formerly Dragon Hare Studios

Myrnam Grad Portraits | Combining

Reimagined Portrait Art – It’s spring of 2020 and the combines are running over the hills. There’s something really wrong with that image for a farm girl like me.

Now in the fall, I photograph a lot of grads with the machine they spend many hours in tracking back and forth across the land they grew up on. That is when I should see them out!

This family is seeped in their farmland so it was a natural background to use Joey the John Deere combine with Seth’s older sister on her graduation.

Not to be outdone, I photographed Seth with the New Holland combine. I can’t decide which of the two images is my preferred portrait!

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    St Paul Family Portraits | The Real ‘Cost’ of Portraits

    Four things have happened this week that inspired this blog post. Each of these events were completely unrelated, but they each got me thinking about the real cost, or value of our photographs.

    Earlier in the week, a woman stopped in to the studio and asked me for pricing information to print a canvas portrait. In speaking with her, I came to find out that she was looking to print her family portraits taken a few years ago by a friend that liked to play in photography. Upon looking at the image, I discovered to her dismay, that the print quality/resolution was too poor to be reproduced as a wall portrait. The images were fine for viewing on a computer at a small size, or on a cell phone, but they could not be printed. This woman asked specifically for a disc from her friend so that she could reproduce the images she wanted with ease – but it had taken her years to ask me to print them for her, and then she discovered that she couldn’t have a single print of them. A disc is not a photograph, it is a form of media storage. It is not the same thing as having a print framed on the wall in a place of honour in your home.

    We photographed a new Mom this week who shared with us her experience with her wedding photographer. She and her fiancee hired a photographer based solely on pricing. The photographer spent their wedding day looking for posing ideas on pintrest on her cell phone, and she failed to get a few key portraits at the wedding – a portrait of the bride with her Mom and Dad, among a few others. The photographer was so focused on finding “fun” photographs of the couple with their wedding party, that she missed getting those photographs that were truly the most important photographs for the bride. The bride’s memories of her wedding are just that, memories, she doesn’t have photographs to go with those memories.

    For the past few months, my youngest son, who never met his Uncle who passed away in 2009, has been “chatting” with his Uncle every night. He runs to his photograph, pointing and jabbering and very clearly saying Uncle. My son will never have any memories of his Uncle alive, but he knows his Uncle is very much a part of our family through his portrait and the stories his older siblings share with him. Brian and I have frequently said how grateful we are to have this portrait in our house because it means so much to our children and it helps us keep their Uncle alive in their memories.

    The last thing that really brought all of these events together for me happened this morning. I was sad and my daughter asked me why. I told her it was the fifth anniversary of my brother’s death today. She told me that she really only had one strong memory of her Uncle now, and that was playing on the swing with him at the farm, every time she came towards him, he would pretend that she was kicking him and knocking him over. She said she remembered laughing so hard at her Uncle being so silly. I brought some photos of her Uncle out that I had and in them, was a photograph of her memory. She immediately burst into tears, crying so hard. It broke my heart, but I was so grateful to give to her a portrait of her memory, to give her something tangible that she can hold because she was so worried she was losing her memories of him.

    It was a pretty powerful moment for me to watch my daughter discover the true power of a photograph. It is just a candid snap of a seemingly unimportant moment at the time, but as it turned out, it has become one of my daughter’s truly most treasured moments in her life. My daughter cannot remember her favorite outfit from that time, or the kind of vehicle we had, or what she got for Christmas that year or even the trip we took to DisneyWorld when she was around that same age. She can’t remember any of the things in life that are deemed important and are desired. But she can remember a sunny afternoon on the farm when her Uncle came over to play on the swing with her.

    This blew me away in that moment and it made me think of this quote:

    We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

    We never know when the most minor of a moment will become one of the most powerful moments in our life. We don’t know the true value of our photographs until it is too late. We get wrapped up in the price, the cost, and creating big moments that we forget there is more to life than that.

