Superhero Photo Shoot

One of the wonderful things about kids is they love to dress up and play the part ! For this session we headed out to the Strathcona Natural Area and played superheros. untitled-7983

It’s always good to have a friend as your sidekick !





Hello Fall
Now that we live in Kamloops- we actually see four distinct seasons.  When we were in Calgary, one day it was Winter, the next day Summer.  You know what I mean if you’re from there.
It’s honestly not an exaggeration.
Leafs fall off at a rapid rate in Calgary.  One day they are green and on the trees, the next day they are brown, crusty and on the ground.
I do love the Kamloops weather, and since we’ve lived here, and I’ve been able to experience the change of seasons, I’ve come to love fall.
Beautiful colours, leaves falling, the contrast of the blue sky and the yellow leaves….

As the saying goes, I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for a couple weeks now.  
Something about the photography world has really irked me.  
There is this website that I got linked to by an acquaintance. The web site banner screams out “You’re not a Photographer”– they talk about faux togs, and they belittle and ridicule people who post photographs on photography pages on facebook.  I’ve looked a few times, and I’d have to agree that 99% of the images are questionable- or worse then questionable- they are not photographically pleasing to the eye, nor are they indicative of someone who has had any training.   But, they are probably done by someone who is trying.  Trying different things, wanting to get better.
I understand that photographers are insulted that someone would call themselves professional and post those types of less then polished images.  But why is that such a personal insult to other photographers?   The page has 21.000 followers, so clearly insulting is of more interest then assisting.
I 100% agree with another catch phrase on their site something along the lines of ” just because you own a camera doesn’t make you a photographer”  Again- that’s true.  I see photographers all over the web and facebook spouting that phrase out.  Yup, I agree.
A few weeks ago, I witnessed a group of photographers engaged in a discussion online about how pathetic some photographers are, and how they’d like to reveal them to the world for the fauxtogs that they are.  These women seemed angry and personally affronted by these so called fauxtogs.  
And then, I stumbled upon an image that a now popular photographer did many many years ago.  Let’s just say- it probably isn’t one that she wants floating around- but it is.
It brought home the fact that even those that are laughing and ridiculing have taken horrible photos, and printed a business name on them.  So why do they think that NOW that they have had years of practice that they can judge and ridicule those who are beginning?  Have they forgotten that they were once a shade of that photographer that they are making fun of?  Why do they get to pretend they have always done superior photography and take the holier then thou stance and judge?
Generally, I have found that photography is not a friendly business.  There aren’t photographers waiting to lend a hand, share a kind word, or talk shop.  It’s a very protectionist atmosphere.  
I’m not trying to break anyone down or steal anything, i’m just doing what i’m doing, and letting you do what you are doing.  Why can’t we just 
 source- pintrest
And NO, I haven’t been featured on the website.  I hope to never be.   But as I celebrate my one year photography anniversary, I know that I am still learning, and I just wonder since when has learning been a bad thing?  And something a person shouldn’t admit?
I count myself very fortunate to be an at home mom to my almost 3 yr old boy.  
Never for one second before I had him did I think I’d be an at home mom.
Once a devoted, career focused, stressed out working girl
(Social Work to be exact)
I never thought I’d give that up.
I get to see every moment of my boy’s life.
I love it.
He’s growing up too fast not to be there.
I was with him at his gymnastics class on Monday,and I was running along side him while he was blissfully 
doing his version of gymnastics with the biggest smile on his face.
I realized these little things are big things.
These are the little moments I want to cherish.
And savour in the moment.
So I did.
I just watched his joyful, youthful smile that was totally focused on the sheer bliss of the moment.
And that was an amazing little (BIG) moment.


Hubby and I both share a love of photography, exploring, and heading off the beaten trail.  With my mother in law in town to look after our little guy, we decided to go exploring.  A neighbour had seen my photos of old buildings and barns before and recommended this very secluded place not too far from Kamloops.  I suspect there is a lot of history to these sets of dwellings- I need to look into it further before I can say much.  Although it was a dreary rainy day, I loved what we found !  We happily explored for hours, and these are some of the images I captured.  
A cold house built into the hill- still in good repair
 Love the roof !
 An apple tree in the background.  Bear poop nearby.
 Isolation.  Way back when it was occupied- peace and serenity, or boredom and depressing?
I think I squealed when we went around back of this one and found the car
Grass growing from under the motor
Love the details of old vehicles in poor repair
What a great find !  We so enjoyed the day on our own, and I loved capturing these images and exploring !!

