Pittsburg | Hamilton Lifestyle Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

I've been meaning to share a few favourite frames from my day in Pittsburg last month, and tonight seemed like the perfect time to do it! 

This impromptu getaway came when one of my best and longtime friends was home on a visit. We figured instead of hanging around the Hammer, we'd road trip to see her Dad down in Pittsburg. We jumped in the car with her Mom, spent the whole mid-week getaway catching up and laughing a bit too much. The only full day we had in the city, we definitely spent exploring...and it's documented below.

So random. So fun.   

The Spencer Family | Hamilton Wedding Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

What comes to your mind when you think of the perfect family session? 

As you’re envisioning it, I’ll tell you what comes to mine…

 

To start off, it’s a session that takes place in a spot which the family feels totally at home…a place that is just “them” and one that they’ll look back on with fond memories of during that point in their life. That same session feels like I’m just tagging along with the family as an extra member (who happens to have her camera with her). It’s one that’s filled with belly laughs, natural silliness and genuine love with every member at any age.

The most important thing that ties the perfect family session together though? It’s not the coordinated wardrobe, or the perfect glowy light (although those things are nice too)… It’s the images that can tell even a stranger what that family is all about. Personalities, stories and emotions jumping out of an image are things that just make me so happy. I also like to hope it’s the exact thing my clients love too, especially when they look back at images years after they were taken.

The session below has all of these things, so it’s one I totally had to share. It speaks to what the Spencer Family would be found doing on any random night together…and that is also what makes it so special. They walked down a path for about 45 minutes, and I helped take care of the rest. It’s them, and it’s awesome.

Check out the family’s take on the session after a few of my faves!

 

"Lauren has an amazing ability to make a photo shoot an evening of fun. She’s super relaxed, goes with the flow of our kids and captures their own personalities in every shot. Lauren made the evening perfect – nothing was forced, the time flew by and we all had a blast. Endless thanks to Lauren for everything!" - Steph + Geoff

"I loved the telephone game, it was so silly, I almost peed my pants." - Kate, 6

 

If this looks like a way you'd like to document your family's current chapter, I'd love to hear from you to plan your custom session. 

Mariah + Cory | Hamilton Engagement Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

This blog post is long overdue…but also comes officially two weeks before Mariah + Cory get hitched! (cue the excitement!)

I didn’t know this duo before they came to meet me on their hunt for a wedding photographer, but man have we hit it off since then. They are so easy to talk to, to laugh along with and of course, to have in front of the lens as you’ll see in a minute.  Back in May, the three of us (and their adorable pup, Paisley) hit up the waterfront trail to grab a few frames in a spot they often go for walks. Paisley was SO excited to be in front of the camera that she quickly got her fill in before we moved up to Albion Falls for a little variety.

After hanging out by the waterfall for a bit, Cory told me how the session was “actually a lot of fun” right before we wrapped. Coming from a Groom, it’s the exact way to become my instant favourite, haha. All kidding aside, I’m so excited to join their big day in a couple of weeks, and might even force them to hang out with me in the future too. They are definitely one of those couples you just want to grab a beer with.

14 more days!  

Jaime + Travis | Cleveland's House - Muskoka Wedding Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

Every time I think back to Jaime + Travis’ big day, I remember the feeling that the entire day just felt like being at home. Even a full year later, it still makes me swoon reminiscing about all the love that surrounded them all day.

 

Both Jaime + Trav got ready at Jaime’s family cottage in Muskoka, separated by only one flight of stairs before making their way to the dock for their first glimpses at each other. Typically my couples request that this moment is more of a private one, but this duo definitely wanted the rest of their crew right next to them looking on, and sharing it with them.  From there, I don’t think the smiles stopped for the rest of the day.

 

We spent some time hanging out at the cottage, adding to the list of memories that this group had seen there over the years. We headed to their gorgeous outdoor ceremony at Cleveland’s House, cocktail hour on the deck and then an epic set of speeches, tributes, and laughs that brought us into the evening. Of course, we popped out to the dock for a few final portraits before their first dance as husband and wife.

