Category Archives: Personal

Our amazing stay in the Pousadas of Portugal!




Peter and I took an amazing trip to Portugal where we stayed in the Pousadas of Portugal, chain of historical and luxury hotels. Included in our trip was a rental car (our little Fiat was great but the GPS left a lot to be desired!) for five days and you could stay in one to five pousadas depending how much travelling you would like to do. This was our ‘third honeymoon’, and would definitely recommend this tour package for a first, third or tenth honeymoon!

Our first stay was in the small city of Viana do Castelo at the Pousada de Monte de Santa Luiza. After leaving the airport and getting to the pousada in the dark of night, we woke to the most stunning view of the Basilica de Santa Luiza. It is designed in the shape of a greek cross with granite and marble construction and gorgeous stained glass windows. We booked two days here and we enjoyed the sights and the beach in the northern part of Portugal.

Our second stay was in Guimarães, the ‘birthplace of the Portuguese nationality’. It was not a far drive… only about two hours, so we thought. We made a pit stop in Amares for lunch and we didn’t think it would take us too far off the beaten track. Oops…  we had issues with the GPS again and had a round-about mountain drive for an hour. It was beautiful but I only took one photo, I thought we might be lost forever! Some of the roads we were on were only as wide as our tiny little Fiat. We were relieved when we reached our next stop, the Pousada de Santa Marinha, an ancient 12th century Augustinian Monastery. We found a quiet place to chill on the grounds… where monks once walked, we had a beer. 🙂

Poudasa number three was the Pousada de Rainha de Santa Isabel in Estremoz, a castle from the 12th century. Because of the previous day’s misadventure we decide to stay on the main road as we had a four hour drive ahead of us. The castle was a absolutely ‘marble-ous’ 🙂 in fact Estremoz is well known for it’s marble, even the cobble stones and white wash on the buildings were made from it.

Our final pousada was a short drive to Alcacer do Sal where we stayed in the Pousada D. Afonso II. This one was a mix of original structure of the 5000 year old castle with ultra modern updates. After a little pool time we walked beside the Sado River and had dinner under a strikingly clouded sky.

Our pousada tour was now over but we still had two days in Portugal. We drove to Lisbon and said goodbye to our trusty little car. We were now in the heart of the city and able to use the metro, buses and even a ferry to get around. One of the highlights was visiting Cristo Rei, the Christ Statue of Lisbon. Our hotel was passable but centrally located and we didn’t spend much time there. In fact we messed up on the reservation and arrived a day late. Since our flight home was early we decided not to book another day there. So our final day in Portugal we walked and saw every sight (and Peter managed to get a Euro Cup game watched) until midnight, then went and crashed at the airport… always an adventure. 🙂

Portugal you have my heart!






































Justine Russo Photography Workshop… Engagement Shoot Walk-Through

Last weekend I attended Justine Russo’s ‘Engagement Shoot Walk-Through’ Workshop. I am always up for continued learning, and it is a great feeling to dust off the camera in the slow season to keep that creativity flowing. The workshop was a combination of business/personal brand coaching, tips for meaningful ‘engagement’ (see what I did there 🙂 ) with your couples during meetings and photo shoots, ending with a photo shoot and some good old net-working with other creatives.

Also attending were other photographers from the Fraser Valley who are various stages of their photography businesses… each and everyone of them very down to earth and very definitely talented. After the coaching session we headed to a nearby park to shoot a couples session. One of the harder things during photo sessions is truly getting couples to feel relaxed enough to have fun, be romantic and show true emotion. Justine gave us tips on that and how she gets her fantastic ring shots.

I attempted to bring as little gear as possible to force myself to use what I had, but I totally caved and brought four lenses. I did settle on my 85mm (I think it will be named as my desert island lens!) and since it was a workshop rather than my own shoot, I decided to push the limits of that lens. I shot wiiide open (f1.4) and I kind of think I love it! I am feeling very fired up and can’t wait for my engagement season to start up in just a few weeks! Thanks Justine! 





 





 

 

Chasing the Sunset… Part One of our Hawaiian Adventure

My first travel blog is on sunsets, I am crazy about them! It doesn’t matter to me whether they are spectacular or subtle, I love them all.

