My loves

Toronto Dragons Rugby Baby

I was inspired to write a bit about rugby, one of my great loves after hearing U of T’s new dean of phys ed Ira Jacobs speak last night at the football alumni golf tournament.  Jacobs stressed the importance of competitive sports in the university life and that many varsity athletes and alumni would consider their experience in sport to be as important as their academic experiences in the lecture halls and labs.  I couldn’t agree more.

For many years rugby was a big part of what defined me.  I started playing in my hometown of Burlington for the Centaurs, thanks to my best friend Karen dragging me off the couch and to a beginner’s clinic during the last year of high school.  I fell in love with the challenge of a new game, and the pure physical joy in exerting myself.  There was something about scrumming down, making tackles and running in the open field that the more traditional high school sports could not fulfill.

I went on to play varsity rugby for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and a whole other aspect of rugby opened up for me.  Being a part of a team creates an instant network of mentors, study partners and lifelong friends.  It was a home-base among the overwhelmingly large student population.  I got involved in managing the team, leadership at the athletic department and later leadership at my summer club team, the Toronto Saracens.  I continued to play after university and stopped about six years ago once weddings started taking over my Saturdays.

The rugby social network casts a wide net and it was because of it that I first met Fred.  Although back in those days he wanted no part of me.  I was that (very  young and very stupid) girl who jumped on the field to play intramural rugby with the men!  (Really, what was I thinking).  Fast forward almost 15 years and the two of us are now three, with Amira as the littlest Toronto Dragon.  My non-wedding summer Saturdays are usually spent taking in the game from the sidelines surrounded by my greatest loves; Fred, Amira, and my dogs Kafrey and Six.  Thank you rugby.

Ima-not-Jing | Toronto Wedding Photographer

“Ima-not-Jing”, or how I let go and shot for someone else.

I had the pleasure of pinch-hitting for Dave Abreu Photography on the weekend and shooting the wedding of the lovely Helen and Daniel. For whatever reason the original photographer couldn’t shoot so I accepted the gig on the Wednesday leading up to the wedding.

And then I began to question my decision immediately. Of the many thoughts running through my head I was first and foremost not sure how I could spend all day not being “Imajing”, and just being “Jing shooting for Dave”. In fact I wasn’t even sure if I would want to blog about this. Was I taking on too much with an upcoming family roadtrip that I hadn’t packed for yet? Are Helen and Daniel nice? Cute? Personable? These are things I would normally know about the couple after meeting and shooting them months before the wedding — luckily Helen and Daniel were all of the above. All I had was a simple itinerary with addresses and phone numbers and the knowledge that the couple would be easy to work with. This must be how substitute teachers feel.

Well as it turns out, weddings are weddings, people are people and I am Jing so everything came out sunny-side up! I’m just sharing a few photos from the day. The rest will be posted on Dave’s website.

As a fun sidenote, I did see a familiar face at the reception venue. Fantasy Farm (50 Pottery Road) is now owned by Jimmy and Sakie, who back in my varsity rugby days ran O’Grady’s pub on College. Good to see you Sakie!

Now back to Imajing.

St. George Golf and Country Club | Imajing Photography | Toronto Wedding Photography

I had the pleasure of photographing the St. George Golf and Country Club this past weekend. Club wedding coordinator Andrea Aguiar, who I had met last fall at Theressa and John’s wedding called me in to photograph the venue for their website and promotional materials. The venue was set up for a wedding reception later that afternoon. The palette was elegant combination of cream, off-white and green – I would love to see if the bride and groom matched my mind’s image of them!

It was also a change of pace for me. I’m accustomed to having people in my shots and often with wedding photography you are reacting to the moment. The people, the event, the dynamic of it all sets up the shot and I just have to be prepared to capture it in a beautiful way. Here in this setting I had to be proactive in creating the shot. I also wanted it to look like the venue was poised for its guests and didn’t look too staged.

Located in the west end of Toronto (Islington and Eglinton), St. George Golf and Country club would be a lovely setting for a mid-sized reception or one-venue wedding. The two weddings I shot there in the past have been atypical setups. One was an intimate dinner and the second was a marche style dinner in the main room.

Here are a few from the day, enjoy!

Sofia | Imajing Photography | Toronto GTA baby photographer

I had the pleasure of photographing little Sofia and her mom a few days ago in their home in Vaughn.  They were referred to me by my wonderful client, Shazeen (see a few posts ago, she’s the one who could teach a course on what to wear for your family portraits).