 

This cottage wedding brought together Jaime + Travis’ favourite people and it seemed like everyone under that roof had such a bond that it was just infectious. And one thing’s for sure, these people knew how to party. 

VENDOR TEAM

 

Florist – Sharon Skiperis

Hair – Brittany Buchanan

Makeup – Brittany Buchanan

Catering/Venue – Cleveland’s House

Wedding Dress – Becker's Bridal

Videographer – Ripeful Heart

Cake – Kayla Standen

Officiant – Maryanne Beaudin

Second Photographer - Megan Muir

5 Years - 5 Moments | Hamilton Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

Today marks a pretty exciting milestone for me! It was 5 years ago today that I completely changed paths, went back to school and officially began this journey behind the camera. 2 years of school and then 3 more full time here at MBL have brought some pretty incredible moments… ones that still make me feel so lucky to call this a career.

 

Instead of gushing about my amazing support system, my incredible clients and all the people that have helped me along the way (…you are all the BEST, by the way), I wanted to share something a little different!  I tried to think of some things that I’ve been a part of over the last 5 years that have truly stood out as some of my favourite moments. A little bit of the magic I get to experience - whether it is on camera or not – have been tough to narrow down for you here:

 

1.    The “Photo”

Two summer’s ago in Kelowna, Alanna + Matt were saying their speech and they reached the part where they began thanking people as couples often do. Alanna + I lived together at University, and I of course had known Matt pretty well too… so I got a touching shout out from them which made me grin ear to ear. I wasn’t shooting away at that point, but just took the moment to be the friend instead of the photographer. As I was turning my eyes back to my camera, the Best Man (Devan) caught my attention. He was holding up his hands in the shape of a camera, and hit the imaginary shutter to capture my reaction. I’m not sure anyone else saw this or if he remembers but it was just so adorable and will probably always be on this list of best moments ever.

 

2.    Grandpa

Moments with grandparents almost always stick out for me as there are not too many things more special than capturing this bond. Couples are always so lucky when Grandparents can be a part of their day in person, and even more so when they can take an active part in the wedding day.

 

Story 1 – The first time a Grandfather really stole my heart was when I was second shooting with a friend of mine.  The Groom’s Grandfather not only sat in the front row all day, but also said the speech for his Grandson on behalf of their family. He recalled memories of the Groom’s childhood, told stories and gave advice. As the second shooter, I hadn’t met anyone before that day, but it was so epic and so touching that it had me tearing up behind the camera.

 

Story 2 – This moment happened just a few weeks ago at Alex + Chris’ big day. During the classic first dance between the bride and her father, Alex’s Grandpa got up from his seat and cut in half way through. Seriously. Not sure there was a dry eye in the house.

 

3.    Generational Portraits

I get a little extra excited any time an inquiry comes in where there are more than two generations in a family portrait session. One session in particular from a few years ago will always stay with me. Grandma + Grandpa (who were in their 80s), their two sons and each of their families all met me at McMaster’s Campus. I set up a large group shot to start, got some great smiles and then was ready to move to the next spot. Grandma came up and thanked me as she stepped down the stair because she “was just so pleased that they had this done.” She thought we were finished after the first set up because that’s how things were done the last time she had a portrait taken. (…so adorable.) I explained to her that we still had a whole hour, and her excitement made me melt. We got lots of variety throughout their session and I won’t ever forget how much the grandkids made their grandparents laugh. Real belly laughs that I think only Grandkids can create. The photos I have of the 5 of them together are just priceless.

 

4.    Dancing Floor Shenanigans

There are so many of these that would make the list that I couldn’t single any one out. The signature moves, the dance offs, and the hilarious outtakes are all so epic and some of my faves to capture on a wedding day. I couldn’t possibly narrow this down to one specific story, but maybe it will make for a special list in the future!

 

5.    The Onesie

This last one is a little more on the personal side, but happened a year and a half ago at my Studio’s First Open House. The two months I spent renovating the studio came with nothing but moral support and manual labour from my family. When the night arrived, so many people came through that it was truly overwhelming. The cutest moment though? My niece (who was 6 months old at the time) made her appearance wearing a little “Moments –by Lauren” onesie. She totally stole the show.

