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

 

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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!

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.

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

2016 – What a Year!

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Thoughtful

Sitting now and reflecting back on the year feels a little surreal. 2016 marked a time of love, adventure and busyness. The biggest event of all, the welcoming of our sweet Jasper. Impossible to think that at this time last year we did not know he existed and now here he is in all his cuddley babyness.

2016 marked a move to the suburbs. A truly grown up endeavour as we settled into a house with a proper garden so close and yet so far from our buzzing city life. Quieter, wholesome and an opening to new friends and routines.

2016 also marked the busiest time yet for Bear & Dragon. The first half of the year was absolutely packed with wonderful families. Friends, old and new alike, amazing events (Royals, Bluebells, Apple Blossoms) and lots of new ideas to come.

This morning I looked back through some photos from the year and was inspired all over again. Though I am savoring every moment of leave with my littlest man, I am excited to jump back in for 2017. Spring will find me dabbling and by fall, a new dedicated studio space. I am so excited!

Now a wish for you. May 2017 hold wonderful days for you. Dance, play and love. Say yes more and live everyday to its fullest!

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Big eyes
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Holy
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Adored
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Feel the music
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Delicate
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Awash
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Protected
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Quiet
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New plaything
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Bottoms up
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Swing
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Close

A perfectly imperfect holiday session

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A dream come true

For us Americans, the day after Thanksgiving signals the official start of the holiday season. One month of Christmas and I can’t wait to get started! To get you in the mood, I am glad to share our perfectly imperfect Christmas session that took us for quite a ride last week. Here is what happened…

Pretty much forever, I have wanted to hold a holiday session at a Christmas tree farm (check your mail for a Christmas mini session next October!). Like many dreams that grow in importance and magnitude over time, this day was a little doomed from the start. Spending way too much time gathering the perfect props, researching Belgian Christmas tree farms and picking out lovely matched outfits, the expectations were high. Too high.

The morning of, our many materials gathered into bags. Snacks, jackets, hats, hot chocolate in a thermos, three kids, lights. It was a seriously pile. As we loaded up and headed out, I just hoped it would all go smoothly and the lovely late fall light would hold.

The first hint of a coming disaster hit on the way to the farm.

Me: “Honey, can you give the kids a banana? They are in the snack bag.”

Honey: “Um, there is no snack bag here. I looked everywhere.”

Me: “What?!”

Next we arrived at the address. No Christmas trees! It seems this was the administrative office of the farm. They can’t be too far I thought so thus we drove in ever widening circles…with fussy, increasingly hungry and tired kids and now an awake and screaming two month old. Until finally, there they were! Gorgeous, green Christmas trees in sweet rows. The trees of my dreams!

So we parked and hopped out. Time to set up. A quick scan revealed that not only was the snack bag missing but also the one with all the props. A lone bag of fake snow luckily stashed in my purse was the only merry-making article to be found. Geez louise.

I will say we gave it our best but after a short time decided it just wasn’t meant to be. Sigh…

Finally home and fed, I reflected on the day. My perfect scene slipped away and here we were without the beautiful pictures I had in mind. Suddenly it dawned on me. We are not perfect. We don’t need a perfect setting, perfect clothes and perfect weather. We are perfectly imperfect. And we have a backyard…. and now all the fun Christmasy things we has left behind.

Thus I present our perfectly imperfect Christmas photos. Taken in our garden. Full of fun and love. Happy holidays!

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Magic
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What a scene
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Troopers
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Little loves
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Now time for some garden merry making
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Let’s scare mommy! 
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Monster face
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Merry and bright
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Don’t tell santa
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The way we are
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Berry kisses and fresh faces
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Perfectly imperfect
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Baby bear
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All the love in my heart

A look back: Apple Blossoms part deux

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Swing time

Its dark. Its cold. Its undoubtedly headed towards winter. You know what you need? A breathe of spring air. 🙂 And there is nothing more springy than playing in the hidden haven of apple blossoms in Sint Truiden.

Spring came late this year and a blossom checking trip the week before the scheduled sessions revealed tight buds and almost no flowers. Oh dear! Luckily everyone was able to make the switch to a later date and when the day dawned, it was more than glorious. Truly one of the most spectacular bright spring days you could imagine. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the blossoms peeking. We had a full day with nine families joining in on the fun.

After the session, I received the sweetest note from one of the families. It literally brought a tear to my eye.

Dear Nicole,

We  had a wonderful time amongst the apple blossoms today. Hayden said his favourite part was not being scared when I snuck up and surprised him. Your session today encouraged us to go out and explore a new region of Belgium, and spend the day together as a family. 
Normally my son is very shy and hates having his photo taken. Your playful approach really drew him out and encouraged him to express himself. 
Thank-you for such a fun and memorable day.
-Aww shucks, there I go again. :’)

Just taking a peek back through these images put a spring in my step. I hope it does the same for you. 🙂

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Cherry blossom
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Sprout 🙂
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Adventure awaits
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On the go
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Three of a kind
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Catch!
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Hmmm
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Reach
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The most beautiful girls
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Make a wish
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Peek
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Hang time
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Cousin love
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Grandpa and the girls!
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Reflection
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Frame
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A spring breeze

A look back – Sea of Leaves 2015

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Sea storm

Its getting all springy and just in time, I am just barely hanging in there. Sun please!! But before we spring forward, I want to fall back (har, har) one last time with a quick revisit to the Sea of Leaves mini session. This was our second go around and once again. got super lucky with the weather, the deep fall leaves, and the beautiful families. And especially lucky as just a few days later, the magical Brussels leave vacuum visited the park and spirited all of our lovely friends away. Brussels efficiency strikes again. 🙂

Without further adieu, I present Sea of Leaves 2015

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Row your boat
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Little secrets
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Little kisses
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Fall revery
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Pile on!
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Heart and soul
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On wings of gold
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Wonder
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Three of a kind
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Discovery