Now that we are into 2012, I’ve been looking back at some photos from 2011.
As I look back, there is a clear favourite image that makes my heart sing every time I look at it. I come from a big family; I have 5 sisters. It’s hard for all us 6 girls to get together in one place and when we do it’s full of laughter and chaos. We have 16 kids between us 6 sisters, and it’s amazing to see our kids playing together just as we did growing up.
I happened across this cousin-moment at Thanksgiving. There was no time to think about camera settings and exposure, just enough time to click one frame.
One frame that I need to frame….
I hope your day is ridiculously amazing,
In the hours leading up to the event, I prayed the snow and rain would stay away; however, the snow was fitting actually. It was reminiscent of what my Dad and our family has gone through since his cancer diagnosis…beautiful sunshine one day, and then suddenly a storm the next day. Cancer brings forward emotions that one has never felt before. Anger, pain, disbelief, sadness, perseverance, strength, and hope. We Relay to one day make cancer history.
Onto Part two of the Relay…
A member of Team Mixcor Cancer Crushers, volunteered to have his head shaved at the event…
Just before the Luminary Ceremony, friends of ours who are volunteers at the Edmonton Relay for Life visited to show their support (And I’m sorry to say there are two people missing from this photo of good-hearted supporters, Trina and Omari). Thank you!
The Luminary ceremony was next. I was asked to speak briefly. I cried all the way through it! Seeing what my Father has gone through this past year carries so much pain in my heart, and it’s a fresh wound. I sat with him at the Cross Cancer Institute for his first radiation treatment on the Monday before the Relay. Click HERE to read about it.
My Dad continues to fight with a smile on his face, and a kind word to everyone who crosses his path. I’m so proud of him…
I was so overtaken with emotion, I didn’t take many photos of the luminary ceremony as I usually do. Please accept my apology!
Then the snow came…
In Memory of my Aunty and My friend Chris who both bravely fought this devastating disease. I think of you often.
The snow stopped as suddenly as it started, and dawn was finally upon us…
Despite the snow, many luminaries continued to burn into the morning hours.
A special thank you to our Team Hope Captain: Jackie Martineau. I appreciate all your hard work more than you could ever know.
Marking the end of the event, 7:00 a.m. See you all next year…same place, same time! 🙂
We Fought Back!!!
All Images are copyright to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Please check out the other two Photographer’s blogs! I know they are still adding to their blog posts as I post this, so remember to check back!
Tawny of Tawny Lee Photography: http://justagirlwithhercamera.blogspot.com/2011/06/must-get-this-out-so-i-can-finally-lay.html
Linda of LMK Photography: http://photographybylmk.blogspot.com/2011/06/leduc-relay-for-life.html
*Update June 14: The photos are online! Please visit http://christinehopaluk.com/blog/2011/06/14/leduc-relay-for-life-picture-orders/ for details!
I’m having an incredibly hard time finding the words for this blog post. The Leduc Relay for Life 2011 was an amazing event full of tears, laughter, support, and love. Altogether, Leduc Relay for Life raised an incredible $109,331 dollars exceeding their fundraising goals! Amazing! A HUGE thank you goes out to all the organizers of the Relay. Your countless volunteer hours is greatly appreciated!
I wish I could include every photo I took (all images are copyright of the Canadian Cancer Society); however, In 2 weeks, photos from all three of us photographers will be available to purchase through my website*. Please stay tuned on this blog for more info or follow the Leduc Relay for Life facebook page for updates! All proceeds from the sale of photos goes directly to the Canadian Cancer Society. It’s a way to raise even more funds for our Relay. *Update June 14: The photos are online! Please visit http://christinehopaluk.com/blog/2011/06/14/leduc-relay-for-life-picture-orders/ for details!
I have always been honoured to be a part of the Relay for Life in the past, but this year’s Relay was incredibly close to my heart as my Dad is fighting prostate cancer and started his radiation treatment just last week. If you are interested in reading more about my Dad’s story, click HERE.
The Relay kicked off with the Survivor Banquet, a tribute to all those who have bravely fought their own personal cancer battle. As I stood in the hall listening to those courageous souls share their stories, I was overcome with emotion. Your strength, bravery, tenacity, and unyielding will to fight is amazing. Thank you for sharing your stories of Hope and Courage.
