London Ontario

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!

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

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!