A Night at Sauble Beach for a Cottage Session | Kitchener Family Photographer

  We had plans for orange sunsets and pink skies.  Instead we got grey clouds and blue hues.  But you know what?  I think I loved it even more because of the moody skies and threatening rain.  We just threw our cares to the washing waves and had a blast!  You know a session will be pretty much awesome if one kid has his pants off five minutes into the event and it was most definitely a fantastic night.

We started at the cottage they were renting, chatting while the kids finished up their pop and got sprayed against any bugs that had designs on biting them.  Off we headed to the beach nearby, which was at the northern end of Sauble Beach, close to Sauble Falls.  It was pretty deserted (understandably, considering it looked like it might pour at any second), so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  The kiddos began exploring, their doting grandparents following along and gamely playing in the shallows with them.  Soon, dresses were hiked, pants rolled up and in some cases shorts and underwear doffed, and we got down to the business of playing and laughing and just having a darn good time!  A dinglehopper was found and used to tame a few wayward hairs, sticks were hurled and sand was in every crevice.  Perfection.

We slowly made our way to a bluff down the beach, picking up stones, making sand angles and climbing the rocky path up the hill, taking a few family portraits before deciding we better hustle to get ice cream.  A stop at North Sauble Meats N' More, with its glowing bait machine full of worms and typical cottage-country general store ambiance, found us with ice cream cones now being clutched in sand-coated hands that already held driftwood and other beach treasures.

Back to the cottage, where we rounded out the night with sparklers, dancing like zombie robots and licking the last few drops of melted ice cream.  Once the last spark died, the kids were off to wash off the acquired grime and stickiness, no doubt leaving a sandy trail down the bath drain.  Man, can't summer last forever?

Thank Joel, Linnea + kiddos for giving me the chance to hang out for the night.  I loved every. single. minute.

M xo

A Morning At Home | Kitchener Family Documentary Photographer

I have known Kerri since high school and through the magic of Facebook, we have kept tabs on each other over the years.  When she reached out to have me come over and photograph her family soon after they welcomed their new baby boy at their home in Kitchener, Ontario, the answer was an immediate YES.

We met on a rather gloomy, overcast Monday, and I was greeted at the door by their doxie Pogo, along with three-year-old big sister.  She proudly showed me her room, noting that it was designed for a big girl, before we brought in her new brother for some (attempted) sibling photographs.  That lasted about 30 and a half seconds, so we decamped to mom and dad's room for some family togetherness.  After mom and dad each had a turn snuggling their new little man, and I had rescued Pogo's ball from under the armoire about 8 times, big sister decided to rejoin us and we managed to take some photos of everyone together (gunny bears WERE harmed in the making of these photos).

Soon it was baby's turn to have his photo taken, snuggled up in a blanket and cozied on a warm fleece. While he fought to get his hands out and show me exactly what he thought of my swaddling, he finally realized that the battle was futile and resigned himself to the shutter clicking for a wee while.  When the squalling started, I left him to mom for a feeding and headed outside to join dad and daughter exploring the backyard.

I made the rookie mistake of filling up her water spray bottle, ending up the very damp recipient of her spray attacks.  Although I may have encouraged that, come to think of it... Mom and baby brother soon emerged and we all gathered up for a few more family photos in front of the neighbour's beautiful fence-breaching lilac bush, with  Pogo watching the proceedings in between ball dribbling and chipmunk chasing.  Pogo finally got his moment in the spotlight at the end, and of course he delivered.  We should have gotten tips from him for the other kids...

Thank you Kerri and Mike for welcoming me into your home and for trusting me to document your family in those first new days of life as a family of four.

M xo

Ashlee + Kevin | Langdon Hall Engagement | Kitchener Wedding Photographer

I met Ashlee + Kevin on a gorgeous June night at the hidden oasis of Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, south of Kitchener, Ontario in the village of Blair.  This place has extra special meaning for these two, as Kevin is the current assistant head gardener and has been working at Langdon Hall for the last seven years.

We started off exploring the trails that criss-cross the grounds, laughing and soaking up the sunshine that was pouring through the treetops (and maybe swatting a mosquito or two!). Then we wound our way back toward the gardens, stopping at a berm covered in wildflowers before they snuggled under the pergola. These two are so easy together, laughing and playfully joking around to keep the mood light.

