The surprise proposal & Franklin Castle – The haunted house!

Hello! I feel like I once again have been absent for WAY too long! I hope all of you enjoyed a lovely and romantic Valentines Day. I spent my Valentines Day alone in Cleveland, however before I left I got myself some beautiful flowers to enjoy when I came home and I really have. 😀

Happy Valentines Day to me!

Happy Valentines Day to me!

SO. I am finally able to spill the beans on what I got up to last weekend and what I was so very excited about! Before I get to that though, I have to ask, do you believe in the curse of Friday the 13th? Well, I did not. Until last weekend I might add! If you have ever flown through the Minneapolis airport, you probably are aware of what a giant mess of trams, moving walkways and endless hallways it is. It is seriously GIGANTIC. My first flight from Saskatoon arrived at 6:50 and my connecting flight was boarding at 6:45 and leaving the airport at 7:14! Because I am from Canada I did have to pick up my bag, and go through security again to recheck the bag. Of course I was chosen for extra screenings and swabs… just the usual for me. By the time I made it out of security it was after 7 p.m and I knew I had to book it. I ran, and ran, and ran until I started to have an asthma attack – something I haven’t had since I was probably in my early teens! I very rarely carry my inhaler with me, because to be honest I am very rarely running so hard that it affects me like that anymore. So I arrive at the gate, sweat pouring down my face, clutching my chest, unable to speak, wheezing heavily, and doubled over not 5 minutes late to the flights’ departure, and what do you know.. they didn’t wait for me. This was truly upsetting because I knew my client had a massive surprise proposal waiting for me the next day at noon in Cleveland and the next available flight wasn’t until the following morning and would not arrive until noon. Yup. That was the start. Now I can’t remember if it was the lotion from my travel kit or the hotel, but when I finally got things arranged for a hotel stay I piled lotion on my freshly washed face and then watched it slowly grow red and blotchy. By the next morning I looked like a teenaged boy who ate nothing but pop and pizza. I was gross. Oh yes, and did I forget to mention they sent my bag to Cleveland without me. So yeah, I really was gross. This was my Friday the 13th. It could have been worse, but it did feel like the day was a little cursed, I’m not going to lie! I FINALLY arrived in Cleveland and ta da! It was weather that made the world news Internationally… Let me tell you, after visiting Cleveland, I have to say that their weather rivaled Saskatoon’s weather BIG TIME. It was a cold that chilled you to the bone, and the blizzard was so extreme you couldn’t even see the road ahead of you. Yes, there were actual deaths that day from the weather and several cases of severe frostbite. Luckily I AM from Saskatchewan so I am used to driving in this kind of weather, but I will admit it was bad compared to what I was even used to. Not exactly the photo-shoot weather I was envisioning! After several failed attempts for whatever reason trying to use my card at the car rental place, it finally went through and I was on my way to meet up with my clients!

Welcome to Cleveland!

Welcome to Cleveland!

Now for the best part! I finally got to meet my client who had set up a wonderful plan to surprise his fiance with me and a couples session (who she thought was being photographed by a friend of his). I have to say, I was so thrilled with her reaction upon seeing me there and I then suggested that we might as well take a few photos of them in their formal clothes before their date at the Orchestra that evening! After doing a few photos of the two of them, my client gave me the signal and got down on one knee to propose. Seeing the pure happiness, joy and elation on her face was what made my whole weekend! It was one of the sweetest and most emotional moments I have ever photographed and I loved every second of it! I am so lucky to have such amazing clients who I enjoy spending time with and I felt very privileged to be a part of this very special moment in their lives. I do not feel at liberty to go into detail, but I will say that this was not a traditional proposal for this couple and the element of surprise and raw happiness that this moment created between them was so palpable it was contagious! I left with a huge grin on my face – probably the whole way to the hotel feeling so excited for them!

The sweetest moment ...

