Friday, December 30, 2011

Daily Doses of Joy

Only one more day left 'til this year reaches an end and I, like many, find myself contemplating the coming year.  I vacillate between feelings of utter excitement and sheer panic:  There’s so much to do, where do I start?  There are so many possibilities, isn’t life AMAZING!  How might I better myself, and the lives of those around me?  Will I be able to effectively manage being a wife, mother, and businesswoman?  Although the myriad of thoughts causes me simultaneous joy and fear, I do believe that the process of deciding on long-term goals a necessary and fulfilling one.  I also believe that it presents us ideas about smaller changes that might act as the stepping-stones to the bigger stuff.

One of my goals for this coming year is to spend a little more time each day ‘living in joy’.  I think I already sincerely enjoy moments in my day, but I think I could spend more time ‘there’.  Between one child in kindergarten, one in Grade 1, their extra-curricular activities, playdates, groceries, housecleaning, friends, family, marriage, working out, Bella Faccia, and my own yearning to learn more about my art and myself…geesh, the days fill up and, it seemed, there wasn’t much time to quietly be present in the moment...or maybe there was and is (this is a revelation I seem to have often but haven’t been able to fully integrate into my everyday!)

Over this past year I’ve been aware of (and inspired by) a number of people doing 365 projects…the projects I know about involve photography, whereby the person commits to taking and posting an image everyday.  Ian McKenzie, whom I met on a photography workshop, was the first person that I actively followed (he’s one helluva photog who posted pics from urban and rural settings, landscapes, architectural shots and portraits on his quest for a daily shot).  I follow another photographer’s blog, Richard Radstone (an instructor over at PPSOP), who took the idea up a notch (or three!) and has set out to photograph AND interview one STRANGER everyday – WOW!  Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou embarked on a year long project entitled “Fabulous Film Fridays” that I’ve really enjoyed (if you don’t already own a Holga you’ll want to after viewing their work!)  Another photographer, acclaimed artist Dewitt Jones, posts an image everyday with his tag line “Celebrate what’s right with the world!”  I don’t believe Dewitt has any set resolution; rather he simply enjoys sharing beauty, and a majority of the images he posts on Facebook were captured with his iPhone 4S. 

I was recently gifted an iPhone 4S and I have been LOVING having a camera along all the time (I don’t typically walk around with my full frame 5D Mark II but I almost always have my phone with me!)  In addition, there are a bunch of fun apps made specifically for taking, editing, and sharing the imagery captured with the phone’s camera.  I found myself playing around and posting photos as I went (mostly in an effort to understand how this new technology works!).  A friend sent me a note a week or two back saying that she wouldn’t object to me posting an image everyday and it occurred to me that a 365 project might be kind of fun!  But then I started to worry, “what if I can’t fit in a picture everyday?”  And then I thought, “who cares!”   


Over these past few weeks I’ve used my iPhone to create portraits of my kids and dogs, I’ve captured spectacular Alberta skies, I’ve snapped a few while making dinner (thank goodness for a patient husband and good-natured friends!), and even took one while at a red light one day!  Each time I created an image I felt inspired, renewed, and even, yes, joyful…joyful because I love making pictures!  When I’m working I feel a lot of joy; however it is, necessarily, tinged with the pressure of producing a portrait that, hopefully, captures my client’s true self – and, during my work, there is often an expensive full frame camera, studio lights, modifiers, wireless triggers, and people waiting for spectacular results.  When I’m taking pictures on my own time, and with any ol’ camera I choose, with no rules about what, who, or where, it is a totally freeing experience – I would say that, for me, it’s quasi meditative.

So here I go…I am officially beginning my 365’ish project (the ‘ish = me releasing myself of unnecessary pressure!)!  The images will be posted to my personal Facebook page, although I will likely share some on Bella Faccia’s page from time to time. 

I am excited about this small step I am taking toward a larger vision of increasing the joy in my life.  I hope that you too might find a little project that brings you daily joy – a new recipe a day if you love to cook, perhaps a ‘12 project’ where you read the top 12 books you’ve always wanted to read but never got around to, or anything that will have you joyfully looking forward to your daily ‘meditative moment’ in this chaotic lifestyle we lead.

I wish you a new year filled with JOY and the awareness that we sometimes (perhaps often) need to schedule it in!

Happy New Year!

Life is great!


* All photos included in this post were taken by me with the iPhone 4S using Instagram, Camera+, Snapseed, and sometimes both Camera+ and Snapseed!

~You may view Ian McKenzie’s work at
~Richard Radtsone’s blog is over at
~Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou just wrapped up their Fabulous Film Fridays and are now embarking on their new project…you can see their work, purchase their e-books, find out about their photography workshops, AND be inspired to live a life that’s a little lighter on our planet, over at
~Dewitt Jones website is

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Holidays!

2011 has proven to be a year of change and transition for me.  There have been great times, good times, not so good times, and downright challenging times.  I wouldn’t change any of it.

