Last Call for Stollery Fundraiser!

On upcoming Tuesday, May 29th and Wednesday, May 30th, I am hosting a fundraiser in support of the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation.  Time after time I have heard stories of how amazing the staff is at the Stollery and how we are so lucky to have such a facility in Edmonton.  There are just a couple spots left for kid portraits, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the Stollery.  Please join me in raising a few dollars to put towards this fabulous foundation.

www.paulagerein.com/stollery

The "Character Series" Portrait

Travel Fuels the Soul

It had been awhile since I had travelled somewhere far, somewhere new, and experienced the thrill of culture shock.  I've often been asked "Why Japan?" and I don't really have a good answer other than to say that Japan has just been on my mind for a long time.  Something about the culture intrigued me, I loved what I knew about Japanese cuisine, and it seemed like it would be an amazing, yet safe, place to visit.

Japan is an incredible country and without a moment's hesitation, I would highly recommend that anyone considering travelling there should just go!  I had the pleasure of visiting Japan for 10 days in April and it was certainly a trip to remember...  As expected, it was beautiful, clean, safe, and such a different culture - all the ingredients for comfortable, yet intriguing travel.  I've had many people come to me with many questions about what it was like there, that a blog post seemed like a great way to praise this interesting country.  

Chion-in temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism, Kyoto.  We were the first to arrive that morning (thank you jet lag) but were able to have the entire place to ourselves.

After arriving at the airport, the first thing you will likely face is the need to use public transportation.  Start off by renting a Pocket Wifi with unlimited data - I can't tell you the number of times it was valuable to have wifi for navigating!  Imagine you need to find an inn off the beaten path and all you have is a name in Japanese characters and a very random, incomprehensible Google description (true story)...  Save some grief, get the wifi. 

If you are slightly familiar with how most metro systems in the world work, then you'll have no trouble getting around Japan as their public transportation system is pretty much the same as in Paris, Amsterdam, or even Edmonton.  One thing that I was surprised to discover, is that most Japanese don't speak English.  Or they are too shy or uncertain to admit that they can speak a little.  In nearly every restaurant we ate at, we either made our menu selection by pointing to a picture or we asked the chef for their "recommendation" - a word that restaurant staff had familiarized theirselves with.  Fortunately we are openminded people willing to try new things, "when in Rome...", right?  This lead to some incredibly tasty discoveries (dried seasoned squid, manta ray "french fries", baby octopus stuffed with quail egg...) but also quite possibly one of the worst tasting things to ever pass my lips (sea urchin).

Tokyo metro where everyone has quality time with their phone

Nishiki Market, Kyoto

Moving past the food and transportation, the people were lovely.  That's a word I don't often use but it really does seem to appropriately describe the Japanese.  They were polite, kind, considerate, calm, sweet, helpful...  There are signs throughout the train stations asking passengers to not run for their trains, so people don't.  Signs asking people to put their phones on Silent while in the train, so people do.  And they politely line up everywhere without rushing or pushing.  We had heard stories of "train pushers" whose job is to actually stuff the train to maximum capacity but apparently that's more a thing of the past...

Shibuya area of Tokyo on a Friday night.

Girls in the Gion district of Kyoto.  According to the Kyoto "Time Out" magazine, Japanese youth are again embracing the beauty of the kimono.

Another shocker with Japan was how silent it was, excluding the main squares in Tokyo.  Walking down a residential street in Tokyo or even a busy shopping street in Kyoto, and you couldn't help but notice how quiet it was.  There were no sirens, no cars honking, no people shouting, no loud music, just peace and quiet.  

Shinjuku's Golden Gai, Tokyo

Imagine sitting here, on the bank of the Kamo-gawa river in Kyoto, +25'C, Sapporo beer in hand, and just the sound of people enjoying a Spring day...

Tokyo metro. Couldn't help but watch with intrigued amusement as they read right-to-left, "back"-to-"front".

The only places we saw that broke the peace and quiet were some of Tokyo's main squares, where they are the living definition of sensory overload.  Not only are there thousands of brightly lit signs, there are often commercials blaring over loudspeakers.  

