~ a photo series ~
An exploration into the connections that fill our everyday lives. It will feature women & others who inspire with their beautiful passion, impactful work, and their ability to create and connect with those around them.
As humans we constantly crave CONNECTION.
A true connection with others, a valued alignment with our work,
and a strong kinship to those we serve. But something we often neglect is a healthier connection with our own selves & being.
Documenting those unexpected interactions and connections that stumble into life to give a moment of joy, resonance, learning and significance. Among these will be peppered my own self portraits illuminating my own struggle with connecting to my own body, and to the world around me.
Inspired by the 100 Day Project
Sonja is the founder of Nurture: A Retreat. A soul-filling weekend in the most peaceful oasis, Loretto Maryholme Spiritual Retreat Centre north of Toronto. A place and experience that encourages this personal growth through the art of loving self care. The retreat is attended by female entrepreneurs and creative/care-giving professionals and supports each of their unique journeys through a series of delicious, delightful and gorgeously hands-on workshops.
"Self care means embracing it ALL. That my discomforts, fears, guts and darkness be met with acceptance and love. When that happens, it diffuses their power to run my life or keep me from my soul's purpose."
"Life is full of a lot of light, joy and beauty...And sometimes you have to allow yourself to “get messy” to realize that."
Tiffany is an art therapist and yoga & mindfulness teacher who beautifully weaves together these two arts to create a unique healing practice that brings out the playfulness, curiosity and presence in those she teaches and works with. Tiffany's intention is to always to help others with whatever it is they are experiencing in their life, and to help them feel a little less alone in that experience.
"Some of us release stress by moving our bodies, some of us gain self awareness by creating an energy scribble with a crayon, some us cope with stress by sitting still, and some of us just need to feel that we are seen and heard by another human being."
044 [Self-Portrait] Decisions
As a woman, and as a photographer. When I see another woman, either in front of my camera or entering within the sight of my day. I will do my best to truly SEE her.
I will respect her being. My lens and my presence, a humble mirror to the radiance standing before me.
I will support her passion. Using photographs and words to lift her up. To add strength and might to her mission.
I will share with her freely. Allowing authenticity and realness to reign instead of trying to fit her into a box.
And I will, in compliment, allow for the same things to emerge within myself. Practicing self respect, and vulnerability and the willingness to let myself be seen. As a photographer, a woman and a fellow human being.
We see strength as an ability to stay in control, unfazed. To not let things get to us. To push on and march forward, ignoring the whispered voice inside.
We see weakness as being soft, and when our range of emotions surging inside overcomes us. When all that anger, and sadness, and frustration spill out of us. When we're hurting and not able to control our actions. When things are messy and the front of perfection crumbles.
But I'm learning to find the art in surrender.
The surrender is a softness. A practice in listening, truly listening. To what's inside.
And I saw that same act of surrender in Vivian. Amazed by her courage and inspired by her choice to start a new chapter, stepping away from that which no longer served her.
"I left with a one-way ticket, two backpacks, and a lot of surrendering."
042 [Self Portrait] Choice
It's a choice.
To smile. To see the silver linings and the magic in the everyday. To take it all with a grain of salt. To be the light you want to see in the world.
But there's a fine line between smiling as a mask. When deep down you're hurting and heavy. Versus letting yourself F E E L.
It's about choosing lightness more often than not. And bringing in the people and experiences that brighten your moments. The best gift you can give yourself is this choice.
More dancing, less marching me thinks.
These past few years I've learned the importance of sisterhood. Of being more intentional about supporting and not reducing the women in my life. The girl on the subway, the woman at work, our best friend, our mother, the lady standing next to us in the elevator.
Because by lifting others we are also elevating ourselves. When we stop comparing and start caring about the women beside us, I believe that they can fill our lives with much more than what they can take away.
Sacha, a women that devotes her time and dazzling energy towards elevating the lives of women. Acting as a vibrant, compassionate, and kick-ass springboard for woman, empowering their relationship with themselves, their lives, their power and and what makes them feel most alive.
She has such a beautiful, unabashed passion for living. Her light and her words are an inspiration.
040 [Self Portrait] Intention
First day of November. That extra hour. Delicious. Extra sleep and time. Taking the gift and using it wisely. Seeing the next month as full of activity, but lined with a much more focused effort in self care. Pause + intention
039 [Self Portrait] Play
Being in front of a photographer's lens can feel empowering or vulnerable, exciting or exposing (and often all of the above). There's so much that can be said through our eyes and our presence. And often the photos we see of ourselves don't reflect the light within, because our our guards are up, and our true self hidden.
