cocotte? Well forget about it!

THREE: JK Rowling needs the money. No, wait: Nora Roberts needs the money. No, wait: Any writer not famous enough to be mentioned in this list needs the money! (And more than the money, they need a little bit of love for all those years of labor.)  

(FYI: Jeff Bezos does not need the money. He is building a personal space-port in West Texas. Please consider an independent bookstore. )

FOUR: Books are the best deal there is. The National Book Award-winning author Marilynne Robinson, for example, spends years on her novels, sometimes decades. And she writes sentences like this:

"Imagine a Carthage sown with salt, and all the sowers gone, and the seeds lain however long in the earth, till there rose finally in vegetable profusion leaves and trees of rime and brine. What flowering would there be in such a garden? Light would force each salt calyx to open in prisms, and to fruit heavily with bright globes of water--peaches and grapes are little more than that, and where the world was salt there would be greater need of slaking. For need can blossom into all the compensations it requires."

You can get "Housekeeping" in paperback for $11.20. That is $1.21 more than a Mr. Bill Plush Pet Toy.

FIVE: Most people who aren't nine would rather fall asleep with a book by their pillow than with this year's number one bestselling toy (so far): the Pillow Pet.
Though we must confess a soft spot for Miss Sassy Cat.

SIX: Books don't break until you love them so much their spines collapse.  And even after that happens they don't get shorter.

SEVEN: Books don't get lost. If you read a book it's yours forever, no matter what happens to the pages its written on.

EIGHT: Books don't come in the wrong size, or in the wrong color, or with batteries not included. (That's your eReader -- not the book!)

NINE: Books don't judge their readers. But books invite the kind of judgment that elevates the discourse, and that sometimes changes the course of things altogether.

TEN: A lot of presents say more about you than they do about the person you give them to.  But a book speaks for itself."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Health care costs

There was an article in the newspaper today about the rising costs of health care and it caused me to consider some of the things I've seen people do that no doubt contribute to abuse of the system.

For the last week I've endured a miserable cold. You know the type - headache, sore eyes, sore throat, slight fever (max. 101F), a few aches and pains, plugged sinuses, runny nose. In other words - general misery. For once I exercised personal restraint and gave in to it.

I stayed home, venturing out only of necessity to let the dog out, drank plenty of fluids, stayed warm, slept a lot and rested between naps. Basic aspirin or ibuprofen for the headache and fever. Vicks Vaporub on the chest for congestion. Lots, and LOTS, of tissues. Frequent and thorough hand washing.

Low and behold, I lived and have recovered. Today there's no fever and only a residual runny nose. Hmm.

And my point (besides hoping for sympathy from friends)? I did NOT go to out patients at the local hospital. I did NOT call or visit my doctor. I simply exercised old fashioned common sense and let the cold run its normal 5-8 day course. Had there been a drastic change in my symptoms I might have sought medical help, but as long as things remained a simple cold - I dealt with it at NO COST to the health care system.

How many people would have spent countless hours parked in a hospital or doctor's waiting room for the same thing - and only to be told to go home, take aspirin/ibuprofen, drink plenty of fluids, stay warm and rest? Huh?

The older I get the less patience I have in general and I don't suffer fools well at all. If you're seriously ill of course seek out medical help. But a cold? Get real.

Now, I'm feeling fine. Thanks for asking.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Buy local

It seems 'weird' to no longer be obliged to blog daily - but that's a good thing. It will keep me going.

With Christmas almost upon us, the annual gift buying frenzy has begun. I decided this year to "buy local" as much as possible, including supporting some of my fellow Maritime writers by buying their books as gifts for friends and relatives. In addition, I am haunting local craft and gifts shops looking for hand made goodies, toys etc. that are representative of this area - especially for my son and his family way out on the west coast. It is harder than you'd think - especially for things for young children. But, I am determined.

Now, to just get rid of this wretched cold and get on with it so things can go into the mail for delivery before Christmas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thirty of Thirty: I made it!!!!

When I signed up for this challenge, I wasn't sure I could do it - but I did. Yay!

Although the challenge (for me) ends today, I will keep blogging, although probably less frequently, depending on how busy I am.

In the last few days editing has taken my attention as I prepared images for printing for clients.
Like this grad photo, for example:
And, this equine portrait:

I love my job!

See you next month.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Twenty-nine of Thirty: The penultimate post

It's hard to believe that I actually had the discipline to post every single day. Some posts were, perhaps, more eloquent or interesting than others. But, I did it and will have one more to create tomorrow.

That said, it has been a rewarding experience and one that I hope to continue. I may not be quite as rigid in my schedule but I will definitely be making much more use of blogging.

Since today I am not feeling very well, this one will be short but I'll try and make up for it tomorrow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Twenty-eight of Thirty: Sanctuary - the book and the place

I haven't written a book review since grade school. And certainly, this is not a formal one for sure.

But, I just finished devouring Deborah Carr's book "Sanctuary: The Story of Naturalist Mary Majka". From the Preface to the Postlude and Acknowledgements, I was captivated by both the story itself and the voice of the narrator.

Mary Majka's story is a fascinating and inspiring one. Deborah did her justice in the narration, drawing the reader in to the tale and developing a relationship with the forceful characters. Perhaps because my families hail from Albert County, from Alma to Shepody and beyond, I was absorbed in the story and graphic descriptions of flora, fauna, wildlife and shoreline of the area I visited several times in summer as a child - but less often in recent years.

Although the story is the biography of an amazing woman, it is also a chronicle of life in the rugged coastal Albert County on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. This book and its story are also important as an historical record of the evolution of environmental awareness, not only in Albert County and the tiny Province of New Brunswick, but in Canada and around the globe. Mary Majka and author Deborah Carr have proven, by their individual actions, that change is possible, even probable, if one person at a time takes action.

