New Arrival: Baby Adriana | Guelph Newborn Photographer

I have loved getting to know this family recently, first at their maternity session, and then more recently at their newborn session to capture their newest family member, Adriana.  I’d say about 95% of my newborn sessions include family shots, as I feel they should.  Welcoming a new baby is a family affair, and I love it when all immediate family members are eager to participate in the session.  Even Butters the retriever made an appearance in a couple of the shots.  Big Brother Charlie was one of the most well-behaved 2 year-olds  that I have had the pleasure of working with, and I am sure he will be a wonderful big brother to his new baby sister.  Thank you J & M for entrusting me to capture these special milestones in your family’s lives.  It has been a pleasure!

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Digital Files — Printing at Consumer Labs versus the Pro Lab your Photographer Uses | Guelph Photographer

Digital files.  We live in a digital world and it seems that the majority of my inquiries are interested in digital image collections.  Although I do offer digital collections, I always have an uneasy feeling about how the images will look when printed through a regular consumer lab.  Today my feelings were 100% validated.

I have seen this experiment done before, but wanted to try it out for myself.  Although I knew that there would likely be some variation amongst the different labs, the results were astounding!   As a photographer,  my job is to produce quality imagery for my clients. I also want my clients to have high-quality products that are truly representative of the time and work that I put into every single image that I deliver. When I edit my photographs, I do so on a calibrated monitor to ensure that what I see will closely match the printed version that can be obtained through my professional printing lab. I have done a great deal of research and testing through various labs in order to find vendors that provide quality products and prints that I am proud to present to my clients.

Currently my business model is set up in a way that allows my clients to choose to order prints through me, or they may opt to purchase digital collections and print their photographs at the lab of their choice.  I do have some clients though, that purchase digital collections but also order prints and products through me. It’s a win-win situation :)   When a client walks away from their session with professionally printed products, I genuinely feel like I have done my job well, and am proud to standby my work that will be shared and displayed in those client’s homes.

When clients do opt to print their images through my studio, I look over every single print that comes from my lab to ensure that it meets my expectations and is a close match to the original file.  If for any reason something doesn’t meet my standards, I contact my lab and the issue is corrected and the product is re-ordered. Unfortunately when I hand off a USB to my clients and they choose to print at a consumer lab, I don’t have the opportunity to provide that same quality-control. :(

What most people aren’t aware of is that when photographs are printed through consumer labs, the printers often run on default settings.  These default settings spit out prints that have set levels for adjustments such as exposure, contrast, saturation, and sharpening.  When your photographer’s images are printed at these labs, basically all of the time and effort that they put into editing that image is undone…or messed with, at the very least.  Obviously this results in images that look entirely different than what was created for you by your photographer. At first glance, many clients may not even be aware of the difference, unless of course they do a side-by-side comparison of their photograph with the original image on their screen.  Read on and you will be wowed by the various outcomes that are possible for a single image.

For my little experiment, I chose three different images to print. There  really is no rhyme or reason as to why I selected these images specifically, though I did want to ensure that one of them at least had some solid, bold colour to it, just to see how that printed across the different labs. I printed each image four times, at four different labs: a pro lab, Walmart, Blacks, and Costco. I then scanned the printed images in groupings so that they could easily be compared . This step slightly altered the appearance of the images, but you can still get the general idea of the drastic differences between the labs. Aside from scanning the photographs, no adjustments were made by me. Below you will find each grouping along with the original edited digital file — the image that depicts how I intended the photograph to appear.

Example 1:

newborn session in Guelph^ Original File ^

Example 1

As you can see, there is a noticeable colour difference between the four images.

Pro Lab — It’s a very close match to the original file.  I’m happy with it, and I’m sure my client would be too!
Black’s — This image is very saturated and has a lot of contrast to it. Baby’s skin is looking very red, the highlights are over-exposed and in person there is a noticeable pink shadow to the left of the bench.
Costco — Saturation, contrast and exposure was definitely messed with here.  Baby’s skin also has an orange tinge to it.
Walmart — This version of the image is heavily saturated, and the whites are looking more blue-green.  Baby’s skin is also quite orange.


Example 2:

Guelph newborn photographer^ Original File ^


Wowzers. All four images are noticeably different and seeing how some of these could possibly be displayed in client’s homes makes my heart sink.

Pro Lab — Although this is the best out of the four in my opinion, I would have been happier with a bump in the exposure to brighten up babe’s skin and the pink rug.  If this was for a client, I probably would have made some adjustments and re-ordered.
Black’s — This looks so bad.  The fur is a completely different shade of pink than it is in actuality. Overall the image is darker and more saturated than intended.
Costco — Yikes. The image is yellow, and way over-exposed.  It looks washed out, and well…yuck.  What more is there to say?!
Walmart — Probably the closest to the pro lab in terms of colour, but still heavily saturated and more red than the original file.

