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ALL THE THINGS

Real life is this beautiful.

 

Bebhinn & Ian's Wedding at Le Select Bistro
 

I met Ian years ago, when he got me a job at a coffee shop where he was working. While he soon left that shop to open his own store, Extra Butter Coffee, we stayed in touch and I was thrilled when Bebhinn (said like “bev-in”) contacted me about their wedding photos.

This was a magical wedding… An intimate affair at Le Select Bistro with a few close friends and family, including my sister! I was honoured to capture this very very very special day.

One of my favourite parts of the day was photographing Bebhinn & Ian at home getting ready together, with their adorable cat, Rolin. Rolin definitely suffers from FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) and wanted to be wherever the action was. Bebhinn was 7 months pregnant, so of course they were having a second breakfast, and Rolin decided to join them.

Ian & Bebhinn had the most gorgeous bespoke wedding clothes, including custom wedding rings, by Anna Lindsay MacDonald Contemporary Jewelry. I know I don’t usually post detail shots, but the way they were set up in Bebhinn’s sewing room was just irresistible, don’t you think?

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The flowers, by Van Harten & Tossell, were gorgeous, and look at that pocket square! This was a first for me, and I loved the look of it so much!

Now… One of my favourite moments was when Ian & Bebhinn got dressed. They had joked around and said they wanted to do a fake “First Look” because they thought it was super cheesy and funny and, to be frank, Ian thought a real first look was sort of a fake thing to do…

But when they got dressed, Ian needed help with his tie, and Bebhinn needed help with her dress. Being pregnant can restrict your movements, obviously, so they helped one another out… And the moment the dress came on and Bebhinn stepped back – so Ian could see how she looked – he was overcome with emotion! It was a real first look! I was soooooo happy.

Then they did the fake first look too (posted on my instagram - check it out) and we all laughed.

But boy, was I satisfied when the accidental, real first look happened. That’s the thing about a first look. It’s not the set-up that matters. It can be inside, outside or upside down. It’s the fact that YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED TODAY, GUYS. And when folks see each other all dressed up and ready to go, well, the only thing more exciting is actually doing it!

We piled the wedding things into the car and drove towards Le Select Bistro, BUT FIRST we made a stop at the bench where Bebhinn & Ian had their very first date. These two met online, and sat on the most random bench for a cup of tea… The rest is history.

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Friendship and community is very important to Ian and Bebhinn, and their wedding reflected that.

They both baked pies for the dessert table, and six of their friends brought pies ranging from gluten free to vegan (for Ian) to full (extra) butter. They also chose to make their wedding favours as part of the West End Food Coop Canning Share, which is closed now, but taught about canning, while helping farmers and the community.

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Finally the big moment.

Played in by Bebhinn’s BFF, the ceremony was officiated by the lovely Martin Frith, and included a ring-warming ceremony. The wedding rings were passed from hand-to-hand through every guest, to bless them and infuse them with positive vibezzz. I have seen this ritual before but honestly, the guests were so moved, and the love was so palpable, I can guarantee those rings are powerful enough to move mountains.

The readings were sweet. The vows were funny. The kiss was triumphant. This wedding ceremony filled my heart.

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We sneaked out to the back parking lot of Le Select so the newlyweds could have a few moments alone. Laughing and “We did it!”-ing, then squeezed together, with smiles as big as watermelons. And the baby started to kick. It was a happy happy moment, and I’m so lucky to have been there documenting.

Making our way back to the party, the evening that followed was delicious food, moving and inspiring speeches (the best man’s included mention of meeting Ian in a women’s studies – like, can these people be my best friends right now, please?!), much laughter, tears, and all-around celebration.

Bebhinn & Ian, words can’t describe how honoured I am, that you picked me to document your life in this way. I am grateful for the opportunity, and for the thoughtfulness, kindness and love that you have chosen to guide your life with. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Kate
xo

Thank you to the creative team:
Hair & Makeup: Tanya Phillipovich
Favours: West End Food Co-op
Flowers: Van Harten and Tossell
Rings: Rings by Anna Lindsay MacDonald Contemporary Jewellery and necklace by Heather Rathburn
Groom’s Suit: Indochino, vegan shoes by Novacas
Officiant: Martin Firth, Ceremonies with Choice
Venue: Le Select Bistro
Wedding Dress: Designed by Black Crane, custom alterations by Lori McMahon

 
2018 Year In Review
 
 

2018 was a magical year.

