The perils of working from home

By now we’ve all seen (and perhaps like me, watched on repeat) the viral video of work-from-home dad Professor Kelly being interrupted by his young kids and harried wife while he tries to carry on with a possibly professionally defining moment with the BBC.

Upon first viewing my reaction was that of mortification as I sympathized with the embarrassment of the situation. I am lucky to shoot on location and do my desk work from my home office while my young children are in school and nursery school. But inevitably there are times once the kids are home that I will answer the phone and confirm calvalierly that yes, of course it’s a good time to talk, while I hurriedly turn on the tv and set some snacks out. These diversionary tactics are almost always successful… for three minutes. At this point the snack will be consumed and the two-year-old will get right in my face to kiss me full on the lips with a breathy “I yub you mama”. The seven-year-old will, in a polite stage-whisper, ask if she should put out more snacks for her sister, and at least one of the dogs will vocally express their displeasure of me speaking out loud to no one in particular.

My cup runneth over and I recognize that, which is why upon repeat viewing of the video I find myself laughing more and more WITH them. And I certainly hope, 24 hours after their viral Internet sensation, that this family realizes that most of us, especially the work from home set, are wiping away tears of laughter because we see ourselves reflected in every frantic moment of the 47 second video.

This blog post joins the growing list of reactions already online: helpful listicles on how to effectively teleconference from home; play by play analysis of why it’s funny; looping gifs and memes of the children swaggering into the room and of mom sliding in heroically (presumably from a bathroom break with her pants undone), to wrangle the children and shut the door in a epic one handed reach. I could go on.

In another 24 hours we will have moved on to the next piece of Internet news but I’ll forever remember this cautionary tale and never agree to a video conference call if my children are anywhere on the premises. Work from home parents, how do you (or do you?!) manage to sound professional while a toddler is clinging to you? I’d love to hear from you!

The video, in its full glory :

Here’s a link to my favourite reaction article from The Medium:

and interview with the family in the New York Times:

My dog Kash looking as impossible to ignore as possible. Shades courtesy of the toddler in the purple princess gown.

One of the daily pleasures of the freelance life: picking up the kids from school each day.

What To Wear? Step by step suggestions.

Meet Shazeen and her family!  I’ve been photographing this lovely family every year for ten years and it’s been a pleasure to be a part of their annual tradition.  Each year’s look is unique and naturally I asked mom Shazeen about the process for pulling together each year’s family look.

1) Start early.  Shazeen will start about two weeks before the shoot so that she wīll have time to fill any gaps with a trip to Winner’s or Joe Fresh.

2) Start with one great piece.  Often a favourite dress from her own or her daughter’s closet will set the tone for the rest of the wardrobe.

3) Collaborate.  Now that the kids are older it has become more of a consultation process and it’s important to make sure the kids also buy in to what they are going to wear

4) Get dressed as close to the time of the photo shoot as possible. Minimize the possibility of wardrobe malfunctions!

5) Keep the shoot quick and fun (that’s where I come in) and let the kids go first.

I loved this shoot in High Park and it was the first time we ventured farther than their neighbourhood.  I personally love the colour purple and thought coordinating the son’s blue and red plaid was particularly inspired!

Here’s an example from our most recent shoot. Shazeen’s daughter wanted to wear this cute floral dress and after ‘shopping’ her own closet she discovered that by adding a thin belt she unified the look.

And a blast from the past… When everyone wore pink in honour of the birth of baby girl!

What to Wear?

“What should we wear for our photoshoot?” is the most frequent question I get from families before their shoot. I always advise to coordinate without being matchy-matchy but how do you do that without going down the rabbit-hole of Pinterest boards and Google image searches? I’ll be sharing the real life experiences of different families over the next few weeks so keep checking the blog for great advice.

Meet Veronica, a working mom who spent many years in fashion retail sales before making the transition after kids to sales in a more predictable office environment. While working in fashion she appeared regularly on local television shows (The Mom Show, CityLine, BT, eTalk) and shared style and fashion advice. So it was only natural that I ask her how she managed to not only show up on time and looking great in a coordinated wardrobe of her choosing.

