Documenting the back country with 4 young kids


I woke up to temperatures cold enough to freeze the melting ‘snow rivers’ underneath our tent pad. With the kids locked in a deep sleep I enjoyed a moment of silence and soaked in the cool, fresh mountain air. Bliss. How lucky we are to be here.

Just a few weeks prior my friends Nicolas and Natalie had a crazy idea and proposed a 28 km backcountry camping trip into Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC spread over three nights and four days, and one mountain pass with four boys aged 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Wooohooo! I’m in.

No need to ask the kids…they’ll love this!! Backcountry camping, big heavy backpacks, long arduous hikes, steep uphills, and sore feet…what’s not to like?

Six hours before we left my biggest concern was how to get all this gear into my 60 litre bag, and into my boys two 30 litre backpacks. Wool socks, Moon Cheese, camp fuel, bear spray, tent, sleeping bags, Thermarests, clothing, and lots of food among other gear.

This trip quickly established itself as both a mental and a physical test of strength and will for each child as they struggled on the first ascent with loaded backpacks, and a steep, rooty up hill path.  While I carried the heaviest gear theirs were busting at the seams and weighed in between 10-15 lbs. I am sure this added to the many stops and drops along the forest floor as little bodies screamed in distaste at the sheer steepness of the trail.

But with lots of coaxing, breaks, a few needed temper-tantrums, and snacks we prevailed and reached Helms Creek campground 9 hours later. Annnnd luckily my husband had already found and dug out the tent pad from under 2 feet of snow. Thanks David…love ya!!

The next day we saw Black Tusk standing stoically in front of us. We looked up with jaws open mesmerised by the sheer beauty and vastness of the landscape. No one complained. No one talked. The fatigue melted with the snow.

With blue bird skies and a hot mid-day sun we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Stopping occasionally for water breaks, and lunch we trekked on for 9 km ocassionally breaking through the snow. Progress was slow but only because of the soft snow. No more complaints. In fact, I truly believe that this day was a game changer for the boys as they realised the benefits of hard work.

Our final campsite was Garibaldi. Our feet were cold and wet, and our stomachs empty. But our spirits remained as high as the mountains surrounding us. Once more we had to pitch our tent in close to 3 feet of snow but the experience was worth it as I saw all the boys grow and accomplish tasks they never thought they could. Whereas, I always knew they could they now believed it!


Dog Gone It. That was a Fun Ride!


Dog Gone It! That was a FUN Ride with the pups!

Over the past few weeks I have been meeting and documenting some pretty hardcore 4-legged friends that can seriously shred the gnar. I’ve watched them hop, run, walk, play, eat, and even steal doggie treats out of my camera bag.

In preparation for an upcoming article with Mountain Bike For Her I turned to social media to find my eager models (2 and 4 legged ones). Riding again with a furry friend made me think a lot of our family dog when we used to take her riding. How she loved it. And how I loved watching her gracefully clear fallen trees yet aggressively tackling a tight turn. I marvel at a dogs athleticism…and their ability to find the route of least resistance. I’ve always said that if you want to win a DH race follow your dog. It might not always make sense but it’s fast.

These action shots weren’t easy to get and I cannot wait to show you the rest once the summer issue of MTB4Her comes out. In other words, can’t release the ‘hounds’ just yet. Get it? Anyways, I’ve got some real beauties and am totally stoked at the results.

Thanks to my new furry and non-furry friends for making this real. Your exuberance is infectious. Let’s go ride again!!



Letting Kids be Kids

© Cecile Gambin PhotographyI love how innocent kids are and I love watching them being kids and playing as they should.

My children and myself found a rather large patch of tall, dry grass and an abundance of rocks while on a modified hike atop Grouse Mountain. I say modified because we never made it to where we had intended to go but, instead, found laughter and fun as they began to play hide-and-seek, and tag. Seriously, why drag them into a hike when clearly they were having more fun here? And, without them knowing it, getting more exercise as they ran up and down the mountain side.

Within time, a young girl and her family came along and asked if she could play with my two boys. While her mother and I talked the kids played, laughed, shared, ran and jumped.

I grew up in an apartment in a rough Toronto neighborhood and to this day the most fun I had were those years where I did just what my children were doing – being kids. I ran up six flight of stairs and raced down them as fast as I could (elevators were boring); I climbed trees, we played British Bull-Dog, Cowboys and Indians, climbed trees, jumped our bikes over our friends and, generally, ran lots. I wasn’t involved in team sports, nor had a plethora of afterschool activities but I did climb school roof tops to retrieve tennis balls and I also clearly remember crumpling up pieces newspaper and lighting them on fire in our building’s underground garage (right behind parked cars no less). While perhaps that wasn’t the swiftest thing I ever did (and really hope my own children don’t do that) I also remember setting off the buildings outdoor sprinkler system to jump over the stream of water as it rotated. Hours of fun.

