Savannah's Dance Themed Lifestyle Shoot

I met Savannah back in February while shooting the wedding of her friends Lisa & Aron.  She was one of the bridesmaids & we hit it off right away.  A few months later, she reach out wanting to do a branding overhaul for her dance school Propel Dance Center & get some updated lifestyle shots for her Arbonne Consultant businesses.  As a dancer she wanted the images to be artistic, unique & fun, all while being powerful & making a statement.

For me, this was a great opportunity to really be creative with lighting & posing while directing someone with so much grace & body awareness.

When it came to picking a location we both agreed Evergreen Brick Works would be the perfect place to start with it's variety of backdrops, soft natural light, privacy & rustic feel.  We the shoot on the pier facing Toronto's beautiful skyline at sunset.

Big shout out to Savannah for putting her heart & soul into each image, as well as all the prep she put in for this shoot. Immanuel & Rebecca, thank you for your amazing assistance, you were both so helpful & made for really good energy on set.

I hope you enjoy the variety of looks & feels we came up with on this editorial feeling lifestyle shoot for Savannah.



Lisa & Aron's Christmas Themed Engagement in the Beaches

Exciting Times:

As I write this, I can't help but notice how much gratitude I feel to be at this very exciting time in my young photography career. 

In short, the last few months have been a whirlwind of deep learning (through practice, experimentation, being a 2nd shooter/assistant at weddings, lots of questions, reading, course watching, observing other pros etc.), lots of equipment research/final purchases, engagement shoots & meeting with couple's about their big day.  All this would be fine & dandy but even more thankfully, every client couple I've met has been incredible!  We've had amazing connections from first contact, shared stories, smiles & in the end made a deep & meaningful commitment to each other.  I get to capture & tell their remarkable stories in the coming year(s)! 

Things are growing really organically through friends, referrals & social media!

Lisa & Aron, My Firsts:

Lisa & Aron are two of those wonderful people I've had the pleasure of truly getting to know in depth through lots of e-mails, texts, Facebook messages etc.  Most recently we had a blast shooting their engagement shoot & in February they shall be my first wedding couple!

Aron and I have known each other for about 14 years. We met just after high school as we used to frequent the same social events. We were acquaintances that kept in touch over the years, even after we stopped crossing one another’s path. Apparently he had always had a crush on me - but I wasn’t really aware of it. Oddly, over the years, we’d casually bump into each other in random places. Walking down the street, another time when I was lost in the middle of Scarborough and had to pull over to get directions, on the TTC etc. We always thought it was funny that we kept seeing each other since we lived nowhere near one another and didn’t frequent the same events any more. Several times we had made casual plans to get together for a drink, I always ended up blowing off our plans last minute. Finally one day while in his neighborhood I called him up for that long-overdue drink. And, as they say, the rest is history.
— Lisa on how they started dating


Two very still people, 10 sec exposure & sparklers = THIS!

Two very still people, 10 sec exposure & sparklers = THIS!

We were a bit of an unusual and unexpected match that took many of our friends by surprise, just because of our history and also how different we were. But as it turns out we are a perfect fit and couldn’t be happier. I’m a social worker - I work with youth & young adults experiencing the start of psychotic mental illnesses. He is an analyst for a telecom company & a rave DJ on the side. While we share a lot of common interests and activities, we are also into very different things.
— She continued

As I hope you can see, from the moment Lisa was referred to me, there was a tangible openness about our exchanges and we really hit it off.  It wasn't long before we were discussing all sorts of engagement shoot ideas and although it took us a bit of time to settle on exactly what would tell her & Aron's unique love story without the snow we hoped for, the end result was so gratifying. 

For this Christmas themed shoot, we got to spend 3 hours together in their childhood neighborhood & home of The Beaches in Toronto.

I’m like 3rd generation Beaches
— Aron said proudly

They are legit!