Thank you both for this amazing story that brought me to tears at times, laughter occasionally, and stimulated my soul.

My son, his wife and my grand children live in Vancouver. He has now lived there longer than he lived, growing up, in New Brunswick. Books like this one, given as gifts for birthdays and Christmases, help me to know that he and his children will remember their roots, their east-coast families, and the place I call home.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Twenty-seven of Thirty: Over-estimated

I think I over-estimated what I could accomplish in one or two days of office tidying. However, I do see light at the end of the tunnel.

This morning I am playing with my friend's daughters, taking them to dance class while she's busy elsewhere. Then, after lunch it's back to "the office". I know there's a floor in here - I just can't see it. So, I will set up my box of accountant files and start recording and sorting the small mountain of receipts and get them off the floor and into some semblance of order. Once that is done, the office will be completely tidied and, I hope, more functional.

After Christmas I'll start reorganizing my two gear storage areas - but at least they are out of sight and I know where things are and can access them. It's just a bit crowded but I can fix that soon!

And, I still have the project organizing system that Elaine taught me a few years ago, so I'll keep that up and going into the new year.

So - no before and after photos yet. I took the "before" photos and then stashed my camera where I couldn't get at it without finishing the cleaning (had to trick myself). So, once the receipts are handled, I can reach my camera and record my pristine work space for all to enjoy. Yay!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Twenty-six of Thirty: Progess

There IS hope. Yesterday I emptied the office and dismantled the old desk. It only took Joel and me four hours to assemble the new, smaller and more compact one. At that point I was too tired to continue on with the great office clean-up.

But, early this morning I was at it again. I set up the computer, printer, external hard drives and other paraphernalia. Then I tackled the bookshelf. If I hadn't read or used something as reference within the last three years - out it went. I made a huge dent in the overcrowded shelves and found room for the things I use regularly (proud of me, Elaine?).

There are still other things to be done - like entering and filing a small mountain of receipts into my bookkeeping program - but that is scheduled for Monday. I hope to finish the general tidying up today and then, perhaps tomorrow, have 'before and after' photos to post. It was a massive challenge. But, I am nothing if not determined!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Twenty-five of Thirty: True Confessions

Dear Office,

You have been sadly neglected. For months now, 'stuff' has been piled into you, making closing the door more and more difficult. I gave you a desk that was much too large for your miniscule space and now even that surface has disappeared under an ever-growing pile of papers.

But today I will rescue you. When this blog is done I am turning the computer off and disconnecting it. Then, I am sorting and filing the mountain of papers in preparation for doing my year-end bookkeeping next week. That will be followed by dismantling the computer, printer and many other electronic devices and hauling them all into the other room briefly.

The too-big desk will be dismantled (thanks hubby) and a smaller one assembled and installed. THEN I'll re-assemble the electronics and try to start over.

If I'm not heard from in 48 hours - check under the piles, please?

I really do like you, little office. I'm sorry to have been so neglectful for so long. REALLY, really sorry because now I have to fix this. Oh dear.....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Twenty-four of Thirty: Fall is struggling to hang on

Late yesterday afternoon and throughout the night torrential rains fell in southern New Brunswick. Today the temperature has been dropping steadily and the residual showers turned first to large flaky flurries and, more recently, to wet snow. It's technically still autumn but she is fighting a losing battle against winter's onslaught.

I'm not a winter person. I no longer enjoy outdoor winter sports like skiing, skating and toboganning. I hate feeling cold and damp and my arthritic joints protest loudly to anyone within earshot. So, since I live in the northern hemisphere the annual question becomes, how to survive another six months?

I've stocked up on long underwear, warm socks, sweaters, cozy boots, and the gas tank for the fireplace is full. Armed with good books and lots of tea - I'm taking a leaf from the big bear's notebook and hibernating as much as possible.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Twenty-three of Thirty: A tribute to a brave friend

When I answered the phone yesterday I had no idea how much my friend Fran's call would rock my world. In the last several months she has battled lung cancer, and survived; a seizure that nearly took her life, and survived; brain cancer, and survived. Fran is a fighter and she's proven it time and again throughout her life. She flaunts her chemo-induced baldness like the badge of honour it is - no wigs for her.

Despite a litany of hardships, Fran raised two sons who've gone on to raise families of their own. She's made friends and given back to each of them, including me, ten fold. She says what she means, and means what she says - a rare trait these days.

So, when she called yesterday to say that her latest CAT scan results weren't good, it was a shock. She said it very matter-of-factly. Where they thought there were three brain tumors which might be operable, there are six - and they are not operable. She's been given a time-line that is finite and short.

She has lived her life so far on her own terms, and she plans on living what's left the same way. She said her "affairs are in order" and she's spending her remaining time living every day to the fullest.

If it were me, I don't know if I'd be that courageous. I heard no bitterness in her voice; just resignation and acceptance. She wanted no pity - just the comfort of talking to a friend who'd care about what is happening.

When the inevitable happens, she doesn't want a mournful funeral. She wants a party - a celebration of her life, her family, her friends and her art. And so she shall have it. No tears - except those shed softly at the loss of a special person and in the joy of having known her.

In the meantime - here's to ya, Fran! Let's soldier on and have a good time while we can. I'm here for you whenever and however you need me to be. Cheers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Twenty-two of Thirty: A lovely pre-winter morning

After yesterday's nasty cold temperatures, this morning dawned as welcome relief. It's not nearly as cold and there is no wind. I glanced out the window to see a hot air balloon drifting slowly above the winter-white landscape and rushed to grab my camera. If this was all there was to winter, I could handle it. Sadly - there's more brutal weather to come in the next few months.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Twenty-one of Thirty: Age is a state of mind

Somehow someone defined the stages of life by the number of years one has lived. That's a fallacy. What is old? A number of birthdays? The ability, or lack thereof, to do certain things? Who knows?

