In which she discusses porches and poop pipes with the Universe

It went something like this…

** ring ring **

Hello?

Hey Universe, it’s DaniGirl calling!

DaniGirl! Always a pleasure to hear from you, friend. What’s new?

Ha, as if you don’t know. Universe, you are a mischevious scamp!

Well, that’s true enough, but what in particular insipres you to say so?

You’re making me a little crazy with the good-news bad-news game you play. Couldn’t we just skip the stress of things falling apart and then things falling in to place to make them okay again and just stay on an even keel for a while? Do we have to do this every time?

Oh, I get it. You’re ticked off about the porch!

Damn right I’m ticked off about the porch. More like devestated – I moped for days when I found out that we’d have to tear up the porch and the garden in front of the house to replace the seeping sewage pipe that runs from the house to the septic tank.

Well, you could look on the bright side. A seeping sewage pipe is a lot easier to deal with than, say, a burst sewage pipe spewing unpleasantness all over your basement.

I know, I know! I am supremely grateful for that. And I’ve found what I hope is a decent contractor who will not only carefully disassemble the porch and dig up the pipe so the plumbers can come and replace it, but he’ll then reassemble the porch and give it the paint job that I’m now really glad we didn’t end up giving it in April like we’d planned.

See, that’s all good news!

But Universe — it’s the porch! When we first fell in love with the house, it was because there was an amazing treehouse in the back and this spectacular porch in the front, and hey lookit that, a really nice house sandwiched in between them. And now the treehouse floor is rotting and the porch — the porch! — needs to be torn up. And as if all that weren’t enough, you know I use the porch as my photo studio. I’m pretty sure nobody ever had to tear up Karsh’s photo studio to replace a damn poop pipe!

Now now, DaniGirl, don’t get yourself into a froth. You seem quite confident that your new contractor friend will put the porch right back together again, and with a fresh coat of paint to boot! The garden will grow back – it’s all good! And speaking of photos, didn’t you like that little gift I sent you under the guise of your monthly sales statement from Getty Images?

Erm, ya, I did kind of cry when I opened my sales statement this month and saw that it was four figures. I can’t believe some ad agency in the UK paid more than $4500 to use this photo of Beloved and Lucas in their advertising campaign. The part about potential use on a billboard has us all snickering. So that does help cover more than half the cost of the poop pipe repair and unexpected porch renovation. Um, thanks for that!

43:365 Beloved and Lucas playing Angry Birds

Watching your reaction was more than worth it, DaniGirl. You were pretty funny, sitting in the parking lot of the boys’ school, bawling your eyes out as you read the statement on your iPhone!

Ya well, you kind of caught me off guard with that one. I made more from the sale of that one photo than I have with the rest of my Getty sales combined! So, um, Universe, at the risk of sounding ungrateful….

Yes, DaniGirl?

Um, would it be possible to ask for one more thing? I’m not trying to be greedy, but… well, you remember when we replaced the furnace in December?

Yes, that was another big bill you paid out this year.

Indeed. I swear, we are rebuilding this house one disaster at a time. It’s like Steve Austin: “We can rebuild it… we have the technology.” Ahem, anyway, remember how the furnace guys found the coil for the air conditioner so full of dog hair that they said they couldn’t clean it, they’d have to replace it? And if they did that, they’d pretty much just have to replace the entire A/C unit? And we looked at the $5K we’d just forked out for the furnace and balked at the idea of spending another $3K on the spot to get a new A/C unit?

Yes, I remember all that. Seemed like a good financial choice at the time.

Ya, we thought so, too. It seemed like a very prudent plan to save a few bucks and do without A/C — in the winter time. Universe, it was bloody unbearable hot in the house yesterday. So if you don’t mind, could you keep the temps down to a nice mild 30C or so for the summer? I don’t mind it hot, but 42C in the humidex is a little much. Seriously, Ottawa was the hottest spot in the whole damn province yesterday!

Hmmm, I’ll see what I can do, DaniGirl.

Or, yanno, if you can’t do that, maybe another one or two of those jaw-dropping statements from Getty? Just, yanno, until we get the house issues under control again? Oh, and please, for the love of all things holy, could you please send a little extra protective vibe when they replace the poop pipe? I can handle the repair to the sewage pipe, but I still live in fear that something bad (and expensive) will happen to that septic tank. Replacing the septic tank would make the poop pipe repairs seem like, well, a drop in a very unpleasant bucket.

