The MCS Memory Keepers {Millarville, AB}

These past few years I’ve had the pleasure of working on the Millarville Community School yearbook. It’s one of the ways that I love to give back to my community, and it’s a perfect fit, a way to use my talents, skill set, and energy to give back something to our families.

It’s been really rewarding for me to to spend time with our kids and the school staff, capturing and preserving our every day moments, memories, and capture the big events that we work hard to make a reality.

Our yearbook team consists of myself, Shannon McClinchy and Wendy Gregson. All year long we’re committed to ensuring each event, big or small, is captured by someone, either ourselves, or staff or students with cameras. We work hard on the mammoth task of combing through the hundreds of photos to select what will be in the yearbook. Each of us brings valuable input, ideas, and storytelling design to encapsulate the year for MCS students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. And while everyone has rushed headlong into summer vacation, we’ve been working hard to put all the finishing touches on the yearbook.

Designing, selecting, and putting it all together can be a challenging task. It can be frustrating because we can’t use all of the photos, and there are so many good ones we want to include. It can be hard to narrow it down. But it is rewarding to see that even though not every image makes it into the yearbook, they often resurface in slideshows, and in other memories. It is such an honour to be a part of that.

The best part has been to be included. To be able to capture so many of the every day moments and school memories of not only my own children, but many others. To be a part of celebrating our kids as they grow, learn, achieve, and have fun.

It’s so neat to see our kids running their hearts out and working hard at their sports. From the athletes that are breaking records, to the not so athletic children, who still work very hard, I love to share your events with you and capture you in the moment.

I love how the kids cheer each other on, and show such good sportsmanship among themselves.

The behind the scenes moments at sports events make me giggle too, such as the boys who were doing chest bumps, or kids giving piggybacks or horseback rides to each other.

Running Club

Good Sportsmanship, and pre-race encouragement.

Track and Field
Track and Field

When you run so fast, your feet don’t even touch the ground.

Track and Field
Track and Field

Mr. C -running his heart out.

I love capturing our kids during Pumpkin Palooza, as they parade in their Halloween Costumes, and the older kids co-ordinate the games and activities for the younger grades, at the Christmas concert as they sing their hearts out, at the Round Up as they danced, won cakes, and played games, and at our Winter Carnival, as they folk danced, played the spoons, and had sledding relay races through the halls.

Les Boucherons, helping us celebrate Winter Carnaval

Relay race sledding in the Halls. It was frigidly cold, so our Winter Carnaval was held indoors.

I got to share in the adventure of downhill skiing with the older students, and spend the day helping one student, a beginner to skiing, practice her new skill.

I’ve shared in field trips, watching the pure delight of students on an outing. I especially enjoyed when we ate lunch in the high-rise walkway of the Glenbow Museum, our country students taking in the big city.

Telus Spark

Overcoming ingrained inhibitions at Telus Spark.

Telus Spark

Taking some time to explore at Telus Spark

Autism Awareness

Coloring on a car, with Mrs. Lipiski, for Autism Awareness.

I shared the epic field trip with the Grade 3’s to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, holding hands with one student as we explored the museum (I’m a mother of two boys who never want to hold hands anymore, so it’s cute when the girl students want to hold hands). We excavated dinosaur bones, laughed as Miss Olver looked a bit like a Picasso painting in the graph sketch, and then helped students come up with the last bit of change they needed at the gift shop.

Royal Tyrell Museum Drumheller

Dinosaur Dig

Royal Tyrell Museum Drumheller

Miss Olver as grid sketched by the Grade 3’s. It’s pretty accurate, isn’t it-? lol.

One of the most meaningful memories I captured, was the beaming smile of a normally shy boy, as he graduated from D.A.R.E. He shared with me how his participation in the class helped him encourage his dad to stop smoking. I know we had many important conversations at our house, as my son participated in D.A.R.E., and he worked very hard on his graduation project.