    The most powerful moment in my daughter’s life has an actual photograph of the memory. My daughter can show this photograph to her daughter. She can laugh with me when she remembers her Uncle’s antics and together we can cry over the photograph which helps keeps this man alive in our hearts. This image is not a file on a computer, it is a real tangible thing. This one single photograph to my daughter is priceless. The two women above do not have this.

    I encourage you strongly to take into consideration these two women’s experience, and my daughter’s when considering a photographer. Photography is an investment. It is much more that pressing a button and burning a disc. There is a science involved, one that takes years to master. There is expensive gear to maintain, and training in how to operate it. There is insurance, business licenses and taxes just like any other business. Before you seek pricing information from a photographer, you should be researching that aspect. What recourse do you have if you receive a disc of images that are not sized correctly and you do not discover this mistake until a few years later? Does your photographer understand the importance of resolution, white balance and proper exposure? Do they carry insurance, pay taxes, maintain extensive back up systems? Do they have the experience and confidence to capture all of those important moments that occur in a wedding day? Or do they guess on exposure, hope it works out and copy what others have done off of pintrest? After asking about all that, ask about price.

    Just remember, this seemingly small moment in your life, could be one that becomes the most powerful. The old adage of you get what you pay for is still true. Please take time to check out the photographer you are hiring, be sure they have the experience they need to do the job you are asking them to do because the real cost of a photograph is priceless, especially when it happens to be of a little moment, turned big.

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      Vermilion Family Portraits | The Bucket List

      Dragon Hare Studios – You know that special list of things you dream of doing in this life?  The bucket list, the one that keeps dreams alive and hope in our hearts?  As I get caught up in life with five  young children, a business and every other part of life, sometimes it feels like those dreams are super far away.  This year though, I crossed off a pretty major bucket list item – in fact, it was my #1.  I used to dream of being an astronaut when I was little.  I was fascinated by the night sky and wanted to reach out and touch it.  As I grew up, the logistics of being astronaut set in – multiple degrees, flying in planes etc.  I chose a different path for my journey but my fascination still has not disappeared.  One of my goals for myself as a photographer is to tackle astrophotography!

      On January 10, at 4:47am, I was standing on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, five miles from SpaceX’s Dragon rocket as it launched into outspace to make history (first time a booster was caught in an attempt to reuse them!).  I had my camera set up but was quite frankly, more interested in experiencing it than photographing it!

      We could see the lights on the rocket across the water, then a slow glow started that grew larger until the Dragon took off.  We watched it glow until just below the clouds in this image, and then the sound waves hit us.  Up until this time, it was eerily quiet.  I saw the ocean rippling out in front of us and the ripples grow closer until the sound wave hit us.  It grew and grew in intensity, not extremely loud, but so incredibly intense.  It was not a sound that we heard so much as felt in our whole body.  Incredible!  We found out at Kennedy Space Center the day before that the sound wave would kill a human if they were within three miles of the launch!

      Then SpaceX grew to the point where it was just a star glaring above us and then disappeared and moments later, the sound disappeared too.  We all stood there in awe of this spectacle.  What a simply amazing experience.  The crowd gathered along the beach with us broke into spontaneous applause!

      Instead of satisfying my desire to watch a rocket launch, it’s only fueled the fire in me.  At Kennedy Space Center, I stood within feet of a space shuttle, saw the Vehicle Assembly Building and the launch pads where they shuttles flew from and press row where the press watch all launches from!  We actually saw Dragon sitting on the launch pad ready to fly!!!  My new bucket list item, the new thing that will keep me dreaming is to sit in press row and photograph launches.  I was so excited the night before that I couldn’t sleep for fear I would miss it!

      The cool part of this journey for me, is that I have a photo of it.  I also have a photo of me sitting with my camera and the launch going up.  This is one of those key life moments, I will remember it forever, but I will have portraits to keep all of those emotions fresh within my memories!

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        Vermilion Seniors Portraits | In Memory of Marion

        There are two times in my life, while I was growing up, that I ever wore a seat belt. One was on our once a year journey to the big city of Edmonton to see my maternal Grandparents. The other, was any time I got in a vehicle with my paternal Grandma Ross.