I’ll let you know, DaniGirl. You just keep taking those photographs!

Oh I will, Universe. You know I couldn’t stop now even if I wanted. Take care of yourself!

Always a pleasure to hear from you. Until next time, DaniGirl…

Summery portraits on the porch with the C family

I may have mentioned I have a special affinity for families of five. The lovely C family of five came for portraits on the porch on the holiday weekend, and we had originally scheduled the shoot for late afternoon. I think we were all glad to have had the (accidental) foresight to reschedule for mid-morning, because the day turned out to be a scorcher by late afternoon. In the mid-morning, though, the day was summery and perfect. Here’s the storyboard I used for my “photo of the day” in case you missed it:

Porch portrait sneak peek - C family

Their mom had said the kids might be shy, but I found them sweet and agreeable. Don’t you love those deep brown eyes?

C family kids

I promised the kids if they sat patiently through just a *few* more group portraits, I’d let them have a little play on the tire swing in the back yard. And then stole a few more shots of that!

C family

C family-2

C family-3

Then we “forced” them to endure just one more portrait, and it ended up being the keeper of the day.

C family tree

Thank you, sweet C family, for coming out for portraits on the porch. It was great fun playing with you!

There’s only a few weekend spots left for portraits this summer, so if you’re interested in custom photography for your family, please do get in touch soon!

Porch portraits are three times as much fun with triplets!

So far I’ve had the great pleasure of photographing not one, not two but three sets of twins for family portraits — but I have to tell you, I was particularly excited to meet this family when I heard they had five-year-old TRIPLETS. How fun is that?

Funny, though I was expecting a bit (okay, quite a bit) of chaos, these guys — and a girl! — were great! And did I mention adorable? Lookit those eyelashes!

MC kids

While we spend a lot of time focusing on (pardon the pun!) the kids during a family session, it’s always nice to get a picture of just mom and dad, too. (Also, it’s much easier to focus on someone who stands still for more than three seconds.)

MG_

We tried to get a picture with the whole family and Monty, their 13 year old dog. Oh, so THIS is where that old adage comes from, “never work with dogs AND kids.” The kids were great, but the dog really was a challenge! This one never quite worked out, so it’s not exactly frameworthy — but it is a good example of why you should schedule shots like this at the beginning of a session instead of at the end. And I think it’s a very, um, real portrait.

MG family

This, on the other hand, worked out much better. See that lovely purple flowered dress that daughter C is wearing? Her mom MADE that. Mom to preschool triplets (and a dog) and she makes clothes like that. Aren’t you impressed? I am!

MG family collage

Thank you, M-C family, for coming out for porch portraits on a lovely day in early spring. The kids were adorable and it was lovely to work with all of you!

My openings for porch portraits this summer are already more than half full now (!!) so if you’re thinking about booking a porch portrait for your family, please contact me soon!

Sneak Peek: Porch portraits with the G girls

When J got in touch for porch portraits, it was early February and deep in the cold heart of winter. How could we been so lucky to have chosen from there the single most lovely day of the spring so far for portraits on the porch?

G girls

This may have been one of my easiest photography sessions ever – perfect weather, sweet and agreeable girls, and just about perfect light.

G girls storyboard

The girls are having portraits done as a gift for Father’s Day. How sweet is that? And they’ve kept the secret since February, so if you recognize them — shhhh, don’t tell Dad! (That’s why I’m blogging these out of order, because we need to get these off to the lab to make sure we make the Father’s Day deadline, but I still haven’t posted the pictures from another fun family session I did last weekend. It’s coming!)

G girls

A week or so before the session, J sent me an e-mail asking my opinion on something that I really struggle with myself: what to wear to the session. Asking my fashion advice is like taking boxing lessons from Gandhi. But, I have learned a few tricks over the years, which I shared with her – avoid big, noisy patterns, especially if they clash with each other. Complimentary colours or similar colours usually come off better than matchy-matchy. Bright white can be tough in the sunshine, especially paired with a contrasty black. It’s great if everyone has one bit of the same colour on them somewhere – maybe blue in dad’s jeans, in the piping on junior’s shirt and on mom’s scarf, for example.

J had mentioned dresses in her e-mail, but the kids showed up in t-shirts and capri pants. “You can see we didn’t bother with the dresses,” she said. “I figured this is them how they really are.” I love that! Sure, it’s fun to dress up for portraits and have those special occasions preserved, but don’t forget to capture pictures of the less formal, every-day looks too!

