• Personal,  Photography

    Little Drops of Joy

    I wrote about “Purpose” yesterday on my Reclaiming Life blog…click HERE if you wish to read the post. I’m looking at life a little differently lately. I’ve been missing out on little pieces of incredible that live within the everyday.

    This winter was a long one, and then this morning while I was enjoying my first cup of coffee, I noticed green grass with delicate drops of morning dew.

    How long have you been there green grass? I haven’t noticed you until now. A bright patch of wispy green grass surrounded by dead leaves and bits of lefts over snow.  The new pushing its way through the old.

    As I sat there staring with fascination at the dew drops, I inwardly wished I had a macro lens to capture what I was finally seeing.

    And then…a picture of a lens came into my mind with a macro switch on it. Wait, did I already have a lens?  I ran to my old camera bag and there it was. A 70-300mm third-party lens that my hubby had given me for my birthday back in 2002.  The lens was still mounted on my old film SLR, my very first SLR camera I ever owned. The very camera that opened a door to looking at the world in a whole new way.  There it was, a little nugget of joy in my morning.

    There’s beauty all around us, one just has to open their eyes to see it. And sometimes you realize the very things you want in life, you already have. You just didn’t notice.

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    From my heart to yours,


  • Children,  Family

    Puddle Jumping with A.

    Meet A.

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    She may look familiar to you if you follow my blog as I’ve taken her photos since she was 9 months old. She has grown from a little personality into a big personality and has changed so much since her last birthday.

    In celebration of turning 4, she brought some of her favourite things (including her little brother), wore the clothes she picked out herself, and asked to end the session with puddle jumping. I love that her parents gave her free rein so the photos are a true reflection of exactly who she is at the big-girl age of 4…an endless supply of energy, smiles, and ideas. From dancing and twirling one moment, to running through mud and puddles the next…you can’t help but sit back, laugh, and just watch her.

    She has her own cheers made up to go with these pom-poms…

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    She has a great range of facial expressions that she pulls out when you least expect it. Love it!

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    Sticks still fascinate her….

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    Happy birthday big girl!

    Thank you for suggesting puddle-jumping!  One never gets too old to enjoy the art of puddle-jumping. 🙂


  • Giving Back,  Personal,  Photography

    Why I Relay for Life 2011

    Last year, I blogged this post about why I Relay for Life in memory of my beloved Aunty Lorraine who lost her battle with Cancer. http://christinehopaluk.com/blog/2010/04/26/why-i-relay-for-life/

    She is missed deeply by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. She was a courageous, vivacious, and amazing woman.

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    Last year, I participated in the Leduc Relay for Life as part of “Team Hope” (a fun bunch of passionate women dressed in pink and feather boas), as well as a photographer for the event.  http://christinehopaluk.com/blog/2010/06/07/leduc-relay-for-life-2010/

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    Team Hope is kicking some cancer butt once again! On June 3rd, 2011 in Leduc, AB., we are once again Relaying for Life. I am also honoured to photograph this year’s relay as well. I can’t begin to describe the experience that is the Relay for Life.  It’s an event full of Respect, Love, Support, and most importantly Hope.  Starting at 7:00 p.m., our team will walk, run, dance the walking track for the 12-hour overnight event until 7:00 a.m, along with a host of other teams and survivors. At all times someone from our team will be walking the track, which is why it is called a Relay.

    The first Relay for Life event happened in 1999, and since then teams have been unifying friends and families to come together at the Relay for Life events across Canada to not only raise funds, but in…

    Celebration of Survivors,

    Remembering those Lost,

    and Fighting Back to Find a CURE.

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    It’s incredibly humbling and touching to walk past the thousands of lit luminaries that mark the relay route. Each luminary represents a special loved one who is presently fighting, has won the fight, or has lost the fight to cancer.

    When you look at the photograph below, please remember that each one of these illuminated bags represents a FIGHTER.

    These Luminaries represent a….











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    I have to tell you friends, that I have one more incredibly close-to-my-heart reasons to Relay for Life because of the events that transpired within my family last year…incidentally, just a few weeks after the 2010 Leduc Relay for Life.

    My Father, Ralph Dicke, was diagnosed with Prostate cancer by the end of the summer last year just weeks after I took the picture below.

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    I remember the exact moment when I learned of his diagnosis.  I was editing a photo of a Father cuddling his children when my Mom phoned with the devastating news.  All I could think was “Please God, not my Father.”

