Carrie Duncan Photography's day-to-day blog


Best of 2011

2011 brought more changes and challenges than I could have imagined.

I’m very proud and excited to continue pursuing my dreams in 2011, and glad to have all of you along for the ride.

I’ve put together a slide show of some of my favourite images of 2011. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

All the best in 2012 to all of you, I know I intend to make it another stellar year!

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A leader even in the face of death

Today Canada lays to rest a man who despite never being Prime Minister managed to move a nation.

A politician who is being compared to the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau in his idealism and leadership. Yes, Canada is certainly the poorer for the loss of Jack Layton. On his deathbed he wrote a letter to Canadians and the words he shared resonated with people far and wide regardless of their political stripe. He appealed for a better Canada. He appealed for each of us to do our part.

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

This quote has run rampant through the social media world, people’s Facebook profiles alight with orange as they showed their support by posting the quote on the NDP party colour background. Jack we are listening.

I was at NDP headquarters during the evening of the first federal election after he was made leader of the NDP party. The energy in the air was palpable.  Change was happening.

I spoke with his wife Olivia Chow, frequently when I was the writer for the Annex Guardian. I practically had her on speed dial. So today I have Olivia in my heart as she faces what is certainly one of the most difficult next few hours of her life. Her partner in love, life and politics is laid to rest, leaving an impossible-to-fill gap in her life and a chasm in the political landscape of Canada.  Olivia, we mourn with you.

As a couple, they lived and breathed the values they espoused.

Their home is a shining example of green energy. They rode their bikes around their neighbourhood. They lived with Olivia’s mom who immigrated from China. They gave so freely and openly of themselves to make, first their communities, and then their country, a better place to live. They showed us that the best way to lead, was by example.

Jack had a dream– a dream for a better Canada. And he fought for that dream until the bitter end. To everyone who has ever had a dream, to make a difference, please heed the words of this dedicated Canadian now.

“Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.”

To everyone who has had a dream, who wants to make the world a better place, don’t delay. Learn from Jack, live now. None of us now how long we have to be the change we want to see in the world.

And because every post is better with a picture, he’s a snapshot of my own little reason to make the world a better place.

Celebrating our achievements, big and small

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, and just the fact that I am sitting here blogging about that, is worth celebrating.

That people all around the world are, this week, talking about breastfeeding, that they are hosting events that shine the spotlight on the first and most important food your child will ever have, well that is pretty awesome.

I started out breastfeeding my son, hoping to reach the 6-month mark. I had no idea what I was getting into, but read all I could about it and even took a class to make sure that things went smoothly. Thirteen months later, we’re still going strong. There are days when I would prefer my son didn’t need to feed so often, and there are certainly days where I wish he would give up that 5 a.m. feeding. Still, as I watch him grow and thrive, it’s hard not to burst with pride that I had a very personal hand in making that happen.

Any amount of breastfeeding, whether you do it for two days or two years, is amazing. I hope all you mamas celebrate the great gift you have given your children.

Like everything else in childhood, our nurslings only stay in this stage so long. Remember that special time forever with a Skin2Skin portrait.

I’m celebrating by giving away a limited number of mini-sessions this week. Send me an email if you’re interested!

This is what they meant…

… when they said “that pregnancy glow”.

Although I make it my personal mission to make every mama-to-be look and feel their best during our shoot, some need very little help in that department. See more of this shoot on my FB page.

Hope you’re having a sunshiny Saturday, just like I am!

Snappy mamas!

Being a mom, for many women, myself included, usually means reaching out to other moms who will share the journey with us, moms whose kids are close in age to ours, moms who live nearby and moms who we generally get along with.

I was lucky enough to find that combination in a large number of moms through a Meetup group called Lakeshore Babies. All the moms seem down to earth, willing to share the load when it comes to playdates and primarily are focused on their little ones’ social development.

Sometimes they even take a break from being a mom and meet for a book club, which I wish I could attend but my live-in personal trainer (a.k.a. my husband) is working such long hours these days that I don’t get the chance.

Anyway, I offered to host a baby and photography workshop for the Lakeshore Babies moms because I really like them, and because photography is a passion that is best shared. I always feel I learn something when I share my knowledge with other people.