As the year’s end draws near we tend to reflect, ponder the choices we’ve made and the ones we’re considering.  It can be difficult to know what value our mistakes and successes will have in the long term, but one thing is certain: if you tried, if you were sincere, if you were present, and even if you messed up…there was value. 

Last June I wrote a blog post that touched on ‘balance’…that elusive ‘thing’ that most of us, in this hectic and fast paced life, are craving.  During this year I had days in which I felt, whole heartedly, that I’d achieved that golden state of blissful balance.  During this year I had days in which I felt, whole heartedly, that I was miles from any sort of  ‘blissful state’ and not quite sure how I’d gotten there or how to get back.

What I know is that ‘balance’ is a moving target.  It is up to us to pursue, with vigor, our dreams while taking the pulse, often, of how our pursuit is impacting the other, and equally important, facets of our lives – our family, our home life, and our friendships.  Let us not throw in the towel just because the dishes aren’t getting done or the laundry is piling up; it is on those days, when we feel most at odds with our choices, that we must persevere and brainstorm ways of making it all work.  However, sometimes we are required to ‘take stock’ and recognize that we simply can’t do it all (this realization seems perfectly easy to say some days but is downright irritating on others!).  I've both persevered and have had to change my course slightly this year, and it's all felt wonderful and difficult (such is life!).

I am so grateful to the year 2011 for it has provided me with increased awareness of where I want to go, how I might get there, and who I’m going to be along the way.  I am so grateful for a husband who supports me unconditionally and who offers me the latitude to screw up knowing I’ll still be loved.  I’m grateful for two amazing children who make me laugh daily and who are growing up to be ‘great citizens of the world’ (which I consider my mandate as their mom).  I'm grateful for our two 'first born', Dylan and Dixie, who epitomize unconditional love! I’m grateful for my and my husband’s families who offer us love, support, and babysitting!  I'm grateful to have a passion of my own to pursue.  I’m grateful for my friends, old and new, who encourage and inspire me.  I’m grateful for my health and that I live in a peaceful country.  I’m simply grateful (although I’ll admit to needing to remind myself of this on occasion!).

As I meander this journey of motherhood, marriage, citizen, small business owner, and friend, I am cognizant of the opportunities afforded me and I am thankful.  To each of you who have offered me encouragement, advice, kindness, support, and business this year – my very sincere thanks!

May 2012 bring all of us closer to our dreams (with some balance along the way!)
Wishing you much love, peace, health, and goodwill.

Life is great!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Birthday Gift

I was recently hired to do maternity photos for a lovely lady, whom we’ll call S.  She hoped to surprise her husband with beautiful photographs for his birthday…an amazing and personal gift from a very special time in a couple’s life together!

Copyright 2011 Bella Faccia Inc.
S. was referred to Bella Faccia through her friend/my client & friend and was hopeful that the shoot would be fun, comfortable, and that it would result in images that she was proud to gift her husband with.   I was thrilled that, by her own account, we accomplished all she’d hoped for!  Her words, upon seeing the private, on-line gallery, were:

“Thank you so, so much for a great shoot on Saturday! You are amazing at what you do and I appreciate so much how comfortable you made me. I have no doubt that this will be the best gift ever for C. (aside from the actual baby, haha)!”  (S. – I agree, that baby is going to be the best gift EVER but I’m happy that we managed to create a runner-up for the records!)

S. and Bella Faccia worked together (quickly, as the birthday was fast approaching) to create a number of beautiful prints, including a 3 image collage that she had framed in time for the birthday celebration.  When I enquired how the gift opening went, she said, “He LOVED the photos!! I actually surprised him! Thank you so, so much again!”  I was thrilled that the images were such a success that they placed an order for more!

Copyright 2011 Bella Faccia Inc.

 These shoots are so much fun…there is an abundance of collaboration, music, laughter, trust, and a shared dedication to getting the very best shots possible.  It’s always an honour to be trusted with someone’s portrait session; it’s especially meaningful when hired to do a session that will require the person to step well outside of their general, day to day, comfort level in order to create something really special.  S., you are AMAZING and I so appreciate your trust in me and in Bella Faccia, thank you!

Life is great!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Raising the Bar

Last night my husband, children, and I attended a book launch.  The photographer was George Webber and his newest book is called “In This Place: Calgary 2004-2011”.

I first met George in 1992 when I attended my first formal photography course.  The course was being taught at our local technical college, SAIT, and George, I now know, was instrumental in developing their photography program.  I was young at the time and in that in-between period of high school, travels abroad, and decisions about my immediate and long-term plans.  I recall George being passionate about photography – his, ours, and others’ - and it left an indelible mark on me.

Fast forward to 2007 when my husband surprised me with a Canon 40D – my first foray into the digital photography world.  When I had first taken that class with George those many years earlier, I’d done it with a decent SLR but one that was almost entirely automatic; I knew that I wanted to learn not only about shooting digitally but I also wanted to have a better understanding of manual settings.  In 2008 I enrolled in the very same class (which now includes the digital aspect) that I’d attended back in the early ‘90’s and walked in that first night to see GEORGE WEBBER standing there! I went on to complete the Certificate of Photography at SAIT and was lucky to have George as my instructor in ‘B&W Darkroom’ as well.

