Jules in January (and LEARNING!)

This is basically a "Coffee and Cameras" Part 2! I lovelovelove coffee dates with this woman. We always have so much to talk about and catch up on and of course always have to spend half of our day photographing each other! One thing (among many things) I adore about Juliana is that she is eager to learn more about the ins and outs of photography and isn't afraid to ask for help. I'm so happy I'm in a position where young aspiring artists such as Jules can come to me for advice and for help!

When I was in that stage of my craft back in 2010-2011, there were so many things I wanted to learn and so many people I wanted to learn them from but I couldn't help feeling too scared or ashamed to ask questions. I figured, these people must've learned on their own so why would they just give me their knowledge? Things were quite different back then when it came to community and artists helping artists as well which definitely contributed to the way I felt. Back then people didn't want to share how something was shot or what they used to shoot it etc. (if you were in the photography world back then you know exactly what I'm talking about!) but I couldn't be happier that outlooks have changed and professional creators are so willing to help amateur artists. 

Sometimes I have to pinch myself when aspiring photographers come to me for advice, want to grab coffee and pick my brain, or even request to shadow me on a shoot because it simply doesn't feel real. If you would've asked amateur Haley if she thought she would be where I am now she probably would've said you were insane.

So, to all you young, aspiring creators of any form this is your reminder to ASK QUESTIONS! ASK FOR HELP! Reach out to the people you look up to because you should NEVER be ashamed of learning. 

Bright Lights Windsor

If you live in Windsor and haven't heard about Bright Lights, you must live under a rock! My friend, fellow photographer, and business partner Jessica of Jessica Ruxton Photography and myself had spent the evening photographing a Christmas party for a local business on December 9th and when we were done for the night we were driving making our way to drop off all the gear we had when we realized we were driving in the opposite direction we needed to go! We had a laugh and I suggested us checking out "Bright Lights" and taking some cute photos since we were in the area.

We arrived to Jackson Park and it was totally flooded with people walking and trying to find parking in the nearest streets. It was very cold this night and there were families walking all bundled up and carrying hot cocoa. What says winter and holiday cheer more than that?! Jessica and I were definitely NOT dressed for this occasion since it was totally on a whim but we managed!
We walked around the park with the crowds of people and admired the lights and all of the couples and families trying to get cute photos. Before we knew it we were offering to take photos for these people on their cell phones! Clearly we are in the right profession. 

We took photos of one another and froze our little butts off but now we can say that we went to this brand new event in our little city. I know there is a LOT of debate about it and whether or not our city should actually be spending the money on something else and how much of a waste of energy it is and while I'd rather not build an opinion on the matter, I think it was a great idea to get people and their loved ones together, even just for a short period of time to appreciate it all. The people responsible had to have put so much time and effort towards this and as someone who is in an almost permanent state of happiness, it was so refreshing to see others so happy while walking around the park! I hope everyone gets the chance to see Bright Lights Windsor and forgets about the stress that comes with the holidays, even if it's just for an hour. 

Cuba, a wedding, and a broken bone.

As most of you may know (and for those of you who don't, welcome to a fun story) I was given the honour of travelling to Cuba for a total of seven days to photograph my very first destination wedding alongside my good friend and fellow photographer Avan Patel. This was also my very first time on a plane, and very first time off of the continent! You can only imagine how excited and nervous I was about this. I knew this was going to be a memorable experience, I just didn't realize HOW memorable (more on that later.)

The plane ride was magical. I got a window seat and I spent 95% of the 3 hour plane ride looking out and seeing the world from this new perspective. The other 5% was reading, but that didn't last very long. I had heard so many wonderful things from friends and family visiting this beautiful island and had so many expectations. I did not expect to spend as much time just trying to get out of the Cuban airport but boy was it worth it! Stepping out those doors into the humid, warm, tropical air was SO refreshing!

I'm not going to tell you every aspect of the entire trip because let's be realistic, you probably don't want to read about all that. I'll just get to the highlights! The ocean was a heck of a lot saltier than I expected, the resort was beautiful, "Cuban time" is a real thing and it was so interesting, they are definitely not skimpy on the alcohol on resorts, Cuban people are the kindest especially if you are kind to them, and the concept of "all inclusive" freaked me out and I couldn't wrap my head around it for some reason. As for the wedding party and families, every single person was so kind, caring, fun, and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people. 

