Mila and Marlowe and the Great Outdoors

I’m not an outdoorsy person, unless I’m lying on a beach or next to a pool somewhere. I don’t get the appeal of going for a walk just for the sake of going for a walk. Like where are we going? Why do we need to go there? Isn’t it faster to drive? I need a purpose. So, these last few weeks, prompted by an unexpected autumn heat wave, I decided to explore the great outdoors with Mila and Marlowe, camera in tow of course. I had found my purpose.IMG_5094.jpgI first found myself embracing the great outdoors toward the end of summer when we stumbled on a hidden gem just 15 minutes away from our house. Here are some photos we took in the stunning Lake Wilcox area. IMG_1100IMG_4832IMG_1335IMG_1214I may have encouraged my kids to trespass on private property to get the following shots… but don’t build a cool arch if you don’t want people to take photos under it. Duh.
IMG_1270IMG_1267And we also might have trespassed on this dock. I’ve been a great example to my kids these past few weeks. IMG_1436Lake Wilcox was so beautiful, that we went back again the next week. There was still so much to explore on our second trip. I didn’t even mind “going for a walk for no reason”. IMG_4061IMG_4046IMG_4103

 

 

We did a little less trespassing on our second trip, but we still had to walk on the dock. IMG_4282IMG_4351IMG_4316For our next outdoor location, I took the girls to a nearby farm, on a particularly warm autumn day. We were expecting to go apple picking, but realized that mommy should read descriptions more carefully. There were no apples at this farm, so we spent our time feeding the animals, exploring the corn maze and playing in the hay. Here are some photos I took at Whittamore’s Farm. IMG_4452IMG_4465IMG_4491IMG_4428IMG_4624This is the moment I learned that the girls aren’t exactly graceful jumpers: IMG_4680IMG_4609IMG_4662IMG_4663The next week, blessed with more amazing weather, we finally made a visit to an apple orchard. While daddy picked apples that met his high standards, the girls and I did what we do best in the great outdoors, take photos. Here are our photos at Pine Farms Orchards.IMG_4840IMG_4839IMG_4739IMG_4971IMG_5078IMG_5080IMG_5107Although I am not an outdoorsy person, I have really enjoyed taking photos in the great outdoors. What I love most is watching the girls explore new places. Capturing these moments of wonder is my favourite thing, because for a while I can see the world through their eyes and that’s when I can feel the joy of going for a walk for no reason. IMG_4264.jpg

For more adventures in photography, check out:

And Another (Half) Year of Mila and Marlowe

Photographing the Boys

Mila and Marlowe in Paradise

Another Year of Mila and Marlowe

And Another (Half) Year of Mila and Marlowe

Here we go again, I can’t quit taking photos of my mini models, Mila and Marlowe. In fact I’ve been so busy photographing and taking on a number of other creative endeavours that I’ve gone over the halfway point of the year, so this post will highlight the first eight months of the year. In these photos, Mila is five and Marlowe is three, even though they look and act like they are both ten years older. This year’s photos were taken in a variety of locations with my Canon Mark 80D. IMG_5534.jpgSo like I said, here we go again…

January IMG_4452February IMG_4453March IMG_4454April IMG_4455MayIMG_4456June IMG_5533JulyIMG_5532August IMG_5530IMG_5531

Yes, we did two mini sessions in August, since both girls’ birthdays fall during the month. It is an extra special time in our house. Even though this is my third year working on this project, I still manage to surprise myself. This year in particular I am happy with how different each month looks and feels. I also really love my location shots, like the ones taken in Cuba (Mila and Marlowe in Paradise), Toronto’s Harbourfront and their Uncle Sal’s Farm. I love taking photos so much that I am currently working on expanding my practice, but more about that in a future post. For now, here is a closer look at some of my favourite photos of the year.

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And just in case you think that my job has gotten easier since the girls are a little older, let me tell you that this could not be further from the truth. In fact, Marlowe has become quite the character. Here is a sample of what I deal with during every shoot.