        My grandma had a little red car that she called her “puddle jumper”, and jump puddles it could – as well as clear the tops of hills, take corners on two wheels and miss colliding with stationary objects by just the narrowest of margins. Of course, all of that would be at a high rate of speed. People always tell me that I drive like a Grandma, and I burst out laughing and say “then you never met my Grandma”. When I helped my Grandma deliver the local meals on wheels, I remember climbing in the car and praying. We’d fly around corners and she’d stand that car up on it’s end when she stopped. I was always amazed that as we took the meals into their recipients that not one single pea was ever out of place. I was never sure how she managed it for she certainly left a few finger waving farmers in her dust on delivery days. Those meals never did get a chance to cool off on Grandma’s watch!

        It never mattered to my Grandmother that I was the shyest, quietest one of the bunch of her 15 grandchildren, every time I saw her, she would touch my cheeks with her hands, kiss me and say “hello dear”. She was a little sprite of a thing – my feet were bigger than hers when I was five, and I grew taller than she at the age of 8 which isn’t saying much as my family is not known for our height! She may have been little, but she could pack a punch in her words and I knew I’d best mind myself. One day, I was heading off to school from her house as my class was being used to film a story on the twinning of highway 16. It was the “in” thing to wear little keds running shoes with no socks which is exactly what I was doing. Grandma would not let me out of the house in such a manner. I tried to explain to her how dorky it would look to wear socks but she’d have none of it – she lent me a pair, complete with pom pom’s hanging off the end. I was in horror of the fancy little socks that were a few sizes too small for my big hoofers but there was no way that tiny lady was letting me out of her house without them. All the way to school I debated the wisdom of either yanking off the pom poms or better yet, sticking them in my pockets but I valued my life! I knew if I stopped to take them off, one of her many friends would tattle on me and I’d be in for it. Imagine, my immense teenage despair when I found out the commercial was to videotape our feet getting off the school bus. Fantastic, a close up of my pom pom’ed feet. I did inform Grandma of this horror, but she of course did not see what the issue was! After that, I wore socks to Grandma’s house, even in my sandals!

        My grandmother taught me my most practical lessons in life – how to do long division, how to back up a truck into the berry bushes to get the biggest, juiciest ones from the top branches, how to butcher a chicken without missing a single feather (by handing off to Grandpa with the blow torch ready of course), how to strip a gizzard or prepare a fresh heart for the evening meal, that Bible study is an important part of life, how to let a child know that his/her best behavior was expected without ever raising a voice or a hand, how to power shop while evading the man folk (Grandpa hated stores because he would always “lose” Grandma, but really, she just knew how to shop around where he wasn’t looking for her), that a proper lady does not slurp her tea nor grip the cup as though one is holding a baseball bat, and that chicken fat makes the absolute best cookies! (seriously could have done without some of those lessons!)

        My grandma has spent the past few years locked in her memories. It was at this time, more than any other in my life, that I truly learned about her. I loved to sit with her and ask her questions, usually one was all it took. I’d ask her what it was like to go to “normal school” in the 30’s, or to teach in a one room school house and Grandma would start to tell me about life then. While it was hard to lose the Grandma I knew to her memories, it helped me to know the woman she was before she became my Grandmother. Some of my most precious memories are not from the days when she was one of my care givers, but from the days when I had to help her eat her lunch, or calm her so she could head for bed, or quiet her anxiousness when she could not find her “Willie”, my grandfather who passed four years ago this month. All I had to do was tell her Grandpa was out at the farm as the cows had gotten out, then I’d say, you know Grandma, if we wait a bit longer, we won’t get sworn at for trying to help. She’d giggle and all would be ok in her world again as we giggled about what swears our names turned into on cattle moving day. I never had her as a substitute teacher, but I saw the teacher in her come out, as she’d take my small children by their hand, and help them count or color or participate in the daily craft or listen to her as she discussed the day’s lesson plan for social studies.

