Sunday, 8 July 2018

Quebec City & Lavender Fields

As per tradition, last weekend for Canada day, we packed up our bags and headed out of town. It's been a busy year so far, and the last two major trips we both took were super action-packed and tiring. We decided that for this trip, we were going to take it easy and relax and drive to Quebec City. We both have been before so there wouldn't be as much pressure to do a bunch of the touristy things. The only thing on our list was to each delicious French food. And boy did we!

The Food

Our first stop was Ophelia for a quick lunch. We each had clam chowder (not pictured), octopus carpaccio, and fish accras (fritters). Nick really enjoyed the carpaccio but it had olives in it (which I don't like) so I steered clear. The fish accras were very fluffy on the inside and the flavour was yummy too. I think we both liked the clam chowder best, they were quite generous with the clam.

octopus carpaccio

fish accras

For dinner, we tried to go to L'Affaire Est Ketchup but it was booked full. The reviews mention they're a teeny tiny location (8 seats??) but highly rated so we'll have to try again next time! They referred us to a restaurant down the street called Patente et Machin which was another small hole in the wall. It was dark and gritty, with big hearty French dudes who translated and described the French menu in their fun French accent. I didn't get too many photos because of how dark it was but we had two appetizers ("machins"): the ceviche and mushrooms, and for mains ("patentes") we shared the piglet shank, which was incredibly tender, and a custom scallops dish since they ran out of pork belly for their usual scallops + pork belly.


The next morning, we returned to Le Billig, which we discovered last time we were in Quebec City. We loved it so much nothing else seemed like a good alternative so we went back. Their crepes are amazing and they have lots of options so there's always something new to try! 

carrot soup

artichoke hearts and prosciutto with salad 

chorizo omnom

For the last major meal in town, we tried a fancier place with an interesting menu. Graffiti was a super cool blend of pub-style take on fancy cuisine. We tried 3 different types of tartare and a seafood pasta. Everything was incredible and we'll definitely be back! 

tuna tartare and tataki -- Asian style

seafood scallop with lobster bisque sauce

Graffti's house beef tartare -- special salad and wholesome fries

salmon tartare with mango and pineapple chutney -- so refreshing! 

The Exploring

Since we've hit all the touristy locations previously, we took a more relaxed walk around town. First stop was the Old Port Market where we bought fresh local farm strawberries.

Yay strawberries! They were deliciously sweet
pigging out on strawberries
We noticed a giant cube outside the market and it turned out to be part of a city-wide public art circuit. Since we had no plans where to go, we grabbed a map and decided to check out all the installations. They were pretty interesting! Here's some of my favourites:

happy castaways

uh-oh car accident

"post-post modernism"
Following the art circuit, we ended up in Old Quebec, and I gasped super loudly when I saw that they replaced the previous spherical lantern with umbrellas. I always see pictures of umbrellas like this on Instagram but never in person! It was just as magical as I had imagined :3

Our last stop on our way back to Ottawa was a slight detour about an hour and a half out of Montreal, at the Bleu Lavande lavender farms.

It was a huge farm, unlike the one I went to with my parents a few years back in Prince Edward County. It's a little early for when lavender typically bloom but being a larger farm, they had different lavender intended to bloom sequentially so to attract as many visitors over as many months possible.

The Lavender

Travel tips

Lastly, I wanted to share a couple of tips for traveling, packing, and taking photos.

Packing: It was suuuuper hot (and the heat wave just keeps on going~) so I made sure to pack a couple of breezy dresses, a twirly skirt, and a pair of shorts. Summer clothes are light and since it's so hot, it's nice to have multiple options on hand. The trick is to be tight on bags and shoes since they're heavier. I tend to make sure I only bring one purse to go with everything and have a pair of flats that go with all the outfits I picked out, and then a pair of dressier heels for fancier venues. A sunhat and sunglasses are also a must on a summer packing list. Oh and of course sunscreen! Definitely make sure to protect your skin.

