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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Chris and Krista’s Country Wedding {Millarville, AB}

This past weekend I had the honour of capturing the Wedding Celebration of Chris and Krista. I’m only just beginning to get to know them both, but I can already see what a wonderful couple they are, and how well loved they both are by their family, friends, and community.

Their ceremony took place at our Millarville Community Church, with pastor Allen presiding over their ceremony.

vintage bike as Wedding Decor

Their ceremony was beautiful, a wonderful description of God’s love for all of us, and the covenant of Marriage, a promise strengthened through His love.

Wedding rings on Bible

After their ceremony, and a few family pictures at the church, we made our way to the Corner Stone Farm, located  by the intersection of Highway 22, and Highway 22 x.

Although it was overcast, the forecast for thundershowers, and the clouds threatening all day long, we were blessed as the rain held off for the whole time we were taking pictures.

The historic big red barn is a great landmark, and the property has lovely grounds for capturing rustic, county wedding portraits.

Cornerstone Farm on the Cowboy Trail

Wedding Party Portrait the Cornerstone Farm

Bride and Groom Millarville Wedding

Country Wedding Millarville

Bridesmaids Millarville Wedding

Groomsmen Millarville Wedding

I loved all the beautiful details of Krista and Chris’s Wedding, and Krista has a wonderful way of including lovely, soft colours, county vintage flair, as well as touching tributes to family, like in her pretty bouquet, adorned with family pictures of their loved ones, who have gone on before.

country wedding flower details

Bride's bejewelled shoes

I would have loved to spend another hour photographing at the Corner Stone farm, but alas, they had guests awaiting their arrival for supper, so we raced off to the Millarville Racetrack Hall for their Wedding Reception.

Krista and Chris had a few special portraits they wanted me to create for them at the Millarville Racetrack grounds, and I’m so glad we took those few extra moments to do so before dinner.

Krista formerly took part in the sport of barrel racing, so she really wanted a portrait with her horse, Jack. The light was soft and perfect, and the backdrop of the Creekside Campground was perfect for these beautiful portraits of the bride with her horse.

Chris, who loves motorcycles, wanted some portraits with a Harley Davidson motorcycle. And they also wanted some Harley and Horses portraits together.

Although all of this made them a teensy bit late for dinner, it was well worth the bit of time it took to create these portraits.

bride with horse Millarville Racetrack

Harleys and Horses

Groom on Harley

Inside the Millarville Racetrack Hall, Krista had transformed the cozy, rustic hall, into a charming antique, vintage setting, complete with antique furniture from her family’s old homestead, soft beautiful colours, lovely lighting, and rustic county touches everywhere.

Their wedding cake on this lovely antique dresser was a wonderful decorative feature, and a hit with the kids, who kept coming up to visit the cupcakes.

The hoops filled with family photos were a wonderful, personal touch. A pie bar, filled with homemade pies all made by Krista’s mom, was a complete hit, when it came time for dessert.

Pinterest worthy Wedding reception

In keeping with the old saying that it’s good luck for it to rain on your wedding day, the rain poured down after dinner, during the evening.

I love the first dance, as the Bride and Groom steal a moment together. Although they are surrounded by their guests, it becomes just them, as they are alone on the dance floor with the music.

bride and groom first dance at Millarville Racetrack

I especially love these images from the Father & Daughter dance. You can’t hear what they are talking about above the music, but you can see they are sharing a very special, and beautiful moment together.

father and daughter dance at  Millarville Racetrack

father and daughter dance at  Millarville Wedding

Congratulations Chris and Krista. I’m so happy for your family, and wish you all the best.

 

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Photo Booth for Hire ~ Party and Event Photography {Calgary, AB}

This past weekend I created a Photo Booth for a 50th Birthday Party Event at a Client’s  home.