The sweetest moment …

I won’t get too into the other details of my continued cursed weekend but I will say I DID fall down a flight of icy steps at the hotel later that night because their parking garage elevator was not working! My legs and knee are pretty bruised but luckily no permanent damage was done and I am healing up nicely! So to wrap up my super cursed weekend, I did decide that I just HAD to go see an ACTUAL cursed and haunted house in Cleveland. It was called the Franklin Castle and was built in 1865. Numerous deaths occurred in the house and in the 70’s a room or cupboard (different resources have mixed confirmations on this), was discovered with several baby skeletons. This WAS confirmed. So I visited the house. Unfortunately because the house was decayed and I believe being restored to formal glory by it’s new owner who had put a security camera up I was unable to go inside. Standing in front of it was amazing. It really did have that dark, eerie and spectacular appeal. I stood there thinking ‘Wow, this IS a real haunted house – like something out of the movies’. It was truly an incredible sight! Now for the SUPER creepy part. When I got home I quickly posted one of my photos of Franklin Castle and continued to research and find facts on the house as my curiosity about it was growing. I did notice that there was black shadow in one of the windows that looked like a person and thought that was pretty awesome. A couple of days later I found a post in which it said that some people claimed to see a lady in black in one of the windows and believed it was the ghost of a servant girl named Rachel that died in the house. What’s strange is.. going through the other photos I took of the house, there is nothing in the window on any of the other images. I then posted one more and if you look closely in one of the bottom windows it does appear to look like tiny gravestones even though the only thing behind me was a road. So I don’t know. Do I believe in ghosts? No… but I do believe there are evil forces and spirits out there and yes, Franklin Castle did live up to every single expectation I had on seeing a haunted house. I.LOVED.IT 1501109_856554104385981_7348261477945792815_o

Franklin Castle - Cleveland Ohio

Franklin Castle – Cleveland Ohio

So guys I hope you have enjoyed hearing about my Friday the 13th weekend and I truly hope yours was more blessed than mine! Despite all of this I am so happy to have met my clients and to witness such a beautiful moment! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and keep warm out there! xoxo – M Resources Dead Ohio Forgotten Ohio Prairie Ghosts

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My top 10 BRUTALLY HONEST wedding pet peeves!

Saskatoon Destination Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Destination Wedding Photography

Hey guys!

This week has been mega crazy.. I have a really exciting little adventure happening next weekend and I CANNOT wait to share the results. This weekend my goals are to get some work done, clean my room, get my boys to clean the house, watch American Sniper, make some healthy smoothies and slow cook a rack of ribs to perfection (because I know how and it’s ahhhhmazing!).

I have been thinking a LOT about weddings lately, probably because I have an abundance of them to photograph again this year. So I thought I would compose my list of top 10 absolutely most annoying and irritating pet peeves that happen at weddings. Keep in mind, nothing is personal, BUT these things tend to happen a lot and sometimes I have to keep people in check which is neither fun nor enjoyable for me. So without further ado, here is my brutally honest top 10 wedding pet peeve list:

1. GET OUT OF MY SHOT! If I could swear on here I probably would, or maybe I should. But seriously. I really appreciate it when I get a really beautiful shot of the bride walking down the aisle or the bride and groom coming down the aisle after the wedding and there are some big bums and a whole lot of smart phones in the photo. Just perfect. NOT. Don’t get me wrong, I like big butts and I cannot lie, but within a wedding photo not so much. I am begging you… if you are a guest or family member at a wedding keep your phones inside the pews and confines of your seat. DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT stick your phones out into the aisles. Chances are (hopefully) your family members or friends have paid good money for a quality photographer who is there to capture the moments that are only going to look second rate, crappy and blurry on your phones. So leave the photo taking to the professional who is seething inside at the sight of your screen. (If getting a photo of the bride and groom is really that important to you, there will be plenty of opportunities to pull them aside at the reception)

2. DON’T TAKE MY SHOT. Soooo actually this has annoyed me SO much, that I ended up putting it in my contract. During the bride and groom photos and the wedding party photos, I do not allow ANY photography or videography because that is MY creative time with the bride and groom & their friends. NOT YOURS! Too many times I have come home from a wedding to find a distant blurry crappy version of the photo that I envisioned and took and inside it makes my blood curl. It’s like having a crappy study partner in school who let you do ALL the work and then did a second rate presentation of it while taking all the credit. WRONG. I hate it. I hate it so much guys. I really do. Chances are I have spent a good amount of time figuring out the right location, the right spot for lighting and years of experience has taught me how to pose people so that they don’t look contorted or strange and you just come behind me and take the shot… with your phone. It’s disrespectful. It really is, and it needs to stop! Don’t be the homework stealer. Just don’t.

