Haley Mai

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. 

#HaleyAndAngieCreateMagic

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!).

MODELS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE: 
- @kailyncozy
- @nikkicamara6
- @kidsnapz
- @neisa_long7
- @joshmankz
- @fvanpuyenbroeck
- @aidanrempel
- @christianaubino

"Aqua Woman"

ANGIE IS BACK!!
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.

SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADUE, HERE ARE A COUPLE OF PHOTOS FROM THAT DAY!

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!