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Family Documentary Session

Stress-free family photography sessions. It’s a thing!

boy and girl running around parents

Fun, relaxed family photography.

Can you imagine a family photography session that is not a stressful experience? One where your husband won’t groan the entire time, the kids will be laughing and thoroughly enjoying the process and you get to sit back and soak up quality family time (and have photos made that you will cherish forever). I would never steer you wrong, my sweet friend. It can happen!!

Life is too short to be forced to wear matching white t-shirts and jeans

Whenever asked for wardrobe advice before a session, I urge my clients to stay away from the shops and look through their closet first. You never need to dress up for a storytelling session, but if you want to go the extra step, select what love to wear or something that you would put on if you were going out for a special get-together with friends. Likely it is something incredibly comfortable, classic and the second you put it on, you feel amazing. (Which is the biggest secret to looking amazing in your photos!)

Ottawa family photo kids jumping in front of house

Keep it simple with the rest of the family’s ensemble – the key is to not make a big deal over the clothes. When you look back on the photos in a decade from now, you don’t want to see the latest fashions or be reminded how much your son complained about that new sweater you bought for the photo shoot – you want to see how much everyone enjoyed their time together.

Home is a magical place for your photo shoot

The search for a ‘perfect location’ for photos ends now. In my opinion, your home and backyard is an awesome backdrop for your session.

little boys playing on floor with ball toy

Think about it: the little Lego pieces everywhere right now will be gone one day. (It doesn’t seem that long ago when toys were once strewn from one end of my living room to the other!) So it may seem like a ‘mess’ now, but take my word for it – these are the scenes you will want to remember in 10, 25, or 50 years from now. Your home is the heartbeat of your family and usually where everyone is happiest and most likely to relax and be themselves. Why would you want to be anywhere else?

A session in your house? Doesn’t sound very stress-free, does it? Let me put your mind at ease… I don’t care if your house is full of dust bunnies. Not for one second. All homes (especially with kids) have ‘stuff’ everywhere and it happens to be a fleeting part of your life.  You may feel the urge to tidy as if you were preparing for a friend to come over to visit (again, that’s entirely up to you) but that’s it. I won’t be photographing anything but you and your family together.

family photography - adult children making pizza

For parents of adult children, an in-home session can’t be beat. Very few things can compare to the feeling of having your children back under one roof and involved in preparing and sharing a meal together. You’re going to have to make food for everyone anyway, so why not incorporate your culinary talents and #teamwork into the session?

Playing, laughing and not looking at the camera is highly encouraged

Focus on fun and spending special time together. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

kids playing in the leavesfamily photography kids playing in the leaves

When you let go of expectations and let the session unfold naturally, you end up with the best pictures of the day. Do your thing – love on your babies, give your main squeeze a big, well, squeeze.

family photography little boys give flowers to mom
If you can, try to forget there’s someone there with the camera.

man looks at spouse lovingly on beach


Ready to have your family photographed without all of the fuss? If you live in Renfrew, Arnprior, Ottawa or surrounding areas and are interested in learning more about booking your very own family session, we need to chat. Please send me a note to learn more.


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The Magic in Unscripted Moments

It’s close to seven years ago when I started out photographing families (other than my own) and it’s been one wild, adventurous ride so far and it’s only getting better. Why is that? Well, it’s simple – I stopped worrying about composition, lighting and all of the rest of the technical know-how and started concentrating on what really matters: people and what they do, how they interact and the way they show how they care for one another.

Last month I had the opportunity to work with one of the families who hired me in those early days of my photography business. Back then, it was all about frame-worthy portraits. They actually came to my house and the session took place in my yard and on our trails. Don’t get me wrong, that session was great (and I especially loved seeing those photos framed on the wall), but meeting up with them again last month was all about bringing their family story to life. There’s nothing wrong with pretty portraits (in fact, we still took time out for a few relaxed, fun poses). Yet everything is so right about showing what it really looks like on a random Tuesday summer evening.

Now those little cuties are full fledged tweens and a teenager. There was no elaborate plan for our session other than hanging out with the kids. Mom had explained that the evenings were still the “coming together” time for her family – 11 year old triplet girls and a 17 year old son.

“The kids are getting older and more independent, but we still have a strong family bond.”

Showing that bond became my mission. I could barely wait for the session.

It turns out Mom wasn’t kidding – they are all as tight as can be. She also mentioned they are generally quiet, but failed to share how energetic they all are at the end of the day! The kids played in the backyard on the trampoline and then we moved out to the front to the basketball net in the street for a solid hour and they genuinely enjoyed being together. It seriously was non-stop action (even when we went inside, the girls continued practicing splits and kartwheels in their gymnastics room!). Throughout it all, Mom didn’t miss a beat – watching their every backflip and free throw with great enthusiasm – and I know it wasn’t just because there was a camera around. This family understands what it means to spending quality time with each other.

Whenever I’m invited in to a family’s home, my only hope is that show me their real. After just a few minutes with these people I could feel the tingling deep down in my bones; this is where I’m supposed to be and what I’m meant to do.

Here is the M Family doing what they do best and showing nothing but their unscripted, magical real.


Just for fun, we had to take one of the four kiddos and their old Gemma photos:


Thank you all once again for opening your home and your hearts and embracing me as part of your summer fun, even if only for an hour or so.



If you live in Ottawa, Kanata or surrounding areas and are interested in savouring these types of simple memories with your quickly-growing children, we need to chat. Please visit the Session Information page or send me a note to learn more.