IMG_9595She really enjoys messing with mommy… no clue where she gets it from. Next month, Marlowe is entering Kindergarten (thank god) and Mila starts grade one. I’m looking forward to seeing how they challenge me and bring a new level of excitement to our monthly photoshoots. Stay tuned for our full yearly recap in December. IMG_5523.jpgTo see more of our photo adventures, check out:

Mila and Marlowe in Paradise

Another Year of Mila and Marlowe

Another Autumn with Mila and Marlowe

Mila and Marlowe at the Farm

Mila and Marlowe’s Birthday Photos

A Year of Mila and Marlowe

 

Photographing the Boys

If you know me well, you know how comfortable I am with the girls. I have two of my own, and even growing up, it was just me and my sister, and our family consisted mostly of girls. So photographing girls is definitely within my comfort zone. These past couple of months I was lucky enough to serve as official photographer to a couple of handsome little guys born to dear friends of mine. Not surprisingly, I fell in love with photographing boys. Here are a few of my favourite shots from both shoots, taken inside the boys’ Toronto homes.

Meet Liam. He’s about a month old here.

Conveniently I was able to use Mila’s name letters for Liam’s name (see what I did?)

IMG_5452Meet Liam’s dad, Adam, and his impressive body ink. IMG_2124.jpgIMG_5494Now meet Will, who conveniently also borrowed letters from both Mila and Marlowe for his name.IMG_6470

Will is about 5 months old here.

He is just as he looks: super-chill. Will’s parents are lucky people.IMG_3127Photographing the boys for a change was a lovely experience, a nice shift from my own overly energized girls (don’t believe the stereo-types). I feel lucky that my friends have entrusted me to photograph their handsome little guys and it was fun hanging out with the boys for a change.IMG_6425

For more of my adventures in photography check out:

Mila and Marlowe in Paradise

Another Year of Mila and Marlowe

Mila and Marlowe at the Farm

Mila and Marlowe’s Birthday Photos

Time to be a Tourist

New Year, New Babies

Mila and Marlowe in Paradise

Although it may seem like I’ve been a little MIA lately, it’s only because I’ve been very present in my other life. I’ve been busy managing other sites and posting way too many pictures. So holding back a little on the home front has been a way to balance it all. But I’m here now, I’m home, and about to introduce you to my newest baby… Meet my Canon Mark 80D. Marky Mark (as I call him) joined the family at the beginning of the new year, since big bro “The Rebel” was getting a little tired of all my demands (he did just turn 5 years old after all).IMG_6322Here’s a peek at Marky Mark in action on his first vacation to Cuba, shooting one of his (and my) favourite subjects, Mila. I had recently assigned a “Faceless Portrait” project to my students, so I decided to take on the challenge myself. A faceless portrait should reveal details about the subject’s personality or life, while possessing an aura of mystery since the most important feature of the person, their face, is never revealed.
IMG_2908IMG_2897IMG_2885IMG_2871This series of faceless portraits captured Mila’s personality perfectly. She is cautious, curious, determined and strong. Don’t believe me? I’ll show you the 10 pounds of seashells she collected that week.

Marky Mark also got to know Mila’s camera loving sister, Marlowe, during our trip.IMG_2888IMG_5983

Here are Mila and Marlowe exploring the resort:

IMG_5965IMG_5943 (1)IMG_5933 (2)IMG_5949 (1)IMG_6092IMG_6088These photos are a little different from last year’s vacation photos ( Time to be a Tourist), since I was looking to capture a certain mood and get to know my new camera better.

Even though these pictures are darker and moodier than my usual style, they are not representative of the time we had. It really was another beautiful vacation with my family and I’m feeling pretty lucky to have been assistant shell collector for a week.IMG_2880.jpg

For more photos of Mila and Marlowe check out:

Another Year of Mila and Marlowe

Mila and Marlowe at the Farm

Mila and Marlowe’s Birthday Photos

Another Autumn with Mila and Marlowe

Art by Little Artists and What To Do With Them

I refuse to display my kids’ art on the fridge. I will not do it. Sorry. I’m not against displaying kids’ art, scribbles and all, but there have to be better places than the fridge. I am blessed with my own Mini-Me, Mila, who sure makes a lot of art (did I mention I’m an art teacher?) Mila is incredibly creative and hard-working. Rarely is she sitting still, watching tv or the iPad like some 5 year olds (and her 3 year old sister). Instead, she can most often be found taking over our dining room table, with papers, markers, pencil crayons, beads, feathers, boxes and anything she finds intriguing (things you and I would call garbage, but she sees the potential damn it!). So when you have a child whose passion is creating, you have to come up with creative ways to display and honour her art, because like I said, the fridge is no place for art.

