Monday, December 14, 2009

Help Portrait Edmonton

I volunteered to be a photographer at this event this year, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to do so. The event was very well organized and really well 'staffed' by so many volunteers: photographers, hair and make up artists, editors, and helpers. The only one not co-operating was mother nature, who decided not to turn the heat on. The temperature was about -25C outside, and I am sure this kept lots of folks from coming in for their photographs. For those that did venture out, I hope that we were able to create some lasting memories for them.

I was particularly touched by the last fellow that I photographed. He arrived at my station in a very nice suit, looking very handsome and professional. He was carrying a small grocery bag, and when he came up to where I was waiting, he pulled a bible out of the bag, and said "this is what this portrait is all about". I was so touched that he had thought about wanting his portrait to portray what was important in his life, and that I had the opportunity to help him with this. After we got his portraits finished his wife joined us, and we also got some lovely photos of the two of them together. As I was leaving the building I saw them again - he was no longer in his suit, but rather a heavy parka and sweat pants, carrying the suit in a bag and heading out into the horrible frigid weather of the day.

I've been thinking a lot about the day, and what felt like a missed opportunity in that we could have photographed so many more folks. How can we be sure that others come out, how can we get rid of the barriers that kept them away. Is it via arranging shuttles from service groups? Is it setting up for portraits right at the seniors homes or shelters? And it has also occurred to me - this doesn't need to happen only on the 12th of December. This could be arranged for any day of the year! It really is a wonderful way to share my love of photography with others. I am so very thankful that I participated.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I have spent the last days traveling the Pacific Northwest with Jeff Jochum and Candice Cunningham, attending the Seattle and Vancouver SMUGs.

Wonderful experience. Lots of deep discussions about the business of photography. About new trends like Photo Fusion.

The Vancouver SMUG is being led by The Bebb's.

They gave a great presentation to the crowd, and left them with an assignment to submit their 15 best photographs for discussion! Fifteen sounds like both a lot and a little. I have years of photographs, and lots of different subjects. I have many of my children that I adore because they are my children. I have lots of landscapes. And then I have those few portraits that I might be comfortable sharing. There is a part of me that says I should want to really take a risk with this and only consider those that are outside of my comfort zone, but I also was considering doing this as more of a retrospective exercise - pick a favorite from each of the past years, and then decide why it is a favorite, and whether that makes it a worthy photo.

Since I am doing this as an exercise for myself, I can probably do both. I will be posting the choices here in the next little while.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Heading Home

Feet throb, knees burn. I am past the point of exhaustion and keep moving for fear that if I don't I won't be able to start again. Up at 5 a.m. Eastern time for my flight. All is well until the Captain announces that the plane will be in a holding pattern over Eau Claire, Wisconsin for 40 minutes. Missed connection. The gate agent asks me not to shoot the messenger when she tells me I have been rebooked onto a flight departing at 9:30 p.m.: ten hours later!

The Mall of America beckons; a short LRT ride away. Developed by the Ghremezian brothers of West Edmonton Mall fame, it boasts 500 shops and an amusement park. The cheesy souvenirs purchased for those at home can now be augmented with real shirts. The temptation of the multiple shoe stores and the drop dead gorgeous boots is almost more than I can bear. Five hours at the mall is better than five hours in an airport, without a doubt. But this was to be a day of rest and recovery.

Last night, after playing with flash photography in an old Salem, Ma. graveyard, I had already hit the wall. I was done, exhausted, unable to conceive of another day hiking or shooting or, frankly, shopping!
My feet ached, my knees burned, I was exhausted. Home and rest were calling me.

It was the end of the 5th Dgrin shootout, and the total, utter exhaustion was a familiar and welcome feeling. This, my third shootout, was just like the others. Up at 5 a.m. to shoot sunrise and scenes lit with morning light, a mid morning brunch followed by critiques or shooting or both, followed by sunset and then a hearty meal in the company of good friends, old and new.

The shootout started slowly for me, photographically speaking. Landscape shooting is a challenge for me – to go beyond good exposure, proper focus and a pleasing composition and sort out the correct set of tools to use to create a stunning photograph requires effort, and I am rarely successful. The shots from the first few days leave much to be desired and from the last several days have yet to be seen. Finding a subject in Acadia was difficult – how do you shoot sunrise over the ocean? What is your subject when the horizon stretches forever? And how do you shoot fog? No matter. I have spent the last seven days in the company of great old friends, great new friends and great talented photographers, chasing light and searching for wildlife, without anyone pushing to hurry to the next location, or wondering why I would 'stop there?' All share a common passion for photography and the camaraderie that comes of this is remarkable.

Before I board the flight home, I am still left to wonder why the canned message for the moving sidewalks in Minneapolis were made with a British accent.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Off to the DGrin Acadia Shootout

It is the kind of sleep that muist happen regularly, but that you don't recognize. It is so deep and so satisfying . You only know when you are having a sleep like that when it is rudely, harshly interrupted. Raging Black Sabbath jolts you out of it, ends it and you feel robbed. Not even the slow realization that it signals the beginning of the Dgrin shootout is enough to force your body from the Nirvana of your bed. Five minutes later, The Rolling Stones are only slightly more successful.

Six a.m. And 8C. Fifty pounds of luggage in the duffle, and what feels like another 50 in the camera bag. Ridiculously long line ups at the airport. People seemingly moving their whole belongings to another place on the globe. And it must have been a good week for the local outfitters, as camouflage is everywhere. Twelve dollars for microwaved porridge and coffee.

The announced 55 minute gate delay does not happen, and we arrive in Minneapolis on time. Turning the cell phone on reveals a message from my wireless provider: Welcome to the U.S.A. A fee of …..applies to all phone calls and texts. Phoning the toll free number to update my plan reveals no easy way to get both! And a recommendation to block the internet access of the iPhone! My Canadian debit card does not work at any of the vendors here at the airport, and the ATM is out of cash. The connecting flight to Boston is delayed – no information on how long or why.

And despite the above, and the grey, grim skies in Minneapolis, I can only feel good about what lies ahead this next week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Congratulations Heather and Ryan

July 11, 2009 was a lovely day. I started out by joining Heather and Elana at MUD for hair and makeup. What a blast!

I then met them again at Heather's parents home, for some getting ready shots, and of course the ceremony. What a lovely wedding!

We took family photos along the top of Strathearn Drive, and then wedding party photos along a secret pathway and at the Museum.

Thanks Heather and Ryan for asking me to be your photographer! I wish you many years of happiness and joy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canadian Badminton National Championships

Wow! What a week of competition. Six straight days of competition, six days of 12 hours shooting! 30,000 photos! All of them posted in galleries here.

The speed and strength of these athletes is remarkable. The height that they achieve amazing.

It was a privilege to be Official Photographer at this event!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Badminton National Championships

I am pleased to be Official Photographer for the Yonex Canadian Junior Badminton Championships May 4 to May 9, in Sherwood Park, Alberta.

Ann McRae Photography will be offering on site printing and sale of digital images.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Alberta Highland Dance Provincial Championship

It was my pleasure to be official photographer at last weekends Open Competition and Provincial Championship, in Leduc. The competitors danced their hearts out for the privilege of representing Alberta at the National Competition in Toronto in June.