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it’s not cold | Renfrew baby photography

The last time I met with this gorgeous mama, little Sakku was in her belly. Michelle and her family live in Nunavut, but her parents have recently moved back to Renfrew and they were here in the fall for a visit with Grandma. As you can imagine, compared to Nunavut the fall chill in Renfrew was balmy. As a bonus, this little fella was all about playing in something unfamiliar to him — the grass. He could have sat there for hours running it between his fingers and yanking it out of the ground.

Inuit traditions are a major part of this young family’s life. Michelle takes Sakku on walks in a custom baby wearing wrap and Johnny feeds his son the same way his ancestors fed their babies; by pre-chewing meats and feeding it directly by mouth to the little ones. And if by chance Johnny looks a little familiar to you – he’s  an actor and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient for his work improving the health of Northern communities. He’s also a champion Inuit High Kick athelete (check out the awesome video here).

We spent a quiet afternoon together playing outside, going for a little stroll, having a snack — and the down for a nap!

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If you live in Renfrew, Arnprior or surrounding areas and are interested in savouring these types of fleeting moments with your quickly-growing baby, we need to chat. Please visit the Session Information page or send me a note to learn more.

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turning 90 | Upper Ottawa Valley event photographer

OTTAWA VALLEY EVENT PHOTOGRAPHER – Turning 20 is a big deal. Turning 40 is another milestone event. But imagine turning 90?? Now that’s something not everyone gets to experience. If you’re fortunate to be the matriarch a great family like this one, there’s no way they will let it slide by without a real celebration.

Renfrew Family photographer

The birthday girl was only expecting a quiet dinner with just her two children, their spouses and a dear friend. However, behind the scenes you can be sure that everyone was scheming to make it a memorable event. Part of the surprise plan was to have the all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren travel from Toronto and south of Ottawa to Deep River for the festivities. All four generations in one place over the Thanksgiving weekend.

ottawa birthday party photographer

They also made sure to include Olga’s brother who couldn’t make the trip in person – they had him set up to chat with his sister on Skype. A Skyping great-granny, it really doesn’t get much cooler than that.

birthday party photographer

The other surprise was that Olga’s granddaughters contacted me to document the whole evening. They wanted photographs partly as a gift to their beloved grandma, and partly because they wanted just to be in the moment. It was important that they be able to enjoy the mini-family reunion during their limited time together without worrying about taking their own pictures.

birthday celebration photographertoast to the birthday girl

A few minutes after Olga walked into the lobby, it was evident that the effort to organize a birthday party (with a scrumptious homemade birthday cake) was well-deserved. This young lady is a firecracker who should let us all in on her secrets to raising a thoughtful, loving, very warm family. Cheers to many more years of special celebrations together!

birthday cakebirthday photography


If you are planning a special celebration or small informal event in Ottawa or the Valley that you would like to have documented, we should chat. Please send me a note for availability and pricing options.

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a Sunday morning | Arnprior documentary photography

ARNPRIOR DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY – This right here is the reason that I love what I do. First of all, repeat clients are the best. They don’t have to come back to me, but they do. The G family has recruited me a few times – first to photograph their son when he was just 18 months old, again for maternity and newborn photos of their daughter, and an extended family session. From the first encounter we have become friends and it’s an honour to watch this beautiful family grow (take note: if I photograph your family, there’s a good chance that will become friends too!).

We’ve done more of the look-directly-at-the-camera-style sessions in the past, and I explained that my philosophy about photographing families has shifted since our last session. Since our last session, they have moved from my neck of the woods here in McNab Township to a new home in Arnprior. We decided that it was time to photograph a typical Sunday morning with everyone. Coffee in hand. Kids playing. Very little direction from me. Mom and dad are free to be involved with the action and I’ll hang out with my camera.

Understandably, mom hesitated at first. When anyone thinks of professional family photographs, you instantly imagine people sitting together in a picturesque park. It’s hard to envision how the scene would play out in your home. I totally get it. But as a valued, loyal client and friend, I wanted to give her something more than just a few pictures to hang on the wall.

After a little more chatting, I was thrilled when she came around to the in-home documentary session concept. I said we could start off just spending some time inside and if she wanted, we could end up at the nearby park to run around with the kidlets.

(As you see, I also guarantee to take a few ‘everyone look at the camera’ shots for Grandma and Grandpas, however, the majority of the time is spent ignoring the girl with the camera.)

Not surprisingly, the day before our photo shoot, up popped this message:

“My house won’t be clean… So bring a filter that will hide dirt and dust.”

Which brings me to the second reason I love my job: I don’t see the same things that you see.

It’s not about the cleanliness of your house anyway (by the way, their home is gorgeous!!). Documentary sessions are about pressing the pause button on this phase of life. The phase where there’s an entire room dedicated to tons of tiny toys, you hunt for bugs in the back yard, you have a mid-morning snack of Goldfish crackers, and you’re exhausted by 12:30 p.m. after chasing around two little kids. Our morning together depicts so much about what this family does in their down-time away from work, school and other life obligations.

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We need give ourselves a break and remember that our homes don’t need to like the pages of a magazine to be brimming with incredible beauty and warmth. Our routines, or lack of a regular schedule on weekends, are an important part of the little memories that should be remembered as much as the big milestone events.



Let me show you the magic of a typical day in your home. If you live in Ottawa, Arnprior, Renfrew, Pembroke or surrounding areas and are interested in savouring these types of moments with your own family storytelling session, we need to chat. Please visit the Session Information page or send me a note to learn more.

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savour the moment

Fun, stress-free, meaningful in-home and outdoor adventure sessions for people who appreciate the magic of an ordinary day

Storytelling photography for extraordinary events and weddings across the Ottawa Valley, including the greater Ottawa area