Mothership Photography

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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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 Facebook status updates revealed a healthy litter of TEN Cane Corso puppies. TEN! Can you imagine?

Even when you’re prepared for maximum cuteness, there’s no way you can anticipate how adorable ten mewling 12 day old puppies can be. Take a look!




I was pretty sure at one point that I wasn’t going to get “Grey” out of Simon’s arms.


I’ve taken pictures of every age from newborn to centenarian. I’ve taken headshots, family portraits, weddings, baptisms, mitzvahs, celebrations and extended groups. Had you asked, I would have said the most challenging (and, my most favourite) age to wrangle is the toddler years — but they had nothing on these puppies. I have to admit, I suffered a lot of delusions about how easy it would be to line these guys up for a portrait. I mean, they’re barely mobile, and I had four helpers. You can see how well that worked out!


Adorable, yes, but exhausting! And because that wasn’t challenging enough, we decided each pup needed to be the star of his or her own portrait.


TEN puppies! Can you imagine how crazy that’s going to be once they get their feet underneath them? And in case you were wondering, yes, they did all have that delightful and unmistakable new-puppy smell. I checked each one!

Hmmm, maybe it’s time for me to expand the business to include pet portraits as well? Or maybe we just need a puppy or three of our own. For the photography, of course. Strictly for the photos.

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You might remember just about a year ago, I was commissioned to work with Ottawa Corporate Yoga on a really neat project. Glenda Rodriguez was inspired to create a set of cards to help families incorporate yoga into bedtime routines, to help kids get to sleep and stay asleep. I took the photos that were eventually printed on the cards.

Glenda got in touch again recently for a new project. She’s working with Ausome Ottawa on a new set of cards with a specific focus on helping kids with Autism. Here are a few of the photos from our session with Mia and Leo performing the asanas.

Photo cards for Ausome Ottawa yoga

Photo cards for Ausome Ottawa yoga

Photo cards for Ausome Ottawa yoga

Photo cards for Ausome Ottawa yoga

Adorable, right? And such an “ausome” idea. Here’s the best part, though: I finally got to see how the bedtime yoga cards from last year’s photo session turned out!

Bedtime yoga cards

I’m so pleased – they look AMAZING! If you’re interested in learning more, or in seeing a few cards up close, you can check out the Bedtime Yoga page on Ottawa Corporate Yoga’s site.


I have always wanted to offer more family portrait sessions in the winter. The snow makes a lovely natural reflector, bouncing flattering light up and all around, and winter outfits are often brightly coloured and pop against a snowy background. Some of my favourite pictures of my own kids are from our wintertime adventures, and I’m certainly not averse to taking my camera out into the cold. Ottawa has no shortage of beautiful backdrops in any season of the year!

I learned this weekend that professional portrait sessions outdoors in the winter pose their own set of logistical challenges, though. The client and I exchanged a few worried emails in the week before the session with our eyes on a changing forecast, and I had to pay a quick advance visit a location I’ve used many times to make sure we would be able to access it with the half meter of snow that’s fallen in the past month. While cold temperatures make for lovely rosy cheeks, wind chills in the range of minus 20 make for watery eyes and runny noses. Moving around to get the best composition often meant I would step off the packed-snow trail and find myself lurching about in a sort of half crawl up to my knees in crusty snow. And while the family was numbed by the raw wintry wind, I was sweating in my layers. Family photography can be a great workout!

Of course, all of that is more than worth it when you get to work with a sweet, fun family who just happen to be amazingly photogenic.

Family snow portraits

It is possible that not every family member was completely enthralled with the idea of portraits, snow or otherwise. Those curls, though!

Family snow portraits

So the raw wintry wind was a challenge but with good humour and patience, some trees to block the wind and some cuddles, we had a bit of an adventure and got a great mix of posed and unposed family portraits in the snow.

Candid, fun family snow portraits by Ottawa photographer Danielle Donders

Note to self: consider adding snowshoes to your gear list for the next outdoor family portrait session!


I‘ve been thinking a lot about identity lately and this idea came to me when I was literally cleaning the mirror. “What if you could erase your reflection?”

The actual erasing was pretty easy to achieve, and the texture made it a little easier to express it as a more abstract concept rather than something to be taken literally. Sharing it is still more than a little scary, though, partly because it’s me (ugh, hate self-portraits) and partly because it’s a little more conceptual than where I usually go.

Out damn spot

What does it say to you? Do you see the story I’m telling? What do you think?


I was at a conference this week and I brought my camera along, thinking of maybe a lunchtime walk on the Canal. Although I am really, really happy with my new job, and I really love my newly shortened commute, I do miss my lunchtime wanders downtown! I didn’t make it out for a lunchtime wander, but prowling around the Shaw Centre before the conference led me to this spectacular view out over the Rideau Canal, the Parliament Buildings and downtown Ottawa on a frosty winter morning. I think the red chairs are part of Parks Canada’s #ShareTheChair program.

Red chairs overlooking downtown Ottawa

I love the geometric shapes, and wretchedly pulled a muscle in my leg trying to get a stance just right that centred the Peace Tower in one of those triangles. #photographerproblems

Funny that I’ve walked by and photographed this area so many times, but didn’t realize that this awesome view was accessible to the public! I guess it just goes to prove what I’ve been learning all these years – beautiful photos are always lurking in the most unexpected situations.


In which her photos travel to Norway, Germany, the UK, Russia and Taiwan, among other places

20 January 2016 Mothership Photography

Thanks to Facebook’s “On this day” feature, I was reminded that it was seven years ago today that I started my first Project 365. Yes, you read that right: SEVEN YEARS ago. Wow. Among other things, it serves as an awesome cautionary tale: you never know where your capricious whims might lead you. In my […]

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Photos of the day: Driveway sledding

17 January 2016 Mothership Photography

Sometimes on a Saturday afternoon, you don’t have enough time to get the gang out to the local sledding hill, but you need to get the kids out of the house. They’re not great about finding their own entertainment, but once I pulled down a few sleds, there was fun to be had. The drainage […]

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My favourite photos of 2015

1 January 2016 Mothership Photography

The end of the year is the perfect time to look back and see both what I did well, and what I could have done better, with my camera. Here’s a collection of the photos I most love from all parts of the year: the photos I took to tell a story, the photos I […]

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A fine (art) idea for Christmas

5 December 2015 Mothership Photography

Are you looking for a unique holiday gift this year? How about locally-grown fine art photographic prints? Over the years, I’ve produced quite a few of these on a one-off basis, but I finally got around to making a gallery of some shots that have been given as prints or that I think would make […]

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