Never in a shoot have I ever had the camera turned back on me! Thank you Sacha for the reminder of what it feels to be seen through the lens of another. AND what it's like to let the guards down a little, get silly and play in the leaves!
I got lost the other day.
The trail before me disappeared into the underbrush. Every direction filled with a sunlit curtain of trunks and leaves. With no indication how best to move forward among them.I was faced with the decision to keep trudging forward with uncertainty towards the destination I knew was within reach. Or to retrace all the ground I had covered to get to this point, the safe guaranteed bet. Despite the voice nagging in my mind I felt my foot move forward defiantly, pushed by the desire to validate the distance I had travelled.
The fallen branches grabbed at my ankles and the bushes became thicker with each step, but I knew I couldn't turn around. The tears welled in the corner of my eyes, and the anxiety bursting in my chest as the disorientation mounted. The battery on my phone flashing red.
I was so close.
And then I saw it. The blue square of paint on the trunk in front of me, relief flooding through me. I had been essentially parallel to path the whole time. Even though I was shaken, I wouldn't trade the experience. Because it's a reminder that the path will not always be clear before us. And even if it is, the question is whether it leads where we want to go. And whether we're willing to step into the unknown for a while to get there. And it also makes us extremely grateful for some valued guidance from a fellow creative soldier, especially when we're a little lost in the wild.
Meghan is one of these guiding lights.
"We come from joy, love and peace, these emotions being the fabric of the human soul expressed and accessible at anytime. Sending out peace to all and a reminder of what is already so alive within you." - Josie
A special moment captured during our Women Creating Light shoot years ago. An image that not only illuminates the light of this beautiful soul. But shines with her energy + presence + aliveness.
The stories within make us who we are. The ones we tell others, and the ones that we keep buried inside. But one of the most important stories you can tell is of your own creative artistry. Expressing your own light and sharing it with the world. In whatever form that manifests.
Abby helps women to tell these stories. A photographer and a super talented designer that combines all this goodness into the gorgeous Normale Magazine. And what I love most is that it's about authenticity, and presence and the celebration of both triumphs and struggles.
"Just remember, not every day is going to be perfect, not everything you try is going to work out on the first go. But giving up and quitting should never be your first answer, or your second."
- Abby Klages, the creator of Normale Magazine.
035 [Self Portrait] Home
It's though there's this large beautiful house but we choose to spend most of our time cooped up in one singular room on the topmost floor. A space filled to the brim with busy towering stacks of idea, thoughts and images.
But what about the other spaces? Those overlooked and forgotten rooms, surfaces and hallways. That lay dark and in state of neglect and disrepair. And without which, that top room could not stand at it's mighty height.
My body is this home. But I often choose not to live there, fully. Tending to those other spaces only when I need to.
I want to feel lived in, experiencing the beautiful miracle of this vessel. To open its windows. To bring in the fresh sweet air, and the love. To feel at home in both the physical and mental space that I will carry with me my entire life. And to nurture it and make sure it's walls and sinews experience light and the care it truly needs.
034 [Self Portrait] Thirty
This face has felt fresh rain, and radiant sunshine. It has seen many countries and oceans. A face that has laughed so hard it's snorted and teared.
This face has stared into the fire, has counted the stars. That has been kissed and washed with many tears. Been burned and freckled by the sun. Bumped and scarred.
All these things. All 30 years of use, and expression and love. Experience. Evidence. Of having lived.
A face with my very own collection of wrinkles, lines and marks of adventure.
My face, an identity. Created by living.
033 [Self Portrait] Beauty
The tears would fall when she didn't hear the words "you're beautiful" come from his lips. But then she would stop and ask herself "when was the last time you said these words to yourself?"
032 [SelfPortrait] Reconnect
In a week I turn 30. A number that sometimes weighs heavily, but also plays excitedly in the back of my mind. To recognize this pivot point I'm giving myself some solo time. A chance to reflect, to find resonance, while setting intentions for the next year and decade ahead. Without screens, or distractions. Surrounded by nature and quiet and the trees. With books as travel companions. Feeling deeply the importance of spending time alone with oneself, to reconnect
031 [Self Portrait] Sunrise
“There are two ways of spreading light. To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton
The sun had just risen over the horizon, our fingers and toes were nipped with the chill of the predawn cold. But that light! Like a moth to the flame, I was unaware that this beautiful candid moment captured by my dear friend Erin.
We can be and own our light. But we can also choose to serve by amplifying the light of those around us, taking the time to illuminate the wonderful souls creating magic in the world.
030 [Self Portrait] Human
I am not an object. I am a human soul. I am not lesser than an ideal. I am alive and breathing. I am not my body size or my limitations. I am a complex mind and a creative being.