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Mila working a special project for her Nonna (see Mother’s Day DIY)

This summer I redecorated Mila’s room and created a feature wall to house her books and artwork (Bye Bye Baby Rooms, Big Girl Rooms Only). I wanted it to feel like a little gallery just for her work. img_1079-1IMG_1620At Mila’s eye level, I hung four large clips by Umbra to hold paper art. The special “frame” papers are by Melissa and Doug. I love that these papers make any artwork look like a mini-masterpiece. I actually used them for my daughters’ joint birthday party a couple of years ago to create a gallery wall (Celebrating Mila and Marlowe). IMG_6794Mila’s feature wall also has several picture frame shelves that house her book collection, but can also hold canvas frames when she decides to paint a masterpiece. IMG_1623IMG_1622Mila also went through an intense foam art kit phase (thank you Dollarama). Her foam people have a permanent home in The Basement Playroom hanging underneath a shelf using twine and clothes pins.img_5394When purchasing these “art” kits from dollar stores and craft stores, I recommend taking the box away and seeing what your child will create without the influence of the prescribed picture of the art. You will see that often the results are so much more interesting and creative. Here are Mila’s take on flowers. Very cubist of her I would say. They are not perfect, but they have personality. Here they are temporarily displayed on a book shelf in the living room, because anything is better than the fridge. img_0783Where and how to store art that is no longer on display? Firstly, edit. Just because they made it, doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Ask yourself these questions when deciding what to keep and what to chuck: 1. How much of this work was done by my child and how much by an external source? (an overly helpful teacher, a colouring book design, etc.) 2. What’s the story behind this piece? (Mila and her friend once drew “maps” to each other’s houses so they could arrange a playdate…my heart melted when I realized what they had done.) How many other similar pieces have they created and which ones are the “best?” (Mila did an “Elsa” series at the height of Frozen’s popularity and let me tell you three Elsa’s are a plenty).img_5383Once you have edited and edited, I suggest storing work in a presentation folder, these folders can be purchased at art supply stores starting at $5 and they come in a variety of sizes. They are also available at Dollarama for just $2 for 20 pages, so stock up if you have a mini Picasso at home. These presentation folders are usually used by senior students to showcase their portfolios. But why not get one for your child for each school year, label it, and throw in artwork whenever you can, and every few months, edit and insert the work. Mila loves to look at her old folder and realize how much she has improved, and guess what, she appreciates my editing, because she can focus on her most meaningful works. img_5398Now, where to place these folders and other larger pieces of art and still remain organized? I am a big fan of reusing store gift boxes, particularly from Anthropologie and Zara. All these boxes need is a little reinforcement with packing tape and ta da, a free memory box to house your child’s creative collection of work (and an excuse for mommy to continue shopping at these stores).img_5400These boxes also might be Mila’s favourite thing to receive in the mail (mine too). She often uses them to make doll houses, even adding handles and other fancy additions. No box is safe in our house.

Now, to be honest, every once in a while Mila makes something so special that I break my own rule and accidentally post it on the fridge. I guess I just can’t help it when I see that my mini-me loves creating as much as I do.

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A drawing by Mila of her and her sister picking flowers for their aunt’s upcoming wedding

 

For more DIY projects check out:

Mother’s Day DIY

Alphabet Art

Card-Making with Mila & Marlowe

I Love You Through and Through with Mila and Marlowe

The Perfect Playhouse

 

 

 

Another Year of Mila and Marlowe

I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through another year of monthly photoshoots of my girls, Mila and Marlowe, but I simply cannot stop taking photos of my mini models. So because I am feeling a little drained at this time of year from too much entertaining, gift wrapping and over indulging, I’ll keep it short, here is what 2016 looked like for us.

Januaryimg_8313February img_8315Marchimg_8319Aprilimg_8320Mayimg_8326Juneimg_8330Julyimg_1014Augustimg_1016Septemberimg_1572Octoberimg_1619Novemberimg_1624Decemberimg_1931

Looking back at each month, I realize that I have a very clear colour story in each shoot. There is a certain mood I try to convey through my use of colours, with the girls’ clothes, the props and the environment.