During my darkroom class I told George about a party my family was hosting at our farm.  George seems to be drawn to history and preservation; it seemed that our refurbishment of an old train station, and the pursuant celebration to mark its centennial, captured his interest.  I asked if he might like to participate in the Authors’ Corner at the party and I was thrilled when he said yes!

I occasionally run into George – at the print lab we both use or at seminars – and I always feel like I am in the presence of a great…a man who continually strives to further his art, to encourage and mentor others, and to do it all with a smile on his face and a kind word for anyone with whom he interacts.

Please visit to learn more about the man and his work.

Congratulations, George, on your newest book and on being a photographer and human being who ‘raises the bar’!

Life is good!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Introducing a Princess

It is with great delight and anticipation that I am planning the addition of a permanent studio space in our home!  Of course the primary reason is so that I can eliminate the need to set up and tear down the ‘studio’ for each shoot (‘cause I’d rather be doing something productive or fun with that time!); the other reason, which is actually really exciting for me, is that I will then have a space to practice lighting set ups and techniques any ol’ time I feel like it!  

So, there I’ll be in the new and wonderful space…but then what?  You can’t really learn to light a subject without a subject!  I do a lot of learning, just like everyone does, on the job; but I wanted more time to play, to fiddle, to experiment, and to be curious.  My first thought was to use models, but they’re expensive and when you're working around your kids’ schedules (which is true for any at-home parent) you want to be flexible…it was pretty clear, pretty quickly, that models weren’t the way to go.  My second thought was an assistant, which is what brings us to the focus of this piece…

I’m thrilled to introduce you to my new assistant!  She has agreed to sit for me whenever I want (in between serving Froot Loops and resolving disputes!), she won’t charge, and she’s flexible/positionable (you can imagine how brutal my web history was last month when 'googling' "flexible dolls"!  I think I had a permanent blush during those few weeks of searching for the perfect ‘assistant’ and had to keep my fingers crossed that the police didn’t need to use my computer for anything!)!  All kidding aside, I am thrilled with the thought of learning whenever I want while not inconveniencing anyone or going broke!

Now, what kind of boss would I be if I didn’t give my new assistant a name?!  For me it felt like naming a baby and I didn’t want to get it wrong.  I desperately wanted a name that would inspire me and so I made a list of things she would serve to represent: grace, beauty, sexiness, intelligence, playfulness, elegance, and confidence all were fairly immediately jotted down (this is how I want my women clients to feel while they’re in front of my lens) and it led me to:  Principessa.  Just like when I named the company; this name simply makes me smile (plus I like the subconscious thought that this very rich, extraordinarily beautiful, and powerful woman has asked ME to light HER!).

Now, this isn’t the ‘secret project’ that I wrote of a few weeks ago, that will remain under wraps for now, but Principessa will certainly play a role in it!

Life is good!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feeling WIGgy and Loving It!

I have been quietly contemplating a project for the past two weeks, ever since an idea popped into my head.  I have spent many of my waking hours pondering the project: Will this work?  How would I xyz? Does it have merit?  Why should ‘I’ do this and not someone else?  Is this as CRAZY as it seems? Etc., etc., etc.!  I am a passionate person and I do often find myself going full steam ahead when I get an idea, but this one has me feeling such a myriad of things that it’s hard to narrow down if A) I’m super excited and really believe I’m the perfect person to do this or B) if it really is a ridiculous notion that should never be spoken of again?! 

As often happens when you need a little direction, enlightenment, or encouragement it will present itself and today was no different! This morning I was blessed with two truly remarkable and inspiring notions that seemingly closed the chasm between the cheering and the mocking in my head.

Today’s first inspiration was presented as a post on Facebook; my good friend and all-around AMAZING woman, Candace W., shared the following quote by Albert Einstein:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Wow!  I can’t imagine that this quote wouldn’t resonate with every individual on earth…we are all unique and worthy and capable of pursuing a path that was quite possibly specifically designed for us!  It is so easy to believe the criticisms, including those that are indirect, veiled or invented by us and our fears, and forget that we have characteristics, abilities, experiences, inherent traits, and talents that combine to make us the perfect, and perhaps only, person able to conceive of a particular idea (especially those that seem outrageous) and then make it happen!

A little later in the morning, Oprah emailed me (we’re tight! :) ) within which was included a link to an article by Martha Beck.  The title of the article is Dream Big: Why You Need Wildly Improbable Goals”.  Beck speaks of these dreams as WIGs and says that they are flashes that pop into our heads unexpectedly.  She says that when we have one of these flashes we must listen - when our inner selves speak to us, it is all too easy to dismiss the idea as too crazy, too impossible, too unlikely, but if we let it resonate we just might discover our life’s path!  The other critical component is that we nurture our spirits so that we are healthy enough to pursue what might appear crazy to others (and potentially, especially in the early going, to us too!).  Beck writes, “Just as a run-down body may be unable to conceive a healthy new life, a run-down soul can't support the healthy development of the life you were meant to have.”