Next we ventured over to the greenhouse, my favourite spot of the evening, where Kevin has spent countless hours tending seedlings and planning gardens. The kitchen's store of cooking herbs are also in there and I loved watching him show Ashlee each plant, encouraging her to smell the various aromas.  Then I forced him to work (read: sweep. Don't tell his boss!) so that they could snuggle on the stairs.  It is really amazing how a 150-year-old greenhouse, shored up with cement and plywood to keep it standing, can become a romantic little haven in the right moment.

A stop on the croquet lawn was next, snuggling in a late-blooming variety of lilac and Kevin running his fingers through her hair (ruining her curls, but I say it was worth it!). We ended the night in the orchard, where they snuggled under the branches of the low trees that have witnessed many weddings over the years, before the new event centre, Firshade, was constructed.

Thank you both for trusting me to photograph you just as you are, adorable, so in love and damn hot!  Looking forward to covering Ash's side of the fence when we head to Steckle Heritage Farm next year for your wedding!

M xo

2016 | Kitchener Family + Wedding Photographer

There is so much to say and yet it is so hard to put into words what this year has been.  2016 was the year that I realized that the kind of family photography that moves my heart is less about posing and more about telling the story of a family through photographs.  It was also the year that I (sort of accidentally) became a wedding photographer. I say accidentally I had no real intention of doing more than a handful of weddings, just like the last couple of years.  But I soon discovered that uniquely personal, intimate weddings + elopements were totally my jam and that vibe went out into the world and I was booked for more weddings than ever before! Each and every one of you went on this journey with me.  You trusted me to capture your family or your wedding day, with an open mind and caring hearts.  You laughed with me and played  in the mud and water with me and ignored my sappy tears during your vows.  You let me into your lives for a few moments and for that I am truly grateful.  I do not take it for granted and as cheesy as it may sound, I really do feel honoured and priviledged to have that opportunity.

Looking back over this year, I see so many happy faces and joyful moments and that is exactly what I love.  I love happiness and it is a big reason why I am moved to photograph these moments for you all.  It is what I hope to see shining through every photo I take, even the serious ones. Because happiness isn't always laughter; sometimes it is feeling safe with the love of your life, or looking at your spouse as a parent and knowing that he or she is doing the best they can for your family.  Or it is seeing your child having fun and relaxing in front of my lens, when you were worried there might be a meltdown.  Happiness is in all of these little things.

More than anything else, I want to say THANK YOU.  Thank you to my clients for trusting me to be there with you in these special moments of your lives. Thank you to my friends and fellow photographers for your never-ending support, giving me great advice and making sure I am giving my very best.  Special shout out to Scribsy, who rides on the rocket ship with me and never lets me fall off.  An enormous thank you to my family, who hold down the fort while I am off doing what I love - I couldn't do this without you.

Here's to an amazing 2017, I can't wait to feel all of the happiness that we will share this year!

M xo


A Monday Night in the Mud | Kitchener Family Photographer

This family is so rad, I don't even know where to begin. I first photographed them about 5 years ago, after Michelle and I met in a local photographers' group and hit it off. She has photographed my family too and we try to get together as much as often our mutually-busy schedules allow.  But it had been a couple of years since we had a session together and I was jonesing to get them in front of my camera again, since we always have more fun together than we probably should.  Michelle read my mind and we set a date and planned to meet at their home. We got a perfect late summer's eve, full of sun and warm enough to end the session at their fave local swimming hole as promised - perfection.  When I arrrived, their girlies were just finishing an after-school snack and we caught up for a few minutes.  I met the girls' plants and was shown pictures of them as babies before we regrouped in the gorgeously-decorated living room to kick it off.

The one request the family had was to include Bronx, their huge, loveable St. Bernard mix, who gladly obliged by standing like a wall in front of them, soaking up their hugs and spreading his unique brand of hairy, slobbery love.  After he got bored of the adoration, we took a few more inside before moving out into their amazing little courtyard.  Bronx stared at us through the door as the girls climbed on the fence and we goofed around.  Then we made our way around their townhouse complex, laughing and playing until we decided it was time to get ready for the much-anticipated swim (read: the girls were DONE with the "official" photo session). We collected the excited Bronx and loaded aboard the family van for our adventure.