So proud of his D.A.R.E project, and graduation from the program

It is truly a rewarding experience to share all of this with my sons, their fellow classmates, and students of their school. And it brings me great joy to be part of the team putting it all together for students and their families, so that next fall when we start fresh, you can look back on all these wonderful memories, always remember how special it is to be part of this community, how you’ve grown, and the experiences you’ve shared.

Good buddies, having a laugh

 

*Some of the images I’ve mentioned do not appear in this blog, but watch for them in the yearbook when you receive it this Fall.

One Response to “The MCS Memory Keepers {Millarville, AB}”

  1. Shannon McClinchey

    Thank you Rachel, very well said. “Its been really rewarding for me to spend time with our kids and school staff, capturing and preserving our everyday moments, memories, and to capture the big events we work really hard on to make a reality.” Couldn’t have said it any better
    I have been a volunteer with the yearbook at MCS for many years, and it is bittersweet as my last kids now moves on to high school .
    It has been a great opportunity to combine my love of photography, and popping in to be part of each little thing that make MCS such a great school. Little school with BIG heart.
    Thank you to all the teachers, parents, and fundraising committee that makes the events an amazing reality. Outdoor pursuits camping trips, rock climbing, scuba diving lessons, many sporting events, all take time and energy, but what amazing opportunities and memories to treasure for a lifetime. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of these last 9 years of adventure, enjoy the memories we have captured,and included in this past school years yearbook. Remember….”Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat!!”

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Botanical Wildflower Fine Art {Kananaskis, AB}

For a long while now, I’ve been in love with Vintage Botanical Flower Prints. These were originally presented as illustrations, with a very artful, and scientific feel. I wanted to create something that replicated this look, using Photography, to create Fine Art Prints. So last summer I created flat lay images of some of our lovely and prolific mid-summer wildflowers.

I created an arrangement with purple and pink hues which includes Harebell, Wild Bergamot, Aster, Smooth Fleabane, Vetch, and Paintbrush.

Purple Wildflower Botanicals

 

I then created an arrangement with sunny yellow hues which includes Goldenrod, Blanketflower, Cinquefoil, Red Paintbrush, Yellow Sweet Clover, Northern Bedstraw, and Aster.

Vintage Wildflower Botanical Print

All of the flowers are local to the Foothills and Kananaskis areas of Alberta. Many of them can be found Province wide. Wildflowers have captured my interest and imagination since I was a child. I am still fascinated by the intricate details of each species. I often pour over books, learning about each one, appreciating their science and beauty.

I was careful to not pick rare wildflowers, which destroy the plant from picking, like the Wood Lily.

So I’m pleased to offer these Gallery Wrapped Canvas Prints I’ve created of local Botanical Wildflowers that you can enjoy all year long.

Wildflower Botanical Prints on Display

These are available in my Fine Art Gallery, or you can contact me for details.

 

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Leighton Centre Summer Art Camps {Millarville-Okotoks, AB}

Last summer I was asked to spend some time capturing the fun, creativity, and action at the Leighton Centre Children’s Summer Art Camps. In addition to working on this very enjoyable project, my own two sons were invited to spend a week at Art Camp. It was a creative, and wonderful way to spend a week, for all of us. 

Commercial and Promotional Photography is becoming a notable new focus of my business, and it is always fascinating and rewarding to help another business or organization with their promotional material and marketing.

Every summer the Leighton Centre offers week long Summer Art Camps for children aged 6-14. Led by a team of talented artists, children are given wide variety of mediums to work with, and a unique variety of projects to work on throughout the week. 

The Historic 1919 Ballyhamage red one-room schoolhouse, converted to a Art Studio, serves as the heart of the Children’s Art Camps, with a weaving studio and a pottery studio serving as studio-classrooms as well. 

Historic one-room schoolhouse Leighton Centre

 

The week kicks off with a tour of the Leighton Centre Museum, where the kids learn about the founders of the Centre, Mr. Alfred Crocker (A.C.) Leighton and Mrs. Barbara Leighton, who were both extremely talented artists. Some of the techniques employed by Mrs. Leighton, such as vinyl cut block-stencil are explored by the students during the week. 