“What Cancer Cannot Do”
Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship(s)
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit.
The song “I Will Stand by You” by Rascal Flatts played during the first laps. I invite you to click here ——> A Song for Survivors and listen while you scroll through these photos. Thank you to all the survivors and care-givers who attended the event and started things off by walking the first laps…you are the reason we Relay.
The Celebrating Survivors Banner carries messages of Hope to others. The Survivors then carry this banner of courage for the balloon release and the first lap of the relay.
The Survivor first lap…such a powerful moment.
There were some great outfits this year worn by the Relayers! Team “Arrsome Maties”
Team Hier Power who raised just under $10,000!!! Way to go!
Team “F! Cancer”. Their loyal dog walked the track all night as well through the rain and snow.
I was part of Team Hope, and together we raised $13,673! Thank you to all those who supported our team!
I was also 1 of 3 Photographers…
Some creative backs 🙂 Team Mixcor Cancer Crushers who raised over $16,000!!!
Our Team Hope (Thank you Linda for taking our team photos):
Team Hier Power, love your capes…
Even through the rain, the face painters were there….
This is T. She was one of the dancers who entertained the crowd during the Relay.
All Images are copyright of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Please continue reading onto “Leduc Relay for Life Part 2″
This is when the snow makes it’s appearance. Yes, that’s right, snow on June 3rd. Only in Alberta…
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.
From my heart to yours,
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.
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/
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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! 😉
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
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,
Last week-end I met up with a few fun-loving Photographers for a yearly get away. Day one was met with a Magician who, within a few minutes of meeting him, I knew that I wanted to awkward hug when he was ready to leave. An awkward hug is a hug that goes on waaaay too long, until it in fact becomes awkward. When they try and pull out of the awkward hug, you just hug tighter and maybe even rest your head. Think like you are drowning, and the recipient of the awkward hug is your life preserver.
Anywhoooo…it’s always amazing to meet up with other photographers to get a different perspective on life and all things photography related. We laughed, we cried, we drank us some wine, and we had no shortage of things to shoot. Hope brought her puppy Ruby, and Laura Jane brought her squishy cuddly baby Mabel. Most of the entertainment from the week-end was a product of Ruby and Mabel trying to figure one another out.
On day 2, Hope brought in some surprise guests…the sweetest little 3 week old baby girl and her proud parents. Our challenge was to each take turns taking pictures of her but we couldn’t duplicate one another’s poses. On top of that, we were only allowed to bring one lens with us for the week-end. I was thankful I chose my 50mm F1.4 (although a wide-angle would have been fun too) I pulled number 1 out of 7 in the shooting order, so I didn’t have to worry about duplicating. I have to tell you however, that it was a bit unnerving taking pictures first, while 6 photographers who’s work I respect and admire watched over my shoulder! What a gift for baby W.’s parents, to have 7 different perspectives of their little miracle.
Here’s what I saw in my 10 minutes with precious baby W.
Thank you so much Mom and Dad for sharing your beautiful bundle of joy with all of us. You are blessed.
If you have some time, check out the perspective of the other photographers that were there.
What is beautiful to you? It’s different for everyone.
As a photographer I find beauty in love, in the strong bond of family, and within a person’s soul…the very essence that makes them who they are. Beauty comes in all forms and to me has little to do with what is on the outside: shy, witty, outgoing, peaceful, kind, loving, powerful, reserved…it’s all beautiful.
I recently read an article where a bride was told that her wedding wouldn’t grace the photographer’s blog because he only blogs “publicity worthy” couples. Are you serious? I was so angry for her.
Some of you know that I have two blogs. This one, and a blog called “Reclaiming Life”. I haven’t shared my Reclaiming Life blog here, because it’s quite personal, but I’m going to now so you know where I’m coming from.
Here’s my story of losing 90ish pounds.
Through the years of losing the weight and to this day of keeping the weight off, I have learned…no I have fought to remember…that I am NOT defined by the clothes I wear, by what the scale says, or by how I age as I grow another year older and wiser ;).
My laugh lines are here because I laugh.
My stretch marks are here because I was blessed to have three amazing children.
The dark circles that appear under my eyes is often because I stayed up late with friends laughing or because my kids were up in the night and needed me.