And so...I had the flash, I’ve battled the urge to dismiss the idea outright, I’ve already taken steps toward achieving my WIG, and I am feeling ALIVE and EXCITED and, shhhh, a little nervous!

Due to the nature of the idea I don’t feel that describing it here and now is wise nor necessary; I do however hope that one day, in the next year or two, I will write another blog post on this subject telling you all about my impossible goal and it's completion!  For now, let us go forward with each of us paying particular attention to those random thoughts that come out of nowhere, and which may very likely change our lives, whilst reminding ourselves how incredibly unique, talented, and wonderful we each are!  Pursue your dreams and don't let anyone, especially yourself, get in the way!


Life is good!



You may read Martha Beck’s full article here:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An apple: simple, right?

On Friday I shot a product line for a friend and was my first foray into shooting commercial products and, just like anything, it was fun AND had its challenges!

My friend's company, Virescence - Becoming Green (, sells handmade, organic products for babies.  Her mission is to provide earth-friendly products that: leave the least harmful environmental footprint, support the Canadian economy (she chooses Canadian products in her business wherever possible), and are safe for our babies.  I've had the pleasure of using a few of her offerings on newborn shoots and I LOVE THEM!

One of the images she wanted was of a green, ceramic apple.  The apple has served as one of the inspirations for her company branding, colours, and logo; it is also a perfect pairing for what her company is aiming to provide - natural products that are clean and safe for our little ones!

So, shooting a lone apple on a white backdrop should be relatively simple, right?  I WISH!  I actually knew that it would be a little challenging and it didn't let me down!  The biggest issue was with reflection...this is the first shot in the series; taken so that I might visualize what the camera would record:

I've added notes identifying where some of the reflections were coming from.  Clearly I was going to have to find a way of diminishing everything that was being reflected off the apple.  I was shooting on top of a piece of white Plexiglas with a white seamless paper backdrop.  The key light was a large softbox on camera right and there was another strobe lighting the backdrop with an umbrella as the diffuser.  It occurred to me that if I 'stole' the white Plexiglas from the tabletop I could use it as a second diffuser to the softbox light and it would double-duty as a clean reflection point for the apple.  Of course this was only going to diminish the one reflection, but what about everything else that was visible from the room?  Together with my friend/client/assistant!, we used 2x4 pieces of foam core to surround the remaining three sides of the apple; leaving only the top and a 'witch's hat' portion on the front open to the room.  Below you can see the improvement and also the need for further work:

The above image is the one I chose to work on in post-production (Photoshop CS4).  I brightened the image using the selective colour tool, I augmented the green using selective colour, I used the patch tool and the healing brushes to eliminate/lessen the final reflections/hot spots and did some other minor touch ups.  The final image is below (although I did crop it to square when I posted it to Facebook):

I am really happy with the final image and it was a good lessen in being prepared for these types of shoots...I could have purchased a light tent ahead of time, I might have used a polarizing filter to diminish the reflections (had I thought of it in the moment!), and I should probably add some clamps and white gaffer's tape to my bag!

The end result is that I feel like my client has images she can now use to market her products on her website and I have one more experience under my belt!  You may visit Bella Faccia's Facebook page to see a few more images from this shoot at

I was lucky that my 'first time' was with a friend and really warm-hearted person - this trait never goes unnoticed by me and makes life and business so much better!  Her easy-going demeanour allowed me the freedom and comfort to spend the extra time on the 'apple shot'!  So, go forward without fear and do your best...good advice in all aspects of photography and life!

Life is good!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In Conclusion - Why Every Woman Should Have this Experience!

(If you are just happening onto this blog or series of posts…this is the last post in a series of four, in case you wish to read them in chronological order!)

In Conclusion…

When I first began contemplating this series of blog posts there was one idea that continually rose to the surface, and it was, “Every woman should do this once in her life!”

I’m not sure about all you women readers, but my life is hectic!  A husband, two kids, two dogs, extended family in town, friends, a small business, a house, a yard, and some hobbies!  It can feel overwhelming.  I would like to say now, in black and white, that I am thrilled with my life!  I am so thankful for the people who love me, and whom I love, and for all the opportunities I am continually blessed with.  That said; the truth is that it can feel overwhelming.  On a day-to-day basis it is difficult to feel like there is a lot of ‘flex’, but there should be…isn’t life so much better when we DECIDE to make time for play and fun?!  I happen to be a ‘project driven’ person and so, for me, marking a date on the calendar is almost always critical to my success.  If I hadn’t marked “Photo Shoot” down on my calendar I likely wouldn’t have made all the positive life changes that I did.

