Bre the Mountain-Woman :: Chic Critique Photography Idol Contest :: Halton, ON

Now that most of the paying work is completed I’m able to spend a little time going over the tens of thousands of pro bono images I took this year!   One of the most exciting such sessions was this one with one of my recent brides, Bre, and her new husband Josh.    This sessions was the 1st assignment for the Chic Critique Photography Idol Contest that I entered and won recently!    These images have never been seen–and I’ve been anxiously sitting on them waiting for the time when I could finish a few!
To be honest though, I’m mostly motivated because I have to submit the images to the magazine so they can figure out the layout for my spread in the January issue :)

*A little disclaimer though: if the images seem crooked to you, they aren’t.  It’s an old, homemade cabin, so the old fella isn’t as squared off as he used to be.
Without further adieu:

-models: Bre + Josh
 + plymouth rock chicken
-assisted by: Rita
-hair/mu: Bre & Anna
-wardrobe + accessories: supplied by White Elephant
-props + accessories: The Joneses!
-smoke: provided by the sweat and tears of Josh

And if that wasn’t enough there are more…

*Image submitted to contest*

Thank you to everyone who offering their help, ideas, clothes, wolf pelts and antlers!    Special thank you to Bre & Josh who happily came all the way from London on the hottest day EVER to wear multiple layers of pelts and pose by a FIRE.    You guys are awesome.

I’ll let you all know when the magazine comes out!  ***Please show me the love–leave a comment below!   I have really low self-esteem.***

Thanks for your support <3


Emily & Paul :: ENGAGEMENT :: Hamilton, ON

Emily & Paul and I came together through the lovely Charmed Events coordinator Tiffany <3.   Tiffany and I go way back and we’re always looking for excuses to work together and hang out!  Thanks for connecting us all Tiff—we had an awesome time!

We shot all of this at the studio at 270 Sherman in Hamilton.

*Please leave a comment for me at the end–show me some loving.  I feel all alone here…


This shot was right out of the gate and I knew after this moment that we were going to have a lot of fun in this session.   It helps that we were being serenaded by some dancing minstrels up on the 2nd floor.

Strange things happen around here and I’ve stopped asking questions.

The minstrels left a door open into one of the warehouses I don’t usually have access to so we sneaked in and took some sassy shots in the old stairwells.

There’s a bit of a height difference between them.   Not sure if you noticed.

After a good warm up in our civies we all got changed into more formal attire–and by we I mean ‘them’.   I was still in my jeans.

This is up on the rooftop overlooking a lot of Hamilton.   Paul is from Scotland and besides lulling me with charming Braveheart-flavoured accent, (yes Braveheart could be a flavour…) he was telling me that Hamilton is a lot like his town near Glasgow–only “100x better”.    Good for Hamilton!

Look at that heel kick again, hey?

Congratulations Paul & Emily!  After meeting, working and laughing with you I am so looking forward to your lovely September wedding.  And all the kilts!

(Who am I kidding?   That’s why I agreed to take this wedding.  For all the kilts.)

And please leave a comment for me!

I Won the Contest!

I’ve been secretly composing this victory email in my head for a while now…but didn’t want to write anything down just in case.
So here we go!

First off I want to thank a TON of people.  (And forgive me now if I’ve momentarily forgotten all your hard work promoting me!)

To everyone who voted–YOU are responsible for my success!   Without your support and loyalty I wouldn’t have made it past the first round.   If I could give each one of you a hug I would…in fact feel free to ask for your hug if you see me sometime!

To my husband, Ken, for being the best, biggest, most emotionally invested cheerleader for Team CDP!   I don’t see this guy get upset very often so it meant a lot to see him get angry for me when I was disappointed and get teary when I was successful!  (Oh wait…you weren’t teary.   My mistake.)

To my other big cheerleaders–my sister Catherine, my parents (my Dad opened an FB account just to vote for me), and my niece and nephews who actually posted stuff on their FB wall for me.  To my extended family Julia, Carolyn, Debbie & Kristi for totally having my back!   And thank you to the friends who tirelessly shared my FB posts—Annie, Tiffany, Bre, Christina, Susan and a ton of people I know I’m forgetting–actually about 30 of you.  Literally there are 30 of you who shared stuff and I can’t remember now…

Thanks to a few groups who took up my cause–like the 270 Sherman admin who always forwarded my emails and reposted my FB posts!  As well as the crazy gals at Dick&Janes and Charmed Events Toronto/Ottawa!

A HUGE thank you to White Elephant on James St N in Hamilton for the unlimited use of their amazing selection of vintage clothes and accessories!  Hollie–thank you for being excited with me and there for me to brainstorm with!

For every shoot I had to enlist the help of a lot of people!   First off, thank you to my assistant Rita and Huyen (and Anna) who helped carry crap, take care of dogs and chickens, fix hair etc.   Thank you to my nephew Caleb for driving his big ol’ pick up to my house in Hamilton for a 30 minute shoot and to my neighbour Kathryn who unquestioningly let me borrow her little dog, Moxy, for one shoot (that sadly never saw the light of day ):      Thanks to Ian and Anne Jones who let us all onto their property to use their amazing cabin for the first shoot—and for letting us stress out your chickens even further!    And again, thanks to 270 Sherman for the unlimited use of their building and property!

Thank you, of course, to my models!!!  Thanks to the ever-lovely Bre & Josh, the gorgeous Ruth and the mesmerizing twins Sarah and Jillian (and their amazing supportive parents Sheila and Doug!)   And special thanks to Karyn & Nic whose images didn’t make the cut for the contest–but certainly made the cut for ME professionally–you can see some of their lovely shots here.

