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Posts in Travel
Ariel & Thanh's Destination Wedding in Jamaica
 

Ariel & Thanh had an intimate destination wedding at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I flew down for the last weekend of their trip, to document this happy day.

Getting married on the beach at sunset, followed by dinner with the sound of the ocean waves crashing just a few feet away... It was the perfect way to celebrate.

As everyone stumbled out of the tent, to dance by a bonfire on the beach, we all gasped at the full moon shining down on the Caribbean Sea. 

 
Beautiful beach wedding ceremony; Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Bride wiping grooms tears; Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Bride and groom walking on the beach; Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Philipino Bride and groom on the beach; Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Destination Wedding in Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Full moon at Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Wedding reception at Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Bride and best friend on the beach at Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Bride and groom on the beach at night under the full moon at Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, in Montego Bay, Jamaica
 

Photographer: Kate O'Connor
Venue: Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica

 
Gratitude Lists: I am grateful for not getting eaten by a Lion.
 

In 2009 I lived on a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. For three months, I slept alone in a safari tent and every night a pride of lions gathered outside my tent and roared. I was lonely and scared. I made sure not to drink any fluids with dinner, so I wouldn’t have to walk to the bathroom hut after dark.

Last week I published my first official newsletter, and the topic was Gratitude. It’s Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d take the chance to expand on that a bit.

But first...

 
 A pride of lions at sunset, waiting to see what mom brings home for dinner... I hope it's not me!

A pride of lions at sunset, waiting to see what mom brings home for dinner... I hope it's not me!

 

After a month of sleepless nights, the lions moved on and my terror subsided... Until one day I had to take a trip to Nairobi, by myself, on public transit. For non-getting-eaten-by-lion reasons, people traveling between cities didn’t move around after dark: car-jacking at gunpoint. An actual, for-real threat. Crazy, right? Again, I was scared. I left in the early morning; took my trip and was greeted at my destination by a friendly face. All went well, and at the end of my third month, I came home to Toronto. 

What does this have to do with Gratitude? 

Sometimes, when my mind is racing with the to-do list, current events, irritations, or worries about the future, I get out my journal and do a simple activity: I write five things I’m grateful for, and five things I appreciate about myself. 

Ten things is a lot, and sometimes I run out of ideas. And it’s in that moment, I find myself writing, “I am grateful for living in a safe city where I can move around freely, without threat.” Even though it’s something I hardly ever think about, when it comes up on my list, the feeling in my heart is an overwhelming WOW. I am so lucky. 

So what does gratitude have to do with weddings & family photography? 

Getting there! You see, it has to do with life. In my attempt to be proactive about emotional health, I got into this little gratitude ritual and discovered that it actually works! It’s great for any time… But if nothing else, times of stress are when it’s most helpful. And let’s be real: holidays, family time, and big life changes and events (i.e. weddings) are both WONDERFUL and STRESSFUL.

Try This Out: 

  • Grab a piece of paper and write 1-10 things you’re grateful for

  • If you can think of 1, 3, 5 or 15, that’s okay

  • Try this at night right before you sleep.

 
 Looking across the savannah, at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. One of the most challenging and transformative three months of my life. 

Looking across the savannah, at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. One of the most challenging and transformative three months of my life. 

 

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to go to Kenya. Despite the fear and loneliness, I learned what I was made of that summer. My eyes were opened to issues ranging from global poverty, cutting edge environmental and community development projects, to what it means to have white privilege. At the same time, I made interesting friends and had indescribable adventures exploring the savannah.

 

Click Connect below to let me know what you think and read a description of my newsletter offerings right here. 

Rebecca & Nico's Cottage Wedding Photographer Review
Wedding Canoe Ride
 

"Kate was amazing. More than a photographer, she was our logistical and emotional wedding guide. Our early meetings and engagement shoot gave us a chance to reflect on our relationship, get comfortable being photographed, and sort out our vision of the wedding. On the wedding day, Kate was fun and kind, and a master at herding our scattered relatives into photos. The photos themselves are just dreamy. They're beautiful and meaningful. Thank you, Kate!"