I witnessed the beginning of life, and the end.

I documented happy tears, sad tears, a 3 year-old’s accidentally-bit-my-own-finger tears.

I witnessed motherhood in the deep, quiet content of bonding during baby feeding, the it’s-not-quite-working very newborn breastfeeding, and the tumultuous toddlers doing yoga while eating feeding.

I observed dads kissing-better said bitten finger, and various other upsets. And granddads. And grandmothers!

I photographed best friends getting married, not getting married, making out, not making out, supporting one another, scream-laughing, chugging, doing the limbo, crying together, and just being present.

I could go on.

But instead, here are some photographs I made.

 
 

I can’t wait to post each of these sessions in full, but in the meantime please contact me if you want to see more.

It’s been a while since I posted a Year in Review, but here are some old ones, if you want to see:
2014 - the year of San Francisco
2013 - the year I started Sweetheart Empire!

And Happy New Year!

- Kate
xo

 
 
Elizabeth & Tom's Leslie Spit Engagement Photos (Tommy Thompson Park)
 

When Elizabeth and Tom suggested Leslie Spit for engagement photos, I was thrilled. Have you been there? If not, go immediately! FYI this is also known as Tommy Thompson Park, and there’s a light house, and you may or may not be able to make a camp fire (*ahem, not endorsing illegal activities, just saying). Any time of year, this reclaimed land on Toronto’s east-side waterfront is home serene, natural beauty – including a bird sanctuary, wild flowers, and biking, walking, and jogging for miles. We went at sunset (obviously!) and couldn’t have asked for a more magical setting.

…But actually we could have asked for more, and we did! You see, Tom and Elizabeth are a very special pair.

These are two of the most interesting and talented humans you’ll meet.

I first met Elizabeth when she had recently finished blogging 52 weeks of DIY projects. Yes, I said fifty-two. And this is also how I met the inimitable Shannon Lee Simmons (who later became my accountant). Some people’s awesomeness is hard to do justice in words, so just scroll down to the juggling photos, to get an understanding of why these two hold a special place in my heart.

 
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Thank you, Tom & Elizabeth for putting your trust in me to do your engagement and wedding photos. It has been an unending pleasure!

 
Mentally Preparing for Your Engagement Session
 

I start every couples’ photo session with a one-minute meditation. Here's why: 

When people show up for a photo shoot, they've usually just had an argument.

Yep, almost everyone. And that’s totally ok.

Clients arrive, looking gorgeous and smiling nervously...
But it’s a tense, tight, “We just sat in traffic and couldn’t find parking, and one of us made us late and the other took a wrong turn and neither of us agreed on outfits, and also we MUST BE IN LOVE and look good and this is going to be super awkward, AND we want this photographer to like us….” type of smile.

So I tell them – DON'T WORRY! I'm going to start with my Little Pep Talk. And then I trick them into meditation. Er, I mean lead them in a meditation.

Afterwards – after a bunch of deep breaths, some hand holding (them, not me), a medium amount of giggling, and more deep breaths – we all open our eyes and I explain why we just did this.

When I note that everyone gets in a fight on their way to the shoot, the couple bursts into laughter, saying “OMG we did too!”  They look at each other like, Yesss!
They're on the same team again.
All is well. 
Genuinely in-love eye-gazing and snuggling ensues. 

Life is life. There are new experiences to deal with and old issues that pop up, and THAT’S OK. 
Breathing. Helps. 

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The reason we do these photo-worthy things in the first place is because they are FUN, and joyful and lovely! Romance, nostalgia, celebration, togetherness – remember, the actual purpose behind photos and events?!

So, as you approach the holiday season, dinner with in-laws, family and engagement photos, BREATHE.

A little bit about me.

