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. 🙂
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for yours!
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 €
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!
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 email@example.com to book your Wild and Free session.
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. 🙂
You have done the research and picked your location, date and photographer. Just a few weeks (hours or minutes :)) to go until your session and the question pops up, what do we wear? Now this question either fills you with dread or glee. For me, it is the latter. I love putting together a beautiful collection of clothes and accents that capture the feeling, season and our personalities all in one go. If this seems like too much to do, not to worry! I have broken down my thought process into some tips you may want to consider next time you want to maximize the fun and beauty of your photo session.
Color, color, color
When selecting outfits for a family session, the first step for me is to pick a color palette. A color palette is a range of 3 – 5 colors that you want to have represented in your pictures. You might want to start as simple as asking yourself a couple of questions.
Is there a special article of clothing I know I want to include? Sometimes you already have a special dress or other item in mind. Its color is a great starting place.
Is there a primary color in the setting that want to resonate with? The yellows and oranges of fall, the soft lavender of a bluebell forest, deep greens of summer are all important elements of your color palette.
Is there a seasonal element to consider? Bright and cheerful during the holidays, muted and soft in late summer. What color first comes to mind when thinking about the season you are in?
What is the mood I am going for? I find it is a helpful exercise to come up with three words to describe the images you are after. For example: bright, fun, happy or romantic, rich, sweet. When you pick a color scheme, ask yourself if it evokes the words you had in mind.
All of these questions are designed to help you pick just 1 – 2 colors that you would like to include. Next stop is one of the many online resources to help you round out your palette. I always recommend using Design Seeds because they let you browse through image based palettes based on one color you choose. Do NOT skip this step! I often find color combinations that work beautifully but I would have never thought of by my own. Don’t have a color in mind yet? I suggest browsing in season. You are sure to find something you will fall in love with.
Balance light and dark
Whether using a palette or not, be sure to balance light and dark. Even the gorgeous, rich palette needs some pops of light! Remember the eye goes to the lightest part of an image so balance your highlighting color across the group to make sure the eye travels to each person.
Be bold and have fun
The number one piece of advice I give to families preparing for a session is to wear something you are comfortable in that represents your style. This is key to having fun and also getting timeless images that you love. That being said, I think there is also some space to make some bold choices your might not usually consider. That sparkly skirt that catches your eye that you might not wear to drop the kids off at school could be just the thing to bring fun to your session. A so-soft knit sweater, a new piece of jewelry, your son’s favorite impish hat.
If you have an idea you like but are not 100% confident about, bring it along to the session and ask your photographer what they think. They should be able to give you some good advice. I have had client’s come with whole suitcases of clothes and we always work together to create a great look. Just make sure this process does not cut too much into your photo time.
Lay it all out
An absolutely critical step is to lay everything out together! Literally lay your outfits on the floor and you will quickly see if you are on the right track. Do the colors and fabrics work together? Is there one outfit that brings it all to together (see middle below)? Is there a balance of light and dark? If you are debating on a few items, just switch them out here. Don’t forget to test out accessories in this way as well.
Some mistakes to avoid
As in all endeavors, there are some mistakes to avoid…
Are we going to the same party? You plan a casual look and Dad shows up from work in a suit. Oops! A quick check should tell you if everyone is going to the same place.
And for our next look: I think it is great to have 1 – 2 looks for a session. After all, you might not take pictures together very often so nice to have a more casual and a more dressy set! However, more than two changes can eat into your time more than you might expect and can quickly burn out the kids.
Picking things out the night before: To be avoided if possible. You are making an investment in your images. Take some time to feel your best.
Logos, characters and brand names: I try to avoid logoed and branded clothes as the images can end up looking like advertisements.
The big negotiation: Our little angels are often quite set on their favorite fashion choices that may not be the same as yours. That’s fine! I often suggest letting your little ones each pick one special item that they can bring for a last picture. Yes, even that Elsa dress.
Why not pamper yourself?
If you have the time and desire, a little pampering can give you extra confidence in your photos. If you feel like you look great then you it will absolutely come across in your pictures! So go for a manicure, massage, beard trim or facial if you can possibility squeeze it in. You deserve it.
Going all out on a coordinated look is fun but not necessary! Your photo session should capture life as it is and sometimes it is enough of an accomplishment just to book and get everyone to a photo session! Indulge, if you please but always have fun. 🙂
Oh la la, things are coming up daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and of course, bluebells all over the place. Sometimes the winter seems to drag on but somehow this year it arrived right on time. Warm days ahead. 🙂
It has been a wonderful fall and winter for me, getting to enjoy our littlest guy and see him grow now into a sweet and clever little six month old. It feels equally wonderful to balance this time with getting back to work a bit now. Just in time for some of my favorite spring Bear & Dragon Adventures. Why the name change? I am planning some true mini sessions in the future but these will be mainly holiday (Valentines, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Christmas), studio-based sessions offered at a great discount. In contrast, if the sessions are held in a fabulous and special location designed to capture the seasons at their height then voila, the will be called Bear & Dragon Adventures. I digress!
You never know when inspiration may strike so this many not be a complete list but without further adieu, I am excited to announce:
2017 Bear & Dragon Adventures
Amongst the Apple Blossoms: Spring brings the blossoming of millions of apple, pear and cherry blossoms in the Belgian Haspengouw region. Not to be missed! Mid April. Check out last couple of years here and here.
Bluebells are Ringing: Capture the magical bluebell forest in Hallerbos. Our most popular spring session. Late April. You can see some examples here and of course below.
A Splendid Harvest (new!): A return to the Apple Orchards to capture the ripeness of summer and transition to fall. August 26. Here is our family album.
La Vie est Belle (new!): Similar feeling to the Royals session, La Vie est Belle is set in another iconic Belgian property, Horta’s own country house in La Hulpe. Come dressed to the nines for this very special art deco adventure. Check out Royals here. Early October.
A Walk through Time: Set in the 13th century Abbey, Rouge Cloitre, this adventure offers up the height of fall colors in a timeless and stunning location. Mid October.
Sea of Leaves: Autumn finds the lawns of Parc Cinquintenaire ankle deep in an amazing sea of fall leaves and colors. Our most popular fall session. Check it out here and here. Early November.
Merry and bright (new!): A trip to the Christmas Tree farm just outside of Liege is about as merry as it gets. A bit early in the season to help you prepare your epic holiday card. Mid November
If you are not already excited, here is a look back at the fun we had at the Bluebells adventure last year.
If you haven’t signed up for the advance notice on mini sessions and adventures, what are you waiting for?! Sign up on the Say Hello page of my NEW website. Adventure on.