INSPIRATIONS: my wedding clients

From: Jennifer
To: Me

Hi Dallas! 

I have been diy'ing all our wedding decor and it's kind of taken on a different look than I initially envisioned many months ago. I have crafted all these gold framed chalkboards and made gold dipped feathers. My chalk art is becoming pretty good! I also made wedding madlibs and we will print them on kraft paper. I have a gorgeous burlap aisle runner, table runners and all these stunning mercury glass votives and black and white striped napkins and paper straws. 

It's all very modern rustic, yet sophisticated vintage but in my mind incredibly romantic. Its hard to explain but all the pieces fit in my head beautifully. Its quite a departure from Big Fish and more an unintentional happy accident. I just wanted to share that with you. I know you like to take inspiration from the wedding style to inspire your photography.

Now that is the kind of message (from Jennifer, who will marry Jay this September) that just lifts me up and reminds me again how much I love my job.

Wedding photography is unlike any other type of photography assignment. It is the most deeply personal of all genres. Not only is a photographer invited into the most intimate moments of the event, but he or she also spends the most time with the couple of any other family member or guest during the day. The stronger the connection between photographer and clients, the better the photos will be. A good connection allows the photographer to not only understand her subjects personalities and tastes, but also to have a clear picture of the way they see the world, and see each one another.

I feel incredibly fortunate that my clients and I have found each other. They have opened their lives to me, and I try to repay their kindness with images that come from the heart.

When I receive messages like Jennifer's that fill me in on the theme and decor; when I receive beautiful invitations and save the dates that hint at the event's overall aesthetic; when a bride consults with me about wedding dress options or accessory choices; when a client sends me a link to a documentary she thinks I would like; when emails are exchanged about the perfect shade of red lipstick that's glossy, not trashy glossy, but moisturizing glossy, but with staying power, and we track down the perfect one; when a groom tells me that their wedding venue has its own Street Fighter arcade game and that the Chinatown Night Market is right outside; when I read my client's questionnaire and learn about the serendipitous way in which they met and fell in love; when I hear about the possibility of a gypsy band during cocktail hour; when a couple has so many best friends that their wedding party weighs in at 27 people; when a client sits basically in the trunk so I can have a seat while she and her fiancé drop me off on their way to dinner; when, if I continued recounting all the amazing moments I've shared and look forward to sharing with my clients, this post would go on forever... well, those are the moments that mean the world to me.

Suffice it to say I am grateful, elated, truly inspired and so excited for the rest of this year!

Photo by Lisa Griffiths, taken at Johanna & Mason's wedding.

coaxing creativity

Creativity doesn't always just happen. Sometimes you have to coax it out from hiding. You have to establish the right conditions that allow it to germinate. You have to tend to it so that ideas can flourish under your careful watch. Here are a few quick tips for making creativity happen, whether it wants to or not!


Throughout my entire life, books have been the closest thing I've found to a panacea. Whenever I've felt down or just stuck in a rut, heading to a library or bookstore has nearly always swept away a less-than pleasant mood. Somewhere between the covers, I lose myself and all my doubts and emerge full of ideas and renewed purpose.

Last year I came across a book by Steven Pressfield titled The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles. While the book is geared ostensibly towards writers, it quickly reveals itself as a swift kick in the ass for all creatives. Pressfield talks a lot about the power of action, of consistent work for revealing creativity.

"This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.

When we sit ourselves down and commit to focusing on something, and to dedicating ourselves to our craft, suddenly you actually start to create things.

This book was a huge game-changer for me. Before Pressfield's tough love advice, I used to wait for ideas to grow spontaneously rather than working steadily to harvest them. I know it sounds less exciting than being struck by a brilliant idea from time-to-time, but trust me—it's far better to have lots of ideas little ideas that connect and snowball, rather than sporadic big ones.


It's become part of my daily ritual to read a whole lotta blogs. I enjoy keeping up with what other people are producing and pondering. The visual feed alone is great, but the words and ideas of so many of these bloggers are what keep me coming back. A lot of photographers caution against looking to the work of others, but I think it's so important. First of all, if you're a freelancer and work alone, your peers are the closest thing you have to colleagues. Secondly, it's wonderful to see what other people are up to.