Near Shibuya square, Tokyo.  If images could speak, this one would be excitedly shouting at you in Japanese trying to lure you into their store or purchase their products.

All in all, when there's a place that oozes culture, defines politeness, and is stunningly beautiful, what more can you ask for?!

Kyoto skyline and the Ginkaku-ji temple grounds.  Breath of fresh air kind of moment.

"Favourite 2017" Small Stories - #6 Photos and Memories of Mr Pibb

Four days remaining until 2018, one photo per day with a small story of a 2017 photography moment that touched me with it's beauty or humour. Here is #6.

 

This is a story about loving and losing. The only certainties in life being death and taxes. This pug, Mr. Pibb, had been with this family for 17 years and had a long list of old man problems which were indicating the end of his days. I was asked to take family photos so they would have photos of their beloved pub, their baby, once he was no longer here. A quiet walk in a treed area took a lot out of this guy but the results were beautiful. Sadly Mr. Pibb passed on two months after our photoshoot but now there aren’t just memories of this sweet pug they shared their home with for so many years, there are photos too. Photos and memories to last a lifetime.

Mr. Pibb, age 17

Carey & Mr. Pibb

"Favourite 2017" Small Stories - #5 Dancing in the Water

5 days remaining until 2018, one photo per day with a small story of a 2017 photography moment that touched me with it's beauty or humour. Here is #5.

I was asked to take photos of Mia dancing and the idea came about to do it on the beach. I was ECSTATIC because I love photographing people do what they are passionate about and I love being on the beach. The weather totally cooperated and we had this beautiful afternoon with sun, +25'c, and just a slight breeze. We were at a beach at Candle Lake where the water stays shallow for the longest time so you can walk out about a mile and not even have the water reach your knees. We took a few posed shots and then I suggested we put on some music for Mia to dance to. She chose a song and she just came alive. She was in her own world dancing so lightly in the water, the sun beating down on her face, and this gorgeous nature surrounding us. The few people lounging on the beach that day were really treated to something special if they caught a glimpse of her dancing.

Do you have a young dancer, musician, or sportsman in your life? I would love to do many more youth activity portraits in 2018 so let's have a chat!

Dancing in the Water

"Favourite 2017" Small Stories - #4 Marvelled by the Moon

9 days remaining until 2018, one photo per day with a small story of a 2017 photography moment that touched me with it’s beauty or humour. Here is #4.

The two girls and their parents were running around the playground in +35’C heat (thank god for the slight breeze…), bouncing from swing, to slide, to monkey bar, and back. Suddenly Claire stopped in her tracks and stared at the sky. What caught her attention? The moon. To see the awe of a two year old, curious and captivated by the beautiful moon. I am always intrigued by what intrigues two year olds, and here it was the simple enjoyment she had from staring at the sky. Something, I’m afraid, we adults tend to do too seldom these days - pause and just stare at the sky…

Kids Book Tip: "Bringing Down the Moon" by Jonathan Emmett has been a family favourite for kids in love with the moon.

Curious about 'Day in the Life' sessions? Send me your questions!

Marvelled by the Moon

"Favourite 2017" Small Stories - #3 That's My Man

10 days remaining until 2018, one photo per day with a small story of a 2017 photography moment that touched me with it’s beauty or humour. Here is #3.

This, is my man. My BFF, main squeeze, butter to my bread, one and only. An elderly woman once called him “twinkleoogjes” or ‘twinkle eyes’ because of the youthful mischief and spunk you can see twinkle in his eyes. When I took this photo we were on a family vacation and he was doing his best to create a splash higher than our brother-in-law. You know those random moments when you’re reminded of how much you love someone? Ya, this was one of those moments for me. Canon bombs don’t make me go weak in the knees, it was watching him throw so much determination and weight into that jump with the same excited anticipation I can imagine him having as a boy.

That's my man...