I am going to be honest here - I had such a damn good time riding in the van with the widows down and wind in my hair, happy to be the passenger, that I totally missed this part of the story in photographs.  Forgive me and just take a moment to think about wind in your hair... So good, RIGHT?!

When we pulled up to the swimming area, we soon discovered that it was more mud flats than water fun but we gamely hopped out for an adventure.  Little did we know what was in store.  Before we could blink, the girls were knee deep in mud and the dog was up to his belly.  The kids slogged through the slime and splashed in the shallows, while we adults stood a safe-ish distance away.  But in the end, we were all knee deep in the sun-warmed mud, laughing hysterically as it squeezed between our toes and trying not to land on our butts when we got stuck!  We managed to make our back to the water to rinse a bit before all piled back into the van, dirty, drenched and all happier for it all.  It was a damn good night.

Thank you all for being great friends, awesome people and just a really good time.  Love you.

M xo


A Friday Night at Home | Kitchener Family Photographer

I love when I get the opportunity to photograph a family at home.  There is something so magical about being in the space where they live, the ambiance of their every day complimenting the not-so-every-day experience of having family photos taken.  There is a level of relaxation and comfort that is hard to duplicate in a location that is not as familiar and it gives me the chance not only to get more candid images, but also to record the details of their home and life that hopefully will serve as memory-holders in years to come. We met on an overcast Friday evening at their home in our Kitchener neighbourhood. When I arrived they were just finishing their prep, so I wandered around their yard, loving the scattered toys and yard tools, their raised veggie garden and clothesline.  The little details that reflect the way they live and love together as a family.

Once everyone was ready we hung out in the backyard, playing and smiling and just having a blast before moving to the front yard.  We took a short walk down the block, to a little spot I had picked out on an earlier neighbourhood stroll to do some more family portraits.  Little did we realize that the baby was grabbing leaves off the bushes in behind until he started to gag.  Another benefit of being at home: quick changes after spit-up incidences.

The oldest two then grabbed their scooters, whizzing up and down the sidewalk trying to beat one another up the street, not matter how much I insisted that it was NOT a race. Their baby brother looked on, smiling and snuggling with Mom and Dad.  What could be better?  I will tell you: sparklers.  Once we had all enjoyed the mesmerizing and thrilling joy of holding a tiny firework in our hands, we ended the night hanging around on the backyard playset with big sister was showing off her moves on the rope, to the delight of her baby brother.  I walked home, soaked from a certain little boy taking me up on an offer to spray me with a hose, smiling ear-to-ear thinking of what a fabulous time we had had together.All-in-all, one of my favourite at-home sessions to date.

I am sharing (more than) a few of my favourites, because it was just so darn good.  Thank you T Family for welcoming me into your world and for just going with the flow. :)

M xo


The Family That Laughs Together... | Kitchener Family Photographer

I am not sure I have ever laughed quite so much as I did with this awesome family.  We met through our kids, who go to the same school, and many shared times of fun and laughter have followed.  We met up on an absolutely perfect Thursday evening in nearby West Montrose, at the property of their dear friend and made our way into the patches of light that seemed to filter through the trees everywhere in the most glorious way.  Woodpiles, a pond for fishing and a cozy hammock all added to the spectacular backdrop to capture the love of this family. The thing I love most about photographing families is finding the unique dynamic and vibe that each family brings in front of my camera.  This family definitely brings silliness, fun and a relaxed mojo to everything they do together and don't take life too seriously, which is exactly how I roll too.  And can I just say, they executed a tickle fight better than anyone else I have yet met.  Future families, the bar is HIGH. We ended the night with an epic dance party, with a 5-year-old dabbing and a lot of booty-shaking.  AWESOME.

Thank you all for braving the mosquitos, dodging the thistles and basically putting up with me for two hours.  I loved every minute and I am pretty sure we need to do this again.  Same time next year?

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Pamela + James | Kitchener Couples Photographer

I met Pamela + James at their chic downtown Kitchener condo to take some images with their beloved pets, a Great Dane pup and blue-eyed Siamese cat, before we headed out to capture some of the two of them on their own.  It is always a fun and unique challenge to include pets in a session, as they each have their own quirks and personalities to show off! Once the pets had made it clear that they had had enough, the three of us headed out to explore the lanes and alleyways of downtown, where textures and colours abound.  That is one of my favourite things about urban sessions, the abaility to change up the entire look and mood just by turning a corner!