 

Passing the 5 year milestone is definitely one that feels pretty great, as it’s one that a lot of businesses never reach. A HUGE thank you to everyone who has let me be part of a few of their moments so far. I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years will bring.

 

They say time flies when you’re having fun. They’re right. 

Heirlooms | Hamilton Wedding Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

Real Talk – I’m not usually one to fill my feed with details shots. 

Of course, I shoot these on a wedding day because I know they are important to my clients – who have made these choices in the jewellery, tie, or shoe department for a reason. It’s fun to approach them in a way that might be a little bit different, but they just never seem to be the images that speak to me or that I am eager to share. 

If you can believe it, this is one that is more than just a ring in a box. This is a ring belonging to Great Grandma, and one that the bride wore with her throughout the day. When I edited this image today it made me so happy. I truly love when there are heirlooms woven through a wedding day. 

When you think about it, this ring has been around way longer than any of us have. I’m sure it’s been on the finger of a few ladies in the family – it’s seen lots of happy times and maybe a few sad - and it was there again on one of the most important days of Angela’s life. I can’t help but wish it sees a few more wedding days too. 

To me, that makes this rather plain image epic…and totally one worth sharing. 

wedding.heirloom.photography.jpg

Taylor + JJ | Burlington Wedding Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

I may sound like a broken record when I talk about the love I have for telling someone’s life story... but here we are again. I’ve been lucky enough to document a few chapters for Taylor + JJ so far, and I must say it’s all been pretty epic since the first frame of their engagement session.

What I love about these two is how comfortable they are not only around each other, but around everyone. They know how to have fun, they don’t hold back their laughter, and they were up for anything from the get-go. Their wedding day was no different! Both Taylor and JJ got ready with their families + friends before heading off to a personalized service held not too far from their home.

We all survived the heat as we took in the waterfront before kicking off cocktail hour back at the Burlington Convention Center. Their personalized donuts + root beer were a perfect welcome for their guests as they got their first greeting as Mr. & Mrs. Jones. Their formal introduction, capped off by a perfectly executed handshake led into their touching first dances (which finished off with the most adorable flower girl interruption). The moving moments continued as the speeches got underway. The whole room reminisced, they remembered those who were there in spirit, and they also shared a lot of laughs. It was the perfect combination of tributes + touching moments…and JJ actually still holds the trophy for the longest groom speech I’ve been able to capture ;) haha.

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since they tied the knot, but I still feel so lucky to have joined them.  The icing on the cake…the just welcome their first little one - a baby boy - last week.

Happy Anniversary, guys! I can’t wait to see where life takes your little family next.

 

Crazy story. When Taylor + JJ picked their wedding date I realized it was the day after I was to be a bridesmaid for one of my best friends. No biggie, right? The only snag was that the wedding I was lucky enough to be in was in Vancouver.  Eeek! I knew I couldn’t pass up seeing one of my favourite ladies walk down the aisle in BC, but after knowing Taylor for close to 20 years I couldn’t imagine not being able to tell her wedding story. What’s a girl to do? I cleared it with both brides, booked a red-eye and had one pretty epic weekend.  Then one pretty epic Sunday nap. 

 

Vendor Team: 

Florist – Satellite Gardens Hamilton

Hair – Giorgios Mystical Circle

Makeup – Robin Dunn – Mac Makeup Artist

Transportation – Star Night Limousines

Décor – Classic Creations

Invitations – Taryn Thomas

Catering/Venue – Burlington Convention Center

Wedding Dress – Maggie Sottero – Heirlooms Bridal

Bride’s Shoes – Vince Camuto

Bridesmaids Dresses – BCBG

Suits – Moore’s Clothing

Videographer – Calicocat Productions

Cake – Homemade Sweets by Ashley

Officiant – Ray David Glenn

Second Photographer - Alexandra DelBello

 

Golden Hour – Sunset Photos on your Wedding Day | Hamilton Wedding Photographer | Moments –by Lauren

On a wedding day, it often happens that the gorgeous glowy light everyone (especially me) longs for just doesn’t align properly with your wedding day timeline. Once the warmer weather arrives, the sun is setting half-way through your reception instead of at the time we’ve set aside to capture some of your first moments as a married couple! This is unavoidable of course, and there is a solution that I always recommend to my couples…and do an internal happy dance when they decide to take advantage of it!

