From the category archives:


When your best friend asks you to collaborate on a family portrait project to celebrate her extended, blended family, of course you say yes. And when she has an idea that is equal parts silly, fun and hilarious and perfectly exemplifies a family that prides itself on chaos, humour and love, you know you have to make it work. A little 1970s retro pop culture reference is just the icing on the cake!

The Silly Bunch

And then, you have a little fun.

brady bunch 2

Pro tip: When you’ve been friends for 30+ years, you cannot make faces like this in front of a camera and not expect them to end up on the Internet.

And if your photographer friend has a truly evil streak, she’ll go one step further and turn them into one of these:

Merry Christmas to my best friends in the whole world. I love you guys and I’m always happy to be a part of your crazy. :)

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And *this* is what makes my endless curation of family moments worth while.

Christmas 2014:

Tree decorating 2014

Christmas 2013:

O Christmas Tree - 2013

Christmas 2012:

Christmas tree decorating 2012-10

Christmas 2011:

Three around the tree again!

Christmas 2010 (our first in Manotick and our first with a natural tree):

553:1000 The Great Christmas Tree Adventure 2010

Christmas 2009 (in the midst of my first Project 365):

319:365 Guess what we did today?

It looks like I didn’t take any photos while we decorated the tree in 2006, 2007 or 2008, but I did a genuine little “awwwwww!” of delight when I found this one hiding in the archives on Flickr.

Christmas 2005 – Tristan is three and Simon not quite two.


Oh my goodness, that seems like yesterday — and a million years ago!

Also? Apparently I love to take photos of the back of Lucas’s head!


I don’t know what it is about the light at the Thomas Tree Farm near North Gower, but I always love the portraits I take of the boys there. I can’t believe we resisted getting a natural tree for so many years – getting the tree has turned into one of our favourite family traditions.

Christmas tree quest 2014

Christmas tree quest 2014-2

Christmas tree quest 2014-3

Christmas tree quest 2014-5

Christmas tree quest 2014-6

Christmas tree quest 2014-7

Christmas tree quest 2014-10

Christmas tree quest 2014-9

Winter portraits are lovely, and now that the crazy autumn season is over, I’ve got lots of free time (well, relatively speaking!) in my schedule. If you’d like to consider an outdoor winter family portrait session, let me know!

Yesterday was so crazy jam-packed with stuff that we didn’t have time to decorate. I’m pretty sure there may be a photo or two of that today. :)


This might be one of my favourite Christmas photos of the boys ever. My friend Henry on Flickr gave this one an alternate title that I also really like: we’re going to need a bigger wagon!

My Name is Donder

Fun, right? The expression on the reindeer slays me. That’s a Donder face if there ever was one.

This one almost went sideways on me right from the start. The idea was to have Bella pulling the wagon, and I was going to put some reindeer antlers on her in the style of Max the dog from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Except as I was getting the boys settled on the wagon, she managed to find a pile of poop in the front yard and roll in it. We don’t actually allow her to poop in the front yard, so I have some other neighbourhood dog to thank for that gift. And we were quickly losing the light, so we had to improvise.

This was the original shot:

My Name is Donder - before

I loved the expressions on their faces. The dog was a bit blurred though, and even with a few other poses to choose from, it just wasn’t working out to be what I imaged. The boys had been good sports and adorable, though, so I wanted to make it work.

I started by cloning Bella and Beloved out of the image and editing it for exposure and white balance. I found the perfect reindeer, but he was too big for the canvas, so I extended the edges of it upwards and to the right. I positioned the reindeer and tweaked him a bit so it looked like he was standing in the grass. He was already wearing the red harness, so I took Bella’s leather leash from one of the other poses I hadn’t used and painted it to match the harness, then stretched it to fit into Lucas’s hand. And I painted a bit of a shadow for the reindeer. I had to play a bit with the colour and contrast of the reindeer to look like he was actually standing in the same light as the boys, and then I tweaked it a bit more overall for the bright and contrasty look.

What do you think? It makes me chuckle when I look at it, which makes it a win in my books!


Photo of the day: Bella listening

by DaniGirl on December 2, 2014 · 0 comments

in Photo of the Day

This was originally just a throwaway photo I snapped of Bella while I was getting my camera ready for something else, but I love how it captured the intensity her personality.


She looks at us like that all the time, as if she is hanging on our every word. She may drive me bananas with her shrill barking and the number of FitBits she has destroyed, but it’s impossible not to love a creature who wants nothing more than to understand and obey your every word.


Last week I blogged about the Youth of Manotick spaghetti dinner fundraiser, so I thought it would be fun to share some of the images from the event last night.

I have to admit, I was nervous going in. I’d agreed to take some photos, but had some concerns. For one, I’m much more comfortable taking portraits than event photos. For another, Legion halls are not known for their camera-friendly lighting. I needn’t have worried – the event was a wonderful success. The kids were terrific, the dinner was yummy, the turnout was so great that extra tables were set up on the fly and I think some people got turned away at the door. The challenging lighting was mostly compensated for with a little bit of bounced flash, everyone seemed to have a great time and lots of great photo opportunities were captured. See?

YOMA dinner

I was super proud of the kids last night, and charmed by how special guest Mayor Jim Watson did not act like a special guest at all as he interacted with all the young people in the room. I’m glad to live in a community that has a heart like this. :)


Photo of the day: Hey in there, can I come in?

27 November 2014 Photo of the Day

More photos from this past weekend. They had a lot more snow on the ground in London when we arrived than there was in Ottawa when we left – and I had decided not to pack boots, mitts or ski pants! This is my brother’s adorable dog Fin. Want to play “caption that photo”? This [...]

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Photo of the day: Saturday morning at the arena

23 November 2014 Photo of the Day

While I don’t often regret our decision to opt out of hockey, there is something fundamentally Canadian about hanging out in a damp, chill arena on a Saturday morning with a hot cup of coffee watching a practice or a game. Thanks to my awesome niece, I get to experience it just often enough to [...]

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Photo of the day: Team Donder

21 November 2014 Photo of the Day

I love it when a plan comes together. This was a half-baked idea that came to fruition thanks to Photoshop, family pride, and a friend who does small-run custom screen printing. Oh yes I did make matching Christmas sweaters for all the cousins. And my brother. I love how they came out, and the hoodies [...]

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Photo of the day: Throwback Thursday! Revisiting PEI

13 November 2014 Ottawa to PEI 2014

I‘ve been sorting and culling old photos this week. I need to organize them for a couple of annual projects (a calendar for my parents for Christmas, and an annual family photo book) and my hard drive is also more than 80%, almost 90% full. So I’ve had my nose in folder upon folder of [...]

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