Even though we were shooting in the summer when the weather was more predictable, Veronica wanted the look to be classic and not seasonally specific. That meant no tank tops, shorts or sandals and also no glitter, loud prints or super-heroes. Her goal was to look natural and together without looking cliche or contrived by keeping it simple with elements of colour.

Ok, easy for a fashion professional to say right? Here are the actual steps of her thought process:

1) Start with the “toughest customer”.
Veronica knew that the classic striped shirt was the only non-super-hero tee her two and a half year old son would wear without a fuss. That shirt became the jumping off point for the rest of the family’s wardrobe.

2) Add some colour! The second toughest customer was her six year old daughter who luckily loved the stylish and comfy dress as much as mom did. It was the pop of colour and also fit all of Veronica’s criteria.

3) Denim goes with everything. Veronica’s denim shirt dress was selected next. She wanted to keep the parents in relatively muted colours so that the kids would stand out. Dad was the easiest and was agreeable to anything.

Veronica is a big fan of the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) rule and advises to not over-accessorize. If you look in the mirror and suspect it’s too much then take it a down a notch.

I’m a big fan of this look — let me know in the comments if this advice is useful!

BradyMae & Kyle

Fabulous, fun and gorgeous!  BradyMae and Kyle and their wedding had all that in spades.  We started downtown at the Ritz Carlton for the preparations before everyone travelled uptown in a limo or limo-bus to the family church for a touching wedding ceremony.  Then it was back to the city core, where we literally stopped downtown Toronto traffic for some fun wedding portraits.


Toronto downtown wedding

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Family portraits with Andrea, Adam, Jayden and Ethan!

I’m thrilled to welcome the Janickis to the imaJing family! They come to me by way of mutual friend (and chef extraordinaire) Vanessa Yeung and I travelled to their home in Mississauga to take on a challenge I relish: convincing a pre-school aged boy to sit still while simultaneously keeping a two-month-old baby relatively happy. (This is where I’m tempted to insert a happy face emoticon). Moms, you know what I’m talking about. It’s tough as a mom to capture that fleeting smile and near impossible to make sure you are also in the photo.

Even though it may be tempting to cull out the ‘imperfect’ photos, I love keeping a few of the kids when they aren’t looking perfectly into the camera – that’s when you catch that mischievous glint! Even baby Ethan joined in with some of his own ‘blue steel’. Here’s a peek at a few favourites for now. Enjoy!

Family portraits with Shazeen, Navaz, Noah and Maya!

It’s always a treat to be invited back each year to photograph a growing family. Here’s a little peek at the K family’s recent photo session at their north Toronto home. As you can see little Maya does not suffer fools so catching this innocent and winsome expression was even more rewarding. Noah is an excellent big brother.

I should mention that Shazeen does a great job each year picking out the family wardrobe and I should really compile a retrospective of this and a couple other families who could help with the frequently asked question of “what should we wear for our family photo shoot?”.

Congratulations Kim and Paul!

Before I go on to describe the day we have to rewind about 24 hours as I describe perhaps the most unusual booking process I’ve ever experienced. It started with a text message last night from an unknown number asking me if I was available the next day for a wedding. Over the next series of messages we figured out that they came by way of the Feeneys (a very reliable reference) and that there would be a civil ceremony at the Ontario Courthouse and that only an hour of photography would be needed. The contract was emailed, location and time finalized, see you tomorrow.

When I get there today I am greeted by my contact Leah in a black dress and introduced to her sister Kim, dressed elegantly in a white suit. It took me few seconds to realize that Kim wasn’t upstaging Leah, but that she was the one getting married today! (Hence the hazards of communicating via text messaging).