Example 3:

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^ Original File ^

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Black’s — So for starters, the backdrop appears to be a completely different colour all together. It is looking more grey, rather than taupe. Baby’s skin is very red and saturated, and the wrap is dark and contrasty.
Walmart — This image is quite yellow, which can be seen when comparing the colour of the backdrop and baby’s skin.   It is dark, contrasty and also appears to be over-sharpened.
Pro-Lab — I’m quite happy with the results here.
Costco — The highlights are noticeably brighter,  there is a red tinge to the entire photograph, and no doubt that saturation and contrast were altered.

In addition to the exposure, contrast and colour differences, there is a big difference in how the photographs feel as well. The pro lab images are printed on high-quality photo paper, and also include a lustre coating that protects the photograph. The consumer lab papers feel very thin, flimsy, and cheap. The worst one in my opinion is from the Walmart lab. I’ve had the images for a day and already the edges are curling up.

So, now that you have seen the results for yourself, you are probably asking where should you have your images printed?  Well, I suppose it depends on how important the images are to you, and perhaps what the intended use for them will be. Custom photography is an investment.  When you hire a photographer, you are investing in their experience and talent…and in the end you should have beautiful prints that are a true representation of the art that your photographer created for you!

When my clients purchase digital collections, it is recommended that any enlargements or wall art printed through the studio.  The reason for this is clearly outlined in the results of this experiment.  I want my clients to proudly display imagery that is representative of what the original work looks like…and when someone asks my clients who their photographer is, I would like to be proud of, and fully standby the final printed product too :)
The outcomes in example #2 specifically – yikes.  I would feel horrible to see results 2,3 or 4 enlarged and up on someone’s  wall.

This little project definitely has me thinking about some possible options and changes that I may make within my business to ensure that all of my clients have at the very least, a tangible reference to compare their own consumer lab prints to.

New Arrival: Baby Blake | Newborn photographer in Guelph

I was so excited when this mama contacted me in the Fall to let me know that she was expecting, and wanted me to photograph her new addition in the spring. Becky and I met in 2007 when I started working as an Instructor Therapist for KidsAbility in Guelph. Although each of us has since taken different paths in terms of our careers, we have kept in touch via social media and often bumped into one another at various extra-curricular activities that our kids were involved in. I had the pleasure of photographing big brother Ben, back when he was just a baby himself, and it was wonderful to be able to photograph their newest addition, Blake at 16 days new. This handsome babe did not want to miss a thing and gave us plenty of wide-eyed shots and cute facial expressions…but eventually we tired him out and were able to get some posed, sleepy shots too. B + C – Thank you so much for choosing me to capture this special time in your lives! You have created a beautiful family and I am sure that as parents of two little boys, your future will be filled with much fun, adventures and wonderful memories!guelph newborn photographer
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Mama Love: Limited Edition Mother’s Day Sessions | Guelph family photographer

I am over-the-moon excited to be offering something a bit different for mamas this Mother’s Day.  In the past I have offered Mommy + Me mini sessions which were a lot of fun, but I always felt that the sessions were too rushed and they didn’t offer the full experience that I feel that moms truly deserve.  This year I wanted to offer moms an unhurried, relaxing, and unique experience.  One where she can be pampered prior to the session, and have beautiful portraits captured with her littlest loves while looking and feeling her very best!  These very special session offerings are taking place on Mother’s Day here in Guelph and are limited to only 5 sessions…and I expect them to sell out quickly!  This Mother’s Day, show her just how special and beautiful she really is, and gift her an experience she will never forget!

Mama – if you happen to be the one reading this and are interested in participating in this exclusive Mother’s Day event, perhaps link the details to your hubby, or go ahead and treat yourself !  Or perhaps you would like to gift a session to  your own Mom.  Even though I referred to children  as “littlest loves”, there is no age limit.  These sessions could be a great opportunity to have a three generations portrait completed as well… what a special gift for Grandma that would be!

Contact me via email to book, or call 519-824-1459.  The balance is due in full at the time of booking to secure the makeover and portrait experience.

Mothers Day Sessions

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for awhile, but their hearts forever.”

– Unknown

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Beach sessions announced! | Guelph family photographer

I am pleased to announce that this summer Defining Moments Photography will be taking to the road to offer  fun and memorable portrait experiences at several beaches within Southwestern Ontario.   This is a wonderful opportunity to have me come to a spot that is special to you, or create some extra-special memories your summer vacation at your home away from home.  These sessions are full sessions (not mini sessions) and would be ideal for maternity and/or family portraits.  The sessions are limited to just TWO time slots per location and will take place in the evening hours (exact start time to be determined closer to the date).   The creative fee for these sessions is $225 +hst and includes a pre-consultation and assistance with wardrobe planning. Prints, products, and collections may be purchased separately following the session.  Contact Dana at 519-824-1459 or for more details or to book your session.


(click on image to enlarge)

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2015 Beach Sessions! | Guelph family photographer

Although we are in the dead of winter here in Ontario, I am dreaming of warmer temperatures and sunny days in the months ahead!  I am pleased to announce that this summer Defining Moments Photography will be taking to the road to offer a limited number of beach sessions throughout Southwestern Ontario!  This is a wonderful opportunity to have some wonderful memories captured at a beautiful location that may be close to your heart!  So, where would YOU like to see me?  Leave a comment below or send me an email ( to share your favourite beach location with me, and perhaps your pick will make the short list!   Confirmed locations and dates will be announced in the next week or so, so stay tuned to this page for more info!