The ASK

I always request that my couples give me 10-15 minutes throughout dinner to sneak out for some extra portraits of just the two of them with the best light of the day.

 

The EXECUTION

I’ve found the trick is to time this properly so that my newlyweds aren’t missing out on any major events or delaying the reception timeline or next course. Prepping them before the big day, and then again ahead of when it will be perfect to sneak out is the best way to make this happen.  

I’ll also have a game plan and location ready for us to head to so that we find the best light and of course, don’t waste any time!

Not only do my clients love those sunset images, but also love the chance to step away from the celebration and enjoy a few quiet moments together too. #winwin

All this being said, sometimes there isn’t a magical sunset or there just isn’t any time to sneak away…and that’s fine. I’m just sharing these notes so that you think it over, make a little wiggle room and don’t regret passing on those few extra frames!

 

The EXAMPLE

Em + JD got married last September at the Beverly Golf + Country Club. A venue that was made for sunsets. Keeping an eye on the fading sun, I remember popping up to the head table after the second course to let them know that if we were going to grab a few golden hour shots, it should happen in the next few minutes. They thought it over for about 5 seconds at which point Em’s MOH/Sister/My Hero chimed in and insisted they do it (Thanks, Britt!!). Check out a couple of my favourite images below from that 10 minutes we were outside!

The moral of the story, if you have the chance to squeeze this in…you should.

MURAL! | Hamilton Wedding + Lifestyle Photography | Moments -by Lauren

A very short, but very exciting post on the blog today! I've been SO pumped for this day and am so happy it's finally here! As some of you may know, the outside of the studio has been undergoing a bit of a facelift over the last few months. There will be more on that in the future, but this latest update was too good to hold off on! 

The back-story -- I contacted Claire (of Claire Hall Design) almost a year ago with an idea in mind for something a little different...something big. That same week, she sent over a mockup of this camera and I was immediately OBSESSED. I mean, she basically read my mind after only giving her a few details.

Fast forward to Monday when she started this project that wrapped up yesterday! It was incredible watching her bring this vision to life and I am so thrilled with the final product!

Check out the brand new custom mural with a few behind the scenes photos of it in progress, below!  Visitors are more then welcome if you'd like to check it out in person too! 

p.s. Claire is a total dream to work with - if you need some custom artwork done...she's your girl! 

Amanda + Matt | Kurtz Orchard Wedding Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

As Amanda + Matt celebrate their first wedding anniversary, I’m so happy to reminisce today with everyone. I can distinctly remember this duo’s main concern was that their guests have an amazing time…and they definitely delivered. 

We all spent this gorgeous day in Niagara on the Lake - the boys starting at 124 on Queen before joining the girls at Kurtz Orchard.  After saying their “I do’s” while their favourite people looked on, we explored the grounds to capture a few of their first moments as husband and wife.  With a cocktail hour to die for, everyone congratulated these sweethearts properly before getting a wagon ride over to where the real celebration began.

Now… I can’t even begin to explain the love, but mostly the laughter shared during the speeches throughout dinner. If you know me, you know I am laughing at just about anything that resembles a joke, so you better believe I had to contain myself (or try…) while getting some epic reaction shots. Everyone who took to the podium to say a few words about the couple had the entire tent cracking up, but this group is so tight-knit that you could feel the bond everyone shared, and it was amazing.

After their delicious dinner wrapped up, the dance floor started, the lawn games kicked off and I snuck the newlyweds off for a quick batch of sunset images just 100 yards from where the party continued. The perfect ending to a perfect day, for one of the sweetest couples I’ve had the pleasure to join.