Travel planning: Usually our trips have more structure and a fuller itinerary, which is great for going to places you've never been before so as to get the most of the trip. For places you're returning to, I found that all you need is to make sure you have the basics: food, transportation, and accommodation. We booked our hotel, and when we arrived, we picked out where we wanted to eat. Then, since we were driving this time, everything else just fell into place. Plus, since the hotel was close by, we got to go back and take naps before dinner, which was just great :)

Photo taking: It's never easy trying to take photos as a couple and in our packing, we somehow forgot to bring the tripod. I've touched on this topic before, but it basically comes down to behind resourceful and creative. Try to look for benches or mailboxes or recycling bins -- flat surfaces to put your camera down on. Use things you have on hand like lens caps or wallets to steady or prop up the camera. For the lavender photos, I used my purse, which was perfect because of the rectangular shape, and the low angle I wanted to shoot at to get the lavender in frame. I prefer this method over asking strangers because 1) as it was the case with lavender, there might not be anyone around, and 2) you might feel frustrated if they don't take the photo you were hoping for (an emotion I'm all too familiar with). So it's best just to turn on the timer and do it on your own. If you don't have a remote, make sure you turn the shooting mode to consecutive shots so you can get a bunch at once. The important thing is to just have fun with it!

Hope you enjoyed these photos! Thanks for reading :)

Friday, 29 June 2018

Summer BBQ & The 70s

One of my most anticipated activities for the summer is having a barbecue. It's always a good time with friends gathered around, relaxing with the patio door open, drinking refreshing beverages and chowing down on some good ol' fashioned comfort food. So when my super talented home chef friend Charlotte reached out to collab on a ribs & summer bbq concept in the spirit of Ribfest, I was all too happy to accept! Charlotte has cooked for me twice before, Korean stew and brunch spread with dutch baby pancakes. This shoot was a much larger operation as the she made an incredible amount of food that also took much longer to cook. It really was a whole day affair (not to mention the prep work she did the night before!) Plus, more dishes meant more moving pieces to arrange on the table. It was a definite challenge for me, but one that I was eager to take on!

Our shoot was actually indoors, but drape a gingham tablecloth from the dollar store and you could believe we're outside on a picnic bench in a park, right? :P

full spread! including fresh picked daisies :)

mmm garlic bread <3

let's do it!
I had to go back and shoot a couple times after reviewing the first batch of photos and mentally assessing what was missing. In the end, I'm pretty happy with my top three. The flatlay is a must to show all of Charlotte's hard work; I always have a close up and I seriously do love garlic bread; and lastly, I wanted to showcase the drinks and the fun napkins, sort of as a "cheers!" to the whole shebang.

Summer BBQs also remind me of the 70s for some reason, and "That 70s Show" was one of my favourite tv shows growing up. I recently started rewatching it (again) on Netflix and so the outfits are very fresh in my mind. I've noticed that many of the fashion trends of the 70s are making a comeback today, which is pretty neat! For my two outfits this month, I drew inspiration from the two very different female leads of "That 70s Show".

Outfit 1 (left): Guess navy off-shoulder crop top with tiny flowers, vintage plaid midi skirt, vintage square scarf, Aldo cork wedges
Outfit 2 (right): Zara girls self-tie chambray button-down shirt, retro Guess jeans in 'Nicole boot', vintage silk horsebit print scarf, Michael Kors espadrille wedges  

Outfit 1: The Jackie 

Jackie Burkhart is the princessy girly-girl in the ragtag team of teenagers. She's super obsessed with fashion and her looks but it certainly pays off --she's always so stylish!

The skirt, wedges, and neck scarf are thrifted from my local thrift shop. I love the bold colours of the skirt -- it's rare to find plaid in these colours in modern pieces. The buttons are also detailed and intricate, which is a recurring element I look for in my items. Jackie wore a lot of neck scarves in the show so I definitely wanted to incorporate a neck scarf without feeling too tight in the neck and chest area. The fun and flirty, slightly off-shoulder top from Guess adds the little extra bit of exposure skin that balances out the scarf in a complementary way.

Outfit 2: The Donna

Donna is the tall leggy tomboy who is stunning in her own way. She will wear dresses for special occasions but loves to rock her flared jeans.

These vintage bootcut Guess jeans are also from my local thrift store. I appreciate how vintage denim is like wine -- it gets better over time. The soft "broken in" feel is super comfy and usually if there is any distressing, it also tends to look more natural. Denim on denim is another trend from the 70s that seems to have popped back up again in recent trends (it came back once before in the 90s too). My self-tie top is actually from Zara girl's dept. Zara makes surprisingly high quality kids items and I will on occasion browse to see if there's anything that still looks like it could pass for an adult item. Crop tops are usually a safe bet since they're meant to be short anyway. I added some finishing vintage touches such as my trusty belt and a silk scarf as a bandanna. I'm only a bit taller than average height so my platform wedge espadrilles were a must to achieve the long leg effect of Donna Pinciotti.

What's great about fashion comebacks for vintage/retro lovers like me is that I can wear my outfits out without feeling like I'm in costume! Additionally, while I still prefer thrift shopping for genuinely vintage/retro pieces, it's also nice to be able to have a lot more options readily available in regular stores.