I am not my past. I am the strength of experience. I am not the expectation of others. I am the manifest of my own becoming. I am not the flaws. I am the beauty of a thousand intricacies.
I am my own source of respect and worth.
And you are too.
"Upon waking every morning, I tell myself that something wonderful will happen today and I truly believe that." ~ beautiful words from Jaclyn, when talking about what keeps her connected to her dreams + wellbeing.
I never get over how small the world is sometimes. And how much easier it is today to find those kindred spirits through our online spaces. I've been following Jaclyn for some time now, the vibrant writer and photographer behind Holistic Foodie (her creations are both heavenly + healthy!). When I found out that we lived in the same city, I knew I had to meet and include her in the 100 Portraits Project.
[ Jaclyn's connection story ]
We all wear masks. They can take on so many forms and different transparencies. As a photographer I try to see and connect beyond this veiled barrier. To the authentic essence of the person standing before me. To see them for who they are in that moment.
Sherien is a woman of so many facets and energy and PRESENCE. I often stand in awe in front of women like her, feeling honoured to capture their portraits. Noticing the light that they carry. So often they don't even realize how dazzling it is. A super talented storyteller and a passionately driven documentary film maker, who's voice and dazzling spirit illuminates the world around her.
027 [Self Portrait] Heartfelt
"You don't always have to hold your head higher than your heart" - Jack Johnson
027 [Self Portrait] Moments
I’ve started making it my business to put on that bikini and jump into the water and roll with the waves at the beach. Yes. With the cellulite and that belly that jiggles a little, with no makeup and crazy frizzy hair. Because those moments are beautiful. Our body is simply the vessel by which we are grounded in this world. A body that lets you feel the caress of the salty wind against your shoulders, allows you to see the glimmering sunlit dance on the water’s surface, and lets you walk with the tiny glorious grains of sand between your toes. I don't want to look back and think of the moments I could have had. Instead, I'm committing to experiencing them right now, as I am.
Through the Women Creating Light project I was honoured to meet and photograph the lovely Brigid. And I'm glad we had a chance to connect all over again while creating images for her beautiful new website.
Through her coaching business she helps women find inner peace, resilience, clarity and confidence. Helping them reconnect with themselves and what they truly desire. Work that is so very needed in this busy, stressful life. Thank you for all that you do Brigid ~ her light and work found at www.brigiddineen.com.
025 [Self Portrait] Fragments
I look in the mirror. With fear. Of what I might see, or what's not there. Ashamed by the standard to which we are held. The woman within crying for a connection of truth. It's easy to see glimpses instead of the whole. But there is strength in feeling the beauty of simply being. Finding voice instead shame and wholeness in collecting all the small beautiful imperfect fragments.
024 [Self Portrait] Seen
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" - Henry David Thoreau
Your current reality might be tough, and trying and it may feel like you don't have a choice. But you can always choose your perspective.
For quite some time I've been struggling with maintaining a connection to the natural world as well as my body. I've felt conflicted about the substances and the products we use in our daily lives. Echoing the connection I try to have with the food I eat, I deeply desired to have that same connection with the things I use on my skin everyday. Simple + wholesome + honest.
And this is why I signed up for Kathrin's DIY Bodycare workshop. Not only do I adore learning about how to make things with my hands from scratch, but I also was keen to expand my understanding of what goes into the cosmetics and products that come in direct contact with my skin.
022 [Self Portrait] Voice
As a girl I took dance classes. Many were spent atop my toes in rigid ribboned shoes that made my feet scream. To anyone watching I may have looked beautiful as I gracefully moved across the floor. But my favourite was tap. Something about the sound of my foot striking floor, transforming my movements to music. As though those shoes were my voice, expressed through every brush and heel click.
Our lives are this dance. We can choose to tip toe through our days, composed on the outside, laden with the pain of holding to people's expectations. Or we can choose to connect to our voice, and turn up the volume.
I've been able to meet so many inspiring people through my work & projects. But one of the things I that I feel most honoured to do is to capture the light of those I am the closest to. Archi is one of these people. Our friendship since meeting each other in design school has been filled with countless creative adventures, tasty experiments in the kitchen (she has some mad cupcake skills!) and girly nights filled with wine and laughter.
It's one thing for a shop to hold countless beautiful items, but this one also held a beautiful soul. Not too busy to take the time to talk with me on a busy afternoon when I wandered in. I could feel the passion in her words about the work that she does and the pieces she brings into her space. I love how she's paired fitness clothing + style and design + well being.
See some of the photos we took during our 100 Portraits shoot.