3. DON’T DIRECT MY SHOOT! Please. Do I come into YOUR work and tell you how to do your job? NO. But maybe I should. I have very rarely had this issue with a bride or groom, however on occasion you get that one wedding party member who is a “photographer” (I use that term loosely because I believe everyone considers themselves a photographer these days) and feels the need to direct where you may want to take the photo, and what pose you want everyone to do. First off. You have to trust that your friends have hired me because they trust my experience and vision. Second off, you are NOT the professional. And if you are, I hope one day to be a bridesmaid at a wedding YOU are shooting at so that I can make your whole day a miserable crap-storm. 😀  Most of the time, your idea for a location or spot is in a terrible place for lighting and your pose idea makes you all look fat. So please. Stop. Just let down your control guard and TRUST ME. If you don’t, I WILL post the photos that you directed and you will not be a happy camper.

4. RESPECT THE CAMERA BAG! Do not touch, do not move, do not tug on, do not drunk fight around my camera bag. Seriously. I am a crazy lens changer sometimes and I have open lenses sitting in my bag with one compartment possibly open that could come spilling out, crack and break if you try to move it without my consent. My bag is filled with thousands of dollars of expensive equipment and you need to respect that. I actually had someone come and TUG hard on the back of my bag while I was wearing it on my back to try and move me out of the way for a photo. After being jerked back several times, I was pretty mad, I am NOT going to lie. I respond well to the words “Excuse me” and always try to be respectful of others. I expect you to do the same. My camera and bag are totally off limits. I do not want to turn around and have a panic attack because suddenly my bag is gone. Someone wanted to get a photo in a spot where my bag was so they took it upon themselves to move it while I was shooting a family photo. It’s just unacceptable. So guys, respect a photographers equipment and their bag. Do not touch it, for a deadly curse will fall upon you if you do.

5. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP ARTIST/HAIRSTYLIST! It really is quite disheartening when I see a beautiful bride who decided it might be fun to have a close friend or family member do their makeup. In rare circumstances the bride or their friend might be really awesome at doing their own makeup and they look great! You are spending an obscene amount of money on your wedding and on your photography so I do not believe the extra spurge on a professional makeup artist and hairstylist is going to break the bank. The number one reason to hire a professional is because they are EXPERIENCED. They know and have the right products to use on you to withstand a long day of possibly crying, extreme heat or cold, and extensive drinking. Yes, your makeup DOES need to be considerably darker for photos, however there is a fine line between darker for photos and trashy. You may not be able to master that line, but your professional makeup artist will. Trust me, it makes all the difference in the world for the end product of your photos and I strongly encourage hiring professional makeup artists and stylists. It maximizes your assets and already beautiful face, it makes my job easier and you will be much happier with your end result. (You can view a list of referred Saskatoon makeup artists and stylists on my wedding investment page at http://martinesansoucy.co.nr)

6. CLEAN UP! I LOVE, love, LOVE getting ready photos. I really do. So do most of the brides who I talk to. They dream of having beautiful getting ready photos and stunning surroundings with girls getting ready and veils getting draped over their faces and shoulders. HOWEVER, these shots are not going to be AS possible if you do not clean up the space you want the photos in. NOW as a mom of three boys I understand mess. I understand chaos. Trust me, I understand it better than anyone. BUT if I was having professional photos taken that I was PAYING for in my home, you better believe I would try to have my space as clean as I possibly could to maximize the end result of my images. Don’t get me wrong, I often make something out of nothing and use tiny spaces to get the shot I need but is it optimal? No. I don’t mind moving a few things here and there and cleaning up a couple of things, but I have had rooms where half the session (that the bride and groom are paying for) is spent moving things around and moving junk out of the way. I respect that it is a crazy busy day, I respect the mess, I respect the chaos, but don’t expect Vera Wang commercial type images if you don’t clean up your space for me.