Hope you enjoyed the food photos and outfit pairings!
Thanks for reading :)

Friday, 22 June 2018

2018 Summer Fashion Trends

Hooray it's summer! Even though it only just became official yesterday, I felt summer-like weather as of the very first day of the month! The winters in Ottawa are so brutally painful and long that any glimmer of summer vibes is cause for celebration. Last year's summer almost passed me by but it's resurgence in September actually triggered new photography and blog ideas. My 2017 Summer Fashion post being the kick-off post, followed shortly by a Fall Fashion post and a whole monthly fashion component to my yearly project. However, summer (and likely fall again later this year) deserves its own spotlight. This year, I noticed some fun trends in popular fashion that I somehow am keeping up with! I'm not usually a subscriber to current trends although I do like to observe them and it's just a happy coincidence when I happen to be on trend! Without further ado, here are the three trends I seem to be on board with this summer :

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Summer Saturday Hangout with Joan

Working a regular 9-5, I try my hardest to make time to just hang out and catch up with friends weekend. Some days it's easier said than done! As much as I love photography, it can sometimes take me away or alienate me. I mentioned in my last post, I spent a lot of time shooting the bar, which meant I missed out on some conversations with the girls. And while I was taking pictures of the food, I also missed out on most the group selfies (although they were sweet and made sure to get one with me as well!)

That's why I really appreciate solo one-on-one hangouts. Especially when the friend is also down to be bossed around for some fun casual shoots hehe. I find it's easy to keep a dialogue going and the photos I snap up actually add to the conversation, rather than take me away!

Which brings us to today's post, photos from my casual shoot on Saturday with Joan. We spent the afternoon at 613flea hunting for vintage treasures, followed by some girl talk (clothing, jewelry, and prosecco, duh? :P), then a cup of tea and sunset at the beach. That's what I call a great Saturday!

Friday, 8 June 2018

Montreal Weekend: Fashion, Friends, & Food

Happy Friday everyone! As with every trip I make to Montreal, here's the corresponding giant blog post filled with photos :P It was Amanda's birthday last weekend so myself and a couple of girlfriends from Toronto all met up at Amanda's to celebrate. Brace yourselves, if you aren't hungry now, I'm thinking that might change...

Cheers to the weekend! 

Friday, 1 June 2018

Lace Dress at the Beach

It's the first day of June and it hit 31 degrees today! I don't want to jinx it but it looks like it'll be a promising summer this year. Not going to say much in this post because I have lots of pictures to share! And y'know, equals a thousand words, yada yada :P  Without further ado, here are my favourites from a beach photoshoot with Lily.

When we were reviewing photos on the camera, we both noticed that her sunglasses give off a GUESS Jeans vibe. I only have these two in my cut but I'm really digging the magazine style!
We took the sunglasses off for the rest of the shoot. Here are some more classic portrait-y shots:

Monday, 28 May 2018

Teacups & More Teacups!

By now, I'm more than a third of the way through this yearly project and it's funny how it doesn't matter how far in advance I start to plan the shoots, things always seem to be continuously changing up until the very last minute. I had a completely different concept in mind for this month but that's all put on hold for another month now!

If my Tea Time at Tiffany's shoot from my vintage project was any indication, I love tea. At work, I drink at least 3 cups of tea a day. For this post, I picked my favourites from the shoot I did with my high school classmate who who recently started her own home decor company, HomeJourney.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Preloved Luxuries & Millennial Pink

It's been three weeks since I've returned from my China trip and I was out of commission the first two of those three. I don't know what it was (although at one point it was definitely bronchitis – oof) but it sure knocked me on my butt! It was pretty awful and I’m finding myself scrambling to try to catch up for all the lost time. With this post, I can cross April off my to-do list and get a move on the *hundreds* of China photos I’ve been neglecting.

I've been wanting to shoot accessories for a while, and after the few when shooting outfits with Haikang, I realized the main struggle was finding the right surfaces to shoot on. Luckily, while shopping for housewares in Simon's, I found a bunch of neat place mats (for like $4!) and thought they'd be a great hack for those blogger flat lays on gorgeous marble or wood counter tops. Here goes my first try shooting with the marble one (with $1 fake flowers to complete the blogger aesthetic :P)

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Haikang's Spring Lookbook

Even before the final post of the 2017 Fashion project, I knew I wouldn't actually be done with fashion photography. And while I'm enjoying the fashion challenge of my 2018 personal lookbook project, I do miss the fun dynamic of shooting with others. So I reached out to my fashionmister buddy to see if he'd be interested in more fashion shoots and building a lookbook. If you couldn't tell, he agreed! And with the perfect spring-like weather finally pulling through this past weekend -- I love it when everything comes together :)

I tried some more graphics-y styling on some of the photos, just playing around but I think I like the effect!