I know many people who are chronologically relatively young, and yet they act 'old'. They have shelved their dreams; stopped doing things because they are 'inappropriate' for someone of 'that age'. And there are others who seem perpetually young despite a vast number of candles on their cakes.

I went home shopping with my mother today. Some would say, "why would a lady of her age want to buy a home?" while others, including me, say "If it makes her happy and gives her something to do - yahoo!"

Sitting around an apartment all day with little to do can age anyone.

So - she found a cozy little mini that is just perfect for her, complete with a 'verandah', - and she'll enjoy it all, I hope.

Congrats, Mum!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Twenty of Thirty: Ten Days to Go and Snow is Falling

This was the view from my living room window this afternoon. Must be mother nature's way of engendering that Christmas spirit, right?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nineteen of Thirty: The Time Has Come

I am NOT a well organized person. Just ask anyone who knows me. Things get done despite my lack of skills in this department. Papers are rarely truly lost - just misplaced for extended periods of time. I hate filing and anything that even smacks of it.

Nevertheless, it is important and it's time to do something with the space I euphemistically call an office. At the moment it looks more like an abused storage facility, with a chair and computer wedged into the middle. But, today is the first day of the rest of my life, right? So, this is the day where I take those piles of paper up off the floor, sort them, file or toss them. Those that are financial in nature will be duly recorded on the computer and filed - the rest dealt with.

When it reaches the point where I can't stand it, it's truly awful. So, I'm shutting down later on and tackling the mountain. Period. Wish me luck organizational goddess Elaine!

If I'm never heard from again - please come looking. I may be in the office somewhere....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eighteen of Thirty: The Joys of Shopping

No, dear friends, I have not completely lost my mind. Those who know me know that I generally LOATHE shopping, particularly in malls, despite a lengthy career as a property manager in various retail malls in the province.

I spent several hours today in Moncton doing some early Christmas shopping. While looking for gifts for others it wasn't too bad. Then I went on the hunt for a few things I wanted for myself. THAT was another story. I quickly became a total curmudgeon and beat a quick retreat back to the little town of Sussex that I call home. There, in the relatively small crowds, I did, indeed, find exactly what I wanted.

Who needs to travel to shop? not me. If it's not here, I don't need it (or the headache of finding it elsewhere).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Seventeen of Thirty: Working on that Christmas spirit

I've always loved the Christmas season. Twinkling lights, the smell of the greenery, ribbons, bows and bright wrapping paper have always triggered that deep sighing contentment that we associate with Christmas.

Now that there are only two of us at home (with the cat and dog, of course) and no small children or grandchildren to wake up, excited, on Christmas morning - somehow it's a little harder to get enthused. I know that the significance of Christmas Day is the celebration of Christ's birth; but it's so much easier to celebrate when there's family gathered around to share the moment with.

This year my husband is scheduled to work Christmas Day. That means we'll have our dinner, gift exchange etc. on another day, depending on his schedule. Somehow it's just not the same.

But, that said, it's time to look forward to decorating inside and outside; finding or making just the right gifts; and getting into the spirit of giving, sharing and celebrating. Too soon it will be over and we'll be stuck with three or more long, cold months of winter. So, for now, let's smile and enjoy the season.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sixteen of Thirty: Patterns in Life

Have you ever noticed that certain things are inevitable and beyond your control? Sure, there are the usual suspects like aging, death and taxes. But what about those other, more trivial, events?

As Hoover and I 'enjoyed' our morning walk in the cold November rain, I realized that, once again, I have an appointment to have my hair done this morning - and it is raining. According to my calendar diary (I keep track of such phenomenon) it has rained EVERY SINGLE TIME I have gone to the hairdresser for over a year.

So, if you are planning any major outdoor events, forget about checking with The Weather Network or the television weather forecasters. Just call me and double check my hair appointments. It will save you a lot of grief!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fifteen of Thirty: Half way there!

When I committed to daily blogging for thirty days I was concerned that I wouldn't find enough topics to comment on and that the time would drag by - dreading each daily reminder on my calendar.

Au contraire, mes amis. I have found (and am still finding) no shortage of topics. Those who know me know that I can be opinionated - so that hasn't been an issue either :)

In today's fast-paced society, one of life's conundrums is the endless amount of waiting we all do. We wait for the coffee to drip, the appliances to do their tasks, the phone to ring, the computer to boot up (or shut down). But the most exasperating wait of all is the wait for someone else to do something.

For example, today I am waiting for:
  • a friend to call and make arrangements for a long-overdue luncheon get together;
  • a repair person to call and schedule a visit to fulfill his 'to do' list;
  • a driveway asphalt company to either call or show up to finish our driveway (before winter, please);
  • a furniture company to call and deliver my two new chairs;
  • a client to call and confirm information for a project that should go out to the media today;
  • and so on. 

And that's just today's list of "wait for" items. Because of the "wait fors", we all revamp our schedules, practically on a minute by minute basis, to accommodate someone else's schedule. What is wrong with this picture? And more importantly, where is the mutual respect for others' time and convenience?

One thing I just noticed is that the topic of r-e-s-p-e-c-t seems to be creeping into several of my daily commentaries. Hmmmm. What does THAT say?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fourteen of Thirty: Technology - the tie that binds

Canada is a vast land and families are often separated by thousands of miles, thousands of dollars and hours or days of travel.

I have one son, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and two gorgeous grandchildren - all of whom live on the west coast, about as far away as they could be while still remaining within Canada's borders. The distance, time and cost of travel is a prohibitive barrier for being on-hand for the major moments in life - at their end or ours.

So, to keep in touch we rely on technology - a few phone calls, the occasional text message and, for me to see my grandtoddlers at play - web cam visits.

