Vermilion Award Winning Portraits | Team Canada

Dragon Hare Studios – I am and will always remain a student of the science of light known as photography.  I simply can’t get enough of the technical aspects of my craft.  I love attending conferences and workshops to build skills.

One of the ways I can check those skills is by entering print competitions.  There are many levels and types of print competitions – some are out there to make the owner money, some are out there to gain images to use for advertising, and some are out there simply to rate skills.  For me personally, I seek the competitions that are there to test my skills.  How do I know if I am continually improving in my craft if I don’t do this?

Sometimes, I feel completely naked when I enter.  Sometimes I feel angry and embarrassed that I didn’t catch a glaringly obvious error to the judges.  Sometimes I earn awards.  But all of the time, I lift those skills up and learn something which is the most important reason as to why I enter.

Earlier this year, I was asked to submit images for the World Photographic Cup.  This is the Olympics of photography competitions.  Every country participating selects their country’s best to represent them at a competition judged world wide.  Last week, Team Canada was announced for the 2018 competition.  There are 6 categories to enter and 3 finalists chosen for each category.  These finalists make up the Canadian entry in the World Photographic Cup.

I was beyond thrilled to learn that I had two entries earn a coveted finalist spot!  I have one entry in portrait and one in wedding!  What a thrill for this small town girl from the heart of the Canadian prairies!

What is even more of an honor is that two of the people I admire most as portrait photographers are the other two finalists in the portrait category.  They are arguably two of the best technical portrait shooters in Canada.  I might have cried a lot when I saw my name sitting next to theirs!  What a thrill!

So join me in cheering – let’s go Team Canada!!!!  Best of luck to all my fellow finalists in the World Photographic Cup!


Award winning portraits, Vermilion family photographer

About the images:

“When Life Hurts” is an image of my beautiful daughter Kalla.  A few years ago, she was bullied beyond belief in school.  The single occurrence gave her nightmares for weeks.  I wanted to give bullying a voice, I wanted to show that while bullying doesn’t leave physical scars, it does essentially the same thing with emotional scars which can be far more challenging to identify.  We can’t see the effects of bullying, but what it did to my child; well I created a visual image of what it did to her.

“Redneck Alter” is an image I created for a client on their wedding day.  I always ask my clients what they like to do together and I incorporate that into their portraits.  This helps tell a story about the people in the image.  In 100 years, I want a person looking at one of my images to know exactly what was going on in life for the people in the image.  This bride and groom were avid hunters – they spend all spring and summer practicing side by side, and in the fall they are out on the chase together!  This image created for them a truly unique piece of art that sums up the love that they share and it hangs in a place of pride in their home – right between the two hunting trophies you see in this image!

Vermilion Family Portraits | The time is NOW!

You want a fall family portrait.  It’s stressful, it costs money, the husband hates portraits, the kids never behave the way you want them to, you’d have to buy clothes and the biggest one, you want to lose weight first.  But!  But you want a family portrait!

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What if I could tell you that none of those things really matter in your Vermilion portrait sessions?  You probably wouldn’t believe me at all.  But really, they don’t matter!

Why do we stress about family portraits?  We don’t want the kids dirty, the hair messed up, we want the “perfect” family portrait.  I can make you the perfect family portrait but I can tell you from personal experience, it doesn’t exist in real life.  I can tell you from personal experience, that you will LOVE the portrait where all your personalities come out.

It may not be perfectly posed, you may not be interacting directly with the camera, but it will be absolutely perfect for your family because it’s who you are.  Attitude, sass, belly laughs – it’s all a part of your family, why not incorporate it into your family portrait?  Plus, we don’t limit you to 30 minutes or stand there with a camera in your face expecting you to smile.  We tell jokes, we make you laugh and we have fun so it doesn’t feel stressful!

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It costs money.  Everything costs money.  It’s more a question of what do you want and what do you want to invest?  You can purchase super cheap and expect low quality.  You can pay more and expect quality.  At Dragon Hare, we believe in creating for you finished works of arts so it may cost you a bit more but think about this.  All the people who’s homes were destroyed in the recent hurricanes and earthquakes.

What do you think they are digging for in hopes of saving from their homes?  Their favorite purse?  That bookshelf they agongized over?  That throw rug you had to have?  The favorite coffee mug?  Nope, none of those things matter to them now.  They want their portraits.