    My Dad decided after much deliberation to undergo surgery as a treatment, and in December he went in for the surgery.  My Dad, Sister, and I took the photo below the night before his surgery.  He’s sporting his “Movember” moustache.  He did amazingly well through the surgery, and was so strong throughout the recovery period.  We were very optimistic that after removing the prostate he would be cancer-free.

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    Over the past month after more tests, he was told that he will require more treatment, as his levels have risen…an indicator that the cancer is still there. This month he will be visiting the Cross Cancer Institute to meet with the specialists to discuss and plan a course of treatment to fight the residual cancer.

    When I see all that my father has had to endure these past few months, it leaves me feeling helpless and so full of anger.  I want to fight back.

    The Relay for Life event allows me, you, anyone to fight back by raising funds and awareness.  I know there are so many worthy organizations and causes out there in desperate need of funds to continue research and support.  However, I believe one would be hard-pressed to find a person today that has NOT been affected by cancer in some way. It’s devastating to say the least.

    I took this screen shot from the Canadian Cancer Society’s Website. The general cancer statistics are cause for great concern. Another reason to join the fight to end cancer.

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    THIS is why I Relay for Life.  When you pledge your support at the Relay for Life, this is where your money goes.


    What can YOU do to help

    ? One way you can help join the fight is to support me by making a donation. This cause is an important one, and we can truly make a difference together. You can be part of a community that takes up the fight. I am humbly asking for donations of whatever you can find it in your heart to give to help make cancer history.

    Online pledging is secure and it saves the Society money by reducing administrative costs – it means the money you give can go further to help the fight against cancer.

    Simply click the link below to go to my personal page to make a donation.




    Fight Back.

    On behalf of my father, and my entire family, we thank you so much for your support.


    I truly appreciate it!

    From my heart to yours,


  • Photography

    The Heart of an Artist

    I have to admit, I’m a bit of social networking addict. It fascinates me that there are no longer geographical boundaries when it comes to connecting.  We are “neighbours” on Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook.


    Lately, I’ve been on Twitter more than usual, following photographers who’s work I admire.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve stumbled across a few business propositions put out from one photographer to other photographers.  If only you purchase *this* (insert pitch here), you can be a better photographer. You can connect on a deeper level with those you photograph. You can make more money, attract more clientele, etc. etc.  I have no issue with the fact many photographers make a good living by packaging their knowledge to other photographers, and I’m not discounting their value. I believe in life-long learning, and I do not believe one ever reaches the “finish line”. There is great value in attending workshops and I believe it’s important to expand on one’s knowledge regarding lighting and technique. I’ve learned so much from other photographers, and it’s a community I’m very thankful for.

    Having said that, I got caught up in all of it…the competitive spirit that it embodied. I lost track of what success means to me, based on my own reality at this time in my life.  I lost sight of my truth: which is to remember the reasons that brought photography into my life (and heart) in the first place.

    “Success and failure. We think of them as opposites, but they’re really not. They’re companions – the hero and the sidekick.” ~Laurence Shames

    I didn’t get into photography looking to make it a business. In fact, my first paid jobs were from friends who volun-told me to take their photos. I was encouraged to pursue photography on a professional level by those who supported and believed in me.  I resisted turning my passion for photography into a paid gig, simply for the fact that photography is a lifeline to me. It’s what brings me joy. It allows me to document the world: full of complicated people with complicated emotions just as I see it.  It’s like therapy! 🙂 It’s intensely personal to me on many levels. I turn to photography when I’m up and when I’m down.  There are few things in life that hold that kind of weight within one’s heart.

    To me (and this is *my* reality, I’m not speaking for anyone else), Photography as a business is not my first priority at this point in my life.  I found the art of photography at a time when I needed it most.  It’s been my companion and allowed me to document, celebrate, and memorialize what truly is my first priority: My children.  Photography has allowed me to build a visual story-book of the life we have built together as a family.  A few years ago, I quit my full-time job (which was not photography related) in order to stay-at-home with my children and most importantly, to find who I was again so that I could be a better Mom to my kids.  It was the right decision for me at that time in my life, and I was lucky enough to be able to do so.

