Windsor Ontario

Artists Supporting Artists

As someone who loves supporting local whenever and wherever she can, when this girl took to social media to find someone willing to trade a headshot for some WICKED COOL art, I HAD to reply!

This is Maddy and she's a Windsor artist. Her work is absolutely beautiful and she is so multi-talented doing sketches, digital paintings, graphic design, and dabbles into the hair and makeup world, not to mention her Instagram is something out of a artistic minimalist dream. I love the way she see's the world and adore her love for vintage (because if you don't already know, I'm a lover of vintage myself). Maddy and I sat down at my favourite cafe a few weeks back and discussed the details of our trade and we both left the consultation feeling super excited and inspired! I think trades can sometimes be undervalued and let me tell you why:


When I first started photography I had no idea how to start taking portraits of people and had no idea what to charge. As I got more comfortable with approaching people asking them to model for me, my work slowly got better and better and this allowed me to build my portfolio. I got myself to a point that I was very comfortable turning down trade shoots and only accepted paid work. This was fine for a while until I realized I had lost the passion and artistic drive that got me into this industry in the first place and I found myself creating mood boards for styled shoots and never shooting them. Why? Because I was so concerned about making enough money and no longer "giving away" my work and by doing this I was extremely unhappy and uninspired. Don't get me wrong, I understand that this is how businesses are made and how they become successful but when it comes to the world of art, it's important to have BALANCE. 

If you create for the sake of creating and never book paid gigs, you won't be able to support yourself financially. On the other hand, if you only book paid gigs and never create for the sake of creating, you might not feel fulfilled or inspired. Some people can do either or and be completely happy and if you're one of those people, all the power to you! But if you're like me and sometimes need to step back from the business side of things and just create because you want to, I think trades are for you. 

Maddy and I decided we would trade art for art! Her and I would create some beautiful images together that she could use however she desired and in return she would re-create my personal work with her own spin. In our case, we were both very much inspired by each other and felt comfortable and confident with the other persons work we knew it was a fair trade on both sides. Trades should be equally beneficial to all parties and there should be a firm understanding as to what each party receives. I'm not saying you should stop making money and only do things for trade and I'm not saying you should accept every trade offer that comes your way. I am saying it is something you should consider if you're finding yourself wanting to create and get inspired, you want to make connections with new people and support one another, or maybe you're in need of something that the other person has to offer. No matter what your situation may be, it doesn't hurt to reach out to people because you never know what kind of friends you'll make or what kind of connection you'll gain.

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. 

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!

#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

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!  

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!