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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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.

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

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

First look: First days at home

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Something new

When this family first contacted me, they wanted something special. Being a photographer herself, Christina had the newborn basics covered, but of course often found herself on the business end of the camera instead of in front. Sound familiar? After some discussion, we decided to have a relaxed at home session which documented the experience of meeting and bringing home her second son. Nothing posed or using props, just life as it is.

Only five days after birth, on a bright June afternoon, we had a chance to capture some of these special moment of being home, now as a family of four. I so enjoyed being a part of this beautiful relaxed family. I hope you do to!

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Big brother
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Curly toes
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Comfort
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Storyteller
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Rest
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Mirror me
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Mosaic
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Closer
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Little lashes
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At home
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Mother’s helper
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Some quiet time
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Perfect
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US
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Happy days

 

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

Royals Sneak Peak: a very special Bear & Dragon Adventure

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Royals

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!

Royals
Light of my life
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Precious
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Delicate things
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View
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Thoughtful
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Glee
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Beware foul dragons
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Tip toes
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Golden
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Fun and games
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Elegant
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Blush
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Admire
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At rest
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The protector
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Gallant Boy
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Baubles
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Royal rascals
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All dolled up