 

Kids at Leighton Museum

 

Kids at Leighton Museum

 

The kids then make tie dye t-shirts for themselves, that they wear during the week, when working on messy projects. 

Tie dye at Leighton Summer Camp

 

During their week at Camp, kids get to work with clay, weave, learn needle felting, make string art, make hand-made paper, and learn sketching and painting techniques. Kids also spend time outdoors, playing games, and exploring the beautiful grounds of the Leighton Centre. 

Art Camp at the Leighton Centre

 

Paper making at the Leighton Centre

 

Art Camp at the Leighton Centre

 

Art Camp at the Leighton Centre

 

Art Camp at the Leighton Centre

 

Art Camp at the Leighton Centre

With all the forest fires happening last summer, we weren’t sure the kids would get to do as many hikes, or do their outdoor sketching, but we were fortunate when mid-week the wind took the smoke away, and we were able to see the breathtaking view, and the kids were able to make sketches and paintings of what they saw. 

 

Art & Nature Summer Camp at the Leighton Centre

 

Art & Nature Summer Camp at the Leighton Centre

 

After a week of creating, the Summer Art Camp wraps up with an Art Show for parents and families to view the work of their budding artists. The kids along with their instructors put on a very professional show. 

 

Kids Art Show, Leighton Centre

 

Kids Art Show, Leighton Centre

 

Summer Camps at the Leighton Centre are a very rich and rewarding experience for kids. Be sure to check out their calendar, as this Summer’s Camps are already filling up. Get your budding Artist a spot at Camp today. 

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Mice and Mailboxes {Small Business Start-Up, Shared Spaces-Okotoks}

I recently had the opportunity to do some whimsical product photography of miniature proportions.

Helping small business owners promote their products and services with photography has become a new area of focus for my business. Our world is increasingly visual, so great photography can really help a small business propel their image further, and is it great part of any marketing plan. It has been my honour to help several small business owners these past few months, and I look forward to helping many more to come.

Patty’s Business is just getting started. Her idea is very unique, and a great, interactive way to promote positive values in children.

Paddy fashions small houses, fit for a mouse, which are in fact mailboxes for children. Parents can deliver small note cards and encouragement through the mailbox slot in the roof, to their child. Parents can also leave small parcels-gifts to reward a child’s good behaviour and positive efforts. (Paddy sells the small note cards and small gift boxes to go with the mailbox delivery)

House for a mouse Children's mailboxes

 

Children then have their own key, for accessing their mailbox and finding their encouragement or reward, and promoting responsibility (to not lose their key).

 

House mail special delivery children's special delivery

 

 

The felted mice that Paddy sells are the perfect addition to go with the mailboxes.

These cute and whimsical little creatures bring the child’s imagination to life, really adding to the fun and story that can be created around the mailboxes.

I had a great time creating scenes and stories for the mice, and my kids really enjoyed them, and made up stories of their own for each mouse.

felted mouse fishing in pond farmer felted mouse seaside felted mouse happy birthday felted mouse

 

Paddy’s collection of “House Mail, Special Delivery”, mice and mailboxes can be found in Okotoks, at the newest collaborative space for crafters and artisans, Shared Spaces.

Shared Spaces opened last weekend, and looks to be a great new boutique located at 8 McRae Street in Okotoks.

If you have a chance this weekend, I highly recommend checking them out.

Best of luck to you Paddy, and I wish you great success with ‘House Mail, Special Delivery”.

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Marc & Jaimee’s Wedding {The Norland Historic Estate, Lethbridge, AB}

This weekend Marc and Jaimee tied the knot, and I was honoured to be there to capture their beautiful day.

The morning was wet and cold, with snow flurries, and I was not sure how their day was going to turn out. But Jaimee, and many from her family, and Wedding Party, are hearty stock, many of them having lived, or still reside in Yellowknife. So they were determined not to let al little bit of cold and snow mess with their day.

As luck would have it, the clouds began to clear in the afternoon, and although very chilly, their outdoor wedding turned out beautifully.