Thank you both for braving the cold with me, it was such a fun day.  Can't wait to see these images up in your new home!Pamela + James 03Pamela + James 04Pamela + James 02Pamela + James 10Pamela + James 06Pamela + James 07Pamela + James 27Pamela + James 11Pamela + James 12Pamela + James 14Pamela + James 18Pamela + James 19Pamela + James 21Pamela + James 22Pamela + James 23

At Home Together | Kitchener Family Photographer

There is something so magical about photographing a family in their home.  In their every day space, comfortable and relaxed, leaving room for them to just be themselves in front of the camera.  Of course, there are still those little awkward moments, when people aren't sure if they should DO something for me, but those mostly I get to just follow everyone around and capture the magic that happens.  The little details of their abode, the way they make coffee, the glasses left on a shelf all make the story full and fantastic too. This year I really want to do more of these kinds of sessions, to tell the story of a family in their home and space and a Saturday afternoon session on a mild March day with one of my fave families was the perfect way to get kick it off!  I have known Martina (a brilliant wedding photographer who rocks film!) for about 5 years and she is one of my dearest friends and biggest supporters.  Her kind and wonderful hubby and spunky little red-haired girl are such a welcoming, fun family that I knew they would make my job pretty easy.  Not to mention their seriously gorgeous home in Petersburg (talk about #house goals) and lovely country property and we had a winning formula from the start!

I am excited to share these image with you all - get ready to soak up all the love and light that is the Wendland family!  And if this looks like exactly what you want your family photos to look like, we need to chat.  At home sesions are filling fast for this year! :)

M xo

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Leaves are Delicious | Kitchener Family Photography

Here is another on of my favourite families, supporters and cheerleaders who have my work in frames on nearly every wall of their home.  Family, engagement, wedding, maternity and now again as a bigger family, I have been fortunate enough to watch them build a wonderful life together, full of happiness, planning binders and lots of hugs. We met in Waterloo on what turned out to be a rather windy, chilly day, but we managed to get a few photos done between Jack's leaf-eating and "Mandy Face" scowl before heading home to thaw out and take a few more while they relaxed together for a bit.

I am so thankful to you all for continuing to trust me to capture your family memories, year after year.  I love you all and next time just make sure that Jack gets the memo that we LOVE Mandy!

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Welcoming Kiaan | Kitchener Family Lifestyle Photographer

I have been photographing this lovely family (now dear friends) since their oldest was just 4 months old and now they have welcomed a new son!  I was thrilled to meet their new addition and to capture som images of them in their Waterloo home with their new little man as a family. I loved watching his big brother hold him and give him tender (well, mostly tender) kisses and seeing his parents eyes light up when he looked at them with his big brown eyes.  Sure, those first few weeks are trying, sleep-derived, hard-to-adjust, all-new learning curve times, but I think it is so wonderful to get in there and have those first days captured so that when he is growing bigger and no longer wants to be held, they can look back and remember the way it was. One day, the perfect swaddle or hair spike or outfit will all be a memory, except for these photos.  That is something to cherish.

Love you all to bits and I can't wait to keep watching your handsome boys grow and flourish.

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Fall Fun on the Farm | Kitchener Lifestyle Documentary Photographer

Well this is just one of my very favourite families.  They came to me first as clients but have quickly blossomed into friends.  I feel so lucky to have them in my life and also so fortunate that they are kind enough to send their friends my way for sessions.  I am blessed. I also happen to love going out to their beautiful farm, where locations abound and fun is never far behind.  Of course, after we had to have a leaf fight with all of the gorgeous orange maple leaves lying about, a fight that poor Mom lost quickly against all of her enthusiastic boys.  We also headed to a nearby woodlot to take some more...er, tame? shots of them all together, but with boys you never know what is going to happen.

Thank you all for being my cheerleaders, supporters and above all, friends.  I am so happy I am able to photograph the love you all have as a family.  Such a priviledge.

