A Lovely Little World

Adventures in Southern Ontario

Author: alovelylittleworld (page 1 of 7)

The Ugly Day Didn’t Pan Out – Hamilton Bayfront

There was a day, a few weeks ago, I decided I would try to challenge myself and photograph “ugly” things when I went out for a walk around the city. Of course, it ended up being that really warm, sunny Saturday when so many people were out enjoying the sudden break in weather. It was impossible to not see beautiful things that day. Even the ugliness barely looked ugly. And there were so many couples just wandering around, laughing, holding hands, and a man feeding pigeons. I think that’s just so kind. A lot of people really hate pigeons, but this man had brought a bag of bird seed and was throwing it for them. No word of a lie, he was backlit by the sun, as if he was some kind of angelic being in the gritty centre of the city, feeding the very birds that contribute to its grittiness.

People always seem so much happier on the first warm, sunny days of spring. It did feel good to not wear a coat that day. And the feeling is infectious. But…. on the grey days… there are still solutions to combating the cold and isolation.

Pretty donuts, hot drinks, and a book in a cafe with steamy windows.

Cute, colourful buildings against a dark sky.

Buildings with big windows and weird architectural features…..

Really, whatever you please.

 

 

Why I Love Cities

Some people only want to live in cities. I have always known that I am a small town person. The countryside is beautiful, but the few years we had to ration water, and the amount of grass that needs to be cut, confirmed for me it wasn’t for me. At the same time, I’m not a city dweller, and don’t really plan to be, but I love cities. Every time I say that, someone inevitably points out the busy-ness and the smog and whatever else that is typically wrong with city life, and yes, I get it, that’s why I love my town but…

My reasons for loving cities are pretty valid, especially with my – coffee-centric, explore your neighbourhood and photograph it, love history, and indie art and music – type of personality. I will share my favourite city places in a later post, for now here are my arguments for why cities are great.

  1. There are coffee places everywhere. I’m not a connoisseur, I don’t ever think “wow, this place has the best coffee”, I just want a hit of caffeine and I don’t want it to taste like swamp water. That being said, it’s nice to have a variety of different places to visit, within walking distance, with their own charm. Small towns may have a coffee place or two, but they are probably in the same neighbourhood, and one of them might be a chain; it doesn’t feel as much like exploring and then relaxing, if you sit with your book. Also, you feel silly in a small town, and less anonymous, just sitting there working, alone.

Durand Coffee, in the Durand Neighbourhood. My favourite part is the mural

     2. Cities have super weird buildings. So do towns. But it’s fun to come upon them unexpectedly when you’re wandering around a place you don’t know very well.

These two aren’t super weird examples, but I’m quite certain you understand my meaning. There are unexpected things everywhere in cities.

      3. There’s a mix of old and new. This particular neighbour is a bizarre assortment of condos, apartments, and beautiful old brick homes. Did you ever see that kids’ movie, Monster House? This whole neighbourhood reminds me of that.

4. Now, towns definitely have this going for it… cities are full of the quirkiness factor, or the daydream factor, whichever you prefer. Those little touches of humanity that make you smile… a funny coloured wall, chairs on a deck where people have been sitting enjoying the sun, stained glass windows in an run down building. Those are my favourite things of all.

There are so many things to love about a place, but obviously, there’s no place like home.

 

 

Punchbowl hike in the fog

My birthday is at the end of January. That means a lot of cancelled birthday plans for bad weather. It’s meant that some years I’m reluctant to even try, so I had one main goal this year… hike a waterfall in Hamilton. Hamilton is known for its waterfalls and I’ve only seen maybe three of them. My cousin Liz said she’d go with me on my actual birthday, a Sunday. Of course, the weather wasn’t good. It was insanely foggy, which, by the way, is very weird for a Canadian winter. We went anyway, and despite the ridiculous amount of mud, which added weight to our boots, it was worth it.

I couldn’t really see the waterfall, but I managed to create some of my favourite images in years.

There is something about fog that instantly adds a level of mystery to your photographs. The world becomes an entirely different place. Devil’s punchbowl is on the far east side of Hamilton, and it’s also home to a really amazing bakery, (Best peanut butter pies you’ve EVER eaten).

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The downside to Hamilton waterfalls – even in the bad weather – there are tons of people who hike there. We saw at least three other groups of people and heard more. Although I guess that’s not exactly busy. It’s just not remote/secluded, like places where you would hike in Northern Ontario.

The trails here are slightly steep, so if it’s muddy, be careful unless you want to go for a slide, but otherwise, I would do it again – especially in the fog.

 

Grimsby Beach

It was really difficult selecting the photographs for this post, because Grimsby Beach is just so cute. 

Grimsby Beach is a neighbourhood right on Lake Ontario, not far from Winona. The cottages are candy coloured and still have all their ornate trimmings, the kind that make a place look like a gingerbread or doll house. It’s sort of sweetness overload, as if Sanrio invented a real life town for Hello Kitty to live in. I loved it. There are a few cottages that stand alone, but when you find the original cul-de-sac, you know you’ve arrived.

And when I say original, I mean historic.

(Historical photographs, courtesy of Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives). 

Grimsby Beach was originally established as a Methodist campground in the late 1840s. It was a dense forest and liquor was strictly forbidden on the property. By 1888, a temple was built and there were about 70 cottages with fancy gingerbread trim, where people could stay during the camp meetings. There were concerts, lectures, athletic competitions and a beach. After 1908, the location was a picnic area and amusement park. In 1922, the temple was torn down, but many of the cottages still remain and are recognizable in the old photographs of the area. Hamilton Library’s Local History & Archives has an actual archive of that area, (I haven’t gone through it). It’s easy to forget how many interesting places there are in Ontario, and if you ever need to explore a new place, it’s worth it.

 

Within Walking Distance James Street South

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!

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