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

Tobermory Lakeside Cottage Session | KW Family Photographer

When Karen asked me to photograph her family at a cottage in Pike Bay near Tobermory, Ontario, I was ALL in!  First of all, if you know me even a little you know that our family cottage is in Tobermory and I have a super soft spot in my heart for Northern Bruce Peninsula. I arrived on a warm Monday evening, rolling up to the cottage just before golden hour and finding the smiling Meissner crew ready to go.  We started near the cottage, getting a few standard images done before we headed for the fun of the waterfront.  We marched out the dock next and took a few more frames before finding a little spot where the kids could leap rock-to-rock, an age old pasttime on the Canadian Shield.  The sun shone brightly as the kids splashed and jumped and took pleasure in expertly photobombing each other as I tried to take individual portraits.

We went back to the cottage for the kiddos to change into swimwear and get ready to hop in the lake.  Can I just tell you how much I love being in the water?  And then you let me photograph your family as you hang out in and around the water - HEAVEN!  Of course, I was quickly soaked and not even mad about it, as the kids snorkeled, dove and found tiny zebra mussel shells clinging to the dock crib. Once we got out and realized we were all a bit chilled, we went back for one more quick change before grabbing a few more frames.

The sun was setting as they snuggled on the end of the dock, wet hair, tired eyes and looking pretty darn happy for it all.  We wrapped up the evening with shots of Mama and her loves, since as a photographer she is not in front of the camera with them as often as she would like - I know that struggle.

Thank you all for sharing a tiny part of your vacation time with me and for being up for anything, I loved every moment I spent photographing your awesome family!

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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


The Cottage | Kitchener Family Photographer

I am probably the luckiest human on the planet.  Since my parents bought the little piece of paradise known as Island View Cottage in 1997, I have spent at least part of my summer each year in beautiful Tobermory, straddling Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Since my kids were babies, we trucked them up north, the three hour journey not always peaceful but worth it nonetheless.  We all find peace, relaxation and freedom at the cottage, a space to unwind like nowhere else on Earth.  It is with great glee that we countdown each year to our first cottage weekend, chiding those who miss out on the first few trips (usually me) and willing the days to go faster so we can GET THERE.

Each year, just the four of us get a week or two at the cottage during our holidays, a time to make memories, adventure along the Peninsula and just be together as a family.  Last year I was unexpectedly forced documented our trip on my "big" camera after my phone died a watery death in the lake.  We cherised those pictures so much and we look at the album I made so often that I knew that this year I wanted to do the same.  Because as much as I LOVE my iPhone, some things are better in full living colour, know what I mean? Of course, I still took a ton of underwater photos on my phone, which may just end up in another post, because really we are part fish so all these photos of us dry are only half the story. Okay, well three of us dry, since my hubby reserves swimming for water temps above 80 degrees, a feat not likely to be seen this millenium in Georgian Bay.

For now, here is a little glimpse into our getaway, our haven, our home on the Bruce.  Island View, you are a damn good little cottage and you fill our hearts and minds with more joyful memories than I could have ever imagined in this lifetime.

M xo

P.S, Our old dog Charlie is a saint for putting up with all the hugs he gets from his loving girls and I dare you to guess which of my children is the biggest ham and camera hog EVER.Blake Summer_0120Blake Summer_0001Blake Summer_0261Blake Summer_0258Blake Summer_0212Blake Summer_0107Blake Summer_0376Blake Summer_0356Blake Summer_0211Blake Summer_0216Blake Summer_0175Blake Summer_0125Blake Summer_0180Blake Summer_0127Blake Summer_0131Blake Summer_0136Blake Summer_0223Blake Summer_0052Blake Summer_0826Blake Summer_0035Blake Summer_0241Blake Summer_0830Blake Summer_0089Blake Summer_0274Blake Summer_0283Blake Summer_0276Blake Summer_0208Blake Summer_0604Blake Summer_0379Blake Summer_0383Blake Summer_0396Blake Summer_0327Blake Summer_0884Blake Summer_0920Blake Summer_0791Blake Summer_1003Blake Summer_1018Blake Summer_1030Blake Summer_1039Blake Summer_1062Blake Summer_0408Blake Summer_0553Blake Summer_0556Blake Summer_0564Blake Summer_0446Blake Summer_0485Blake Summer_0530Blake Summer_0508Blake Summer_0515Blake Summer_0547Blake Summer_1065Blake Summer_1084Blake Summer_1119Blake Summer_0742Blake Summer_0750Blake Summer_0756Blake Summer_0759Blake Summer_0772Blake Summer_1173Blake Summer_1202Blake Summer_1196Blake Summer_1241Blake Summer_1230Blake Summer_1284Blake Summer_1288Blake Summer_1295Blake Summer_1280Blake Summer_1296Blake Summer_1333Blake Summer_1341Blake Summer_1353Blake Summer_1369Blake Summer_1396Blake Summer_1384Blake Summer_1408Blake Summer_0346