My point is, today children are taxied left, right and center. Whether it’s a music lesson, a soccer or hockey practice, gymnastics, swimming, or art clubs it seems to me that kids are no longer kids. A chance to laugh, play, be with friends, share, talk, run, fall, and cry. The chance to socialise and to make friends on their own terms seems to be lost. The opportunity to make up games, play make-believe and run for fun is disappearing and replaced by a generation with their heads stuck in their mobile devices.

Find a playground. Let your kids play good old-fashion games and join in on the fun. Cuts, bruises, tears and messes. It’s all good. And if you can find an old sprinkler system put a popsicle stick in them to set them off…and run away quickly. Tons of fun and great exercise too.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography


Family Documentary Photography and Why You Should Invest in a Session


‘It goes by fast’…are often the words young parents hear in reference to young children.

While it may feel like the diaper stage and the sleepless nights will never end it, invariably, does. And by the time you know it your kids will be asking for the car keys. Seriously.

I began to document my own children as they finished one stage and entered another. Like most families my two boys are active. Very active. And, asking them to sit down and smile for the camera wasn’t a photo that suited them nor was it one that was easily achieved.

I realised that the best photos of my children were the ones that had meaning. The ones where they were busy doing something, engaged in an activity of their choice. That brought out the best smiles, and looks from them. In exchange I was left with a photo full of emotion and meaning. I call this type of photography documentary because I record what unfolds in front of me. There are no fancy backgrounds, and I use natural lighting. This allows me to move freely and quietly. Simple, quick, easy and no more husbands grumbling for a sit down pose. Everybody’s happy because there is no change in routine.

I can now fondly look back through the years at what we’ve done as a family, the hardships that we forgot, (although at the time i didnt think I could ever forget), the good and the fun times. I take these special photos and put them in a video slideshow and print them on a luxurious flat book so that can be shared with friends and family either digitally or through traditional methods.

If you would like to document your family please consider me as your photographer. I am currently booking for mid-September and am offering half-day or a full-day sessions. Be assured, I love this type of family photography and strive to create photos that I would be proud to have myself.

‘It really does go by fast’…

©Cecile Gambin Photography



@Cecile Gambin Photography

A feel-good blog today 🙂

Check out this little guy. He’s nine years old and riding technical trails. He didn’t get there overnight. I know as I’m his mother and I’ve watched him pedal, fall, stumble and try again.

Some days I know I need to sit back from an already hectic life and reflect. And I realise I can learn from that very same lesson that my nine year old has been learning from over the past few weeks.

It might take me a wee bit longer but eventually I realise that life is good, and that through preserverence I can achieve what I want.

Strength in Women – an environmental portrait study

© Cecile Gambin Photography

One of my favourite types of photography is environmental portraits. What attracts me to this genre is capturing my client in their element, surrounded by where they live or what they do for work. I love the freedom, and the creativity of showcasing my subject in an area they feel the most comfortable in and getting away from a typical pose or smile.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people over the last few months and up front I need to thank them for their time and their confidence in me to show them in a not-so-typical photograph.

Many of these photos were recently published in the February 2016 issue of Traction eRag which happened to be the first All-Women’s issue for the magazine itself and, I believe, in the dirt bike world period. The issue is nothing short of awesomeness as it represents women from all ages and skills getting down to the barebones and exposing their fears, success, excitement, bravery, skills, hardwork and dedication that it took to get them where they are today. Click Traction eRag Women’s Issue 2016 for the issue…it’s FREE but I do encourage you to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any future awesomeness. I am extremely pround and humbled to have been able to be a part of this special issue.CGP Website-2

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography


A Stylist and a Former IFBB Pro

© Cecile Gambin Photography

It’s always a hoot working with Desiree Ellis. She’s stylist, a make-up artist and a former IFBB competitor. So being in front of the camera doesn’t intimidate her and I have so little retouching to do both on and off the set. It’s almost like cheating! Desiree’s a talented artist guaranteed to make you look good. Check out her website for more info.

After years of posing in front of an audience Desiree’s hardest challenge was to let loose and give me a non-posed smile. And we got there!! I love this photo of Desiree above. It shows who she really is – an energetic and caring person who takes her job seriously and is tons of fun to hang around with!

The full length photo below was taken a few months ago after I had rented a couple of strip boxes, and big strobes for the weekend for a job that required it a few days later. Needing to practice with them and wanting to take advantage of my time with them I called up Desiree and placed the lights one on each side of her. I love how the light accentuates her curves in a soft way. I could totally get used to having a set of these light modifiers – they were so much fun to play around with and the creativity with them was sky high.

Thanks Desiree!!

© Cecile Gambin Photography

Rocking the Scene with a Mom and Daughter Team

© Cecile Gambin PhotographyIt was a mad dash to get from one location to the other before the sun faded but we did it!

After showing my client two very different and distinct backgrounds in West Vancouver we decided to go for it and hold the photo session in two separate locations one right after the other. This mother and daughter team rocked the scene with contagious laughter and smiles.