I have five children.  Your children cannot do anything that I haven’t seen before.  The most horrific fit?  My daughter has the crown for that one.  Suspicious noises?  My kids take the cake in that department.  Embarrassing stories?  Bah – I’ll share some right back.  Your children don’t scare me, we have a lot of experience in this department.

Plus we have mad photoshop skills – I don’t make you stand there for hours on end to get everyone cooperating at the same time.  We can and do swap heads to get the perfect portrait quicker and painless!

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You know what makes fall the perfect time for family portraits?  Your kids have new school clothes!  Plus, I have mad photoshop skills.  I haven’t met a stain I couldn’t remove….in photoshop of course!  (the same goes for scratches, black eyes, drool, boogers and dirt!)

I have photographed hundreds of women over the years and every single one of them is concerned about their weight.

But as I tell each of my clients – I lost my brother a few years ago.  Sometimes I saw him after work and he looked like the scruffiest guy you could ever imagine.  He went through a weird hair phase where he shaved his head bald except for one short pony tail on the side of his head, yes the SIDE of his head.  Sometimes he wore a good shirt, and sometimes he had on his favorite Oilers shirt.  I may have commented on cleaning up, shaving or what on earth he was doing with his hair but you know what, none of those things were him.  To me, he was so much more than his appearance.  When I look at his photographs, I don’t see the size of his thighs, his hairstyle or his clothes.  I only see him.  Just as your family doesn’t see the trouble spot on your thighs, the saggy girls, the jiggly arms or wide bottom.  They see none of that.  You know why?  They see YOU.  You are so much more than the body you wear everyday.

You are everything to them.  Just get in the photograph Mom.

And here’s where we tell you our secret…….we’ve been to school, workshops, and have mentors, we have learned how to pose for everybody type.  Our cameras do not add 20lbs because cameras can and will in the untrained hand add weight.  We also use creative posing within our family groups.  And if that isn’t enough to convince you, we also use creative lighting making full use of shadow areas to hide areas of your body you are concerned about.  But listen to me Momma, your kids don’t care about any of this.  They love you not for the shape your body makes, but the shape of your heart and only that.  Get the portrait Momma, it’s not something you will ever regret purchasing!

Vermilion Fall Portraits

We are currently booking for fall portraits in Vermilion and surrounding areas.  We don’t just offer fall mini sessions in Vermilion but full on location sessions on your farm or in the Vermilion Provincial Park!

Call us at 780.853.4277 or scroll up and hit the “contact us” button.  We’ll get back to you shortly and find a time that works for your family!  We can’t wait to create a portrait for your family!


Vermilion child portraits | Mother’s Day

Dragon Hare Studios – Hey tired Momma, I feel for you.  I know that you are tired.  I know that you are unsure of yourself.  I know that you hate your belly flab.  I know you think your thighs are too wide and there are too many wrinkles on your face.  I know that you hate that your hair didn’t get done perfectly and that your clothes don’t fit as well as they did a year ago.

I know this because I’m in the same place.

But guess what, those little people who call you Mommy?  They think you are beautiful.  They don’t see stretch marks, thick thighs or hair that needs it’s color fixed up.

They only see you.

Their rock, their security in life, their super hero.

I want you to see that too.  I want you to see how beautiful your love is for your child. 

I want you to forgive yourself for all the flaws you think you have.

I want you to bask in the love that those little people in your life have for you.

I want you to remember all of this because one day very soon, and I mean really soon, that little love won’t belong to you anymore.  They will move out, they will be busy making their mark on the world, and you will be sitting on the outside cheering them on.  They won’t be little for very long and believe me, in your sleep deprived state, that state where you look at other mom’s at school looking all put together and feel less than your perfect self, that state won’t last much longer.


Lloydminster Family portraits by Dragon Hare Studios

I say celebrate it.  Celebrate that baby belly because it means you are a mom.  Celebrate the grey hairs and the wrinkles because it means you have someone to worry about.  The stain on your shirt, the less than perfect snack for school, the forgotten thing you’d promise you do – let it all go because someday soon it won’t matter at all.

Instead, come in to the studio and celebrate it all.  The mess, the less than perfect body, the boogers, the stains, the grey hairs, wrinkles and mussed clothes.  Bring along your little people and sit down in front of the camera with your only focus being on them.  Let us create a portrait that you will look back on with only love in your eyes.

