A Dance in the Sakuras: A *New* bear and Dragon spring adventure

Is it spring yet?! On sunny days like these, if you squint your eyes and don’t go outside it can almost feel like we have rounded the corner to warmer days. Alas, much winter lies ahead but to fill your heart with springy love, let’s flash back to last year’s test run for A Dance in the Sakuras. A surreal setting that honestly feels like dancing in pink clouds. You will find me on this vibrant and beautiful lane this Spring for one of our 2022 Spring adventures.

If you are not already on the advance notice list for Bear and Dragon Adventures, set me a note! This gets you access to upcoming dates and times before they are publicly announced. Given early interest, I am absolutely sure this one will sell out quickly. Drop me a line at BearandDragonPhotography@gmail.com.

2018 Adventure session: Botanical

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!

In the jewel house

Sweet and spiky 😉


The devilish one

Mirror me

Madame Butterfly

Us three


Though we are far away

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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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A gift

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Love and laughter

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My heart explodes

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Cozy up

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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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A tip of the hat

A Sprite in the Forest

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The light in the forest

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. 🙂

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Dreaming place

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Queen of the forest

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A quiet place

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In the wind


Its that time again! Announcing the 2017 Bear & Dragon Adventures (mini sessions) line up

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Wood Sprite

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.

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Let’s go!

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Skip and hop

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Happy days

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Growing up boy

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In a sea of blue

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Spring kisses

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On we go


A look back: Apple Blossoms part deux

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. 🙂

Cherry blossom

Sprout 🙂

Adventure awaits

On the go

Three of a kind




The most beautiful girls

Make a wish


Hang time

Cousin love

Grandpa and the girls!



A spring breeze

First look: Ieva and Mathias got married

Time stands still
Time stands still

I can scarcely think of a greater honor that being asked to photograph someone’s wedding. Your big day, and unless you are Kim Kardashian, certainly one of your most photographed ones! Ieva and Mathias are one of those couple that embody all the beautiful things about being young and in love. Sweet, light-hearted and above all, incredibly devoted to one another. I had a great time getting to know them! While respecting the privacy of the ceremony, I am happy (and proud) to share some of their fun and moving portraits. Cheers to this wonderful couple. Cheers to love!

May I have this dance
May I have this dance


Merry and Bright
Merry and Bright


Get over here :)
Get over here 🙂

Hand in hand
Hand in hand


Now break it down!
Now break it down!


From this moment
From this moment


A classic
A classic

True love
True love

The fun lies ahead
The fun lies ahead

Enjoy the ride
Enjoy the ride

A look back at our first annual apple blossoms mini session: Six families, three pairs of wet socks and millions of apple blossoms

This buds for you
This buds for you

It really was magical. Stepping out into the orchard with the heady smell of apple blossoms and buzz of bees at work. Green grass, pink and white buds, light rain and then sunshine. It was a gorgeous April day!

Thank you so much to the six adventurous families who joined me for this day out in Limberg at the PiPO organic orchard. Such a fun time was had by all. I am looking forward to bringing this experience full circle this fall, in the same location, to see our darling buds fully grown into bright apples. Another day in the fields awaits. 🙂


Bright eyes
Bright eyes


A girl and her boy
A girl and her boy

Big sister
Big sister

Fall in to me
Fall in to me

This moment in time
This moment in time




Lift off
Lift off

Flower girl
Flower girl


Things to do with a toddler or kids in Brussels: Have it your way at Kessel-Lo

Two seeking adventure
Two seeking adventure

Ages and ages ago, I took a walk with a friend and our new babies in Kessel-Lo. Taking in the monumental climbing areas and wood structures, I looked at my little bababoo and tried to imagine her big enough to take on some of these amazing adventures. Well today we set out to try our chops on the king of all local playsets.

Kessel-lo is situated in Leuven and about a 25 minute drive from Brussels. It is also possible to get there by bus. At Kessel-lo you really can have it your way. On the grounds you will find beautiful walking paths, lined with flowers, trees and ponds. If you care to venture out on the pond, there are some sweet little paddle boats on offer. Also a small animal park sporting donkeys, goats, and chickens. Yes, there is even a pool! But truly the highlight for us are the gorgeous and abundant play structures which cater to around ages 2 and up.

The play structures are mostly made out of wood and blend in with the forested surroundings. That makes it all the more fun as you get tired on one and then notice a castle or massive slide peaking out from behind the trees around the corner. There is so much to discover! It is a real paradise for the adventurous little one.

Though the pool was closed today, it looked really fun with a big slide and plenty of space for kids to play. We would return just for this as well, should the weather gods turn it up past 25 one of these days. 🙂

Not the adventure sort? There is plenty of space for a nice stroll and a picnic with lots of flowery fields, picnic tables and neat designed wooden seating.

So one of these warm early summer days, definitely check this place out! Though there are a number of parking areas, I recommend P1 which you can find by putting 203 Eénmeilaan, Leuven. Happy whatever you like. 🙂

King of the castle
King of the castle

My big girl now :)
My big girl now 🙂

Saving a seat for you
Saving a seat for you

Lean in
Lean in

Black diamond slide
Black diamond slide


A pool!
A pool!

Its the climb
Its the climb