Marlee & Dan

It rained! It poured! There was even a tornado warning… But Marlee and Dan’s backyard Stayner wedding went off without a hitch. Actually, it was beautiful and hilarious. There was so much love and laughter that I’m still fighting back giggles when I look through these photos.

Marlee and Dan don’t need any luck from me. They’re absolutely enthralled with each other, and it’s beautiful to see. Have a look for yourself…

As you scroll through these photos, take note of all the laughter. Goofy comes naturally to this family, and I love it.

Collingwood Wedding Photographer

Stayner Wedding Photographer

Stayner Wedding Photographer

Stayner Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Collingwood Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Collingwood Wedding Photographer

Collingwood Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Stayner Wedding Photographer

Stayner Wedding Photographer

Collingwood Wedding Photographer

Collingwood Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photographer

Collingwood Wedding Photographer

Collingwood Wedding Photographer

If you’re just gushing love, contact me to set up your wedding photography consultation in Stayner, Collingwood, and The Blue Mountains.

Caledon Photographer

Toronto Photographer

Vaughan Photographer

Stayner Photographer

Stayner Photographer

Stayner Photographer

Stayner Photographer

Stayner Photographer

Stayner Photographer

Stayner Photographer

Toronto Photographer

Toronto Photographer

Toronto Photographer

Toronto Photographer

Toronto Photographer

Caledon Photographer

Caledon Photographer

Caledon Photographer

Caledon Photographer

Caledon Photographer

Caledon Photographer

Vaughan Photographer

Vaughan Photographer

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Lisa & Chris

Sometimes families aren’t huge. Sometimes they’re small. But being small isn’t any kind of problem! Take Lisa and Chris, whom I photographed at Inglis Falls just outside of Owen Sound, for example. This mother-son duo might make a small family, but as you can see below they’re not lacking any of the love.

owen sound

owen sound

owen sound

owen sound family photographer

Book your family portrait consultation! Click here to contact me.

owen sound family photographer

owen sound family photographer

owen sound family photographer

owen sound portrait photographer

owen sound portrait photographer

Callaghan’s Family

Children are so curious and inquisitive. Take Callaghan, for example. When I met him at nearly 2 years old he’d already learned how to mow the lawn and tend to his garden. But he was curious about me. He knew something was up. When I arrived for his Grimsby family portraits he showed me all over his yard, introduced me to his dog, and taught me how to water the tomato plants. It was so exciting to see!

We only had a few moments which resulted in tears, but they only lasted a few seconds. Callaghan quickly returned to showing off and laughing after he got his snuggles from Mom and Dad.

Grimsby family portraits

Grimsby family portraits

Grimsby family portraits

Grimsby family portraits

Grimsby family portraits

Grimsby child photographer

Grimsby child photographer

Grimsby child photographer

Grimsby child photographer

Grimsby child photographer

Niagara family photographer

Niagara family photographer

Niagara family photographer

Niagara documentary family photographer

What do you do when your child erupts in tears at your session? Don’t panic! Click here to find out how to prepare your kids to be photographed.

Niagara family photographer

Niagara portrait photographer

Niagara portrait photographer

Niagara portrait photographer

Niagara portrait photographer

Toronto family photographer

Toronto family photographer

Toronto family photographer

Toronto documentary photographer

Toronto family photographer

Toronto portrait photographer

Toronto portrait photographer

Get in touch with me if you like what you see, and we’ll set up your portrait consultation! I can’t wait to learn all about you and your family. Click here to contact me.

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Copyright Law And What It Means For Your Family And Wedding Photos

Copyright law is a little bit convoluted. I admit it! As a photographer I care a lot about it, but even I find it difficult to decipher. In fact I had a heck of a time reading the Canadian Copyright Act when researching this article. So for you, someone who might not have a reason to think about it ever, I imagine it’s absolutely baffling.

It’s a question I often receive from clients as we discuss my process and our contract. When we get to the copyright clause there are understandably questions about who owns what, and what my clients can do with their photos. After all, you are contracting me to create photographs for you. So when you read that I own the rights to all of the photographs I produce you might rightly be surprised. Being that this is an important and significant investment, you should understand why your photographer owns the copyright to your photographs, what it means for you, and what you should look for in your photography contract to be sure you’re absolutely covered and protected.

Canadian Copyright Law

According to the Canadian Copyright Act, photographers are the original copyright holders of all of the images they produce. This means that every photograph I take of you technically belongs to me. Here’s how it reads in Copyright Act:

2 In this Act

… artistic work includes paintings, drawings, maps, charts, plans, photographs, engravings, sculptures, works of artistic craftsmanship, architectural works, and compilations of artistic works;

… photograph includes photo-lithograph and any work expressed by any process analogous to photography;

And here’s the important part:

13 (1) Subject to this Act, the author of a work shall be the first owner of the copyright therein.