The Norland Historic Estate is a very elegant, and lovely venue. For Jaimee and Marc, having their wedding at the Norland was all the more special and meaningful, as Jaimee’s Grandpa (recently passed away) had done a lot of work with restorations and renovations on The Norland. So honouring his memory was very important as they celebrated their wedding.

It was made clear during the reception and toasts just how fun loving the two of them are, devoted to each other, and how well loved and supported they both are by their friends and family.

Congratulations to you both!

Getting ready, at The Norland

 

Father of the Bride-walk down the isle

 

Ring bearer, and Flower Girls

 

The Norland Historic Estate

 

Wedding Party Portrait at The Norland

 

Bridal Portrait at The Norland Bride and Groom at The Norland

 

Bride and Groom Portrait at The Norland

 

Wedding Reception at The Norland

 

First Dance at The Norland

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Spring in the North {Nature Photography, High Prairie, AB}

Spring has always brought mixed feelings for me. It’s such an exciting time of growth, renewal, and promise, as one looks forward to warmer, brighter days ahead. The snow melts and the first greens begin. And the sounds of spring are welcoming to the ears, after the cold silence of winter.

Mixed with the excitement and energy of spring, I often have felt an impatience and frustration, as springtime in Alberta takes a very long time to really get underway.

When I was a young person growing up in High Prairie, Alberta, and learning about photography, I really disliked early spring from a photographic viewpoint. Everything was brown, mud was everywhere, and the drab landscape failed to inspire me photographically. It was difficult to match the excitement I felt with spring in the air, to the seemingly colourless landscape around me, when my eyes thirsted to see green and spring colours.

It seemed to me that spring was much more exciting somewhere else, and the photos that others were capturing of spring were far more interesting than my own.

Fields of daffodils, tulips, streets lined with cherry trees in full bloom, none of this was the spring of my young adulthood, or is my experience, even now.

And yet there are many things that I enjoy about spring. I love to hear the frogs singing, filling the air with their musical chorus. I love the return of all the birds, their singing, the geese, ducks, and swans flying through the air, swimming in ponds, and making their brief stop, before travelling further North.

Since moving to Southern Alberta I’ve missed this mass migration of birds, and the sights and sounds of the Northern wetlands in the spring. We have some waterfowl that stay here, but nothing compared to what we used to see in the North. While I love my gorgeous mountain views and rolling foothills, there’s something about marshes, ponds, and wetlands, and their sights and sounds, that I have missed.

This Easter our family had the opportunity to stay and visit in our home town of High Prairie, Alberta, for a few days. I was really looking forward to capturing images of spring in the North as I remembered it from my younger days. But with a fresh perspective, as I am slowly letting go of all my preconceived notions and doubts about my own artistic abilities. And my belief that everyone else’s  images are better than my own. Being content with my own life-not constantly comparing myself, my surroundings, or my experiences, to those of others.

As things would have it, it snowed most of our trip. Nearly every day it snowed while we were visiting. The drab colourless sky, and white ground reminded me of how I used to feel about spring.

Fortunately the day before we decided to come home, the sun came out, and the day turned lovely.

That evening I was able to capture some of the magic of spring that I remember, yet had been unable to capture visually when I was younger.

The big, wide open skies, and lovely evening light were everything I wanted it to be on my last evening at my in-laws.

As I stopped wishing for things I’d like to see, and truly appreciated what was around me, I enjoyed a beautiful evening walk.

Ponds with reflections, pussy willows, a hawk that flew over.

Spring

Spring

pussy willows

Some swans flew over, and I missed the shot, and felt momentarily disappointed. Their call is a lot different than that of geese, so I kept my ears alert, and hoped I would hear, and see another group of swans. As luck would have it, I did, and was able to capture a few images of swans in the sky.

Birds in spring

The music of the water running through the ditches as it journeyed to the Iroquois Lakes, was a peaceful and lovely sound.

wetlands in spring

pussy willows in spring

These last images captured as the light was fading, and my lens grew heavy, perhaps did not turn out perfectly, but I love the painterly, soft quality of the colours, and the light.

artistic spring photos

Spring

It’s taken me a lot of years to finally start to see things as they are, appreciating their true beauty, and to not be wishing and hoping for things that aren’t there. I’m excited for where this journey will take me.