We’re all different and so the “fun” in prepping for a shoot will vary for each of us.  I can honestly say that I’m a girl that likes gettin’ dolled up once in a while, I like expensive and HIGH heels (although I still can’t fathom paying for a pair of Louboutins!), and I am too often found at Sephora; but I am also a working mom who needs to get the floors washed, run the kids to school & activities, play with the dogs, remember and celebrate friends’ birthdays, and try to keep up on the never ending piles of dishes and laundry.  So, having a celebrity-worthy manicure, sticking to only prepared-from-scratch meals, appearing as though my day unfolded with ease and grace, all while looking like I just woke from a long and peaceful nap…well, that just doesn’t happen on any sort of regular basis!  But WAIT, some of that did happen (maybe not the well-rested part) and it was all due to my decision to have a boudoir/form/fine art nude shoot done!

It’s important for me to say here, and for you to know, that I still had to get the dishes and laundry done and the kids still needed my attention (there were no maids nor nannies hired in the making of this shoot!); however, I had a new found commitment to myself.  Over the years I was finding myself spending less and less time on things that made me feel good – less time working out, I stopped going to get my hair done as there seemed like better places to spend our money, I only had manicures when it was part of a girls’ day, etc. – and I really missed feeling ‘pretty’, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I missed the fun that goes into ‘getting pretty’! I can’t tell you how invigorating it was to think, “Yeah, I’m going to take this hour or hour and a half to work out because it benefits ME, even if I don’t get all the laundry done today.”  I think I’ve always known, but the point was driven home for me, that my family was better off for me being better off!  The floors maybe weren’t cleaned as often, but nobody was any worse for wear, (in fact I believe that the example I’ve been setting this past year to follow your dreams, to exercise and eat well and to make yourself a priority in your own life were powerful lessons for my children) and the ‘mom’ in the equation felt happier, lighter, rejuvenated, younger, more confident, and, ahem, sexier!

Imagine having a reason to let your husband do the weeding because you want to have nice hands for your shoot.  Imagine letting the dishes be dirty because you want to get your workout in and you aren’t going to sacrifice your health or sanity just because you feel you should have a clean counter.  Imagine putting yourself at the top of your list.  I did this, to varying degrees of effort and success, and I’m here to tell you that it was and is AWESOME! 

If all the benefits I listed above weren’t enough, there was more wonderment in store.  In early June, I prepared for my shoot with only myself to worry about. I showed up ready to have my makeup professionally applied by a super hip and fun woman.  I blushingly showed the photographer what I’d brought along in hopes that he could make me look beautiful.  I WAS NOT worried about anything except being present in that moment, feeling free and uninhibited, and loving what it feels like to have no regrets!  I was happily playing “supermodel” for the day and it was FUN!  And, now, I have loads of images that document this time in my life.  Images that make me smile or blush; images that make me feel empowered.

Photo by B. F. Peterson
I’m in a rather unique position as part of my ultimate goal was to document the process and results of my shoot to share with you.  I also really wanted to have the full experience of what a woman might consider or feel before, during, and after a boudoir shoot so that I could speak to future clients with heightened awareness.  However, this part of my process would almost certainly not be a part of yours.  Rather, upon you making the decision to do a shoot, the benefit of: re-addressing your priorities and where you find yourself on that list will be had; the fun of finding the style you hope to have for your shoot will be had; the resulting beautiful images will be forever yours to have and to share with whomever you wish; but also, and perhaps especially, there will be your memento of who you are on that day - without any labels, trends, or social titles attached…there YOU will be, looking beautiful, strong, independent, and ready for whatever the world throws at you!  The old adage that ‘you don’t know how strong you are until you need to know’ comes to mind…while you may be thinking that the vulnerability you’ll feel in front of the camera on the day is beyond what you are capable of, I am here to tell you that the positive mojo that you get from the experience far outweighs any discomfort!

So, to wrap up this personal and professional series of comments, let me say this…whether you choose me to photograph your session or another, don’t deny yourself this incredible experience.  Trust me, I didn’t know that this was on my Bucket List, but, in retrospect, I can’t help but think, “Yep, I’m going to cross that off my list and, WOW, was it fun!”

Life is good!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chapter 2 – A Professional Journey

I’ve loved photography since I was a little girl…I was the always the one at the party wanting to capture the moment, the laughs, the fun, the feeling.  For almost my entire life I strived to take great photos of the people I loved and the places I was seeing, but I never committed to learning the “science” of what makes a great photograph and therefore had some success but also struck out on many occasion.

Before I had my first child I thought I should start paying more attention to what goes into taking a beautiful newborn portrait so that I could take photos of our baby.  My dad gave me a muslin backdrop and some portrait reference books for Christmas and that was the beginning of my growing curiosity and dedication to learning the craft.

After a few years of self-study, my husband gave me my first DSLR, a Canon 40D.  Shortly after that I enrolled in the SAIT Photography Certificate program, and started shooting on full manual, which, trust me, felt like a HUGE milestone (in school I was always the social butterfly and you’d rarely find me studying…regrets on that!).  After a few years, and the addition of another child, I was a stay at home mom and loving it; but I also realized that I wanted to ensure I had my own identity, beyond being ‘the mom’.  I decided that all the encouragement around me (major props to my dad here!) to live in the present, to follow your passion, and to be fully engaged in your own life were all shout-outs to each of us – including me!  I started to seriously ponder ‘hanging up a shingle’ and, lying in bed one night, the name Bella Faccia popped into my head…even now the name makes me smile when I say it!  I went downstairs quietly, searched the registry to see if the name was taken and promptly bought my URL!  And so it was, as scary as it felt (and still feels at times), I pulled the trigger.