For the purposes of my portrait and wedding contracts I’ve broken this down into much more simple language.

I keep the copyright to all photographs taken by my team and myself. No reproduction is permitted without my written authorization. I will also use your photos to promote my business in print, on my website, and in wedding magazines and blogs.

If you’re feeling a bit weirded out about your photos being owned by your photographer, stick with me, because there are a couple important reasons why.

Wedding photography copyright.

The Art of Photography

Your iPhone photos are fantastic. I’ve seen them. They’re cute as heck. But smartphone photos are not the same quality for a couple of reasons, and I’m not talking about how many megapixels they have. Yes, amateur equipment (including your smartphone) produces much sharper and brighter images than ever before. However there is a lot of style, math, physics, and even chemistry behind every amazing photograph. (That’s right, I said science!)

By working with a professional whose style you love, you’re capitalizing on their experience and talented eye. This is how you get those images which take your breath away, make you laugh, or make you cry uncontrollably. If you take that photographer out of the equation, there are no photos.

Additionally, no two photographers see a scene the same way. We have a vision for your photos and edit them in a meticulous manner to reflect your energy. That is why photographers like myself include a clause in our contract like the following to ensure that your photographs are always presented in the best way possible:

I put a lot of time and effort into producing beautiful photographs for all of my clients, and I want you to share them with your family and friends. However, you agree that you will not alter the photographs I give you in any way, including applying any digital filters (like on Instagram).

The Service of Photography

Though this might all seem like it protects the photographer and hangs our clients out to dry, that is not at all the case.

I have a question for you… When was your last vacation? Did you take your camera? Did you take hundreds of photos? Where are those photos now?

I bet they’re sitting on your computer, aren’t they? Or maybe they’re still on the memory card. Or maybe you have no idea where they are. I’ve seen so many people take hundreds of photos on a family trip, but so few have ever looked at them, and fewer still have had them printed. When they do the colour is often off and the size of the image is quite small.

Enter, your photographer. Not only do we create your photos for you, but we take the headache out of choosing the best photos, editing them, and dealing with the print lab. I could go on about the convenience of it, but there is an issue hidden beneath the surface, and that is that without copyrights to the images we produce we literally cannot perform this service for you. That’s right! If we do not own the copyright to the images we produce we are legally unable to modify your images and get them printed for you, and you’re saddled with the responsibility of handling all of that on your own. And I know you don’t have the time for that!

Canadian copyright

Second Shooters

You might be thinking, “But Sophia, you’re bringing a second photographer to our wedding. Do they own the photographs they shoot of our big day??” And that is a great question! The answer is no. I have my associates sign contracts prior to your wedding releasing the rights to the photographs they produce to me. This means that I own the copyright to the images they produce for me of your special day.

Your Rights

So if I own the copyright to your photos, then… what do you get?

Simply put, you get artwork. Photographers like myself provide our clients with high quality printed artwork. Because I truly believe that you deserve the best experience and product there is, I provide the full package from planning your session to hanging your favourite pieces. When you work with someone like me, this is what you’re investing in; beautiful, amazingly finished pieces for your home. It’s as custom as custom gets! These are your images to enjoy forever.

Your Photographer’s Liability

If you’re wondering, “But I paid for my photos, and that means my photographer could up and disappear and I’ll get nothing,” take a deep breath and count to 3. Take a good look at your photography contract. There should be a liability clause in your contract outlining what happens if your photographer fails to deliver your artwork. Here’s mine:

Although I will always treat your photos with care, my liability for loss, damage, or failure to deliver photos for any reason is limited to a full refund of any money paid.

Digital Files & Reproduction Rights

Along with printed artwork I provide my clients with digital files for social media and smartphones which you can keep and share forever! This means that I do not give out printable digital files. I’ve watched my clients in the past struggle to manage their files and get them printed, and the results were always unhappy people and bad printing. Here’s how this appears in my wedding and non-commercial portrait contracts:

It is my job to make sure you get the absolute best artwork possible, which can only come from me. Therefore I will keep all the printable digital files. All artwork and albums must be ordered from me.

However, if you are purchasing high resolution, printable digital files from your photographer you will want to receive a signed document outlining your reproduction rights. This document will give you permission to to have these images printed and also describe any restrictions (for example how many photos you can have printed and in what size). If you take a USB stick to a good printer without it they might turn you away. Your reproduction rights might be found in your contract with your photographer if digital files are included with your package, or might be included in a separate document. You can even have your photographer include this document with your photographs on your USB or with your downloadable files.