        When I entered junior high, my grandma sat me down for “the talk”. It’s not what you think. See my grandmother lived with the motto “she who dies with the most great grandchildren, wins”. Each of us grandchildren got the talk at an early age – she informed us that we had one job, and one job only in life……to bless her with lots of great grandchildren! She loved each and everyone of her great grandchildren, and here she indeed was blessed. My youngest was #29, and he is not the youngest great grandchild! When I brought Kaiel to meet her, she couldn’t always remember who I was, but as soon as I said “Grandma, meet your newest great grandchild”, her arms were held up and I was told to “hand him over”. She held him, and instantly fell in love with him. I told her it was my fifth baby and she told me that I was just like her now, that she had five children too and it was the perfect number! She is one of the few people in my life that understands my joy in my large crew of children! My children enjoyed visiting great grandma, and even if she could not remember them from day to day, they, like myself, always felt her love.

        Last week, this world gained another angel in my grandmother, and yesterday her immense family packed a church to say goodbye. Again, I sat amongst the hundreds of photographs that told the history of a lifetime and had to choose just a few that would sum up my Grandma’s life. I find that a very difficult task, to narrow down 98 years into one five minute show. How do I show the world who this very dear woman was to me? One thing is for certain, all the photos showed the very heart of this family! On my last good visit with her, I told my Grandma that I loved her, she replied to me “I know that dear, aren’t I lucky?”. It was I that was the lucky one. God speed my dearest Grandma, your sunshine shall always be missed.

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          Vermilion Child Portraits | It’s all about the light!

          Photography means quite literally “to write with light”. For 18 years, I struggled with this aspect of photography. I read book after book, I mastered manual exposure controls, understood the rules of composition and focus, but that elusive quality of light continue to elude me. I took photography classes, both online and in person, went to seminars and read blogs, but none of them spoke about light. Light is the very definition of photography. It should be the very basis of everything taught about photography but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not for the simple reason that very few people take the time to master it.

          On the very first day of classes at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. My instructor began his lesson with light. I was *finally* getting the information on that aspect of photography, somebody was finally explaining to me the very essence of light. It put a huge smile on my face that has been there ever since. In this day and age, anyone with a dSLR camera can be called a photographer for there are no requirements to enter this industry. There is no test to take, no board exam, most work from home so they don’t even bother with business licenses, business liability insurance or worry about taxes. There is no requirement to understand light. I know this, because I’ve taken classes from, and picked the brains of photographers in business who couldn’t teach me light. I went to a college for a program in photography, and there they taught me to photograph photos to my favorite poem. I took an online class that taught me to use a large aperture to photograph macros of flowers. I took every sports photography book out of the library and chased my children around a soccer pitch and learned to use a fast shutter speed for sports photography. I went to Hallmark and finally learned about light.

          Light is the very basis of photography. It is everywhere in our life, a lamp to read by, a sunbeam streaming through a window, sunlight reflecting on snow that makes us squint when we drive, but how does it work, what does it do and how does a camera read it. Ever since Hallmark, I have become less of a photographer and more of a light chaser. Light is ever changing, I watch it dance on my living room wall in the early morning amazed at what it can do, I watch it wrap my children’s faces in awe, at it’s simple beauty and theirs. I let it bring life to the images I create. And I spend my life following it.

          It is for this reason, I consider myself to forever be a student of photography. I will constantly continue to learn about light, to see it better, to use it to sculpt an image, to bend it, bounce it, flag it, smooth it or use it to add feeling to my images.

          When I took this image, I was sitting on my couch and my daughter peeked out our living room window at the snow. Her face lit up with awe at it’s falling beauty. I saw the light open up and wrap her face in that awe. I was mesmerized by this light and I grabbed my camera and photographed it. This image would not be as strong without this soft light. This light that is wrapping her face, the light that is highlighting her feeling of awe and rapture is bouncing it back from within her. There was no photoshop work done on this image, it just is. Just the way I took it. This image is to me, all about light. Hers. And it is a beautiful light.