It's not the same as touching, hugging, smelling and smooching - but it has to do for us as it does, no doubt, for many other families. But even so, when it is all over and there's no residual scent of the kids on my clothes, then the tears fall - grateful for the little contact that there is; sorrowful for what is missed on a day-to-day basis by virtue of time and distance.

I can always dream that the Star Trek teleporting device becomes reality - sooner rather than later. Then - it'll be "Beam me up, Scotty!" and off to the west coast I'll fly - without the inconvenience and discomfort of traditional air travel.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thirteen of Thirty: Dogs are good for the soul

Every morning someone has to take our dog, Hoover, out for his morning 'constitutional'. Normally that's a quick tour around the yard - a quick 'scoop' - and back to the house  with the longer, more athletic perambulations happening later in the day.

This was a beautiful morning. As the sun rose slowly on the horizon, Hoover and I set out taking a new route. Walking with a dog brings new meaning to the term 'saunter'. Dogs have to closely examine every blade of grass, rock and poo pile (left by less considerate dog walkers) to catalogue who has passed this way before.

Hoover and I have a deal. On the way out we walk briskly, ignoring what Cesar Milan calls the morning newspapers of the dog world. On the way back, Hoover gets his way - sniffing and exploring, poking and prodding the detritus left by those who've gone before.

While he checks these things out, I have time to look around and make note of places that might make interesting photographs another time (when not accompanied by 'the nose'). I found three this morning.

In a distant field we sighted a herd of white tailed does, seven I think, grazing in the morning frost. It is hunting season right now, so they were skittish and some slight sound sent them bounding into the nearby woods.

I love those early morning walks with Hoover. But I dearly wish others would refrain from tossing broken glass, cigarette butts, empty beverage containers, soiled clothing and god-knows-what-else onto the roadside. There are better places for such things!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Twelve of Thirty: Before the Christmas Whirlwind Begins

Before the whirlwind of Christmas preparations begins in earnest, maybe we should all take yet another moment to reflect on the messages delivered yesterday during Remembrance Day ceremonies that were held from coast to coast. Veterans of all military actions and those currently serving are deserving of our respect, support and gratitude. Always remember.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eleven of Thirty: Remembrance Day Reflections

My mother was attending school in England when WWII broke out. She was studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. After she passed away in 1988, I found the diary she had kept during those years. Much of it recorded the tedium of daily living as a music student - piano lessons, violin lessons, harmony lessons, and the endless hours of practice. But here and there she recorded glimpses of life beyond the walls of the school.

Her diary actually started in 1938 before she left for England. She and her mother had moved from British Columbia to New Brunswick (my grandmother's original home). She ended up staying in Woodstock for a while and wrote, for example, (Monday, July 25, 1938) that she "went to the show (movies) and saw 'Rosalie' starring Nelson Eddy." Yet most entries continued to refer to her daily piano practicing sessions. Her career as a concert pianist, and later teacher, was launched.

In early August she and my grandmother took the train to Montreal - sitting up in the coach section all night. From there, they went on by train to Quebec City and spent the night at a YWCA hotel - site seeing and writing post cards. On Saturday, August 13th, 1938, they boarded the Empress of Britain, setting sail for England and life as a student at 2:p.m. that afternoon.

On the second day they hit a storm and spent much of the remainder of the voyage in their stateroom, apparently suffering violent sea sickness.

They arrived in Southampton on the evening of August 18th, 1938 and took the train to London. The rest of the diary for that year and most of 1939 recorded the minutiae of her days - studying, practicing, walking, shopping and visiting with friends for tea or dinner.

In mid-1940 the entries became filled with references to the war. She recorded getting fitted for a gas mask, that must have been a terrifying experience. In mid August, 1940, she wrote about the daily air raids, sometimes several per day, and hearing the warning sirens and planes overhead. She chronicled hearing the bombs fall, seeing flames from fires in east London, and being up at all hours of the night as a result. Interspersed with these records were her remarks about daily life - shopping, practicing and those rare occasions when she actually got a full night's sleep.

Despite all that, she completed three degrees and won gold, silver and bronze medals in performance from the RAM.

The entries stop on Saturday, August 31, 1940 when she went to the passport office and Cunards (the shipping line) presumably to book passage back to Canada - all while avoiding three air raids that day.

Alice May (Eccles) Wright
b: 1910
d: 1988

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ten of Thirty: Freelancers are underpaid and undervalued

I, and many friends and colleagues, eke out a subsistence living as freelance writers and/or photographers. For those of us who supply content to various publications, the rates of pay (per word, per piece or per photograph) haven't changed in LITERALLY decades. Many publications, especially niche ones like equine magazines, frequently pay as little as 15-20 CENTS per word or $150 per article. They also pay anywhere from $10 to $25 per photograph.

Yet, these same publications charge THOUSANDS of dollars to their advertisers for space to promote their goods and services to the readers of the magazines.

Think about this. Why do YOU buy a magazine? Is it to peruse the ads? I think not. Most of us buy magazines in order to read interesting or informative articles about topics of interest to us - such as hobby related, home decorating, cooking, animals, sports, history, religion, and other special interest publications.

Publishers cry about diminishing returns, higher production costs, fewer advertisers, competition from other sources such as websites, e-zines and so forth. Yet, they never stop to consider the quality and quantity of the content in their magazines. Yes, ms. editor, you DO get what you pay for. Good, well educated and experienced writers, do their homework. We research our content for accuracy and authenticity. We write well. We know grammar and punctuation and will provide finished pieces that require minimal editing time.

Good photographers deliver high quality images that will augment articles.

But instead, many editors now seek out inexperienced (read 'cheap') writers and photographers, offering them a pittance in remuneration and the 'glory' of 'exposure' in a regional or national publication. Exposure doesn't pay the bills, folks.

But, as long as there are people out there willing to provide articles and photographs in exchange for ethereal rewards, publications will be happy to use the material, driving more and more professionals (i.e. people who make a LIVING from their craft) out of business and into other lines of work.

