From the category archives:


We spent the day with some friends at the beach. This is pretty much how it went.

boys at the beach

I like how the black and white reduces the moment to the movement and the moment, and I put just a bit of warmth in the shadows because it was warm and sunny. I’m really liking black and white photography lately, especially for story-telling photos.

Speaking of stories, that’s something I’d really love to do more of with my professional sessions this autumn. Planning a trip to the apple orchard or pumpkin picking or just a picnic and wander in the park? Why not bring a photographer along to document the day? I’m considering offering a special package deal for this autumn, but with a limited number of sessions. What do you think?


Summertime shenanigans in the back yard!

Silly string

I’ve got mixed feelings about the end of summer, but love that I get to spend this last week of it in the sunshine with my boys.


We have long loved the Chapman Mills conservation area. It’s a beautiful little piece of nature tucked in between a busy Barrhaven suburb and the Rideau River. I was worried that the new Strandherd-Armstrong bridge would ruin this peaceful little oasis, but if anything the boardwalk is more lovely than ever.

I loved the tranquility in the original version of this photo, but something about those breeze in those leaves and bullrushes cried out for painterly brush strokes, so I had a little fun in Photoshop. What do you think?

Kayaker at Chapman Mills

I’ll post a few more photos of our wander along the boardwalk and under the bridge later this week. :)

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We were reading Anne of Avonlea the other night when I came across this quote and I had to add it to one of our PEI photos because it was so exquisitely true of our vacation, but also of our whole lives.

Simple little pleasures

Did I mention we’ve already booked for PEI 2015? :)

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Sometimes, no matter how carefully you plan a photo session, you have to throw out all your research and ideas and just go with the flow. That was the name of the game yesterday when this big family came together from locations across Canada and overseas for a family portrait. Because there were to be no opportunities for do-overs, we had a plan and a backup plan. And in the way life often works, we ended up forgoing all of that and throwing together a Plan C on the fly to get this portrait while stormy skies threatened a deluge.

Family reunion

Lucky for me, they were a great gang with a fun sense of humour, and this was only one of a series of fun family shots we got. My favourite thing about photography is still meeting new people and learning a little bit about them and their families, and it’s always such an honour to be invited to be a part of days like this. But yeesh, big group portraits are tough. Give me a couple of toddlers to wrangle any day! ;)


We have always loved going to the beach. Some of my best childhood memories are days spent at Grand Bend or Ipperwash or Port Franks with my family, and my Mom still loves to join us for a day at the beach.

Although they’re a far cry from the spectacular beaches of PEI (yes, I’m still pining for them), there’s a lot to love about Ottawa’s river beaches. Our favourite used to be Britannia Beach, but the beach at Baxter Conservation Area may just be my new fave. It’s a small sandy beach on the Rideau River just south of Kars, tucked inside the southern border of the City of Ottawa on the way to Kemptville. The beach has several picnic tables and leafy trees offer a perfect combination of sun and shade.

Granny made sure the boys were well equipped for water fun!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

An act of generosity that may have come back to haunt her…

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Never underestimate a Granny, though – she’s a fierce competitor!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

I watched Tristan creating this intricate world for more than half an hour before it occurred to me that he was simply executing in 3D with sand and water the virtual worlds he has been creating all summer in Minecraft!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

But the very best part of any trip to Baxter Conservation Area in the summer is the Ice Cream Float! This is what happens when you cross an ice cream truck with a boat, and it’s brilliant!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Bruce Deachman wrote a fun feature of Bob Harlow’s Ice Cream Float boat last summer. Harlow just putters about near the beach, serving recreational boaters mid-river and then coming into the shallows every hour or so to serve ice cream to the families on the beach. How brilliant is that for a business model? “I’m just going to float around on my boat all day, scooping ice cream to cover my costs.” No website, no schedule, no obligation… you work when it’s ideal to be out on your boat and go home whenever you feel like it. Hellooooooo retirement plan!

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Baxter Conservation Area is a perfect beach for families. Do be aware, though, that although there is a roped-off swim area, there are no lifeguards here. There are no snack bars or concessions other than the ice cream boat. There are clean change rooms, though, and non-flushing toilets.

I used to be a little hesitant about Baxter because I am rather finicky about water quality and always check the water-quality advisory before planning a trip to one of the city’s beaches at Britannia, Mooney’s Bay or Petrie. I didn’t think water quality information was available for the Rideau beaches at Baxter or Rideau Provincial Park, and then yesterday I discovered this AMAZING interactive beach guide: the waterkeeper swim guide. It shows all sorts of local beaches (more than just local, in fact!) and the latest water quality results. While Baxter is only checked bi-weekly instead of daily like the city beaches, it’s nice to see that it has never been closed for poor water quality.

If you get restless with the beach, Baxter Conservation Area also boasts more than five kilometres of trails through wetlands, conifer plantations, mixed forest, alder thickets, nut groves and a solar energy display.

But none of that is as much fun as three waterguns, one Granny, a sandy beach and an ice cream boat! Have you been to Baxter beach? What did you think?

If you go:
Baxter Conservation Area is at 7498 Carter Road, Kars.
Day use admission is $6 per vehicle.
The Ice Cream Float serves up fun after 1 pm most days in summer and weekends through September.

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Free Ottawa Family Fun: A visit to Rideau Hall

30 July 2014 Ottawa Family Fun

I have been living in Ottawa for more than 25 years and recommending Rideau Hall as a destination and activity for free Ottawa family fun for nearly a decade, so I figured it was high time we actually headed over and checked it out. It was, to be honest, not at all what I expected. [...]

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Photo of the day: Brothers and sister on the porch

27 July 2014 Mothership Photography

This sweet family came for portraits on the porch today. Aren’t they lovely – erm, I mean lovely and handsome. I am so used to chasing toddlers and preschoolers lately, it was a bit of a relief to work with people who actually sit still for more than three seconds at a time. Sadly, they [...]

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Photo of the day: Five generations!

22 July 2014 Photo of the Day

How often do you get to see FIVE generations in the same room? That’s Beloved’s grandmother, his father, his sister, our niece and our grand-nephew. Isn’t that extraordinary?

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Photo of the day: So cute it makes your eyeballs itch!

14 July 2014 Mothership Photography

I am the first to admit that when I launched my portrait business four years ago this month, there was a lot I didn’t know. I’ve learned so much about using or creating light, posing, interacting with subjects, the effect of various focal lengths, and digital post-processing to name but a few. In the end, [...]

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