I had never done a Photo Booth before, and wondered at first if it would be a good idea. After all, people hire me to take Professional Portraits for them, and I’ve always dismissed the Photo Booth as some candid silliness done at the Mall, or perhaps when the Midway comes to town.

If I was going to go with a Photo Booth idea, I knew I wanted it to be “elevated”. I would still be using great lighting, and creating professional photographs, not just setting up a “selfie” station.

My particular clients for this event have hired me for several of their special occasions, and each time I’ve created Professional Portraits of their family and friends, as well as offered them Event Photography-capturing the fun, candid images, and key moments of their events.

So I really felt that I wanted to offer them something different this time, go all out, and try something new.

When I discussed the idea with them before the Party, they were really excited, so it was a Go.

My idea was to create something that would capture the fun, look, and feel of the old style vintage photo booth photos, and yet be classy and tasteful enough to use for Professional Portraits, if any of the guests preferred that look.

I took a look through my “tickle trunk” (I think all photographers who have been at this for awhile end up with a collection of props) and I came up with several small props and costume pieces that guests at the event could quickly put on to get into “character”.

A gangster hat, wooden pistol, cowboy hats, a feather boa, a fur stole, shawls, a crown, and funny eyeglasses, made up the collection of things to put on.

Since no Photo Booth is complete without a selection of moustaches and lips, I got crafty, and made a bunch of those. (Thanks Pinterest, and the lovely people who posted free moustache and lips printable templates)

I wanted a really great seating prop for in my Photo Booth, and I discovered Bee Vintage from downtown Calgary, who had this wonderful antique love-seat available for rent. It was the perfect seating prop for this set, and the husband and wife team at Bee Vintage were very helpful, and lovely to work with.

My 10×10 pop up tent, draped with curtains and a backdrop made up the Booth itself.

Photo Booth for hire in Calgary

A prop station was set up for everyone to grab what they liked for their photo booth portrait.

Photo Booth props in Calgary, AB

I feel it went over well, with the perfect mix of candid silliness, and professional classiness when desired.

Photo Booth portraits in Calgary

Vintage PhotoBooth Portraits in Calgary

Fun photo booth portraits

Bridesmaids unite in the photo booth

Sisters in the Photo Booth

Photo Booth friend pictures

Elevated Photo Booth portraits

The only downside was the massive thunderstorm that struck, which ended up cutting the evening short.

A huge Thank you and shout out to everyone who helped me pack up in the pouring rain!

Now that the Photo Booth has been tried, tested, and proven to be a success, I can’t wait for the next opportunity to use it again. 

 

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Making Memories-Family Camping Trip to Brazeau

Last week our family went on a camping trip. Without realizing it, 3 years had went by since we had been camping, two years since we had any kind of summer vacation as a family.

It’s easy to be so busy with work, and life, and let time move by, without realizing that you haven’t taken time to do the things that matter most, like making memories as a family.

The week preceding our camping trip was hectic, as we tried to clear our schedules, and complete jobs before we left. And since returning home we’ve been working like crazy to get caught up again, so one feels a bit like they don’t dare leave for a few days.

Ahhh, but when we were there, away from the hustle and bustle, it was so peaceful, and so worth it.

We’re the kind of family that likes to get far off the grid, seeking out places that are quiet, remote, and not yet popular with everyone else. That’s also why we camp mid-week.

We went to Brazeau Reservior in West Central Alberta, a place Josh and I discovered when Brodie was a toddler. With miles of sandy beaches, and clean shallow water it’s everything a lake should be. (Ok, you have to share all that with the horseflies and mosquitos, but that’s the great outdoors, right ;p)

We met my in-laws there, and our famiy enjoyed camping there together, as we had 3 years ago. We all hope to make this trip an annual one now, not wait three years again before enjoying these moments.

The boys enjoyed beach fun each day, on our “private beach”. They swam, played in the sand, kayaked, and fished non-stop, for four days.