The wedding day came and Avan and I had already been scouting locations and planning our shot list for a couple days so I was beyond excited. Our day started off at 8:30am with all the details including the dress shot. If I've lost you already, this is the time to tune back in because this is where things get... interesting. Avan and I had the dress shot planned out so we went to our location, tried a couple shots, but it just wasn't working the way we wanted it to. It was time for a Plan B! We wanted to get the dress in an atmosphere that said 'tropical' so my next thought was "why don't we hang it in a tree?!".
We made our way to a walkway where there was groups of different trees and found one that was on the smaller side and therefore easier to hang the dress from. Both of us where still too short to hang it by simply reaching so I, being the one who always offers to do something crazy for a good image, decided to climb said tree and hang the dress. Avan told me I was crazy and told me NOT to do it, but it is such a simple task, right? As I had my legs wrapped around this big branch and I am hanging upside down, I reached for a different branch to lift myself up and as my hand grasped it I knew I was done for. I heard Avan say "Wow, you really were a monkey when you were a kid!" and then *SNAP*. The dry, dead, branch couldn't handle my weight and snapped instantly where I then fell backwards from about 6 feet right onto my shoulder and upper back. I got up, caught my breath, and assured Avan that I was just winded and needed a second to get myself together. As I brushed myself off I felt something out of place. My fingers touched what would be the edge of my collarbone that was now almost protruding through my skin. I felt my blood rush and then I felt myself smile as I said "oh.. shit."

I told Avan not to panic and to continue shooting the wedding as I walked myself to the onsite clinic. I was redirected to the "International Clinic" where they did X-Rays and told me once I got back to Canada I would need surgery because I had severely broken my clavicle. They wrapped me up tight and I went back to the resort. As I arrived back two hours had gone by and it was time for first look photos. I grabbed my camera, took off my battery grip, put on my 50mm lens, and shot the rest of the wedding with one hand. I wasn't in any pain so this was surprisingly an easy-ish task. The wedding was beautiful and minus me having my little incident, everything went as planned. 

The rest of the trip was a little difficult, but still so enjoyable and I'm so grateful that I was given this opportunity. I pushed myself to take more one-handed photos on some downtime, and we went to Havana where we were able to get some photos and enjoy the islands capitol for a little while. The collection below is all of my favourite images from our downtime during the trip, and our trip to Havana. You'll notice some dog photos in the mix and that's because Cuba has a LOT of stray dogs so pretty much anytime I saw one that would let me take its picture, I did. Dogs are my favourite and I absolutely broke my heart to see so many without homes but it is something so normal on this island! The white female is a little friend I made because she was a wanderer on the resort.

This was a long post and I want to apologize for that but if you stuck around and read this entire thing you rock and should leave a comment on this post so I know who you are!! I'm now recovering from my surgery and excited to get back to shooting. I hope you enjoy these fun images!! I put little blurbs on a couple of the images so if you want to learn something about an image, just click on it!

Surprises and Inspiration

Let me just start by saying, this girl managed to surprise me through our entire session. Let me explain why:
Nikita contacted me to do one of my mini sessions this fall and I thought she and I had met previously at one of the Windsor Photographer & Model workshops, so I figured she just wanted some new portfolio updates! We planned for our session at Malden Park on what was originally Wednesday but due to our weird weather, we postponed until Saturday (thank goodness!!). When we finally met up on Saturday afternoon, the weather was absolutely beautiful with nothing but sunshine and a couple clouds. 

As with every client, before we started our session I asked her what kind of images she wanted to create today and if she had any inspirational images she loved that she could show me. She showed me her images and continued on to tell me that she had never done a photoshoot before but that she had always wanted to!! Now, I was confused as I knew I recognized this girl and thought it was from one of the workshops but she said she had never been to any! So we continued through Malden, started creating our images, and while I was guiding her this girl seriously surprised me with some BEAUTIFUL looks!! It's not very often that you get someone doing their very first photoshoot and they already give you some serious model vibes! I had taken about 15 shots at this point and was already so happy!! This woman was killing it!!

We moved to different locations where we actually got a little leg workout in (FEEL THE BURN!) going to the top of the hill where the skyline was visible. This is seriously a pretty amazing sight so if you're a Windsor local and HAVEN'T checked this spot out yet, you need to! Nikita continuously slayed these images and as we talked some more she mentioned how she's known me since high school and how one of the images I had taken of her back then at a Multicultural Festival was still one of her favourite images to date. Mind you, this was about 7 years ago when I had just picked up my very first DSLR! At this moment, I shouted "OH MY GOODNESS! WE WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL TOGETHER! THAT'S WHERE I KNOW YOU! And, I'm so sorry for your eyes that saw my very amateur work.."
She laughed and said that she'd been following my work since back then and although at the time she thought my amateur images were great, it's been even better to watch me grow and my style change. 