"Favourite 2017" Small Stories - #2 Bridesmaids' Fight 'til the End

11 days remaining until 2018, one photo per day with a small story of a 2017 photography moment that touched me with it's beauty or humour. Here is #2:

There is a reason why I wear waterproof mascara to weddings, because whether it's tears over a sentimental moment of deep love, or tears of laughter, water works are bound to happen to me at a wedding. In the case of this particular wedding from October, it was tears of laughter.  

The bridesmaids had kept me laughing all day with the jokes and constant twerking, but the bouquet toss really took the cake. These girls meant business. The bouquet flies through the air, leaving the bride's hands. Two girls jump for it, driven by competitiveness and the promise that the one who catches the bouquet is next to get married. Four hands grab onto that bouquet like nobody's business. There was no such thing as being polite, or "ladylike", this was a fight til the end. The DJ offered to start taking bets on who would 'win'. When the bouquet tore in two, a tie was declared and the room exploded in laughter. Long live wedding traditions...

Getting married or know someone who is? Send me a note because I would love to be part of that special day!

Bridesmaids' Fight 'til the End...

"Favourite 2017" Small Stories - #1 Jazzy the Tree

As a kid I kept a list of my favourite things. I liked how reading it would always put me in a good mood and it was fun to continuously add to the list.  "Red hair", "the familiar smell of a swimming pool" (I swam a lot), "the feel of rocking in a floating boat"...  Going online these days isn't always the most enjoyable experience.  The news sites are full of stories that make you want to scream, and social media is an intricate web where you have to sort through images of Pinterest-perfect lives to find the gems your closest friends or that your most interesting muses post.  

So in rounding off 2017, I want to share some "favourite 2017" small stories of fun that I hope will make at least a few people smile during their online reading.  The real treasure of photography is being welcome into the lives of the people you photograph, and these are some people or stories that touched me by the beauty of human nature.

12 days until 2018, one photo per day of a 2017 photography moment, beautiful or funny.  So in no particular order of preference, let's get started!

Meet Jazzy.  One day this girl is going to rule the world.  Her passion and energy is incredible, and she is usually running around wild and free.  During a documentary family session with Jazzy's family, we were on a walk through the river valley when suddenly Jazzy decides she's a tree.  The same crazy busy girl, suddenly has stood upon a post with her eyes closed, and she says she's a tree.  But she's not just saying it, she's FEELING it, breathing it, and was so still like she was really assuming the existence of a tree.  The butterflies on her dress just added to the tree moment.  Standing there, watching her, was like time was put on hold for everyone to soak up the moment.

Curious about what a documentary family session is?  Send me your questions!

Jazzy the Tree, September 2017

Loving Without Boundaries

Many of my favourite childhood memories were made while camping with my sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents at a small lake in Saskatchewan. We'd swim in the cool lake water, rain or shine. We'd ride with grandma on the golf cart to get ice cream at the clubhouse. We'd pick cattails and try to trick the little kids by covering them with ketchup in a hotdog bun. Life was simple and perfect. Photographing another extended family at their special lake this summer was nostalgic and wonderful. It was also a beautiful thing to see how an extended family could blend so well, communal parent so effortlessly, and love without boundaries.

"Life is for deep kisses, strange adventures, midnight swims, and rambling conversations. Life is about enjoying every minute you have and creating wonderful memories simply because it feels good to be alive. Live life beautifully. It’s your greatest legacy." -- unknown

Interested in more stories?  Or perhaps interested in hearing tips on art and related things?  Add yourself to my newsletter and we'll be in touch!  https://www.paulagerein.com/newsletter-signup

Hold Tightly Those Who You Love

My sister was in Vegas on the strip just a couple weeks ago.  My husband and I can sometimes be found on Jasper Ave here in Edmonton around midnight after a late supper or drinks with friends.  Friends of ours were in Barcelona, on Las Ramblas, the same moment of the attack in August.  Thankfully they are safe, my sister is safe, we are safe…  But that’s not how everyone’s story ended.  What is wrong with this world when senseless things like this keep happening?!  Hold tightly those who you love.