Where It All Began:

It was only fitting to start the shoot at the bench where they had their first date, the place they sat & talked for hours overlooking Lake Ontario.

Next we headed down to the water, where these two enjoy walking together in the warmer months when the weather is nice.

Next they grabbed a seat on the pier, finding warmth in eachother's arms as they watched the waves crash into shore & Toronto's skyline in the distance.

The Proposal Caught on Video:

Being December by the water, it was below freezing & windy so we decided to go thaw nearby at their favorite spot: The Flying Elephant Cafe.  As we drove there, Aron shared how he executed his perfectly planned proposal at the CNE on August 22.

I did it while on one of our favorite rides (the gondola that crosses the CNE grounds) and right in front of BMO field where all of our friends were waiting for us to take pictures of the event. We are HUGE Toronto FC fans, and were on our way to the game. Because of the timing of the proposal, it was caught by the camera folks that were catching shots of fans entering the stadium and aired on the Jumbotron as it happened, and then again during the half-time highlights. Our friends & family at home were also able to see it on TV. So that was a very neat, and completely unplanned and unexpected surprise.

The Flying Elephant Cafe:

Lisa & Aron Web Res-3380.jpg

The place was cozy, the owner's present & incredibly friendly, drinks delicious.  Venezuelan Eggnog (called Ponche Crema) for Aron & a Latte for Lisa.

While they chatted, I wanted to get a few themed shots of the lovely ring.  Pine cones for the wedding, ornaments for Christmas & YES Aron's Christmas Themed Nike shoes.

A few more before heading back into the cold...

The Iconic R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant:

Just down Queen St E, they told me of this beautiful yellow building, extremely iconic of the neighborhood they love so much.  We headed there for some golden hour portraits which is when they really started forgetting about the camera and letting their souls shine through.

Christmas Tree Decoration at the Library:

Just West down Queen Street is the equally iconic Beaches Library where we decided it would be fun to have them decorate some trees together.

They brought their own decorations & the lights were kindly provided by the city.

Toronto Skyline from Polson Pier:

Besides being big Toronto FC fans & loving Christmas a lot, Lisa & Aron adore the city of Toronto.  Before coming, I had suggested that we would end the night with Toronto's beautiful lights as a backdrop using off-camera lighting and playing around with sparklers for potentially epic shots.  I was upfront in saying we've gotten the safe shots and you'll be really happy with what we have so far, but for these there are no guarantees. 

What makes them so wonderful is they were totally down and enthusiastic to experiment in hopes of that one incredible/unique shot.

We started with off-camera lighting from behind for this:

I staggered them just a bit so the light would bounce off Aron's jacket to illuminate Lisa's face. SO COOL.

Next it was time to whip out the tripod for some long exposure sparkler shots.  In order to get the sparklers to light in the windy conditions I had to run into the soccer dome nearby and I can only imagine what people were thinking when I ran out screaming:

We’ve got ignition! We’re good to go! Hold still...THREE, TWO, ONE!

Click! The shutter opened and stayed open for 10 seconds as I ran around like a mad-man using my imagination as to what would look good when it came to light circling them. Although cool, the first few didn't work out because I ran around too much....

After a few tries, we were poised to make it perfect.  I knew my pattern & they were either frozen cold or really good at being still for 10 second increments as I swirled around them.

That's a Wrap (Literally):

After all our adventures, I feel like I know Lisa & Aron really well, we are true friends and I am now even more excited to shoot their wedding next month at The Chelsea Hotel.

Just as I dropped them off at their place we tried one more pic where I wrapped them in lights to really put an exclamation point on our Christmas Themed Shoot.  So cute.

Closing Remarks:

Lisa & Aron, you're such good sports. It was cold & we battled together to create some beautiful images unique to you.  I'm most proud of how we worked together to really tell YOUR special story.

I’m fascinated by each couple I meet & more than ever I know how valuable it is to sit with them and ask questions & listen to things like: what makes their story special, what do they value most, what they like and don’t, what their interests are, what they love to do together, what they plan to do with the photos etc.