7. BE A BETTER BRIDESMAID! Wowzers! This could be a whole blog post. Really it could. Brides, I want to make clear that on the day of your wedding and the days or maybe even months leading up to your wedding these girls are your betches! Yes, they are your friends, sometimes family, rarely enemies, but they are truly there to serve the purpose of making your life easier, providing emotional support and standing by your side. Yes, yes, yes I know that it is 2015 and maybe unorthodox to have this mindset, but this is my opinion and I think it’s a pretty good one. TOO MANY TIMES I have had emotionally distraught brides over something that a bridesmaid or maid of honor is doing or more commonly, is NOT doing. Guess what? I AM A BRIDESMAID! Not just a photographer, but because of bad bridesmaid skills I have been a dress cleaner, a dress mender, a seamstress, an emotional counselor, a shoulder to lean on, a problem solver and a friend. NO. I do not mind being all of these things. In fact, I take great pleasure in being able to comfort and help my brides in any way that I can and I love that about my job. THAT BEING SAID, some of the best candid moments I have captured are between maid of honor and bride or of the bridesmaids primping and fawning over the bride. As as bridesmaid you are there for emotional and physical support. If your girl spills something on her dress, you shouldn’t be somewhere off in the corner drinking and ignoring her, you should be at her dress with a baby wipe dabbing away like the friend you need to be. I really seen so many sad brides on the happiest days of their lives because of the lack of respect and friendship their girls are offering them … and that my friends is no good. So, if you are asked to be a bridesmaid, just know that you are signing a contract of binding friendship and support on your friends wedding day.

8. TEST THY SHOES! This is a wedding commandment. I hear a lot of griping, complaining and moaning over shoes. I LOVE shoes. I can not wear heels because I would fall and break my ankles and that’s a crying shame because I love a pretty heel or stiletto. Sadly I am stuck wearing my flats like an old lady.. so maybe this pet peeve is purely made with jealous motives. On a serious note though, I LOVE seeing all the beautiful heels that brides bring to a wedding but I have seen too many with blistered and bleeding ankles at the end of the day! This is just not right. Let’s avoid this. Step 1: Wear your heels to the mall for a shopping trip and a walk around the town that lasts about 6-8 hours at least. If possible try to do this on a hot day if you have a summer wedding because feet tend to swell in the heat. If they are still comfy as can be you have a winner. If not, please please bring a comfy second pair of flats or sandals. Most of your photos are not going to show your shoes because hopefully your wedding dress is not ankle length (unless it’s meant to be). So we will get your shoe shots and some pretty shots showcasing your shoes, but then let’s get you back into comfort. Yes, beauty is pain, but let’s not let that be the motto on your wedding day.

9. NIX THE RECEIVING LINE! This is just MY personal opinion and I am definitely not going to get upset or angry if anyone decides to have a receiving line. HOWEVER, if you have more than 100 guests, please consider not having a receiving line. They are time suckers and more often than not have been the difference between getting just a few bride and groom shots or a lot of great bride and groom shots. Receiving lines can be pretty dragged out, especially with a huge guest list, leaving you with Aunt Helga chattering on for 5-10 minutes about going through menopause, or Great Uncle Edward going on about his new wife who is way too young and will also shake your hand for 2 minutes. There is this little party afterwards called the reception that is an awesome way for those who want to chat to hit you up for some conversation and shameless selfies at the bar. In my opinion receiving lines are outdated and eat up a lot of time that you could be using to start drinking excessively and taking really amazing photos!

10. TAKE YOUR BABY OUTSIDE! Sigh… maybe I will totally get beat up for this one, but it drives me bonkers when a baby starts wailing in the middle of the ceremony and no one takes the baby outside to soothe it. I now pronounce you husband and … whaaaaaaaaaaaaa (blood curdling scream).. nothing says consummation, love and life long happiness like a pissed off baby. Babies are so cute, yes. I love babies, yes. Do I love them crying and screaming during what is supposed to a special moment in people’s lives? No. I know that you don’t want to miss a second of this well documented wedding (because obviously I’m there :-D) but you need to have respect for the bride and groom and let them have their moment. Unless it’s the bride and groom’s child or baby (which could make for an interesting shot), screaming babies and for that matter screaming children or children who run rampant all over ceremonies should be immediately removed.

