Sara + Blair Engaged

It never hurts to warm up with a little bit of fabulous vino before heading into your engagement session, especially a ‘winter’ engagement session! Keeps the cockles of the heart (and toes) just a little bit warmer!

It was such a treat to meet Sara + Blair at Perseus Winery for their photo shoot. We started off within the warm walls of the winery and enjoyed one more glass of Pinto Gris.  Eventually we bundled up and headed into the beauty of the Okanagan. Even in winter, I have so much love for this valley. The stunning surroundings that we call home always takes my breath away.

As we walked along the clay cliffs of Penticton, S+B were amazing!  There is no hiding their comfort with each other. You could see they relied on each other within the moments to keep it real. Keep it honest. Keep it fun! There was a lot of laughter. There were beautiful, quiet moments that fluttered my heart. Made for a perfect session as we prepare for the big day!

Thank you two for entrusting me to be your photographer! I will be so excited and honoured to see you on wedding day. xo

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

okanagan engagement photography

Carolily sparkles

There’s no lying that I have a bit of a soft spot for all things sparkly, so when Danielle of Carolily Finery contacted me to do a photoshoot using some of their jewellery, I was very excited!

Carolily is a mother/daughter duo made up of Danielle and her lovely mother, Donna. We met up in downtown Kelowna and did a little stroll, showing off some of their beautiful necklaces.

We were lucky enough to have three amazing women from our business community help with the modelling. Lisa from The 10 Spot,  Laura from Wink-i-Wear (which you’ll see her gorgeous frames in many of the photos from the shoot), and Sara, a mortgage broker in Kelowna. They were all so fun and easy to work with.

Here is a little taste of just a few of the photos. To see more, make sure you follow Carolily on Instagram or Facebook!

This is Laura of Wink-i-Wear with some killer frames and beauty necklace!

Carolily - Janelle Photography

Carolily - Janelle Photography

Sara wearing a gorgeous vintage brooch necklace. One of my personal faves from the day.

Carolily - Janelle Photography

Carolily - Janelle PhotographyJust a little backstage action!

Carolily - Janelle Photography

Carolily - Janelle Photography

The beautiful mother/daughter team of Carolily!

Carolily - Janelle Photography

Carolily - Janelle Photography

Special thanks to Okanagan Spirits, Alchemy and Mosaic Books for letting us use your beautiful spaces as a backdrop for our shoot!

Loving on each other

Valentines was just two days ago, and I can easily say that it is a favorite of mine. Admittedly, it can be a bit cliche maybe, and retail companies exploit it to the nines. BUT, at its root, is just trying celebrate ‘love’. And I love love. Love it. It’s my thing. So, how can I not be excited about a day dedicated to love!

I absolutely think that the energy we put into expressing our love on February 14th needs to carry through to every other day of the year, but why not have a day that’s kinda like ‘love on steroids’.

Ari and I spent the morning decorating cookies and putting the finishing touches on our v-day cards. Then we got dressed in our pinks, and we headed out on our cupid-adventure! We hand delivered a few special Valentines, and had just the best day doing it. Grandma’s and grandpa’s, daddy-at-work, cousins and little friends…

Since becoming a momma, the day has changed just a wee bit. Once upon a time, Ryan and I just swooned over each other and reminisced about ‘us’. The duo.

Now, it’s about our family. About our little one and the love we all have for each other. Three hearts.

Here’s to many more days of just loving on each other and sinking deeper into the wonderfulness that is 3.

Here’s a little throwback to some photos that I’ve been crushing on lately… that fleeting time where were were still two and already three at the same moment. Forever thankful to Jessica Balfour for creating these irreplaceable photographs. xo

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Make-up by the amazing Jenny McKinney

We’re Engaged

Let’s start the conversation about one of my favorite parts of the whole wedding process.

The Engagement Session.

This is often the first time I will meet up with my clients, or possibly the second, if we had the opportunity to meet for coffee during the initial process. But either way, I am always so excited for this day.

They are a bit nervous. A bit unsure what to expect. Definitely excited. And they look amazing!

