Archive for 'Family'


Hey there everyone,

I’m pretty excited to be showing you these images today.  Earlier this week I had organised to get together with a couple of mountain bike instructors at Hardwood Ski & Bike to have a bit of fun creating some awesome sports lifestyle portraits.  Yes, you’re quite right, these are the same two instructors who helped me out with some cross country skiing portraits at the end of the winter this year.

When I was down in Cincinatti a couple of weeks ago with LaDawn and David Ziser honing my portrait and wedding portrait skills I had the chance to chat with David about niching down our family portrait studio into sports lifestyle portraits.  Everyone I bounced my ideas off thought this was an awesome way to create a real niche for our business.  Getting that niche right is really hard work.  I distinctly recall how tough Dane Sanders was on us at the Fasttrack Workshop last August. He was adamant that we could not be truly successful until we identified what it was that each of us was uniquely intended to do.  Identifying this niche has taken a lot of time and consideration and it really wasn’t until late in the winter and early this spring that I started getting a feel for what I really wanted to pursue with my photography.

I knew it had to involve families and children.  Anyone who has worked with us will attest to how alive I become when I’m interacting with and photographing children.  I also love the opportunity to create meaningful portraits for families.  There are precious few family portraits in my family history and most of them are big wedding family pictures.  I don’t really have a sense of what my parents were like at my age and younger with their young family, so it is really important to me to create these images for our clients.

Mountain Bike Sports Portrait Photographer

Thing is, family portraits isn’t a particularly unique niche.  As I was reminded at Ziser’s workshop – its the differences that make the difference in this business.

Enter Family Sports Lifestyle Portraits.  Whether it’s horseback riding, mountain biking, golf, disc golf, camping, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, whatever your family is passionate about, that’s what we are all about.  Jen and I are passionate about active lifestyles.  We bike, ski, paddle, run, camp, hike.  So we’ve put these two passions – family photography and sports – together.

Mountain Bike Sports Portrait Photographer

Back to these images.  I can’t show you what we can do without showing what we can do, can I?  Sounds like a bit of a circle there, eh?  Right, so, I need volunteers to help create some examples to show people. This is what Arienne and Sharon from Hardwood were helping out with this week.

Like I said, I’m pretty excited to be showing you these images and I would love to hear what you think.  Let me know in the comments!

Mountain Bike Sports Portrait Photographer

Also, for a very limited time and for a very limited number of people we are offering some pretty awesome incentives for helping us build out this portfolio.  If you, or someone you know, would be interested in modelling for us – kids, teens, couples, families – drop us an email or a phone call.  Did I say awesome incentives?  I’m talking like over 75% our regular studio prices.  So yeah, really awesome, but once we have a handful of these sessions booked, the incentives go away, so first come – first served!

Mountain Bike Sports Portrait Photographer



Seize the day.  Life is a fast paced affair and it has never been faster than it is now.  Social commitments, kid’s soccer and hockey games, gymnastics, Scouts, Cadets, your own physical fitness, yard work, keeping up with Facebook goings-on, getting the cottage ready for the season, going to the cottage as much as possible even….

Sounds pretty busy, doesn’t it?  And I haven’t even mentioned getting the kids out of the house for school, going to work and helping with homework, school fundraising activities and parent-teacher night.  Oh wait, I guess I just did.  I’m already exhausted just thinking about getting all of this done!

It’s no wonder then that when family members are no longer present whether it be by natural happenstance, relocation or sudden tragedy that we are suddenly left wondering where all the time has gone.  When we start looking through our belongings trying to find a picture of our loved one, we discover that the last portrait is a decade or more old and the last full family portrait was 20 years ago at the last wedding.

As I was just mentioning, life’s busy.  Way busy.  Now multiply that over a couple of different families and generations and it’s no wonder we struggle to put a multi generational portrait together.  How on earth do you get all the stars aligned so that everyone is in one place at the same time, looking great AND you have a skilled portrait photographer around?

At our portrait studio we employ a number of techniques to help our clients create great looking family portraits.  We can work around all sorts of scheduling challenges to put together a beautiful multi-generational family portrait.  Even if it means creating portraits of various family groupings on different days, even months apart, or photographing a couple of university students on their school break and adding them to the portrait later, we can do this with ease.

In fact, this portrait which we created and reviewed here on the blog around Christmas was created from several separate groupings to illustrate just this capability.  Comes together pretty awesome doesn’t it?

For this next family, Bruce and Ginny pull their family together for a portrait about once every 5 years.  When we went to their beautiful home on the shore of Lake Simcoe to discuss their portrait needs with them, they quickly walked us through their family history by discussing what was going on in each photograph over the last 25 years.  Pretty cool.  As I discussed in this post back in October, we really had a fabulous day creating their family portraits.

