windsor portrait photographer

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. 

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.