Today it Snowed. Baby Ben Missed it, He's Still in NICU.

Today it snowed. In Edmonton. On September 13th. I’m not the type who hates winter, who curses the cold, and counts down the days until it is Spring. But I’ll admit, it’s a little early this year even for me! So instead of going outside to do the location scouting I had planned, I’m going to cozy up with some green tea, Dutch radio, and my computer.

Do any of you blog? It’s an interesting thing. I love being able to reflect on the work I have done and to be able to share it with others. Yet, when life gets busy, my world gets smaller and communicating with the online world gets forgotten. So why am I coming on here today? There have been many interesting and special sessions over the past months, but a session I had earlier this week really touched me.

Excitement mixed with fear at her “20 week” ultrasound. They were going to have a little boy! But he was wanting to arrive in this world WAY too soon. An emergency flight from Yellowknife down to Edmonton’s NICU, and five days later at just 24 weeks little Benjamin was born. This family has spent the past 9 weeks in NICU and they have about another 7 weeks to go. I can’t quite imagine what it must be like to have your world so unexpectedly turned upside with the stress of a fragile baby and hundreds of miles away from home. That’s something to just sit and think about for a minute.

Please send all your good vibes to this little guy that he stays strong and keeps growing.

P.S. Did you know that I do free in-hospital sessions for families with babies in NICU? Message me for more information.

A glimpse at a few great moments from May and June

This fabulous family has family spread out over Canada and across the ocean in Cape Town. Grandma and grandpa's visit seemed like the perfect occasion to capture images of the family having quality time together. We chose a Sunday morning to best reflect what the family enjoys best - a lingering breakfast and time outdoors.  Who would have expected that a spontaneous soccer game would erupt in the backyard? And the heat meant than no one really felt like a longer, sweaty, river valley walk so we cut the walk short and headed straight for the local cafe. In true honour of this family, we went with the flow. The most relaxing type of Sunday morning that there is, am I right?

In Glenora, Edmonton, there is a good sense of community and a pretty active Community League. This year's community 'Picnic in the Park' had the good luck of perfect weather and a great turnout making it the killer combo for a fun family event amongst neighbours.

I got to meet the powerhouse women of Boutique Collective, a small business on 124th street who focus on event branding and production, promotion execution and marketing plans for small-to-medium sized businesses. These women were a lot of fun but they really know how to hustle when it's time to. If you need some professional help with an event then you need to check them out!

These dazzling dancers braved the impending storm and showed me how the right clothes are sometimes all it takes to put a dancer in the right mood.  There's "mom's choice" of outfit, and then there's the outfit that really makes you come alive.

THANK YOU for Supporting Kids Portraits & the Stollery Fundraiser

Results of the “Character Series” kids portrait event in support of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation

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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