Exploring Niagara on the Lake

In late September, I travelled to beautiful Niagara on the Lake to teach at The Uncommon Creative photography conference. More and more, my career has veered towards mentoring and teaching—which is something I enjoy more than I would have guessed if you had told me this is where I’d be 10 years ago. Often when you teach at a conference or workshop, you are required to shoot a ‘mock session’ while students watch. This will never NOT be awkward. hahahahahahaha…true story. As someone who is concerned about what my students are(or are not) learning, I worry that they will be inevitably disappointed when they learn that mostly I am just a total spaz—whether people are watching or not(ha).

So, here is an example of a ‘fishbowl’ session where there were about a dozen people watching me as I got lost(true story) and then laid on the ground in the dirt so I could shoot through some weird portal thingy. All the while, they would take the most unflattering images of me (man, it is DECIDEDLY NOT pretty to watch me work), but these kids were AMAZING!! They handled it like pros.

These kids belong to one of the women who run the conference, Miss Stephanie Robin, an award winning newborn photographer from Ontario. We have met before a couple of other times at conferences where we were both teaching. It was super cool to meet her kids! Her and her partner, Tessa, did such an incredible job on the conference. It was their FIRST EVER event and it was so well run—I mean, I knew that Stephanie was organized, but WOW…she is crazy organized and it was so lovely to work with someone who was so prepared and dedicated to making it a wonderful experience for both the speakers and the attendees. I got to take classes taught by the amazing Lisa from The Milky Way (she really is as sweet as she seems online) and Ali Peck from Glow Maternity and the amazing Heidi Hope. Stephanie and Tessa tell me that they are planning on another conference in 2020 and I can’t wait to hear who they have in their line up!! Sooooo…on to the images:


~ Dana

Okotoks Simply Portrait Session by Dana Pugh

Often times, I’ll just have clients meet me at my studio in Okotoks. This makes things easy for a number of reasons. This fall…the main reason has been the weather. If the weather is really awful, we can just move things indoors. Or, we can quickly walk over to the pond which is literally two minutes(if that) from my studio door. We got lucky on this night and the weather cooperated(sort of)…I moved quickly and these kids were AMAZING so the session was short and sweet.

The images you see here are about half of what they received in their gallery. A wonderful collection that allows you flexibility when determining how best to use them. I can see some great gift prints for grandparents, a wonderful wall gallery and an album—all from this one session. I can help you create those with my professional quality vendors OR I can help point you in the direction of some great DIY solutions if you are feeling crafty!

One last thing about this family—how great are their outfits? I love the variety in textures, the layering and the fall colour palette. It fit so nicely with the fall colours that existed around the pond that day.

Calgary Maternity Photographer -- In Studio Session

One of the most commonly asked questions I get as a photographer is ‘what is your favourite thing to photograph?’. And, if I’m honest, the simple answer is connection….but, that has become kind of cliche in the photography world I feel. And, so I search to find a deeper answer, but currently come up empty. Connection. That really is what it boils down to in all of my sessions. Even when I am photographing one person…I am searching for that connection between them and I. I know when I get it and it makes me the happiest. It’s the driving force behind my work, really.

All of that said…maternity and the connection that you can find in a maternity session…that is probably my favourite. I’m not sure why except maybe it’s that whole mystery connection between mom and babe before baby is earthside. I remember how very special that was for me and it is certainly very special to witness in other people. I also believe that when a couple is expecting, the anticipation brings them closer. So, often, their connection is deeper as well. Then, throw in an older sibling and that feeling that these are the last moments of them being an older child and, truly, the room overflows with love. Whether we are on location or in studio…the background almost doesn’t matter…as long as you just show up ready to let me bear witness to it all, we are good.

As I have said before, I have a large maternity closet and sometimes…even when moms don’t plan on it…they arrive and think—let’s play dress up. I like when that happens. The white dress that we used in this session is BY FAR the favourite choice of my clients. I’m currently on the hunt for some pieces that will become the next favourite! Can’t wait to show you what I find ;) So…some new favourite maternity images from a recent studio session. Enjoy!

Fish Creek Simply Portraits Session

This is from last year--I've already seen this lovely family since these were taken and their little blond cherub is still just as cute!! These were taken in Fish Creek park in Calgary--a popular destination for fall photographs. The thing is--everyone typically goes to the same spot with the red barn and the park is vast and there are many awesome little spots. No need to wait in line for the popular spot. 

My fall is filling quickly. Weekend spots are going fast--so, if you are hoping for a fall session, now is the time to book! Simply Portrait Sessions are super popular in the fall. Quick 45 minute sessions designed to capture casual portraits for your family to enjoy for years to come. Here is an example from last year.