So why would I attempt to photograph them in two locations? Because I knew that both areas would suit them so why not give them the best of both worlds. Plus, there’s something special about Lighthouse Park and Whytecliff Park and their ability to put us all in a calm, serene, and content state. One is known for its edgy, craggy, sharp rocks and the other for it’s smooth, round ones.

The afternoon started at Lighthouse Park and as usual both offered spectacular backdrops. As the late November afternoon slipped away we made our way to Whytecliff and got really lucky as the sun dropped, first turning yellow, than orange and finally that sought after crimson. The colours were simply insane! It was worth staying late.

Let’s talk. If you like my style and you feel I am the photographer for you…send me an email and let’s plan something cool!!

© Cecile Gambin Photography



© Cecile Gambin Photography


Tammie and Marks’ Anti-Wedding – Part II

Part II – The journey starts at the bike shop the day before the ride only to find out it had snowed at the top of the peak that morning.

And so it begins…early Sunday seven of us left at 8:30 to begin a rather long climb. Our goal was to reach the top of Granite Mountain where the rest of the party would be waiting for the ceremony. Included in that group was Tammie’s oldest sister Sherry and her husband Sheldon, the Wedding Commissioner and the rest of my camera equipment (thanks Sheldon!).

© Cecile Gambin Photography
Mandatory riders meeting for the first wave of riders. Close to 100 riders participated.

We slowly made our way uphill through gorgeous single track moving in and out of the pine scented forests. Fashionably late we arrived at Granite Mountain 45 minutes behind schedule (probably my fault as I wanted a few photos along the way and was a wee bit slow climbing). The ceremony was held on the platform of a small warming hut at the top of Red Mountain Ski Resort where the clouds blew in and out faster than you could say ‘I do’. I suspect it was a balmy 2 or 3 degrees Celsius.

The Wedding Commissioner, Roberta Post, began as Tammie and Mark stood opposite of her. I’m sure she was using the hut to shield her from the wind. Smart. The rest of us gathered around, cold yet warm. Every so often a cloud would lift revealing the layers of mountains below. In a few weeks time this area will become snow-covered leaving behind any trace we may have left. Yet this special day will live forever through stories and photos among friends and family.

The ceremony was without a doubt beautiful as the commissioner read the vows. We looked on as both Tammie and Marks’ smiles warmed our cold hands. And as if on queue the clouds lifted and a ray on sunshine fell on them both just before their kiss. Cheers and clapping erupted as we congratulated them on the beginning of their life journey together.

We took a few photos of the group and left fairly quickly to make the 1:30 pm Poker Ride cut-off time. At this point I believe we had covered the largest portion of climbing and looked forward to shorter, steeper, smaller climbs and fast downhills. The recent rains made for excellent trail conditions offering unrivaled uphill traction and stable corners.

Part of the attraction of a Poker Ride is the camaraderie and Revolution Cycles brought it out in full-force. With check-in points along the 36 km route riders drew cards, threw darts, played Trivial Pursuit, and belted out old TV shows songs for everyone to hear.

I would like to thank Revolution Cycles for a very well organized event. And for the cool t-shirts (in both men and women’s cut non-the-less)!! Maybe one day I’ll have another opportunity to tackle this ride. It was hard but not impossible and I’m super happy to have completed it….albeit in my own fashion.

En route...
En route…

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography
Those of us who have taken the plunge understand this moment perfectly…

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography


© Cecile Gambin Photography
No it wasn’t an o-ring but it was a beautiful blue sapphire encased in platinum….that way Tammie can’t damage it!

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography


© Cecile Gambin Photography
The Wedding Party – Kelly, Tennille, Sherry, Sheldon, Paul, Lisa, Mark and Tammie.
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Most at this point take a limo but not these two…it was a rocky descent to continue our 36 km trek across the Kootenays.
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Some of the checkpoint festivities – throw the dart and hit your favourite politician!
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Spin the Wheel and hope you don’t land on the Vegemite!
Saltine crackers and Vegemite. Mmmmm...
Saltine crackers and Vegemite. Mmmmm…
Showing our age (well maybe mine only) and trying to remember the theme to The Love Boat.
Showing our age (well maybe mine only) and trying to remember the theme to The Love Boat.
Riding a tricked-out Brodie. Feel free to leave messages if you think you know what's up with this bike.
Riding a tricked-out Brodie. Feel free to leave messages if you think you know what’s up with this bike.
The Flying Bride - Tammie ripping up the downhill.
The Flying Bride shreds the downhills.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography
YAY!…we made it!


Mark getting that garter belt and throwing it at the post-ride BBQ.
Mark getting that garter belt and throwing it at the post-ride BBQ.

Congratulations to Tammie and Mark for a wildly fun and successful day!! It was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to photograph and share this special day with you.

If I’m going to shoot a wedding let it be this type. Thanks for allowing me creative freedom 🙂

© Cecile Gambin Photography