portraits

BEST FRIENDS PORTRAITS | AMANDA & DANIELLE

Once in while, a dream project comes along and I just have to do it! When Amanda and Danielle told me about "Friend Soup" i.e. the best friends portrait session they were dreaming about before Danielle moved to New Zealand, I was ecstatic and knew I had to photograph it. Please keep reading to hear all the details from Amanda herself!

What does the phrase "Friend Soup" mean, and where did it originate?

Friend Soup originated in a balcony jacuzzi tub in Puerto Vallarta in May 2015. My partner's cousin was getting married in Mexico, and after getting all ready and purchasing the tickets, he was unable to make it. With three days notice, Danielle agreed that she would pack her bags and join me for a week on the beach (with family that isn't mine, and she had never met!) We spent one day awfully sick (we were told 'don't drink the water' and learned the hard way that you also don't wash your fruit with the water) and managed to get to Mexican Wal-Mart to get some crackers, ginger ale and cup o'noodles.

Danielle ran the bath, full of bubbles and invited me to join her for 'friend soup', where we enjoyed a soak in the bubble-filled tub and a snack of cup o noodles!

Why did you decide to do a best friends portrait session?

Our friendship continued to grow after Friend Soup, and we have shared in many adventures. On March 18th, 2017, Danielle and her husband Steve were set to make the journey to Auckland to begin their life as New Zealanders. We wanted a way to commemorate some of our favourite things, including sharing snacks like burgers and hot dogs, indulging in a bottle of wine or drink together, doing our hair and makeup to get ready for a day or night out (or in...), and of course, to recreate the magic that was 'Friend Soup'

We could not have asked for a better network of women to work with. From Jenn and Mike's beautiful home which they generously allowed us to take over for the afternoon (Mike even scrubbed the bathtub to be spic and span!), Dallas's ever impressive skills as a photographer and director, and Jenn and Katryna's willingness to help with props, we had an unforgettable afternoon.

Jenn pointed out something that we may not have noticed on our own, and something I am incredibly grateful for. This photoshoot, from the planning to experience to product, was an exercise in self-care. This project was for us, we designed it, we found the best resources and people to help us execute our plan and we are ever so grateful to Dallas for making our vision come to life.

How did you prepare for your portrait session?

We had many ideas (most of them snack-related) about how we wanted to take our friendship and capture it in photographs to be enjoyed for years to come.  I had some ideas of how I wanted to style the shoot and our Friend Soup Pinterest board was a great inspiration! Most important was having a location that gave us many options so that we could get the most from one space. Jenn and Mike's home gave us the dining room, the living room (with the incredible art!), a bar, a bedroom, a bathroom and a tub! We could not have asked for a better space.

On the day of the shoot, we made a list of all the 'poses' we wanted to stage and all the outfits and props and ran down the list one by one. Dallas was so organized and patient with us as we figured it out. The shoot in and of itself was an unforgettable experience (I imagine in 10 years, doing a photoshoot to recreate the photoshoot of friend soup...very meta).

Can you talk about the experience being photographed with your bestie?

I love my niña. She is the best and the whole experience of being photographed felt natural and like a normal experience of us hanging out together (with the added bonus of Dallas telling me to stick out my chin and elongate my neck - thanks Dallas!).

This is one of my favourite experiences and I think more women (and people!) should do this! 

Many people think of having professional photos for branding, engagement and wedding parties, children and family photos, but why does it have to stop there? This photoshoot engaged us both before and during the shoot to articulate the things we have in common - things that seem very natural, but are so important to us. Dallas captured my niña and me in so many wonderful ways, and she got some insight into our friendship that I was happy to share with her and want others to see as well. 

What was it like receiving your images and looking at them together?

We. Were. Floored. Dallas put the icing on our Friend Soup cake by having all our images ready for the day before Danielle flew to New Zealand. I received the email gallery, started to look and had to stop - it didn't feel right to look at them alone! I headed over to her apartment and amidst all the suitcases and boxes she was packing, we stopped and went through the images one by one. The images were perfect, and the experience of looking at them together brought us so much joy (and so much laughter). To be able to see these photographs was so special, and we both look at them all the time. I think so fondly of Danielle and of this experience.

Any other thoughts you'd like to share!

I call Danielle my "adult best friend". We did not grow up together, or go to K-12 school together. We didn't meet in University. We met when we were 25 at LUX Beauty Boutique as we both worked there part time. 

