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.


Bikes ‘n Brides and Action!

Lately, my photos have taken on a new twist. That is, not a twist of the throttle – something I’m used to but one where I have been shooting more bridal and portraits in settings outside my norm.

For me, photography is an amazing experience as it allows me to grow creatively. Some times though, I wonder if I’m cut out for this and if my work is actually worth looking at. Aside from parenting, photography is hard. It’s hard finding clients and finding people who appreciate what I do and are willing to pay for my services as a professional photographer.

It takes time to create an image and I take each one of my opportunities seriously. I thank you all for your confidence in me. I am proud and beyond stoked at the images I have been able to create with you.


Braving a cold, damp, snowy, and foggy winter day typical of coastal BC we took longer than expected to wrap this shoot because the light and conditions kept changing. Each photo was as beautiful as the last and vastly different. We couldn’t of asked for better weather.

Make Up Artist – Desiree Ellis

Model – Ling Chen

Equipment – Nikon camera and Elinchrom Lights and Modifier

Sking with the Udovic family in Big White, BC. Accommodations for action photos? Heck ya! Sign me up. Perfect March break getaway as we loved our stay and all the kids got along. Perfect scenario for families with young kids as they more or less kept themselves occupied giving the parents some much needed adult time. Well…perfect until we gave them popcorn…but that’s another story.

Equipment – Nikon Camera with 70-200mm lens

Another very wet but beautiful month. I was lucky enough to explore some amazing mountain bike trails and share them with some very special pups as I needed photos for an article that was being published in Mountain Bike For Her Woof!

Equipment – Nikon camera and 70-200mm lens

Our family trip to Garibaldi Park was on a whole other level. It was one where I saw my boys grow stronger mentally and physically. The sheer vastness and grandeur of the park was a reminder how small we are in on earth yet how much of an impact we can have on her. I still can’t believe that we saw a handful of people the entire 4 days. Canada is truly an awesome country.

Equipment – Fuji XT-1 with kit lens

From winter like conditions in BC only a few days before to hot, summer days in Quebec. I had the opportunity to spend two weeks riding off-road motorcycles while photographing for Traction eRag during the inaugural Woods Runners trip.

Equipment – Nikon camera, 24-70mm and 70-200mm lens

Five river crossings, and close to 50km of riding. We took our boys mountain biking to celebrate my husbands 50th birthday in style. There was a bit of heckling at first as not all uphills were liked but in the end the boys had a great time. Thanks to Troy of Tyax Adventure for safely guiding us through grizzly country and navigating some fast, and deep water.

Equipment – Fuji XT-1 with 35mm lens

Just because we couldn’t get enough of our spring trip into Garibaldi we decided to hike our spring route backwards. This time instead of snow covered fields we saw plains of lava as history unfolded with each step we took. The boys liked this trip just as much except for the mosquitos.

Equipment – Fuji XT-1 with 35mm lens

With cold rainy days ahead we moved indoors for a photoshoot. This time with professional model Coco. The studio was booked for three hours and we three different outfits we made excellent use of props and walls going for two different looks – formal and edgy.

Model – Coco

Make-up Artist – Desiree Ellis

I had the opportunity to work with Shelley Brookes – an extremely talented painter.  This is the largest painting I have reproduced to date. As I checked for colour accuracy I was amazed at the different layers and images I could see inside her painting – hidden deep in contours, and colours I saw faces, animals and people.

Artist – Shelley Brookes

I’m hoping 2018 will be just as exciting and creative. If you have a project you’d like photographed please consider me. It’s what I love to do.


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!!



The Winter Blues Got You Down? Trying Riding. It’s a Bonafide Cure!

Winter. It’s cold and it’s beautiful. And just because there’s snow it shouldn’t mean you should stop riding.

The Bike:

For snow…fatter is better.

Honestly, I had no idea that fat-bikes were a game changer until I tried my friends’ Rick on a wet-snow kinda day. I was squirrely riding down on my regular mountain bike and barely making the uphills. The fatter tires in comparison gave me stability, control, traction and renewed confidence.

As much as I’d love to own my own fat-bike my bank account says otherwise. And I hate cheap, heavy equipment. Call me a snob but over the years I have gotten used to quality. So I rent. I found Flying Spirit Rentals based in Squamish, BC. They have high-end rentals. I can also rent bikes at the Whistler Olympic Park. They have both electric assist and non-assist bikes. And don’t think that having an e-bike is cheating. Riding in snow is just as hard regardless of your choice of weapon.

The Clothing:

I layer. And I usually have a big honking backpack with me to carry both my camera gear, food and extra clothes. I like to wear my ski helmet and goggles on colder days. I also find the goggles provide better protection on sunny days with a high UV factor and brightness from the snow.

For my feet I have a pair of 45NRTH Wölvhammer winter boots. They are equipped with Shimano SPD’s. And they rock. Warm, waterproof, rugged and built for cold, winter days. If I’m on flats I use a pair of warm, waterproof winter boots. While climbing clipless pedals make the job easier I also like the freedom of flats. On warmer days snow can also ice up rendering cleats useless.

On my face I always wear a balaclava. This is mostly because I’m a wimp to the cold and hate having chapped lips. But the main reason is to keep my cheeks warm so that the air entering my lungs has been warmed up slightly. For asthmatics this is important. Wheezing is not fun.

Finally, on my hands I alternate between a pair of Pearl Izumi Lobster Claws and a pair of Black Diamond gloves which are water resistant and windproof. In my bag I always carry an extra set of gloves as well as an extra pair of socks. Just in case.

The Fun-Factor:

The fun-factor is high. Very high. As is the sense of adventure and exploration. Skiing is fun too but the bicycle can take you places and it’s always an adventure. There are days when you can slice through powder and other days when the you get all squirrely. There are also crashes. But they usually don’t hurt.

So you see riding in winter doesn’t have to be scary. You just need to be prepared and have a positive attitude. Besides with a fat-bike you can ride anywhere you want, any time you want!


@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.

NYE 2015 with a Killer Light Show from Mother Nature

©Cecile Gambin Photography

Happy New Year!!

Spent the last day of 2015 teaching my eldest son to take landscape photos at Whyte Cliff Park, BC. This entire week Mother Nature has been giving us unreal light and sunset colours. While Santa gave me a Sony A7ii back in September, my eldest got a Nikon Coolpix and he was quite eager to use learn how to use it.

May 2016 be everything you want it to be. As for myself…looking forward to more photo sessions with my kids 🙂