This really got me thinking about my roots and how sometimes it's good to just go back - sometimes waaaaay back - to your old work and just remind yourself of where you started and that everyone starts somewhere. This doesn't just apply to photography, either! Whether you are a fellow artist, a personal trainer, a model, an accountant, a landscaper, and everything in-between, we all started with a curiosity and desire to try something new and even if you knew it was going to take you a while to get on the same level as the people that inspired you in the first place, you did it anyways. Just like Nikita here, I took a chance on photography years ago because it interested me and now I could never imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life. If you've been waiting for a sign to go and try that new profession, hit the gym, start that hobby, go into that new program, this is it. Go out there and just get that thing that you're curious about because the worst thing that could happen is you fail and try something else, but maybe.. just maybe.. it'll be the start of a whole new life. 

Fall Mini with Rachel

When Rachel of Lively Creative Co. contacted me to book one of my mini sessions, I was ecstatic! This woman is such a talented photographer and all around beautiful human and we had been wanting to get together over coffee to chat about photographer things (of course!) so I was honoured when she asked me to create some new images for her. We got together for our coffee date where we discussed the details of her session, and just about everything you could think of! After a week of location scouting to find the perfect spot for her images, we decided on Amherstburg riverfront and it totally paid off! The weather was beautiful, the light was gorgeous, and this woman was radiant! Photographers photographing other photographers really is a blast! 

Rachel is a personal branding photographer working in Tecumseh and her work is absolutely stunning so if you're looking to get some beautiful, unique, personal headshots and professional portraits done for your new business, Rachel is your girl! I can't wait to work with her again in the future!


Two weeks ago I got to spend four days at my grandmothers place in Lakeshore dog sitting and on day two of my stay, I had a SERIOUS itch to create something. My grandmothers yard is always so well kept and full of beautiful flowers, a weeping willow, and cute furniture. Her neighbour, Randy (we will come back to him in a minute), also has a beautiful piece of land which he always tells me I'm free to roam if I so choose as long as I've got bug spray handy! I already had this outfit set out for myself and I was going to try and take some self portraits, but it just wasn't working! I wasn't creating what I was envisioning. 

So on this Monday July 24th, I thought about who would be willing to come and take photos with me and after sending out a tweet I remembered my best gal pal Angie lived somewhat in the area and that she usually had Mondays free! I sent her a text and she was on her way over just under an hour later. I walked next door to Randys place, told him I had a friend coming to model for me and to ask if I could use his land as a location and he said to me
"My neice does some modelling! Her name is Angie Guenette!"
Well, if I had a little freak out that second and replied "NO WAY! THAT'S WHO'S COMING OVER RIGHT NOW!"
While Angie was on her way she had mentioned to her boyfriend, Andrew (who was with her for the shoot!), that the address I gave her seemed very close to her Uncles place and when she pulled into the driveway she realized her Uncle was my grandmothers neighbour! It was all too funny of a situation because Randy has been my grandmothers neighbour for as long as I can remember and Angie and I have been friends for a couple of years now but neither one of us had known about how close we actually have been all our lives! Funny how the universe works sometimes, huh?

Anyways, AS USUAL, Angie and I had a blast creating these photos for you and we got SO many mosquito bites but it was so worth it! As always, feel free to comment and share this post if you so choose and don't forget to follow myself and Angie on our Instagram accounts!
Angies Instagram
Haley Mai Photography Instagram

Seeing Differently

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending an InstaMeet (if you're unfamiliar of what that is, it's when a bunch of local photographers and aspiring models get together and take photos!) in London Ontario hosted by two of my friends, Tom Hortiz and Adam Knapper. I met SO many new, incredible people who share the same love for photography as me and I'm glad to call them all friends. After we spent almost 6 hours of shooting (and I even did some modelling!) a group of us who were left decided to continue the night and grab some grub at Crabby Joes which was just a table of lovely stories and laughs. Once the day was done, I was so extremely happy with all of the images I was able to get, I started editing the images immediately after arriving back to where I stayed for the weekend. 

I found myself in a rut, as most artists do, but it was for a completely different reason than usual. I normally find myself in a rut when I haven't shot in a while, but this time I had only been shooting weddings which although very lovely can diminish your creativity! Whenever I can't be creative, shoot, or even plan shoots, I feel empty. I realize how "emo" that sounds but photography is not just my career, it is my passion. Without photography, I am not the best me I know I can be. So, this is a thank you to every single person who attended the InstaMeet for making me feel so loved, appreciated, and beautiful. I can't believe I get to call all of you amazing people friends.