I do think, however, that it's important to look for inspiration outside of your own discipline. My favourite non-photography subjects are food, graphic design, interior design, style, pop culture commentary, and business. Here are just a few of the blogs I'm most inspired by lately:

A Beautiful Mess  //  Designlovefest  //  Breanna Rose  //  Into the Gloss  //  Top with Cinnamon  //   That Kind of Woman  //  Lake Jane  //  Gala Darling  //   Lisa Eldridge  //  I Love Wildfox  // Refinery29  //  Marie Forleo  //  Darling Magazine  //  Rue Magazine  //  The Glamourai  //  Fieldguided

Time and Place

It's important to learn your optimal time and place. You know, the zone where you do your best work. For me, it used to be Saturday and Sunday mornings. Right now it's weekday afternoons. Often, it's whenever you finally have a quiet moment to yourself. If you have it, don't waste it.

Once you've figured out how to seize your best moments, try to establish what kind of settings are most conducive to creativity for you personally. My favourite method of all time is setting myself up at a nice cafe with a whole pot of tea, a delicious snack, a blank notebook, and a ninety-minute time limit. That brings me to a final point: don't bore yourself to death. By setting time limits, you will force yourself to work under just a teensy bit of pressure, and you will know that at the end of that block you're released. If, after an hour and a half, your ideas are still flowing, let them! If not, get up and do something else.

I hope you've found this post helpful. I would love to know where you look for inspiration. Please feel free to leave a link to your favourite blog or book. I'm always happy to make new discoveries!

starlight creative shoot

Once in a while, when I'm lucky, an idea will begin to take shape in my mind. I can't remember the precise moment when this concept began forming, but I imagine it happened one night, after a few glasses of wine, when I tilted my head back to stare up into the autumn sky. I had a vision of people shimmering in the darkness, with glints of silver and white against navy. As the vision became clearer, I decided this would be the perfect concept for a final creative project before our big move.

When it came to casting, I thought it would look really cool if I could find some models who were very fair, and had pale hair to match, so that they could be luminescent in the dark setting. When I asked Sabina--who modelled for me recently--if she had any blonde friends, she remarked wistfully, "I used to be blonde..."

"Well, how you would you feel about wearing a wig?" I asked.

"I'm totally up for it!" she exclaimed.

My friend Tiffany also joined the project, and even bleached her hair for the occasion, though she ended up wearing a lopped off version of the wig from my halloween costume for the latter half of the shoot, as it worked better in the lighting at the final location.

This shoot was particularly special to me as I was lucky to be able to feature the beautiful work of bling slinger extraordinaire Rachel Dhawan of Brazen Design. Rachel specializes in making gorgeous creations in sterling silver. Brian and I have both purchased items from her collection before, and I instantly thought of her silvery wares once I'd defined the theme. She kindly lent me over a dozen pieces to feature in these photos, and I can't thank her enough for trusting me with these precious designs.

This shoot was intended to be purely experimental, an indulgence for my imagination. Oh man, it is full of mistakes, and there are so many things I would do differently next time, but it was full of great lessons. This is what creative shoots are for--to take risks go a little crazy, be accountable to yourself, and learn a hell of a lot in the process!

All that being said, I will be honest with you and tell you that I am very happy with how this shoot came out in the end. It's a tribute to the beauty of the models, the jewellery, and the velvety splendour of an autumn evening.

A watercolour painting of a starry night sky was my inspiration. After taking the photos, I painted this picture to accompany the shoot, and to provide a backdrop for the gorgeous jewellery.

The two makeup looks I conceived were a very pale, silvery white look, and dark and glittery smoky eye. Either of these would be perfect for any holiday party. To give their skin an ethereal shimmer, I mixed a foundation one shade lighter than their skin tones with an illuminating cream (I used St. Tropez Skin Illuminator) and set the foundation with a mineral powder (MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Lightscapade).

Thank you to everyone involved! And remember, if you love Rachel's work, her jewellery makes great Christmas gifts. I know because I've got this necklace on my wish list and Brian absolutely loves a version of this one that I bought him for Valentine's Day.

inspirations: soop soop

I remember the first time Christina told me about her idea of opening an online clothing store. We were walking to a bar in Toronto, talking about our plans for the summer and beyond. As we paused to wait for our friends, I asked her what she had in mind for her spare time, now that she'd finished up her schooling.