Here is a closer look at some of my favourite moments of this year:IMG_6327IMG_8021IMG_7829IMG_0509IMG_0223img_0475IMG_0874IMG_0731img_2142

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This year, compared to last (A Year of Mila and Marlowe), I took on a few new challenges, including experimenting with a portrait lens and new environments. The biggest challenge however was dealing with my mini models who have become somewhat difficult clients… the kind that break out in uncontrollable giggles and suddenly run out of a shot just to get a reaction out of their mommy. However as I reflect on my year behind the lens I am pleasantly surprised to see how much I have improved as a photographer. I have become much more self aware during the shooting process, relying far less on the editing process to produce beautiful pictures.

Besides printing individual photos to display in our home, here are a few other projects I created using these pictures.

Calendar: (It makes total sense, after all they are monthly photoshoots). img_4158Cards: (Chronicling our beautiful year in a holiday card for friends and family). img_4162Ornaments: (Just cause, if I can stick a picture in it, I will.) img_4167PhotoBooks: (My Christmas gift to the girls, a personalized story book, featuring my favourite sisters. Check out I Love You Through and Through with Mila and Marlowe for details).img_4178When we started the year, Mila was four and a half and Marlowe was two and a half. Marlowe is now three and a half, the age her older sister was when we first started our monthly photoshoots. As I was debating whether I would commit to another year of these photos, Marlowe convinced me that I should when she was looking through the calendar I created using this year’s photos. She said, in her very cute voice, “Mommy, let’s do more pictures. Right now. Let’s take pictures.” So, we’re going to take more pictures. I figure I’ll stop when they tell me they don’t want to pose anymore, and being who they are, that day might never come and I’m fine with that. For now, I’m looking forward to new adventures in photography in 2017.img_1375image

For more photos of Mila & Marlowe, check out:

Another Autumn with Mila and Marlowe

Mila and Marlowe at the Farm

Mila and Marlowe’s Birthday Photos

Another (Half) Year of Mila and Marlowe

Card-Making with Mila & Marlowe

A Year of Mila and Marlowe

Another Autumn with Mila and Marlowe

There’s just something special about October, I don’t know if it’s the crisp air, the beautiful fall colours, or the anticipation of Halloween, but it’s never disappointing. I love October so much, that this month I accidentally did four photoshoots with my mini-models, Mila and Marlowe. Call me an over-acheiver, but just one motif wasn’t doing it for me this month. img_2268It all started on the first day of the month, which Mila had been anticipating since last year. She’s my daughter, so she loves Halloween, but mostly she loves dressing up. She had been eagerly sharing her ideas with me for our Halloween photoshoot for weeks, since she had enjoyed last year’s experience so much (Halloween at Home). IMG_3827No surprise that her idea this year consisted of dressing up in her Disney Princess costumes and playing make believe with her toys…and oh, of course she suggested that if she and her sister do a good job they should receive a special treat. They did. Here’s Ariel and Belle. img_1714img_1830img_1810img_1814Here’s Snow White. img_2013img_0679img_0678Don’t forget Minnie. img_0681Although I love Halloween, the Disney costumes can be a little cliche in photos. So a week later I wanted to do a more subtle nod to my favourite holiday. All I needed this time was some headbands and a scary cat. img_2193img_2169It’s amazing how crowns on little girls can change their whole demeanour. img_2138img_2142img_2152img_2151img_2148img_2102img_2107Midway through the month, I made a large purchase of decorative gourds to serve as inspiration for a painting project. Before the gourds served their purpose, I had to let the girls play with them. They let their imaginations run wild, pretending the various pieces of squash and pumpkin were everything from swords to microphones, it was fascinating to watch. img_2268img_2274img_2302img_2337img_2330I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I love capturing the moments of exploration when photographing little ones. IMG_2332 (1).jpgFinally, my absolute favourite thing about autumn is fall leaves, so we had to go outside at least once this month to jump around in them. img_2396img_2403img_2404img_2421img_2433After we jumped in the leaves we went for a little walk on this brisk day.img_2461img_2490img_2472img_2477This month, instead of staging one epic monthly photoshoot, that can sometimes leave me feeling drained and my mini models feeling a little cranky, I cut it up into four smaller ones, removing the pressure of getting the perfect shot each time. What can I say, there’s just something special about October.img_1328

These photos were taken with my Canon Rebel and edited using Photos on my Macbook Pro.

For more photoshoots of Mila and Marlowe check out:

Mila and Marlowe at the Farm

Mila and Marlowe’s Birthday Photos

Another (Half) Year of Mila and Marlowe

Mila and Marlowe in Autumn 

A Year of Mila and Marlowe