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Love + Laughter | Kitchener Family Photography

I met this family by way of the fact that our kiddos attend the same school.  Leila is a member of the school council and our mutual friend was the chair, so we ended up working alongside one another on the year-end fun fair and got to know each other.  We had been planning a session together for awhile but just hadn't made it happen yet, but after they put in the winning bid on the session I donated to the fun fair last spring, we got the push we needed! Even though it was an early-morning meet up and we were all still a little groggy, we quickly got into having some fun!  These kids were some of the best listeners I have ever photographed and were more than willing to throw leaves, give piggybacks and just be silly, but only when I asked them to.  So awesome.

We lucked on such a beautiful, colourful day with tons of leaves and lovely soft light.  And I am so glad we did.

Thank you all for being the BEST.  We definitely need to do this again!

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Ben + Melissa | Engaged | Kitchener Wedding Photographer

I was so excited when Melissa connected with me about photographing her wedding next summer.  She is one of my former students, from back in the day when I was a massage therapist and taught at a local massage therapy college.  I love keeping in touch with my students as they build their careers and grow their families.  I knew Melissa especially well as she was once part of my "Mandy Monday" student clinic crew and always stood out as a diligent, hard-working student. When she and Ben let me in on their plans for their wedding, I knew it was going to be right in my wheelhouse - backyard, candlelight, relaxed and intimate.  YES PLEASE!  We decided to meet up on a brisk fall evening in Stratford to take some engagement photos so I cold meet Ben and we could catch up a little bit.

I absolutely love this couple's playful, loving connection - they joke around and laugh together constantly, and have a spark that will surely lead to the fire of a super awesome marriage.  And we were so lucky to catch the leaves right at the perfect time for beautiful colour and rich texture, a bonus for sure.

Thank you both for being so open, honest and full of laughter, I can't wait to photograph your wedding in August! And Ben - I will do my best to keep your head in most of the wedding photos... ;)

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Kim + James | Backyard Wedding | Kitchener Wedding Photographer

When I met Kim + James for the first time in person at their engagement session, I knew immediately that I was going to have a blast photographing their wedding.  And I was right. Held in their gorgoues country backyard in lovely Orillia, it was a laid-back but beautifully-detailed affair, with their amazing friends pitching in to get the last minute decorations and plans completed before the ceremony, scurrying in and out of the tent, watching the skies carefully, fingers-crossed against the rain.

I loved watching the tender moments of this day unfold, Kim's dad seeing her in her dress for the first time and her friends presenting a hilarious and touching scrapbook of their adventures together.  James arrived with his gang of groomsmen in tow, looking nervous but ready.  The boys quickly found themselves put to work, wiping damp seats and finding extra umbrellas, as the rain began to fall shortly before the ceremony was due to begin.

But right when Kim was going to make her walk down the forest aisle, the rain let up and the skies cleared.  After they exchanged their vows (sealed with a kiss and a high-five), we gathered for a group photo, a few family photos and a speech by Kim's bestie before driving just up the road to begin the bridal party photos.  Beer and canapes made this go smoothly, with their great group of friends joking and laughing and just having a blast.  It is always such a relief as a wedding photographer to have a group that is willing to be relaxed and go-with-the-flow, much easier than stiff and nervous.

After we finished with the big group, we took a few minutes to capture the bride & groom on the beautiful old farm property (directly across from the famous Webers, a popular stop on the way to the Muskokas).  We hit the reception for a little while and then snuck out quickly to get the sunset shots the bride was dying for and the string-lights shot that I wanted.  Overall, it was a simply phenomenal day. One that I smiled about all the way home to Kitchener.

Thank you, Goose & Gander for your trust, your warm welcome and for just being plain awesome.

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One Year with Pigtails | Kitchener Family Photography

Miss Kate is ONE!  I met up with this family to photograph her in mama's tummy, just after her birth and now she celebrated her first year, all chubby cheeks and pigtails.  We had an absolutely gorgeous night romping around the Adamson Estate, after Mom proposed that we duplicate a few of their favourite wedding photos taken there a few year before (and now significantly different with two kiddos in the mix) as a neat comparison of their lives before and after their family grew. The light was gorgeous, the sun beamed down and the snacks were eaten with relish.  But when it gets down to it, we just plain had FUN.  We ran and laughed and acted silly, eliciting smiles and a few odd looks to be sure, but in the end the true love and happiness this family shares shines through.  And I am all about letting your happy shine. :)

Thank you all for your kindness, laughter and for trusting me to be there for the important moments in the life of your family.  And for the pumpkin "cakies" - they made the trip home delightful.