I find it laughable today when someone says to me, "you're so lucky. You work for yourself and can take time off whenever you want", etc. What that person doesn't realize is that, if you are a freelancer, you work 24/7. When you don't work, you don't get paid. If the level of compensation is too low, you can never afford to set aside money for a vacation, sick days, or even a normal couple of days off a week. There are times when working for someone else really appeals. Oh, and benefits? Whazzat? Medical insurance? Employment insurance? Not bloody likely.

So, being a freelancer is not for the faint of heart. Only the brave will go into the abyss hoping to survive and thrive.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nine of Thirty: Rain, rain go away. Don't come back another day.

The incessant pounding of water on the roof, in the gutters and on the ground is enough to deter anyone from going outside unless it's absolutely necessary. I fully intended to go out and make photographs of the flooding yesterday but somehow couldn't bring myself to do it. Perhaps today I'll make the effort.

After multiple days of continuously gray skies, the thought of more of the same is enough to drive even a sane person head-first under the covers on the bed. Everyone, including the cat, has had enough. It will take WEEKS for the sodden ground to dry up - time that we probably don't have before the onset of cold temperatures and winter weather.

Now, if only I could convince myself to use this time productively to purge my over-crowded bookshelves, read those books I've been meaning to spend time with, do my bookkeeping and file that small mountain of paper on the floor beside my desk, on my desk and on my shelf....

I doubt I could get close enough today to re-take this shot. I'm sure the river is well over the banks of the Kennebecasis River.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Eight of Thirty: Considering taking up ark building

It is STILL raining. Perhaps it will be the 40 days - 40 nights routine? There is a lot of flooding throughout the region and some people have been evacuated from their homes.

We currently live at the top of a hill, well away from rivers and lakes. Nevertheless, the ground is a sodden mess, super-saturated and unable to absorb another ounce of water.

For children it's a lot of fun, although patently unsafe, running through ditches filled with up to two or three FEET of water. Several kids wait for the school bus in front of our house where there is a very deep ditch. This morning I made myself very unpopular by refusing to allow them to play there - but it is dangerous and these are very small children. Should they be standing out there on the corner of a busy road unsupervised? I don't think so. But apparently their parents do.

This photo was from three years ago at the farm where we used to live. It was taken just after the crest of the "flood of the century" where the rushing river hid an entire 4' high fence line. I'll try and get back there today and see how it looks after this period of record rainfall.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seven of Thirty: Rain, rain, go away

We have had a record rainfall over the past couple of days - in excess of 100 mm - and more to come today and tomorrow. The earth is saturated and incapable of absorbing any more water. People are feeling sodden and even the dog doesn't want to go out any more. Dampness makes you feel cold even when the temperatures are quite civilized - particularly for November.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Six of Thirty: A Tip of the Hat

Here's a tip of the old hat to those who still, despite their whirlwind lifestyles, find the time to show consideration to others. Those who offer a simple 'please' or 'thank you' for services rendered - even if paid for - are becoming increasingly rare in today's harried world.

Such little gestures of consideration can mean so much in someone's day. The waitress whose feet and back are aching but still smiles as she places your meal in front of you; the teller at the bank who greets you cheerfully despite his personal tragedies; the person who simply held a door for you to pass through - all are deserving of consideration.

So, if you do nothing else today, say 'thank you' to someone in an unexpected place and make that person feel appreciated and his or her day a little brighter. Their surprised smile will be your reward.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Five of Thirty: Thank you, Mother Nature

Taking a REAL day off is very difficult, especially if you are self-employed. When you don't work, you don't get paid. Period. No sick days. No paid vacation. Or so it seems.

But, if you do your planning right and define your 'desired' or 'sufficient' income, you should be able to take a sick day or some vacation time without jeopardizing the family home or the kids groceries.

Today, Mother Nature stepped in and is in the process of dumping a ridiculous amount of rain on our area accompanied by very high winds and unseasonably warm temperatures (the good part of this scenario). Even the dog doesn't really want to go out except for the necessities.

Prior to the arrival of the storm I, like many others who suffer atmospheric pressure induced headaches, was feeling ghastly. Now, the pressure remains, but the pain is gone. Since it is so utterly miserable outside, I designated today as an official "day off". No work will be done unless it pleases me to do so in a recreational frame of mind.

Instead, I've cranked up the fireplace, made a pot of tea, baked some lemon bread to go with it, and, when I'm done here, I'm going to curl up and read a good book. There'll be lots of time for work tomorrow, Sunday and Monday - and then, I may repeat this day off thing and take Tuesday off - just for me.

Thank you, Mother Nature.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Four of Thirty: Respect

Respect is a word that is often used loosely in a variety of contexts. We can show each other respect in a variety of ways, not the least of which is respecting others' time.

Yesterday I spent most of the day hanging around the house waiting for the electrician to return and finish the job he'd started the day before. He didn't show up. Eventually I went to the company's office to ask what the story was and apparently he'd been scheduled to be someplace else yesterday.

Now, it's not his fault. But why would the company do that? Wouldn't it make more sense to schedule 2 consecutive days for a job, get it finished and get paid?

While at the company's office, I pointed out that I am self-employed. If I don't work, I don't get paid. If I don't get paid, neither will they! All it would have taken was a simple telephone call early yesterday morning to advise me that the electrician would not be arriving and I could have gotten on with my day. But instead, I wasted valuable time and accomplished little as a result.

He's here this morning and it's my sincere hope that he and his assistant are able to finish their job completely.

Then, there's the asphalt guy. His crew is supposed to arrive today to do the prep work on our driveway. I doubt if they're planning to actually do the paving though. Sigh. We'll see. There's a torrential rain and wind storm predicted for tomorrow so that would be a good reason to postpone the job, again. So far I've had no telephone call from that company to say whether or not the crew is really coming - but I'm here for the electrician anyway - at least for a while.

