The best places of all: Rouge Cloitre in the spotlight

Agata Sybowska walk through time for websharing

Finding a great photo location can be a bit of a fine art. I look for beautiful features and shapes, easy access, not too crowded and often for a place with a little extra magic and wow factor. Though it changes quite often, my favorite photo location at the moment is the Rouge Cloitre which is a beautiful abbey located in the Sonian Forest just 10 minutes from the center of Brussels.

Founded in 1367, definitely brings the wow which makes it a very special backdrop for a photo sessions in all seasons. Brilliant colors, large reflecting ponds, a wild flower and vegetable garden and of course the abbey.

I don’t just come for photo sessions either. They have a great playground, a weekend cafe for cake, coffee or a beer and special events around the year including our favorite haunted forest around Halloween time.

I can’t wait for the Walk through Time Adventure on October 21 in my favorite fall location of all. 🙂 Here is a look at some of my favorite Rouge Cloitre images from all around the calendar.

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Promise
Victoria Martin de Hijas for websharing-16
Summer days
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Sweet breeze
Valerie Bode-Aristizabal for websharing-40
Wander
Valerie Bode-Aristizabal for websharing-23
Frame
Lucie Crevel-Sanders 2017 for websharing-21
Huddle up
Kristen Banks Card images-2
Tickle time
Harriet Wadsworth for websharing-26
And go!
Cooper second birthday for websharing-32
Falling leaves
Emilia Janisz maternity for websharing-16
Winter quiet
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Peakaboo
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Announcing the Bear & Dragon Fall Adventures!

Bear and Dragon Adventure Walk through Time 2017
The air is getting crisper, days shorter and the fall harvest in coming in. Welcome to Autumn! Autumn is my favorite season and Brussels knows how to put on a show. This fall I am proud to offer two special Adventures  that show off the height of fall colors: 
 
A Walk through Time – October 21
 
My most recent favorite outdoor location for family sessions is the Rouge Cloitre which is a beautiful abbey located in the Sonian Forest just 10 minutes from the center of Brussels. Founded in 1367, it makes a very special backdrop for a fall session. Brilliant colors, large reflecting ponds and of course the abbey. 
 
A Walk Through Time
  • 9:00 – 9:30
  • 9:45 – 10:15
  • 13:00 – 13:30
  • 13:45 – 14:15
  • 14:30 – 15:00
  • 15:15 – 15:45
  • 16:45 – 17:15
Bear and Dragon Adventure Sea of Leaves 2017
The Sea of Leaves – November 4
It doesn’t get more lush, lovely and fallish than rolling around in
the enormous sea of leaves that carpets the iconic Parc du Cinquantinaire in early November. This setting is perfect to capture the changing season as well as showcasing one of the most beautiful parks in Brussels.
Sea of Leaves
  • 9:00 – 9:30
  • 13:45 – 14:15
  • 14:30 – 15:00
  • 15:15 – 15:45

 

We always hope for good weather but in case of rain, will reschedule for the adjacent weekend day or the following weekend. Space is limited and we tend to go to a waiting list quickly so please let me know very soon if you wish to reserve a place.

Fall is coming – fa la la la la

Kristin Zinggeler proofs-6
Just us

Yes! I love fall. Really, really love it. All the yummy things to eat that come from a fruitful harvest, Halloween dress-up, cozy sweaters, brilliant leaves and acorns. Of course, photographically, it doesn’t get much better. Belgium knows how to show off big time in the Autumn season and everywhere you go you can’t help but appreciate the riot of color.

I am just getting organized for the two fall Adventures (mini sessions). This year I will be holding “A Walk through Time” at the gorgeous Rouge Cloitre and “Sea of Leaves” in the iconic Parc Cinquintenaire. Stay tuned for dates next week. In the meantime, some of my favorite fall images of the last few years. Yum. 🙂

Beams
Beams
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Tiny world
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Wreathe
Tessa Gonyea - sea of leaves - edited-30
Hanging out
Sarah Conners Sea of Leaves for websharing-9
The wonders of youth
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Catch!
Sarah Conners Sea of Leaves for websharing
Imp
Roxana Laiu for websharing-19
Belle
Amy Harker 2015 for websharing-12
Float
Kristin Zinggeler for websharing-11
Coil
Heli Niit 2015 for websharing-7
Play
Anita Baldwin walk through time for websharing-14
Autumn’s frame
Anita Baldwin walk through time for websharing-9
Warm and cozy
Kristen Banks Card images-2
Tickle time!
Anna Wallinger-Schichl for websharing-10 (1)
Melt in to you