G girls

Aren’t they lovely? Thank you so much, girls, for a perfectly lovely day on the porch. I hope Dad loves his Father’s Day gift! 🙂

Proudest Canadian photographer EVER!

When I got my royalty statement from Getty Images last week, I was pretty excited. Not only was it my highest-grossing month to date with 10 sales, but it had some pretty interesting-sounding buyers: a couple of European ad agencies, Microsoft (!), and Macleans magazine. I was particularly curious about the Macleans one, not only because it paid a pretty penny. Not in my wildest dreams could I picture a more awesome use than this!

Proud Canadian

See that bottom-centre photograph of the skaters? I took that one on my lunch break on a freezing but brilliant day back in January!

Skating on the Rideau Canal - Beginners

Talk about proud Canadian moments!

And I found this one, too, which isn’t nearly as awesome but interesting nonetheless:

Found in the wild - Caiman sale

That’s my picture of a caiman, snapped at the boys’ school Halloween party featuring Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, masquerading as a crocodile on the website for NBC Miami, channel 6. 🙂

I tell you, between having a picture of Lucas and Willie used to support the concept of “cutest kid/pet picture ever” and Macleans using this one to define the ultimate Canadian moment, Getty has been doing as much to boost my ego as line my pocketbook!

So you think this qualifies to enter as a “Proudest Canadian” moment?

How one little puddle made a big splash

It was a year ago this week that I took one of my favourite pictures of all time, Lucas jumping in the puddle.

125:365 Puddle jumper

We were on our way back to the house, having just walked the big boys to school. Remember how wet and rainy last April was? And I was going to try to keep Lucas out of the puddle as we walked by, but I had my camera with me (as always) and so I figured, what the heck, we’re not going anywhere but home. Let him have at it. And did he ever! I knew the second I clicked the shutter that it was a winner. Sometimes you just *know* when you’ve nailed the shot.

This photo is the closest I’ve ever come to going “viral”. It’s all over Pinterest and Tumblr, largely without my credit. Every now and then I do a google search on it, and recently found a Tumblr post where it has nearly 600 likes and reblogs. Oy! When I posted a comment on another blog that (mis)credited the Tumblr blog as the source, I wrote that in fact I was the original photographer, and the image is not only copyright but for license on Getty, and would she mind please removing it from her blog. To my surprise and utter delight, she asked my permission to buy the rights to the Web size, so she could keep the image in her blog post. How awesome is that?

This was photo was among the first set of images invited for license from Getty Images, and among my first sales, too. It’s sold four times now, as a matter of fact, earning me well over $100 in royalties. In fact, a fellow Getty Images contributor posted this comment on the Flickr photo just yesterday:

I’ve been looking at this image for months every time I’m at the checkout at my local sainsbury’s supermarket in the UK. I knew I’d seen the image on flickr somewhere and only realised it was yours when you posted in this months sales. It’s on a leaflet for some service they are offering. Have you seen the sainsbury’s use? If you haven’t i’ll pick up a leaflet next time I’m in and take a photo of it for you.

How fun is that? He’s just outside of Glasgow, Scotland (where my mom was born) and he’s kindly offered to send me a few copies of the pamplet next time he’s out doing his groceries. Edited to add: And here it is!

Found in the wild - Sainsbury's

But that’s not the most awesome thing that has come out of this silly, happy picture. Check THIS out! Last autumn, I received an e-mail from Brian Seed, a local painter and member of the Manotick Art Association. He had come across the picture I don’t even know how, and wrote me a lovely e-mail asking my permission to create a watercolour painting from it. Really, awesome or what?

But, I wasn’t sure if I could give him that permission. By licensing the picture through Getty, I gave them the right to decide who could or could not create a derivative work. I wrote a very apologetic e-mail, saying I wish I could have given the rights, and explaining the situation. To my delight, he replied that the fee was entirely reasonable and the next month there was the sale on my royalty statement.

Fast forward to today: Mr Seed sent me a quick note to let me know the painting is done, and will be featured in the Ottawa Watercolour Society juried show next week at St Brigids, and in next month’s Manotick Art Association annual show next month, if it doesn’t sell first. And he sent me a photo of the finished painting:

Puddle!WC

Is that not the most awesomest thing ever? I can’t even begin to express how delightful this is – such an honour, and such a lovely painting!