Tall, and effortlessly stylish, Kim married her handsome groom Paul in an intimate ceremony in the private chambers of Justice Kelley, a friend of the best lady. There were only a handful of people present, the vows were simple and ceremony short but it was equally moving as any other ceremony I’ve witnessed. Little three-year-old Madeline learned that there was such thing as happy tears (don’t worry nobody’s hurt!) and was a terrific ring bearer.

Here are just a couple from the day. More for the wedding guests later.

Kim and Paul on their wedding day at the courthouse.

Congratulations Rebecca and Jeff!

Congratulations to Rebecca and Jeff!

Rebecca and Jeff celebrated their love for each other at an elegant winter wedding at the Palais Royale. The day started with preparations at her parent’s home in Burlington before we headed back into Toronto along the lakeshore for the wedding and reception.

On a personal note it was great to photograph this wedding. Rebecca and I were classmates from grades 5 through 8 and thanks of course to Facebook, reunited with our classmates about three years ago. Before that point, the last time we saw each other was in 1990! Bianca, another classmate was Rebecca’s best lady and between the three of us we must’ve looked at each other, shook our heads and said ‘wow’ many times over. It’s a real trip (there is no other way to describe it) to see each other again as responsible grown-ups, each with successful careers and in loving relationships.

And yet, so much remains the same. Rebecca is the same outgoing, vivacious leader with a larger than life personality. In Jeff she has found a sincere and kind soul. When I met at their home to discuss wedding plans I was struck over and over again by the respect and caring that Rebecca and Jeff share for each other. It was a sentiment echoed in all the wedding speeches — not only are they a great couple, but they are first and foremost great friends.

Here are just a few images from their wedding day. With the upcoming holidays I will be slowing down the Imajing train to enjoy the company of family and friends. I hope that you are able to do the same! Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Wedding guests please check back here in January for a link to the wedding gallery.

Rebecca with her parents Ann and Jim.

Rebecca and Jeff wrote individual thank you notes to each of their guests and wrapped these sentiments around the hand-made chocolates.

Beautiful centre pieces made by the bride and best lady’s moms complete the festive look of the Palais Royale dining room.

Rebecca and Jeff brave the December cold for a few moments alone before the ceremony.

Congratulations Katherine & Beth!

Congratulations Katherine and Beth!

Not only were Katherine and Beth beautiful in their festive dresses, but they were also radiant as they shared their love with the congregation at St. Matthew’s United Church.

The Reverend Michael Blair spoke about celebrating love, joy and imagination – and that by being a part of today’s wedding we were making a political statement about the possibilities of love.  There’s a campaign called, “It Gets Better” targeted at LGBT youth that has been making the rounds online recently.  I have no idea how far afield this website gets read, but I hope that this is just one small voice that can chime in with the others to say that yes, it gets better, and I have photographic proof.  I suppose by photographing and writing about this and Charlotte and Jeanette’s wedding that it could be construed as a political statement.  But that is far too complicated because what I see and what I hope that you see in my photographs, is quite simply, love.

This is the last wedding of the 2010 season for Imajing and it was fitting that as with the first wedding of this season, I was assisted by my husband Fred.  I often wish Fred could hear some of the great vows, sermons and speeches that I get to witness at the many weddings I shoot and I was so glad that he didn’t have to rely on my terribly tangential oratory skills to recount what happened today.  I’m better when I get the chance to edit what I write and better yet with photos so enjoy a few snippets from today.

Wedding guests, please check back in a couple weeks for a link to the rest of the photos from today.

Go Go Doggy!

The imajing family has expanded!  I’m happy to announce that my newest baby, or should I say puppy, is Go Go Doggy Photo.  As you know I have two big mutts running around this house alongside my cats and toddler and for the longest time they were my photographic muses/most available models.

My daughter Amira is babbling up a storm now at 16 months old, but one of her first recognizable words was ‘go-go’ which means doggy in Mandarin.  So in tribute to my pups, my baby and my peeps, Go Go Doggy Photo is the official name and website to something I have been doing for fun all along.  Please sit, stay and have a visit on the new site and let me know what you think!