tracy cook {PERSONAL}

I’ve decided that every Wednesday I’m going to feature a saying that is relevant to me that week.
I’ll post the saying, which I probably found on my new obsession
And follow it up with my thoughts.
You will likely learn a bit about me.
Good or Bad….
I’m putting it out there.
I thought Wednesdays were a good day to do it, since it’s a good day for a pick me up.
Poor Wednesdays. 
Stuck there in the middle of the week.
Still too close to Monday
And too far away from Friday.
So here’s this weeks.
This saying is particularly important to me in my photography life.  Locally, there are so many talented photographers.  Kamloops, in my opinion is highly over saturated with photographers offering portraits.  I personally find it a very tough place to break into, and I have found it a struggle to succeed.  But as my husband will tell you, my definition of success is very high.  And I’m still learning.
But what I really need to learn is to just do what I want to do, follow my passion, do the best I can, and not try to compare or compete.  If I do what I like, and what feels good for me, there is no reason to compare.
Comparison really is the thief of joy. It points out only what you didn’t do, and could have done better, compares apples to oranges in many cases, and does not recognize what a person has done right.
For me, I stopped following all but one photographer in my area.  I don’t need to know what they are  all doing, how often they are working, how much they are charging, what ideas they are working on…. etc etc.
I just need to follow my passion, and continue to find joy in my photography.
I know myself that the comparison robs me of my joy.
And photography for the photographer and the subject should be a joyous experiences   
Does this saying speak to you??

know what matters most

Happy Wednesday everyone !  
Just back from a lovely holiday with my boys.  Dylan had a blast- everything was about him- trips to the waterpark, chuck e cheese, the play centres, hanging with his friends and family, the list was endless. 
 Big Dylan (aka Daddy) and I had so much fun watching Dylan enjoy himself.
I`ve come to realize that lessons are everywhere.  There are a few things that I`ve always known about myself that re-presented themselves this last week.
1) As a social worker, a former probation officer, a counsellor and someone who`s career has included working with victims and offenders, I have a strong sense of fairness.  My personal and professional ethics are deeply rooted here.
2) I have an inability to remain quiet when I feel strongly about something.  This is one of my greatest gifts, and also one of my biggest flaws.  Even when it brings me grief, I`m still happy that I stood true and said what I wanted to stay.  I`ve probably made more foes then friends with this, but that`s the consequence.
3) I`m not the type who should participate in contests where judgement, popularity, and pulling strings are the goal.  Recent entry into a local photography contest has proved this.  
I want to win something based on merit. 
 I don`t want to play those games, I want my artistry to be judged on if my images move you, or make you smile, or are pleasing to you.  And if that`s not how i`ll be judged, then I`ve learnt that I don`t want to play in that sandbox.
source- pintrest (of course)  lol
Ohhhhhh this is a biggie.  
Knowing what matters the most
and not engaging in what doesn`t matter.
What matters most is growing my talent.
nurturing my passion
feeling good about my work
making connections with people
not if it`s not fair and square.
And I can`t expect others to play by my rules, because they are just that… mine.
My integrity is just that- mine.
So what`s acceptable for someone else might not be for me, and that`s ok.
But I think I`m not cut out for those types of contests.
So in the future
  It`s probably better for me to sit out of games where the `rules`  will just frustrate me 
and look for feedback and recognition from the things, and people that matter.
So on to something that is important.
Saying thank you for all of your support everyone.
I`ll be sharing with you all later today a session I did in Calgary… but not until 
 nap time.  
Because I`ve got important play time to get to with my little man this morning.

tracy cook { PHOTOGRAPHY}

Let me tell you a love story.  I love photography.  I always have, and hopefully always will.
When I started my photography business, I will totally admit that I made the decision super fast- on a spur of the moment- following the first set of photos I took for friends.
That was it- I was doing it.
Tired of being envious of those who were.
I picked a name.
I bought a domain name.
Started a web site.
I went for it.

Has it been easy?  
Ummmm NO.

It’s actually been really REALLY tough for me.  Some people weren’t very supportive.  And honestly, I was a bit naive about things.  If I’m totally truthful, when I started, my skills probably weren’t where they needed to be.  There are many factors unique to my area that have resulted in me feeling frustrated about my definition of limited success with my photography.  