The beauty I find in this session, is the opportunity for me to capture images that depict the couple in a more natural, every-day environment. On a wedding day, they are dressed to the nines in an outfit that they will never wear again (at least this is true for the bride). They are distracted (in a very good way) being surrounded by everyone they love and care about. They are hosting the biggest party they’ll most likely ever host. AND they are marrying the love of their life. Definitely distracted.

Hence why I love the intimacy of the engagement session. They are wearing clothes that more represent their true personality. They get to choose a location that they love and feel comfortable in.

And most importantly, all they have to focus on is each other. Holding hands. Snuggling while looking out over somewhere beautiful. Being quiet in the moment. Being goofy in the moment. Simply being the moment.

A lot of brides will scour Pinterest for inspiration, which I totally support, as I am a sucker for Pinterest myself! And when a bride shows me images of a couple having these super gorgeous, organic, romantic, passionate moments, I first, get very excited, because I too, love love love those moments. I always follow up that excitement by saying, “you can have those kinds of photos too, you just need to allow yourselves to BE organic, romantic and passionate throughout the shoot.”

And that is the truth. I have a lot of little tricks up my sleeve for directions and encouragement for everyone that I work with, but it’s when a couple starts to just be themselves and relax into the moment, that’s when beauty really shines through.

 

Outfit selection is a fun, but potentially stressful part of the preparation. Some of my basic suggestions to couples are:

  1. Choose outfits that compliment each other, but don’t necessarily ‘match’.
  2. Try to avoid large logos or words, as these can be really distracting. If you are unsure, trying to stick to more classic, simple colors is best.
  3. Black on black on black is usually not a good idea (unless you were, for example, pulling out a tuxedo and that unbelievably sexy little black dress. In that case, rules are always meant to be broken!)
  4. Try to think of all the little details. This is a perfect time to get your makeup and hair done beautifully. Have fun with your accessories, and even make sure to touch up your manicure! I love to photograph the details (especially that beautiful new engagement ring).
  5. Be mindful of the environment and season we will be shooting in. If we’ve chosen an open field and dirt roads, this would not be the time to wear high heels and a sparkly evening dress. It would, however, be perfect for a pair of leather ankle boots and a flowy top that will move beautifully in the breeze. And if it’s cold out, make sure you have a jacket that you love and are happy to be photographed in. Freezing in the wind and cold temperatures doesn’t make for ‘organic, romantic, or passionate’. But wrapped in a beautiful parka with the hood pulled up over both of you? That’ll do it!

 

For inspiration, here are a couple of my favorite engagement shoots I’ve had the pleasure of shooting. A little bit of effort can really go a long way…

xo

SHERYL + STEVE – Gorgeous Calgary engagement

STORMEE + RON – Kelowna sunset session

TAMARA + COLE – Caldwell Heritage Farm engagement (link to location HERE)

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And then magic happens

I’ve just gotten off the phone with a lovely wife-to-be, and I’m feeling humbled and very happy that they’ve decided to hire me as their photographer. Every time this moment happens, my mind quickly goes over everything that I want to ensure I give and complete for this couple…

Most basic:

  1. I want to give a set of beautiful images that fully encompass the big moments of the day, all the beautiful moments in-between, as well as photographs that simply exude their unique kind of love.
  2. A personal presence that is calming, at ease and warm.
  3. A confidence for my clients in knowing I will do my job fully.

And within those, there are so many little details that allow me to accomplish this for people.

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It starts with how many weddings that I allow myself to do each year. I have realized for me and who I am, I work best and give my best when I am not overworked OR underworked. Taking a set amount of weddings each year has helped me to give my clients an experience that I can feel proud of.

I have also had to focus in on what I feel I do best, which is wedding photography. I am a bit of a hopeless romantic and if two people are lucky enough to find love, I am so happy to be there to put those memories and that love into photographs.

I know that each photographer has their own unique style, and each couple has a unique kind of love. The challenge of having the right couples find me and choose me to be their photographer, is one of my favorite parts! Even though this part can also be challenging and difficult at times, it is well worth it.

Because when I know I’ve been paired up with the right couple, magic happens.

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It’s about time!

Paris anyone?

It’s been awhile since I’ve dreamt of Paris. Actually, that isn’t true. I am always dreaming of Paris, but it’s been awhile since I’ve thought about it in any possible, tangible way.