I was so excited to have so may sunsets at my shutter finger tip on our 30 day adventure on the Big Island! At first I paced myself and enjoyed leisurely sunsets at our condo, where there was a nightly get-together with the residents and guests to celebrate the end of the sunshine with happy hour.

On our travels, I always had some sort of camera with me, so I would always get a few sunset shots in, even if it was just out the car window as we were driving home. We had a few planned outings where I took a tripod for me to take some long exposure shots… and a couple of beer for Peter to keep him occupied!

As our stay was nearing the end, I would start to get that itchy trigger finger when the sun started to dip towards the horizon. At one point after Peter was yet again waiting for me to get my shots, he said with exasperation “How many sunset shots do you need?” Hmmm, 42,004 sounds like a good number to me. 🙂







Mar & Pete… the journey continues <3

In the midst of one of our busiest wedding seasons, Peter and I took some time for ourselves to celebrate each other and our 25th wedding anniversary.  Not the most ideal time for a vacation for us but with the work that we do, we felt it was the right thing to honour our own special anniversary!

I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and Maui didn’t disappoint! Most of these photos were taken with my little Fugifilm x100s, it is small but mighty 🙂 .  When I take this camera along it lets me be more present in the moment, rather than lugging gear around.

We spent a lot of time driving around the island, doing what we love, exploring!  We crossed a few things off our bucket list that I didn’t even know were on it!

  • Riding in a helicopter which was fun and a little scary, but the view was breathtaking.
  • Driving the winding road to Hana and the narrow road around the west side of Maui, which is so narrow that it is recommended that you drive it clockwise.  We only met a few cars coming the other direction (those daredevils) and fortunately no one fell off the edge!
  • Getting up in the middle of the night to drive up to the top of the Halakeleah Crater to watch the sunrise in the bitter cold.
  • Snorkelling while holding hands with my husband (so not to lose each other) was lovely and made me feel like we were the only two.
  • Drinking mai tais, watching a luau and the setting sun. The sunsets… I can never get enough!

Peter and I have the pleasure of working with a lot of couples as they marry and I wish them all the happiness we have found over the last 25 years.  If we can give a little advice… love each other madly, have adventures always and stay young at heart!

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Our home base in Lahaina, Outrigger Aina Nalu.

Our home base in Lahaina, Outrigger Aina Nalu.

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BBQ dinner poolside.

BBQ dinner poolside.

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Out  & about in Lahaina.

Out & about in Lahaina.

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Dinner cruise.

Dinner cruise.

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Dinner at the Hula Grill.

Dinner at the Hula Grill.

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We did make it all the way to Hana.  We bought some Maui onion chips and headed back... it's all about the journey :)

We did make it all the way to Hana. We bought some Maui onion chips and headed back… it’s all about the journey 🙂

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Waianapanapa Black sand beach. It was nice to get off the winding road to Hana to clear our heads.

Waianapanapa Black sand beach. It was nice to get off the winding road to Hana to clear our heads.

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I heart Maui.

I heart Maui.

I kind of love these windmills a lot!

I kind of love these windmills a lot!

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Putting on my brave face!

Putting on my brave face!

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Some amazing views!

Some amazing views!

Sunset on Kanapali Beach.

Sunset on Kanapali Beach.

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Waiting for sunrise at Halakaleah Crater.

Waiting for sunrise at Halakaleah Crater.

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It was COLD! All manner of hotel blankets, towels & robes were seen.

It was COLD! All manner of hotel blankets, towels & robes were seen.

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Great place to cuddle... or cling to one another for a bit of body heat :)

Great place to cuddle… or cling to one another for a bit of body heat 🙂

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Otherworldly!

Otherworldly!

I spy with my little eye... windmills!

I spy with my little eye… windmills!

Had the most amazing macadamia nut pancakes at Kula Lodge after coming down from the crater.  Enjoyed taken photos of the flowers in the warm sunshine.

Had the most amazing macadamia nut pancakes at Kula Lodge after coming down from the crater. Enjoyed taking photos of the flowers in the warm sunshine.