Bella Faccia was registered as an incorporated company in October, 2009, and I attended BFP’s Edmonton workshop the following June.  The workshop attendees were equally warm, funny, talented, and kind…the experience was a perfect storm of wonderful!  Bryan was unable to teach the first few days and so Chris Hurtt came on his behalf, and we learned so much from each of these incredible teachers & photographers.  I came home feeling like there was a whole world out there of which I was just scratching the surface.  I felt a fire to build my business, to learn the trade and the art, to contribute to society by being a whole person –mom, wife, friend, entrepreneur, and more.  Of course this dream takes balance but that’s fodder for another blog!

Photo by Lori Maloney of Bella Faccia Photography
Last October I was referred to a fitness model by a co-worker and friend of my husband’s.  She had worked hard to prepare for a fitness competition and wanted to have a keepsake of how rockin’ she looked (my words, not necessarily hers!).  Her hard work, diet, water consumption, etc. were all critically planned for that ONE day and so I knew I needed to nail the shots for her.  The resulting photos were, we thought, beautiful and it planted a seed in me.  

Photo by Lori Maloney of Bella Faccia Photography

A few months later a close friend of mine approached me to take nude maternity photos for her, she hoped to give a book of images to her partner as a Valentine’s Day gift.  We laughed and had a great time while capturing this very meaningful time in her life.  It was an incredible experience for me and reinforced to me how much I like working with women.

During both of the above described shoots I told my clients how beautiful they looked (and they truly did), I promised that the shots would be classy and tasteful, and I tried to reassure them to feel comfortable with the promise that their security would show in the photos.  They both trusted me, their portraits are beautiful, and I was honoured to take them.  However, I now know that I subconsciously felt a little badly throughout because, even though I felt empathetic to what they must be feeling, I also knew that I didn’t actually know what it felt like to be on the other end of the lens, at your most vulnerable.  

Photo by B. F. Peterson

My shoot with Bryan (author of books such as "Understanding Exposure" and the founder of PPSOP - The Perfect Picture School of Photography) was booked last fall and so I’ve had the better part of the year to contemplate and experience what it feels like to hire the photographer, to decide what steps to personally take so that I could feel good in front of the camera (including everything from miracle wrinkle creams to positive self-talk!), to consider the many different styles of nude and boudoir photography, and to feel the jitters at the thought of disrobing in front of a MAN holding a CAMERA!  Throughout, I was motivated by the thought of being able to sincerely say to my women clients, “I know how it feels, and I know it’s difficult, but these photographs are going to be beautiful.”  Clearly, in life, business, and relationships, we can’t always know how everything feels for another and empathy is a wonderful trait; but, whenever possible, isn’t it so much nicer to say, “I’ve walked the walk, and I do understand.”

My knowledge level is increasing daily, my gear kit is growing, my experience as a mom and business owner is challenging me, my confidence in what I am able to provide my clients is strengthening, and I am a better person for all of it.  It’s amazing when we clearly see the positive impact of our decisions in our personal and professional lives…this has been an incredible journey and I am feeling so very grateful!

There will be one more in this series…I’d like to comment on why I think every woman should have this experience!  Stay tuned…

Life is good!


P.S. If you are interested in learning about photography I would recommend Bryan Peterson's international workshops, his books, and PPSOP with total confidence.  Chris Hurtt provides workshops, is an educator at PPSOP and, he too, I trust and admire as a teacher and photog! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chapter 1 – A Personal Journey

When I first thought of doing a shoot like this it all seemed fun and easy!  However, as the days wore on and I was committing to a dedicated workout schedule, together with the fact that I would disrobe in front of a photographer holding a camera, it began seeming less and less “easy”!

Part of my idea and hope was to surprise my husband with the finished product.  I thought I could work out more than I ever have in my life, get my hair done at a salon (I’d been cutting and colouring my own hair for a number of years), and get the spray tan that Bryan suggested was necessary to ensure the absence of any tan lines (note that the spray tan ended up being something I’ll recommend to all my clients as it is amazing what a little colour can do to your self perceived sexy-factor!)….all without my partner asking what in the world was going on!  Yep, I was determined but also living a slightly delusional existence!  The truth is that, while I love the idea of surprises, I don't like lying and so, 2 months before the scheduled shoot, my husband received an early anniversary card telling him what his gift would be.  Truth be told, even though I felt sad that my intricate surprise plan was falling apart, it was the best thing that could have happened!  My husband showed complete support and enthusiasm for the project, he encouraged my workout schedule, let me serve only lean meats, and, most importantly, continually reinforced that he thought I was beautiful and he couldn’t wait to see the results of my adventure!  It was one of the revelations that this experience allowed…that what we might see in the mirror is not necessarily what our loved ones see.