Photography copyright in Canada

That’s It Folks

You should be aware that your photographer owns the copyright to all of the photographs she creates for you. But there is no need to worry. This is how we ensure that we are providing you with a quality service, and allows us to create the best artwork possible for you. Be mindful of your contract with your photographer and review her liability clause. Also, if you are purchasing printable digital files remember to get written permission to reproduce your photographs to save any future headaches.

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Bethany & Adam

Who would you rather be with at 6 in the morning? For Bethany, it’s Adam, and for Adam, it’s Bethany. Which is a great thing, because when we met at the crack of dawn for their engagement photography session they had only slept a couple hours. Adam had just picked Bethany up at the airport.

I wouldn’t have known this unless Bethany had let it slip at the end of our time together. As you can see, they were still smily, giggly, and totally in love for the hour we spent together.

Here are some cute facts about Bethany and Adam which make me absolutely love them. First, they have cats. Second, Adam proposed to Bethany with a song (which featured their cats). And finally, they support opposing hockey teams but still manage to make their relationship work.

Lora Bay engagement photography

Lora Bay engagement photography

Lora Bay wedding photography

Lora Bay wedding photography

Collingwood wedding photographer

Collingwood wedding photographer

Thornbury wedding photographer

Thornbury wedding photographer

Thornbury wedding photographer

Ontario wedding photographer

Ontario wedding photographer

Toronto wedding photographer

Toronto wedding photographer

Owen Sound wedding photographer

Owen Sound wedding photographer

Oakville wedding photographer

Click here to contact me and book your photography consultation.

What To Wear (And Not Wear) For Family Photos

When you’re trying to create a beautiful and timeless family portrait it is important that you choose the right clothing. Just Google bad family portraits to see why. You’ll find lots of hilarious outfits and concepts which make great Facebook profile photos and future blackmail material. But when it’s time to tell your family story you really want to get it right, and you want it to last!

Not too long ago it was popular for the whole family to wear white shirts and blue jeans. In fact, your Google search will probably return lots of matching outfits in family portraits. These days, however, the trend is to coordinate, not match for a couple of reasons. First, this is the best way to show off each family member’s unique personality. And second, not every outfit looks good on every person. Those white shirts will wash out most skin tones, and not every cut works on every body.

So when my clients ask me, “What should we wear,” I feel their pain. It can be difficult enough dressing oneself, let alone making a small brood coordinate and look fashionable while taking into consideration the weather, the backdrop, and whether or not the young ones’ outfits will show grass stains. But don’t worry! I’ve outlined some simple instructions below to help you narrow down your wardrobe choices for your next family portrait.

Get my Picture Perfect Guide app below! Pop your email in and I’ll send you a download link so you can quickly refer back to these tips.

Bruce Peninsula family photograph

What to wear

  • Neutral, coordinating colours. Do not match! Like I said above, not every colour or fit works for every person. Mix colours that go well together but are not exactly the same. This is easiest done using neutral colours, which will also weather the years better than bright, bold colours.
  • Patterns like plaids, stripes, and florals. You can even mix-and-match them, and don’t be afraid to layer them with solid colours and denims.
  • Fitted clothes. Tailored outfits will always look better than loose-fitting clothing. If you feel the need, wear Spanx to smooth rolls (we all have them). Also, you should choose a cut that works best on each family member’s body type.
  • Closed-toe shoes. There are few instances when you should go barefoot or wear sandals, but in general most people should wear closed-toed shoes. This can include fashionable boots, dress shoes, and sneakers.
  • Jeans. It is not an absolute, but don’t be afraid of them, including torn jeans if that’s your style.
  • Sleeves. Of course take the season into account when choosing the cut of your top, but most people should wear sleeves.
  • Layers. Often my clients like to get a little bit of wardrobe variety in their portrait session, but let me tell you that with kids you won’t have time to change! Family sessions usually move along rather quickly as we try to fit in as many shots as possible while children are cooperating. So by layering rather than bringing a change of clothes you can quickly and easily change up your look.

GTA child photographer

How to dress your kids

  • Avoid dressing your little ones in short dresses as they have a tendency to ride up. If you subscribe to my tips in the last podcast episode about preparing your kids for your session, you will spend most of your session playing! Be sure that the outfit you’ve chosen to dress your little one in is play-time appropriate.
  • Use spandex shorts if you are putting your child in a dress just in case.
  • Try your best to hide diapers. Bloomer pants are a great choice, and a longer shirt (tucked in or not) will help as well. It is not absolutely imperative that diapers are covered up. I recommend that you do a wardrobe test-run and if you find yourself fiddling with your child’s clothing to cover up their mid-section, diaper, or underpants, choose a different outfit.
  • Be careful with accessories. Often children don’t want to wear hats or scarves and will remove them. In other cases they’ll use them to hide from the camera. Remember that the important part is not the outfit, but the moments that are captured of your family. Just go with the flow if your child removes accessories to avoid crying.