"I think I'd like to open a shop," she said quietly.

My friend Jenn and I looked to her, looked at each other, and grinned.

"Of course!" I exclaimed "You have to."

Jenn and I gushed to Christina about how she--quite possibly the most stylish woman we know--would surely create something incredible. I've truly never met someone with such a beautiful style sensibility, and it would be amazing to see how her taste translated into a collection of clothing and accessories.

Throughout the whole planning process, I was so excited to hear her updates and her plans. She made it happen, and her brand new store, SOOP SOOP, is now open. I've already bought my first item, these pink sweetheart shorts, and I can't wait to stock up on some more great stuff soon.

I asked Christina to share a bit more of her story with you. Read on to learn more about SOOP SOOP!

Q. Tell us about your shop.

A. SOOP SOOP is an online clothing shop based out of Toronto. Guys and gals can shop for one of a kind contemporary-style vintage and used clothes. We also offer reformed clothing, where we've altered the original shape or style of pieces to make them more current, less costume. We love the idea of reusing old stuff, either as is, or in a different way that makes it new again. Even though we're dealing with old clothes, we try to keep our stock 'up on trends'. So, I like to think of it as a place where people who don't typically shop vintage might give previously owned clothing a second look.

Q.Where did the idea for SOOP SOOP come from?

A. SOOP SOOP has been brewing for a long, long time. Owning a store was that thing I always wanted to do, but never thought I actually would or could. I love clothes. LOVE them. So it's a way that I can do what I love. But really, and oddly enough, SOOP SOOP was a byproduct of my studying to become a Holistic Nutritionist. Taking a holistic approach to anything involves understanding that everything, no matter how small, is a part of a 'whole'. Once you start thinking along those lines, you can't not apply that thought process to everything. It influenced everything for me, right down to the way I got dressed. So selling and working with clothing that doesn't involve new production is just, in a way, the two ideas married.

Q. How would you describe your shop's style? 

A. Oh man, it's so new, so it's a bit of a mix of a lot of things. It's difficult to go in any one direction. For one thing my mind changes every day, and along with that, my own personal style. I guess I'd like to see it as contemporary and trendy, but not, like, you can find it at the mall trendy, you know? I think that our customers are up on trends but are ready for something new by the time the vast majority of people adopt them. I'm sure the shop's style will continue to develop as time goes along, but for now I'd sum it up as a little bit pretty and a lot trashy. I have a thing for dressing up short shorts and shitty t-shirts. (It's my daily uniform.)

Q. What styles and trends are you most excited about right now?

A. I'm the least feminine girl I know. So I love a lot of the gender bending going on these days. Strong shoulders, collars, sportswear... I love seeing girls put a feminine spin on it what would traditionally be considered menswear.

Q. Can you share a style tip for ladies, and one for gents? 

A. Well, my advice for anyone would be to invest in good quality basics that fit well and to build a functional wardrobe before anything else. You'll always have it, it'll always look good. There's no sense in buying brand new crap and throwing it out as the seasons change. It's wasteful, and no one can afford to be wasteful nowadays. You can always walk down to your nearest thrift store or vintage store and pair your 'staple' items with all the amazing things you'll find. You'll be surprised! Also, don't get caught up in what you're supposed to wear or like. Explore your options by trying things you normally wouldn't, checking out the mens section - that kind of thing. My favourite shirt ever came from the maternity section of a thrift store! A shirt's a shirt, don't worry about where you found it or who it was intended for. Those little things are the basis of great personal style, in my opinion.

Q. Anything else you'd like to share with potential customers? 

A. We sell a variety of sizes as they become available to us. We consider everyone when we're buying, so teensy gals, curvy gals and anyone in between can find something they love. Also, we are constantly changing and adding new items, so check in often! And if there's something that you're after that we don't have, send us an email with details about what you're looking for and we'll keep an eye out for you. We are ridiculously happy to help!

Photos compliments of SOOP SOOP