I am a mom of two wonderful kids who are aged 4 and 5…no surprise that my body isn’t exactly what it was when I was 20!  That said, the motivation this shoot provided was immense and I don’t think I’ve ever been in better shape – yes, my stomach was flatter 20 years ago, but I couldn’t have done the workouts I do now back then!  Plus, it’s worth acknowledging that to outright dislike how my body has changed, to a degree, would dismiss why it changed – and I would never trade the joy of being a mom for tighter abs!

Photo by B. F.  Peterson
For each of us this process is bound to be somewhat different.  We all have different styles and tastes, we all have a different sense of what is “beautiful”.  What, I believe, we share is a desire to see the final photographs and think – I love these!  For me, part of this process was a pretty regimented diet (which included the odd ice cream and chocolate, and a daily glass or two of red wine or vanilla vodka!), a determined workout schedule, a couple hair appointments, a spray tan, getting “sugared”, a mani-pedi, and a phenomenal makeup artist!  What wasn’t accounted for in the calendar was how great I felt working out regularly, how fun it was to buy jeans the size I used to buy when I was 20, finding a negligee at Victoria’s Secret that I would have NEVER bought before, and the energy I had from eating well.  It turned out that the journey toward the shoot was actually a profound lesson in living well.  I will be forever grateful to Bryan because, in that moment in Edmonton one year prior, when he spoke casually of his upcoming shoot, my life changed for the better.

It is here that I would like to say that I owe a debt of gratitude to some exceptional people: to my girlfriends who provided much love, friendship, support, and laughter (there were references to spurs that still, even when all alone, make me laugh out loud!); to Jesse, at Angles Dalhousie, a hairdresser who actually LISTENS to what you want and then delivers!; to Laurie, at GottaGetSugar’d, who is a fun, sincere and talented ‘sugarer’!; to Hazel, at Spa Ritual, who reminds me of everything important in life when I am with her; and to Jaclyn, who is as skilled as a makeup artist as she is an endearing soul.  And then there is Bryan.  Bryan, who always answered my emails promptly and thoughtfully (a girl has questions when planning something like this!), who downloaded my favourite Blue Rodeo album so that I could feel a little more ‘at home’ in his studio, who made me feel beautiful, who had me laughing throughout our shoot with his wit, charm and one-of-a-kind personality, who answered my photography and lighting questions during our shoot so that I could learn at the same time, and who is now someone I consider a friend (being in the buff for hours on end with someone takes your relationship to a whole new level!).  I would be remiss to not say that these people, together with my family, have made this experience even more fun and exciting than I could have imagined possible.  Thank you to this special group, you each make me smile.

So, there I was feeling like I had done everything I could to show up for the shoot…I’d lived well, never feeling too denied of guilty pleasures. I’d worked out, with the occasional miss, 6 days a week for 8 months.  Yep, whatever the shoot would hold I was satisfied with what I’d done to prepare myself for it.  That Tuesday morning, as my taxi made it’s way from the Chicago Loop toward the studio, I found myself contemplating what the experience would offer me in professional wisdom and understanding.

Please come back next time for Chapter 2 – The Professional Journey.

Life is good!


Monday, June 6, 2011

The background to the story...

I first met Bryan Peterson in June 2010 when I attended his workshop in Edmonton, Alberta.  It was during that workshop, when he was telling me about an upcoming form shoot he had, that I decided I would like to do a boudoir/fine art nude/form shoot – and it would be ultra cool if Bryan (whom I like very much and who is an extraordinary photographer) would be the one to do it.  Fast forward to June 2011 and there I was in Bryan Peterson’s Chicago studio with my makeup on and not much else!

People have varying opinions on this type of shoot, but I felt really comfortable about my personal and professional reasons for wanting to do it:  I thought it would be a wonderful keepsake for me (I’m not getting any younger!); a beautiful and intimate anniversary gift for my husband; and the only way to truly know what it feels like to be on the other end of the lens.

Over the past year I have done shoots for women who wanted to capture a meaningful time in their lives.  The reasons women have for doing a shoot like this may vary greatly – whether it’s during pregnancy, after a significant weight loss, having a milestone birthday (which, let’s face it, aren't always by the decade!), after surviving an illness or accident, or just ‘cause they want to feel the freedom that is inherent in this experience – but, I can assure you, there is one constant theme: the woman’s desire to evidence her innate beauty.  

Photo by B. F. Peterson
This type of shoot, in my opinion, will only render truly beautiful results if the subject trusts the photographer.  I’ve spoken before of my belief in sharing a rapport with clients to ensure their images are portraits and not merely pictures, you can see it in the body language and without question in the eyes.  Some of the work I’ve been most proud of has come from shoots with women, and I’ve always been truly honoured and appreciative that they would allow me to post photos from our time together in my marketing – this is the ultimate display of trust and generosity (having the shoot is already a big deal for most of us, having the images out there for the world to see reaches a whole new level of courage!).  So, out of my sincere appreciation to clients past and future, I will be including photos from my shoot…it only seems fair!