You are in the trenches of motherhood, embrace it, celebrate it, enjoy it for soon it will change as those little people blossom into adults in their own right.

Let us create a portrait of you as the less than perfect Mommy with the dirty child you tried to keep clean, and that absolutely perfect love you share for each other.

Join us in celebrating an imperfect motherhood in the most perfect portrait.

Vermilion family portraits by Dragon Hare Studios

Vermilion Baby Portraits | Kiss

Dragon Hare Studios – This is Emmitt.  Isn’t he handsome?  Look at those lips!  So tiny and so perfect.

Did you know that your baby is in safe hands for their baby portraits at Dragon Hare.  Brian has taken safe baby posing classes from a pediatric physiotherapist.  Why is this important?  Almost all the sleeping baby portraits that you see on the internet are composite images, including this one!  Babies simply cannot hold their head like this.  Babies joints are very fragile at this point in time.  Any undo stress on their joints like holding the weight of their head, can cause life long damage to their joints.  In our baby portraits, the baby is safely held in place by a helper, and carefully cushioned with a lot of padding to ensure their safety!

We take this pretty seriously at Dragon Hare – no unsafe poses, and composite images whenever possible to keep babe safe.  We also work in a team when photographing babies so exhausted new Mom’s can sit in a comfy chair, put her feet up and relax while we do all the work!

Welcome to the world oh so perfect Emmitt!  May you dream big dreams and achieve big things on your life’s journey.

Vermilion baby portraits by Dragon Hare Studios



Lloydminster Family Portraits | The Mightiest of Warriors

Dragon Hare Studios – The perfect family portrait. What is that to you? Are you all sitting nicely, smiling serenely at the camera? Nobody is screaming, crying, dirty, or exhausted and I’m not just referring to Mom!

While this is a great thing to have in your possession as children grow and change rapidly over the year, we are portrait artists and we want to take your family portrait one step further.

I can show you this portrait of the seven of us, and other than one of us looking a touch grouchy (which is totally within character I might add!), what does it tell you about us?

Vermilion family portraits

Does it tell you anything about how my children like to spend their time? Does it tell you that Dad is an avid hunter and shares his joy of the outdoors with his children? Does it tell you that we are a family that knows well the inside of the Stollery Children’s Hospital?

It doesn’t and as portrait artists, we believe your family portrait should reveal these things. Why is this important? Because in twenty years from now, when you are not running to competitions, practices, games and balancing that with suppers in the field, summer holidays and homework, you are going to forget the simple details of what life was like when your children were at home.

The image below was our Christmas card from 2015. While life got pretty crazy for us, we didn’t get the card out. We thought we’d send it in 2016 but then we were in hospital with our son for much of December so it didn’t happen either. I didn’t realize I hadn’t shared this portrait until I was chatting with a friend about the card. The only part of the image I found was this post on our son and it instantly brought my heart to my throat.

Our son is currently undergoing testing for a cellular disorder. We have some preliminary results that point to support of such a diagnosis. In 2015, we thought he had food allergies. It’s all we thought it was. I had forgotten that. I’m now weighing numerous medications morning and night for him on a micro scale and he is currently living in isolation from the outside world to protect him.

When I dug out this portrait, I spied the sword my son is holding. As the tears leaked out of my eyes after reading how “simple” we thought his illness was, I started laughing as I remembered the sword. The sword is now broken and recycled and I had forgotten all about it. When he was given this sword, well suffice it to say it was the day we were almost kicked out of Disney.

Vermilion Family Portraits with archers

Do you see the power this image has for me? When I saw the first portrait, I wondered what year we took the portrait and that was the extent of it. When I saw the second portrait, it made me cry and then laugh so hard at the memories that came rolling out from the depths of my heart.

Life isn’t perfect. It’s messy, noisy, chaotic, crazy, and so not perfect. You aren’t going to remember all that was happening in your life from year to year because new memories are going to be built on top of that. We can stop that from happening!

Let us help you begin a legacy of storytelling portraits that will hold those memories for you that are so near and dear to your heart right now, so in the future, you will easily remember them.  If you push that green button just to the right from where you are reading, we can start planning your storytelling portrait!