I have to admit, even though I’m annoyed at the unsourced use of this picture all over Pinterest and Tumblr and the rest of the Internet, I do love that the joyous abandon of the picture has so resonated with people. My lesson from all this? Take your camera with you EVERYWHERE, even on a rainy grey day on a route you’ve walked dozens of times before, because you never know where beauty and joy (and potential royalties!) might be waiting to leap out.

They’re back: Perfect Porch Portrait Manotick Mini-Sessions!

Did you know it’s just over three weeks until Mother’s Day? And you know what would make a really terrific Mother’s Day gift? Family portraits!

I’m absolutely delighted and really quite excited to offer another year of perfect porch mini-sessions at our home in Manotick. These were a huge success last year, and I’ve got some great new ideas for this year.

So what’s a mini-session? Here’s what you can expect:

  • a 30-minute session on my porch and in the yard and gardens
  • 10 – 15 custom edited proofs to choose from
  • one 8 x 10 or two 5 x 7 prints
  • high-resolution digital negatives to match the prints you choose
  • Cost is $150
  • Gift certificates are available

This is a great package for families, kids, teens, grads, or even engagement photos – and of course, it makes a wonderful Mother’s Day gift. Sessions are available by appointment evenings and weekends, with very limited weekday availability – and it’s first come-first served! Contact me or send an e-mail to danicanada(@)gmail(dot)com to book your appointment today!

Here’s just a few of my favourite Perfect Porch Mini-Session photos from 2011:

Porch portraits

Here’s what some of last year’s clients had to say:

“We really had a great time with you, and we just love the photos. Thanks again!”
~ S., October 2011

“Thank you so much!!! We loved working with you and looking forward to working with you again soon!”
~ J., September 2011

“LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! [We] just looked at the pictures together […] They are absolutely gorgeous. You did such a great job! I can’t believe how well the family shots turned out…thanks for making us all so comfortable!!”
~ J., July 2011

“Words cannot describe how much we love the pictures. They are amazing! […] Thank you so, so much. Seriously, we were all blown away by how great a job you did (far exceeding my admittedly high expectations).”
~E., July 2011

Don’t wait, book your Mothership Photography Perfect Porch Mini-Session in Manotick today! 🙂

I really really REALLY wish I were putting these on my car

When I knew I would have to buy new tires, I thought it would be fun to keep the bald ones and paint them bright colours and then use them in my porch portraits. Fun idea, eh? Not entirely sure if it’s a GOOD idea, but definitely a FUN idea.

I really really really wish I were putting these on my car

So I learned a LOT about spray paint today. Like, it does not really listen when you tell it where you want it to go. (How those taggers get it to behave is beyond me. Clearly not my calling.)(Although I did show enough plumber crack when bending over painting these that I could have been a gangsta.)(Sorry neighbours.) And it is much messier than I expected. And OMFG, my hand is still cramped up into a claw from trying to hold the nozzle down.

***

I had to explain to the Canadian Tire guys twice that I wanted to keep the bald tires when I bought the new ones last month. And they looked at me really funny when I said I was going to spray paint them. But that was nothing compared to the look I got from Beloved when I explained to him why there were now two sets of tires in the garage. He was a lot more understanding when he figured out that I didn’t plan to put them back on the car after I painted them. Actually, I think he was mostly relieved.

***

But wouldn’t that be awesome? I really want to, now.

***

And if you’re wondering? One can of spray paint entirely covers one tire. Except for the yellow. It’s a little wimpy.

***

If my hand weren’t completely incapacitated by the nozzle cramp, I’d seriously be heading back to the hardware store so I could paint the car tires like this…

Easter Porch Portraits with the S Family

On the weekend, I had the great pleasure of playing with the delightful kids of the S family as we did a special Easter porch portrait mini-session. You might remember the S family from last summer, when I captured this great portrait of M swinging from the rope in our back yard tree house. (How come I never got around to blogging so many of my sessions last summer? I need to catch up and post a whole bunch of them!)

212:365 Dreaming

The kids were such fun to work with, and I was truly delighted when their mom contacted me when it was still cold and snowy to arrange a spring session, perhaps in time for Easter if the weather would cooperate. And did it ever!

It was bright and sunny, if not a little breezy, and the kids looked adorable in their Easter finery.

