Dragon Hare Studios – Life as I know it, is never quiet. It’s a crazy roller coaster ride full of shifting emotions, and events that cause life to ebb and flow along at what feels like break neck speed. Most of the time, I feel like I am a terrible juggler that can never keep all my balls in the air! A while ago, I discovered some family life bloggers that feel the same way. They share their stories of daily life and suddenly, I don’t feel like I’m a failure for being tired, exhausted and crabby. When I read these stories of real life, I laugh, I cry and I feel like maybe, just maybe, I’m doing ok. Brittany is a blogger that lives in my hometown. It’s really how I “met” her as I followed her social media. I loved her blog updates as I could “feel” her heart as she opened up about her family life.
Her story is a beautiful story to follow along, a young mom to a toddler, who is pregnant with her second that is pretty close to her first in age. This is the reason her blog caught my eye as I also am a Mom to kids close in age! Then she found out that #2 was actually #2 and #3! She shared not only the wonder of carrying twins, but also her fears and the challenges she faced with a high risk pregnancy with a toddler at her side! As the babies were born, she wrote of life in the NICU and the daily struggles her two little babes faced, and the struggle she faced with a husband who was working and another child whom she missed incredibly. My momma heart went out to her as I read her updates and prayed the next one would be better for her.
As the babies grew stronger and they were able to come home, they were faced with other challenges because life could never be simple. Kyle underwent cancer treatments and while he was in one hospital, she was in another with sick babies. A mom, three children under the age of 2, a husband with cancer, bills to pay, babies with extra needs – I had to truly admire this mom I only really knew from her journals. I admired her because through it all, she kept it real. She was honest, but she was positive, she was loving and caring and held her family together in the hardest year they faced together. Not only did she do that, but she did it all with grace and a sense of humor. She had every right to break down, whine, complain, and say “why me world” but she didn’t, instead she was grateful that her babies weren’t as sick as some of the others, and that her husband’s treatments were relatively easy compared to others. Her sharing always reminded me to feel grateful for my own challenges – for they could always be much worse than they were!
When Brittany asked me to photograph her family, I was very touched to be able to create something special for her to symbolize all the trials of the past year. I wanted to show Brittany, strong and centered by her family, I wanted to celebrate Kyle’s health, and focus on the busy-ness of her little ones. I wanted to create something to help Brittany remember the toughest year of her life, but to remember it with joy in her heart that they persevered and were stronger for it. It isn’t a perfect portrait of them all looking at the camera and smiling because I don’t think that would have told the story of this past year for her. Her year wasn’t perfect, it was so much more than that! It was hard, it hurt but it also had so very much joy!
This one is for Brittany, the strongest Momma and wife I know! Thank you for sharing your story and your heart so openly. It is truly beautiful Brittany!
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Dragon Hare Studios – This past weekend, we had the honor of attending the Onion Lake Cree Nation Powwow. One of our September couples are Powwow dancers and they invited us to attend! I can honestly say, I have never before experienced such a deep and rich tribute to one’s culture. It was incredible, beautiful, amazing, inspiring and so much more than I can even assign words for!
This Powwow was a competition but in between competitive levels, family’s were honored in “specials”. I found these especially beautiful! The first one we witnessed was a tribute to a dancer who had passed away. I was so moved as I watched his family walk slowly around the circle that was lined with dancers. As the procession moved along, the dancers joined the family to honor them. As they completed the circle, the elders turned and greeted each dancer. Then the family was asked to start the dance and after a while, the remaining dancers were asked to join. It was powerful and very moving. As someone who has lost a very close loved one, it was exceptionally moving for me to see the honor these people held for their loved one. It had been four years since they lost him, but he was alive in their hearts and very much a part of this dance. Such a beautiful moment cherishing a loved one! I wish I had some way like this to honor my brother and all his life stood for because I think it would give my grief a focus or outlet instead of just being held inside.
The second special we witnessed was to honor a young man. At the Powwow, there are different categories based on age. This young man was moving from a youth category into an adult category and his family chose to honor him with a special. Again, the family walked slowly around the circle and then the young man danced on his own before being joined by the 70+ dancers who lined the circle and were in his new age category. Our groom danced in this special but this time, I wasn’t just a spectator on a bleacher many feet away! This time I was able to sit on the edge of the circle and photograph him!
It was truly incredible! The regalia was so beautiful and each dancer was so uniquely different! I couldn’t decide on a favorite as each outfit was so detailed and different! Tyler’s vest was hand beaded by his soon to be wife and the detail was exquisite! He had such presence that made it easy to photograph his pride in who he is!