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Grand Wailea hotel... nice to visit.  Maybe we will stay there one day :)

Grand Wailea hotel… nice to visit. Maybe we will stay there one day 🙂

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...and the windmills.

…and the windmills.

Visited the birds at the Hyatt Regency.

Visited the birds at the Hyatt Regency.

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Nakalele Blowhole.

Nakalele Blowhole.

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Driving on a scarily skinny cliff side road.

Driving on a scarily skinny cliff side road.

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25 years ago today! Started the day with champagne brekkie, then a little snorkelling.

25 years ago today! Started the day with champagne brekkie, then a little snorkelling.

Even though going to Hawaii was our present to each other, Peter gave me pearl earrings as he did on our wedding day.

Even though going to Hawaii was our present to each other, Peter gave me pearl earrings as he did on our wedding day.

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Time to luau.

Time to luau.

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I think the guy behind me found it annoying to be sitting beside photographers!

I think the guy behind me found it annoying to be sitting beside photographers!

We didn't notice :)

We didn’t notice 🙂

Snorkeling in Honokohua Bay... best hangover cure!

Snorkeling in Honokohua Bay… best hangover cure!

Last brekkie poolside.

Last brekkie poolside.

Last sunset... Waliea Beach.

Last sunset… Waliea Beach.

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Here's to the next 25 years!

Here’s to the next 25 years!

 

back in the day…

Oh yes, this is us in all of our baby face goodness!  A big anniversary is just around the corner for us, so I thought it would be nice to revisit those old film photos.  So fun to see how young we looked (well… we were young!)  Peter rocked a pretty decent ‘stache and who didn’t wear the hammer pants in the late 80’s.

My wedding photographer was none other than my mom!  Peter and I had a very small wedding, but a big fat honeymoon.  I don’t even remember how many countries we travelled to in six weeks, but it was a lot.  We had an amazing time, we both love to travel, so for our 25th we are heading to Maui.  Aloha!mjphoto-1-2mjphoto-10-4mjphoto-1-4mjphoto-5mjphoto-2-3mjphoto-3mjphoto-4mjphoto-1

then & now

I’ve seen it done before and now it is my turn to compare where I started to where I am today.  Can’t be all that bad right?  The good news is, now is where we are!

I started shooting weddings about 5 years ago when a friend asked me to take photos at her wedding.  My thought was… are you nuts?  I had been doing family and baby portraits up until then but never dreamed that I would take the responsibility of shooting someone’s wedding.  My friend had a really tight budget and assured me she just wanted someone to take some good pics for her, she wasn’t expecting a lot.  Alrighty then.

These are the photos I gave her from her engagement shoot…mjphoto-10

Sweet fancy moses… I was shocked to find A SELECTIVE COLOUR IMAGE!  It wasn’t even very good selective colour image (not that there is such a thing).  I think at the time I was using Picasa to edit!  How about that tilt?  I was feeling really profesh with that one.  The one image I will admit, I caught the emotion but it was out of focus so my solution at the time was to make the edges even blurrier.

I will say by the time their wedding came around I was a bit better and they did get some good images but I think it took me three weeks of blood sweat and tears to edit them.

Since then I have shot many, many weddings and it has become my full time gig.  I truly love shooting people in love.  Here are a few favourites from my latest weddings.

mjphoto-145 mjphoto-33 mjphoto-27 mjphoto-175 mjphoto-70My style has evolved with these words in mind ‘simple, timeless… love’.

… and I went to a few meetings to overcome my problem and I am happy to say no longer shoot with a tilt.

Seattle… final installment.

On our last day we revisited the Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit.  Amazing works of art from the talented artist Dale Chihuly.  

 
Photography was allowed but they ask you not to touch anything.  No worries there, I kept the ‘you break it you bought it’ mantra in my head as these beautiful art pieces were a wee bit out of the budget.  
 

This was one of the highlights of the trip… so many shiny things.

 
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Seattle part 5… the Aquarium

Really we were on our way back to visit the Space Needle by day and I was dying to see the Chihully exhibit (stay tuned), but decided to make a quick visit to the market and the aquarium since they were both so close to our hotel.  These photos were taken with my Fugifilm x100s… she’s a lightweight beauty, fantastic when you are out touristing!

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