S family ears!

I caught a couple of good shots of M playing her violin last summer, and now her brother C has joined in the weekly lessons – although I think he might have been trying to poke me with his bow on this one. 🙂

S Family violins

You can’t make this kind of cuteness, you just have to be ready to capture it when it happens.

S Family 1

And I love this one because it features my new favourite prop, the fabulous free frame!

Easter porch portrait sneak peek

Really, it’s hard to go wrong with a family as playful and fun and full of energy as these kids are. I think this one is my favourite of the day because it still makes me smile back at them when I look at it. Those bottoms are packed pretty tightly onto that tiny wicker settee!

S Family 2

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be back in porch portrait season again! I’ll have another post up later this week with details about how you can book your session for this year! 🙂

Thank you S family for coming back to play in the spring sunshine. It was an honour to share a part of your Easter weekend with all of you!

This week in pictures: Family fun and wintry weather

I took a LOT of pictures this week. I had every intention of writing a separate blog post about at least two days’ worth of these photos, but it’s just been so busy that I didn’t have the chance to get to my keyboard. So be warned – this is going to be long!

On Family Day, I had a blast doing my first corporate photography event, taking pictures at Old Navy’s Funnovation Imaginarium. It was great working with Old Navy, the Yummy Mummy Club and all the families who came out to play. I was particularly honoured when THREE different families mentioned that they’d taken my Family Day fun suggestions from earlier in the week and had tried out all three events. It’s such an honour to hear things like that and it’s really why I love this blog so much!

Anyway, here’s some of the Family Day fun:

Funnovation collage

(It’s only now, four days later, that I’ve recovered fuctionality in my legs. Three solid hours of popping in and out of squats on the concrete floor to get kid-level shots turned my quadriceps into absolute jelly – I couldn’t walk properly all week. Of course, it was totally worth it. Another couple of events like this in a year and maybe I can give up my gym membership!)

I had mixed success with landscape-y type photographs this week. I drive past this spot on River Road often, and something about it always draws my eye. I stopped for a few quick pictures on Sunday and liked the criss-crossing power lines and the line of the fence and the horizon line and the lines of the sun flare all pointing in different directions – but the final image doesn’t thrill me. Meh, they can’t all be winners.

Lines

On the other hand, I love how this one turned out. I’m beginning to think it’s not possible to take an unlovely picture of my mill. (Yes, mine.)

Watson's Mill in Winter

And if that’s a perfect winter day for brilliant sunshine and colour, I love love love the simple minimalism of this one that I took during yesterday’s snow squalls. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking for an isolated tree like this one to take a shot just like this.

Tree in a snowstorm

Technically, this isn’t a great shot (it’s a little soft, and eek, the clashing colours of their jammies and the sofa!) but it’s still one of my faves for the week. Thirty years from now, I may enjoy my collection of Mill shots, but these are the ones that will warm my heart. This is the boys analyzing the Citizen’s list of Top 100 Children’s Books from earlier in the week.

Top 100 books

And this one, too. Not an amazing shot, but it makes me smile. Lucas is a scary shadow monster, if you couldn’t tell. A very gleeful shadow monster. 🙂

Shadow fun

These last six belong together, and are proof that outdoor portraits in the winter can be just as lovely — if not moreso! — than in the summer.

True story: I was surfing my pins on Pinterest, looking for inspiration on something to shoot last Saturday afternoon, and I stopped to refill my coffee. I looked out and the boys were climbing to the top of the play structure and jumping off into the snow. I was about to bang on the glass and wave my fist and tell them to quit it when I saw how the late afternoon light was hitting them — and then I didn’t need Pinterest for inspiration any more!

Backyard fun (2 of 6)

While I usually have my 50mm lens on my camera, I broke out the kit lens so I could take some wide angle shots. Any focal length shorter than 30mm or so will give you enough distortion to make things far away seem further (like his head and the treetops in this shot) while making closer things look larger (like his boot and the base of the play structure.)

Backyard fun (3 of 6)

Same idea here:

Backyard fun (5 of 6)

I zoomed back out to 55mm for these ones, to get a little closer and make a more traditional portrait.

Backyard fun (6 of 6)

Backyard fun (4 of 6)

Backyard fun (1 of 6)

Moral of the story? The inspiration you’re seeking is right in front of you (or, in this case, behind you.) All you have to do is embrace it.