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The River {Unscripted Documentary Child Photography}

Well, it’s not actually a river.  But the other day, as I walked down our driveway, the warm springlike weather had created a small river on our lane. The rivulets of water carved small channels as the water followed the destination chose for it by gravity, down the hill. The cheerful sound was musical and uplifting.

After collecting the kids from the bus at the bottom of our hill, our walk back up was filled with excitement about “the river”.
But once we arrived back at the house, and snacks were eaten, their laziness threatened to set in, as they each vied for a turn on the iPad to play Minecraft.

But when there’s a river on your driveway, and a warm wind blowing, it begs you to go outside and explore it more fully. To put on your rubber boots, and old clothes, and see where your imagination takes you. So after some mild prodding, that’s just what we did. And it was time well spent.

Kids-191

The springlike weather also insists one get out their camera, and see what inspiration you can find in a river, so I followed the children to the puddles, to see what would unfold.

Although I was right there with them, I stayed silent, and I became a quiet observer of their imaginative story they were acting out. It played out something like an action comic book, with a snow world, a pizza world, evil snowmen, a Death Star, a toucan, swords, ninjas, guns, and bombs blowing things up. I really don’t know what it was about, but it was quite a story to listen to.

Kids Spring Lifestyle Portraits

I love how David still takes his sword everywhere. And I actually got some great, natural, unscripted images of Brodie, who I have struggled to photograph lately, as like many kids his age, he often  puts on a very posed, unnatural smile for photos. I know these natural portraits of them playing their game will be a great memory to look back on in the years to come. 

Documentary Child Photography

The river didn’t last long. Yesterday David and I went for a walk, and he was disappointed to find it only a trickle. The snow that fed its headwaters has nearly all melted. But these fleeting moments of spring,  and the imagination they awake are worth soaking up, and enjoying.

Millarville Child Photographer

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Pirate Adventures-The Magic of Childhood

I think every young boys’ imagination has been captured by pirates at some point or another, and my boys are no different.

Imagine sailing the seas, following adventure whichever way the wind blows, while searching for treasure.

Eyepatches, sword-fights, hooks for hands, and of course, treasure maps, it all makes for the best stories ever.

This past weekend we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather, so I took advantage of the warmth and lovely November light to capture candid portraits my boys playing pirates, a photo shoot I’ve wanted to do with them for a long time.

We’ve enjoyed playing pirates quite often through the years, and have dressed up at as them for Halloween several times, so we have quite a collection of pirate costumes and props.

The Pirate ship which we’ve used as our set in these photos, was made by my husband several years ago for our neighbours’ children. Their children have since grown up, but the fabulous pirate ship treehouse is just a short walk away, and our boys love to play there as a special treat.

I’m sure there will be many years yet of pirate adventures for us. I believe it’s even pirate week at school, this week.

Until next time, Hi diddle dee, A Pirate’s Life for Me!

children playing pirates

children playing pirates

Millarville children's portraits

kids playing pirates

candid kids portraits

pirates-73

Kids Pirate themed photo shoot

Kids Pirate themed photo shoot

 

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Anniversary Edition of a Fabulous Fall Wedding {Edmonton, AB}

It’s Flashback Friday, and I could not think of an edition more perfect to feature than this fantastic fall Wedding I photographed back in 2005, which is still an all time favourite of mine. The timing of it makes a nice trip down memory lane for this amazing couple, as tomorrow is their Anniversary.

Leona and I grew up in the same small town in Northern Alberta. Every Wedding I had photographed up until that point took place at one of the few venues our small town had to offer. So it was a real honour to be asked to photograph a Wedding in the “big city” and explore new venues and  scenery.

The Minister of the Church where Patrick and Leona were married had requested that I not take photos during the ceremony itself, except from the balcony. This was new to me, but it did allow for some large scale images, and with a zoom lens, I was able to capture the action from above, without interfering with the ceremony.

