A Lovely Little World

Adventures in Southern Ontario

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.

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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.

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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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Travel in your neighbourhood.

Somedays I want to travel so badly, I almost can’t stand staying in one place. A lot of times, I just want to say home and forget a world exists outside of the rabbits jumping around in the backyard. Fortunately, there are enough places in Southern Ontario to explore that most days I can be satisfied with the balance. I always think it’s strange that so often we fly to faraway places to see new things, when so often there are really interesting things in our own neighbourhoods we haven’t yet explored. I’m obsessed with abandoned places currently, so if you know of any good ones in the Haldimand/Hamilton/Niagara area, please let me know. It isn’t the same as returning to NYC with it’s other worldly rhythm, or even camping by a lake. I haven’t felt what it’s like to experience an entirely foreign culture, and landscape, which is definitely a priority in the future, but I do enjoy what’s around me, and that helps fills that wanderlust that colours my night-time dreams.

I use to hate visiting Niagara Falls, until I took a thirteen year old girl there, who had never seen it. We did all the touristy things on Clifton Hill and rode the Maid of the Mist. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed going. Being a tourist in your own area is a lot more fun that sounds, if you can get over the embarrassed and cheesy feeling of doing touristy things.

This is a little place we found about twenty minutes from home.

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You can see other blog posts on abandoned places I visit here and I’ve started a 500px account exclusively for my travels. There isn’t a lot posted yet, but there will be.

Even if you travel the world every few weeks, don’t forget to look around at what is right beside you. You could visit a busy city or a quiet countryside and not see anything that speaks to your heart, but in my home county, I find so many beautiful things. I guess it depends what you’re looking for really; I’m just suggesting you don’t forget to travel to your hometown and be a tourist there for a while.

 

 

Progress and Inspiration Needed

“Things are dark until they’re not” – Jamie Varon

“My God turns my darkness into light” – Psalm 18:28

We feel this overwhelming need to produce, to make progress, to be creative, to be at a certain place in our lives, to succeed. That’s not bad,but we chide ourselves for not having the motivation or inspiration we need to get the job done, to change who we are.  I’ve always done this, even though I know you can’t rush revelation, but I read an article this week by Jamie Varon that reminded me, I’m not alone and so I thought I would share my thoughts on the subject.

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It is impossible to change anything about yourself without the personal revelation. A million people can tell you to quit smoking and you may know that they are correct, but until that gets inside you, you won’t quit. You need that internal light switch flipped on. It is required to get the task done.

You can’t force revelation. So many times even with my own business and personal life, I struggled to create something and just felt cluttered, overwhelmed and headed in too many directions. This amounted to staying still. I wanted to develop a brand and niche for my photography.  I would read all the books and articles, check off all the checklists, and researched like crazy on pinterest. All while still feeling like it didn’t fit.

So how does it happen?

Randomly, when I wasn’t trying, I would see a photo or read a line and think “there! that’s it!” I was struggling to design a flyer for an event and praying for inspiration, I turned a page in a magazine, and knew exactly what I needed to do. You can’t force creativity.  You need that “Eureka!” moment. There isn’t a way to have it that I know of, just hopefully for your sake, your’s happen quicker than mine. Personal development is the same. You can resolve a million times to find the right man, or lose that extra ten pounds, but until the right moment, the light switch moment, you’re just fighting yourself.

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When you’re so busy trying to accomplish a million tasks, and be the person you think you need to be, it’s hard to have that moment because your mind isn’t relaxed enough. You can’t force revelation, you just have to be open to it. 99% of the time I make a discovery about myself or my work, I’m reading quietly, thinking about what I’m reading, not worrying about branding or personal development. Then it happens. Just like that. EUREKA! INSPIRATION! PROGRESS!

It’s semi frustrating because my revelation process is very slow. Things never happen as quickly as I’d like – but maybe if I breath a little and rest assured that it will come, the anxiety would lessen and I could hear my instincts better. Move forward with the revelation you have, and open your heart to the new. That’s the best advice I can offer. Don’t force it, listen for it. When you’re at peace inside, THEN the revelation will come.

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“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” – James 1:4,5

Also, don’t be so focused on the future, you miss the revelation of right now.

 

Mudcat Festival Part 2 – The Stotts

It’s Canada Day, and I haven’t even posted the rest of my Mudcat Festival photographs. I’m not doing any Canada Day events today, in part because last year I went to the Falls and it was so busy and so much waiting for a very brief firework display that I needed a year to recover, (kidding, I’m just really lazy today!) Canada Day people typically gather in parks to listen to music and catch up with people, so we can pretend these photos are from today.

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I really enjoyed the music in the park on the Thursday night of the Mudcat Festival, and not just because I’m friends with the band. The Stotts put on a really great show; it was lively, catchy, and just good music. James Favron has a great stage presence and the other James and Matt are just super talented. The park was full of younger families and friends of the band, as well as a whole ton of teenagers (friends of the drummer), but people weren’t drunk like at the other younger demographic events. James has a two year old and baby himself, who were out there dancing with James’ wife, and also trying to run onto the stage, so the concert was kid friendly. In fact, the park was full of kids running through, so it wasn’t exclusive in that sense. It was just a really fun night. We had perfect weather, and the Mudcat organizers sold coffee and t-shirts. I ran into more people that I’m friends with now than I did the whole weekend. I realize this is basically just a post full of pictures of people you don’t know, but they’re photos that document the event for me, so please try to enjoy them anyway!

I only made a few cell phone videos of the show, so I won’t post them, because the sound quality isn’t great, but here’s a video so you can here their sound. Also check out these photos by SGWills Photography.  And for those of you who don’t know, a mud cat is just a cat fish, and also Dunnville’s mascot and hockey team. It’s a weird creature to have a festival for, but that is Dunnville.

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