I DID IT!!! I AM an ACCREDITATED PHOTOGRAPHER with the PPOC!!

I DID IT!!!!

I am now an accredited photographer with the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) in the Canine/Dog Portrait category!!!!!

I’ve been working hard for this over the past few months and am beyond STOKED!!! The criteria – 10 images of 10 different dogs in 10 different situations. Four of the images must have been made indoors, 4 others outdoors and the last 2 were of my choice. I was judged for creativity, composition, lighting, technique, subject matter, presentation, story telling, centre of interest, style and colour balance. That’s a lot but when you’re representing the PPOC and want to be a top notch photographer this is what is expected.

I know I’m all giddy but this is a HUGE deal to me. This is THE highest standard in professional imaging. I now get to proudly display PPOC on my website and represent them. I take this seriously and aim to produce strong, technically correct and emotional photos that have impact and meaning. 

As many of you know a few years ago I used to race downhill mountain bikes. While I rode at breakneck speeds I had no issues doing this in front of everybody. The final time on the scoreboard was absolute. I knew where I stood. Photography, however, has taken me outside my comfort zone. I put my heart into my photos and hope that people like them and not laugh at my work or ideas. Unlike racing, exhibiting my photos is really nerve racking. In essence, I’m putting my inner me out there for all to see. Submitting for accreditation in front of Canada’s best photographers was hard for me.

I cannot thank my husband David and my children enough. They put up with me going out at all hours and working long nights and often days making sure each photo was worthy of being submitted. David – thank you for putting up with me during this time. I also could not have done this without all the special furry friends (and their non-furry owners). Thank you Paul Johnson Desiree Ellis Lalena Desautels Robin Banks Chetti Pece Amy Siddaway and the others who are not on the net. 

Here are the photos that were accepted.

WOOF!!

Rooster the Happy Vizsla

When photographing dogs I love to shoot them in their favourite park. This is an area where they know the trails, and have probably sniffed every fern and tree. It’s where they are comfortable and this is essential in my quest to help capture their personality and energy.

A few days ago my son and myself set up shop in a local park that I like to use because of the available light and the abundance of ferns, moss and tall trees. It’s quite literally a green room. I also know it’s an area frequented by dog walkers and I was on a mission for a light coloured dog (I need 10 photographs of 10 different dogs and 10 different breeds in various locations for an accreditation with The Professional Photographers of Canada). Within a few minutes Rooster came along – a young Hungarian Vizsla with perpetual energy.

His human friend had done an amazing job training him over the past year and a bit and I was fortunate enough to have him handle Rooster while I took photos. Rooster was a big sweetheart and worked hard for his treats as he posed for a few seconds. But, I could clearly see he was itching to spring into action as soon as he could. I mean I get it. I’m the same way. Put me in a meeting and I either snore or get really ancy – either way, it’s not good. And, usually I embarrass myself and those around me. haha!! I understand Vizslas and I know they need to run. My last two dogs were German Short Hair Pointers (GSP) and they are virtually the same dog as the Vizslas – fun, energetic, and youthful.



Working with Rooster reminded a lot of my two GSPs and I enjoyed my time taking photos of him. He’s a beautiful dog with an athletic build and gorgeous eyes. He gave me funny faces, and serious poses. I LOVE his energy!!

If you are looking for photographs of your furry friend please think about me. I’m an experienced photographer and dog owner. I shoot rain or shine and I will get muddy for that perfect shot. Being outside, creating art and memories and, getting a chance to pet dogs is, IMO, way better than sitting through a meeting. I’m booking now for January and February sessions.

Woof!!

Woofers! This dog is expressive.

This is Chester. He’s an 8 year old Australian Sheppard who just couldn’t wait for us to say ‘go play in the water’.

Chester was AH-Mazing to work with. Yes, he did get a lot of treats to model but he busted out some crazy smiles, drools and poses. Did I say model? Haha!! I let dogs be dogs and I go with the flow. If Chester wanted to sit and smile than I took his picture. If he wanted to run and be goofy I let him be because I want photos to be real. And, Chester didn’t disappoint.

I’m an outdoor person and inclement weather doesn’t bother me. Nor does it bother your dog (usually). I’m available to immortalize your furry friend and their big personality in a series of photos that I know you’ll love. Let’s talk. I’d love to hear from you.

Real Life, Real Photos, Real Time.

 

Syéx̱w Chó:leqw Adventure Park

There’s a new Adventure Park in town and I openly admit I cannot remember how to pronounce it.