First look: La Vie est Belle

A Bear and Dragon Adventure_La Vie est Belle blog-6
The way you wear your hat

La Vie est Belle, life is beautiful. Eight years ago, I began a beautiful adventure living and loving in Belgium. Though unexpected, I have fallen in love with Belgium and the air, the seasons and the flow of life have become a part of me, like it or not. 🙂 I can spend hours, walking the old streets and admiring the world famous art deco and art nouveau buildings. Elegant, extravagant and often whimsical, these works of art line the streets and provide endless eye candy. No one architect looms as large in this sphere as Victor Horta. Among his work, you will find four UNESCO world heritage sites, museums, private homes and public buildings. I have always wished to explore one and even dared to dream of one day photographing my children there.

This summer the dream came true as a friend offered to open her Horta House for a very special Bear & Dragon Adventure. A home not just one designed by Horta but one he lived in, his country house in La Hulpe set on a hill above Lake Genval. This incredible home is currently for sale and as it rests empty, an amazing location full of art nouveau treasures, murals and history.

Honoring my friend and her husband, one of the most highly regarded cellists in the world, I was inspired to build on a theme of beauty and music set in the heyday of Horta’s success, the 20’s and 30’s. Thus was born la Vie est Belle and I am so proud to invite you to join me in exploring this magical setting this October. Date to be announced this week.

In the meantime, I share a slice of my vision of the Beautiful Life. Salut!

A Bear and Dragon Adventure_La Vie est Belle blog
La vie
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Le Belle
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Picture frame
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Player
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Dreaming
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Bow
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Explore
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In dreams
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Jig
A Bear and Dragon Adventure_La Vie est Belle blog-11
Tangles
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Enrich

 

First look: A Splendid Harvest 2017

 

Apple Harvest Blog-14
A merry band

You can already feel it in the air. Autumn is coming. After a wonderful and relaxing summer, both the kids and I are ready to shake things up with new harvest, a return to school and all things warm and cozy. To mark this transition, we return again to my very favorite orchard in St Truiden to prepare for the upcoming Splendid Harvest Adventure (mini session).

Having a little (tiny) extra time on my hands, I decided that we were in need of some fun new props to play with for the Adventure. I have always dreamed of acquiring an elegant vintage ladder for photo sessions. Finally I found the perfect once second hand and packed the kids up to a seriously shady section of Charlesroi to collect my prize. Over 100 years old, this ladder was in need of some serious rehab but the glowing wood and lovely lines inspired me. Hours of sanding, cleaning and refinishing later, I am in love and can say it was well worth the effort when I see it in the photos. Even the Bear has stopped researching insane asylums.

Amazing to see how the little ones have great since the last harvest. And so without further adieu, I present our updated Splendid Harvest, now with a merry band of three. There are still a few morning openings for this session on August 26. Contact me at bearanddragonphotography@gmail.com for yours!

Apple Harvest Blog-9
All mine
Apple Harvest Blog-8
Catch me
Apple Harvest Blog-7
From a high place
Apple Harvest Blog-6
Glee
Apple Harvest Blog-11
The climb
Apple Harvest Blog-13
Taking a break
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Flyers
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Howdy
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Helping hands
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A full days work
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Lift
Apple Harvest Blog
Just one for me?
Apple Harvest Blog-2
On a roll

Things to do with kids in Brussels: Gaze at the stars at the Planetarium

 

planetarium-3
Echo

Its space fever over here at Life of Bear & Dragon. Talk of planets, stars and trips to the moon have taken over dinner conversation and evening story time. Somehow, the fact that there is an actual Planetarium in the greater Atomium complex had escaped me, until now!

Though small, the Brussels Planetarium (aka the Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium) packs a fun punch for the 3+ set. The big draw is of course the large projection dome where you can watch a number of beautiful shows projected across the metaphorical heavens. Narrated through headphones in French, English and Flemish, it was both fascinating and impressive to watch. The kids loved it though if you go with an approximately 10 month old baby, he will try to crawl back inside you to safety. Best left with a second parent if possible. There is a schedule of shows on the website.  Check when your favorite will start before you go.

Apart from the projection, there were a surprising number of interactive activities such as a rotating globe delving into a range of topics from ocean currents, facts and visuals of the different planets and even climate change related topics. We also rode a “space bike” between the planets and drove the Mars Rover.