Family photograph from Blue Mountain, Ontario

What not to wear

  • Unfitted t-shirts. This includes any kind of loose t-shirt or sport top.
  • Anything with logos or graphics. In my experience the only acceptation to this rule is children who cannot yet walk (because they literally cannot object to being dressed in hilariously ironic and adorable clothing).
  • Ball caps or practically any other kind of hat. Though you’ll see fashionable hats on Pinterest, that fashionable hat will leave a shadow over your eyes and a red ring around your forehead.
  • Sleeveless shirts, strapless tops, or halter tops. This is not a hard rule, but I recommend that people wear sleeves. The brightest part of your photographs will be the most noticeable. Because our faces are generally always exposed to the sun and our arms often aren’t, the skin on our arms is usually lighter than our faces. This can be exaggerated in photographs, and result in a very distracting arm situation.
  • Anything that shows your bra straps or under pants.
  • Cargo pants.
  • All white or all black.
  • Velcro sandals, any kind of running shoe or skate shoe, or crocks.
  • Snuggies. (I’ve never seen it happen, but I thought I better put it on the list just in case.)
  • Hoodies.
  • Short dresses. A short dress can significantly limit your ability to pose comfortably for your photos. Test out your favourite dress to see if it’s appropriate for your session by sitting on the ground. If you cannot comfortably sit in it, it will be best to choose a dress that is longer or opt for pants.

Father and son photo in Grimsby, Ontario

Looking great!

You’re looking fabulous now! It’s easier to dress for family portraits than you might think. Practically any pattern and texture is great, and you can feel free to mix and match styles to show off your personalities. By focusing on cuts that look best on each individual family member, everyone will arrive at your session feeling confident. And when you mix neutral colours you’ll be sure that your family portrait will still look great 20 years from now.

Get these tips and more! Sign up for my mailing list below and I’ll send you a copy of my Picture Perfect Guide. It’s an app which you can pop on your phone and review at any time.

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Eagles Family

My favourite kind of people are silly! And the little Eagles are silly. Pay close attention as you look through their photos and take note of the exaggerated smiles and candid moments. In each photo these kids show their unique personalities. There’s shy, there’s goofy, and there’s I’m-too-cool-for-school.

We met on an early spring morning just outside of Thornbury, Ontario for their big family shoot. We had a hoot wandering the grounds of the Farmer’s Pantry and goofing off. Spoiler alert: my favourite photo is at the end of this post.

How To Get Your Kids To Behave For Family Portraits

Kids can be… unpredictable. Practically every parent I’ve worked with has expressed concern for the children misbehaving during their session and totally ruining their perfect family portrait. I’ve actually seen this fear scare parents away from having photos done with their kids, but let me tell you that family portraits can be a fun and wildly fulfilling experience. And if done right, it can be totally stress free, and leave you with amazing, hilarious, and heart-warming photographs you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

I photographed Callaghan and his family at their home in the Niagara Region. It was fun evening filled with play time and food! The casual approach to their session allowed Callaghan to relax and be himself. He got to show off his mechanic skills, his garden, and how he cuts the grass.

My goal is to make your child feel comfortable and content for your session so that their true personality can be seen in your photos. This isn’t always easy. I deal with all sorts of personalities. Some kids are shy, some kids are hams but shy at first, some are hams at all times, and some get overly enthusiastic around new people. And in families with multiple children chances are that not everyone will share the same personality traits.

I’ve found that it can be a tricky game to break a shy child out of her shell or cool down uncharacteristic enthusiasm so that we can see what her parents see every day. But if practice has taught me anything it is that shouting and dancing behind the camera rarely works. Instead I have some easy strategies to help you prepare your kids and to calm your anxieties about your session.

Don’t talk in too much detail about your session. This can stress a child out and they should be arriving at their shoot excited. If you do talk about your session be sure to be positive and excited. Instead of saying, “You better behave for Sophia,” try, “We’re going to hang out at the park with Sophia!” This way your kids will look at the experience like just another day with a little extra fun.

Give your photographer some topics your kids like to talk about so that she can create a rapport with them. This isn’t always necessary, but can be helpful with particularly shy children. Kids like to talk about themselves and the things they like! So giving your photographer some insight into what gets your kids thinking and engaging can be an incredibly useful method to help open them up.