Thank you everyone for every single Facebook thumbs up, wall post, comment, and message.  Thank you for every single text message, phone call and email and to those of you who have been privately following the action, watching webinars, asking friends and family to vote–I know who you are–thank you!  Every little nugget of encouragement and enthusiasm helped spur me on and pushed me to work harder, dream bigger and bug you harder for votes…

Thank you to my peers who I was competing against–especially Angela and Brittney.  Your amazing skill and creativity and drive really made me work by butt off!   Beyond the first round, I really had no idea who would move on because you’re all so talented!

Finally–thank you to the judges at Chic Critique and to Kelli (and Matt) France for all their hard work pulling this together through time zones, technical difficulties and delinquent participants!    You run an awesome magazine that inspires a lot of women and now you’ve successfully run a fun, exciting competition that hopefully I’ll be judging in next year…?  Please?

During the last webinar I was asked what I learned about myself…and what I kind of wanted to say was that I learned I have a huge support group behind me when, you know…being human, I just assumed I was more or less alone most of the time.   It’s the nicest thing to find out I’ve been wrong.



  • Prize pack (see below) valued at over $1000
  • Winner will become our next Celebrity Photographer (which will require at least one month of paid critiquing)
  • Images featured in January issue of Chic Magazine!

If you’re not a photographer you won’t fully appreciate all the amazing goodies I won–but on top of these awesome prizes I also get to work alongside a lot of women photographers who I have admired for a long time.  And that’s the biggest prize for me–just being able to be around some real heavy-hitters, soaking up their knowledge and learning from their experience.  I’m so pumped!  See–there I am below beside some awesome ladies include the editor of Chic Critique, Kelli France.   Here’s the link to my page on the site:

I am scheduled to start with Chic Critique in November–so if you or anyone you know wants to be my guinea pigs and receive constructive and entertaining feedback on YOUR work–sign up today!

Ok–I have to get back to reality and return about 40 emails and edit…um 15 sessions.   No biggie.



What a journey! Top Three here I come!

I made it to the Top Three in Chic Critique’s Photography Idol!

Wow.  I am so overwhelmed.   I’m not overwhelmed by my successes actually, it’s by the support that’s risen up around me.  It’s truly inspiring and humbling.

Here’s why:

-Yesterday over 40 of you shared my call for votes on Facebook.  Wow.

-When the contest first opened voting was Facebook-based and required that the voter ‘like’ the Chic Critique FB page.  That first day there were 10 entries and I saw Chic Critique’s ‘likes’ rise by 500 or so and I know for a fact that at LEAST 150 of those were votes for me.

-The other night when I got my bad critique I was pretty upset about it initially–but I wasn’t the only one.  I got tons of encouraging emails and texts from people I didn’t even know were following the contest!   And my sweet husband actually couldn’t sleep because he was so angry for me.

-Little communities of people online and in real-time have crowded around me in support–from all around the globe but especially in Hamilton!

-My Dad joined Facebook so he could vote for me.

-After I announced my advancement into the Top Three I received 38 emails in under 5 minutes.   Oh, and they were all from you congratulating me and wishing me well!

-The super cool shop in downtown Hamilton, White Elephant, has been there for me offering advice on styling and props as well as use of their amazing selection of vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories!

-The at least 2 executive directors of two large national & international corporations have voiced their support for me!  (And I’m only related to one of them…)

-My nieces and nephews think their aunt is kinda cool for once–I know because they texted me.

-The building and all the many tenants where I rent my studio have been behind me since day one–sending out emails on my behalf, posting on Facebook, offering use of the buildings and spaces etc!   (They’ve yet to offer paying my rent for the month…)

It hasn’t been all peaches and cream and warm feelings–it’s been tough and a challenge to my spirit & will everyday!   There are lots who have really disappointed me by not being there for me–it’s shown me who my real friends & supporters are.    And I don’t say that with any kind of  bitterness–it’s just been one more lesson I’ve learned through this process.   And golly have I learned a lot about myself, business, photography, working with models etc. in the last three weeks.

It’s a bit crazy…I feel like I’ve won so much already!

And on that note I want to THANK YOU again for all your support and cheering and sharing and voting and emails/texts/phone calls.   I wouldn’t be here without you all!


ps. the final assignment is due on Sunday night and then I don’t know how the format will rock n roll after that–but the winner will be announced on Sept 24th LIVE via webinar at 9-10pm.  I’ll share info once I get it.

I made it into the Top Five! Now go vote for me to get into the Top Three!!!

Well–part of my motto for this year was ‘Be Fearless.  Be Humble.  Keep Learning.’   
And I can say that this Chic Critique contest is really putting all of that to the test.

Most of you know I made it into the Top Five thanks to your votes last week!  THANK YOU!    This 2nd assignment wasn’t what I hoped it would be and consequently I have been humbled and am certainly learning!  My critique was a mix of love, like and serious dislike–it was a tough night considering I’d been at the head of the pack last week.

Voting has begun and we will be going from the Top Five to the Top Three–so two of us are “going home” in 24 hours.   I will freely admit the shot I submitted isn’t my best, and isn’t the best among the images from this week–yet I feel so strongly that I should be a part of the Top Three.   I know I have what it takes to ‘wow’ you again!

Please go vote for me now to keep me in the game!  I know, and I think a lot of you know, I can do this!  If anything go vote for the only Canadian who made it to the Top Five!  GO CANADA!


I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support and enthusiasm in these exciting/challenging days!   I can’t wait to announce to you all that I’m in the Top Three!

ps. Here’s a shot that I chose not to submit but I liked a lot—go here to see what I actually submitted!!!

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