What I can tell you though is that it lies half way between Agassiz and Hope, BC, and, it’s chock-full of goodness for art lovers, nature lovers and mountain bikers.

I was commissioned by the BC Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program to take photos of the parks opening celebration September 14, 2018. The AYMBP are mountain bikers, coaches and community leaders who support and encourage Aboriginal youth and communities to participate and excel in the sport of mountain biking. They work with First Nations communities to encourage their people to get outside and reconnect with nature and live healthier active lives. The trails were built and designed by the AYMBP and the good people at First Journey Trails. These two groups are pretty cool in my books!!

I was most impressed at how the creators weaved the trails with the arts. From painted bridges to wooden carvings, the park offers a unique outdoor experience with an educational component to entice all levels of art connoisseurs as well as respecting the land, and the culture, on which the trails are built on. The carvings are influenced by the forests, the surrounding wildlife and lifestyle of the Coast Salish.

The park is family friendly. It’s a perfect place to introduce shredders to mountain biking. The relatively smooth terrain will allow them to learn the basics and keep them happy. The trails are challenging enough to build endurance and will also allow for a safe progression into the more technical  skills park area. Along with a 90,000 square foot children’s park, the big kid in you and your children will be happy.

 

Horse Power

This is Laird. He’s a 20 year old stallion and he’s majestic.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take photos of a few horses. I loved every minute of it for several reasons:

  1. Like most girls, I always wanted a horse. But, growing up in an inner-city Toronto neighborhood that wasn’t going to happen. I did ask my grandfather in France to get a horse instead of all the cows he kept on the farm. But, that didn’t work either. Probably because the tractor had already replaced his horse a long time ago and, most likely, because I was only there for 3 weeks.
  2. It was a challenge. Horses, unlike mountain bikes or motorcycles, have a mind of their own and they are 1500+ lbs of pure muscle.

But, I like a challenge. I had already envisioned the type of photo I wanted to create and capture. I purposely chose a black background for Laird because, well, he’s black, and I thought that suited him, but also because he exudes confidence. With minimal detail in the photo I found it was a colour he could pull off largely because of his personality.

I am quite comfortable taking photos of 2-wheeled machines and used that experience to help me take photos of these 4-legged creatures (gasp! How dare I compare a horse to a bike). In all honesty though, in the world of photography, horses and bikes really aren’t that different. Many of the same photographic principles (technique, composition, lens choice) apply. I knew what lens would make him look his best and where to place the strobes to highlight and give depth to his coat. I also understood where I should aim the camera to compliment him.

I will be the first to admit that taking photos of bikes is far easier than taking photos of horses. Horses don’t perk their ears forward on demand, nor do they turn their neck when asked. And, at the slightest hint of fear or the unknown those ears go back fast and their nostrils flare which doesn’t make for flattering photos. While there are tricks (and, we used them all) patience is key for a successful, and safe, portrait.

Luckily, for me…I like horses and I have patience. As did the handler and co-owner of Laird, Candice. A mighty big thank you to her for her assistance handling her horse, and her endless supply of carrots and mints while I worked the camera and the flash.

I would love to have the opportunity to work with your horse. If you would be interested in a photo session please feel free to contact me so we can talk about what you can expect, how long it will take, prices and what type of photo you are after.

Thanks for reading!

Cecile

 

 

Mount Robson with an iPhone 7+

I left my cameras at home and relied solely on my iPhone 7+.

I recently took a 3 day camping trip into Mount Robson’s provincial park with my family. As my kids are still young they can only carry so much. We, the parents, have to carry the rest. So, I decided to leave my cameras at home in lieu of food, and clothing for chilly (and rainy,) September days.

Did I make the right decision? My back says yes. Would I have liked my big, heavy, cumbersome Nikon DSLR or even my smaller Fuji XT-2? Of course, but the ease of whipping out my iPhone from my pocket and not having to carry heavy gear in an already heavy backpack full of camping equipment was really, really nice.

I’m amazed at what cell phones can do these days and I really wanted to push myself and the phone to what it could do. I learned how to make the phone work for my style of photography. I like to take energetic photos but cell phones don’t typically do well freezing motion so you have to work around that. Example, I usually have my subject ride, or walk towards (or away) from me. Or, if they ride parallel to me I pan with them before I release the shutter. I also love the pano(rama) mode. But, it’s easy to over do the length of the shot and you have to constrain yourself.