Just before we left Australia, a good friend of mine asked us to create their family portrait for them as they were about to leave the community they had been living in for years and years and they had their mother visiting at the time.  The outback is a place of very special meaning for these folks so we went out into the bush and found this beautiful setting for their family portrait.

I just want to leave you with these last couple of words.  There’s an old proverb that says the best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago and the second best time to plant a tree is today.  Don’t let time pass you by.  Give us a call and let’s talk about creating a beautiful family portrait, whether it is just your immediate family or your entire extended family.


The big deal around the studio over the last few weeks has the been the fund raising efforts we’ve been leading to help out a local family mum stricken with breast cancer.

What started out as a one day photo booth event at a local Sugar Shack quickly morphed into a 3 weekend event complete with awesome prizes from a heap of local businesses. (More on prizes in just a minute!)

It was whilst chatting with our good friend and awesome Horseshoe Valley real estate agent, Diana Monteith, about our plans for the photo booth event that we learned about this local family in need.  From there, we realised that we could do so much more good than running just a fun photo booth.

A few calls to our business partners and other local businesses and we had a stack of prizes to give away that left us deeply thankful for their support.  As word got around about what we were doing, other local business put up their hands and asked to help out and added items to the prize list.  I even ended up having to resize the prize poster as the list got so long – a burden I was very happy to shoulder, I might add.

How did we do?  I’m sure this is the big question on your minds.  I’m am really, really thrilled to be able to say that whilst we didn’t quite hit our target of $1000, we came so close that I’m not gonna split hairs.  $970 was our final total.  A truly wonderful outcome and I’m very much looking forward to meeting with the family and presenting this to them.

Now, the next thing I’m sure you wondering… Am I a winner?  Of course you are!  We are all winners when we come together as a community to help a member in need.  But, I know what you mean – the prize draw!  Yes, yes.  Here we go:

Prize Sponsor Winner
14 Remote-Controlled Subaru WRX Davenport Subaru Lucia Tomson
13 $20 Shadowbox Gift Certificate Shadowbox Framing Skye Davenport
12 $25 Simcoe Sew & Quilt Gift Certificate Simcoe Sew & Quilt Gina Taylor
11 Hoot and Baby Booties Noble Upcycling Mike Blair
10 Hallmark Photo Album Campitelli Family Christina Kalkanis
9 Heron Sculpture by Anvil Designs Sienna Home Decor Sarah Vurma
8 Oil Change and Spring Service Napa Craighurst Shizuko Yano
7 6 Pack Mountain Biking Day Passes Hardwood Ski&Bike Teena Pool Sauvé
6 Race Entry to a Multisport Canada Event Multisport Canada Sandy Agnew
5 Custom-Designed & Personalised Santa Sac Quilts by Jen Diane House
4 Custom-Designed & Personalised Santa Sac Quilts by Jen Wendy Edmonds
3 Custom-Designed & Personalised Santa Sac Quilts by Jen Ingrid Long
2 1 Month Lite Membership to The Creative Space The Creative Space Wendy Edmonds
1 Custom Portrait Experience & 10 Inch Portrait Houlden Studios Sally Harridan

In addition, every prize listed above, includes a $100 Gift Certificate towards a portrait order from a Houlden Studios Custom Portrait Experience.

Which leaves us with the Grand Prize winner of a custom Portrait Experience and 30 inch wall portrait on canvas from Houlden Studios  – Joanne Comeau.

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to everyone who participated in both the photo booth and the prize draw.  Together we have accomplished a wonderful thing!

Winners – You’ll be receiving a phone call from Jennifer this coming week to organize pick-up of your prize(s).


As Jen mentioned in her post last week, we’ve been going like crazy putting on a series of charity events to help support a local family who is struggling in their fight against cancer.

We learned about this family’s situation a couple of weeks ago while I was chatting with a realtor friend of ours about a community event she hosts at a local sugar shack.  (For those of you not in sugar bush country, a sugar shack is where maple sap is boiled down into maple syrup.)

Anyway to cut a long story short ,seeing how Jen covered this in the previous post, with this past Saturday’s event I decided it would be kinda fun for you to see our photo booth and the sugar shack hike in action.

Here is a time lapse sequence of the day.  6 hours compressed into just a minute and a half.  Click play and enjoy.

Remember, Sharing is Caring so please share this video to help us get word out about how fun this event is.  We have another event scheduled for Saturday, 7 April 2012 from 11am-3pm at Elsie’s Creek Sugar Shack – 4279 5th Line N, Oro-Medonte.

Oh, and check out that awesome, quilted banner by the fabulous custom quilt designer, Jennifer Houlden at Quilts by Jen!