Okay guys, do you hate me now? I really felt like I needed to throw down the honesty on this one. In no way, shape or form have any of these experiences altered my opinion of brides or grooms, made me hate my job or anything of the sort. However, if these things were eliminated, I would enjoy my job that much more.

What’s YOUR biggest wedding pet peeve? (I know so many brides will say people who don’t RVSP haha) I would love to hear from you! Comment in the box below!

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

How to prepare for a wedding + A little Engagement love in Saskatoon!

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Hey guys!

Well it has been a fantastic week of shooting. I am soo excited about some of the projects and shoots that took place! Monday was ahhhmazing and spent with a total of 7 fabulous and talented women to create a vintage Editorial shoot and I am extra excited about sharing the results of that shoot!

Fall has treated me well so far. The colors, the leaves, the trees, that perfect golden hour … they all mix together for the perfect photo formula! I am so lucky to have a beautiful wedding tomorrow that will showcase all the beautiful colors outside right now and I can’t wait!

So. I wanted to talk a little bit about how I prepare for a wedding! I got an email a couple of weeks ago from an aspiring photographer who had some questions for me and one of the things he asked was how I prepare for a wedding. So I would love to share that answer publicly here and hope that it gives others a clear image of what should go into the preparation of an upcoming wedding. Let’s break it down!

THE WEEK BEFORE A WEDDING

– Taking excellent care of yourself – If I feel a cold coming on, I am downing the OJ like no one’s business and resting up. It’s important to take good care of yourself during the wedding season, because neither you or the bride & groom want a sick photographer!

-Cleaning your camera – I clean my sensor at least once a week, especially if I am anticipating a wedding on the weekend

-Scout the locations – During the week I take the time to scout specific locations I would like to use at the EXACT scheduled time that we would be there for photos.. In the past I have chosen an amazing location only to be disappointed when the sun is in the wrong spot to showcase what I wanted. Be aware of the sun and pinpoint the location to the time of day!

THE DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING

-Purchase/get ready the batteries for your flashes.

-Gas up your vehicle.

-Charge all of your batteries for both your primary camera and your backup camera

-Clean all your lenses

-Make sure you have your camera bag ready. For me this includes making sure my “wedding bag” is stocked with all the things I need.. mmm note to self: New blog post idea!

-DON’T eat anything spicy or anything that will cause gas the next day or um… other ugly tummy troubles. This is the LAST thing you want to deal with on a wedding day.

-Plan what to wear. Nothing too dressy, but nothing to casual. You need to be comfortable as to move around freely so keep this in mind.

-Chillax! Ain’t no body want an overworked photographer! Take this opportunity to pop in your favorite show and relax. Drink copious amounts of water and eat well.

-Go to bed early. Sleep is key. You have to be on your A-GAME the next day!

THE MORNING BEFORE A WEDDING

-Charge up your phone. It’s important to have a phone with you on the day of a wedding in case the bride/groom need to reach you, to check the time, check inspiration photos, or even click a few phone shots for Instagram.

-Format your memory cards – DO THIS EVERY TIME!! SERIOUSLY!

-Check and double check your bag to make sure all of your batteries are there, your memory cards and your flashes

-Go over your itinerary! If you don’t have one, that’s an issue for another blog post!! Memorize your clients names and make sure you know where to be at what time.

-Eat a healthy meal. This is important since it may be hours before your next one!

-Relax and listen to some easy going music. I personally love Agnus & Julia Stone and some Lana Del Ray

-Click through some inspiration photos of different poses you want to try or looks you want to achieve that day.

-Breath. Know that you are going to do a great job and have confidence.

Alright guys!! I hope this helps some of you to be better prepared for weddings!

On another note, I wanted to share some engagement photos that were done here in Saskatoon a few weeks ago! The couple, Brittany and Jason are both so amazing and when I met with them for the first time to book their wedding (This upcoming November!) we clicked immediately! I love their sense of humor and the love they share for dance. I am really excited to photograph their wedding in a couple of months and would like to share with you a few images from their engagement session with me 🙂

Stay Amazing,

Martine

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

bj12

The most common misconception about Mexico…and Universal rules of safety for travel!