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            Vermilion Senior Portraits

            This portrait is a photograph of my maternal grandfather:

            While it is a lovely portrait of him, it does not say anything about who he is to me. You see, my Grandpa was a seed cleaning plant manager. He moved a lot and it was never near us. I saw my Grandpa twice a year, once in January when he came to Edmonton for the annual convention, and once in July, when he and my Grandma would come to the farm for a visit. In the span of a childhood, eight days every year is not very much. How do you carve a relationship out of that? I have vague memories of going to Edmonton to see him, of spying them in the hotel and being so excited to see them, but my stronger memory of those visits is walking through the pedway system to have lunch with all of my Aunts, Uncles and cousins as well. I’m a small town girl, it always befuddled me that we could walk through a tunnel and turn up somewhere else in the city.

            My paternal grandparents on the other hand, I saw every single day growing up. I have thousands of memories of them, doing all sorts of things. But I have very few of this Grandpa. The memories of him that I do have, are all very distinct to me because there is something amazing about this man. He grew up in a family with 13 siblings, his family was very poor, and he only made it to about grade eight he figures. He stumbled onto the job for the grain co-op, he got lucky he says, but then he says he was smart enough to know a good thing when he saw it. He got married, had five children of his own and has 14 grandchildren, a whole mess of great grandchildren that he is immensely proud of, and two great great grandchildren! When I told him I was pregnant with our fifth baby, he patted my hand and said “it’s about time someone in this family matched Grandma and I”. He doesn’t need fancy things in his life, and has never had them, but to me, what is most amazing about him, is his natural gift with music.

            You see, my grandfather can play any instrument you hand him, he’s built his own instruments, he’s played in countless bands and every Saturday night saw him up on the stage playing for a crowd. But, he knows not one note of music. He can’t read music. He can play any old time song, can pick up the tune of a new song within seconds, but he doesn’t know a single note. His music sheets are simply the title in my Grandmother’s hand writing, with the key the song is played in. Pages and pages of titles, and he only has to look at them, sit back and play it from his heart. My strongest memories of my grandfather from childhood, is of sitting down on the grass in front of him, listening to him play – usually the saxophone, but also the accordion, among others. Once he found a guitar, he brought it down and gave it to me. He held it in his arms and taught me how to play a few strands of Free Falling, when I repeated exactly what he did, he just grinned at me and declared “that girls got music too”.

            I wanted to photograph my Grandpa, but I didn’t want just a portrait of him. I wanted to photograph him as he is in all my memories of him. I wanted to tell the story of how I see him, of what he is to me. For the first time in my life, I live near my Grandpa. I can go see him whenever I want, and I bring over to the studio just so he can sit and visit with me while I work. He especially likes it when I bring him over on “fish day”, and he enjoys his hot dog and “chips” (french fries) without any ketchup. He talks about life when he was growing up, and never in a bad way. He is wise, and I learn a lot from him. But my favorite time with him is still when he brings out his saxophone and plays for me. I always ask for the Log Rollers Waltz, it’s hands down my favorite and I sing along with him.

            It was all this, that I wanted represented in his portrait. I wanted to tell the story of him, and what it means to have his music in my life. When I showed him this portrait, he said to me “that just about does it Kim”. Then he laughed and said “we did a good job, me and you, making that picture”.

            This then, is my 91 year old Grandfather, a musician like none other that I know. His music fills every memory of him that I have and right beside him, is his music, titles only, written out by my Grandmother. This is his story.

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              Vermilion Wedding Portraits

              Reimagined Portrait Art – You likely don’t need to take a close look to see that these two images look very different. You may need to look closer to see that it is the same bride and groom. What if I told you they were photographed on the same day, at the same time of day in the same location. How can they look so different?

              It’s simply a difference in the technical skill used to create these images.

              If you look very closely at the image on the left, you will see that the sky and the wedding dress is over exposed. You can not see any of the fantastic lace detail on that gown or see that it is actually a perfect summer’s day with fluffy white clouds in the sky. The subject’s faces are actually in shadow as the sun is up and behind them.

              This means that the sky/dress are actually a brighter exposure than the bride/groom.

