Storytelling

Being contacted by a wide range of people has made photo sessions really interesting because I really don’t know what to expect until I arrive. It kind of feels like Christmas! It has been so good to get the creative juices going! Most homes have a limited amount of space and yard, so we have to utilize what is closest to us. I actually find this more beautiful and unique because it helps tell each of the student’s stories so well. I have the privilege of capturing an amazing moment in time for them, especially in such a crazy and unprecedented one as right now.

I loved that this young lady wore her cowgirl boots with her dress and that she was game to climb up, gown and all, into her Dad’s truck for photos. A girl after my own heart. We talked about horses and my inner cowgirl was beginning to miss my days on the farm. We had a lot of fun!

After this session I thought I’d make a post to let people know what I was doing with the grads, as I thought it was a neat idea and wanted to help out other local families if at all possible. I shared the post on Facebook and went to sleep early, which never happens lol! The next morning I got up and I had quite a few messages on my FB page inbox and thought that was pretty neat. Then I saw that it had reached over 8k people overnight. That has never happened to me before! I may get possibly a hundred viewers reached and then I get that never ending pop up about how to “boost my post to have it reach 1k plus people per day.” I had breakfast and then I saw more messages coming in. Needless to say, within a week my post had reached over 53k people “organically” and had over 12k engagements. I kept thinking, “what in the world is going on?”

My inbox began flooding with messages from parents sharing what their kids were going through and the grief and stress everyone had been facing. So many were concerned for the mental health of their children and hoping to find a way to bring a little bit of joy to their lives again. I was not prepared for the flood of inquiries and beautiful discussions I was able to have.

I have been humbled and in awe as I am riding this wave. There is so much need for hope and joy in people’s lives right now and somehow, people are reaching out to me, this tiny strand in this tapestry called life. I am so so grateful to get to know each of the students and their families one by one and to hear how they react to their stories being told through photos. .

The Beginning of Something New

So I received another inquiry from a mother who was hoping to bring some joy back into her daughter’s life, after grieving the loss of all cancelled graduation events. It was a joy photographing this lovely young lady and I think it’s safe to say that we both had a lot of fun! I loved walking away from the session and hearing her whole family hollering out “Thanks Nichola!” as I walked back home.

After this session, and receiving more inquiries, I began to realize that there might be a lot more kids facing not only the challenges of isolation, but also the grief of losing something they had been working hard towards. For us as adults, it doesn’t seem as bad because we know that there is so much more to life once out of High School, but for these teens it has had a major impact on their mental health. I was continuing to hear over and over from concerned parents that they just wanted them to have something to look forward to, with all the loss and stress going on around them.

Emotions have been very high for everyone and a break in the monotony has been huge. Yes, this is a first world problem. So many people around the world are devastated in so many catastrophic ways right now. My hope is that if I can impact one individual, or family at a time, that we can begin to see a ripple affect of others helping, risking and giving to each other (in safe ways) as well. Maybe this is superficial, maybe not. What I do know, is that lots of tears have been wept by many and with each session I do, I see tears of gratitude and deep felt emotion by the parents and family members. I can come into their yard and see how they are doing, bring some smiles and say, “Hey, you’re not alone. It’s going to be ok. You’re loved and valued.”

I believe we all need to think of how we can make a positive impact creatively with what we have on hand. For me it’s a camera and my love for people.

Celebration in the Challenges

So this is the session that has been the catalyst, launching my little business into something I could not have imagined doing! As you have seen in my earlier blog posts, I started doing “Porch”traits as a way of giving back to our community here in Cloverdale, BC. A local mother saw what I was doing and approached me, as it was her daughter’s 18th Birthday coming up, and she was really sad because all of her grad events were cancelled. She had this absolutely stunning dress to wear and nowhere to go. She asked if I would consider doing a “Porch”trait session on her birthday for her. I thought it was an absolutely wonderful idea and it really touched my heart as a mom, and also as someone who has a teen in grade 12 as well.

I asked her if I could share some of the photos, as I thought they turned out beautifully, and she said yes. I asked if she would also consider passing on the word that I would be willing to help out local grads if needed. She had also wanted to pay me and I felt weird charging, due to how things are right now for everyone , so I said it could be just pay what you’re able.

I did not anticipate the response I would get from the High School she went to and moms began to slowly contact me.

