Saltspring Island { Calgary Photographer }

Last week was an amazing week.  I had the good fortune of attending a Redleaf Studios photography workshop on Vancouver Island.  The week was remarkable.  It started out with a day of surfing with my sister, my first time surfing and the first time in a long time that I have been able to spend time with my sister without a million other things going on at the same time.  She was a great surfing coach and after the 30th time I stood on my board.  It was exhilarating to feel the wind on my face and know that my perseverance had paid off.  That wind only lasted a few moments before I was face down in the water, ha ha, but I’ll leave that story for another day.  I continued on with the struggle of facing the strength of the waves to walk out far enough to try again and kept at it until I was too tired to move.  Suzanne (my sister) had been surfing for the 2 days before so surfed for a while and then hung on the beach with her dog Buddy and took pictures of me for which I am so grateful (even the one of my taking a dive off my board with my nose plugged.  Thanks Sue.

For the next 4 days I spent the days learning and growing with 12 other photographers and amazing people.  We spent one whole day with a pear, yes a pear… in downtown Victoria.  We learned to find light, angles, and other aspects of photography that will make us all challenge ourselves to excel.  We learned to use video light to light our subjects and we practiced with Stacie, a beautiful model while experiencing all of the historic buildings in Victoria.

We were also encouraged to talk about our businesses that so often excite and thrill us to no end but can also can be a struggle and cause us pain and heartbreak.  I made many new friends in the process and Richard and Amy of Redleaf Studios in Saskatchewan are both so wonderful.

My favorite day was spent on Salt Spring Island.  It was an experience that I would not normally be able to have but I am going to try to take my husband there some day.  Linda, from Travel with Taste took us on the most amazing tour of beautiful places and wonderful food.  The Bread Lady lives in an amazing house on a hill with huge windows that slide open to let the fresh air and sun pour in.  I’m not talking about sliding patio doors.  I’m talking about windows that reach from ceiling to floor and are huge, a photographers dream.  What a wonderful way to live.  The smell of lavendar wafts through the air and only adds to the smell of the amazing breads of every flavour that she makes in her tiny stone oven.  We got to sample so many different breads and they were all perfection.

After our stop with the Bread Lady we visited Salt Spring Island Cheese Company and tasted seriously amazing cheese.  Richard and Amy guided us through some wonderful combinations of cheese and jellies.  I was pretty happy to find Janice Beaton Fine Cheese in Kensington in Calgary that carries some of their cheeses!  The grounds of the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company are very, um, I’m not sure of the word I’m looking for but I’ll say “unique” for now.  We arrived to find dogs herding chickens back into their pen each time one escaped.  It was funny to watch and made for great pictures as well.

Oh, and it didn’t end there… Hastings House was a perfect place to end our day with a heartwarming lunch.  The restaurant grounds were impeccable and we spent some time with our cameras and once again learning to see things differently than we may have before.  The restaurant itself was closed, much as I’d like to think we are that important I’m sure it had more to do with Linda, our tour guide.  The chef there uses fresh local seafood and herbs and produce from the Hastings House gardens and orchards.  Yum.

My last day was spent riding along the ocean shoreline on a scooter with my sister.  Yes, we rented cute little scooters in the Harbour and set out on our adventure.  Mine was blue, Suzanne got yellow.  🙂  Suzanne actually asked the rental guy how many people crash.  I do believe she wanted exact statistics as that is the way her brain thinks.  It kind of scared me but hey, live on the edge right?  It was fun, though chilly and brought me back to my younger years and hanging out with my little sister every single day.  I kind of miss that.  Though I can honestly say I don’t miss living with her when we both decided to move out.  Sorry Sue.

It is great to be home of course.  I missed everyone alot and home is where my heart is.  Sometimes it is so nice to take a break but here is where I belong and I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful family and husband that gives me the opportunity to grow, change and become a better person and photographer.  I am grateful for the break that I had because now is when busy season for me begins.  I am booked for September and October already!  I do have a space or two to squish in a couple of newborns just because I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out so if you are hoping to book, call soon!  It doesn’t matter if your baby hasn’t been born, at least you will be guaranteed availability when your little bundle does arrive.

Have a great fall everyone, keep your eyes on the blog for lots and lots and lots of session sneak peeks coming up and don’t forget to book your trip to Salt Spring Island.  😉



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  • sarah Lund - SPEECHLESS!

  • Jessi - These are beautiful shots! You are so lucky to have learned more from Red Leaf…Pheonix was just a tease.

  • vicki gannon - p.s. where are the images of your surfing??!!

  • vicki gannon - Hi michelle, love your story about your stay in victoria, and i absolutely adore your capture of our day in saltspring! what amazing images.

  • amanda andrews - oh wow! you got so many great images!

  • cindy - Gorgeous, Michelle! I see food photography in your future. 🙂