The Thing About the City: On Inspiration Found in Concrete Scapes

The Thing About the City: On Inspiration Found in Concrete Scapes

As a young teen in the UK, I found a photo in a magazine. I cut it out and stuck it to the wall of my tiny bedroom and gazed at it every day. It was of the Twin Towers in Manhattan. I drew an arrow toward the very top of one of the towers. It was meant to depict where I’d stand one day, overlooking the entire world, arms out, free as a bird. That was 1993.

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Between beauty and dream: On memories and the case for emotion over story.

Between beauty and dream: On memories and the case for emotion over story.

The images and stories and songs I yearn for are somewhere between beauty and dream. They don’t need to be coherent, in the same way dreams don’t need to be. Ever try to tell someone your dream? Yawn. Even if you’re a damned good storyteller, you’ll induce some snoozes. The thing that compels you to tell someone your dreams is the feelingyou’re left with when you open your eyes. It’s the emotion that grips you, but that's attached to an ineffective or half-baked story. That emotion is hard to put into words. But could it be done through music, sound, or pictures?

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I'm not a quitter, but I quit.

I'm not a quitter, but I quit.

Two years ago, I walked away from academia. After pursuing it relentlessly and devotedly for some seventeen years (if you count my undergraduate degree), I walked away.

It wasn’t a dramatic, flailing arms and hair-pulling act...

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Sand, swings, and puddles: the mysteries of life

Sand, swings, and puddles: the mysteries of life

You've heard me say it before and I'll keep saying it just as often as I can: every family is different, and the activities that fill your days are unique to your own family, and you should never ever try to compare yourself to any other, because comparison is the thief of joy. But all strong families have one thing in common and that is...

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An hour with the Castellanos family

I first met Isabel during a documentary photography session I did for her brother-in-law in Mississauga (which apparently I haven't blogged! Uh-oh). 

When I do family sessions, I always tell clients - invite extended family and friends to your session. The more the merrier.

So, on a snowy day back in March, Isabel and her kids dropped in at the playcenter where I was photographing her brother in law and his family. She loved her images so much that she contacted me later, to document an hour of life with her own kids and husband.

I made the trip back to Mississauga last weekend, during some kind of migraine-inducing pressure system that drove temperatures in mid-October to 24 Celsius. It was just as well, because Isabel's son was recovering from croup and the warm humid air was probably good for him. (Just guessing. I'm not a doctor.) They'd moved in to a new house only two weeks ago. Grandma and grandpa were visiting from Colombia, and they were hoping for some photos to take back with them. So, a busy time for them, and yet they made time for me.

The kids watched a bit of a movie, then they went upstairs to read books and play with a few toys. The first thirty minutes were thus a quiet indoor time. Then everyone put on their shoes and stepped out into the backyard, where all traces of yawns and sleepy eyes disappeared.

The next thirty minutes became a blur, as I ran around and tried to keep up with the family, running down a small hill, spinning the kids in their arms, giving hugs and kisses, and generally having a gleeful time. Thirty minutes of pre-rain family chaos of the best kind.

I drove away as the first raindrops hit my window, happy, and wondering: if this is how much we captured in an hour with this family, what would it look like if we did a Day in the Life? Or maybe even a year? No pressure, though.

And the other thing I was wondering: How is it that the rain always waits until the session is *just* over?

Hope you enjoy the photos :) 

© Viara Mileva

I am a documentary family photographer. See more of my portfolio here.

Fire engine red.

Fire engine red.

Toward the end of September, on a clear warm Saturday, the United Way and Kingston Fire and Rescue teamed up for a fundraising day full of fun for families. You could try your hand at putting out a car on fire, walk through an inflated house to learn about fire safety, take a ride in a firetruck, and run a fitness course fit for a fire-person.

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I threw out my back, and everything. (Alternate title: Dream it, and it will happen)

I threw out my back, and everything. (Alternate title: Dream it, and it will happen)

Midway through the month, I threw out my back. It might have had something to do with the 15-hour wedding I shot two days prior to that, or with my TERRIBLE posture when editing photographs. Or with the fact that I'm getting old. So old... :D

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Birth photography: is it right for you?

Birth photography: is it right for you?

Having a photographer in the room while you're in pain, while you're facing your biggest fears (because let's face it - for me, the impending pain of labour was my biggest fear), while you're vulnerable and naked and possibly passing gas from strain... for some people it's just too much.

But there there is the flip side...

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Living up to its name: Ink-Tegrity Tattoo Shop raises $1825 for Loving Spoonful

Living up to its name: Ink-Tegrity Tattoo Shop raises $1825 for Loving Spoonful

The event ran 12-6pm this Sunday, and the crew were ready to WORK HARD. There were boxes of complimentary donuts, tall cups of coffee for the artists, and a full waiting room of eager folks waiting to choose their piece and put it on skin. Oh, and an array of flash selections by each artist to choose from.

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family and so much more: on photographing life.

That's the best bit about documentary photography, I suppose: being welcomed into lives as they unfold, trying my best to do them justice. 

That whole bit about being a fly on the wall - who knows if that is true? Flies buzz around in your ear and unnerve you. A documentary photography experience normally has the opposite result: it calms and grounds people, and makes them thankful for the lives they live.

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The Sunflower Festival @ Kricklewood Farm 2017

The Sunflower Festival @ Kricklewood Farm 2017

I photographed the Sunflower Festival at Kricklewood farm again this year. There is a tasting alley, where chefs prepare small bite-sized dishes to load up on a plate. There is a barbecue, music, artisans and craftspeople, tons of local vendors, a silent auction, and of course - GOATS! (and a few pigs and poultry, too). (And sunflower fields, though those weren't quite in bloom this year because of the rain)

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from Ontario to Alberta: a family of six says goodbye

from Ontario to Alberta: a family of six says goodbye

The Murrays are one of those families that you want to have living on your block.

Though we were never actual neighbours, my kids went to school with their kids, and my daughter counted their daughter among her besties. And whenever I saw them around, they simply brought energy and fun and goodness to the community. In short, the Murrays are good people.

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when a girl turns eleven (and the worst place to get hit with a water balloon)

when a girl turns eleven (and the worst place to get hit with a water balloon)

Running, grinning, posing without prompt, a golden fidget spinner in the hand and plastic leis as vibrant crowns.

You’ll find all that and more, perhaps, should you be invited to photograph an 11th birthday party in the middle of July in Ontario.

And a photographer sitting in the grass, as a giant water balloon falls right on her crotch: risks of the trade.

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there is a chocolatier in this town...

there is a chocolatier in this town...

After watching her work her magic for a little while, I naturally assume Audrey was a chemistry whiz in school. This artisanal chocolate business is part art, part science. But no, she says. She didn’t take chemistry in school. Her counsellor told her that she’d be no good at science. He suggested she’d do something more suitable. Like being a typist.

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