Family Portrait Session at Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa

I received a call from a family friend asking if I was available to photograph the families of her two children. The only catch was that the two families were in town for one day as one of the families was had just arrived a day earlier from the UK, and was flying out the next day to live in a new country. I was warned that the grandchildren would be jet lagged and likely grumpy, and it was the morning after I had returned from my own family vacation... challenge accepted!

The other potential hiccup was the uncertainty of the weather. You see, it has rained almost every day, and the weekends were a sure bet to be a little soggy.

Luckily though, the morning was beautiful, albeit a wee bit buggy, and the grandchildren were incredible. Today I share Krista and Neal's photos from the session.

As a father of two energetic young boys, I can't stress enough how important it is to capture the precious moments we encounter as our families grow and develop. Whether it's during a conversation over breakfast, on a simple walk through the neighbourhood, or three days into a summer road trip, you're sure to experience moments that should be captured and cherished forever.

While it's unlikely that I'll be at your breakfast table or on your family vacation, although I'm always happy to tag along, I would love to capture priceless moments of your family that are meant to be shared in photo books and display in large print on your walls. Lets chat.

Photographing Chef Jesse Bell

I recently made a return visit to one of my favorite spots in Ottawa, The Albion Rooms, nestled at the base of Ottawa's Novotel Hotel on Nicholast St. The Albion Rooms prides itself as being anything but your typical hotel restaurant has been a go-to hot spot for many locals and visitors alike. My first visit was back in 2015 when then-Chef Stephen La Salle was at the helm. The food was great - often made with locally sourced ingredients, and the atmosphere was spot on - a perfect mixture of equal parts casual and class.

Today when you visit The Albion Rooms, you still find that same great flavour and service we've come to expect, but when you peak in the back room you'll notice a new Captain steering the ship. Enter Chef Jesse Bell. 

Though his youthful looks may deceive you, Jesse isn't new to the restaurant game. Like many in this city, he is a graduate of Algonquin College's successful Culinary Management program and cut his teeth by working his way up throughout the Capital. Jesse assumed the Head Chef position at The Albion Rooms a little over a year ago, after colleague and close friend Stephen La Salle moved to his new role down the street.

A perfectionist by nature, Jesse takes immense pride in keeping his mouth watering menu new and fresh. And his passion for sustainability and shopping local are a testament to his core values. If you're looking for that perfect location for a date, or need to grab a satisfying bite before catching a show at the NAC, I highly recommend paying Jesse and his team at The Albion Rooms a visit.

Chef John Morris Shot for Shepherds of Good Hope Calendar

Photographing people in and out of their normal work environments is something that really interests me. I have a curious mind and really like learning about what other people do, how they do it, and why they do it. A couple of weeks ago I shared an image I made of Chef Michael Radford for the Shepherds of Good Hope fundraising calendar. Today, I will share the second image I made for the calendar, which was of chef John Morris of the then Le Café at the National Arts Centre NAC) here in Ottawa, and now of 360 Restaurant at the top of the CN Tower in Toronto.

I was excited to meet John after learning how great everyone said he was, and after realizing we had a similar taste in music. I'm probably wrong, but I feel like music can say a lot about someone's personality.

I went into the shoot without having a clear idea of the image I hoped to capture, so we walked through the NAC discussing a few possible locations. And then we found ourselves standing at side stage of the NAC main stage and I knew I had to photograph him on the iconic stage. The problem was, we weren't allowed on stage because of rules and liability issues, and because the orchestra were beginning their evening practice on the stage. We decided to risk it and ran out on stage for a few quick shots. The resulting image for the calendar is the one you see above. 

I often like to light my portrait subjects, but due to the risk of security dragging us off stage I decided to use the room's available light and push my camera settings to their limits. The only strobist work I did in this image was to bounce the desk lamp off the top of the piano to help create a bit of rim light along John's right side.

Here's an out-take that I really like. Though the orchestra was practising behind me, it captures a quiet moment John taking a few seconds from his busy day to admire and appreciate where he worked.

If you haven't already, please check out the Shepherds of Good Hope calendar and buy one. The money raised from the sale of these calendars goes to an incredible local charity that serves thousands of meals each year to Ottawa's homeless community. The calendar also showcases the amazingly creative portraits made by Justin van Leeuwen, Jessica Deeks, Valerie Keeler, Lindsey Gibeau, Christian Lee and Chris Schlesak. If you like photography and you like food, you'll love this calendar.

Chef Michael Radford for Shepherds of Good Hope Calendar Shoot

Late last summer I was contacted to be part of a dream project to shoot portraits of some of Ottawa's best chefs as part of the Shepherds of Good Hope fundraising calendar. The project was a load of fun and I learned an enormous amount from the experience, from scheduling shooting times with busy chefs, to creating a story out of a single image, to working as a commercial photographer for the first time. The first of my three shoots was with Chef Michael Radford.

Michael Radford

Michael Radford entered school intending to become a marine biologist. But it wasn't until he began working in the kitchen that he realized his true calling to become the head chef of two (and soon a third location) of Ottawa's top oyster houses, The Elmdale Tavern and Whalesbone

When I first met Michael, I learned about his past as a DJ and instantly knew that I wanted to combine his passions for music and food into the image. He brought his turntable and a selection of records to the shoot, and came up with the genius idea to shuck oysters on his records. To mimic the mood and look of a DJ spinning records on stage, I killed most of the ambient light, and lit Michael on either side with two bare speedlights, one gelled blue and the other gelled red. To add a touch of fill to his face, I used a 1/2 CTO gel on a third speedlight, and covered it with my Rogue 40 deg grid. The resulting shot is what you see above.

The calendar is an 18 month calendar, and as I mentioned above, the proceeds of all calendar sales go to a great local charity. Why not pick one up for yourself, you'll not only be helping yourself be more organized, but you'll also be supporting a great cause. You can get yours by clicking here, and while you're at it grab one for a friend.

Kai-Lii & Jared's Hart House Wedding | Toronto

My how time flies by. We're already into the middle of November, and I have finally found the time to share the beauty and excitement of Kai-Lii and Jared's Autumn wedding. Knowing that I had never shot a wedding before (not even as a second shooter), these two dear friends asked me to bring my journalistic style to their wedding to capture the day. How could I say no? I love these two people.

Their wedding took place at Hart House, the beautiful and historic student centre at the University of Toronto. Completed in 1919, the Gothic Revival design makes you feel like you're in a scene from Harry Potter.

The day began as the ladies pampered themselves at Green Beauty Salon in uptown Toronto. We spent a couple of hours together as they were transformed from their already beautiful selves into the stunning ladies you see below. I then headed back downtown to meet Jared and the boys at Axe and Hatchet in Yorkville and captured them getting ready before heading to the venue.

Mixed with Scottish and Estonian traditional elements, the ceremony, reception and food made for the most entertaining and fun wedding I had ever been to, including serving Estonian beer and the bride and groom being serenaded by the attendees after the ceremony.

Congratulations Kai-Lii and Jared, it was an amazing day and I can’t wait to see the next chapter of your lives unfold together.