Avoid colourful foods and drinks for 24 hours. While those blue-tongue photos can be funny, stained lips are likely not what you have in mind for your new family portrait. Remember that sweet treats can leave marks around your kids’ lips and on their fingers so do your best to avoid them in the days before your session.

Be sure your kids nap before your session if they are of napping age. You already know that your kids can be a bit temperamental when they’re tired (and so can I).

Hide their diapers and do not dress your kids in dresses or skirts that will ride up easily. Expect to be picking your children up often! If, when you pick your kid up, you can see their underwear or diaper it will best to try another outfit. Photos like these make great blackmail for their future wedding slideshows, but they probably aren’t the overall goal for your family portrait.

All of these tips are in my Picture Perfect Guide for Parents! You can download a copy below! Just pop your name and email in and I’ll send it your way!

Bring props like hats and scarves, but don’t bring anything too distracting. And remember that sometimes kids don’t want to wear hats and scarves, and might try to remove them. Don’t take it as a personal assault to your sense of style. If they’re done with the hat, they’re done with the hat. Don’t try to force them to wear it as everyone will get stressed out and tears might ensue.

It might not be what you expect, but this is a real moment! I can’t remember why Callaghan erupted in tears, but this is life! You want to remember their sweet smiles and laughter. You also want to remember how they came running to you and cuddled into you when they were upset. Don’t disregard photos like these because they don’t give the impression of how perfect your family is, because these will be some of your favourites when your kids are all grown.

If there are tears, let them flow. Sure, I’m a fan of the realism of crying photos, but this isn’t why I make this recommendation. Your kids know when you’re stressed, and fussing over the crying can make it much, much worse and bring your session to a crashing halt. Instead, when they cry, just go with the flow. Let them be pouty and cuddly and it will pass. These moments can make for amazing photographs that will pull at your heart strings.

Clean their face, fingers, and toes. Obviously. You should also bring hair ties in case it gets windy.

Arrive early so you can introduce your kids to your photographer before the camera comes out. Often when I get started with shy kids they want to have nothing to do with me, but by the end of our time together they’re hamming it up for the camera. That little bit of extra time before your session with no camera can help ease them into the session.

Good bribes include Smarties or foods that won’t stain teeth or make a mess of their hands or clothes. However bribes should be used extremely sparingly as they can distract kids. Whenever parents bring bribes with them the kids are solely interested in getting that candy! Inevitably we wind up spending the session begging the children to behave “so that they can have a cookie” or to “smile for the camera one more time so we can go get ice cream.” If you can do without the bribes, don’t bring them! And try not to make promises for after-session treats as your kids will be consumed with finishing so that they can get the treat!

Don’t expect your children to behave for more than 20 minutes. This is about how long they can focus, and so this is about how long we have to get those smiling photos. Don’t set your expectations for 2 hours of strolling through country fields holding hands. Your kids will want to play, and that makes for great photos too.

Like I said above, kids will often be shy when we get started. So start by playing with them. Don’t insist on a photo on their own unless they’re comfortable. Often by just offering them that support your kids will open up and be ready for silly solo photos as your session progresses.

Don’t say cheese. Natural smiles are always better, and real moments make for heartwarming photographs. Expect to play!

Only look at the camera when you are asked to. If your child is looking at you, look at her. If your child is looking elsewhere follow her gaze or tickle her to bring her attention back to you.

Never expect children younger than 2 to look at the camera on command. At this age kids are notoriously uncooperative. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had parents standing in front of my camera, cocking their head to the side, and pointing at the camera begging their 6 month old to look at it. Don’t be that parent! Prop your child in your arms so they’re more-or-less facing the right direction and get cuddly with them.

Do not scold your child for behaving like a child. Shouting might frighten her, and even excitedly begging her to look at you while waving your arms about behind the camera can confuse and embarrass her. Remain calm, cool, and collected.

Trust your photographer to get some great photos of your children in the moment. Some of the above instructions might seem very difficult! But your photographer will work her magic to snap amazing and smiley photos of your family. If you remember that and allow yourself to relax your session can be a fun experience, tears and all!

That’s it, folks! You now know my super simple instructions for ensuring your kids behave for your family portrait session. In truth it boils down to allowing yourself to relax. By managing your expectations for your children it’s more likely they will treat the experience as a normal, fun family day, and you’ll get those cute, sweet, and funny photos of who you know them to be.

Get all of these tips and more for your family portraits on your phone! Enter your email below and I’ll send you a download of my Picture Perfect Guide. Keep it on your phone and be ready for your next photo op!