Sending all you wonderful readers lots of love & hugs!


Engagement Shoot at Scarborough Bluffs with Charlotte & Julien

When I met the wonderful Charlotte and Julien, it was way back in our high school days at Ecole Catholique Cardinal Carter which is in Aurora and now called Ecole Catholique Renaissance.  Although they were in the grade above me to start school, we graduated together as I had fast tracked my courses over 3 years so that I could go play hockey in the states for my NHL draft year.

We didn't have a ton of classes together but whenever we would hang out it was fun and always natural.  I loved them as friends and I was really happy to see them start dating, so when I recently saw they got engaged over facebook, I was even more ecstatic and assumed they had been together since.

The short story would be to say that Charlotte and Julien are high school sweethearts but unless you know them well, you know it hasn't always been easy.  Due to many years of long distance, they decided to take a few breaks throughout the years despite their strong feelings for each other.

We dated from the end of high school and were long distance for first year university. It lasted about a year and a half where it got kinda messy, we were on and off, never official in between but we’d act all romantic when we were together (laughs) it was confusing for everyone
— Charlotte

They even stopped talking completely at one point entirely but as fate would have it Julien broke his ankle while he was in Toronto...

I went to the hospital to visit him
— She grinned again
That was also a turning point for us and for him, because that’s when he got into wall trampoline and moved away from tramp competitions

Where things really changed is when Charlotte moved to Montreal in 2011 to do her masters degree.

He was one of the reasons I chose MTL, I knew we had to be closer in distance to try it out for real again

Once she moved they saw each other a lot and eventually got back together for good!

The rest is history!
— They said with a smile on their faces

When it came to popping the question, Charlotte and Julien were exploring some ancient Mayan ruins and she had a feeling he might do it there.

It was too busy with people, so I decided to wait
— Julien
He almost did it at the top of the pyramid but didn’t... I thought he might do it there so when he didn’t I was disappointed
— says Charlotte thinking back smiling.

She was ready to go home but he wanted to keep on exploring the ruins. So they biked around and stopped at a very secluded place. He got up on a platform and pretended to find something on the floor to lure her in.

When I got close, he turned around on his knee and was holding the ring! I was in shock (laughing), I said is this for real?! And he said yes! I started jumping and shouting we’re gonna get married!
— Charlotte on the moment Julien asked

Now that you have their powerful & unique backstory, it's time for the details and pics of their Toronto engagement session.

Currently, Julien works in the Mayan Riviera Mexico for a show run by Cirque du Soleil called Joyà.  He was only in town for a weekend and with all their plans to see family and friends, we were limited to Sunday morning for sunrise or sunset at Scarborough bluffs.  A week or so out, I had suggested sunrise as it would make a for a more unique and interesting shoot.

I was in Minden (far north) at a wedding Saturday night and was prepared to get up at 3AM to meet them in Toronto for sunrise but when I checked the forecast we all agreed it was best to postpone until that afternoon as sunrise wouldn't yield much with all the clouds and rain.

When time came around to meeting up it was still raining so I suggested we meet at Balzac's in Distillery District for some coffee, to get caught up on their story and hopefully snap some cute pics in a cozy/dry setting.  Things didn't last long there as it was packed and photography not allowed even for paying customers!

Balzacs Engagment Pic

We managed to get a few cute pics before being asked to stop.  The above being my favorite (as it's just so reflective of their personalities), we headed outside into the rain for a few more European cafe style shots on the cobblestone.

Venturing further into the Distillery District we found some more fun picture ops before deciding we really wanted to get some cozy cafe shots.

Thus, we jumped in one car and went to visit my favorite coffee spot in the city: Rooster Coffee House on Broadview near the Danforth. Big shout out to them for their consistently amazing moods, service and laid back approach.  For something different I shot from outside looking in.

