A Lovely Little World

Adventures in Southern Ontario

Highlights of 2016: Photo heavy as always

In 2016,

I was free from depression.

I loved music festivals, art crawls, hikes, bonfires, urban exploration, and spending time with “my tribe” (as much as I hate the terminology).

One of my best friends got married. Another walked her first runway (the one in the hat). Her husband started an amazing band (also the one in the hat). I did fun photo sessions with great people.

I visited the ROM Chihuly exhibit, Ripley’s Aquarium, the AGO and the AGH (multiple times).

I planned a photo walk with 500px. It got rained out, but it didn’t matter. I had my first solo Art exhibit.

I stayed at a cabin in Haliburton.

I started a new job in a city I love. I explored and walked that city, a lot.

I bought a new car! I helped amazing people do heartwarming things.

I saw how beautiful the world is at sunrise. I tackled things that scared me and found direction I didn’t have before.

I remembered how much I love music and started learning to play guitar.

2016 was an amazing year for me. The first year I thought I might be close to happy. Maybe you haven’t had your year yet. Maybe peace feels impossible. I know this is cliched, but please hang on.

All it takes is a little bit of light into the darkness – a second to weaken its pull and then you will slowly begin to push it back. You will find the path, the fog will break, the darkness will lift. Please don’t give up hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas time in the city

Tomorrow is the big day, Christmas Day! In fact, I suspect most people won’t be reading a blog post on Christmas Eve, but that’s okay. I’m writing it out for me anyway – sharing my thoughts this season, and a few of my favourite captures of the people and places I love, (starting with a few snaps from a family session with one of the best girls in the ENTIRE world).

Truthfully, this Christmas has been tough for me. It’s my favourite time of year normally, but some reason, this year single-dom hit me harder than other years.  Everyone around me is settling into relationships, and I’m just not. Not even close. All of that being said, things haven’t been all bad. I’ve realized how grateful I am for the friendships, family and support that I do have, and it dawned on me that if I had to trade all of that for a romantic relationship, I wouldn’t do it. I love my people far too much for that.  I stopped volunteering at the soup kitchen when I started my new job, and I still received presents from people there, which is almost too sweet for my heart to handle, seriously. I get to take photos (and hang out) with friends all the time. My co-workers are amazing, and the kind of people you know will be your friends for life. And I really love my Church.

I didn’t have a lot of time for Christmas adventures this year, but I still got in most of my Christmas movie favourites, and my friends who just got married, still had our annual Christmas movie night, only this year, they made a whole Christmas dinner, which was amazing. It was just on a work night this year, because all of our schedules have gotten so crazy.

The last few years, I’ve done all my shopping online and even though this year, I still did most of it that way, I went with Sarah, Joe and Katrina to pick up a few small things, and that felt really festive…. particularly because they dressed like deranged elves, just kidding guys.

And finally, the city is just so pretty at Christmas. Everything is festive. I didn’t even photograph most of it. Delivery truck drivers wear Santa hats, and formal offices look more playful with fairy lights. My favourite though, is balconies on apartment rises, decorated with colourful lights that you can see from faraway.

And I did make it to a Santa Clause parade, and any Dunnville parade is a treat for very unexpected reasons, (think Star Hollows or Pawnee) but that’s a post for another day.

Christmas reminds you that miracles happen all the time, and that’s something for which to be grateful.

Mittens in Trees

They hung mittens in trees at 7:30am on a Saturday morning.

It only takes a little bit of light to chase back the darkness… it’s common knowledge and repeated all the time. Sometimes we forget to focus on that bit light, and then all the dark feels like it’s overwhelming. The thing is though, you need to find a way to only keep your attention on the light. If you can somehow find light in other people, the darkness doesn’t seem so big and impossible anymore. More than that, suddenly there are just more people in your life putting out light. They gravitate towards other “light” people maybe. And maybe you can’t fight the darkness on your own, but when you’re surrounded by people who pour light into your life, it’s much harder to get swallowed whole.

If today, you can’t find any light, I’ll remind you of this example. Dunnville is a really small town, and although the poverty is apparent, the homelessness isn’t always. A lot of people are barely getting by, and even those who are, maybe just needed a little something to warm their hearts. A good friend of mine, Sharon, and her daughter Anita, decorated Dunnville with mittens and hats and scarves last weekend, just for anyone to take. They had acquired over 200 pairs of mittens.

