I had the honour of shooting The 54th Annual Calgary White Hat Awards in May. A one-of-a-kind tourism and hospitality industry award, “the Awards celebrate inspiring Calgarians in the tourism industry who go above and beyond and strive to make their guests’ experience a memorable one.” (Tourism Calgary) The awards committee gives out 22 individual awards and 4 organization awards. They conducted over 500 interviews (in just 6 days) to get the 22 individual winners!!!
I’d been warned going in that I would find the energy amazing. They weren’t kidding! I have never seen (or heard) that much enthusiasm under one roof. Forget the ‘red carpet’. In celebration of Calgary’s Push Play Year of Music, attendees were waltzed in on a giant keyboard, greeted by shrieking fans, and serenaded by The Lovebullies – a vintage rock & roll band. The smiles were contagious. Teams came in costume with noisemakers. Cheering was continuous. Friendly rivalry was bantered about, but everyone celebrated the winners.
Even social media went wild! #whitehatyyc trended for 20 hours! 13.7 million people were reached across all platforms, including 1400 people watching the livestream on Periscope. Wow!
Kudos to all the winners and nominees.
Some of the magic and enthusiam captured….
Ailsa’s travel theme this week was ‘Breathe‘. It’s something we all forget to do. April was a particularly challenging month as I threw my back out right before shooting a major conference and it was tax season, adding to the pain.
The bright spot was the incredibly warm spring weather – including blasting a 100 year old record out of the air! (+27C when our average is +12C!). Trees leafed out a month early, and spring flowers were blooming in abundance. A gorgeous, but windy day led to a calm clear evening. My daughter and I decided to take our senior dog, Ohinga (11 years old with severe arthritis in her back end) for a ride in the car, and a short jaunt around Reader Rock Garden. We were delighted she’s still with us after a rough few months early last year. (P.S. She’s Corgi, Golden & Chow – we get asked a lot!)
So we inhaled the scents of Mayday trees in full bloom, fresh leaves and sap on the air, and unwound completely. Noting a potentially pretty sunset, we detoured home to one of my favourite west facing residential viewpoints.
May is one of my favourite months of the year. Trees are starting to green up, wildflowers and blossom trees bloom (if we’re lucky), and the weather is usually conducive to playing outdoors for longer periods at a time. This year we’ve been particularly fortunate; spring started in earnest a month early, and we’ve had leaves and blossoms out since April.
Roadtrip buddy Diane and I were debating another drive to spot wild horses, or trying somewhere new. The Sibbald Creek Trail (aka Hwy. 68) is only half an hour from our respective houses, and I’d seen several recent posts demonstrating wildlife and wildflowers spotted in the area. The trail ends at Highway 40 in Kananaskis, another favourite photography haunt. The technically 36 km, 45 minute, drive took us over 3 hours!. This did include a gorgeous side trip around the Jumpingpound Forest Demonstration loop!
As usual, large wildlife (deer, moose, Big Horned Sheep, bear…) were largely absent despite bear warnings posted for the entire area. I predicted this as there appears to be an invisible warning attached to my vehicle that says, ‘Suzan is coming, quick, hide!’ Other photographers will pass through the same area, same day and will be posting proud captures of said absent beasts.
That said, there were plenty of birds and ground squirrels, tons of gorgeous scenery, fresh spring scented woods abounding with new growth and, my highlight, a lone Bald Eagle cruising a quiet lake shore.
Saucy, sassy & sidesplitting pretty much sums up Cindy & Morgan’s wedding day. I think from the moment we met we knew we were well suited. It didn’t hurt that I own an Oops A Dazy rescue dog, and Cindy is heavily involved with that wonderful organization. Our meeting was laughter from start to finish.
Like many of my couples of late, these two met online. Cindy had sworn she’d never marry again, and Morgan had never been married. Once these two decided to tie the knot, they went all out. Hot pink was the order of the day with flamingos and feather boas dominating the conversation. I may have been heard suggesting a stuffed flamingo for the ring pillow – and a remote control vehicle to lead the couple into the reception. (But I’m still denying that Cathy MacCrae!) Creative Weddings Planning & Decor pulled all those ideas together in grand fashion. The Calgary Zoo was the perfect venue, and mother nature was fully cooperative (even though she’d decimated the gardens 10 days before with a massive hailstorm!)
Event Planning: Creative Weddings Planning & Decor
Floral: Creative Weddings Floral Designs
Hair/Makeup: Trena Laine
Officiant: Tamara Jones (Weddings by Tamara)
Venue: Calgary Zoo
DJ: Pez Productions (Daniel)
Limo: AMPM Limousine
Cake: Cake Sensations
Photography: Photos With Finesse
When your engagement is in Vegas, it only follows that you have a Vegas themed wedding – especially when your best friend and maid of honour is also one of the best planners in the industry!
Ominous skies and the lush gardens of Riley Park provided spectacular backdrops for family. Mother Nature sent that storm north though, so we managed to stay dry!
One of the female gorillas at the zoo has a thing for brides, and will often come over to ‘interact’ at the window. Incredible moment – for both the bride, and this photographer who found herself a little choked up too!!
Event Planning: Magical Moments
Cake: Swirl Cakes & Cupcakes
DJ & awesome LED Flooring: Richard at Fun Factory DJ Service
Hair & Makeup: Michelle Suffolk Walsh
Florist: Philip Chong Flower Bar
Venue: Calgary Zoo
Decor: Celebration Creation
Decor: Chair Flair
Decor: Dreamer Event Rentals
I include a free engagement session with all my full day wedding packages. It helps the bride and groom get to know me, and vice versa. After all, if we’re going to be spending a full day together, it’s good to feel comfortable. When my favourite wedding planner suggested Pam & James had room in their budget for the engagement session in Vegas, I was over the moon! Lesley from Magical Moments Event Planning had been friends with the couple for years. Knowing that James had proposed in Vegas, and they spend a lot of time down there each year, it was perfect! We all headed down for a fantastic weekend.