If I ran my own business this way; didn't stay on top of appointments for photo sessions or deliver articles and photographs to publications on time, respecting editorial deadlines; I'd be out of business in short order.

I don't care if someone is a nuclear physicist, refuse collector, employed, unemployed, self-employed, retired - it doesn't matter. Everyone's time has value and should be respected. That is an indication of how much you respect the person as well.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three of Thirty: Getting Organized

The words "getting organized" don't often pass my lips. Those who've seen my office know that neatness and organization are skills that I'm sadly lacking - at least within the walls and behind the door of my work space.

I try not to let the worst of the mess flow out into the rest of the house - but I frequently fail at that, too. A few years ago - when I had a bigger room for my office - I engaged the services of a professional planner to help me "straighten up and fly right". With great patience she, and her associate, helped me through a drastic purge, labeled things, sorted things, came up with a filing system and generally had me on the right track.

Through no fault of theirs I 'fell off the wagon' rather quickly. Within a very few days my desk surface, once again, disappeared under a deluge of paper, pens and electronic gadgets. Shortly thereafter, the piles reappeared on the floor, on top of the filing cabinet and on every other available surface. It seems I can't function in an organized and tidy environment.  Unfortunately, I also can't function when I can't find things - like lost cheques? Not good!

Then we moved. My current office space is less than half of what I had before. It's a tiny, angular, more-or-less 8'x8' cubbyhole with a regular closet (jammed full with shelves and stuff) and a weird little triangular closet into which I stuff some of my camera gear, bags etc. (great, until I need the one at the back).

So once again I'm facing a dilemma. How to maximize the space I have to work with. I'd love to call Elaine and get her back to try again - but SURELY I learned enough to tackle this myself? Maybe?

Maybe not.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two of 30: I owe my niece an apology

I make my living crafting both verbal and visual images. Years ago I was a school teacher despairing of ever being able to instill a love of language and respect for spelling and grammar in my disinterested students.

Yesterday I read a post on Facebook from my niece who was talking about seeking "shox" in the mall and that the product was out of "stalk" in the selected store. Being a 'good aunt' - I berated her for her (still) abysmal spelling in the hopes of enlightening her slightly. I was only partially right. It turns out that "shox" is a feature of certain Nike brand shoes. Really? So, for jumping on your head about the "shox", dear niece, I do apologize for being behind the times.

BUT - they are still out of "stock" at the store. They don't grow on "stalks".

Monday, November 1, 2010

One of thirty: Simple Pleasures

Yep - I said I would post something daily for the month of November to get in the habit of doing so. o, having made the commitment, now I have to live up to it.

I awoke this morning to see a light dusting of fluffy white stuff on the ground, the deck, top of the car and the roofs of houses all around us. Hoover, our dog, like a young child couldn't wait to get outside to sniff, lick, taste and play with the quarter-inch deep carpet of snow that was rapidly melting away. His apparent joy is something we could all emulate - taking great pleasure in the simplest of things. It would make our own and everyone else's lives so much better.

In the meantime, Hoover is waiting for the first 'real' snowfall....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Making a commitment

OK, I have been telling myself for eons that I would be more serious about my blogging efforts and try to make more consistent entries. Today I signed up for:
National Blog Posting Month

What this means is that I need to have by derriere in gear and post some insightful comments about something every day for the entire month of November. This is a challenge, but it WILL happen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Being a member brings responsibility

I believe that if you join an organization you have a responsibility to participate in its activities and governance. Many people join groups and never attend a meeting or participate in any activities - and then have plenty to say about how everything is always being done wrong.

Last Sunday I attended the annual general meeting of the New Brunswick Equestrian Association. I have been a member for more than 25 years and have, occasionally, been on the Board or held office, so I feel I have the right to make the following observations because I've done my bit.

There are over 1600 members at the moment. The association's bylaws require that a mere 20 members be present at an AGM to ratify the actions of the outgoing Board of Directors, accept reports and financial statements, and elect the members of the incoming Board. Sadly, there were only 17 current members in attendance including the existing executive.

Three guest speakers had been lined up and each gave excellent presentations. David Lynch, Animal Protection Officer with the SPCA, spoke emotionally about his work in helping to save abused and neglected equines. Sarah Connors talked about her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the only Atlantic Canadian member of the national team attending the AQHA World Youth Cup event in Oklahoma. Equine Canada's CEO, Akaash Maharaj updated everyone on Equine Canada's activities, the performance of Team Canada at WEG, and how Equine Canada and the NBEA will work together to promote good horsemanship in a variety of ways.

Those who did not attend missed some excellent information and their opportunity to exercise their democratic rights as members of the association. Sadly, their organization now has to spend money to re-schedule the business portion of the meeting and try to generate more attendance. Also, regrettably, it was embarrassing to have guest speakers spend the time, effort and, in the case of Akaash, money in travel costs, to prepare presentations and attend the meeting with so few in attendance.

The existing Executive and Board have worked hard and given countless hours to the organization. Is it so much to expect the members, who benefit from all of the above, to show up and say thanks?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another eight weeks...

I can't believe that I allowed almost eight weeks to slide by before adding to my blog. Bad me!

On the up side, I've been busier than a one-armed paper hanger with photo shoots, editing and fulfilling client orders - all of which are good things!

Here are just a couple of shots from the last two weeks:
Boomer, Geoff, Jill and Shady
Medea and Vromme
Some people wonder why I put this huge, "honkin'" logo in the middle of any images that I display on the web. It's there to let viewers know that I own the copyright to the image and that I, and I alone, have the right to display it on my website or in my website galleries.

