The Best Places of All: Groenendaal

Groenendaal blog
A touch of magic

Sometimes everything just comes together. A beautiful evening, a playful and relaxed family and a gorgeous location. Groenendaal is quickly becoming one of my favorite locations for photo sessions. We visit every season, whether to spot mushrooms and wildflowers, to throw sticks in the ponds or to marvel at bubbles trapped in ice.

The wild open space is perfect for a photo session with its ancient beech forests, long lakes and wide meadows. Great at any time of day but best at the golden hour, of course!

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Balance
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Little girl in the big world
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Lovely you
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Silhouettes
Swing
Swing
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The moments with you and me
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Golden
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How it all began
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My hero
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Newborns these days

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I simply love working with new babies and new families. Whether you are welcoming your first or fourth baby, there is something so lovely about these first days as your heart grows and you learn to love each other and each other’s presence.

Although they are often called newborn sessions, I prefer to call them new family sessions because there is so much richness and beauty beyond just the sweet babe. We always involve the whole family. Mother, father, siblings, grandparents. I have even hosted dogs and cats in the studio. 🙂

When you arrive for your newborn session, we take time to pick from the many lovely knits and fabrics, simple but elegant props I have on hand on the studio. I love it when parents bring in a meaningful blanket or soft toy that we can incorporate. We follow the mood of the baby, stopping when feeding or cuddles are needed.

Over the course of a newborn session we usually work in 5 – 6 settings for the baby and then move into family pictures. I hope to capture the sweetness of your family and the sense of coming adventure together.

Continuing my “these days” series, I am happy to share Newborns these days with the lovely Emma who joined her mom, dad, grand mother and big brother for this relaxed and joyful session.

Wrapped up in you
Wrapped up in you
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Buds
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Rest
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A little color
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And some smiles
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Here to watch over you
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Eyes wide open
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For some sweet kisses
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Some love from Dad
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Happy days
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Here we are
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Three generations
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Wisdom
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Quiet
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And a vistor. 🙂
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Bed cuddles
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Proud
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Joy
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Simple and sweet
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Curley que
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Precious pieces
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Grounded
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Love grows here

 

Babies these days

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Joy

Its hard to believe that I have been in the “new” studio space for seven months already and have seen two seasons come and go. Welcome to summer! It really has turned out to be everything I could wish for. Full of light, joy and sweetness. The sessions I have held there really show these qualities. I realize it has been a while since I shared a more comprehensive view of what sessions are like these days. As a photographer my style is always evolving and in a new space, double so. Thus I am now starting a “these days” series to give you a fuller view of  what one session can entail.

This lovely family contacted me to capture the one year milestone for their sweet baby. They wanted to really capture her personality, joyful spirit and themselves together. I love this age and we jumped right in with a game of throwing balloons off the bed. Something that all one years olds excel at. 🙂 After a while we moved into the studio room for some sweet moments playing with momma and papa and more fun and games. We tired her out for sure but all in the name of good fun.

Happy birthday baby girl. You have the most beautiful smile. ♥

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Giggles
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The sweetest smile
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Play
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Peekaboo
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Kiss!
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Spirit
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Float
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These wonderful days
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Wonder
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Duo
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Whee!
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The star
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And laugh and laugh

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

 

Announcing the Bear & Dragon Fall Adventures!

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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