Three Days in Charleston

 

A few weeks ago, I decided on a whim to book a trip to some place warm in order to escape what’s been an unbearably long winter here in the GTA. My husband Eoin couldn’t come due to his work schedule and my friends had other plans so I put a few places into the Kayak app that felt safe to travel to alone and after watching flights for a few days, I landed on Charleston. I’d been there before for one day about six years ago and it didn’t feel like enough, so I thought it would be the perfect place to go for a few days with my camera. I panicked a little after making my decision so I messaged my sister-in-law and asked if I was nuts for travelling by myself, to which she responded, “Can I come?! Just kidding'.’ Umm, YES! Things fell perfectly into place - she is a nurse, has two little ones and just got back from vacation to Peru, so it’s literally a miracle that she managed to sneak away with me for five days. I’m so glad she did because it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun without her!

Charleston did not disappoint! We stayed in an Airbnb on the East side of town (we would avoid this area next time) and spent three days doing a whole lot of walking without a snowflake in sight. I think we managed over 50k steps over the course of our time there. We had a good laugh one afternoon after realizing that our feet hurt so bad because we had literally walked the length of Charleston Peninsula THREE TIMES in just one day! The stately homes and stunning gardens were totally worth it though.

 
 
South of Broad

South of Broad

 
 

We managed to eat at a few of the hot spots in town: Hominy Grill, Five Loaves Cafe, Mercantile and Mash, Husk, Poogan’s Porch, Miller’s All Day, 5Church and Fleet Landing. I can’t even pick a favourite because everything was delicious. 5Church was one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever seen, being in what appeared to be an old church with angel wing pendant lighting over the bar. Husk came HIGHLY recommended, as did Poogan’s Porch but we only managed to get into the bar at Husk due to the restaurant side being fully booked. We had the most delicious cider at Husk that I sadly cannot recall the name of, and fortunately, did not have any ghost sightings at Poogan’s. Fleet Landing was the most reasonably priced by far with great happy hour specials. It is quite expensive to eat in Charleston, so it was a nice to find this spot thanks to Paloma eavesdropping on another woman’s conversation about the Painkiller cocktail, ha. March is considered to be a slow season for Charleston and we still had trouble getting into some spots so if you plan on traveling there, definitely make reservations for dinner in advance of your arrival. Planning ahead for accommodations is also necessary- we nearly didn’t get an Airbnb at all, which is the only affordable way to stay on the peninsula with hotels starting around $300USD a night.

 
 
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We saw the Nathaniel Russel House (pretty but not necessary), did a ghost tour at night (fun but I put coffee grounds in our bedrooms for the boohag to count, YIKES), went to Magnolia Plantation (the house is not a must but the gardens and grounds are unreal), took a carriage ride down Rainbow Row and the Battery, tried and failed three times to get into the candle workshop at Candlefish (we decided it’s because there isn’t actually that much to do in the city at night, ha), rented bikes from the Holy Spokes hubs throughout the city, and walked and walked and WALKED all throughout the city, with most of our time spent in the South of Broad neighbourhood. I’m convinced we’ve seen more streets in Charleston than some Charlestonians! We thought that the prettiest streets were Church and Legare, but it’s totally worth renting a bike and spending a few hours cruising around the streets in the lower half of the peninsula.

Charleston is a breathtaking city that you definitely need to check out some day, if you haven’t already!

 
 
Nathaniel Russell House

Nathaniel Russell House

 
 
College of Charleston

College of Charleston

 
 
The Battery

The Battery

 
 
Magnolia Plantation

Magnolia Plantation

 

Sticks: A Love Story (also: Felicia, Adam & Eli)

 
 

I have known Felicia since grade 4, and oh… the stories we could tell about the schoolmates we had, the teachers who taught us and the many, many adventures in life that we’ve had along the way. She’s the kind of person that leaves an impression on everyone she meets. Adam also has quite the distinct character (he’s known as The Clapper around these parts thanks to his sweet dance moves). They are a hilarious pair and couldn’t be more opposite in the absolute best way. And so, unsurprisingly, when Eli came along, he turned out to be just as unique and funny as his parents are. For example: he really loves sticks? He insisted on holding as many sticks as possible at all times. We even threw sticks across the field and told him to fetch on more than one occasion in order to get him to face the camera. It worked every time. One thing is for sure about these friends of mine- there is no shortage of personality between the three of them! Love you guys!

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Jessie, Jordan & Cullen

 

How much do I love this woman? Let me count the ways! Kidding, I’ll spare you. Jessie and I met at work and the rest is history. She’s a woman who’s got gumption and is one of the oldest souls I know. When I met her, she had just started dating Jordan and has since bought a house, gotten married to said Jordan, who could not be a better match for her, and given birth to Mister Cullen (there’s no questioning her parentage- he is her mini me!). It’s always such a privilege and a fun experience when freezing time for friends by way of family photos and this session was no exception. The faces on this kid kill me!