    I lost myself for a long time, and photography really helped me discover my voice.  For the past few years, I’ve blogged a whole bunch of life lessons that appeared to me one after the other. If you are curious, you can read them by clicking —–> HERE on my personal blog called “Reclaiming Life” ~ My journey to lose 90 pounds~

    After years of keeping my opinions to myself, I finally found my own voice. Blogging is also like therapy! 😉

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    I have intentionally separated my Photography blog from my Reclaiming Life blog because to me they are very separate; however, lately after reading so many pitches on how to be a “better photographer”, I re-evaluated what my goals and dreams are. I have realized that for me, success as a photographer has no monetary value. My view of what it means to be successful as a photographer lies in developing one’s vision as an artist with a unique view of the world. A solitary voice documenting a big diverse world. A vision that is all one’s own. The ability to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. One who can effectively translate a story visually into a photograph.

    A big part of my journey in photography does in fact encompass all that I’ve learned through times of self-reflection, so this is the reason I have linked to my Reclaiming Life blog in this post.  They are very much connected in who I am as a woman and who I am as a photographer. But, my goal is to develop as an artist which means I need to listen to my heart and take the path that is right for me.  I know that’s cliche, but it’s my truth.

    When I photograph someone, the accolade that I desire is from that person alone because it’s so very important to me that I capture who they are within a photograph.  That’s my goal with every session.  Last year, I booked too many sessions and I felt completely burned out by the end of the year.  In the beginning of 2011, I went weeks without picking up my camera and this is not common for me. I didn’t feel the desire to photograph anything and everything like I once felt. I lost sight of my vision and those amazing elements that live within the everyday that inspire me.

    Recently, I made the only decision that is right for me. I’ve decided to take a bit of a step back in photography as a business.  Yes, I will still be shooting (and happily so) because the only way you can grow is by doing; however, I will not be booking as many jobs as I have in the past couple of years. I have some exciting sessions booked well into the fall, and I am really thankful for the loyal clientele that book me year after year to document their life as it is.  It is because of my loyalty to those I have photographed in the past, that I’ve made the decision that I will not be booking new clients at this time.

    This will change in the future as my kids need me less!  I will soon have more time to devote to photography, but for now they are only young once! I need to make more time for my children. I don’t want to tell my kids we can’t go to the park because I’m stuck in my office editing for hours.  This is what’s right for me. It’s what’s right for my children.

    I will also be spending less time listening to what other photographers advise is right for them, and instead figure out what is right for me (and in turn, my family).  We are all very different and that’s the beauty of it!  We make our decisions based on our own values, environment, and past experiences.  There is no “right” way. There is no “one tried and true” method to connect with our clients.  There is no magical number we should all be charging. As artists, we must all figure this out for ourselves! The best part of this industry, is it’s an artistic field without barriers and we can each make the decisions that is right for ourselves.  Just because it’s my path, doesn’t mean it’s right for anyone else…and vice-versa

    I believe the heart of an artist finds their own way. They blaze their own path. They make decisions that is best for themselves, and more importantly for those they love and cherish most.  This is not the same for everyone!  There is so much freedom in that, it’s exciting. It has re-ignited a fire within my heart to pursue the art of photography in my own way.  The other day, I picked up my camera and shot my first session in months. http://christinehopaluk.com/blog/2011/03/31/megan-and-brads-connection/ During that session, I fell in love with photography all over again.  If fact, I was so excited when I captured an image that I knew they would love, that I almost hyper-ventilated and they advised me to breath into a paper bag. I felt that passion again because I really devoted my time to listening to that inner voice that I sometimes ignore.

    So, I do hope you understand my decision to book less sessions. Life flies by, and kids….well they grow too fast.  There will be a time when I can develop photography as a career with more focus.

    But for now, I’m focusing on photography as an art once again, rather than the business of photography. I will be exploring the heart of an artist, in my very own way. I know that will probably not make me a rich woman, but hey…that was never my goal in the first place. 🙂

    I will leave you with some iPhone photos. I love the App: “Instagram”. It’s worth the download!

    And also, here’s a link to a song that’s just good for the soul. “The Heart of Life” by John Mayer

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    Thank you for reading my thoughts today!  I wish you all the best in your own career and wherever your passions lie!  I have zero judgments over how another photography chooses to run their business. There are many paths to the same destination. I encourage you to listen to that inner voice that leads you to do what is right for you and you alone.  Trust yourself in this area.

    From my heart to yours,