With some munchies and some homemade ice tea spread out and ready to go, the moms and I sat and chatted about photography. We went through a tip sheet on how to get the best family shots you can, and then we did some one-on-one coaching where I showed them how to use their individual cameras and learn to experiment with aperture using the aperture priority (A or AV) setting on their cameras. We talked about some photography basics like aperture and shutter speed and ISO in ways that they could move beyond the Automatic setting.

I was surprised to see how many moms had invested in DSLRs. The advent of digital photography has made it so that many, many people are walking around with DSLRs. What wasn’t surprising was that most were using the Automatic settings. I spent two semesters in college learning about photography, and even when I upgraded from an SLR to a DSLR there was a pretty steep learning curve.

At the end of the workshop, I think it’s pretty safe to say most of the moms felt a little more confident about their photo taking ability and keen to read (or re-read) the manuals of their cameras so they could put to use some of the advice they had garnered. I was so proud to see them all pleased with their new skills and holding their cameras confidently, instead of the tentative way they had held them when they arrived, unsure if they should take them out and use them.

Let’s face it, professional photography is an investment that is worthwhile and should be a part of every family’s memory album, but being able to snag those everyday snapshots right, that’s priceless.

I took these two of some of the little guys who were here. We had 7 boys and one girl.

Both these photos were taken at f/2 and a shutter speed of 1/640 s since they were in the same light.

Ben taking a break from the firetruck.

Gavin is cute and knows it!

This next one is not ideal as the eyes are not as sharp as I would like them, but it was taken while my own son was being a little terror and I hardly had time to focus. Still, I loved his expression and the colour in the shot, so I thought I’d share it anyway.

Weekend recharge

Using a slow shutter speed to capture the movement of his hands. This one was shot at f/8 1/50s

Like I mentioned in a previous post, my husband works hard. Really hard. He’s often gone before I get up in the morning and he’s lucky if he’s home before our son goes to bed at night. He even goes to work on Saturdays.

When we first started dating, the time he spent at work was a source of contention in our relationship. I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just take a break. Getting him to take vacation was near impossible and back in those days he worked on Sundays too. He was a man who gave all that he had to his work. Once you get to know my husband though, you understand why.  He loves his job. As a personal trainer, he loves nothing more than to help people reach their goals and to get them to a place where they are more fit, mobile and strong than before. Even after he comes home, he’ll often talk about the various programs that he runs his clients through and talks about the challenges and successes he’s had with them. He just can’t get enough of it.

He’s also one of the most compassionate people I know, and people see that in him and are just as grateful for it as I am.

Although it’s been a long road to where we are now, I feel like I understand my husband better than ever. I’m doing something I truly love, and now it’s my turn to spend my evenings poring over my work, and nitpicking every finite detail. After years of working a job where I put in the hours and left the office at the office, I finally get it.

Thankfully I’m married to a man who encourages and nurtures what I do. He even tries to understand it, and I sometimes hear him use words like “f-stop” or “fill-lighting”.giving me the sense that not only is he paying attention, but he’s trying to be a part of my creative world too.

And sometimes between our hectic worklives we get to go out and enjoy ourselves like we did this weekend at the Salsa on St. Clair festival. Going out together with our son is not something we do often, but it was well worth the trip.

We indulged in one of our favourite activities (Salsa dancing) and even had a bit of decadent latino goodness (churros). By the end of our trip, our son was grooving to the music but my husband says that next year we’re going to drop the little one off with Grandma so we can really kick back and have fun.

Hanging on to my skirt.

Like anything else sometimes you gotta wait for the right shot.

mmmm.... churros!

I should be sleeping…

But instead I’m awake. My husband is in bed, my one-year-old is snoozing and here I am writing a blog post.

Do you know what’s really great? Summertime! It means barbecues, and sandboxes and water sprayed from garden hoses. It means getting together with friends just so you have a reason to hang out outside. It means patios, and family getaways and spending time with the ones who mean the most to you.

Excuse as my train of thought was interrupted. Apparently it also means that raccoons will come right up to your back porch, as I just had to go scare one off. I guess, putting the garbage can adjacent to the step, while convenient for me, was a little too convenient for the raccoons as well.

Anyway, summer is full of moments that make meaningful memories. So have your cameras ready! You never know when you’ll get the chance to nab photos like these.