Much love for this wonderful strong caring woman. My sister. Even though I'm the eldest, I find myself looking up to her in so many ways. I admire her strength in character, but also her compassionate kindness she shows to those she loves most. I am grateful for our friendship and for moments spent throughout the years. Happiest of birthdays to you Crystal xoxo
018 [D] Truth
"Happiness exists in action. It exists in telling the truth and saying what your truth is. And it exists in giving away what you want the most." - Eve Ensler
017 [Self Portrait] Genuine
I had D take some portraits of me at the lake. Even though the back drop was gorgeous, I felt stiff, posed, and was unintentionally forcing the smile. After I thought we were done I starting being silly, but he was still snapping away. And when looking through them after, that's when I started to actually see ME in the photos, when the guards were down, when I wasn't caring about angles, or the right composition. I was just being my regular goofy self. And this is what I believe portraits should be about.
016 [Self Portrait] Radiance
"Wherever you go, there you are"
A favourite quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn ~ You don't need to lose the 10 pounds, get the new haircut, or have your nails all did to be beautiful. It's all in the grace of how you live your life. Wherever you are, you can choose to feel your own beautiful radiance, right now. It's enough, more than enough.
015 [Self Portrait] Morning
I woke up early for a 6:45am park visit to see the cherry blossoms. Breathtakingly gorgeous in the morning light. And as I'm taking photos a woman comes up to me and asks "why are you shooting 'into' the light?". And as I looked around me, I noticed that everyone else was doing the opposite. A reminder that sometimes being different and going against the current is exactly what you're supposed to be doing. Follow your own vision and chase the light that YOU see.
014 [Self-Portrait] Humanness
There's always two sides. The one we present to others, on social media, to family, friends & coworkers. The polished, the acceptable, the best versions. But there is so much going on beneath the surface. Fears, messy moments, failures and lessons. Let's shine a little light on the vulnerability, the quiet stories, and the humanness more often.
013 [Self-Portrait] Hands
For years I bit my nails. When I was anxious, or stressed, or watching a scary movie. And I gazed enviously over at the hands of others with long pretty manicures. But these hands are capable of so much more. They are the ones that allow me to create, to embrace those I love, to prepare delicious meals. I've long since quit my nail biting habit, but it's essential that we not just see our body as something to be made beautiful, but that there is magic simply in the miracle of even the most basic function.
012 [Self-Portrait] Dreams
I dream of having a studio. A space of my own. To create, to find stillness, and to welcome others within. I can picture it vividly, the colours, the sounds, the feel, the purpose. It's starting to take on such form in my mind. To the point where the dream becomes the goal. Echoing the inspiring words of Hey Sweet Pea, choosing to be daringly intentional.
011 [Self-Portrait] Narrative
A few years ago I bought this little carved heart made from stone. I just loved the feel of it in my hands. One day I put it on the ledge beside the mirror in the bathroom and promised that every time I said something judgmental or minimizing to myself I would pick up that stone and hold it tightly until it warmed in my hand - As a reminder to be kind - Within our minds dwells our toughest critic, but also our own source of unconditional love. It's within our power to choose which of these narratives has presence.
009 [Self Portrait] Freedom
"Freedom is not overcoming what you think stands in your way. It's understanding that what is in your way is part of the way" - Guy Finley
008 [Self Portrait] Listen
We hold onto things because they're familiar and expected of us. Because we think it'll be harder to change then to keep holding on. Sometime we just need to let go. Of those responsibilities, people, and objects that no longer serve us. And focus instead on the things that LIGHT US UP. Our energy and time is sacred. Only you know what you truly need. Listen closely.
007 [Self Portrait] Untethered
"You can look deep within yourself, to the core of your being, and decide that you don't want the weakest part of you running your life." - words from The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
005 [Self Portrait] Grace
004 [Self Portrait] Nurture
A theme showing up recently [nurture + body + be gentler]. A photo taken as a reminder.
A comedian + dreamer. She's also co-directing/producing an awesome short doc film project called 36 Questions to Love. We met for a portrait shoot and she's all kinds of wonderful & laughs.
Her favourite quote: "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde
002 [Chung Ling]
As I walked into a cute little cooking & kitchen store (Cookery Store) on Roncy, I was greeted by friendly Chung Ling. Who, after seeing me trudging around with my camera gear sparked a lovely conversation. I found out we both share a love of design and photography. One of those moments that totally brightens your day.
A super creative and film-loving lady fascinated by creating new cinematic experiences for people, including the Supper Club Cinema where she pairs short docs with food courses prepared by a local chef. Food + films + gathering + people.