What feels like forever ago, I took 3 days and soaked in as much of that city as possible. I was in awe. In love. Infatuated with ‘Paris’.

The 3 days ended, and I moved on. But ever since that first date with Paris, I have been yearning to go back, but the next time hand in hand with the love of my life.

The time has finally come to go back, and wouldn’t you know it, but I get to take the TWO loves of my life with me.

I know, I know. It’s just a city. I am a firm believer that the most valuable and loved parts of my life are the people who surround me, so why get all wrapped up in the idea of streets and buildings? Well, all I can say to that is… that’s why I’m taking them with me! Rain or shine, we are going to spend a week together eating crepes and tiny desserts, drinking good coffee and even better wine.

And then I get to kick off my wedding season with a countryside wedding between the rolling hills of England. Ummm, yes, that’s right. My lovely cousin and his beautiful fiance and getting hitched and I get to capture the memories for them (here the link to their Canadian engagement session!)! I could not be more humbled and excited for this wedding. And I’ve wrangled the amazing Amy Faith, who is an incredible photographer located in England to help me out, so that I can also relax with my family and enjoy the celebration as well!

And then we get to come back home to summer in the Okanagan. I’ve got a lineup of amazing weddings that I can’t wait to be a part of. I’ve got time set aside for making my own memories with my little family. And most importantly, I am going to do my best to be ever-present in each moment, whether that be ‘work’ or ‘life’.

My goal this year is to be more streamlined. More organized. More effective. Which will hopefully allow me to truly enjoy every minute I get to focus on my work, and then fully enjoy every second I have with my family. I want to work effectively, play a lot and get the perfect amount of beauty sleep (ya right). Everyone has to dream, right?!

Here’s to another trip around the sun!

Below is my sort of my ‘signature’ Paris photo that always brings me right back to standing on the corner in Montmarte…

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We owned the beach

I believe the best way to move forward, is to appreciate and acknowledge where you’ve come from, and know where you want to go. It’s felt important to reflect on what happened this past year, and even more exciting to see where it has led me to. There were some pretty tough personal moments, some amazing personal moments, many wonderful, beautiful photography moments, some sad world moments, and happy world moments.

May as well start with the tough stuff, and then we get to finish with the icing on the cake!

The beginning of last year, our little bub was diagnosed with a Juvenile from of Arthritis (JIA). Shocked and heartbroken, this took us some time to digest what this really meant. Thankfully, we’ve had some incredible doctors who have helped us understand what it all means.

I haven’t yet shared this outside of my one-on-one conversations with people, as I really just needed time to soak in what this will mean for my little girl as she grows up. But I also want to say that I feel sharing this information and putting it out to my community, will inevitably open conversations that I’m sure will help us to deal with this new challenge in our family.

I hadn’t ever heard of Juvenile Arthritis before. I absolutely thought it was something you get when your older. Not when your 2 years old. But as I’ve now learnt, there are many, many forms of arthritis at all levels of severity, and at all ages.

Thankfully, Ari has been doing so well with her treatment and is a normal little monkey again at the playground. Yes, we have a bit of a hill to climb and I’m sure there will be some hard days ahead, but she has been such a trooper though all the doctor visits, the medications, the poking and prodding.

I also lost my grandfather at the start of 2016. He lived a beautiful, full life all the way to 95 years. It was a celebration of life, for sure, but nonetheless, hard on my heart to actually see him go. But I feel so lucky that Ari and I were able to spend time with him before he left. She will still see a photo of him, and say, ‘Hey! There’s Great-Grandpa!’. It warms my heart that she has those little memories and the photos to keep his spirit alive.

With a few other challenges though the spring, we did absolutely manage to come out the other side still motivated to keep pushing and moving forward.

The summer was amazing. We took Ari camping and she connected so much to Mother Nature! She loved every minute of it, surrounded by her grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

We owned the beach this year. We literally took a picnic dinner to Skaha at least 4 times a week after work. There is no other place I’d rather be when the sun is out in the Okanagan. We even did a mini-staycation this past summer and LOVED it. We are so blessed to live here, and I promise to never take for granted that we live in a summer-paradise!

