Katie & James :: A Not-So-Wintery Maternity :: Hamilton Maternity Photography

Welp.  This is officially one of my favourite shoots of all time.  Period.   And it’s joining another maternity session (with Annie) that was one of my ultimate favourites.  Am I turning into a maternity photographer…exclusively?!

Katie had clear ideas about her session–outside, wintery, and a bed.  No problem!  I’m used to carrying around entire living rooms or bedroom sets for shoots!  I prepped for the cold by sewing real fur blankets for Katie (repurposed from old fur coats), and had a spot all picked out when suddenly all of our lovely snow melted!   And what’s worse was that my location now looked nasty sans snow and avec brown muddiness.

Fortunately I was still ‘on holidays’ so I had time to search out a new and WAY better spot (where I saw the deer family :), AND locate an amazing bookstore nearby as well! (A last-minute idea!)   We were so SO fortunate that the owners of Bryan Prince Bookseller  let us descend upon their lovely shop for 30 minutes before heading out into the woods.   We couldn’t have ended up in a better spot!

(*Also note–the introduction of my new line of baby crowns!   Different barks lined with furs.  I love them.  Below is birch lined with rabbit.  Of course, all sustainably harvested/repurposed.)


We had gone from about 2′ of snow and -10 Celsius to zero snow and +16 Celsius in about two days–and as sad as it was to lose the snow it was way more fun being able to truly enjoy being outside on a bed of animal furs in the middle of January!   Can you imagine?  It was nuts but awesome.

As you can see, Katie is just a natural.   A natural (looking) redhead, a natural beauty and a natural in front of the camera.  It was such a pleasure working with her.  Oh yeah, and that other guy, James.  I think he had something to do with all this…

(*And for posterity those are my lumberjack socks.  We literally traded socks because mine fit the scene better.  Is that weird?)

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So I think my only safe move after this is to retire.  Or just work exclusively with these guys.

Congratulations Katie and James!

Can’t wait to greet your little babe with a fur-lined crown.

Join my Facebook group so you can see the next two sessions from Katie & James the moment they’re published!

And please, leave some love for me and Katie and James if you like what you’ve seen!

Location: Bryan Prince Booksellers, Westdale

Location: Westdale Park

Make-up: Caryl Baker Visage

Hair: by client

Special Thanks: to my main squeeze, Ken, for helping us get the bed set up!


Classic Boho Amelie:: Annie’s Maternity Session :: Hamilton, ON

This has to be one of my all time favourite sessions.  *Please leave a comment if you like it!*

Annie is a dear old friend of mine, a kindred spirit (cynicism and sarcasm and all!), and fellow entrepreneur–and when she found out that for her 2nd pregnancy she was having a little girl I received an excited email saying we needed to go ‘all out’ for this little girl.   And that included stellar maternity photos.   Her ideal session?   “Classic/bohemian/Amelie flava.”    Rock and roll, baby!

I’d had this special idea burning a hole in my brain, waiting for someone special to use it on so I knew this was the time to pull it out!

I scoured the countryside for days driving around in my pick-up, pinning locations on my phone and knocking on doors.    Finally, with a sweet spot chosen I went to work designed and (poorly) sewing Annie’s wardrobe.  She graciously let me take control of one of her outfits—-I was pretty excited.    After that I made a wooden swing that was easily put up and taken down by a person without a ladder (and possibly without assistance!), but fortunately my husband was there to help hang the swing.

We started off the session easy though—-kind of like a warm-up.




Sadly, 95% of the session was sans sunshine—-Annie arrived about 5 minutes after the golden-hour sun was eaten up by black clouds.   It was a race against time and I was already disappointed about the sun.   But the dark, moody clouds that surrounded us actually gave us a really, really cool vibe and created some stunning contrasts.   After the warm-up part we dove into the main-event: the swing!   Kudos to Annie, being 8 months pregnant, and happily standing on a home-made swing!   Not only did she do that for me, but she looked like a goddess while she did it!


This photo below was the image I entered in the Chic Critique Photography Idol contest back in August.   I had just gotten home from vacation, read my inbox of emails and realized I only had TWO HOURS to submit my entry into the contest!   I did and I WON the entire competition!   You can read more about it here, here, and the winning blog here.   All of it was possible because of Annie and this shoot :)

Look at that impish smile.  COME ON!

We finished off in the soy plants–sorry Mr Farmer!    The sun was almost gone completely and the green soy was casting a really pretty light in contract with the pink of Annie’s skirt.    I think it was also nice for her to lay down for a moment!