They started out knitting them themselves, along with Sharon’s sister in Holland, but when people heard about what they were going to do, they gave. They donated money and mittens because they wanted to contribute.
070102 03 04 0506 08 sweetest-ladiesThey asked me to tag along with them, and they were doing it before people started coming into town, so early morning. I really love my sleep, but I decided to go anyway. We had the whole town decorated with woollen goods within half an hour, then they treated me to coffee and muffins.

People who found the gloves later in the day, during the Santa Clause parade, were genuinely moved by such a simple gesture, (plus I’m pretty sure people with cold hands were also very grateful). Sharon and Anita worked hard gathering and knitting and planning, and people were just so happy about it and volunteered money and support to help them do it again. The thing is, maybe the mittens won’t end homelessness or poverty, but it brings light and unites people, and I think that’s really amazing. I’m so blessed to have people who shine so brightly in my life.

Look for light, give light when you can. You don’t know who is watching, who needs help fighting off darkness. It’s never too small of an act.

 

JT: A couple session

When I first started doing photography professionally, I swore off weddings, not couple sessions, just weddings. In a way though, for photojournalist type photographers, they really are a dream. Weddings come with so many emotions, and sweet moments, and people are in some ways more informal with the photographer, because they’re thinking about love and looking their best. I love going through the photos afterwards even more, which is weird for me, since editing is usually my least favourite part of the process.

I have these friends who are always up to try anything, and I really wanted to try using smoke in wedding-type photos. We went to the beach, they were, as always their gorgeous selves, and the smoke did not work AT ALL the way I wanted. That being said, I’m determined to give it another go, I will master this eventually. In the meantime, here is a couple that makes everyone believe in love. It’s true, I’ve seen the comments they get on Facebook. Watching them interact was even better. Even if they were on their best (not that good for the record) behaviour.

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Hamilton Flea

Hamilton Flea was this weekend. It moves around each year, and this time it was at the old Lawson Lumber building at Dunsmure and Gage. My understanding is, they pick a different historical venue each time, and decorate according to a theme. Then all kinds of talented local vendors and vintage clothing sellers show up and sell their wares. It’s a pop-up flea market, which I think is a really fun idea.

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I knew a lot of my favourite shops and artists had reps there, so I went. I also really wanted to see the Petal to the Metal and try another Donut Monster donut. I loved both for the record. But of course, how can you not love a mobile flower shop and gourmet donuts?  My other favourites are Girl on a Wing, White Elephant, Jelly Brothers and Jenna’s Doodles.  If you’re looking for fun accessories, clothing and art that’s locally made (Hamilton), check them out. There were other great vendors too, but I tend to stick with my first loves, and ended up buying a few vintage photos from White Elephant, without even realizing I was buying from them. You know what you like I guess.  I ended up dragging one of my friends who described the event as looking like an underground scene for “white hipsters”, but then he went and bought a whole box of donuts, so I feel like the review was a bit pre-mature.  In any case, I loved it, and would definitely go again!

Exploring a new, old city

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There are perks to working in the city, especially a cool city, like Hamilton. Everyday there is something new to see, and so many interesting faces. I haven’t done a lot of street photography lately, but I really should. Hamilton is such a diverse place and “characters” are everywhere (and sometimes they are the people with whom you’re photo walking!) Most of these photographs were taken during the 500px Global Photo Walk. We got a lot of rain that day, but the sun came out for the last hour, just not while we were along the waterfront.  The down side to so many adventures (and a new full time job working with photos!) is that I never get time to blog anymore.  This post is only happening because I slept in too late to make a workshop I signed up for, so I had a few spare minutes. Hamilton is such a fascinating city. The more time I spend, the more I love the old buildings. I’ll have to schedule a post just on my favourites, although it’s not always easy finding out information about them, without hitting up the land registry office (and I work in the Archives).
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I’m currently obsessed with the Jackson Square Roof, actually, I always have been. Lunch times up there are so peaceful, and the light changes every day, so the window reflections in the nearby skyscrapers shift constantly. You meet different people than you normally would, and you take photos of them, even though it’s sort of out of character for you to even ask someone. So you have to let them take your photo in exchange.  Plus photographs taken from that vantage point (roof tops) make the world look like tiny dioramas. It’s weird, because you feel more like you are observing than participating.

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Isn’t this little alley way perfection? I love the colours and butterflies.14567575_10157501520590557_6626905078291348970_o paint people pretty-building rainbow roof skyline street-photography-fav unahppy-couple where-i-fell-in-love-with-you window york-blvdReally this post is just to share what I see each day, a rather beautiful world. It’s easy to believe the worst in people, and just see the garbage and smog, but try to look with a different lens this week. Explore a new or old place, simply because you can.