And so, now that I’ve provided you the background to the story, I’d like you to join me for the upcoming few blogs where I will speak candidly about this experience, both as a woman and as a photographer. 

Stay tuned for Chapter 1 – The Personal Journey!

Life is good!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Shoot Close to my Heart

A few weeks ago I had the distinct honour of capturing one of the most beautiful times in a woman's life, for a beautiful friend.

She divined the plan of a 'secret' shoot that would render images of her pregnancy for her and her partner to enjoy in the many years to come.  These images would be a Valentine's Day gift for him, and would also serve as the visual reminder of this very special time in their lives as they prepare for the birth of their first child.

Now, baring all in front of the camera is no small feat!  It takes personal trust between the client and photographer, it takes respect of the photographer's ability, it takes rapport (which I wrote about in my last post) - you just gotta be able to have a laugh together! - , and, certainly not least of all, it takes the foresight of the parents-to-be to say 'we want this piece of our history together recorded for us to treasure always.'  In this instance I was lucky to have a client who has been a consistently loving and 'be-there-when-it-counts' friend for many years - trust and rapport weren't going to be an issue!  I was also lucky that this stunning mom-to-be wanted to have their history, with this new baby, photographed.

The end result of our shoot included 3 8x12's for the baby's room and a special book for her partner showcasing 20 images on metallic paper...BEAUTIFUL!  I am happy to report that the gifts were given and the parents-to-be now have an additional visual (beyond her growing baby-bump and the accumulating baby gear in the house!) to add to their enjoyment in anticipation!

Below are a few favourites: 

I can't wait to meet this little guy or gal!  Wishing my lovely friends the very best in the coming months and years...parenthood is about the best and most exhilarating ride a person can take and I wish them only enough struggle to fully savour the great times!

Life is good!


PS There were actually MANY favourites and so I will likely be posting another entry on the lighting for this shoot in the future, featuring more images.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shutter Speed, Flash Ratios and RAPPORT!

I have always felt that photography allowed me a certain freedom at social kind of forces you to get around the room, it's an easy conversation starter, and, of course, I love recording the occasion (yes, my family has practiced patience with me!).  However, it is only since opening shop that I have come to truly understand how critical rapport (defined as "harmonious or sympathetic relation") is in capturing a great shot.

Over the course of the last year + I have been diligently studying the technical side of photography.  Learning to understand the power of lens choice, aperture settings, lighting positioning, etc.  At times it is easy to lose yourself in the technical and forget the here and now, but I venture to say that there aren't very many beautiful portraits of people that came from a session where there was no sincere interaction between photog and subject.

Last weekend I was honoured to photograph a close friend who wanted maternity shots a la Demi Moore (you remember that incredible Annie Leibovitz cover for Vanity Fair, right?)  We have been friends since college, (which we both delusionally consider to have been only a few years ago!), and we manage to get together for laughs and drinks a few times each year.  My friend is a classy lady who seems to always have a clean car and perfect hair and so, whilst she was excited, she did say that baring all in front of a camera was a little intimidating - and who wouldn't feel that way.  This was yet another occasion where rapport between us made all the difference in the world.  Yes the lighting, the backdrops, and the camera settings all made an impact on the final images, but the final image wouldn't have been possible without her trust in me both as a person and as a photographer. 

I guess my point in today's entry is that if you're looking for a photographer, make sure it's someone you like, someone you could have a laugh with.  Yes - style, equipment, and education should all be part of your Q&A with your potential photographer, but no less important is if you like them.  Life is short - pick a photographer that you can share rapport'll show!

Image: an environmental portrait of my dad...I think we have pretty good rapport!

Stay tuned for shots from the maternity it the images will be a gift I won't be posting any until after the recipient has seen them!

Life is good!


Monday, January 24, 2011

An Expectant Mom, a Blue-Sky Alberta Day & a Little Windchill for Fun!

We ventured west this weeekend to capture images of beautiful Kyla, mere weeks from the expected arrival of her little one.  Along for the ride were Kyla, Lindsay, and me...

I felt fortunate to complete my Photography Certificate last fall, and one of the nicest outcomes from the experience was the opportunity to meet exceptional people and photographers.  I met Kyla and Lindsay, independently of each other, in photography classes and only afterward discovered that they are friends and neighbours!  

I was honoured when Kyla asked if I would be willing, along with Lindsay, to spend an afternoon doing an outdoor-winter-maternity shoot (I love saying it that way as it sounds like a crazy endeavour!)  We lucked out as the day presented us mild temperatures (outside of the teeth-clattering wind!) and Alberta's famous blue sky!  Kyla, being an exuberant, vivacious and willing subject made her way through feet-deep snow, stood in the middle of the road (while Lindsay helped us with the good'ol Canadian "CAR" shout outs!), and she did it all with a brand new boot whose zipper had failed her...we had lots of laughs and captured, I think, some beautiful shots!

Lindsay, it was a privilege shooting alongside're a class act.  Kyla, your photography skills and warm personality make our time together fun and I always feel like I've learned something.  Saturday's shoot was, without question, a real pleasure!

Life is good!