A few months ago I decided to take myself out of the game in my city and instead of chasing work- just stay open, and see what happens.  Truthfully, I’d sort of written it off. 
Not successful here.  
Not going to work.    

And for me, who was always successful in my social work career, failure is a tough tough blow.  A knock out blow.

But days after that decision, I ran across a quote; 
You make some big grandiose decision about what you need to do, or who you need to be and then circumstances rise that immediately reveal to you how little you understood about yourself”
-Elizabeth Gilbert
Boy was that true !  Suddenly opportunities presented themselves  I began to work with a mentor who’s work I admire, and who’s feedback has been tough, accurate, and has helped me grow.  Photographic opportunities presented themselves.  

Am I crazy successful now?  
Have photography mastered? 
 Ummmm NO.  

BUT, the whole reason for this post is to say that feedback from others, when it comes from the right place in a person’s heart is invaluable.  
For a former career devoted professional who always excelled, and then turned into a stay at home mom where successes are sometimes hard to measure, 
I fully, totally, and completely appreciate feedback. 
 So thank you to those who have given it.  It would be nice if I didn’t care, if it didn’t matter what others thought, if I could just do what I wanted but it does matter. 
 I hope I’m able to continue to stumble upon opportunities to grow and learn and find success with photography.  
I will always believe in the power of photography.

And if you are still with me after all that- on a much lighter note, this beautiful wonderful sweet, ear sucking cat swallowed my diamond earring.  Do I go looking for it?


My handsome husband doesn’t generally want to pose for photos… but I caught him outside reading and relaxing while our boy played in the sprinkler.  I captured this image, that really shows how handsome he is.  But don’t tell him I’m bragging about him… it might go to his head, making him more difficult to photograph in the future..haha  🙂

what I’ve learnt about photography

I found a post on one of the blogs I read, about the things the blogger learned about photography.  And it got me thinking… I’ve been serious about this photography thing for a while now, so what have I learnt?

You really do need to get off of auto mode.  I was scared to get off- but I did, and it’s made a world of difference.

Photography can be technical- but a person can learn the ins and outs.
Expert photogs always say- know your camera inside and out.  They are right. 

It is not wise to take a client’s word for it that a location that you don’t know, and that they insist on is great.  It might be a fabulous location, but a horrible photography spot.  Lesson learnt

Always scout out a location before a shoot.  If you can’t- don’t shoot there.  (related to my learning in #4)

Do not over saturate yourself with blogs and fb pages of other photographers.  It makes you feel bad about yourself if you are looking at too many.  

Take inspiration from a few photogs that you really admire.  My top three are Jasmine StarKelle Hampton, and Drew B.  There are others- but these are some of the most talented ladies out there.

Don’t follow blogs/fb pages of anyone within 500km.  I have made one exception to this rule because this lady is wayy too talented not to follow.

Find inspiration everywhere.

Shoot what you love, and try out other types of photography too.

When you are trying to develop your brand- shoot 70% your style, and 30% of what you know the client will love.

You must own and use a prime lens.  Must. Must. Must.

Try not to compare yourself, be too hard on yourself, or give up.  Some factors in your photographic success are in your control, some aren’t.

Try to tell a story with your photos.

If you really don’t want to do it- don’t.  (actually that’s a life rule too)

Be true to your photographic vision.Find a mentor or a friend to share and learn from/with.  It can be very inspiring.
Seek input and constructive criticism only from those who are giving it for the right reasons.

Know that with props, it’s a fine line between good relevant prop and cheesy items.

The rule of thirds really does help.

The histogram is helpful, but not essential.

Photoshop suggestions aren’t always right- if you like your image- use it even if conventional thought is that it’s wrong (ie over saturated  blown out, overexposed, underexposed etc)

You don’t have to do anything- it’s your photography.

Blog and share your stuff

Make friends with photoshop (uggh) but edit in a way that represents your style.  (ie I say I’m an organic photographer- meaning I use photoshop to touch up, not to drastically alter an image)

Find your photographic voice and use it- whatever level you are at- your thoughts, opinions, contributions matter.

Would someone remind me to look at these next time I get frustrated or lose my way?  I plan on reviewing this post in 6 months, and 1 year to see if I still agree with myself….