It seems like just yesterday that I met up with Erika and Paul on a warm Sunday morning in Riverside for an engagement photo shoot — just the two of them. And now, there’s Vinny, the newest member of their growing family. It’s always flattering when clients have you back to document the moments that are important to them. Originally, Erika wanted to get pictures for Vinny’s first birthday, but we were unable to work out a time before I left for my two-week trip to Hong Kong. Erika really wanted photos outdoors with an indoor alternate, so we met up the day I was shooting at Studio 202 with the Corktown Commons just round the corner. It worked out splendidly, as magic hour in November is extra golden. Paul and Erika’s interactions have been a highlight in each of the photo sessions I’ve done with them, and now they have another little human to smile at and laugh with.
Category Archives: Families
I’ve known Mark for 29 years or so, since we were 11 year old knuckleheads riding our bikes around Lakeshore summer camp in Coburg. We’ve reconnected here and there over the past decade, but now that he and my wife Valerie are on staff at the same church, we see each other on the regular. Every other Saturday, our place looks like a bomb went off because his two younger kids, Ashton and Kyla, come over to play with Kingsley and Naomi, our seven and five year old (Ashton and Kingsley have an affinity for building with Lego for the sole purpose of later smashing it). This past summer, Mark officiated our wedding and managed to work in several references to “Golden Era” hip-hop, even busting out a rendition of Mary J’s Real Love. Mark and his wife, Kimberley, both have a calm easiness about them and they have fun with their kids. The Gorings booked a 45min spot when I was doing fall mini sessions, and it’s hard to believe that so much heart was captured in such a short time.
The Lawrence clan is one of those effortlessly cool families — stylish, easy going, fun. They are a perfect fit for a Sunday morning photo shoot in Toronto’s Kensington Market. I met the Lawrences for the first time a few years ago, when we shot in the more industrial part of west Liberty Village, before little Jack was even walking. The dynamics of a family session change so much when a toddler turns into a kid. Jack no longer wants to be held, squirming out of most embraces, he’s autonomous and wants to experience the world around him on his own terms. Naturally, this means picking up rocks and tossing them, playing in greasy puddles, grabbing at dirty pipes protruding from walls (it is Kensington, after all), and occasionally tripping up and skinning his knee. But with this new found mobility also comes dancing, running, exploring, and having a go at a heavy boxing bag like his trainer daddy. The energy of this family perfectly encapsulated the essence of Kensington Market, its vibrancy, inclusiveness, and its sense of wonder in discovery.
To be honest, even as a young person growing up, I have never been a horse person. My sister was always very fascinated with them, but I lacked trust. I found horses difficult to read, never really knowing what their next move was. Is this large, powerful animal going to bite me? Kick me? I found myself somewhat unsure around them. So when my client Catherine asked me to come out to the Royal Canadian Riding Academy, it wasn’t that I was apprehensive or disinterested, I was just a little unsure of how things would play out. The kids and I pass by the Academy often on route to their grandparents, so I knew that there would be lots of rustic textures, raw unfinished beams, and dramatic light and shadows to photograph. But the actual horses, that was the unknown variable for me. I began the shoot with a few photos of Catherine and her daughter, Madeline, getting their favourite horse ready for their riding lesson. I wandered the facilities to capture some details of the space as well as a horse show that was taking place at the same time, and then snapped some portraits of several staff members with their horses just outside the stables. The horses egged each other on as I took photos, which made for a few humorous outtakes. I looked to my left and saw a number of them hanging out in the field behind the stables, so I ventured over to see what they were up to — I actually almost abandoned my plans when I came across giant mud puddles that I was certain my low cut Vans couldn’t handle. A few standing long jumps and maneuvers later, I was wandering with the horses in the field, and what followed was ten of the most soulful minutes of photography I’ve experienced in a while. They were peaceful, curious, and had almost human-like qualities and expressions in their eyes. The moments of connection were magical, and at risk of sounding hokey, it was almost as if they were, in full awareness, interacting with me and my camera. I still wouldn’t consider myself a “horse person”, but I came away from this experience with a better understanding of why so many people are.
I first met the Patel family four years ago, when I photographed a much younger Quinn with her mom, grandma, and great grandma (here). I photographed the family a year later and Quinn had developed quite a talent for art and putting cats into headlocks (here). The big personality was always there and she continues to grow into it. This time around, we met at Etienne Brule Park, along the Humber River, on a frosty Saturday. The local fishermen were out on the river in their waders, fly fishing salmon that were muscling and jumping their way upstream — I had a fleeting moment of wishing my son Kingsley and a couple rods were here with me, rather than cameras, but then I saw how animated the Patel family was and thought, “what a perfect day for them!” It was fairly bright out, so we explored a little in search of a shaded area where the light falls in just right, which provided a nice opportunity for us to converse and get caught up. When I started taking photos, I realized my memory cards weren’t in my messenger bag with the rest of my gear, so I had to pull a Usain Bolt (and probably a hamstring) back to the car to grab some from the larger camera case that makes me look like a flight attendant every time I leave the house on my way to a job. Needless to say, after that jaunty sprint, I wasn’t cold anymore, so a little while later, when Quinn was telling me about her hands feeling frozen, I was happy to hand over my pair of dollar store gloves that I was no longer wearing. Towards the end of the shoot, while I was snapping some portraits of Quinn along the river, Jen said, “Simon, you know that there is going to be a picture on my living room wall with those dollar store gloves in it.” I can sleep well knowing that when these gloves eventually get lost or misplaced, they’ll have a home forever on the Patel family photo wall.