Small town in Huatulco Mexico - Android photo!

Small town in Huatulco Mexico – Android photo!

Hey guys!

At the moment I am feeling very good and very positive because I am on some very strong pain killers for my passing kidney stone… at least let’s hope it passes without issue! So I apologize in advance if anything I say sounds… out of whack or otherwise strange. It’s probably just me talking, but I will blame it on the pain killers anyway.

So IT’S A WRAP! I just returned home from my last destination wedding of the year (so far anyway!), and it was in beautiful and lovely Mexico! Now this wasn’t my first time to Mexico, or even my second time in Mexico. I have now been to Mexico a few times and I have to say the people who think they know what they’re talking about when they talk of Mexico really have no clue what they are saying. Unless you’ve visited Mexico and immersed yourself into local life with the Mexican’s please feel free to shut your mouth at anytime. I am always blown away by the kindness, generosity and overwhelming sense of feeling welcomed every time I visit Mexico, and despite obvious and significant language barriers they are just wonderful people who are proud of their country and want you to enjoy your stay so much so that you will return.

After visiting a small town in Mexico with my clients for some unique and off the grid wedding photos, I decided I wanted to spend a day in that town. The locals were so friendly and curious about our being there, that it made me feel both welcome and in safe hands. So on my last day in Mexico I caught a cab back to this lonely little town enveloped in road side huts with plastic chairs offering none other than cold Coronas and the Universal drink; Coca Cola. When I told the driver to drop me off by the side of the road, he raised his eyebrows a little and asked me in broken English if I knew where I was going. I just looked at him and smiled with one word, explorar. He just smiled and told me he would be there at the same spot to pick me up in a few hours and I went off to do exactly that… explore.

The roads were a mixture of sand and dirt, dispersed with rocks every now and again and I felt my feet grow easily tired with my really cute but obviously cheap sandals. I kicked them off and ended up walking bare footed down the roads. I must have walked for at least an hour. Stopping to admire the lush tropical gardens filled with plantains and cactus, the happy children running around chasing chickens and roosters that were randomly ambling across the roads. I was tempted to pet one of the many stray dogs that wandered around homeless and starving, many with hanging nipples from no doubt having litters of puppies who would also end up wandering the small town streets homeless.  Along the outskirts of the town, there were little farms. Huts made with palm leaves and fronds where inside sitting on a broken down looking stool a round bellied Mexican leaned up against a table snoozed lazily in the hot sun. Almost every Mexican I passed, smiled with such sincerity it reached their eyes and welcomed me with an “Hola” or a “Como estas?”

As my luck would have it, I saw the same yellow broken down bug car in the middle of a lot fenced with barbed wire. This was close to where my clients and I had ventured off for some photos and I instantly recognized the simplistic and minimal playground beside it. As I took a few photos with my phone (yes I really do take photos with my phone), some friendly voices trailed off behind me and I turned around. A woman I recognized stood there with a child on her hip and four other children crowding around her smiling broadly at me. “Hola!” I said, happy to see these familiar faces once again. This family had followed myself and the bride and groom around while we took photos there a couple of days earlier and had even led us to a beautiful spot by their local river for some nice shots. For the next few minutes, we tried and mostly failed at making some awkward small talk with each other and I then continued on my way. They waved me off with enthusiasm and a friendliness I would be hard pressed to find from strangers anywhere here in Saskatoon.

As I made my way into and across the town, I was greeted by several other friendly strangers and realized at one point that I was being followed by a little boy around the age of ten. He kept staring at me and smiling as I walked along, sometimes catching up to me and sometimes falling behind me. We wound up in a small downtown area where I stopped at a small gated store and bought Cokes for both myself and him and sent him on his way with a stick of gum from my purse. Eventually the heat caught up with me and I wound up back at a little restaurant my clients and I had visited a couple of days earlier and sat down letting the cool taste of a Corona travel down my throat and send warm fuzzies right down to my toes.