Every wedding and engagement that I photographed this year, I truly felt so connected to my clients. I am so lucky to find such wonderful people to work for, and it makes me want to do a 150% job for them. I so appreciate each and every one of the bride and grooms who entrust me to capture those memories for them.

I finished up my shooting season at the end of September this year, and had an amazing fall, focused on my own little family. Ari became obsessed with ‘ghosts’, therefore had to be a ghost for Halloween. Cutest little ghost I ever did see!

Wrapped up all the edits and albums for clients by mid-November, and then was able to focus on Christmas with a toddler! So. Much. Fun.

And now it’s a new year, and I can’t wait for it! We already have so many amazing things planned, that I can hardly contain my excitement. The next blog post I’ll share a bit about what is coming up.

Let me leave you with just a few of my faves from this past season…

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Resolution? Goal? Life-change?

It seems to be the end of the year, and thanks to Facebook, I got a little reminder that I haven’t posted on my business page in quite some time…

That little reminder encouraged me to check it out. First, I checked what my last post on facebook was. October 27th. Which also coincides with my last blog post. Oi.

2 full months.

This sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole. Next I checked how many posts I did in the full year. Can’t be that bad.

13.

Uhhhmmm, pardon?

Why don’t we dig a little deeper.

2015 – 33

2014 – 32

2013 – 75

Oh boy.

First let me preface this by saying that admittedly I am sad that I have obviously let go of my writing, which is something that I have loved to do since forever. As a young girl, I always had a journal hidden under my bed. I wrote all through highschool, all though college, all through my travels, and even though I sort of slipped and lost my journal writing at that point in my life, I started a blog!

And then something kinda life-changing happened early 2014. The best kind of life-change there is. I became a momma-bear. Even though I am sad to see how much I have lost my consistency in my writing, I have a pretty dang good (and super cute) excuse!

But as with every New Year, I love to take time to think of what sort of things I hope to work on with the coming year. And I think this needs to be one of them! Writing has been a part of me as long as I can remember. It’s how I organize my thoughts. Deepen my thoughts. Work through the tough ones, and also, it acts as a memory bank so I never forget the good!

I have no idea if people out there like to read my words or not. But I have come to a point in my life that I don’t really mind either way. Writing is something that makes me feel more whole. And in a world that is so huge, if there is anyone out there who can connect with my words/stories/struggles/wins, then I feel that helps to make our world a little less ‘big’. Connecting us together. Building community.

I’m going to put it out there that my writing-goal for this next year is going to hit 36 blog posts, which is just 3 a month. I can do it, and I’m excited to do it. And maybe somebody will read them, and maybe not. Either way, I’ll be happy to be back at getting my stories and thoughts back onto the page – er – keyboard. hehe.

And just so you understand the reason WHY I’ve swayed from my writing, here are a few of the out-takes of Ari’s Christmas photos I tried to do this year. Yes, she is in a variety of outfits and locations because this took me THREE TRIES. First time was my fault. Second time was her fault, and third time I brought my ever-faithful assistant (aka – her dad, my hubby, the best assistant ever) and we nailed it.

Here’s to 2017 and all it will bring!

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And this was the winner photo! Light of my life. Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! xoari-2016blog-final-9

Amanda + Derrek Engaged

“I have so, so much love for him, and he is seriously the most important thing in my life…” Admittedly, Amanda was referring to her beautiful pup Titan at the time, but trust me when I say, she’s got all sorts of love for both her boys, Titan AND Derrek.

It was such a special treat for me to do these photos for Amanda and Derrek’s engagement. Amanda and I went to school together once upon a time. And to see her now, looking so gorgeous, so full of joy, and getting married to a guy who is a perfect fit for her.

We walked around downtown Kelowna, and enjoyed talking and catching up with each other. And of course, taking a few photos here and there! Titan joined us for the first few minutes, and then waited patiently as I did a few more of just A+D at the waterfront, taking advantage of that gorgeous Okanagan light at the end of the day.

Thank you two for inviting me to be a part of this ‘getting married’ journey, and I hope you love these photos and they become a beautiful reminder of this special time in your lives…

xo

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Amanda’s beautiful hair done by: Courtney Scott at The Beauty and Shave Parlor

Amanda’s beautiful make-up done by: Jenny McKinney