I don’t have the latest phone out there and the photos are standard JPEGS. But, the photos are pretty good, IMO. It’s not until I zoom in close do I really see a difference in quality and detail. In other words, if you plan on keeping the photos for memories and sharing through various social media platforms than by all means – cell phone pics are great. If, however, I wanted to sell a photo, or print larger than a 4×6 than no. It all depends on the photo’s end use.

 

I Suck at Trials (me not them)

Fifty-one thousand, two hundred!!

Whaaat?

No, no…not him. It’s me just nerding out on some photo talk. Anytime I can mix in 2 wheels with photography I’m in heaven. I loved getting back behind the lens and in front of the action. Even in the rain, as it did this past weekend during a very important event that saw the best North American riders travel compete for an FIM Trials competition, and the CMA National Championships in Ioco, BC. Having the opportunity to watch the number 1 plate, Pat Smage from the USA, and our very own homegrown riders was indeed a treat and a very real reminder that I suck on the trials bike.

I made a conscious decision to not take photos close to the start line so I could be away from the masses. Instead I hiked deep into the woods to find the magic, the eye-candy – the lush, green, mossy rocks and massive tree-trunks – that BC rain forests are known for. I was rewarded with sublime colours, unequivocal quietness and unreal action as riders either scampered easily over boulders or, sampled dirt. The light was even but very sombre. I didn’t want to use flash so I could move easily in and out of sections and, relied instead on my D5. It’s a powerful camera and much like a rider with his motorcycle you have to know your equipment and, what it can and can’t do. Today I pushed it shooting in constant hard rain, and with high ISO’s.

The riders completed three loops and as fatigue set in the course became slicker as rain fell harder. Real giant bunny rabbits. That’s what trials riders remind me of hopping from one area to another. And, then there are splatters. Rabbits don’t do these (well, not on purpose) and it baffles my mind how suspension and gonads can work together to climb a vertical wall. Way cool.

Thanks to Christie Williams Richards, Steve Farcy and a host of other fine people from the CPTA for making this event happen. It takes a lot of planning, and time to put together a successful two day event. Getting off a mostly dry season I believe many riders were humbled at the sight of greasy rocks and roots. Made for an excellent challenge and show.

The photo of Wojo falling was taken at 51, 200 ISO. I know my equipment and I didn’t hesitate shooting at an ISO this high.

 

 

Not Just Another White Wedding

This is Laura and she’s just had the wildest white wedding ever. So wild in fact that her ‘husband’ never showed up.

No worries though…it was a fake wedding. You see, I was hired by Desiree Ellis – a very talented Hair and Make-Up Artist – to take photos of Laura showcasing Desiree’s make-up. I’ve worked with Desiree in the past and I love the energy she brings to the sessions. In fact, I’m sure our brides would rather spend more time with us than their husbands. It’s because we have fun and, we understand what you are going through.

We want to make you the best and the most beautiful you can be. We also want you to be relaxed. If that’s not enough, our photo sessions are anything but boring. We’ve had face-slapping winds, snowy skies, endless laughter, and missing husbands. We’ve had to redecorate entire apartments just to nab that perfect shot of our beautiful brides in white. And, by the end of a photo session, you feel great about yourself and can confidently, and unapologetically, say ‘F-you!’ … as was the case with Laura. Haha!

Desiree and myself want you to be real. Unfiltered. Strong. Our job as a Make-Up Artist and a Photographer is to bring out the best you. We work hard to make you beautiful and to create artistic and memorable photos that will stand up over time.

It’s important to choose the right professionals for a photo session. If you think my photographic style, and Desiree’s artistry is in line with your tastes, vision and personality than we’d love to hear from you. It doesn’t have to be a wedding…

 

 

Feature Artist: Shelley Brookes

My feature artist this week is Shelley Brookes. Over the past few months I have been working with Shelley taking photos of her paintings. She is from North Vancouver and her work speaks to me.

Most of her paintings are finished with a super, high gloss coating. While this makes for tricky photography the gloss creates a unique style rich in colours, depth and vision. In Shelley’s paintings, you will find hidden faces, both human and animal. Some are easy to spot while others take some imagination. But, it’s the ones that find you that are special – an energy, or force if you will – that speaks from the painting. I’m not sure how Shelley is able to tap into this but she does and it’s really cool!