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At Home: Millie | Guelph newborn photographer

I recently had the opportunity to photograph this beautiful baby girl and her lovely parents in the comfort of their own home, here in Guelph. At the time of our session, Millie was 3 weeks-old. I just love her name, and couldn’t get over her beautiful head of hair! A big thank you to Millie’s parents for being so warm and welcoming. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together, and I hope you love the resulting images!
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Lights, Camera, Sparkle in NYC | Guelph Portrait Photographer

This past November, I took a leap and attended a workshop in the U.S with a photographer and artist whose work I have admired for quite some time — Meg Bitton.  Taking this workshop had been on my bucket list for a couple of years, and last December when it was announced, I quickly grabbed my spot.   I had given myself enough time to prepare — 10+ months to save up and budget for the trip, and to prepare myself for the actual time away from my family.  You see, this was an epic step for me, not just for myself as photographer and business owner, but as a mom; up until this point I had never left my three young kids for more than just an evening away…so the thought of leaving them for 3 nights was a bit daunting.  Also add to the mix that I had never traveled or stepped foot on a plane by myself.  Needless to say, I had a bit of anxiety built up and a few butterflies in my stomach upon my departure to New Jersey.

Once on my way, I realized that traveling solo wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be, and although the quiet and solitude was a bit uncomfortable at times (especially on the first night when I arrived at the hotel), it gave me the chance to reflect on why it was important that I pushed myself to take this journey.  I had several reasons for wanting to take this particular workshop.  Within my own business, I  focus on maternity, child and family photography, but I wanted to learn a different approach to carrying out these types of sessions.  Meg’s images always draw me in.  They are interesting, soft, sometimes moody, and always evoke an emotion and tell a story.  I wanted to learn how to better incorporate these facets into my own style of work.  I also hoped to learn how to nail the connection with the subject being photographed…particularly a young child who may have their own agenda at the time of the session.  Finally, I hoped that this experience would help me feel more confident about my own work.  Confidence is a challenge for me, period.  Both in myself, and in my work. For me it really is a daily struggle.  I know that confidence cannot be learned, or gained simply from attending a workshop, but I am hoping that as I continue to grow and learn (enter ‘continuing education opportunities’), my work will get better too.  I eventually hope to have the confidence to just put myself and my work out there, without doubting and second-guessing myself, or worrying about what others may think.  I truly admire Meg’s ability to do this and wish it came more naturally to me.

Going into the workshop, I tried not to have any expectations.  I simply hoped that it would be a fun and valuable learning experience, and it was.  I learned some new things about myself too. I did come away with some really great tips that I think will help me with my overall workflow, while also enabling me to better enhance my images in post-processing as well.  An added bonus was that I made some inspiring and talented new friends during the process and have enjoyed re-connecting with them online since returning home!

Our models were wonderful and despite the very cold temperatures (I’m Canadian, so you know if I say it was cold, it was REALLY cold!), they rocked their sessions.  And we did get to see how one may deal with a child who wants to do anything but stand and smile in front of the camera…so although it may have been a “hiccup” at the time, I am glad that the situation presented itself so that we could learn from it.  My favourite sessions were the ones shot in NYC.  I had never been to New York City before, so for me just being there was an experience in itself!  I had never done an urban shoot prior to the workshop either, and I loved having the opportunity to try something new, and get outside of my comfort zone.   I enjoyed it so much that I hope to do some more urban sessions in the future with my own clients here in Guelph, or in surrounding areas such as the GTA.

I had a lot of fun shooting and editing this collection of my favourite images from the workshop.  I enjoyed trying some new techniques in Photoshop, and even let my creativity run free by adding some magic and whimsy to a few of the images.  Although I can’t take credit for the pre-planning, styling, directing,  and concepts behind the photos, I can say (with confidence!) that I am happy with how these images turned out.   Looking through them truly make my heart happy.  Coming away from the workshop made me realize that I need to shoot more for myself, both personally and professionally.  I need to seek out and shoot the type of sessions that I want to shoot, and in the way that I envision them from start to finish.  Going forward, I want to continue to create images like these in my own way…depicting smiles, details, quiet moments, beauty, and most importantly, images that speak to me.  I have so many ideas running through my mind about some things I’d like to try, so stay tuned to see what unfolds ;)

Without further ado, my favourite images from my time in New Jersey & NYC…
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A Look Back at 2014 | Guelph Family Photographer

The New Year will be upon us in just a few more hours, and I am so excited to see what 2015 has in store!  I am looking forward to introducing some new changes and session offerings in the coming months, and am anxious to work with some repeat clients and meet some new faces as well.  Thank you to all of my family, friends, clients, supporters and photography friends for making 2014 a memorable one.  Here is a look back at some of the wonderful families that I had the chance to work with this past year!

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