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Posts tagged portraits
How to Take a Great Group Photo

ASSIGNMENT: "Teach us something that you do well." I can do that!

Here are a few simple tips for how to take a group photo!


  • Pick a spot where your group can either be in front of a plain background, or far enough away from their background that it will fall out of focus in the picture.

  • Pro tip: If you can back up far away from your group and zoom in with your lens, that will make the background even more blurry and beautiful!


  • Try to be in open shade (that is, in the shade, but when the subjects look up there's nothing above their heads), or with the light coming from behind them - so that it's illuminating everyone evenly and not shining in their eyes, making them squint.

  • Pro tip: soft, reflected light is flattering, so if your subjects are facing (or close to) something large and neutral - such as a wall or sidewalk with the sun shining on it - that is an added bonus!
Wedding photographers look for lighting & locations that will accentuate the special people at your wedding. 

Wedding photographers look for lighting & locations that will accentuate the special people at your wedding. 


  • Everyone should stand in a straight line, not a U shape. People have a tendency to get into a semi circle but you want them to be on the same plane, to keep everyone in focus.
  • Get everyone to angle inwards slightly, towards the centre of the group (it's slimming and you can fit more people in).
  • Clean up the look by having folks do up the top button of their blazer, and put dangling hands in their pant pocket.
  • Pro tip: make sure people's chunky wallets, cell phones, lunch, or other random paraphernalia are taken out of their pockets, to avoid strange impressions in the trouser area.
Angling your toes towards the centre of the photo is flattering, and fits more folks into the shot.

Angling your toes towards the centre of the photo is flattering, and fits more folks into the shot.

Happy Smiles

  • "Happy Happy"
    • The most successful prompt I've been using for years, I got from my friend Rudo Vacula, of Toronto Wedding Studios. It works 98% of the time: Happy happy!
    • That's right, you - the photographer - say, "Okay everyone, looking right here," (or whatever you want for that part) and then you say, "HAPPY HAPPY!"
    • It's amazing - it always makes people laugh.
  • "Mommy"
    • In an emergency I have another one that I mostly use for groups including a surly teen or crotchety family member, and that is: "On the count of three, I want everyone to say the word 'MOMMY!' One, two, three..." and that totally works too.
Even the most serious subjects burst into smiles when they look at someone they love. Eye contact for a natural smile, every time. 

Even the most serious subjects burst into smiles when they look at someone they love. Eye contact for a natural smile, every time. 

  • "Look at each other"
    • For a group of two I'll often take a few snaps, then get people to look at each other. I photograph that too, if they happen to have a nice moment together.
    • The beauty is, after looking at each other, I get them to look at me again and take a few more photos, and this time their smiles are real.

Have fun practicing taking great group photos, with happy natural smiles!

2014 Year in Review

I often hear myself telling people, "I have the best job in the world" ...So, yesterday I compiled a slideshow of images I shot in 2014, and it's confirmed: I do have the best job in the world! The exercise of making a 2014 year-in-review struck me with a simple truth: we are surrounded by love. I know, I know - so cheesy. Well, I don't care! It is true, and it's beautiful. Once you see all the things I witnessed in one year - the faces, the laughter, the tears, the eyes with that spark of light - of hope - from the very first days after birth to the late years of a great-grandfather... You'll feel it too.

Life is a collection of fleeting moments. All we can ask is to notice them as they happen. To feel our feelings and not be numb. To shriek with laughter, to cry from sheer joy, and to confront the crush of sadness - the loss inevitably tied to love, that knowledge that someday life will take the ones we let ourselves love. This year I learned something else though. (And now you'll Really think I've gone off my rocker.) We are together. 

We are in this crazy world, humans all sharing our lives. And so we are connected, not alone. So go ahead - feel the things that hurt so good in your heart, and let them be. I am with you. And let me see you - let the world see you - it's okay to be afraid. Because something amazing could happen: I could love you.

I already do.

I feel so so incredibly privileged to experience these deeply personal moments with the people around me. Thank you to each and every glowing soul who shared a part of your life story with me in 2014. I wish you adventures, love, and even more laughter for 2015!!

Published in Persian Tribune! My {First} Magazine Cover

How excited was I, when I was contacted by Elle Daftarian (event planner / dessert maker / mom extraordinaire) to do a portrait session on location at her new bakery.

I was even more thrilled to find out that the images would be used for the cover story of Persian Tribune Magazine! I went to the gorgeous little shop at Broadview and Queen and was instantly taken in. Elle has an eye for beauty that I won't attempt to describe in words - just take a look for yourself.

Elle Daftarian on Persian Tribune
Elle Daftarian in Persian Tribune
Elle Daftarian in Persian Tribune

I photographed the adorable party for Elle's daughter's first communion. It was great to meet her team again and witness their creativity in action, which apparently involves a lot of joking around and a substantial intake of baked goods... Here are the images from our day:

Elle Daftarian of Petite & Sweet
Portraits of Jamie Unwin

One of the most incredible parts of my work is having the opportunity to meet interesting and inspiring people from all walks of life. Jamie contacted me because she needed high quality, natural looking portraits to represent herself; she was running for election in a national campaign to be the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) National Student Representative. We met at her apartment in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood and spent an hour talking and laughing. The photos below are the result.

Not only did Jamie win the campaign, but she has recently been profiled on York University's planning blog as an outstanding student, researcher, innovator, and community member. Jamie you rock!!


Jamie's shoot demonstrates the versatility of a simple portrait session - she can choose the smile that represents her best and use these images for any type of profile - work, school, or personal. Although Jamie has used different pictures for the campaign, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, they all tie together in their similar style, making her face memorable and familiar to everyone who comes across her work.