Wow.  What an incredible day.  We started off the day with a 3 hour critique session where each of the Master Class participants submitted 6 images for critique and discussion from David and LaDawn Ziser.  Great feedback and a lot of discussion on both what worked and what could be improved in all of our images.  Considering there are 11 of us in the course, well, 66 critiques is pretty resourceful learning.

After a quick lunch we headed out for Ault Park in Cincinatti.  What a gorgeous park.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves for most of the afternoon, then just as we were wrapping up for the day, it became flooded with people out to enjoy the park and more than a few out having portraits made.

Just like yesterday we worked in three different areas and with each of the coaches separately so that we had a chance to work in a variety of settings and situations.  Each location had unique opportunities and its own set of challenges, too.

Once we were all packed up, we drove back into Covington to experience some of Cincinatti’s world famous chili at Skyline Chili.  WOW!  I perhaps overdid it a bit ordering both an Extreme Cheese Conoy and a 4 way.  The four way was just absolutely magic.  It starts out with spaggetti on the bottom, then a layer of chili with incredibly fine-ground meat. On top of that is a layer of beans and it’s all topped off with a mountain of cheddar cheese.  Yumm-o to the extreme.  No kidding.  Skyline Chili is reason itself to come back to Cincinatti, I tell ya.

After dinner we drove around the block to the Ohio River with the Cincinnati Skyline across the river to create some more portraits with city lights and darkening sky after sunset.  We sure had a lot of fun during this last shooting session of the workshop.  Tomorrow and Friday it’s back to the class room.

Anyway, you know folks?  It’s getting pretty seriously late here, my eyelids are barely open, but I did promise you yesterday that I would post a selection of images from today’s shoot, so here you go.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed creating them.


Hey there everyone,

What a day it’s been.  It is hard for me to believe that this is only day 2 of 5 days of Master Class on lighting and composition.  My brain is full and I just can’t wait to get to bed to recharge for tomorrow.   It boggles my mind that just this morning I logged a personal best pace on an 8.6km run.  I finally broke the 5min/km barrier.  Wohoo!

But, this post isn’t about running, as exciting as that may be to some.  No, today’s post is about the some of the things I’ve learned and experienced these last two days in Kentucky.

Yesterday was a classroom day with David Ziser talking with us about how he goes about lighting and composing his portrait images.  Really facinatating discussion, part review and a whole lot of a-ha going on.

Today was all shooting, all day.  We started off the morning with David demonstrating his technique in the unbelievably gorgeous Mother of God church in Cincinatti.  Built in the 1800s, this church has the most incredible stained glass and painted frescoes on the walls and ceilings.  Stunning.  Truly.  I captured a quick series for an HDR conversion when I get back home and I’ll put that up next week so you can see these frescoes.

After a wicked lunch of BLFGT sanga – that’s a Bacon Lettuce & Fried Green Tomato (YUM!!!!!!!!) sandwich – we worked in small groups in various locations of the church swapping locations, models and coaches whilst creating some fabulous portraits with a trio of truly lovely ladies.  As you can see from the images, today clearly had a wedding theme.  Tomorrow, after having our images critiqued by David and LaDawn, we’re off to the park for a more casual experience.

With that, I’ll leave you with these images from today’s sessions and bid you a good night!


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 jennifer@quiltsbyjen.ca

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?