In Retrospect: My Favourite Photos of 2016

Like last year's post, this one is made up of much of the same thing: a collection of my favourite images - certainly not instagram's best nine. I actually don't think any of these images made the cut there.  For me it's not about the external validation or the "likes" adding up (though that's always a bonus!) but more about images I feel proud to have created because of the light I saw, the light I made, but most of all how that light evoked a mood, a feeling or a beauty previously unnoticed.

Same View, Different Light

Last month, I was on a shoot and managed to sneak in a shot of this very cliché yet stunning view of Vancouver. I've seen this view many times. I even photographed a similar one last year for a magazine, but it's still as breathtaking as seeing it for the first time.

I managed to get two identical compositions and am continually amazed at what a difference an hour will make on days like these when the light changes so quickly.

Shot at 4:30 pm
Shot at 5:30 pm
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Highlight Reel

Wow, it's been four months since my last blog post. Honestly, I don't really have a good excuse, other than maybe Instagram?  I do post there regularly so if you don't follow already, you can find me @kyrani.

For now, here's a little highlight reel so show you what I've been up to and the people and things that caught my eye since my last blog post.  And here's hoping, I start posting regularly again.

Victoria Observations

A few weeks ago, I scored a fantastic AirBnB in Victoria's picturesque Chinatown.  So off to Victoria we went with the boys! If you haven't visited the neighbourhood, I highly recommend it.  It's such a vibrant section of town which is walking distance to pretty much everything - the adorable Fan Tan alley, Dragon alley, Market Square, Bastion Square, Munro's Books, the Royal BC Museum and more.

Victoria is one of our favourite little escapes from the city and perfect for easy travel with kids.  You're getting enough distance from mainland BC to make it feel like a vacation (taking the ferry really does have away of creating much needed separation from your daily routines) but close and similar enough that it's an easy transition on both ends of your trip.

Below are a few observations from our trip last month.

This was taken the day we arrived, cloudy but warm.
Same lantern, different day..

Dragon Alley
The boys playing thumb wars at the Kit and Ace window in Market Square. Couldn't resist this one...
A little window light portrait at Habit Coffee

The boys sitting in front of my husband's old house where he lived when we was studying at UVic.

Seduced by the Ferry Muses

Like last year, I found myself quite inspired on board the ferry to and from Victoria.  I don't know what it is (nor do I care to find out) but shooting on the ferry just does it for me.  As Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us in her book, Big Magic:

“We are lucky that inspiration talks to us at all: it’s too much to ask that it also explains itself.”

When you’re called to create - whatever your creative endeavour - you owe it to inspiration to just go with it. So thank you, ferry muses, I promise to always answer your call.

My boys are 9!

Seriously, how did they go from this:

to this?

Did I just blink, or did nine years actually go by.  My heart explodes everyday for these two. Sometimes, all I want to do is cuddle and kiss them all day. You know those juicy, bite kisses that we Greeks are known for, and with a pinch thrown in for good measure. In the past, I have picked one outfit and created one "official" portrait, but this year it was too hard to decide between these two j.crew shirts. They both look so handsome in them and it was too hard to narrow down for this post.  And as you can see from the outtakes below, these boys can roughhouse, engage in a little mischief and look good doing it.

The Light in Vancouver

These last couple of weeks (when the sun made appearance) were particularly magical in terms of photo ops.  The low winter sun shines a light that creates long shadows, lots of contrast and beautiful colours.

This post is a response to all the over exposed, whitewashed imagery that seems to be so popular on Instagram.  It's beautiful, don't get me wrong. And I love it too.  But in exploring light, shadow, contrast and colour, you can expand your lighting horizons, and showcase the character and beauty that some might miss.

We have a few days left until Spring arrives, and the forecast calls for sun.  Seize the day and get out there and see the amazing light in Vancouver.  Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside are particularly inspiring this time of year.  If you're on Instagram, I'd love to see your shadow-filled, gritty, colourful and high contrast photos.  Something that lives outside the white, blush and gold girly aesthetic box.  Tag me on Instagram @kyrani.  I'd love to see it.

Valentine's Day Observations

Much like last year, this year's post features what has now become an annual tradition with the boys:  homemade cards and cookies.  After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  I love documenting little bits of our daily life (made much more fun because we were preparing for Valentine's Day); a sort of salute to the inherent charm of imperfection.  Because, as much as we try to make it so online, life and love aren't perfect.  And those cookies...well that was the second batch.  The icing on the first was sooooo bad, then photos will not be leaving the vault anytime soon!

How was your Valentine's?  Do you have any traditions?

For more visual observations of life through my eyes, join me on instagram @kyrani.  See you there!

The Best Kind of Lunch Dates Involve Parrots, Chicken Fingers and Getting Caught in the Rain

It isn't often I get to spend one on one time with my boys.  In fact, never is more like it.  But last week, I was keen to take the boys out somewhere, have lunch and shoot a few photos of them. One wanted to stay home with dad, and so I got to have some quality time with the other.

