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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. 🙂
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.
I looooove history. The feeling of walking in a place where so many have walked before. Touching stone, cold now but one warmed by fires, conversation, conflict and an unknowable life. Impossibly remote and yet just at hand. Belgium is brimming with historical treasures from the well known to the nearly forgotten. Luckily the ruins at Villers la ville are enjoying a second lease on life due to a recent investment and creation of a world class visitor center.
Tipped off by an article, I was amazed to find that the gorgeous ruins of this 12th century abbey are just 40 minutes outside of Brussels, just past Waterloo. Without delay, I bundled up my little man, grabbed my camera and away we went. After an easy drive, we turned the corner and my jaw dropped. This place is huge! It covers a sprawling 36 hectares with many buildings including the cathedral, abbot’s palace, a dungeon (!) and the many buildings and rooms in which the monks went about their daily life, largely in silent reflection.
The old mill building has been converted to a modern and beautiful visitor center which gives information about the abbey and monks who lived there. There is even a room sized model of the grounds so you can see what it once looked like. The visitor center is connected to the abbey via a bridge and once you step onto the grounds, the adventure begins.
Left to decay after the French revolution and subsequent capture of Belgian territory, it is hard to imagine that such a busy and epic place was left to the elements but so it was. Walls and fixtures but no roofs. Crumpling brick and stone. Complete and yet broken. It is a hair raising experience to walk through. And the cathedral will take your breath away and bring a tear to your eye. It is magical.
We have definitely added this to our official visitors tour. And you KNOW this is the site of a future Bear & Dragon Adventure. Go check out it!
Where: Rue de l’Abbaye, 55, 1495 Villers-la-Ville
When: 1st November – 31st March: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (open everyday)
1st April – 31st October: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (open everyday)
Annual closing: December 24, December 25, December 31 and January 1
Adults: € 8
Children (aged 6 to 12): € 3
Children (<6 years), disabled persons**, teachers, friends of the Abbey: Free
In a castle on a hill, from a time long ago. Princes and Princesses rule and dragons prowl. Here we are Royal and here we play. This morning the crew at Bear & Dragon Adventures took over Chateau de la Hulpe to capture this sneak peak of out first Adventure session open to the public. The official announcement coming this Monday. Enjoy!