Thanks again to Annie for being so willing to place her session in my hands!    And sorry this post is so late in coming—there will be oodles more being posted as I try to catch up on blogging from the last three months.  Ouch.

And check out Chic Critique if you are a female photographer–Chic Critique is THE elite magazine & resource for women who love photography (yes, we’re biased!)

*I’d love to hear back from you!  Please leave a comment–pleeeeeeasse!  I feel like I’m all alone here….

Chic Critique’s Photography Idol Contest!

Yes I’m entering a contest.  I’ll be posting the full preview from this session this week–now that I’m back from vacation.

This is from Annie’s maternity shoot a couple weeks ago.   Annie’s an old pal of mine so she gave me permission to totally take over her shoot start to finish–taking inspiration from some words she gave me: ethereal, vintage, boho.

Once I had an idea in mind that I liked I scouted the location over about 2 days, designed and built the swing and designed and sewed the skirt as well as guiding Annie, the model, in hair & mu.  (Comments from Annie about my shoddy sewing job will not be approved.  It’s my machine…it’s a Kenmore after all.  Be kind.)

I was hoping for ‘ethereal’ golden sunlight to backlight my subject most of the time, but instead we got this moody sky and threatening rain–which, of course, in the end was an unexpected bonus.

Isn’t she the most ethereal/vintage/boho mama you’ve ever seen?  I loved this shoot so much–can’t wait to show you all the rest!  No, for realsies–possibly one of the best sessions of 2012….so far!

This image was posted in response to Chic Critique’s call for submissions for their ‘Photography Idol’ contest.    Chic Critique is THE elite resource for women who love photography (yes, they’re biased!). “Our mission: critique | confidence | community. We’re all about our Celebrity Photographers who encourage, inspire, teach, and critique our members…”

Thanks Chic Critique for the fun!  All the best to the other entrants.

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.

Baby Rae: Hamilton Baby Photographer

I’ve mentioned this before but one of the perks of my job is the ‘continuity of care’ I get to provide to some of my clients.  I get to be there for their engagements, weddings, pregnancies, births and family photos and so on!  It’s pretty cool!

This is one little family I’ve had the privilege of knowing for a while but working with for almost a year now as we worked our way through their Bump-to-Baby package.  The first shoot was a maternity shoot, followed soon after by a newborn shoot and finishing up with little Rae’s 6 month shoot!   And what a frickin’ cutie…she’s been such a doll to work with.  And to top it all off this family has been one of those ‘do whatever you want because we trust you’ families–and that’s kinda nice sometimes.

Congratulations again Rezek family!

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May Showers bring June babies

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Yes, we’re all suffering with all this rain; it goes with0ut saying these days.   But the soft rain on Saturday set a lovely backdrop for these maternity shots with Jenn and her new and already growing family!

Congratulations Jenn!  Can’t wait for the newborn shots!

Vintage summer…

I like to experiment with medium format films and this time I just processed and scanned a messy roll of Kodak 400 VC-3.   Not that impressed with the results and wishing I had made notes about each shot…stupid non-digital camera.  Wait…stupid operator of non-digital camera.

I would like to preface this chaos by saying I didn’t use a light meter OR tripod for this entire roll.  So, that makes me look worse, but might make the images look better…?

Slideshow starts backwards with my model, Gill, with her newborn son.   Then we have some recent shots of the park on our street during one of those really foggy days last month.   THEN there’s a cool double exposure (total accident because the images were taken 9 months apart) of Gill & the park by our house.  The slideshow ends with Gill when she was about 4 days away from going into labour with baby from first shots in slideshow.

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But got some sweet shots nonetheless–and looking forward to buying more b&w rolls for shoots this summer!

And this is what the subject had to say about it: “You are such a good photographer, Claire. So good at making someone comfortable, so encouraging during the shoot, great directives so there’s no “uuhhhh what do I do?” moments……and then the photos turn out amazing!!!”


Mesmerizing Mama!

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I’ve had a lot of shoot lately that are a little too much over PG13, so I haven’t been able to post many shoots!

But last month I had a maternity shoot with a really lovely soon-to-be-mama, Steph, who should be going into labour ANY second!   Go Steph!

And I’ll be posting a lot more shoots in the coming days–a boudoir, a band shoot, and more!


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This shoot was with a lovely, really happy couple about two weeks away from the birth of their first baby!    We’re going to be following them with a new package: The Baby-to-Bump Bundle!

This shoot was the 1st of their 3 shoots–the maternity shoot.


Medium Format Film

A friend of mine recently lent me his medium format camera.  In case you’re not sure what that is, see the photo of it in the slideshow below.

Here are some shots from my experimenting with my friend’s and then my own medium-format camera.

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