*You’ll have to read the next Blog Post for more of the story 😉

“Porch”traits March 2020

What began as a desire to give something back to the community has turned into something quite amazing. When everyone was requested to self isolate, we had no idea how long it was going to be for. We still don’t know. But one thing I did know was that I had a camera and a couple of dogs that needed walking. How could I help cheer others up and help them know they are not alone in this? A friend had sent me a post about a Photographer in Europe who was doing “Porch”traits to document what life is like during Quarantine. I messaged our community page on Facebook to see if there was any interest and I got both positive and negative responses. There were deep concerns that as a photographer, I would get too close to my subjects. Then people began reaching out to me for photos, so I decided to give it a try.

What I didn’t anticipate was the hope it started bringing all of us in my community. Many of us had not been in day clothes in weeks and it gave us all a reason to get dressed and have something to look forward to. Something to break up the monotony of isolation and the turmoil of emotions from everything that’s been taking place. What I also realized was that I had been walking these streets for years in a rush with my dogs. I wondered how many times did I actually look up and acknowledge, or get to know, the people who share my neighbourhood? It really made me take stock of how I have been a neighbour and a friend to my community. It also made me realize that we have all been shut in our bubbles of busyness and that slowing down is probably the best thing that could have happened to us in spite of the circumstances. I resolved that helping others with their mental health was just as important as their physical health. I was not expecting all of this when I set out to do these photos and I am grateful and feel I am better for it.

Please note that I stayed much farther than the required two metres (I have a zoom lens) and had a mask and hand sanitizer with me as well. All of these sessions are booked online and I text before arriving so I don’t even go close to their door, or entry way. Extreme caution has been taken, and I am so grateful for all these families that took a chance on me.

Autumn on the Farm

So for the past few years I have been photographing this wonderful family at the Fort in Fort Langley. This year they asked me to come and do a session on their farm. How amazing is that? And in the fall no less! Of course I said yes. I love farms and especially horses. They hold a special place in my heart and I kind of fell in love with the red-haired, blue-eyed one that they had. What I did not anticipate was seeing so many of the photos I had taken of them over the years, on their dining room walls. It was really humbling and so encouraging to see what happens with the photos once I hand them over to people. Over the years I’ve had the chance to see a handful of the unique ways people have used their portraits, from memory books, to guest signing books, to blown up portraits on walls. It gets me in the feels every time!

This session was super special because it was the first time with their littlest human who has now made them a family of Eight! She is like the cherry on top of this beautifully blended family, and she gets to even out the girls side haha! Thank you for always reaching out to me to continue photographing all these wonderful milestones with your family! I count it a privilege and I’m excited for all the new things to come for you all!

Fall Family Fun in Ft Langley!

Sorry, I had to, haha! We had a wonderful time with this great crew of grown up kids and tiny humans. I wish I had someone filming what it’s like to take a photo of large groups with children. It edges on the brink of hysterical and yet all the parents, and Grands, manage to look so peaceful and not like someone is chasing down half the kids going in opposite directions at all times. Life and family is messy and that’s what makes it so beautiful. I truly adore this family and the joy and laughter they bring. Grandpa’s animal sounds are on point and all the littles absolutely love him. It is so neat getting to see how they are growing each year. What a privilege to be welcomed into these amazing moments in time.

On the Farm at Derby Reach

It was a beautiful afternoon on the Fraser River. I actually didn’t know that this farm existed in the Derby Reach area until I was asked to meet the family there for our session. Early Fall is such a beautiful time of year, especially to gather as a family and take pictures! These guys were stellar and the funniest thing we experienced was, no word of a lie, a guy on a barge with a drum kit playing his heart out while floating down the river beside us. It was hilarious and I must admit, he was really good too! I have no idea how he planned to get back to shore, or if he planned on floating out in to the ocean at sunset, smashing away at his kit. Who knows? But it sure made us all laugh!

The Best Gift Ever!

I absolutely love it when Mom’s are given the gift of a family photo session. You can see in her eyes how much this means to her! Every time I’ve done a session where it has been a gift for their mom, the mom is just beaming. I had a wonderful time with this lovely family, who I just so happen to know, and have watched grow up! It’s so amazing and I am thrilled that they chose me to help record this special time in their lives! And yes, I did hike out into the water in my rubber boots to get the last shot ;).

Boys will be Boys

This crew was incredible! Their mom wasn’t feeling well that day, so they decided to do photos of “Just the Boys” for her, instead of cancelling. They came all the way from New West out to Chilliwack for this session, and I am thrilled with how the photos turned out! Especially due to the fact that once they saw the Tractor on the property, it was all over, and they were not leaving that piece of machinery for any reason, lol! We managed to convince them to venture into all the plants and then I spent most of my time running after them and snapping photos at every opportunity. It was so much fun and I think we all got an amazing workout. After being pretend farmers, race car drivers, explorers, honeybee keepers and dinosaurs hiding in the leaves, I’m sure they slept well that night!

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