There is nothing I love more than seeing our kids have so much fun. David loves the water, and can’t get enough of swimming. Brodie only likes to swim for a short while, but he really loved kayaking, and spent most of one day paddling the kayak along the shoreline.

Swimming at Brazeau Reservior

child kayaking on lake

Brodie’s tongue always sticks out when he is concentrating ;P

Swimming at Brazeau Reservior

child buried in the sand at beach

On the second or third day the boys got interested in fishing. With that, Brodie found his new hobby, and he fished for the rest of the trip. Sadly, no one caught anything. I guess the fish weren’t biting, although everyone we talked to assured us that there was good fishing on the lake. Perhaps we needed a boat.

Dad teaching child to fish

Learning to fish.

brothers fishing

A bit of “lazy day” fishing.

There was a beautiful heron nesting close to where we played at the water each day, and the one day I was able to kayak up quite close to observe her. But I was too chicken to bring my camera along in the kayak, so sadly no pictures of that. It is a memory I’ll always have, though.

When we weren’t at the beach we tended to the tasks of making camp. Building fires, cooking meals, doing the dishes outdoors, and sitting around the campfire with our coffee (and Bailey’s)

The kids entertained themselves, and us with their antics, racing up and down the trail, and camping games and stories.

boy with Grandpa

Not too big to cuddle Grandpa.

race on the trail

Racing up and down the trail.

playing cards

Brodie really liked to play “War”.

playing cards

Evening card game with Granny.

child antics

David’s antics with Granny’s cane.

Dad teaching child to whittle

Learning to whittle.

The boys slept in the camper with Granny and Grandpa, while Josh and I slept in a tent-a rather unenjoyable part of the trip for us, with lots of funny anecdotes that will be the stuff  we laugh about in the future. From our dog, Raven, keeping us awake all one night, the couple who played loud music, and kept us awake all the next night, and our air mattresses that went flat every night, sleeping was not our favourite part of the holiday. But we made the best of it.

The best part of camping is completely surrounding oneself in nature, and really appreciating your surroundings. Forest trails, wildflowers, sunsets, berries, the wildlife-including many kinds of birds, the call of the loon, squirrels, chipmunks, and my favourite, the heron.

sunset at Brazeau Reservior

bird at Brazea

Although it can be hard for us to get away, I’m sure glad we did. Hearing our boys describe each day of the trip as “the best day ever” makes my heart smile. Here’s to making family memories, and many more to come.

mom and child at the beach

Running along the beach.

 

One Response to “Making Memories-Family Camping Trip to Brazeau”

  1. Jolene

    Awesome Rachel, so glad you all had that time together! Thank you for sharing!!!

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The Magic of Childhood-Superhero Edition

Whether it’s shooting webs and swinging from building to building, or flying high up in the clouds as the Man of Steel, it’s no wonder Superheroes capture the imagination of both the young, and young at heart.

My son, like many other children, is fascinated by Superheroes. He loves them all. Iron Man, The Hulk, Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. But alas, we only have the two costumes.

As it is, I believe Spider-Man is his favourite.

child being Spider-Man
He loves to put on his costumes and play for hours, making up stories of fights, and epic battles, where the Good Guys win, and Save the Day!

As a mom, and a photographer, I wanted to capture these magical moments for him, and for our family to smile back on later.
Sometimes when my camera comes out the kids are a bit cheeky, and either don’t want to cooperate, or give me nothing but cheesy smiles. But as a Superhero, my son absolutely loved taking these pictures, and doing his “moves” for me. He acted out fight scenes with imaginary villains, as he kicked, punched, spun webs, or flew off to victory. He was so excited to see how his pictures turned out, as I kept my camera angle low to make it look like he was actually flying.

child pretending to be Superman
His Superhero action pictures helped bring his magic to life.
I hope as we look back on these in the years ahead, that they will always remind us of the Magic of Childhood.

Spiderman-45tw child dressed up as Spider-Man Superman-9tw Superman-74tw

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