Starting and ending at the Mirage, with a trip across the road to the Bellagio and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, we ended up with a colourful portfolio that looked as though we’d traveled the world. Laughter abounded – and roles reversed as the groom snapped me as close to the real Daniel Craig as I’ll probably ever get!
You can click on any photo to see a larger version.
Looking for more information on our wedding services, please check out http://photoswithfinesse.com/weddings
It’s back – and just as late as ever. I had such good intentions of getting this out in late September, had everything gathered together for mid-October, but it’s now November, and production is just beginning.
Once again, this year’s collection is all based within easy driving distance from home – no more than a daytrip away. And the first two were taken in the city.
So, if you are interested in purchasing one, you can click here, or on any of the photos:
We get some incredible skies when we have what is called a ‘Chinook’. The clouds form a band usually from the NW to the SE corner of the city with clear patches either side. That’s when you get some spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
I actually managed to chronicle the wild horses road trip.
When I saw Ailsa’s travel theme of ‘Grey’, I knew I’d have endless sources of contribution from our recent vacation. Twelve days in Ireland (and 4 in London), and only two were completely rain free. The Irish, known for talking about the weather, were berating the “worst summer in a decade“. As one woman put it, “two and a half weeks ’til the bairns go back to school, and they’ve not had summer yet.” Most of our days we managed to dodge showers. We did have two, thoroughly miserable, soggy wet ones, but a horse race on a beach, and a wander through what appeared to be tropical rainforest with a waterfall did alleviate those. For this theme, I’ve easily focused on the grey – and shown that you can still enjoy a holiday without tropical, picture perfect, weather!
Tourist Links for those interested:
Newcastle, Co. Down – Discover Northern Ireland (Can also refer an incredible B&B)
Maghera – Old Church
Titanic Belfast – well worth a visit!
Roundstone – Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland
Murphy’s Farmhouse – near Castlemaine, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Inch Beach/Strand – (Sammy’s restaurant was excellent too!)
Ross Castle – Killarney National Park
I met Colleen & James last summer. They’d stumbled across my website (so much for SEO lol), but loved my style. We hit it off right away – a relaxed, outdoorsy couple who met online. Fun and laughter dotted our initial meeting, and carried on for their fall engagement shoot at The Calgary Zoo.
The June wedding day brought a mixed forecast. Colleen had abandoned thoughts of walking across the field to the Church – only a couple of minutes from home – for practicality, in her stunning gown. The pastor at St. Gerard’s had a sense of humour as he delivered photographer’s rules, ending with, ‘and if you cross this line, your camera will be returned to you in pieces. A last minute change to the Lake Chaparral area for the bridal party and family photos had me ‘going in blind’ as I hadn’t been able to scope it out in advance. They did well though – stunningly picturesque with a lake, waterfalls, and gorgeous views.
Mother Nature was our only challenge. As we exited the Church, the skies to the north were intense blue black. I was grateful for the change in shooting destination as we’d have been right in the heart of that particular storm. But, as we headed south, another storm was brewing. Fortunately this one was short and sweet, and we managed to wait it out in the parking lot. Dramatic skies provided a stunning backdrop. We wrapped up the family and bridal party photos, headed to the pub for quick break between shoot and reception. It bucketed with rain once more, but we were indoors for the rest of the night. Thank you Mother Nature.
Fresh greens brightened up the community hall, and kept the atmosphere festive. A great time was had by all. To me, a wedding day should be full of laughter – and this one certainly was!
Church: St. Gerard’s Parish
Flowers: First Class Flowers
Food: Catering by Design
Cake: Cakes N More
Outdoor Venue: Chaparral Community Association (membership required)
Reception Venue: Strathcona, Christie, Aspen Community Association
There’s nothing like a change of scenery to shake off a grumpy mood, so Friday night’s event in Banff was the perfect end to a messed up day! I’ve been working with Authentic Western Productions (AWP) for over a year now as their dress-up booth photographer – thoroughly enjoy every minute. This is not your standard ‘pose against a corporate backdrop in your finest gear’ wall. Guests select from an extensive western wardrobe, complete with ‘weaponry’ ranging from nooses to pistols, then pose with the authentically clad western characters against a stunning wooden bar, or olden days backdrop. Beaming smiles abound – even when they’re attempting to look fierce.
Friday night’s event was partnered with Banff Trail Riders – their first annual Pig Roast and Barn Dance, at Warner Stables, a fundraiser in aid of First Responders. AWP provided the western decor – ranging from wooden fences, to horse tack, wagon wheels, lanterns, and full size museum quality horses. Whilst primary duties were the photobooth area, I was in a room with Cyclone the Mechanical Bull, Rick Bates the trick roper, Hal Eagletail from the Tsuu T’ina nation with his family dancers, and an open dance floor right in front of me. My camera had plenty to take in – the couple from Canmore in the fanciest jeans ever cutting up the dance floor, the youngest and cutest cowgirl swaying to the footstomping music of The Hillside Collective, the fierce concentration as Cyclone was conquered. A great time was had by all ages. My only regret was not capturing the pig on the spit as it roasted – but you’ll just have to take my word for it – that was the most tender, flavourful pork I’ve had in years.