Although there wasn't rain on Rooster's outside windows like I would of hoped (in focus rain, out of focus couple), the reflections from outside of Charlotte and Julien were perfect and made for some real sweet shots of the two.

As sunset was only a few hours away it was time to venture to Scarborough Bluffs Park for the real fun.  When we got there the skies were providing nice drama and the rain only spitting by this point.  We ventured on together, I had fun simply walking with as I watched the way Char and J moved and interacted.  The journey to the location, made for some really natural and intimate looking pics.

Small river overcome, we continued along, and with each step the path got muddier...time for piggy backs.

When we got to the bluffs we basically had the place to ourselves besides some crazy tourist who had decided to swim while it was 15°C and raining out.

Arriving at the Bluffs

Arriving at the Bluffs

It made for some good entertainment.

The natural laughs and smiles were coming on easily as the strong Julien casually picked up the petite and graceful Charlotte, holding her nicely for lots of romantic shots.

The energy among these two was magnetic and the backdrop stellar. All I tried to do was give them subtle direction, while making sure not to miss any precious moments.

To end at this spot, we decided to have a little fun.  Julien showed off his athleticism and Charlotte her grace.

In order to get to a willow tree we wanted to shoot at, it was either walk 15 mins back and around or 1 minute through a thigh high stream.  The sun was going to be setting soon, so time was of the essence.  Can you guess which way this awesome couple decided to take?!

Might as well!

Might as well!

Being the gentleman he is, Julien first brought over most of the clothes, umbrellas and then held Charlotte's hand as they waded through the surprisingly warm water, while I made sure not to submerge any of my gear.

At this point, I was starting to realize just how happy and content I felt with what I was doing.  I was shooting an awesome couple, having a blast, it was raining just a tiny bit, the sky was beautiful, sunset was coming, it was just utterly awesome on top of awesome!

After a successful crossing, the peaceful willow served as a perfect backdrop for some nice portraits of the betrothed.

We were all a bit wet and cold, so as the sun was beginning to set, we headed to the nearby bluffers beach park wrapped in blankets to finish our shoot off on the sand.  Both of these beauties love to travel which is why they brought this suitcase as a symbol of their wanderlust personalities.

The entire atmosphere was turning beautiful shades of first blue, then purplish red, due to the sun now being between the clouds & the earth allowing it to reflect it's light all over.

With the sun finally able to reach us and the rain in the distance we were all blown away when not one, but two rainbows appeared over Lake Ontario!

With the last remaining rays of daylight, we hit the blankets for some cuddles (because who doesn't like cuddles?)

To end the night, we shot another passion C and J love to work on together, which is Acro Yoga! 

As I was setting up my lighting, I caught them snuggling even when the camera wasn't supposed to be on.

When we were all set up, lighting tested, I used an off camera flash to add a unique back lit effect to their postures, and thanks to the beautiful shapes they made with their bodies, I couldn't be happier with the way these turned out!

Char & Julien Low Res-121.jpg
That’s a wrap!
— Julien exclaimed with a backflip
If anything, I hope that these images and blog demonstrate that even when real life has it’s challenges, like long distance relationships and/or rain during photo shoots, if things feel right in your heart, you love someone or something and you’re willing to weather the storm (literally) to make it work, what often happens in the end, is things fall into place better than you could have ever expected.

The universe conspires in what seems like random ways, a broken ankle & masters program in Montreal for example.  In the end, the light prevails, you get sunshine and in this very special case you even get rainbows.

I hope their story serves as inspiration for those who love someone or something, realize it's not always easy, but is most surely worth it in the end.

Anything is possible when your heart and good intentions are aligned.

Lastly, thank you and big high fives to Julien & Charlotte for being so real, so fun AND my first engagement shoot! You put faith in my passion, hard work & love for telling beautiful stories, I hope you feel like I did you guys justice!

Love & Be Persistent My Friends,