Photography lessons make a great gift!

Give the gift of better photography -for life!And,surprise! I just happen to give them. I have a lovely Holiday Gift Certificate if I do say so myself which can be mailed or – if you live fairly close to me in Toronto – delivered. You can purchase as many or as few sessions as you like. Right now my Holiday Series for SLR cameras is $269 for 4 sessions, a little less for point and shoot. Single sessions are $75/$65.

Sessions are usually 1.5 to 2 hours, and can be in your home or my studio, whichever you prefer. Absolutely no technical experience, photographic ability, creative genius required. Just show up and you’ll learn how to step away from the auto button and use your camera’s full range of capabilities. Plus – we’ll have a lot of fun (unless you don’t do your homework – then it gets ugly!)

I am also planning to hold some 4 person workshops in the spring, so if that’s something your loved one might be interested in – it would be fine to use the gift card for that. Workshops will be $300 for 6 sessions.

For more information, questions or to sign up – please email or call Nicole at 647.888.8161.

Happy Holidays everyone!

90% of candid photography is . . .

Taken at a SF Giants spring training game – this is one of my all-time favourites.

Firstly because, well . . .  awwww.

Second because I have never been so well rewarded for having my camera ‘at the ready’.

As I sat watching the game – which was a riot of colour – a bright sunny day, red uniforms, green grass, the whole bit – I set my camera so that if something were to strike my eye I would be ready to shoot.

As I turn around I spot this little guy on his mom’s shoulders – he was watching me taking photos – I raised my camera and snapped a shot. Checked. Blurry. I realized my lens was set for distance shots not close-ups – flipped the little switch in 1 second, got him to raise his glove next to his face and then snapped another shot – this shot.

So lesson #1 – be ready. Lesson #2 – know you’re equipment. 90% of candid photography combines these two things. The other 10% – looking up and having the joy of seeing a little fellow with eyes like this staring at you! (Yes I did get his mom’s permission to publish this photo).

You might not be out there trying to get photos of anyone other than your own family and friends – but if that’s your plan – then check the light, check the surroundings and get your camera ready before events start to unfold. If your subjects have to wait while you adjust your settings – the candid moment will be lost. If you’re settings aren’t correct to start with – the photo might be lost. So channel your inner Boy Scout/Girl Guide and BE PREPARED.


Introducing the Better Photo Series: 4 sessions for $279!

Welcome! If you have arrived here as a result of my ad in the Mooredale News – please click here to access the Better Photo Series Page! Sign up for the series and be on your way to better photography before the Toronto spring is over (if it ever arrives!)

Meanwhile here’s a colourful (no photoshop) photo by way of encouragement – this was just before my nine new best friends and I piled into this basket (Phoenix, AZ) for our first balloon flight. This shot wasn’t taken with a point and shoot camera, but it could have been – conditions were perfect for a quality photo. What conditions would those be you ask? Sign up for the Better Photo sessions and I promise I’ll tell all!

Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon? Anyone remember that song?

The Don Valley Brickworks: The Beauty Behind the um… bricks.

Haven’t posted in a while so I thought I’d take a stab at uploading a gallery from Lightroom 3.

These were all taken at the Don Valley Brickworks – a fabulous Toronto location as far as photography goes.

As is always the case early risers are rewarded with the best shots as mist rises from the ponds and the sun’s rays suddenly shine through about 30 minutes after dawn.

Grasses, trees, flowers, ponds, bridges – the DVB has a little of everything and is run in a very relaxed fashion – you can venture right into the grasses and down by the water without a whole bunch of signs saying you can’t do this or that. It’s great!

Hint: You can always google Toronto sunrise times to quickly find sunrise/sunset info for any date.




Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…

You can't take a photo like this with flash.

This is my brother’s Christmas tree.

Beautiful isn’t it!

How do you go about taking a photo like this? We all know what Christmas trees look like, so how can we take a photo that’s a little more interesting and capture a little of that Christmas tree magic? Let’s go through the process…

First off – it’s evening, there are no presents under the tree – decision #1, leave out the bottom of the tree.

Second this was at a party and there was a table with three guests directly to the right. Decision #2, frame so they aren’t in the shot, use opportunity to put center line of tree along the left ‘thirds’ line of the photo. (See post on composition)

Third any shot including the angel at the top of the tree would also take in a lot of uninteresting wall and ceiling – decision #3, leave out the angel. This is the type of decision that will set you apart as a photographer – you don’t have to get the whole tree – as I’ve said, we all know what they look like – many times in photography less will turn out to be so much more.

Fourth, the reflection of the tree light in the latticed window is awesome, so why not include it? Decision #4 – include the magical reflection.