The Onion Lake Powwow had more than 400 dancers attending and if you would like to share in this rich celebration of culture, Frog Lake Powwow is taking place in late August! It was more than just dancers in a circle, it was a celebration of a rich culture full of appreciation for family and life!
Dragon Hare Studios – We live in an incredible world, full of light, shadow and details. I love to incorporate that into my photography and work hard to ensure it’s evident in every portrait we put our name on!
When someone says but “you just push a button”, I have to smile and say that is the very last thing I do. Before I even photograph a couple on their wedding day, I know how I am going to pose them for their body types. Did you know everyone has one side of their face that is larger than the other? Look at your passport photo – the reason you hate it is because the lighting and pose combination over emphasizes this fact. If your nose isn’t perfectly centered or one eye is offset from the other, your passport photo will show it. Posing reduces this effect! I have yet to meet a single woman that wants the camera to add 20lbs to her figure or over emphasize the size of her thighs or arms and the camera will do this in every image so I combat that with posing.
A “push the button” type portrait:
Before I even go out on a wedding day, I know the power outputs of my flashes at various settings. Is it middle of the day with no clouds? I know what my flashes need to be set on to overpower that sun. Partly cloudy or overcast? Then the flashes are set differently. By using flashes, it allows me to show the detail in our amazing prairie sky, and more importantly, it allows me to show every minute detail on the amazing gown you are wearing. You spend a lot of time and money on those details, they should be evident in your wedding or grad portrait!
The last thing I do before “pushing the button” is to know how you are feeling. Do you need to relax so you can smile naturally, or are you comfortable and just need a quiet direction to find your smile?
There are two types of photographers – those that simply “push the button” and create an image that looks just like the next person that pushes the button. And then, there are those that look for the light, shadow and detail and puts to use the tools of this trade to ensure every part of the portrait is exposed properly!
You are not like everybody else. You are unique, beautiful, strong, and perfect just the way you are. While it would be far easier for me to just “push the button”, I think you are worth more than that. You are extraordinary and you deserve an extraordinary portrait of your special day. Dragon Hare would love to do that for you. Call us at 780.853.4277 to begin planning your portraits today!
The portrait you deserve:
Dragon Hare Studios – Shelby and Logan are dedicating themselves to each other this fall, in the mean time, we took them out to the old homestead to photograph portraits for their invitations! It was a cloudy evening but the sky was incredible and full of texture.
If you are searching for a Vermilion wedding photographer, check out our wedding portrait gallery here!
Dragon Hare Studios – I am currently teaching a photography class and I issued my students a challenge that I want to extend to you! I asked my students to go to google images and type in “wedding portraits” or “grad portraits”. Look at the first 50 images and ask yourself if any of them stand out to you? One or two? Or, do they all look similar in style, feel? What surprises me every time I do this, is that every photograph you see in that google search is created by a different photographer!
How can it be that 50 different images, created by 50 different photographers all look like the same photographer created them? The answer lies in the very first thing I teach my photography students. In order for a photograph to have a wow factor, it has to match real life; a photograph is a 2D object that must give the illusion of being 3D and full of dimension, and depth. The way to incorporate this into a photograph is to understand light! The reason those 50 images look the same is because those photographers lack the technical training to understand light. Either you use light to create dimension, or you don’t, it can’t be faked with free actions or presets downloaded off the internet!
Take a look at this portrait of Sabrina that I took on purpose during her session. It looks a lot like the images you see on the google search right? There was no consideration given to the light! What is a photograph without light? It’s a portrait that lacks depth, dimension and life. It’s a portrait in which the sky appears white and skin tones appear dark/muddy. The result of so many photographers that don’t understand this key technical skill, is 50 images on google that look like the same photographer created them all.
Now, contrast the above image with the one of Sabrina below. This image was created in the exact same location, at the exact same time. The sky was the same in the first image as the second. The portraits were literally taken moments apart! Quite a difference hey? Look at that incredible sky!!!!! Look at the life the portrait brings to Sabrina! I simply balanced the light in the sky with the light on Sabrina to change the feel of the image. Photography is all about the light!
How would you prefer to be seen in your portraits? Dreary, lacking life, boring, and the same as thousands of other people? Or would you rather a portrait be filled with your life, light, and your extraordinary, beautiful, unique spirit? At Dragon Hare, we believe you are extraordinary, so why settle for anything less?
Sabrina is graduating today and we want to wish for her a journey full of joy, hope, faith, happiness, creativity and just enough moodiness to offset the drama of life. Congratulations beautiful, enjoy your day!