Archive for 'General'


Hey there everyone,

I’m sitting here in my hotel room in Florence, Kentucky just across the river from Cincinatti waiting to head out for dinner and I just thought I would write a quick blog post to share this really awesome story of perseverance with you.

What am I doing in Kentucky? Yeah, not a bad question. I’m down here attending a Master Class with the fantastic photographer, David Ziser. 5 days of lighting, composition and business discussion and practise so that I can do an even better job delivering results to you that blows your socks off.

More on that later. We are shooting all day tomorrow and Wednesday and I’ll post a few images on the blog tomorrow evening. I can’t wait, it’s gonna be an awesome day.

Right so, this story of perseverance…

When I checked in on the Better Together Facebook group this morning before breakfast I saw a post from Dane Sanders about a boy named Caine. Now, there’s a lot special going on with 9 year old Caine and I won’t spoil all of the fun for you, but the point I wanted to share with you is this little boy decided to do something he wanted to do. He absolutely loved what he was doing and kept on doing it despite the fact that no one appeared interested in what he was doing. And then, one day, all that changes…. In a HUGE way.
I’m going to leave you with this video and the link to Caine’s website so you can see the whole story, but I’m telling you know, you want to watch this video, especially if you’ve ever wondered if there is still any good left in this world of ours.

Here’s the video:


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?



(Do be sure to click into full screen to enjoy these portraits in all their awesomeness!)

Wow.  What a crazy winter we’ve had this year.  Maybe I had a romanticised notion of what winter would be like in central Ontario, but I really expected it to be colder, with more snow, oh and how about some sunshine?  Not this winter.  The effects of La Niña have been pronounced, varied and highly bizarre.

Let’s take this week for example, shall we?  Monday was -17.  I can’t remember Tuesday, it was so unmemorable. Wednesday was +12 and sunny.  It stayed warm overnight and rain came in Thursday morning.  Naturally, we were trying to teach ski lessons in the rain.  Yuck!  So, the temperature falls through the day and by Friday it was -10 again but man was the wind blowing!  -13 again this morning and then tomorrow is supposed to be +14.  Talk about a roller coaster.  This whole winter has been like this.  Up and down and round about.  Granted, not THIS warm, but still.

With this crazy weather this week, I realised that it was going to be last chance to set up some cross-country skiing lifestyle portraits.  I’ve been thinking about doing this all winter.  Well, as long as there has been snow on the ground anyway, which has only been since early January.  Two months rips past pretty quick when you’re having fun.  And it has been a really fun winter, despite the crazy weather.  Just enough snow at just the right times to provide excellent skiing conditions for the past couple months.

Wednesday was it.  I packed up a bit of gear into my backpack and headed out to Hardwood Ski & Bike to teach some ski instruction to grade schoolers.  After the lessons were finished, I headed out onto the trails to patrol with a couple other instructors, found some interesting spots along the trail and created the portraits above.

My fellow ski instructors are a pretty fun bunch.  When we came up to The Posts, Sharon said “Can we create a portrait in outhouse?”  ummm, sure….  Later, as I was dialling in the lights I asked Arienne to stand in for a minute.  She proceeded to mug for the camera thinking “Ah, test shots, these aren’t going anywhere.”  When they came up in Lightroom, I was like, “OMG, these are awesome!  I’ve gotta do something fun with these.  Hence the photostrip of Arienne mugging for the camera.”

For sure, these images are stylised a bit more than I usually do, but the fun we had making these portraits just called out to me to continue having fun in post-production and give you guys something a bit different today.

If the weather forecast holds for the coming week, all the snow will be gone by the end of the week and maybe I can find a willing subject or two to create some muddy spring mountain bike portraits?  Who’s up for that?

Tell us what you think of these portraits?  Do you like them?  Can you see yourself going beyond the staid “smile-for-the-camera-standing-in-front-of-a-beige-backdrop-at-Zellers” for your next family portraits?  How about a paddling picnic with the kayaks or canoes?  A day with the dirt-bikes perhaps?  Or why don’t we start at the stables and go horseback riding?  Endless options for truly memorable portraits.


You know that awesome, excited feeling you get whenever the doorbell rings?  Or, at least, whenever the doorbell rings when you’re expecting a delivery? Er, um, when you know that delivery is by UPS and you have been expecting something really exciting to arrive?

Yeah.  That was me yesterday.  Big Time.

A couple weeks ago we decided to bring in some samples from a framing company that has had our eye for months now.  Wild Sorbet.  The gals at Wild Sorbet have been creating these incredibly unique, colourful and fun frames for a few years now and when we learned about them last year, we just knew we had to start offering them for our clients as a custom upgrade to our framing choices.

So, back to our delivery yesterday.  Woot.  When we opened up the box and saw the fun packaging they used, we were totally impressed.  It’s kinda funny what a packaging junky I’ve become this past year.  I love it when businesses go out of their way to package in interesting, attractive and exceptional ways.  It really says to me that they value everything about their product and they value it so much that they want their customers to know it with every touch point they have.

Does this mean the products cost a bit more?  Sure.  But it says sooo much about the quality of the company that it is so totally worth it.

Anyway, the slideshow above gives you an idea of what these frames look like and the awesome colours available.  Stay tuned to see some finished frames up on the wall when we get them in and in the meantime check out the sample gallery at Wild Sorbet’s right here.