Best of 2017

I figured the window of time where a 2017 recap is still appropriate is quickly closing, so I'm sliding in there last-minute before it's too late. Otherwise soon it'll be like, Ashley it's June why are you talking about last year?

Sounds like something I would do.

2017 was a crazy year for growth. Between school and building my business, I've seen a huge improvement in where I'm at and where I'm going, and that's so exciting! There are few things more satisfying than being able to see visual proof that we are growing, learning, and moving ahead. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite photos I took this year, and maybe recap why I love them. I hope you'll stick with me here. 

This was my first shoot of 2017. Classic bath-boudior shoot, but it's one of my favorite boudoir shots I've done yet. Tina (IG) is such a wonderful human being, and her colourful personality and look is so fun to capture.

I love New York City for a lot of reasons ($1 pizza, Shake Shack, Broadway) but mostly because of the architecture. I was so excited to get to shoot the Oculus, and it did not let me down.  It's almost overwhelming to take in visually, you can't look at its entireity all at once.

This day in March, my partner and I had gone to Toronto for me to shoot an assignment and I came up completely empty. We were heading back to Union Station and I saw this building. I've shot it a bunch of times since, but this is my favorite shot of it. I noticed a bunch of birds kept doing laps and then sitting for a while. It was decided I was going to wait for this shot, despite the fact that it was cold and my hands were shaking and my partner was a little annoyed with me for making him freeze. He understood once he saw the shot, though.

Everything about this reminds me of spring. Mabel (IG) had never done a photoshoot before, but she was so good. Also, nailing that Rembrandt lighting using the sun made me pretty happy.

I got to shoot Billy Talent this summer, which was a literal dream come true. They were one of the bands that made me fall in love with music and getting to merge my passions in this moment was everything to me. It was a moment that made me wish I could go back to my angsty, confused, sad 12-year-old self and let her know that there will be some cool stuff ahead.

I was able to tick off "have one of my photographs be on an album cover" off my bucket list this year. The Dreamboats used this photo for their new album. You can check out the final album artwork and the songs HERE. They recently gave me a physical copy, and seeing it printed on the cover felt really cool!

This photo is from the first engagement shoot I ever did. Paul & Olivia were great first subjects! This was also the first time I tried the Nikon 105mm f1.4 lens, and realized it was everything I needed in my life. 

One day you'll be mine.

We took this photo in my basement with lightbulbs, white umbrellas, and a grey backdrop. This photo taught me you don't need a fancy set up to make cool things. Work with what you have.

The day previous to this photo being taken, Evan (IG) and I spent hours in the studio trying to nail one photo, just one photo, for a portrait assignment for school. It so clearly wasn't working, and I felt defeated. This was a day where I sat back and wondered if I just actually sucked, or if I was only having an off day. We went home, and I tried to recalibrate. I spent time searching through photographs, trying to find some inspiration. A photo that Annie Leibovitz did for Prada came up, and I was in complete awe. I decided I would try to recreate it in my own way. We went back the next day, and we banged out this shot relatively quickly. 

If I learned anything here, it was that sometimes you need to step away from things, breathe, and try again later.

This shot is different from the rest of my work, and it was so challenging in every way, from the execution in the studio to the composite and editing process. I felt truly accomplished when I finished this photo.

This photo of Michelle (IG) makes me want to pack my bags and go on an adventure. 

I have been really enjoying leaving parts of the surroundings in my photos, letting the raw elements come into frame. We didn't really have any plans when we were shooting this session, but some of my favorite photos came out of it.

I don't even have much to say about this one. I just love it. I love creating art with this woman. (You can see Marah's work here)

After dealing with the emotional ordeal that was my self-portrait assignment for school, I decided I needed an overhaul of the way I talk and treat myself. This self-portrait, which was taken for me and not for school, was the beginning of that. It's me trying to look at myself differently, and celebrating myself. 

And there you have it! Culling this list down was extremely hard, but I figured at some point you'd be bored with me.

Here's the rub though: I can't even show you my absolute favorite shot of 2017.  It's under wraps for a client's project. But believe you me, I'll shout it from the rooftops when I can release it. 

Christine & Bryan

I'm not sure if I consider myself a helluva romantic, but photographing love seems to really bring that side out in me. I truly enjoy getting to shoot with couples and create honest, and sometimes silly, moments of pure cuteness in front of my lens.

Christine had made it abundantly clear that her and her partner, Bryan, don't like being photographed and it was going to be weird. But I have yet to actually be deterred by anyone who says that to me.

Psst, everyone says that! And they are ALWAYS wrong! Case in point:

I would call myself fairly quirky and silly, so a couples session with me won't be too posed, too cheesy, or stiff. I will talk a lot, give you weird prompts (this shot above is the aftermath of one of those prompts), and try to pull out as many candid laughs as I can. Love is fun, silly, messy, and pure, and I think your photos should reflect that, at least most of the time.

Don't get me wrong, I like a nice posed photo thrown in there though.

In the end, it's most important that you enjoy yourself during a photo session. And I personally have always enjoyed myself too, and hope my clients have as much fun as I do. Christine & Bryan were a blast to shoot with, and I am in love with the photos we captured on that day.

Let me know what you think!

Paul & Olivia - Engagement Session

I was really excited to get to shoot Paul & Olivia's engagement photos. Until the recent demise of HMV Canada, I had worked with Paul for a while and while I didn't know Olivia, I knew Paul was a big gooey dork underneath his bushy beard when it came to her and I was excited to get to capture that (and have proof to show our coworkers!).  

We took these photos at Jack Darling Park, which is located on the lake shore in Mississauga, ON. The park was busier than I expected; we arrived to find it overtaken with families and groups that had moved in for the day, complete with tents and barbeques, something we sure didn't do when I was a kid! We found a small gap in the waterfront underneath a willow tree and decided to move in. 

These two were all smiles and laughs and it was nearly effortless to capture them being naturally themselves, silly, sweet and in love. With the sun setting through the trees behind us, we settled in at the rocks on the water to knock off some more shots before the light was lost. At the end of the night, I spotted the ice cream truck that gave us our final shot, one that brought the shoot together neatly. If I had to sum up the shoot with one shot, it would be that one.

*Click on a photo to see full-size.

Farrell & The Tale of Gear Failure

Photographers put so much trust into our gear - trust that it's going to help us do what we want to achieve the outcome we are looking for, and trust that it's not going to fail mid-way through. Gear failure is a bit gut-wrenching.

I showed up to the parking garage in Kensington Market to shoot with Farrell with my camera in hand, ready to take some portraits with the Toronto skyline looming in front of us. A few frames in, something seemed wrong; Farrell wasn't in focus. I tried trouble shooting, but I came to the unfortunate conclusion that my camera was back-focusing, which meant it needed some TLC from the good people at Nikon and it wasn't going to be fixed then and there. 

Patient Farrell made lots of silly faces while I tried to get my bearings, and I decided I was going to go manual focus. I have photographer friends who go manual focus most of the time (legends!), but I wear glasses and can't see well far away, so trying to be precise and depending on these ol' eyes is not a great combination. But you do what you have to do to get the shots, right?

It wasn't easy, but it was definitely a lesson in patience (for both of us, I reckon) and in the end we came away with some good shots, boisterous laughs, and a sense of accomplishment. I felt lucky this snafu happened when it did, as I had a company event to shoot the next day, and luckily had a second camera at home to save the day. Lesson learned? Test gear meticulously before a shoot, and bring a backup if you can. What a rookie mistake!

Have you ever had gear fail on the job, photography related or not? I'm curious how it went! Let me know below!