When people purchase a photo shoot and buy images, they always have the option to purchase web-ready versions that they are free to use on their personal websites and social networking sites like Facebook. In that case, I prepare the image for them and remove the logo from the middle of the image. Sometimes I offer packages that include a couple of free web-ready images, in which case I include a smaller logo discretely placed in one of the corners. But if the large logo is in place in the middle of an image, you can be fairly sure it's been "borrowed" without my permission, and without compensation, from my website galleries.

All photographers these days are struggling with copyright issues because most people assume that, if something is visible on the web, it is free for the taking. Au contraire mes amis. Copying or downloading copyrighted images from someone's website is, in fact, theft. Many people link to, copy, or download images innocently, without realizing that they are violating the creator's copyright. Others just don't care.

So, what is the purpose of this rant? Basically I just want people to think about what they are doing and be aware. As a photographer I am glad that people like my images enough to want to display them on their Facebook pages and on their own websites. But, I would appreciate it if they would ask permission first or purchase the rights to do so. It's all about respecting copyright.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer is lingering on

It's hard to believe that here, in the Maritimes, it is now September 1st  and it is still balmy and hot. This is most unusual and, frankly, unwelcome. I'm definitely an "autumn" person - not only in terms of complimentary colours for makeup and wardrobe, but in terms of climate preferences. I love the cool, crisp, bug-free days that we normally have in September and October and endure the hot and sultry days of summer.

Hurricane Earl is on his way up the eastern seaboard and threatening to make our Labour Day week-end celebrations a write-off. Hurricane Fiona is following hot on his heels. Many in this region are loudly singing the country and western song that extolls "Earl Has To Die!"

For the first time in 18 months I had the opportunity to visit my son and his family in Vancouver, BC, in mid-August. When grand children are very young, the difference from infant to toddler is enormous. We had a wonderful visit, though, and I got to know the kids a bit more. Hopefully they'll remember me, too.


My photo shoots in August seemed to follow along on the family theme.

And another...

September, so far, seems to be leaning toward more equine sport photography, but we'll see. Not much will get done if this heat continues.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Proud moments

Sometimes you just know things are working - and working correctly. Whether it is something you write, a photo you take, or the accomplishments of your students.

This week-end I had the pleasure of that experience. Zara and her horse Ajiba performed exceptionally well in every class they entered at the 2010 ACAH horse show. Their success is the culmination of all they have learned from several coaches over the years and I happen to be the fortunate one who is putting the 'icing on the cake' so to speak in refining their skills.

So, how do people commemorate those moments? For many it is a photograph - perhaps one of the presentation of a trophy, such as the one above. For others, the joy is in capturing the action as it happens that results in the awarding of prizes.

The hand gallop that speaks to strength, fitness, obedience and pride.

The lengthened stride that demonstrates longitudinal flexibility and strength.

What ever it is, those moments are fleeting and to be enjoyed again and again in an image that truly captures the memory.

As photographers, that is what we do.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shooting Children

I know. After a few days of heat and humidity such as have been experienced across Canada this week, it might be tempting - but I'm talking about shooting them with a camera. Aside from any technical advice, the most important thing when doing a photo shoot that involves children, especially a lot of them, is to relax and have fun. If you are relaxed, they will relax - and it'll show in your final images.

Personally I prefer to do family shoots (such as these 9 grandchildren) in an outdoor setting. Although I'd have preferred a dawn or dusk setting for better light, organizing 9 kids at that time of day is pretty much impossible. So, we did the best we could given the somewhat harsh mid-afternoon lighting.

The grandparents have a lovely summer home on a lake so the kids gathered there for the experience. At first they were tense and the cheesy grins were pasted on faces. But after a little while, they began to get into the spirit of the event and had fun. We all climbed the rock pile, sat in the dirt, played on the playset and generally had a good time - while taking photos.

So, if family portraits are something you want to do - work on your people skills with the kids, first. Everything else will fall in place. Just remember to relax and have fun - then the kids will too.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rain rain rain

If you want to shoot events that are held outdoors, you'd best be prepared to be wet, cold and dirty a lot of the time. This week-end has been one of those times for me. It rained. And then it rained some more! And it's supposed to continue to rain for several more days. Oh joy.

My targets this week-end were agility dogs, a motorcycle fund raising "Ride for Dad" event in support of Prostate Cancer Research, and cattle penning. While I did get a few shots at each event, it was a great risk to my gear and some serious personal discomfort. it goes with the territory - but it would have been nice to get a few more shots. Oh well.

I shot the agility event just as the rain started...

Then, as the downpour began, I went and shot the Ride for Dad...

And finally, this morning, before the skies darkened too much, I headed to the cattle penning ring. That's enough wetness for one week-end. Now it's time for a bath, book and bed for a nap!

'til next time...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Value and Price

I belong to a couple of photography chat groups and on one a recent discussion revolved around the setting of prices and customers' reactions. A customer might ask, "how much is an 8 x 10?" and be horrified if a larger dollar amount is cited.

So - what IS a photo worth? Really, it's all about perceived value. What are you buying? Ink on paper? That's only worth pennies or a couple of dollars at most.

No, what the customer is buying is the tangible memory of a moment in time portrayed through the skill, artistry, education and experience of the photographer.

It's been said that anyone with a half-decent camera (in this instant gratification world of digital imagery) can be a "pro". And yet, the debate on photographer versus equipment rages on.

In reality, the skill and artistry of the photographer sees the moment and utilizes knowledge and experience to capture it in the best possible way. If the photographer has a better quality camera and lens set up, the technical quality of the image may be better than one shot on an inexpensive point-and-shoot, for example, but the 'vision' of the photographer will still create a beautifully composed and exposed image with whatever camera he or she has at hand.

Like a talented musician, the photographer plays the instrument she has. In the right hands, a cheap violin will deliver a lovely tune; but played on a Stradivarius that same lovely tune will have warmth, depth and feeling resonating from the instrument itself - impossible to completely replicate on a cheaper imitation. A cheap camera will likewise produce a decent photo when used by a good photographer. But that same photo, taken with a higher resolution camera, and a faster, sharper lens, will retain more detail, show richer colours and offer more options for editing to become that final magnificent image that someone will keep for all time.