Sofia has the most gorgeous big brown eyes, and a shock of thick black hair.  I know you can’t help but notice the hemangioma birthmark over her right eye, but honestly after a few minutes with her, and in editing the photos, I don’t notice it anymore.   This birthmark should fade and disappear as Sofia grows up so the question is, do we photoshop it out as if it never existed or leave it be?  My personal philosophy is that photoshop should not change history, only enhance your memory of it.  So for example, I wouldn’t photoshop an ex-boyfriend out of a group photo, but I would happily fade out stretch marks on an expectant mom’s belly after a maternity shoot.  Anyhow, I’m getting off-topic, but it does lead to an interesting debate right?

I was inspired from the previous week’s wedding so asked Sofia’s mom to bring out some of her saris and scarves to use as backdrops.  Sofia told us quickly that she didn’t enjoy the prickly sequins on the beautiful fuschia scarf so we improvised quickly and draped it around her instead.  Here are just a few from the shoot.  Enjoy!

Fresh eyes

Remember that part in that Robin Williams movie set in a private school when he asks his students to jump up onto their desks to see the world from a new perspective?**   That just happened to me.  Maybe not in such a heavy-handed cliched way, but startling nonetheless.

As you know, I attended an all-weekend photography workshop this past weekend.  I could write so much about the speakers themselves (and I will soon) but what I wanted to put out there in this blog post is the idea of refreshing your point of view.  The week before the workshop I did a shoot and I was pumped/excited/inspired but upon review of my images felt deflated and discouraged: I saw the same old poses, same mundane ideas, etc, etc.

I revisited the images today and discovered that I was just looking at the wrong shots.  Yes there was some recycling happening, but right there, in front of me the whole time were images that are fresh, spontaneous, relaxed, classic.  All the adjectives I desire for my work.

When is the last time you looked at something again for the first time?

This photo features the lovely Adele and her groom Kevin at their stylish Simcoe Lake wedding, September 2009.

**The name of the movie escapes me, anyone?  Bueller?

Spring Awakening

Pre-amble: These photos have absolutely nothing to do with my blog entry below. Even though they are over three years old (and by extension, demonstrating my skill-set as a photographer three years ago), they are some of the most popular and still garner a great response. With the website make-over I just want to make sure they survives the migration. By the way, that baby is about to turn four in a few short months. Anyways…

I shot an award ceremony luncheon today at the University of Toronto and was struck by the wistful way the staff was talking about getting outside to take a walk at the expense of interupting a particularly productive work groove; or taking vacation time at the ‘right’ time of year to avoid the stress of playing catch up upon their return. (Today is March 18, 2010 and Toronto has been enjoying a week of sun and warmth – you know, the kind that prompts you to dig out your sandals and tank tops).

I felt like I was observing from a different universe. As a self-employed person I have, for the most part, the luxury to control my schedule. I get to spend time with my daughter and pets at home. I can choose to sit outside while answering emails, or take that walk and explore our neighbourhood. And when I work (especially for weddings), it’s intense work-mode with the bonus of getting to know and photograph fabulous clients. I have the best job in the world.

This weekend I will be attending a two day workshop for photographers. It was something I heard about and thought, in that same wistful tone of an office worker, oh if only I could go/I should be saving my pennies for that new piece of equipment/I should spend time with my husband/I should etc etc. All valid reasons but nonetheless excuses. But then, like a fairy-godmother (only in the wish-granting department) my fellow photographer Bryan Caporicci (who will be speaking at the workshop with another photographer I admire greatly, Robert Nowell), granted me a complementary pass to the workshop! Thank you!

So, to pay it forward, I am also going to grant a wish. I don’t want the message to be lost in what has become a very long write-up so look out for an upcoming blog post on the subject. In order to tell the story properly I will also need to get permission from someone involved in a past deed.

Post-amble: I noticed while proof-reading that I used a lot of commas and was reminded of the humorous reaction to excessive comma usage by one of the protagonists in “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery. I recommend that book if you are in the mood for some often droll philosophical ramblings and social observations. There is a plot but it takes a while to get going.

A privileged point of view | Imajing | Toronto Newborn Photography

As a photographer I get the best seats in the house for some of the most important moments in people’s lives.  It is a privileged point of view which I get to share, preserved in images that later become part of the collective memory of the events.   I think one of the best compliments I’ve received was from an expectant dad who upon review of their maternity shots told me that the photos made things look way better than what he saw in real life.

This same expectant dad is now really a dad and today I got to visit them at the hospital.  Baby Owen was barely 18 hours old when I photographed him! Mom and dad were both beaming with pride.

Congratulations!  And thank you for letting me in on these first few hours of Owen’s life.