The best places of all: The Coloma Rose Garden

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Gazing

New favorite location alert! I do love summer, ripe peaches, warm days, lazy afternoons and bright evenings. But photographically speaking, in Belgium, it can be a bit…green. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice green forest but if you really want some color, it is necessary to go far afield to find some.

That is until the Coloma Rose Garden in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw popped up on my radar. Located just south of Brussels, this sprawling park has all the Brussels classics; long waterways, a beautiful 16th century manor home, extensive gardens and quirky features like a straight out of a fairytale wishing well. Home to more than 3,000 rose varieties from 26 countries. We spent the whole morning discovering one garden after the next.

You can cruise around, explore, and play. There is an interactive museum which was closed when we were there but I have read is very intereting. If you get tired or hungry there is a sweet looking Bistro called de Koetsier in the middle of the grounds. If you prefer something sweet then check out the Cremerie at Gaasbeek. Only 10 minutes further and hands down best ice cream in the greater Brussels region. Yum!

But I digress (sugar distracted much?)…this is a gorgeous photo location if you crave some summer colors, classic landscapes and romantic nooks to play and cuddle in. Perfect for engagement, maternity and family sessions.

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Facets
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Come on mom!
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Rosethorn
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Framed
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My little heart
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Magic
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I’m wishing…
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I’m wishing, for the one I love
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Wishing well
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Onlookers
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Leap
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Sweet
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Future flower lover
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Onward march!

2018 Adventure session: Botanical

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La dee da

I have fallen in love with the Botanical Gardens in Meise. Located just northwest of Brussels, the garden rolls out before you on this huge property. There is a castle (obviously!), walking paths lines with flowers and a huge range of plant life, a small cafe and of course the highlight, the green house. The greenhouse was built in 1853 and contains a huge variety of plant species. Over 18,000 which represents 6% of the world’s know plant species. The collection is one of the biggest in the world and is organized by geography and environments including the African Savana, the jungle, the desert and on and one. If you think you are just going to show up and look at plants then you are in for a pleasant surprise. It really is a joy to explore.

Being in this gorgeous surrounding I could not help but be inspired. With luck, I am now in the process of organizing a very special Adventure session inside the green house. Dates to come. 🙂 I am happy to share some of our images from out last little adventure there. Looking at these pictures nearly gave me a heart attack. My god how these children have grown!

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In the jewel house
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Sweet and spiky 😉
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Tropical
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The devilish one
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Mirror me
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Madame Butterfly
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Us three

 

The 2018 Bear & Dragon Adventure Line up

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Adventure ahead! So much as grown and developed over the last year. Kids are getting older and even B3 starting creche soon. New studio space and a more developed eye in the studio sessions. Truly I am in love with this space!

That said, I am sooo ready for some outdoor adventures.  The trouble is I really loved all of adventure sessions in 2017. Honestly I cannot cut a single one. Thus, time to be creative, explore and break new ground in yet unphotographed corners of Belgium. 🙂

2018 Bear & Dragon Adventures 

What is a Bear & Dragon Adventure? A 30 minute family photo session always in a special location which highlights the peak of the season. Sessions also have a special price, usually 150 EUR (sometimes more if the location charges a fee for use) and include 8 images of your choosing.

Always very popular, if you would like to learn about the dates and times before they are release officially, you can sign up for the advanced notice list here.

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.

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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.

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Botanical: I have fallen in love with the Botanical Gardens in Meise and am excited to welcome you to a special session inside the Green House. Explore the jungle, the desert and the Savannah in this lush Belgian icon.

cuties!

 

A Splendid Harvest: A return to the Apple Orchards to capture the ripeness of summer and transition to fall.  This ended my being ab absolutely gorgeous day that started misty and turned sunny with a looong sunset. Here is our family album.

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La Vie est Belle: 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.

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Merry and bright: A trip to the Christmas Tree farm just over the border in NL is about as merry as it gets.  Sadly, this event was cancelled last year due to freezing rain and mud. I have learned my lesson and decided, why not bring Christmas forward to September and forget about the cold weather, viruses and last minute rush to get your cards printed. Why not?! Mid September.

Merry and Bright

 

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.

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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.

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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

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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
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Hanging out
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The wonders of youth
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Catch!
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Imp
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Belle
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Float
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Coil
Heli Niit 2015 for websharing-7
Play
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Autumn’s frame
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Warm and cozy
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Tickle time!

First look: La Vie est Belle

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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!

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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
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Tangles
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Enrich

 

First look: A Splendid Harvest 2017

 

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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!

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All mine
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Catch me
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From a high place
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Glee
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The climb
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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
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Just one for me?
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On a roll

Though we are far away

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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!

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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
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Making wishes
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Collector
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A tip of the hat

A day in the life: Wild and Free

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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.

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Lead
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Strong
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Filous
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The mighty
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Stride
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Boys
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Breezy
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Escape
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Open
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Hide and seek
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Float

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Apple of our eye
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Possibilities
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Bounce
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Earnest