So, what is a photo worth? If a house is burning down, what is one of the first things people grab on the way out the door (assuming family members and pets are safe)? According to insurance industry statistics, it is family photos that people cherish and try to save. How can you really define the value of a cherished memory?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kids learn the value of volunteering

Last week-end some members of the Sussex Beef 4-H Club donated their time to the Princess Louise Park Show Centre in Sussex, NB. The kids, and their adult assistants, helped with the spring cleaning preparations for the 10th season opening event this week-end - the annual Equine Review Showcase.

They stained the new stadium seating, picked up garbage, raked leaves and cleaned out garden beds for nothing more than a thank-you from their group leaders and the Centre's management. It was a wonderful example of teaching civic responsibility through action and involvement.

For more photos, check out my album at

Friday, March 5, 2010

Use caution when riding

I just read an article on about the sad accident that dressage rider Courtney King-Dye suffered resulting in a serious head injury that has left her in a coma. The article speaks eloquently about the need for dressage riders (and others) to eshew fashion in favour of common sense and safety and wear helmets AT ALL TIMES WHEN MOUNTED ON HORSES.

You can read the full article here:
Courtney King-Dye injured in fall .....

My sympathies to Courtney's family and I hope her accident serves a greater purpose - a wake-up call to other riders in all disciplines - both English and Western. We only have one head and it needs to be protected.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Capture that 'so new' look within the first 2 weeks

When a new baby joins the household it often seems like life revolves totally around the new wee person - and it usually does. To capture that 'brand new' look that infants have, you should schedule your newborn photo session within the baby's first two weeks of life.

To make things comfortable for baby, especially if some of the poses involve being partially or completely undressed for a period of time, make sure that the ambient room temperature where the photo shoot will take place is on the warm side. We adults may find it a tad too warm, but baby will appreciate the gesture.

It also helps if baby is content. It's a good idea to feed your baby shortly before the session so he or she isn't feeling hungry or uncomfortable. Of course, a last minute diaper change may help too.

Any props used, either by the parents or the photographer, should be safe for use around infants and preferably of a soft and comforting texture.

A few steps like this will help to make the photo session more comfortable for all concerned and the resulting photos will focus on a happy new baby.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dobbin's portrait session

If you're planning on having a series of photos done of your horse, there are some things you should keep in mind in preparation for the big day.

First of all, communicate with your photographer. Let her know how you want to use the photos. For example, will they hang on your living room wall? Or do you want to use them to promote your stallion or mare for breeding purposes? Or perhaps you're planning on selling your horse and want to use a photo in the advertisement. Each of these situations requires a slightly different approach including the selection of a suitable background area, level or sloped ground, lighting, soft or sharp focus, positioning etc.

Regardless of the end use, some things shouldn't be ignored. Make sure your horse is shiny clean - all grass and manure stains removed along with any knots in the mane or tail. Whatever tack you are planning to use should also be clean with any metal work polished and gleaming.

If you want to be in the picture with your horse, make sure that you are ready too with your hair combed, modest and appropriate make-up applied (for the ladies) or freshly shaved (for the men). Select a simple outfit with minimal patterns to avoid drawing attention to your clothes instead of you and your horse and the connection between the two of you.

Make sure that neither you nor your horse are hungry. There's nothing more distracting than a rumbly tummy - from either of you. If you're both content, it will be easier to get those happy images.

At the last minute make sure you've applied fly spray to keep the wee pests at bay, coat polish and/or baby oil for that extra glow, and keep a towel handy for wiping up those occasional slobbers or dust that may settle.

Ready now? Have fun!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

They are all little heroes - and so are their families

Ever wonder why we are each given particular talents, skills or other gifts? I think it's because we are supposed to use those gifts to enrich the lives of those around us.

Last year I applied to, and was accepted by, the Littlest Heroes Organization to become one of their designated photographers. This organization was created to encourage photographers to "give back" to families of children facing extraordinary medical challenges in their lives.


Nathan is one of those special children. I had the chance to spend last Sunday morning with him and his parents - and what a joy it was. Despite his troubled 11-month-old life, Nathan is a happy child who lights up a room with his beautiful eyes and bright smile.

I'm grateful to have had this opportunity and I hope his family enjoys the images we made together - memories of a happy morning in January.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Littlest Heroes

Perhaps one of the most difficult things a photographer can do is to participate in a program like Littlest Heroes. Our job is to capture moments in the lives of very ill children and their families, giving them the gift of priceless memories in the form of images. It's also one of the most rewarding things we can do.

I'm heading out shortly to do my first Littlest Heroes photo shoot for 2010.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Turn your face to the world

When you come to me to have your portrait done (or with your family and/or pets), my goal is to capture not just a picture, but a moment in time that shows your unique personality.

It's not necessary to wear a lot of make-up (unless that's a part of who you are!) - just keep it simple and light so you'll look as natural and beautiful as you always do.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Clothes make the man - or woman

Well, they may not be the same as core values, but your choice of clothes, especially for a portrait session, does make a difference.

I recommend that my subject avoid the stark (and usually unflattering) contrast of bright white and black. Softer colours are generally more flattering to both men and women, while children can "get away with" bright, primary colours.

In group shots it's a good idea to have a unifying theme or colour. For example, if it's a casual shoot, have everyone wear blue jeans or khaki pants, for example.

Avoid loud patterns: checks, houndstooth, big swirls and circles generally draw the viewers eye away from the subject of the photo.

For most people I recommend avoiding wearing shorts (light leg skin draws the eye away from the person's face) or totally sleeveless tops (for the same reason).

But, when it's all said and done, the important thing is to relax, have fun and be yourself. It will show!