The Owensbys :: Hamilton and Toronto Family Photography

It’s been over three YEARS of trying, failure, and regret over an old house on Upper James in Hamilton.  It’s just around the corner from my house, but I’ve had my eye on it for years.   It’s an old, OLD house set far back from the street with a yard full of mature trees, and a tire swing hanging from one of them, of course, and in the Spring a lawn FULL of tiny little blue flowers.

Every Spring I try to contact the owners, landlord, real estate agent etc. to get permission to shoot there before the flowers die (or are mercilessly cut down by a mower!!!!), and every year I can’t reach anyone in time.  Finally this year, after setting one of my new goals as ‘be fearless’, I just went up to the house and started knocking on doors until someone answered, damnit!

Once a stunning old home of affluence, it’s since been divided and sub-divided into characterless apartments–save the front entrance and stair case that still holds some of its old, elegant craftsmanship.   The only tenants remaining informed me that the house had changed hands a number of times in the last few years and they aren’t surprised I never heard back from anyone–they’ve yet to meet their new landlord after 6 months!

They happily agreed to let me shoot on their front lawn–saying they wouldn’t call the cops on me since we’d all met.   And just as I was about to leave they commented that it was a good thing I wanted to shoot now because the house was being torn down in June!  How bittersweet.

When I scheduled the Owensbys at this location for their family/maternity/birthday shoot I was literally jittery with excitement–many years of regret for not having been bold enough to just go to the house and ASK, and now I was shooting there, at the perfect time of year, with the perfect family and just before it was destroyed forever.  It’s like poetry.

*Due to the harsh direction of the setting sun there aren’t any clear shots of the house, BUT I’m scheduling another shoot at this location before it’s torn down–and you’ll see lots of house images then!*

The above shots were in full-sun, which is not ideal, and is why their temperature is really warm compared to the rest of the shots–but how could I not grab a few shots of this when Judah, then Taavi came by to ‘touch-base’ with Mum before running off to play some more?

Below you can see the flower-filled front lawn and just a corner of the old house.  It was incredibly challenging working with the lighting, but wanting to capture the flowers AND the busy kids while avoiding shooting Upper James–which is very visible in lots of the shots.  Thankfully a super-low depth-of-field covers up a lot of the imperfections.

Below there are a lot of shots of Aria–I wasn’t playing favourites, promise.  Her birthday is coming up in a week or so, and for a couple years now I’ve promised I’d do a birthday shoot for her, and wow, does she know how to work it.  And I have no idea where she gets that trait from… ;)

After being a little too serious I let the kids go through my Mary Poppins bag of props and costumes and let them play on the tire swing.  I always love getting the posed stuff out of the way and letting kids just play.  I get the most authentic shots when they’re playing.  And the most hilarious.   Brother Judah had my husband and I laughing that night as I dumped the shots onto my computer and starting culling.

And what’s childhood without swinging?  Again, it was hard to catch the kids as they swung around on the tire, in and out of harsh light and shade and in front of the ugliness of Upper James.   Thank goodness for F1.4.

Finally, we have the classic it’s-all-about-the-kids shot where the parents are headless caregivers merely present to complete the hand-holding chain and prevent any outbreaks of violence or ‘misbehaving’.  Personally, I prefer the ‘misbehaving’ look.


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