The unnamed painting above is one of my favourites. It can be whatever you like but to me it speaks of Genesis. Life and death. Heaven and hell. A beautifully textured painting with deep orange and yellow hues. This piece took a while to photograph as I kept getting too much specular reflections off the wood and branch pieces in both the upper left and lower right corners. While some highlights are necessary to give us a visual cue that the painting is 3D, too much of it results in washed out colours and lack of detail. To compensate for this, I had to shoot in total darkness, and continuously adjust the angle of my studio lights and filters to minimise the reflections for an accurate representation of the painting.

Shelley will be exhibiting her works at Art! Vancouver from April 19-22, 2018. I encourage you to head to the show. I guarantee you will lose yourself in her paintings finding all sorts faces, shapes and forms!

I use professional equipment that is regularly maintained by Nikon Canada. Both my monitor and camera have been calibrated to achieve accurate colour representation. Artists receive a high quality TIFF file and I continue with the artist right through to the printing stage to make sure accuracy has been achieved. When printing, I recommend a professional lab. I use OPUS Fine Arts – they offer archival papers and inks and treat each file manually. I personally go to the North Vancouver store – the staff there understand the printing process and they are great to work with.

If you would like accurate, high quality digital files of your paintings or sculptures please contact me. Having your work digitized allows you the possibility to create fine art prints for sale, as well as having a record of your work for your portfolio or website.

 

Skinning with the Kids!

No, this isn’t a click-bait article and we did in fact go skinning with the kids this past weekend. It was our first time skiing in the backcountry as a family and as the term skinning suggests we skinned up and we skied down.

Before we got ourselves into trouble though we decided to hire a guide because we like our lives. Neither my husband or myself have our avalanche training so we played it safe. Our guide, Jean-Francois of Coast Mountain Guides, was friendly, knowledgeable, great with kids (he’s got two himself) and he speaks both French and English! As well as guiding us he also educated us on safety, snow packs, contour lines, weather and beacon training throughout the day. No wonder my little one didn’t want to go to school Monday morning. He most likely learned more in the 7 hours we were out over a week of school.

Backcountry skiing is something my husband and I had wanted to do for a while but had to wait for our children to be old enough. We like the idea of being able to go where few people do, surrounded by snow capped mountains and skiing in pristine powder. Our youngest is now 8 and our oldest is 10. They both ski very well and have no issues on single blacks at Whistler Blackcomb. Jean-Francois catered the route towards the kids to keep them happy so they would want to go again. Both kids were enthusiastic. Annnnd then we had lunch when our oldest decided to bust out the rescue shovel to create snow-furniture so he could sit properly to eat his lunch and our youngest – well – he just decided to dig a hole in the snow at the edge of the lake and dangle his feet in the slush. Ugh.

After lunch we skied out of the valley and towards our final climb of the day which would lead us to what JF affectionately called ‘Moon Rocks’. This would take us into our final descent out of the backcountry and into Blackcombs’ in-bound ski area. This is where ‘mommy-dearest’ fell one more time proving that I really suck at steep, narrow shoots. Let it be known that on Sunday, February 11, 2018 my kids have officially become better skiers than me. And for the record, I’d like to blame it on my skis that are 10cm longer than what I’m used to.

For equipment, we outfitted ourselves with brand new miss-drilled skis – David’s were 50% off the ticketed price – and backcountry style bindings with pins. All my gear were misfits as well – miss-drilled, miss-used and near misses. But, they were on sale. We found used rental boots, also on sale, and they didn’t stink. In fact, I don’t believe they were used more than 3-4 times as there were very little scuff marks. For our youngest we found a pair of new 2016 boots online. This was the last pair and on discount. We also hit the Whistler Blackcomb Outlet Store in Squamish and found a pair of used Atomic powder skis for the kids – fairly light and fat. For the bindings we bought new from Hagan – a small Austrian based company selling backcountry equipment with a US distributor. The bindings are relatively light, and versatile – fitting smaller boot sizes with a DIN from 2 to 7. We should be able to get 2-4 years before they out grow them.

We had an amazing time. My husband will be taking an avi course and I will follow up with mine soon after. This was an unforgettable experience that the entire family enjoyed. It doesn’t come without dangers though. Safety and experience is essential and not something to skimp on. If you don’t know your way around the back country than hire a guide. That’s what they are there for!

See what I did there? I put in that sentence about dangers so that you don’t attack me in the courts. I told you, and you read my post.

Interested in documenting your adventures or vacations? Or, having that unique family portrait that isn’t staged? I’m good at this. Let’s talk.