Friday, 23 March 2018

Details & Dates & Spring Florals

I'm going to come out and say it -- spring is my least favourite season (that's as harsh as it gets, I'm Canadian and we're nice, sorry :P) Knowing my trip to China was going to cut March into a month even shorter than February, I was in full-blown panic mode the second I hit publish on the February post.

I really liked how last post's product and fashion shoots were related, so I kept going through my closet trying to find an item that would trigger the brain blast I needed to get the ball rolling. But for the first full 2 weeks of the month, I made absolutely zero progress - no ideas, no inspiration, nada. And suddenly I was a week out from my trip and guess what, I also didn't managed to pack anything  for my trip! I looked up weather in the cities in China that we would be visiting, and they would have actual spring weather, with sunny rays, some rain (understandable), and lots of flower blossoms! Nothing like the second winter we get in Ottawa (I swear we got more snow in March than in February) -- which lead me to my first epiphany: I don't have proper spring clothes because Ottawa (or even Toronto really) doesn't have a proper spring! I mean, sure, I have clothing items of the correct warmth and thickness, but in greys and burgundys and other more autumnal hues and patterns.

Now I was faced with two problems: nothing to shoot and nothing to pack. I was complaining about this quite annoyingly to my super supportive girlfriends when one pointed out, why don't I do the blog post on how hard it is to dress for spring? And she's right, that was the whole point, wasn't it? Not to show easy outfit pairings, but to challenge myself and help me break through mental blocks.

Once the idea was in my mind, I had to write it down in my photography notebook, which led me to my product/lifestyle shoot:

Monday, 19 March 2018

Lights Lately

2018 has been off to a pretty busy start in terms of shooting! In addition to my monthly projects, I have a noticeable backlog in addition. But add regular work and the recent preparations for an upcoming trip (more on this later!) it's been a constant game of catch-up! One thing I did manage to get up on the website are photos for a Muay Thai event called Art of War at the Canadian War Museum. Was my first time seriously shooting this sort of content but I'm pretty happy with some of the shots I got! 

This post is another chip at my backlog, first up couple photos here from the Toronto Light Fest. Not to be confused with Lights Festival that I attended in Ottawa last September, with the lanterns. The Toronto Light Fest is an annual temporary art installation in the Distillery District.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Vintage Perfume Bottle & Velvet

I feel like I say this a lot (maybe too often?) but I am honestly so incredibly excited to share out the photos in this post. I've had this idea brewing in my brain for quite some time now but I delayed executing, partly due to logistics, but also a little bit out of fear that it wouldn't live up to the image I had built up in my mind.

Still, when I headed back to Toronto for Chinese New Year and Family Day long weekend, all the pieces were finally together, there was no more room for excuses.

Here's my little product shoot inspired by Valentine's day:

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Charcuterie Board & Burgundy Plaid

I can't believe the first month of the new year is already done! It's been an pretty packed month with lots going on but that will likely be the case for the rest of the year. I have lots of exciting things planned and can't wait to share it so take this super lengthy post as a preview of what's to come!

In the moments of the impending wrap-up to a pretty successful 2017 project, I struggled with ideas for my next project. I didn't feel done with fashion photography but at the same time, wanted to pursue something further. I sifted through old photos from both Vintage and Fashion projects and realized I wanted to zero in on the props shots -- some examples:

Shooting with models, going to various locations, and trying to work with what's provided to me was challenging in it's own way. But it'll be really cool to create the sets and have complete control over what comes out on camera. Kind of a throwback to my traditional pencil + paper days, creating something from nothing. A totally different challenge! From the little taste I got from shooting the few props shots in the vintage project, I know this won't be an easy undertaking, but it's definitely an area I want to develop. I haven't focused on this area before so I'll try my best to push myself to create magazine-esque shots of product and lifestyle photography. Here's an example of my aspirations: release the kraken.

It'll be a while before I reach that level but I got an early opportunity to try my hand at a small get together with friends. They brought out the charcuterie board and champagne and I helped arrange it nicely -- but it didn't actually occur to me to take photos until they all pulled out their phones for their Snapchat stories. After laughing along with the many filters, I decided to snap up some shots of my own.

"Alright, move aside ya filthy casuals." -cue more laughter-