Last but best and by far the most important – I set my camera so that I could take this photo with NO FLASH. Flash would have reflected off the ornaments and in the window – while turning everything behind the tree black. Sad, sad, sad… I do have an SLR that allows me to do this, but nowadays most point and shoots will allow you to do it too.

Tune in for my next post and I’ll give you a step-by-step on taking indoor photos without flash…

Guess who?

Originally uploaded by camerajazz

Okay – you can probably guess who – and where – since I think I have mentioned them in my own comment.

But can you guess what’s hiding under the giant hat?

Knowing this person as well as I do – I’d say it was probably swiss chocolate…

Stumped for a gift?

Give the gift of photography - your memories will look a whole lot better!

How’s the Holiday shopping going? Knocked everyone off your list?


Just letting you know then, that I do have a very fine gift card (with envelope) that you can purchase for my services.

And . . .I’m running a little ‘Holiday’ special of 4 photography lessons for $250 (includes HST). SLR’s, point-and-shoots – any camera is fine. No prior knowledge of photography required. All other rates are on my photography lessons page. The card itself is free (bonus!)

A great gift if you are planning on giving a loved one a brand new SLR, this would be especially good if you are pretty sure they won’t know how to use it on anything but ‘auto’ – which is a waste of the money spent on a good camera.

Gift cards can also be given in any amount for all my other services, portrait sessions, photo management lessons, photobooks and so on. I also retouch and restore old or special photos for framing or preservation. I will have more about this service on the website soon – as in after the holidays – no time at the moment!

To order or just discuss your gift idea, please email me at Happy Holidays everyone!

Camerajazz Photography Camp – 1st Evah!

Had a FABULOUS time this week with the three young ladies that attended my inaugural ‘Photography and Photoshop Camp’  – honestly you cannot have more fun in a week!

Ali, Maude and Claire bowled me over with their enthusiasm, creativity and smarts (sorry ‘old’ folks – these kids are speedy on the uptake!) ISO? No problem. Shutter speed? A snap!

We tackled portrait photography, still life photography, we even ‘traveled’ to the Distillery district, Chorley Park and the Don Valley Brickworks. Highlight of the week was working with a our 7 year-old professional model Emilie at Creative Image Studios in downtown Toronto.

We got some great shots – take a quick look at this slideshow and see if you don’t agree!








For more details on the Camerajazz Camp format please see the upcoming camp page (up soon I promise)

Consider having your child join us next year  – they’ll have an absolute blast while learning and practicing the  basics of photography – resulting in a lifetime of better photos for them and for you!

Student Photo

Well spring has sprung and I was finally able to hold one of my workshops outdoors. Determined to embark on some flower photography, we headed for the daffodils in the local park.

In the middle of combating the wind, kneeling in the grass, finding that it’s nearly impossible to read LCD screens in the bright sun, the very fact that we were shooting in the midday sun and having to stand in the middle of the flower beds trying to shade our subject – one of my students made it to the top of the class in only her second week by coming home with this absolute winner of a close-up flower shot.

Click on the image for a larger version, but even in this thumbnail you can see the beauty of the colours and shapes in just one single daffodil trumpet.

The daffodil was a type with light yellow petals and and a deep orange trumpet and to my eyes at least, this photo, taken with a Sony DSC-W80 point and shoot, shows it off to perfection. The colours are rich but I promise the only photoshopping involved was to add a little contrast and sharpening as is the norm with digital photos. So thanks to Catherine Hamilton for a launching us into spring!

Fabulous daffodil shot by Catherine Hamilton of Toronto

The Best Camera…

I get asked all the time – what’s the best camera to buy for this or that reason. I have a few favourites but that’s not actually the subject of this post. Tricked ya!

Actually, I just wanted to send some kudos to the folks that developed the “The Best Camera” app for the iPhone.

It’s a great app – but, sorry, tricked you again, that’s not what this post is about either.

The reason I like ‘Best Camera’ is not because it’s such a great app to play around with when your stuck in a waiting room. Rather it’s because of the name. . .  Best Camera . . . which is based on the developer’s realization that the “Best Camera is the One That’s With You”.

I like that and think about it whenever I’m deciding whether or not to bring my camera to an event. I use it to override my usual fears, it will be too much to carry, nobody wants their photo taken, teenagers keep sticking hands in front of the lens, it’s too wet, too sandy, too awkward, too windy, too cold, too hot, too much of a bother.

If you don’t have your camera, you won’t get the shot. So the best camera isn’t the most expensive, the smallest, the coolest, the latest.

It’s the one you have with you. So bring it.

So glad I had my camera with me to capture this colourful moment!