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


Melanie + Charlie | Mermaid Cove Engagement | Kitchener Wedding Photographer

I met Melanie & Charlie in one of my favourite places on the planet, Tobermory. Our family cottage is there and I have spent many summers enjoying its tranquil beauty. We made our way to Mermaid Cove, a bit of a hidden gem that is more popular with locals than out-of-towners, on the Georgian Bay side of the town.  Featuring the dolomite rocks and pristine woods and waters that the area is known for, it was the perfect spot to have an engagement session. The sun was just lowering as we followed the path out to the shoreline, with lovely little patches lighting up parts of the trail and leaving others in shadow.  Once we got to the water, these two lovers gamely climbed the rocks to hit the best little spots (she did it better in wedge heels than I did in Birkenstocks, I bow down) and just enjoyed the solitude of a summer's evening, taking photos and soaking in the scenery.  They are so easy and natural together, with gentle touches and loving embraces, they made my job super simple.

At the end of the session, they wanted to brave the cold water and take a few shots so with a couple of extra layers on, they took a dip (they assured me it wasn't too cold, but I had been in earlier in the day and I think they were just being stoic - it is never warm in Georgian Bay!). I love the shot of them after they came out of the water, soaked and cuddled up in a blanket - that is love.

I am looking so forward to photographing your wedding next spring, Charlie & Melanie!

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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Krista + Alex | Kitchener Engagement Photographer

I met Alex & Krista at the beautiful location for their wedding this summer, Ball's Falls Conservation Area.  Yes, we laughed every time we said it, but seriously, this is a gorgeous location!  With historical buildings and forested haunts, we had plenty of room to roam. Even though they were nervous that they would be awkward or shy in front of the camera, these two brought their A-game to this session, snuggling and laughing and not taking themselves too seriously.  The BEST.  I think they even surprised themselves by how damn hot they looked together, but I knew that their chemistry and love for one another was genuine and authentic and that always shows through on camera.  High school sweethearts, this fab couple are perfect for each other.

I am looking so forward to photographing their wedding in July, to celebrate their love and new life together as friends and loves.  I am so grateful to call them friends now and I hope they know they won;t get rid of me any time soon!

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2015 Year in Review | Kitchener Family Photographer

I can hardly believe that 2015 is coming to an end. What a year! I don't know what else to say to you all but THANK YOU.  Truly, I feel so blessed to have been a part of so many beautiful moments of love, connection, laughter and fun.  Between simple, heartfelt weddings full of love and high-energy, laughter-filled family sessions, I hardly know how to count my blessings. This coming year promises to be another one full of great memories, moments of love and joy, and watching people let their happy shine.  The weddings I have this year make me giddy with excitement and I simply can't wait to see all of my favourite families, another year older but with the some love and laughter that holds them together. This year I want to explore those places and moments that make a family or a couple who they are.  You backyard, a favourite park, going for ice cream, a day at the beach - whatever it is that defines your life and love.  Because those every day moments are where some of the best memories lurk, just waiting to be captured.

So if you want to continue on this adventure with me, I can't wait to find adventure with you and those you love the most.  Let your happy shine and I will find a way to catch it for you.

See you all in 2016!

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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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Energy Abounds | Kitchener Family Photography

One thing I feel so grateful for is clients who refer me to their friends and family and this awesome family came to me as a result of the kind words of my friend Julie.  Thank you thank you, thank you! I met this lovely little family on a sunny, warm night in Stratford and after being prepared by Mom that her son was full of energy, I got right down to the business of chasing him as he climbed trees, found sticks, cartwheeled, tossed leaves, climbed the play center and generally had a blast!  His mom and dad are so devoted to him and you can feel all of their love so completely when they are all together.  I love when a session just flows from one thing to the next and this one did just that.

Thank you all for being so willing to get silly, covered in leaves and just have fun. See you next year!

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