– Rebecca & Nico

Click here to read more reviews!
Here for Jessie & Allan's cottage wedding,
And here for Lelania & Mike's Lake Huron cottage country engagement photos!

Caterer: Jeff Stewart, Pressed, Ottawa
Ceremony: Family Cottage, Gatineau Quebec
Dress: Boutique 1861, Montreal
Furniture/tableware: Rebel Tents
Hair & Makeup: Jessica Panetta
Rings: Anouk Jewelry, Heist Jewellry
Reception Venue: Zibi Presentation Centre

 
Rosemary & Alastair - Summer Camp Wedding at Camp Manitou
 

Memories of summer camp - the golden years - that nostalgic time of innocence, adventure, falling in love. Hope. Sunshine. Skinny dipping. You know, camp.

Well imagine all that, and add the day you stand in front of your best friends and beloved family, to make a commitment to yourself and a promise to your person. That's what Alastair and Rosemary did. They had an incredible summer camp wedding at Camp Manitou in Parry Sound.

It was an autumn wedding. Sunlight filtered through golden leaves and twinkled like diamonds, off the end-of-season lake. After the marriage ceremony we went to a quiet dock and I photographed the newlyweds, just the two of them. I put on my telescopic lens and hid off far away, so that Alastair could surprise Rosemary: he had taught himself to play the ukulele, and he wandered out of the woods, strumming and singing shyly at first. He sang to her and they both started to cry. Happy tears. The sun was low in the sky.

It was a good weekend. More than good. It was golden.

 
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Photographers: Kate O’Connor and Jenny Blair

Thank you to the creative team! Décor & Flowers: Rosemary's amazing mom, Mary Gibson Dress: Jealous Bridesmaids Hair & Makeup: Teryl Crombie Invitations: Minted Jewelry Design: Alastair Crombie, Alias Art Jewelry Men's Clothing: Harry Rosen Officiant: Lori Matties Venue & Catering: Camp Manitou

Are you interested in authentic photojournalistic coverage of your Awesome Wedding? Tell me about yourself, and find out if we’re a good match! hello@sweetheartempire.com

 
The Time I Loved Las Vegas
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"Day 6: Tell us about a time when you surprised yourself."

Soooo, incase you haven't noticed, I'm sort of... not so mainstream, I guess? Names I have lovingly been called include: crunchy granola, starseed, [dirty] hippie, politically correct, and nerd to name a few (specifically "nerd classic, not nerd-chic").

I took anti-oppression training in university, where I was studying International Development. I worked for two years in a feminist collective for Sexual Assault Survivors. I worry about climate change and income inequality and the field-to-table movement and the school-to-prison-pipeline. You know what I mean. I'm “one of those people”.... Or am I??

Soooo, a few years ago, I went to my very first photography conference. It was the huge WPPI Las Vegas (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International). In order to save some cash, I stayed across the street from the conference at, ahem, Hooters. Yes, the "Hooters Las Vegas Resort and Casino". No, no, you didn't hear me wrong. Hooters has a casino, and I stayed there for eight nights. Oh, did I mention I went alone?

Hooters Las Vegas Casino & Resort Pool
Hooters Las Vegas Casino & Resort Pool
Hooters Las Vegas Hotel
Hooters Las Vegas Hotel

I spent eight days and nights alone in Las Vegas and I loved every minute of it. Surprise! I crashed a private party in a hotel across town. Surprise! I won $200 at blackjack, and told my table mates that the secret was to play the chips "boobs up" (Hooters' chips have sexy ladies on them). Surprise!

Sooo, what is the lesson here? Don’t label yourself, my friend! Someday you may go somewhere that, in theory, goes against everything you stand for… and you might just love it! Maybe it won't be a physical place; you'll "go there" and try something you never thought you'd do, and it’ll be the best!

You might think you're one way but you're every way. We all can be anything... Malcolm X taught me that, and so did Vegas. Surprise.

Lazers and Blazers WPPI 2013
Lazers and Blazers WPPI 2013
Lazers and Blazers WPPI party
Lazers and Blazers WPPI party
WPPI 2013 Lazers and Blazers
WPPI 2013 Lazers and Blazers