M xo

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Built with Love | Kitchener Family Photography

What can I say about this wonderful family?  I have been welcomed into their home and hearts since I was eight years old, my friendship with Jaime spanning 28 years and the ups and downs of middle school, high school, university, marraige, babies and all that life has thrown us in between.  When she asked me to photograph her entire family in celebration of her parents being wed for forty years, I was so thrilled and excited.  There is something so special about photographing the family that two people have built with their love and commitment to one another over that period of time. Of course, photographing friends that you have known and loved for years comes with its own special set of challenges, namely that she and I can't keep ourselves from dissolving into fits of laughter at the drop of a pin, joking easily and slipping into our high school-selves at times.  Fortunately, her parents, sister, kids & nephews know me well enough to laugh along with us or roll their eyes at our silliness.

We met on a perfect, warm evening at nearby Rockway Gardens in Kitchener, a special location for Mr & Mrs B., who had their wedding photos taken in the same spot 40 years before.  As the sun dipped behind the beautifully-tended gardens and walls, we hugged and reminisced and played with the kids, all trying to make sure that we did what were there to do and not just visit.  We only had to take a couple of breaks, one specifically when Sam managed to get poked in the eye and Nana came to the rescue with a cold water bottle, and one when Jaime and I got laughing so hard at her foray into the leafy jungle that we couldn't breathe.

Thank you Brunens for always being a part of my life and for being another family to me.  And for paying for ice cream after the session.  That was a pretty awesome surprise.

Love you all,

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Kim + James | Engaged | Kitchener Wedding Photographer

I met up with Kim + James while we were both on a mini-vacation in beautiful Tobermory for their engagement session (well, my family's cottage is up there, so it was more like an overnight getaway from the city for me).  We headed to nearby Singing Sands on Dorcas Bay Road to enjoy the beach, water and sunset as we explored and photographed. I had never met either of them in person before this evening, just emails back and forth to set up dates and times and talk about their wedding day, but I knew right away that they were my kind of people.  Laid-back, kind and warm and not afraid to get pine needles in their pants changing in the woods.  We were going to have fun.

And we did.  We hung out until the sun was nearly set and walked away slightly damp, sandy and smiling, all good signs as far as I am concerned.  They are such an amazing couple and I couldn't wait to photograph their September wedding when we parted ways.

And let me tell you, I was right to be excited - their wedding was FABULOUS.  Those images will be comin' at ya in an upcomoing post, but for now, enjoy a little kiss of summer sun.

M xo

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Last Light of Summer | Kitchener Family Photographer

It makes me so happy to see these faces each year, to see little Miss E grow and change and laugh and play.  Last year she was barely able to sit on her own and this year she was a walking, talking toddler.  My goodness! Seeing little ones this age reminds me just how far away I am getting from each stage of childhood as my own girlies grow, a feeling which brings equal parts relief and heartache. We met up on a gorgeous late summer's eve at Grey Silo and the Grand River Trail in Waterloo to chase this adorable girly around and do our best to convince her that standing still was a good idea - at least for a few seconds! Eating leaves, munching snacks and exploring new territory, she kept us busy and in stitches!  We also had some pretty spectacular orange light by the end of the evening, which made for an extra special night.

Thank you all for making the trek to see me each year, it make my heart so happy to photograph your little family!

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Summer Fun Night | Kitchener Family Lifestyle Photography

You know sometimes everything is just awesome?  Yep.  This was one of those nights.  I love this family so much and I am so glad we had this time just to play, be silly and get soaking wet together. The evening started at the park, where were ran amok and layed on the ground and just generally acted crazy.  My favourite.  After a brief interlude at the froyo shop (where we took pictures, but seriously, this post is already enormous and I knew I would lose you), we trekked over to the nearby schoolground for a good, ol' fashioned water balloon and water gun fight.  Soggy mayhem ensued, along with some of awesome photographic moments.

Thank you all for being so enthusiastic, funny and up-for-anything.  I loved every minute of this night with you.

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