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!
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.”
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!
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.
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. 🙂
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
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!
I just wrapped up editing this super fun family session today and I could not wait to share. Sometimes I feel like once our children get older, we just get too busy to arrange a photo session. I also believe that some parents are afraid that their older children will feel self conscious or quickly lose interest in being photographed. Though it is more of a challenge than working with new babies and toddlers, I absolutely love working with kids. Using a series of games, including some solo exploration time and treating them with respect like the young ladies and gents they are, we have a recipe for beautiful and truthful moments.
This session embodied all of these elements. At six and four years old, these lovely ladies came ready for action. And with a strong “that’s for babies” radar, they kept me on my toes. It was a great 90 minutes and I am happy to share some of the good memories with you today.
Wow, a month since I last posted. That was a crazy month! Wonderful holidays in Sweden, return to a very busy few weeks with lots of new babies and sweet late summer sessions. Now bababoo restarts school and a collective breath is released across Belgium. Time to catch up. 🙂
I was recently challenged to post 30 pictures in 30 days to show some of my favorite photos. The most fun part in doing this has been thinking about the why. Why do some pictures just stand out as exceptionally beautiful. There is a small conflict in my own family about this very question. The bear tends to favor energetic and beautiful smiles that engage directly with the camera. While I love these as well, I also gravitate toward those that emphasize details or quiet moments where you get to see the other side of a child or relationship. At times the bear looks at one of these photos and says, “that’s a Nicole photo”. Guilty!
Though on my facebook page I am posting a photo each day (only missed two so far!), I plan on putting them together here every 10 days. I hope you enjoy them. The funny, the energetic, the sweet, big and small. To me, they are beautiful.
These days are precious. So precious and wonderful and special as we spend time, love and energy just enjoying each other. In some ways, time goes slow and in some ways it goes so so fast and even whole periods of your life can seem to fly by in a heartbeat.
Despite occasional protests from the Bear, my camera is the tool that I use to grab these moments in time and store them away. I imagine pulling these out when I am 80 and marveling at all the beauty. All the love and all the moments bursting with the vibrant life we have. Exhausting, busy and at time past trying but I would not trade even one second. As you enjoy your holiday, I hope you also look around and take a more distant view for once. Imagine yourself in 40 years looking at this moment. Let your heart fill up and then jump in and enjoy every second of it.
Here we are in big sky Sweden with our beloved Farfar and Farmor. I am so glad to have had a chance to organize a little mini session to capture the loving relationship that is growing across these generations. This pond is just a short walk from the family home and we have spent many an afternoon throwing rocks and shivering in the cold Nordic waters and evenings enjoying a cold beer and getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Its a special place and I hope you enjoy it!