Relive their day with me below and join me in wishing them a very Happy Anniversary!!

(Note - I’d be remised if I didn’t comment on Amanda’s dress. Hold moly - #slay)

Vendors:

Florist – Edna Miller Flowers

Hair – Strut Hair Salon - Ashley

Makeup – Makeup Worx - Monika

Transportation – Gem Limousine

Invitations –  Moments –by Lauren

Catering/Venue – Kurtz Orchard

Wedding Dress – Mira Mandic - Loversland

Bride’s Shoes – BCBG

Bridesmaids Dresses – Promises and Lace

Cake – Grandad’s Donuts

Officiant – AEIC weddings, Valerie Spironello

Photography – Moments –by Lauren

Second Photographer – Kate Watkinson

 

 

Alex + Chris | Artscape Wynchwood Barns Engagement | Moments -by Lauren

We’re just 30 days out from Alex + Chris saying their “I Do’s” and I think that’s as good a time as any to share a few faves from their December engagement session.  With the chilly temperatures the week before Christmas, we found a killer venue in downtown Toronto and shot most of the session in the main hallway of Artscape Wynchwood Barns – baring the cold and popping outside for about 3 minutes at a time so we wouldn’t have to bundle up. (A great team decision by the three of us...) 

This athletic-as-heck duo met at our Alma Mater while playing on their respective varsity sports teams and 6 years later got engaged in an adorable at-home fashion that involved the assistance of Alex’s niece – a story that is sure to make anyone swoon. They’ll walk down the aisle and celebrate with their nearest and dearest in Niagara-on-the-Lake next month…where there definitely won’t be any snow on the ground.

The smiles on these two… I’m obsessed.

Feature : The Hamilton Spectator | Hamilton Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

I'm thrilled to share that I was featured in the "Young Professionals" section of The Hamilton Spectator this week! Not only was it a huge honour to have my business profiled, but also so exciting to get a chance to chat about what it's like to run a business and chase my dream in #HamOnt! I've been so overwhelmed by all the support and well wishes, and am so looking forward to where this journey takes me next! 

I'd love for you to check out the feature here -- > Young Professionals : Lauren Valvasori

New York City | Hamilton Lifestyle Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

Dreaming of adventure on this Monday afternoon ... and it had be thinking back to my time in NYC last summer with my two favourite ladies. I could think of no better way to celebrate a Mother's Retirement + a Sister's 30th birthday than to jet off to the Big Apple for a 4-day getaway...so that's exactly what we did! It was my Mom's first time there, my second and Gill's third, but we still managed to cross so many new things off the bucket list of things to do! We strolled Central Park, saw a Broadway Show, took in a taping of Live with Kelly, and hit up the top of the Rock too. We had such a blast that my trying to describe it would really just not do it justice...but here's a few faves I managed to snag from our visit!

Something a little different you're used to seeing here...but why not! Got an adventure of your own planned soon? I'd love to hear where you're headed!! 

Location, Location, Location | Hamilton Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer | Moments -by Lauren

Choosing the backdrop for your session is one of the most important elements that go into planning your time in front of the lens (and it’s also one of my favourites)! I love to work with my clients to find the spot that’s just perfect for them and their portraits that will last a lifetime. Check out a few quick items that go into it, below!

A few things *YOU* need to think about:

1.     Interests + Activities

Kick off your brainstorming by thinking about what you love to do in your free time. Where are you most comfortable? Perhaps out on a trail, maybe strolling through downtown? I always ask my clients to finish this sentence: “On a free Sunday, you could find us…”

2.     Room Décor

Now that the wheels are spinning, also factor in your home décor. What type of location will look good in your living space? Decorating your home with personalized artwork from your session is a perfect way to update your empty or outdated walls. Remember this when you think of potential locations, their colours and backdrop options!

3.     Style

One of the other major items to factor into your thoughts is your own personal style. What types of locations vibe with your favourite outfits? Often times your personal style already goes hand in hand with some of your favourite hotspots, so the connection might be easy to make!