The morning started to look promising and the plan was to go to the beach but by noon it was pouring (typical Raincouver), so we popped over to the Bloedel Conservatory with lunch to follow at our favourite greasy spoon, Helen's Grill.  (Which by the way, happens to be one of my favourite places to shoot portraits - have you been?).  I had an itch to shoot my boys and I wasn't about to let the rain stop me.  (You can't in this city, or you'll stay holed up in your home for 4 months straight!).  Besides, rainy overcast weather is great for pictures.  The Bloedel Conservatory is a great alternative for the outdoors, and the window light at Helen's Grill...well, it's just awesome to me.

Ps.  This J.Crew shirt he's wearing might be my favourite article of clothing to shoot, ever! With with that yellow raincoat in the moody interior of Helen's Grill on a rainy day?  Sigh...

What's your favourite rainy day hangout?

Smartphone Photography Tips, Star Wars, and All the Best Intentions

I had every intention of doing a post today with tips to improve your smartphone photography...but it's not going to happen. Because I can't take my mind off these photos!  Last weekend, I needed a little creative inspiration so I decided to photograph my boys' new Star Wars toys one evening.

I'm not really a fan of Star Wars, nor do I like this lego series at all...but these characters were speaking to me for days and I had to get it out of my system.  When I couldn't resist it any longer, darkness had fallen and I lit the figurines with my flashlight (with the exception of the first one) - the effect in the following photos is perfect for a battle between light and dark, don't you think?

As you can see below, my son poses these characters much better than I do...

Sometimes you have to follow the muse when she taps you on the shoulder (or in my case hits me with a Lego lightsaber).

And those phone photography tips I mentioned?  If you're in Vancouver, I'll be sharing them at Mama Mondays at the Juice Truck Store (28 West 5th Avenue between Ontario and Manitoba) on February 1, 2015 at 1 pm.  It's free to attend, AND the Juice Truck is offering a discount to moms attending.  I hope to see you there.

In the meantime, you can find my visual diary here.

In Retrospect: My Favourite Photos of 2015

Professionally, it's been the best year ever.  But the images I'm most proud of weren't necessary the most seen or prestigious, nor did they ever receive the most "likes" on Instagram and social media.  But they are still my favourites.  Personal pride and a sense of accomplishment, creativity and growth can easily outweigh any outward validation.  Of course, it's great when others appreciate your work (and your "likes" pile up), but having an internal love for what you've produced is so much more important. On that note, below are the images I enjoyed making the most in 2015.

Christmas Morning Observations

How was Christmas at your house?

Ours was great, and just like the Christmases of 2014 and 2013, these two were so excited for the day to finally arrive.  They were dying to open presents at 7 am.  But, I managed to hold them out until 10 am when the morning light was just right.

Here are a few highlights.

The Highlight of my Entire Year and Life Lately

I've been a bad blogger.  I haven't taken the time to post an update in at least a month!  Not even to share that I was published in People Magazine! Which is pretty exciting.  Though I did instagram that news...immediately upon publication...(You should probably follow me @kyrani on Instagram to get fact action updates!)

Anyway, I don't know if I have any good excuse here.  Mostly I'm not "feeling it"...which I guess is another way of saying, I have no ideas!!  Or I've been quite busy. (Does anyone else feel the same this time of year?  Where did the time go?!)  All in all, November was a pretty awesome month. I mean I was published in People Magazine! That's definitely the highlight of my 2015.  What's been the highlight of your year?

Anyway, here is a snippet of what's been happening lately in these parts.

First off, I had SO much fun shooting the beautiful (and genuinely lovely) American Idol alum Kim Caldwell and her adorable new baby girl, Harlow, for People Magazine:

Styling for this shoot by Michelle Addison

Hallowe'en happened and my warrior boys were out in full force.  Plus, when your husband walks round with a Storm Trooper helmet, a J.Crew shirt and a beer, he can't expect NOT to be photographed!

I shot this gorgeous face.  Oh to have that 22 year old skin again!

Hair and Makeup by Sonia Leal-Serafim

I also dabbled in a little food photography in my kitchen.  Those pomegranates!  A pain to eat but beauties to shoot...

And how on earth did this happen?  I shot these a couple of weeks ago and I cannot get over how grown up my boys are looking!

Hoodies by Cabyn

In character

Sometimes, taking pictures is not about capturing what's there, documenting truth and immortalizing a moment in time.

Sometimes, taking pictures is about creating something new. Experimenting. Getting out of the usual comfort zone and doing something different.

I'm often inspired to portray ordinary people in extraordinary ways.  Every so often, I'll look at someone - a friend, a family member, a stranger - and I see them in a new way.  As someone else outside of themselves.  Through my eyes, they take on a different persona and I feel inspired to create an image telling a story that is different from their own.  

It is easy to do if you have a model or actor to work with.  But sometimes that might be a luxury - the greater challenge is getting someone who isn't a model or actor to collaborate with you and convey that story.  

Weekend Observations

It was a busy weekend with the boys: soccer games, birthday parties, sleepovers, leaf cleanup, etc. So on Friday the boys were out of school and it was fun just to relax and hang out around the house in our pjs and then that gorgeous light started to stream into that house.

Needless to say, it was hard to resist capturing s few photos of the boys doing their thing in their new jcrew pjs.  How was your weekend?