Tuesday, May 8, 2012


So - the big news is that after 7 years of saying "someday",  I just moved into a new studio space :) The story behind the big news goes like this..

Lately, with the help of the awesome Selina Maitreya as a coach and guide, I have been taking some time to look at the big picture of my business and life and really being conscious about considering where I would like to go with both. Selina has been a consultant to photographers for something like 30 years, and I've been doing her program (The Photographers Path) for a number of months now. The point of it - which sounds deceptively simple - is to figure out or remember what it is you truly love to shoot, and then build your business on a much narrower niche than you probably have in the past so that you are shooting what you love. Since you're lucky enough to love what you do, you'll be passionate in your execution of the work and it will show in your fantastic portfolio and very happy clients. There's a certain amount of faith involved - a bit of an "if you build it, they will come" kind of mentality - but it's been one of the most amazing processes I've ever been through.

I believe in Fate. I met my husband in the South of France a few years ago when our separate vacations to Nice overlapped by a few days - if that's not Fate, I don't know what is. It gives you this dizzy auto-pilot sort of feeling, when you're just doing what you're doing even though it may seem totally crazy to those around you - because you "know" it's what you're meant to be doing. Well, my friends, this was similar.

Back in March there was a show called The Artist Project down at the CNE in Toronto. A couple of months before that, a fabulously talented artist named Tanya Kirouac hired me to photograph her new work for the show. I don't know if you've ever been at a small-scale commercial photo shoot, but it's really just the two or three of you working very closely together all day - and you talk. Tanya and I talked about Art. And we talked about her show coming up, which she very kindly gave me a ticket to. Seeds had been planted in my imagination, although I'm not sure I realized it yet.

About a week before the show I got an email from my lovely friend Carolyn. We hadn't seen each other in quite a while, and in her email she mentioned that she wanted to get back into painting and making art again - even though that might sound "crazy" - and I thought it would be perfect if we went to check out this show together. We went with the intention of spending a couple of hours, and before we knew it 6 hours had flown by. It was awesome. We had such a great time, and I felt like I was floating on a cloud of inspiration over the following days and weeks :) Those unknown seeds were starting to sprout...

The only problem was this: being an "artist" was REALLY far from my current business model (haha) and something I hadn't even really dared to dream about since high school. I struggled (and I think so did Norman) with trying to imagine such a huge shift in what I use my photography for.

A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with another amazing artist to discuss cataloguing her portfolio. Christine Kim told me a quick story about the point when she realized she wanted to be doing her art full-time. She said "you know when you go off-course and the GPS lady says "recalculating"? That's what it felt like. I spent about a week recalculating." This was exactly it. I needed some time to get my head around how this would fit into my life. In marketing terms, it's "repositioning". No matter what you call it, it's the most terrifying and exhilarating point my business has ever been at.

One of the other artists I spoke to at the show was a photographer/painter named Suzanne Ernst, whom we had met at the One of a Kind show a few months earlier. I was talking to her about the experience of doing shows, and she told me that applications for the Queen West Art Crawl in September were due at the end of the month. "Just apply" was what she said, and something in the simplicity of how she said it made it seem easy. So I did. Haven't heard back yet, so we'll see what happens.. {*update!* I've been accepted into the show, so now I'm in a state of blissful urgency getting ready for it!}

All this is sort of to explain what I've been going through in my head over the past months. And also to explain why I'm a photographer who just moved into a studio space that isn't really a shooting space. It's  a making space. I plan to be making beautiful pieces there, though I don't quite know what they'll look like yet!

When I look back at goals that I've set personally and for my business over the past few years, TRAVEL is the biggest consistent. I thought (and still think) "isn't it great that I have a job that allows me time to travel?" Now I'm starting to think - what if all the amazing experiences and things that I love about travelling could be made into works of art that would be a "real world" version of what it feels like inside my heart to be in these places and see these things?? I think it just might be awesome :)

Will I still be shooting commercial work? YES - only now I've really narrowed down who I want to work with. The people who have always been my favourite commercial clients: the Makers. Fashion designers. Jewellers. Ceramic artists. Glass artists. Painters. Multi-media artists. Interior designers. I love working with the awesome clients I currently have (here are some of them), and I love meeting and chatting with potential new clients.

Will I still be shooting weddings and babies? YES - I love LOVE. I love the emotions, the moments, and the beautiful details of these amazing parts of people's lives. I love building these relationships until I'm practically part of the family. I love designing gorgeous albums for my couples. I'm really looking forward to doing more of the awesome custom collages we just started offering.

Sheep, Northern Ireland

So what's going to change? Those thousands (and I'm not exaggerating!) of images I have stored on various hard drives in folders called "personal", all my travel images and other stuff that I shoot for pure joy, will finally see the light of day :) Norman has been gently pushing for two years now for me to print up and show my pictures of Northern Ireland, and I also have some beautiful images from Mexico, Paris, the south of France, Amsterdam, and Spain. This fall we are going to Japan, which is a trip I've been dreaming about for over a decade (!) and I can't wait to see the images that come from it :)

Palais-Royale, Paris (Man Sitting)

Also, I'll be the happiest me I can be :) Right now I've got that feeling of knowing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, and it's this awesome glowy giddy feeling..

Yellow Wall, Mexico

Thanks so much to everyone mentioned for all the guidance, inspiration, and chats. Thanks to Erin Tracy, Jenny Greco, Melanie LeBlanc, Dawn Pearcey especially for YEARS worth of "figuring it all out" conversations during shoots and over tea :) Thanks always to my Mommies, who have shown by example that there are no impossible dreams :) And the biggest thanks to my Lovely Husband, Norman, for supporting what he doesn't always agree with, and for trying so hard to understand the way I see the world. It means everything to me :)

Locks, South of France

I'll keep you posted on my progress ;)


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