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Kara, Bobby & Jake

 

This poor little guy was battling with an ear infection and runny nose but you would never know he was feeling under the weather during their session. Just look at that face! Jake pulled through like a champ and we managed to capture some of the most gorgeous light I’ve ever seen down at Rotary Park. The bond between these three was such a privilege to capture, not to mention the fact that they are insanely photogenic and made my job super easy!

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Teresa, Brian and Nathaniel

 

It’s been way too long since I shared a family session here. We’ve been going through a pretty intense season of life in the last year (which I shared about here) and photography has had to take somewhat of a back seat since April as a result. We are in a holding period at the moment where things change month to month and while I haven’t been able to commit to sessions planned too far in advance (so many wonderful wedding opportunities missed this year, much to my disappointment), I’ve been able to commit to sessions booked within a few weeks and it’s been so good for my soul to get back to doing what I love most. The timing (or lack thereof) has worked in my favour because the fall season is always jam packed with families wanting to take advantage of the beautiful displays put on by Mother Nature. I intend to start sharing sessions regularly again and will be playing catch-up over the winter with all the sessions I haven’t posted yet. Even though it’s been a quiet year, I’ve had the most incredible opportunities and there are still a few exciting sessions ahead, so I can’t wait to share them all with you! What better way to start back up again than with a seasonally appropriate family session?

Teresa found me through a referral on a mom group (thanks Erika!) and she requested doing a mix of family photos and a cake smash at their home to celebrate their son Nathaniel’s first birthday. The weather was a bit dicey leading up to the session with some appearances by snow and hail but the fall colours came out in full force for us and right on time. Teresa chose a gorgeous park by their home and her husband Brian set up an area complete with his own pro lighting in their home for the cake smash. Perfect! They are such a kind, vibrant family (Nathaniel’s smile lights up his entire face!) and it definitely shines through in their photos. Thank you again, Teresa and Brian!

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Ryan & Amy

We ventured out bright and early for this Pickering waterfront engagement session in order to capture some pretty light, and capture some pretty light we did! Despite the early hour, these two brought their A-game. Amy & Ryan are goofy, fun-loving, and their totally opposite personalities compliment each perfectly. Had so much fun with these two per usual and cannot wait for their wedding next May! It's going to be legendary.

 
 

the mahers

There's nothing I love more than capturing snippets of time for the people nearest and dearest to me. I had the best time taking photos with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece down at the Newcastle "beach" (if that's what you can call it), and not even the sand fleas could have ruined the evening! We had already been rained out once and the skies threatened to open up overhead again but Mother Nature gave us a break and we got a pretty backdrop out of it instead. We just made it to the car before it started downpouring and finished off the evening at The Snug. That's what I like to call #winning! September can't come fast enough and all my money is on baby being a BOY!

 
 

Christine, Jamie & Liliana

I had the pleasure of meeting this sweet family on a bright Sunday morning in picturesque Unionville. Christine and Jamie wanted to capture this fleeting stage before Liliana becomes unstoppable on her feet and their timing couldn't have been more perfect!  It was so lovely meeting them and helping them to capture some memories of this time in their lives. How contagious is that smile?! 

 
 

100 days of photo prompts

One morning in early April while perusing Instagram (or better known as avoiding getting up for work), I came across a post about The 100 Day Project. The creators' description had me intrigued:

What Is the 100-Day Project? It’s a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process.

100 days of photo prompts immediately entered my mind. Fresh off of an intensive photography course and about to begin a second one, I was on the hunt for consistent ways to sharpen my photography skills without the need to rely on weekly assignments as an excuse to pull out my camera.

I searched the hashtag #the100dayproject and people were doing some amazing things... making a plant-inspired blanket square every day, creating analog data, drawing 100 illustrations. They were all taking photos of these things every day, so would 100 prompt-based photos be a cop-out of sorts? I hemmed and hawed over it and then came across this on the main page...

Right there, in the bottom right corner it says "TAKE 100 PHOTOS". There's my sign!

I could not find a list of 100 photo prompts anywhere on the interwebs so I got down to work and compiled my own list from several different challenges. I made the list as neutral as possible so that I wasn't struggling to locate something to photograph each day. The point was to get the camera out and take a new picture every day, not to go insane trying to do something new on the daily or put my life on hold to take epic photographs for an extended period of time.

Since starting, I've received a lot of positive feedback and questions about how one would go about doing their own 100-day photo project. This challenge is perfect for anyone that is looking for some inspiration in both their photography and life in general. It encourages you to bring your camera everywhere and capture places and moments that you would have normally taken with your phone or not at all. It forces you to see ordinary objects from new angles and in a different light. It gives you the courage to ask people if you can photograph them or their little ones, when you might not otherwise have been so bold. And most importantly, this project will undoubtedly unveil the beauty that is in the every day. The confidence it creates is worth it alone. I went from being on the fence about starting a photography business to feeling more than ready to offer my services up and share my passion with others.  