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A photo of me on a rooftop, by my good friend, James Allen Shepherd.

July James Street North Art Crawl

The August James Street North Art Crawl  is coming up this Friday evening so I thought I’d finally post my photographs from the July Crawl to get everyone in the mood. I’ve been a few times now, and although there are the regular features, there really is something new to see every time. I just love it. shop windown street super cool text love artist at art crawl Love at Mulberry Street little red building James Street North collecting hearts bookstore hamilton store art vendor hamilton store art crawl henna ice cream sign 04 03

There are always buskers and live music everywhere at Art Crawl. We found in July there were fewer of them out and about, presumably because it was calling for rain. The Mulberry St Porching Band was really good though, and we stood and listened to them for a bit. I’ve never heard them before, even though they frequently do these front porch gigs right behind the Mulberry Street Cafe. I try to sneak in there every time I’m down there, because I really enjoy their raspberry mochas, and they also have a gallery space that’s a little more accessible than some of the other places, I think.
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I never did figure out what the stray pieces of clothing with chalk words and arrows was all about, but I assume it was something interesting.  Artists definitely invent creative marketing techniques. 01

I really loved this bunting, so much so, I photographed it, and not the rest of the booth, which I feel a bit bad about but the sidewalk WAS quite crowded. It always is. That’s the main perk of the September Super Crawl. They stop traffic so there’s more space for walking around. Art crawllers the rest of the year are confined to the sidewalks and narrow shops and galleries, which is fun in one way. In another way, it’s a bit tight and difficult to see everything you want to see. The point of all this is, if you love artists and art and the creative lifestyle, you’ll love this event. Try it out!

 

Reality: Why I’ve Decided to Live Somewhere Else

“It’s time to live in the real world”, “the reality is…”, “You’re a little bit naive”, “if you had my experiences…”; common enough phrases, but here’s the thing, I have no intention of moving into that world. I have been there, but I prefer my dream life. People assume that because you have chosen to see the good people, you have somehow not experienced the bad. The thing is, I have. Everyone goes through terrible things and my childhood and teen years were definitely not easy. In my early twenties, I was very jaded and had decided I couldn’t really make a difference in the world. I didn’t even believe that romantic love was anything but a silly tv notion, designed to sell cards. People didn’t come into your life and stay. I believed in God, but I didn’t feel like my faith was effective in any capacity. I was hopeless, truly, and very depressed.

I realized that I had to do something different, because I was drowning. I cannot say that I could have done this on my own. I needed help, but now that I can see a little more clearly, I’ve made a few choices that help me not fall into that place of despair again.

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  1. Seek out the good.

Proverbs 11:27 says “He who seeks good, finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it”. If you look for evil, you will find evil. There are so many negative things going on in the world right now. Don’t focus on that. Be aware definitely, but shift your attention. Instead, make a point of looking for good things. Not just in the world around you, but in the people you meet everyday. Enjoy their sense of humour or the way they always hold the door open for others. Maybe they are terrifying, but create beautiful drawings. Find something. Eventually, you will create this little bubble of goodwill around yourself. You realize how much good there really is, and people will end up proving the goodness to you, even on days you aren’t looking for it.

2.  Realize that you can make a difference.

There’s another passage in the Bible “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” – Romans 12:21 and I always took it mean that you shouldn’t give into temptation or something. This week when I read it, I looked at it more in the Lord of the Rings kind of way. There are so many evil things that go on every day in our society, but if we choose to love, and make kindness and goodness our lifestyle, that can make a difference. Every time we are kind to someone, it’s small act against evil. When people are kind to me, it makes a difference in my life. Who knows how much difference you make in people’s lives? Even if you never manage to work major change, it’s better to live trying. You will definitely get hurt. You will definitely be disappointed. You are not doing it because it’s safe, you’re doing it because it’s good and right and LOVE does change the world.

Reality discarded geranium

3. Dream.

There is nothing wrong with working a 9 to 5 office job, but don’t let it steal the magic from your life. Don’t work all day, go home and eat, sleep or watch tv, and then get up and do it all again the next day in an unending routine until the day you retire. Life is FULL of miracles and magic and hope. Daydream. Make plans. Even ridiculous ones. Work towards them. If they don’t happen immediately, don’t give up. Keep dreaming. Keep moving in the direction of your dreams. Refuse to live in “reality” while living in reality. If you really hate your situation, find a new path. Don’t feel so locked in to anything that it’s impossible to change. If you can’t change it right now, dream how can change it. Take steps towards that. Put a few cents in a jar. If you have to spend those cents, start with fresh change the first time you can. Watch videos on the places you want to go. Research the dream career you’d like to have. Stop for five seconds and enjoy the way the light streams through the trees in the evening. Remember that the first sip of coffee in the morning really tastes good. My goal is to believe more in miracles. I have discovered how magical life is, but I still want more. I want the fairy tale. (Not literally, but in the sense that I have found my own happiness and peace through overcoming adversity and taking on “evil”).