Hi Everyone,

We have something a little special here today.  Jen wrote a fantastic blog post about the fund raising we’re doing for an Oro-Medonte family with a Grade 3 twins who’s mum is fighting cancer.  I’ve cross-posted her entry here, to the Houlden Studios blog, for you.

Have a read and will you let us know if we’ll be seeing you at the Sugar Shack this weekend?

Fun at the photo booth!

Houlden Studios along with some help from Quilts by Jen – maybe more than a little help seeing how I am kind of the other half of Houlden Studios – is helping to raise money for a local family fighting cancer living here in Oro-Medonte.  Last weekend we set up our photo booth with all it’s wonderful props that we had at our Family Day photo booth and some new ones to take some more funny, crazy and wacky photos.  We set up in conjunction with Elsie’s Creek Sugar Shack – Carl & Rebecca who own and run the sugar shack are wonderful hosts and served awesome pancakes with their fabulous maple syrup.

We will be setting up again this Saturday March 31 and then again April 7 from 11 am- 4 pm at Elsie’s Creek (4279 5th Line N) to have loads more fun with the photo booth and props.  Along with the photo booth is an awesome list of prizes to be won – we have had an overwhelming response to help raise money for this family in need with many prizes being donated from local businesses in Oro, Orillia and Barrie.  With over $3000 in fantastic prizes doesn’t it make sense to come out and buy a ticket?  1 for $5 or 3 for $10 with all proceeds going to our family in need.  Some of our sponsors include:  Hardwood Ski & BikeShadowboxNoble UpcyclingMultisport Canada and many more. This Saturday’s pancakes are being served and sponsored by Diana Monteith one of our local realtors.

As well, Quilts by Jen, will donate $20 to the cause from each and every Santa Sac ordered up until the end of day April 7, 2012.  A personalized, custom made sac for that special little one will certainly put a smile on his or her face Christmas morning when they find it under the tree full of goodies.  Check out the different designs available in my on-line catalogue.  To order contact me at

Personalised Santa Sac – One of many designs

So tell me, what are you doing these next two Saturdays?  Will we see you out at Elsie’s Creek for a walk in the woods, some pancakes with maple syrup and lots of fun in the photo booth?

See you there and if it is raining, big deal – you don’t melt, do you?



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I had a fun surprise involving our family portrait planned for Christmas Eve dinner.  As I had said, this is the first Christmas that Jen and I have been together with our family since 1998 (!!!!!). It’s also been forever since we had a family portrait – probably my sister’s wedding.  For Jen and I, forever since we had even had a nice photo of ourselves.  I’m sure it’s been a long time since my Uncle Perry has had a great portrait made of him, too.  In November, I wrote a Thanks, especially to my parents, and pledged to make a portrait of my mum to go with the portrait I made of my dad in the summer.  That’s a lot of un-portraits in our family and a state we decided to change.  I will share some more of the portraits we created in follow-up post soon, but for now, I just want to talk about about this full family portrait experience.

Over the last couple of months, I have been dying to experiment with a technique of creating a beautiful family portrait of large, extended families or groups.  One of the most challenging portraits to create is a great family portrait with many, many people.  Just think about the logistics of getting a large family together in one place at the same time – with everyone able to attend, in good health, well rested (think about those younger children and elder matriarchs and patriarchs). At my cousin’s wedding this past June, I had hoped that all of the Houlden family would be able to renew our family portrait, but not all of the family could attend for various reasons.  Now, if you’ve managed to get the family in one place, imagine the challenge of having everyone looking at the camera, with great expressions and eyes open – at the same moment.  Okay, and now, imagine the logistics involved in putting such a large group together in front of a great background, and lighting it evenly and pleasingly.

Phew.  I’m getting exhausted already!

So, to be able to say “Absolutely, Mrs Smith, we can do that!” with eagerness and enthusiasm, we’ve been working on a way to put a family portrait together that addresses all of these concerns.  The portrait of my family above is our small scale “proof of concept”.  (Click on the image to see it bigger – it looks awesome big!)  I’m very excited to report that this was a resounding success.  All of the groupings in this portrait were created at different times through our Christmas Eve dinner and put together after the fact.

Is this technique overkill for a family group this size?  Perhaps, however this technique can be used on families or groups of limitless size and location.  What if your family is scattered around the province (or country for that matter!)?  Or if Grandma or Grandpa are living in an assisted living home and can’t attend the family gathering?  How about if the cousins are off backpacking through Europe?  We can put together a fabulous portrait by creating individual portraits on different dates and even in different locations by taking the studio on the road.

As you head out for the weekend to celebrate New Year’s I would like to wish you all a very happy, prosperous and resourceful New Year from the Houldens, Corkings and Vurmas….