To me, an adult best friend is hard to find, but it is so valuable. Danielle is not a friend of circumstance, she is a friend I chose (and she chose me!). We spent time together outside of LUX and share with each other our lives and experiences and create new ones together.

Think about the last time you met another adult and said "I think we should be friends". It doesn't happen that often, and it isn't easy. So our friendship required some bravery, some risk-taking, and the payoff was huge. 

We text everyday. We send each other short videos of what is happening in our lives, and we share stores and pictures. We Facetime on a weekly basis, and I'm planning a trip to New Zealand for December 2017 to celebrate New Years on the beach.

Lastly, a friend of mine, Pamela, speaks about the "Nana Diaries" - a collection of stories of the things you did in your youth that if you have kids / grandkids, they will go "really Nana? You did WHAAT?" The Friend Soup Photobook is something that I want out on my coffee table for years to come and I want to take it to the old age home with me in 60 years. I want young people to see the book and say "really? that's you? What is Friend Soup?" to which I will say "get me a mama burger and a cup of noodles and I'll tell you a story from the Nana diaries". 

Thank you so much for inviting me to document your beautiful friendship, Amanda and Danielle! 

EDMONTON PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY | SHANNI

I love shooting at night, and believe it or not, I like shooting outdoors during the winter. It may come as no surprise to you that the colder seasons aren't as popular a time to have portraits taken, I believe that with a little mental hardiness and ample breaks to warm up in between outfit changes, shooting in the winter is awesome! 

First of all, everywhere you go is quiet and rather deserted. You have so many more choices for locations because the crowds that swarm pretty locations in the summer are long gone, and there aren't hordes of people clamouring to shoot anywhere outside.

Secondly, most winter days give you the gift of that soft, dreamy gray light that I so adore. And if you're hoping to do nighttime photos, which I often am, you don't have to wait long for the blue/violet/inky black hours to arrive. 

Lastly, shooting when it's cold and dark is more challenging, technically and physically and I love a challenge. Pushing myself in both regards forces me to think differently, to adjust to the difficulties the weather and lighting, and try new approaches to make it work. The times when I've been the most uncomfortable, cursing under my breath, contorted in weird positions to shoot from a certain angle, using a cell phone flashlight to help my camera focus in the pitch black, fingers stiffening up from the cold... well those are often the times that I feel most invigorated as a photographer!

Right at the onset of winter, Shanni and I ventured outside during November's supermoon to take some portraits in the chilly winter dusk and (super)moonlight. Shanni, thank you so much for braving the cold for this project. Your are a simply luminous person and I loved spending time with you and capturing a tiny glimpse of your abundant grace in photographs.

PORTRAITS | MEREDITH

This was my third time photographing my darling friend and muse, Meredith. The first was for my Feeling of Fragrance project "Soap" portrait, then I took high school graduation portraits of her before she left to spend her gap year in London. This summer, we met up for a dual shoot, photographing each other throughout Toronto. Meredith has just moved to New York City to begin studying photography at Parsons School of Design. I love following her adventures on her Instagram and I think you would, too! 

Meredith, I can't wait to see how your work evolves as you explore the city and fill your creative arsenal with new knowledge and skills. Best of luck in your first semester!

PORTRAITS: MEREDITH

In case you're looking for a burst of inspiration in your day, I'm here to introduce you to my friend, Meredith. This whip-smart and highly talented ingenue is currently finishing up her gap year in London before beginning her photography studies at Parsons New School in the fall. I highly recommend checking out her blog, as well as her vibrant instagram feed. Follow her charmed life and travel adventures through her photography and writing.

Meredith has modelled for me before, as a model for the "Soap" portrait in my Feeling of Fragrance project. More recently, she participated in my Special Occasion video project. For this session, we met up in Toronto to take portraits to commemorate her graduation from high school. In the US, this type of portrait session is called "senior portraits" but since we don't generally call our grade 12 students seniors in Canada, we thought graduation portraits described the occasion perfectly well. When most people think of graduation portraits, however, they immediately think cap and gown. We wanted to do something different.

I set out to photograph Meredith just as she is, without the trappings of traditional yearbook photos. Instead of holding a diploma, she brought along some of her favourite outfits and we explored my former neighbourhood of West Queen West/Little Portugal/Parkdale. We stopped for coffee, shopped for magazines and records, picked out the perfect flower crown and sipped on cocktails/mocktails. It was such a pleasure to document this exciting milestone in her life.

Meredith, I am so proud of you and all your accomplishments. I look forward to continuing to follow your captivating photography and stories!