              Look at the richness in colors in the right image, look at the detail in the dress, the sky, suit and their faces. In the left image, can you see clearly their faces or the lace that bride chose to wear for her groom? You can’t. 

              Why?  Because they are overexposed!  They are blown out!  A white sky in a portrait is a sign that the photographer did not control or balance the exposure. 

              A white wedding dress with no detail means also that the photographer did not control the exposure.

              In order to create the image on the right, I have to balance the difference of exposure between the ambient light from the sun/sky with the subject’s faces that are actually in shadow. I either have to take away light from the sun or add light to bring the exposure on them up.  

              When clients first see my portraits, many asked if this was a “photoshopped”!

              This is not a photoshop trick – the secret is in the details, changing the sky in photoshop would still have left the dress overexposed with no details!  The colors and richness that you see in the grass, the canola, the clothing and the flowers would still be washed out like the left image if I had just replaced the sky!

              Balancing the exposure takes considerable knowledge of gear, light and exposure, as well as some math to get the job done!  I would much rather get the colors, exposure and details correct in my camera than spend time in photoshop fixing poor exposure control! 

              For this reason, I carry a lot of fire power on location so I can compete with the sun!   The next time you hire a photographer, look carefully at their portfolios.  Look at the dress and the sky in their work! 

              Balancing light takes a lot of experience, training and gear! 

              If the vast majority of their images are overexposed, or they say their favorite time to photograph is on cloudy days (on cloudy days there are no dark shadows so the exposure is closer together and easier to expose), well now you know why!

              At Reimagined, I have fire power to ensure every detail of your day is recorded and not forgotten!

              Thank you for considering Reimagined Portrait Art to photograph your next milestone on your journey.

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                Vermilion Farm Family Portraits | An Evening with the Burns Family

                Reimagined Portrait Art – I could have photographed this family in jeans and tshirts against a colorful autumn tree background.

                I could have but I think it would have missed a significant part of who this family is. They train together, they save lives together. I guarantee that those two little men are going to grow up with an ample supply of hero’s in their home!

                Are you ready to create a portrait that defines you as a family? Contact me at 780 259 0005 as I’d love to work with you and your family!

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                  Wainwright Grad Portraits | The daredevils

                  Reimagined Portrait Art – While I can take a pretty portrait of your grad in a gown that will tell you what school they graduated from, in five years from now, that portrait will tell you nothing about who they are.

                  What if they are daredevils? What if they feel most at home flying through the air on a dirt bike? What if the greatest rush they get is sitting at a start gate with a dozen other bikes revving their engines. Can you tell that from a formal cap n gown?

                  Don’t get me wrong, I think all grads need that formal portrait too, but I just like to tell a little bit more about their story!

                  Whether you have a dare devil or a gamer, a ballerina or an aggressive forward, a book worm or soon to be mechanic covered in oil – I want you to have those portraits too that will remind you in five, ten or fifty years of who they were at this important milestone.

                  If you are interested in discussing grad portraits, reach out to me through my social media or contact page! I promise I don’t bite and I have product options for all budgets! I’d love to be your Vermilion grad photographer!

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                    Viking Wedding Photographer | Redneck Alter

                    Reimagined Portrait Art – I am a storyteller. I want my portraits to share the story about the people who are in the photograph. I can take a traditionally posed portrait, or I can put in a bit more effort; we can plan in advance and set up a reimagined portrait that tells the story of who the people are in the image.

                    Can you imagine this couple’s great great grandchildren looking at this image? What are they going to know about people they never knew?

                    Each year, the Olympics of the photography world are held with teams competing from around the world in six different categories. In 2018, this image was selected to represent Team Canada in the wedding category! It was a great honor to see my name up among those mentors I look up to! While the image didn’t make it past the finalist stage, it gives me great incentive to keep pushing my technical skills!

                    Are you getting married soon? Do you want an amazing memory of the biggest day of your life? Give me a call at 780 259 0005 or connect with me on social media or through my contact page and let’s start planning your wedding day photography! I’d love to be your Vermilion wedding photographer!

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                      Vermilion, AB