 Thinking of doing your own? Here's what I've learned works best:

  1. Take your camera EVERYWHERE. Clear some space in your purse or man-bag and make bringing your camera along a priority. I kicked myself every single time I thought I didn't need it because there is always something to take a photo of!
  2. Focus on getting it done. Not every photo is going to be better than the last, or the most epic photo ever taken. The important thing is that you are learning how to use your camera, getting comfortable with angles and poses, and using light to your advantage to get the most flattering shot. Over time, you'll naturally be taking fewer but more high quality pictures. At the end of it, you will come away with 100 photos that YOU have taken and wouldn't have if you didn't take on the challenge. Some of your best ever are waiting within those hundred days!
  3. Mistakes are NECESSARY. If you take a crappy picture, take note of how you could have composed it better, what settings would have been more appropriate to achieve the look you were going for, where you could have stood to make better use of your light, etc. You are more likely to remember what not to do, in my experience, so get out there, experiment and make mistakes. I did a maternity shoot for friends at f/2.8 and looking back on my shots, I didn't get the clear shape of the CN Tower in the background as a result. The disappointment I felt will ensure that it most definitely will not happen again!
  4. Complete the challenge within a 100-day time span, rather than take 100 photos over an undefined period of time. While you can essentially approach this as either 100 photos within 100 days, or 100 photos whenever you have time, I recommend choosing a start date and end date. Otherwise, there is nothing holding you accountable to complete the project and you'll miss the point of partaking in it.
  5. If you miss a day, IT'S OKAY. The world isn't going to implode. In order to get the most out of this challenge, I would suggest picking up where you left off and don't skip a day. Remember: the point is to pick up and use your camera! Having said that, if you are on day 75 without having missed a day and are determined to do this challenge within 100 days NO MATTER WHAT, choose a photo you took since the start of the challenge and use that against a prompt. I gave myself 5 days grace, and have only had to use photos from another day twice. Remember, this is supposed to be inspirational, educational and FUN! You get out of it what you put in to it.
  6. Had a crazy busy day and didn't get home until 10 p.m. (and didn't go by cardinal rule #1 to bring your camera everywhere)? Don't call it a day. Pick up your camera and shoot anyway. Light a candle and practice low light photography. Turn on your outdoor patio lights and photograph those. Light something with your smartphone flashlight to create some interesting shadows. Times like these force you to experiment with different light, to not overthink too much, and to shoot quickly since you'd rather be in bed!
  7. Choose prompts based on what's available to you and interpret them in whatever way works for you. Again... this isn't do or die. There are no "prompt police" that are going to come after you. Make it as easy on yourself as possible, otherwise you're going to resent it or quit. Interpret these prompts in whatever way your imagination takes you. Light can be bright sun, a lamp, a feather, or even a happy kid!
  8. Edit, or don't. It's up to you. If you don't like to edit your photos, don't. If you are in the midst of figuring out your editing style, now is a good time to experiment. If you love to apply ALL the filters, go right ahead! This is your art so do whatever floats your boat.
  9. HAVE FUN! Use these 100 days as an excuse to go out and photograph places or people that you wouldn't normally have. Go to a festival, peruse an antique shop, drive out to the country and take photos of lavender fields. If you're a homebody, take this time to treat yourself to some fresh flowers or pastries, purchase some plants for your porch, sneak up on your kids or pets, and snap some shots. Get creative! 

I hope this challenge inspires you and helps you to sharpen your photography skills over the 100 prompts, like it did for me. There will be days when you REALLY don't want to take a picture and wish you never started this challenge. Don't give up. I promise you won't regret sticking with it! 

You can download the prompt list here and don't forget to use the hashtag #100daysofphotoprompts so we can follow along and cheer you on!

 

See my 100-Day Project gallery here, or find me on instagram to see my original posts.

jessie & jack

After hearing so much about Jack and his funny personality for years over our joint cubicle wall, I knew that he would make for an interesting subject. Jessie and I drove up to the stables during golden hour where Jack boards and I was floored by how beautiful this location was. It looked like it was straight out of a Nicholas Sparks movie! We groomed Jack and headed off to the sunset soaked fields. I cannot even express how much I loved this shoot and the outcome. The light, the scenery, the subjects- just pure magic. I don't know much about horses, but after witnessing Jessie and Jack's endearingly contentious relationship, I decided that I need a horse. They're not much work or overly expensive, right?!

 
 

the mandarinos

Pete and Lindsay are long-time friends of mine, so when they asked if I'd take some photos to celebrate their youngest daughter's first birthday, I jumped at the chance! They chose Kariya Park in Mississauga as the backdrop and it just so happened to be cherry blossom season. Could not have asked for a more perfect day to capture this beautiful family.