Overall it was a really fun outing. I can see us heading there a couple of times per year and the kids getting something new out of it each time. If you have a fellow space head on your hands, it is for sure worth the trip! And with the highly realistic summer heat, a nice place to cool down and learn something new. Bon voyage space invaders!

Where: Avenue de Bouchout 10, 1020 Bruxelles. Right in the shadow of the Atomium but with its own parking.

When:
– Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm
– Weekends, public holidays and school holidays from 10 am to 5 pm

How much: For individuals:
-Adult: 8 €
-Child, student, senior: 7 €

planetarium-6
Voyager
planetarium-7
Global
planetarium-4
Just a little space cruide
planetarium-8
War of the worlds
planetarium-5
Hmm, about as interesting as my right foot
planetarium
Its criminal what those space helmets do it your hair.
planetarium-9
The heavenly dome
planetarium-2
Space

Though we are far away

fathers day blog-7
Legacy

This spring a small miracle occurred. After almost eight years overseas, my dad finally made it over for a visit to Belgium! We were so excited to show off our adopted country, it was nearly impossible to choose how to spend our too short time together. But one thing that was set in stone was a trip out to the apple blossoms for a special family photo session.

Today is Father’s Day in America, so I am happy to tell you a bit about my dad. When my mom went into labour with me, my dad drove like a maniac all the way to the hospital saying he wished a cop would pull him over so he could say he was having a baby. 🙂 One of my earliest memories I have is of my Dad waking me up and loading me in the car to run some far away errands. We always stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and then feasted on powdered donuts. No wonder it was a popular outing! When I was in the fourth grade, I cleverly changed a D on my report card to a B. Noticing, my dad pulled me into my room and explained that sometimes people make mistakes. That’s ok, but its when you made them twice that there is a problem. I use this philosophy today with my kids.

From my dad I got my work ethic, my ability to shake it off and my fingers. His taught me the importance of walking a mile in someone’s shoes before you judge them and one of his favorite sayings, “its not the money, its the money”.

I wish he was closer but at least we have this sweet spring day and the images I will never forget. A time when he stopped being just Dad and became Grandpa. Love you Dad!

fathers day blog
Another beloved pappa
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Delicate
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A gift
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Storyteller
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Love and laughter
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My heart explodes
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Cozy up
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Namesake
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Hanging out
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Full circle
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Hangers on
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Partners in crime
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The funniest thing
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Obligatory running photo 🙂
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My heart
fathers day blog-17
Making wishes
fathers day blog-18
Collector
fathers day blog-19
A tip of the hat

A day in the life: Wild and Free

elemental
Pathway

I used to not like the wind. Restless making and loud. It was a strong cue to make tea, hop in bed and wait it out. Now, wind means more. It means movement and freshening. A whipping sea of summer stems, raw and elemental. Inspiration. And I let this inspiration take me to the swaying fields just a few minutes away for a little fun with my crew of adventureers.

Just this week, my long awaited new camera arrived! I have already been blown away by the power of the the newest member of the canon family, the 5D Mark IV. I can’t wait for this weekend’s sessions to keep on playing!

Do you love this location? Looking for something a little out of the ordinary, a little wild and free? I am looking forward to holding some sessions here this summer. Gorgeous setting for family, maternity or a love session. Especially to catch the lovely evening light. Contact me at bearanddragonphotography@gmail.com to book your Wild and Free session.

elemental-2
Lead
elemental-3
Strong
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Filous
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The mighty
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Stride
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Boys
elemental-8
Breezy
elemental-9
Escape
elemental-10
Open
elemental-11
Hide and seek
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Float

elemental-13

elemental-14
Apple of our eye
elemental-15
Possibilities
elemental-16
Bounce
elemental-17
Earnest

A Sprite in the Forest

Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-4

The light in the forest

As usual we had an amazing time during the Adventures in the Bluebell Forest at Hallerbos. Warm temperatures and sunny days brought out the best in the play of light, shadows and color. I am still very much working my way through the editing (we had 21 families join this year!) but I was so inspired by this lovely duo I had to share.

I have had the pleasure of photographing this sweet little girl and her family since she was just a couple of months old. Now becoming a proper big girl, she showed off her moves and larger than life personality while taking a special momma and me day in the forest. Such a cutie! I hope you enjoy their images as much as I have. 🙂

Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-37
Dreaming place
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Queen of the forest
Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-29
Glow
Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-31
Regard
Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-23
Stroll
Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-17
Fly
Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-19
A quiet place
Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-11
Bisous
Siada el Ramly bluebells for websharing-14
Play
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In the wind