Photography

You might remember back in October when I had the great honour of being the photographer for Mat and Jasmine’s wedding. It was a perfect autumn day, and their adorable toddler Jack stole the show. We’ve been trying for a few weeks now to get out to the park to celebrate their growing family (new and improved with a baby daughter!) for a few weeks now, but we’ve been foiled by cold, windy spring days.

We finally got a break with the weather, and we met on Father’s Day to make some beautiful family memories. Well, that was the grownups’ plan. Jack might have had other ideas. Oh toddlers, you are both the delight and the bane of my photography business! We tried a few posed portraits, but when you have one who doesn’t want his picture taken and one who doesn’t sit up on her own yet, you have to be creative. We ended up with this:

Candid, fun portraits of families and children by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

But first we had to get through this (I have to admit, I love this photo; I often love the outtakes as much as I love the successes):

Candid, fun portraits of families and children by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

I have to take a moment here to say how amazing it is to work with laid-back, easy going families. We’d had to cancel twice for poor weather, and we’d barely arrived when both parents had been well-christened with baby spit up. Jack had zero interest in actually sitting still to have his photo taken (hello! awesome park to explore!) and would pretty much run the other way when he noticed me and my camera nearby. Posed, perfect family portraits were not going to happen. When we decided to go for a little walkabout to visit the frog pond, things improved greatly. Posing for photos? Jack says no thanks. Going on an adventure? Jack was all over that!

Candid, fun portraits of families and children by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Candid, fun portraits of families and children by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

And while we were on the move, I might have managed to sneak in a few portraits of a happy, beautiful (and busy!) family on the go.

Candid, fun portraits of families and children by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Candid, fun portraits of families and children by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Candid, fun portraits of families and children by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

I loved taking these photos because I felt when I looked at them that I could really see the family’s personality in them – patient, funny, affectionate and kind. What a gorgeous family, right?


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You might remember that Tristan has turned out to be quite the track star. Out of the blue in Grade 6 he showed a previously unrevealed talent for sprints, and in Grade 7 was asked to compete in the track and field pentathlon: 100m and 800m races, shotput, long jump and high jump. He placed well in the running events in last year’s meet, but struggled with the field events.

As track season rolled around again, Tristan came in first in his grade in the tryouts for 100m and 200m, and other races. Through the year, he had said that he was not interested in doing the pentathlon again this year. “I don’t so much like to throw things. I like to go fast!” As they worked through the high jump tryouts, it took days of patience as the other kids were slowly eliminated and Tristan kept clearing the bar at 115cm, 125cm, 130cm. (For comparison sake, at 5’8″ I am just over 170cm tall.) Despite this, I was still surprised when he came home and said he agreed to compete in the pentathlon again. He’d only had one long jump practice, and hadn’t even touched a shotput during his school tryouts.

The track meet was blustery and cold for a June day, and Beloved and I huddled in layers of clothes and blankets to cheer him on. He warmed us to the core, though, when out of the gate he won his heat and came in second overall in the first event, the 100m race.

Tristan winning

See that face, on my boy in the outside lane? That face says, “Hell yes I just won this race!”

In the end, he didn’t place in the top three in the field of 16 or so competitors and didn’t get a medal. He did what he said he would do, though. He went fast. Really fast! If he can just show up with no practice and run like the wind, I can’t wait to see what will happen if he follows up on his idle idea of going out for track in high school next year and actually putting some training behind him. Stay tuned – I’m guessing though this is the last elementary track meet for Tristan, it might be only the beginning of his running career.


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We were still in the clutches of winter’s miserable chill when we set up this photo session, and we simply could not have imagined a more perfectly sunshiny, warm early summer morning at the park. Blue skies, happy kids, warm sun… any time you come home from a photo session with sandy knees and grass in your hair and sore cheeks from smiling, you know the photos are going to be wonderful!

I’m sure the family thought I was a little odd when I asked them to go play with the dandelions on a little knoll immediately behind some port-a-potties. The light was amazing, though, and I love the wee girl’s expression on this!