Wedding in Church

Here, the happy couple celebrates after their ceremony. Leona and Patrick’s fun, carefree personalities made the day so much fun.

wedding couple celebrating with champagne

For their Wedding Portraits we went to the renowned Magrath Mansion. The beautiful grounds, and the stunning architecture of the mansion were a delight to work with, and we had a lot of fun creating images here. We were even allowed to use this antique convertible in a few shots.

Mother and Bride Portrait Bridesmaids at McGrath Mansion Convertible at McGrath Mansion Wedding Party at McGrath Mansion, Edmonton, AB Groomsmen at McGrath Mansion Bride and Groom by Fountain, McGrath Mansion Bride and Groom Fall Portrait Bride and Groom Portrait

In addition to the lovely grounds of Magrath Mansion, Patrick and Leona, had spotted this brilliant tree-lined street which we had to go by on the way to their Reception. So we stopped for a few quick photos to take advantage of the brightly coloured leaves. I’m so glad we did.

Fall Wedding Portraits Fall Bridal Portrait Bride with Gerber Daisies bouquet Bride and Groom autumn portraits bride and groom running through fall leaves Bride and sister portrait

Even though it’s been eleven years, and we have relocated, it was such an honour and  delight to be tracked down by Leona this spring, and reconnect once again. And my biggest honour yet was being asked by Leona to photograph her family this fall. I sure hope we can arrange our schedules to make it happen. It will be really nice to see you both again, and meet your family.

Happy Anniversary you two, and I’ll be in touch soon!

 

 

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Foothills Ride for STARS Fundraising Event {Homeplace Ranch, Priddis, AB}

This past Saturday was a fine fall day, perfect for the Foothills Ride for STARS Fundraiser. This annual event raises money for the STARS Air Ambulance, a life-saving service we are all grateful for. The organizers, and riders, all avid horsemen and women, feel that their favourite pastime is not without it’s risks, as well as the fact that oftentimes horseback riding takes you out into remote areas. If ever they, or a loved one needs STARS, they are grateful to know they’ll be there, so everyone is happy to support STARS through this ride.

The Foothills Ride for STARS takes place at the beautiful Homeplace Ranch, located near Priddis, AB. This private Ranch offers miles and miles of scenic trails, and breathtaking views, for riders to enjoy.

Riders set off after a hearty breakfast, on a trail taking them around a small lake.

horseback riding in Alberta Foothills horseback riding

The riding group called The Hunt enjoyed jumps set up for them, and were an impressive group to watch.

Horseback riding club -The Hunt

 

There is a cozy cabin set deep in the woods, the perfect place for a rest stop, and a chance to regroup. But to get there, riders needed to cross a creek. It was a bit of an adventure for  some, as there were several horses that did not want to cross the creek. But eventually, with some persuasion, all riders and horses made it across.

horseback riding southern alberta

 

crossing a creek on a horse

 

foothills ride for STARS

 

Everyone had a nice rest stop at the cabin, and then regrouped for the last half of the ride.

Alberta cowboy Foothills Ride for STARS

 

Here, event organizer, Anne Thompson, prepares to lead her group on the trail.

Foothills Ride for STARS horseback trail ride

For those who don’t ride, but love to take in the day, two horse-drawn wagons took passengers on a nice ride around the Ranch.

Horse drawn wagon from Indus, AB

A few hikers joined the event as well, ambitiously hiking the trails along with the horseback riders.

hikers in the foothills

It was a fabulous day, enjoyed by all, followed by a delicious supper, and entertainment in the evening.

cowgirl riding in the foothills

Thank you so much for allowing me to come and capture the fun, for the third year in a row.

For those who wish to view and order photos from the event, please visit my website rachel-ellen.com and visit the Client Proofing link. I’ve reactivated the 2014, 2015 Galleries as well, if anyone wants to check out the memories, or if you missed ordering from previous years.

Galleries will be available until October 31.

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