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4. Share.

Share what you know about loving and hope. People will undoubtedly think you’re naive and sheltered, but you will know otherwise. You will know that you have deliberately chosen to be an optimist and that that is the path you need to be on. Also, just share. Give people things. Compliment them. Hug them. Find someone who has no one and randomly give them a Christmas present. People need each other. Someone needs you. Be the hope they need.

Abandoned Water Park Prudhomme’s Landing

We heard that developers had purchased Prudhomme’s Landing, so we immediately went to see the abandoned remains before it all gets turn down. There were at least seven other people exploring the grounds with us that day. The water slide, covered in graffiti, is pretty much a photographer’s dream, particularly when juxtaposed with all the overgrown trees and grass all around. It’s this weird urban treasure in the middle of nature. There was also a hotel and paint ball business on the same location. We checked out all three, but I ended up with nearly one hundred images, so I’m breaking down the posts into individual articles.

I haven’t done extensive research on the topic and neither have any of the pages that appear in the immediate google search listings. When I do, I’ll update for sure. The general consensus is that no one remembers when the park opened. I guess it just appeared out of thin air one day. There seems to be a lot of unknowns around its closure also, but people figure that it wasn’t running after the summer of 2002. It was very busy in its day, and boasted a very scary haunted house (with chicken doors). I sort of remember going through the haunted house once, a few years before it closed, and I’m not exactly brave about that stuff, but I don’t recollect it being unusually traumatizing. The haunted house, which was originally a mansion, burned down. Photos from the park in its heyday are available here.wet n wild wet n wild 2 top of the world take on the world slide at prudhomme's prudhommes tree prudhommes 03 hole in the slide Prudhomme's Prudhomme's prudhommes 04 prudhommes gateway prudhommes photographers prudhommes pool house prudhommes pool Prudhommes 02 pathway lake ontario jgg aliens exist bottom of the slide prudhomme's chair at prudhomme's exploring partner Prudhomme's Abandoned camper Abandoned camper Prudhomme's Prudhomme's landing prudhomme's water slide 02 Prudhomme's Water Slide

Prudhomme’s Landing motel burned down a few weeks ago, I think two weeks after I was there. We didn’t run into any ghosts, but Haunted North America has some interesting photos of the park in its abandoned state as well. Much of why they captured wasn’t there by the time we went, at least, not that we saw. My full set of images is available for viewing here with photos of other abandoned places in the area.

Leave Hearts

Please leave  hearts everywhere but first let me explain. The symbol of the heart is over-used to the point of almost being meaningless. It’s easy to look past it when you see it so often, (unless you’re in second grade analyzing valentines from your classmates to determine who might have a crush on you). A number of years ago, Drew Barrymore created a coffee table book of her heart photography and although I purchased it, I thought it was sort of silly. Hearts are everywhere. At Art Crawl the other night, I found a chalk heart on a brick wall in an art gallery and I realized how much I enjoy finding hearts when I’m out exploring. I don’t mean hearts made by nature, although those are interesting too. It’s really nice to go out for a walk with your camera and stumble upon a heart scribbled in ink or paint or chalk. It means so much, despite how little it means.

collecting hearts

 

It seems to me it’s almost like a secret hand signal but also like a lighthouse. It’s a message that someone intended to share with potentially universal meaning. Everyone can understand it but only certain people do. People who still look for magic in the world and by magic, I mean goodness and by goodness I mean empathy, art, compassion and voice, all mixed in one. People who draw hearts know that somehow a lonely individual, or maybe someone weighed down by all that is negative in the world, will see that heart and know that it means love conquers all. That’s pretty powerful.heart carved with initials

 

Not every heart is designed to be part of the code. Sometimes hearts are just decoration or carved in wood to express the love of a couple, but somehow that doesn’t take away from their significance. At least not for me.

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I’m not expecting to start a viral campaign or encouraging you to vandalize property with hearts, but if you see hearts somewhere or leave chalk or paper hearts behind you, and you think of it, I’d love for you to share them with me. I don’t have the monopoly on #leavehearts but there aren’t that many photos posted, so we will go with that or email them to me alovelylittleworld@yahoo.com. Thank you so much!

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