You may be wondering how I came to know all this random, wonderful info. To be honest, I’ve experienced my fair share of anxiety and awkwardness. I'm a feeler – emotion guides my definition of beauty, and defines what a worthy image is. This is a highly beneficial quality when holding space for others, making them comfortable, and witnessing intimate moments. But it also makes me a sensitive soul, and us sensitive souls gotta be proactive about our emotional health. You can read more about my journey on my ABOUT page. 

This, my young friends, is a DVD case (said like “dee-vee-dee”). In the olden days, people used them to hold disks that you’d insert into computers, to watch movies on… I KNOW, right?! It’s wild.

This, my young friends, is a DVD case (said like “dee-vee-dee”). In the olden days, people used them to hold disks that you’d insert into computers, to watch movies on… I KNOW, right?! It’s wild.

Anyhoo, in 2009 my sister bought me a set of yoga DVDs with an instructor named Rainbeau Mars (YES SHE SPELLS IT THAT WAY AND I APPROVE). Whenever I was in a tough pose – muscles shaking, sweat dripping – she would sigh, “Remember, this is a breathing exercise.”

At first I was like, “Whatever Rainbeau, easy for you to say, miss headstand-on-a-beach-in-Hawaii,” but I decided to take her advice and focus. I realized my breath was tense, not just my puny biceps.

As I relaxed the breath, the body followed. And I could hold the pose for longer. And my body got stronger. 

All that energy, wasted on resisting – trying to avoid the discomfort – was re-directed to the breath, nourishing me with oxygen instead. It was the beginning of my body-mind journey.

Now, I’m not a scientist (unless you consider magic a science, which I DO, by the way, so YES I AM A SCIENTIST), but I know 100% that breathing works. If you try it out for a short period of time, you’ll know it too. There are many ways to breathe, and lots of great books on the topic.

Do you have a yoga or meditation practice? Do you love breathing, science, or fun? If so, we've got lots in common, and we should become friends.

 
How to Stop Time, in 3 Easy Steps.
 

Back to school, Thanksgiving, Halloween… How is it the middle of November!?

Maybe you got married this year.  Maybe you said goodbye to your “baby” as they got on the school bus for the first time. Either way, it happened fast. If only there were an invisible photographer at the bus stop to capture that look on your face – crying, laughing, glaring with over-protectiveness:  love, your way.

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Ask this Magic Question

We all know it's impossible to "stop time” but there are ways to enjoy right now and make sure your memories stay with you. One way is the practice of Reflection.

Stop right now and answer this question in your mind: 
What was my favourite part of today, so far? 

A coffee? A kiss? A bathroom break? (Just saying!)
For me, it was writing in my journal first thing in the morning. I felt grounded, connected and safe.

How Reflection Stops Time

Reflection helps us focus our minds on little pieces of life that would otherwise go unnoticed.

  1. The noticing leads to a memory;

  2. The memory brings up a feeling;

  3. The impact of the feeling helps our brain flag that moment as a "keeper" in the sorting & filing of the mind.

Reflection is that invisible photographer you wish for. I ask every single one of my couples this question on their wedding day: 
What was your favourite part of today, so far? Whatever they say in the answer, they will remember for the rest of their lives.

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This is where we’re at:

The holidays are coming, then Valentines Day, Family Day, March Break, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, cottage season, wedding season, birthdays, back to school… AHHH!  You get the picture: it’s gonna go fast. Don’t let life pass you by; ask the question. Better yet, let me document your life as it happens, so you can let go. LET GO.

And enjoy.
 

8 hours of family photojournalism.

Imagine having permanent memories of your real life, documented by an invisible person. The looks exchanged. The silent smile. The exasperated eye-rolls. The special connections with those we see every day and take for granted. And those we see once a year and long to have more of

That is what I look for, with the photojournalistic style.

An invisible documentarian to capture the very fabric of your life. A true “day-in-the-life”  means no posing at all – you literally go about your business and I capture it. 

  • Family coming from out of town? – the perfect time for this.

  • Cooking & chaos & celebration? – the perfect time for this.

  • Mundane, morning routines with your boring family that you love more than anything? – the perfect time for this.

  • A slow dance in the kitchen after everyone has left.  Perfect time. I’ll just see myself to the door, by the way. You guys, you know, do your thing.