The reason I have worn the same dress to the last few functions is because I detest shopping. My favourite dress is comfortable and I feel good when I wear it.
I rarely wear heels because I am clumsy and I will fall in public.
I often sport roots because I don’t have the time to spend three hours in a hair salon, but when I do go I love it and have a swagger in my step.
Now…does that make me any less worthy than someone who is aesthetically more “Beautiful” by society’s standards? Am I anymore worthy to grace someone’s blog at 150 pounds than at 242 pounds?
I am the same person in so many ways, only now I don’t walk with my head down. I walk with my head up…shoulders back…and a smile on my face because I have found out who I am and I make no apologizes for it. It’s not because I weigh less.
I will blog every single person I photograph (unless it’s their wish that I don’t) because you are all beautiful and you are worthy to be celebrated just as you are.
That’s it. That’s all.
From my heart to yours,
A follow up from my first post about our time at “Couples Negril” in beautiful Jamaica. You know when someone returns from a trip and they invite you over for a slide-show of pictures complete with stories for each one? I’ve become that girl, only I’ll use this blog so you don’t even have to pretend to be listening to me if you don’t want to… 😉 I can’t help it, I’ve spent many months in a sea of white snow so seeing colour was mighty delicious. I took so many pictures! Every where I looked there were so many interesting lines, tones, colours, and character. There was joy to my right, peace to my left, and love all around.
This group of men had so much character! They played during supper time with so much joy, and you couldn’t help but smile through every song they played.
In the morning, I would go sit on our little terrace and enjoy the yummy golden light of the morning while listening to the soft waves from the ocean. Here’s some views that were only steps from our little terrace.
This is a lime tree. The staff would come every morning to pick limes to add to the drinks.
One morning a nice grounds keeper named Aaron asked if I wanted to try some coconut milk. After nodding yes (while sporting sticky-uppy morning hair I might add) he climbed a tree and brought me a coconut. He quickly whipped out his pocket knife and expertly cut away at the coconut until there was a nice little hole to sip the milk through a straw. It was refreshing and sweet. Little tip for future visitors to the resort: if you take your coconut to the bar, they will fill it with coconut Rum…Yummmm.
On our third day there, my hubby and I booked Swedish couple’s massages. We chose to have our massages in the Tree House with views and sounds of the ocean. I’ve secretly always wanted a tree house (as kids my little sister and I spent countless hours trying to build our own…it was pathetic) so the ambiance was greatly appreciated even though I had my relaxed eyes closed for most of it! 🙂
On the first day I walked by this tree stump, it was just a tree stump. It magically grew a face by the next day.
This was another favourite view.
Mmmmmm…food. There’s a reason I returned home and wasn’t hungry for days.
Another view of the stair case I fell in love with. Love, love, love the lines.
One of the resort photographers who, if I remember correctly, told me she has been a resort photographer for over 15 years…now that’s a good gig! 🙂
Part of the all-inclusive package included at Couples Negril resort is the option to go on water excursions. We booked the glass-bottom boat tour which was really interesting.
They took us to a choral reef which you can also visit via scuba diving (next trip we will scuba for sure).
Do you see the goat in the window? A 1/2 hour later when our boat traveled by again he was still in the window.
On our last night we booked a Catamaran excursion….a.k.a the “Booze Cruise”. One rum punch will have you giggling if you can get through the initial sip. Two rum punches will have you seeing double, and the third will knock you on your tanned tush.
I asked our bartender for the trip if I could take his picture and this is what he did. Then he admired my hubby’s “Canadian” hat. My hubby gave it to him. I hope he wears it!
The boat stopped so we could swim into these caves or take a ride down the water slide on the boat. For a small fee, you could climb up and jump from the top of the caves into the crystal clear waters below. I was not so brave. See the splash to the right in the picture below? I guess someone took the plunge, but I missed it.
I had hoped to see someone getting married at the resort. As we were sitting on the wicker swing awaiting our taxi to take us to the airport to fly home, I looked down and there they were…a bride and groom just married. Love, love, love.
This was the last picture I took. The sun was setting as the airplane took off to return home. The bright sunset shone through the plane window. Ahhhhh…it was a great vacation. Have you booked your trip yet?
Good-bye nice weather and beautiful colours. I heart Fall. It’s my favourite time of year.