Without further ado, here is a collection of my very favourite images from that incredible day (in no particular order!).

- @kailyncozy
- @nikkicamara6
- @kidsnapz
- @neisa_long7
- @joshmankz
- @fvanpuyenbroeck
- @aidanrempel
- @christianaubino

"Aqua Woman"

On Monday May 29th I finally got to see my favourite girl Angie after months of not seeing one another and we had such a blast! When Angie texted me to meetup and catch up and presented the idea of a pool shoot, I was ecstatic! I hadn't done a pool session before (not for professional purposes anyways) and I was finally getting the chance to see this chick and collaborate on something we both loved! 

Our day started off at her lovely home where we fired off so many photos and a couple different outfits. I'm not usually one to do a shoot in direct sunlight because as photographers, we are taught in school and out in the real world that "direct sunlight is bad" but after this session I really beg to differ! We managed to achieve the vibes and look we were going for and actually if it hadn't been for the direct sunlight, I don't think the images would've been the same! So I was already SUPER happy with how these were looking. 

Once we finished our little session, we proceeded to lunch at a cute little vegan/vegetarian place in Tecumseh called "Healthy Mama". We both ordered the "jackfruit pulled pork sandwich" and we both gave it and the restaurant a 10/10! So if you're in the area and haven't been to that place yet, GET YOUR BUTT OVER THERE! It was delicious and the service was lovely! 

I was SO excited about these photos, I had completely culled, edited, retouched and delivered them that same night and anybody who knows me knows that this is normal for me, haaha! I can't help myself! I think one of the best things about the way I run my business is that my clients can expect their images - in most cases - that same week. I like to post BTS (behind the scenes) images on my Instagram story during sessions, and it just doesn't make sense to make people wait weeks or even months before they can see the final product. That is just my personal opinion and the way I like to run my business, so if you do this and like doing it then keep doing you! 

As for the title of this blog post: usually during my editing sessions, I enjoy sending little sneak previews to the client to give them a peak into my process and because anticipation always KILLS them. Giving them sneak previews can put their mind at ease knowing that I'm working on their photos for hours at a time, and gives them the opportunity to give me feedback as I'm going along. ANYWAYS, as I was sending Angie her previews, she made a comment that made me laugh out loud. She saw the first photo in the collection (view below!) and said "WHO IS THAT AQUA WOMAN?!" and it stuck. I thought it was a cute little comment that fit quite well.


Coffee and Cameras

This beauty right here is Juliana!! She's a fellow photographer here in Windsor Ontario (check out her Instagram!). Her and I met at one of the Windsor Photographer/Model workshops last summer and I thought she was the absolute cutest and sweetest girl. Recently, we became closer friends and we decided to have a photo day!
Before we could get what would be our first, much needed, coffee of the day, we had to roam around a little bit until the café was open so we made our way down to a little park by the river where geese like to hang out. We took some photos of the birds and then a man with a loaf of bread got out of his parked truck and said to us "I can feed the birds close to you and they'll come right up to you!" to which we said "HECK YA!". We spent a good 45 minutes killing time, taking photos of geese and getting them right up to us (face-to-face actually) wondering if we had food, too. It was a lot of laughs and it totally changed my outlook on geese. They're a lot more gentle than I thought!
After that, we made our way back and she took me to this adorable (and totally aesthetic!) café in Sandwich town called Sandwich Post Café where we had coffee, played a few games of "Connect 4" and talked about our aspirations. Once we finished our coffee, we went back outside to take some photos of each other which was SO much fun! It was a pleasure having this gorgeous girl in front of my camera and I can't wait to have another photo day with her! 
Now the part you've been waiting for, THE PHOTOS!  

Wake Up Call

My beautiful roomie Lauren and myself decided to take a night walk on Friday April 28th around our block in London, as it would be our last chance to just take a stroll around our area together since I would be moving the next day! While on our walk, we discovered some really cool little locations such as the beautiful blossoming tree and some ally ways. Lauren turned to me during our walk and said "some of these spots would be really cool for a photoshoot!" and continued dishing out shot ideas for me, and boy was that a proud "mama" moment for me. So, since we knew this would be our last chance for a while, we wanted to do this shoot together. The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and began our journey around the block with our coffee in hand. 

Lauren has grown so much as a "model" and I'm glad we were able to shoot one last time for a little while since I would be moving back to Windsor. During this shoot, I barely had to give her ANY direction and she came up with different, elegant poses on her own. She has no intention of modelling as a career or even for small time hobby photographers - in fact she told me I'm the only person she will offer to model for - but might I say she has gotten a LOT more comfortable in front of the camera since the first time she stepped in front of mine. What an absolute pleasure to have this lovely woman as a best friend and muse. 

Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge! 


Oksana Fitspo

Oksana is a personal trainer, kickboxing instructor, and motivator to everyone and I was so excited when she contacted me for a session! I hadn't really had the opportunity to photograph fitness type portraits before so this was new for me and I had a blast! Oksana and I have known each other since we had been through grade school together so it is always nice to hear that old friends are keeping up with your work! 
Not only is she kick-ass strong, but she is CRAZY BEAUTIFUL! Such a kind, wonderful soul and it was an absolute pleasure working with her. Go over to her Instagram and give her a follow to keep up with her workouts, meals, and motivational posts! Check out some of my favourites from that day below!

Plant Mamma

Spent some time with my beautiful friend and fellow photographer Sydney the other day and took some photos of her with just a few of her plants. This girl is seriously a plant mother! She has an entire countertop FULL of different plants including succulents, flowers, herbs, cacti, and little trees. Here are my favourite shots from that day! 

Hamilton Adventures

Took a quick little road trip on Friday with my gorgeous friend and fellow photographer Maria Denomme to Hamilton to have a day of shooting. Any chance I get to spend with this lovely woman and shoot with her is always amazing! Such a kind, creative, beautiful soul!

When we got to the park, we weren't sure where the waterfall was so we decided to explore a little to try and find it, and after about 10 minutes we realized we were going in the opposite direction according to Google Maps. We turned around and followed maps and the sound of the waterfall, walking against the wind and snow. Since we had both done our makeup, hair and coordinated outfits for that day, by the time we got to the waterfall after walking around for approximately 30 minutes, our hair was flat, makeup was running, clothes were covered in snow and we were freezing our fingers off! Getting down this super steep hill just to be level with the waterfall was also quite challenging! We tried to get as close as we could but since everything was frozen over and we DEFINITELY didn't make the right shoe choice we were falling and slipping all over and we could not stop laughing! We probably spend a total of 20 minutes actually shooting because our hands were so numb we could barely push the shutter button on our cameras!

Even though this was one of the most challenging shoots I've done to date, it was definitely one of the most fun. We had a blast shooting and just driving and talking about conspiracies, food, and updating each other on our lives and I can't wait to collaborate with this woman again!

Sunday's at Sunset

Always struggling with how to start these posts I promise I'll get better at this part eventually!

I made the decision recently to not work my part-time job during the semester so that I could dedicate all of my time and attention to this semester of school because this is my last semester and I wanted to do as best I could. I could not be happier with the decision! I have been working different jobs since I turned sixteen and I can say that not having to worry about booking time off, working around my work/school schedule, and really focusing on my art is extremely refreshing! I haven't had this much free time to shoot and work on assignments since... well... EVER! So, with this weekend being my first weekend without having any plans, work, shoots, or assignments to worry about it only seemed fitting that I take some time to create.

Sunday rolled around, and my beautiful roommate and best friend Lauren had asked if I wanted to take a walk with her to enjoy the crisp, fresh air and sunlight so of course I said YES and decided to take my camera with me. Lauren has been so awesome with allowing me to take photos of her since we moved in together last May and her growth as a model thus far is amazing! I absolutely love that she takes a genuine interest in wanting to learn in order to better the images not only for her benefit, but for mine! 

So, enough of my story, let's get to what you're REALLY here for! THE PHOTOS!

Let's Get Moody

How does one start a blog post? Does one have a specific phrase or opening for it? Either way, here's another blog post :D

I had the pleasure of shooting with the GORGEOUS Vanessa on Tuesday and she is just lovely. For a girl who doesn't desire to get into modelling as a profession, she really is a natural! I visited her home (which was also our location) at the beginning of summer 2016 and when I saw this room I just knew that I had to shoot in it. Finally, I got my chance! This awesome chick agreed to model for one of my school assignments and did such a great job at helping me execute my vision. After completing the shots for the assignment, we proceeded to have a bit of fun! Unfortunately, that was when we started to lose our available light but we worked with it anyway and created a dark, moody, atmosphere for our art. 

Something I forgot to mention in my last blog post was that I'm working on a new preset for you photographers and I used it in my previous session AND the first five images in this one. Just to give you a little taste of what you can do with it, check out the photos below and the ones from Monday! I'm still working out the kinks for it so hopefully it'll be ready by the next time I post here!
(Click on an image to expand!)

I hope everyone has had a lovely week, and I hope you have a great weekend!