Portraits at the Park by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Her brother was a handsome fella, too!

Portraits at the Park by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

We took some photos in colour, too. Again, a whole gorgeous park and I am practically standing on the port-a-potties here. But that light tho!

Portraits at the Park by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Just a beautiful family on a walk in the park on a perfect early-summer morning:

Portraits at the Park by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

There was something about this easy-going family that made me think they’d welcome some non-traditional story-telling photos. These are my hands-down favourite kind of photos. He’s too close to be in focus and he’s on the move, but I just love the affection on mom and dad’s faces, and the energy of the kids.

Portraits at the Park by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

I laugh out loud every time I see this photo, I love it so much. I love the mischief from the boy, the laugh from the dad, the girl turning around to see what’s going on behind her, and oh how much do I love that exasperated, affectionate “are you kidding me?” expression on mom’s face? As mom to three boys, I think I wear that expression for a large part of every single day.

Portraits at the Park by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

And this? Oh be still my heart, the cuteness! My one job for this session was to get a photo of this Little Miss without her thumb in her mouth or her blankie covering her face. I think we more than succeeded. She told me herself that’s she is a diva – you can totally see that here, can’t you?

Portraits at the Park by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

I think I had as much fun playing with these kids as I did taking photographs of them. Once you earn a kid’s trust, it’s easy to capture their personality in a photo. Kids are awesome that way!

These storytelling sessions are my absolute favourites. If you’d like to invite me along to document your family adventure (a day at the park, a picnic, a walk in the woods, or something else) please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to work with you and your family to make beautiful memories!


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What’s that old saying about never working with kids and dogs? It’s no problem when the kids are good-natured and sweet and the family tells you that the secret keyword to get the dog to look at you is “walk”!

Family pictures by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

Adorable, right? Worked like a charm! I know this fun family from the community, and when they booked me for family portraits on their porch, which I have to admit is even MORE lovely and large than mine(!), I knew it would be a blast.

It was even more fun because we were able to include their visiting grandmother, so there’s three generation of sweet, funny people in this one. Don’t you love how strong the family resemblances are?

Family pictures by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

I have to tell you, though, as a mom of boys, this one was my favourite.

LFamily pictures by Ottawa family photographer Danielle Donders

We’re so lucky to live in a community with great families and great friends like this!

And with that, our spring and summer portrait season is officially underway!


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Remember when you were a kid, how fun it was to hurl yourself down a hill and try to outrun your momentum?

Today’s lesson was “gravity always wins.”

Sand dune fun

Lucky for us, the day’s other lessons included “cousins are awesome” and “it’s finally summer” and “there’s nothing better than family, even when they’re howling with laughter as you face-plant in the sand.”


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Nothing says summer like road trip, family, nine hour car ride, and then watching the sun set into the Great Lakes on a warm evening.

Barefoot on the beach

Hello, summer, how I have missed you!


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Photo of the day: Catching a falling star

12 May 2016 Lucas

We have driven past this monument in the Half Moon Bay section of Barrhaven many times, and I’ve always been curious about it. Last night after swimming lessons, Lucas and I decided to head over to check it out up close. There’s a placard that explains that what I thought might have been a starfish […]

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Photo of the day: Tristan and Willie

30 April 2016 Photo of the Day

It has been a good long while since we’ve had a cat picture around here, hasn’t it? Both the cat and the man-child are growing up. Lucky for me, while the cat remains averse to cuddling, the man-child is still open to the idea of a hug every now and then.

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Photo of the day: soft flowers

24 April 2016 Photo of the Day

I have been editing black and white portraits all day from a workshop I took yesterday. More to come on that, but in the meanwhile, I needed to change directions for a bit so I edited this photo I took earlier in the week. I love it when the scilla come up. They’re always just […]

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Photos of the day: Newborn puppies!

9 April 2016 Mothership Photography

When I heard that a neighbour had a mama dog that was about to give birth to a litter of puppies, I reached out and said I’d love to trade my mad portrait photographer skillz for the opportunity to take photos of the newborn pups. On Easter weekend, we watched with awe and delight as […]

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