I had at least another hour before the driver would come back to the town to pick me up and I decided to have one more walk around the outskirts of the town, where I admired the many beautiful tropical gardens. As I was walking along a back road covered in canopies of trees and lined with widely dispersed little tiki huts and half houses with tin sheets for roofs, a woman and her teenaged son approached me with some amount of eager shyness and held out a bowl for me. Inside the bowl was a medley of grilled vegetables including cactus, carrots, potato and what I later researched to be something called chayote. It was lightly spiced and had been grilled in butter. They smiled and nodded as I took the bowl and tried some of the delicious veggies, thanking them. They really were delicious! It didn’t take long before the woman took me by the arm and had me in a large wire fenced yard sitting in a plastic chair eating a full meal with them. The silence at times was awkward but was filled with the laughter and chaos of her other four young children, three boys and a girl. One of the little boys excitedly ran to a tree by their yard and started kicking something around until one of his brothers ran and kicked it back to him. I sat and reflected. This is one of the first stories I told my boys when I got home. The thing he was kicking around was a dirty and beaten up empty YOP bottle and it was hanging from a tied bit of rope to a tree. Yet this simple thing brought these two boys so much joy and laughter. My boys were probably fighting over the wii back at home and complaining that they need more Lego sets (even though they have enough Lego to supplement a small country). The woman spoke little to no English and I struggled to find the right words to say with my small but every day growing Spanish vocabulary. However just like Coca Cola a smile is always Universal and so basically my chicken and hot bean dinner was accompanied by many many smiles and words of gracias. Would this act of generosity by a stranger happen in Saskatoon? No… most likely not. Even though the chicken was slightly dry and beans really aren’t my all time favorite, it was hands down the best meal I had eaten while on my trip to Mexico. Not for the food, but merely the kindness and sweetness of company I shared, as quiet and mis-understood as it was. Before saying good bye, the woman and I hugged and the warmth in her eyes sent me away from this little town feeling like I just won the lottery. By the time my driver came around the corner of our meeting spot I was grinning from ear to ear like a doped up idiot.

As the day turned into night, the driver and I chatted between broken English and Spanish and he ended up taking me out for a beer and to see some beautiful look out points around Huatulco. The sights were spectacular and wonderful and as the sun set over the beautiful city below I reflected on my experiences in Mexico. I have been to some of the crummiest and most poor areas of Mexico and also some of the most beautiful and touristy spots in Mexico and it always remained the same. I saw such beauty in all of my surroundings and the locals proved to me time and time again that they cared for my safety and welcomed me into their country with open arms. I can’t say the same for a lot of other countries out there that are supposed to be “safer” and “better” countries to visit according to a general consensus. In fact the overall attitude from a lot of people makes me angry and bitter when it comes to my protective nature of this country and others like Jamaica. You can go to Mexico and be shown into a complete strangers home for supper, or you can come to Canada and see news of 5 completely innocent people being stabbed to death in a senseless murder, followed by more stabbings the next night in Regina. Right now, Mexico is looking decidedly safer. Now I know that was a loaded statement that a lot of you might not appreciate. However I think it’s important to remember that you can certainly get yourself into trouble ANYWHERE that you go. There are acts of human cruelty and senseless crimes that happen ANYWHERE in the world. The fact is, just as we should always try to leave our judgement of a person to personal experience rather than third party word, I do feel that you should be extending the same courtesy to visiting Mexico.

I have come up with a list of UNIVERSAL rules of safety that you should be using ANYWHERE that you travel to. Heck you should even use these rules in your OWN city. They are all common sense and all completely practical!

1. Always ask permission before taking someone’s photo. I am sure you would not appreciate some random stranger on the street taking YOUR photo without asking. It’s rude and obnoxious and just because someone might not speak the same language as you doesn’t give you the right to snap away. So always ASK.

2. If you see or witness an altercation, do NOT get involved. This is common sense anywhere and it’s how people get killed.

3. Don’t buy drugs. Just don’t.

4. Don’t walk around alone at night in questionable areas. Heck I don’t walk around on 20th street in Saskatoon alone at night, so just use your brain.

5. Don’t flash your money around like some sort of millionaire, because you are most likely not, and people might consider this an invitation for petty theft. Similarly, don’t go to a sketchy neighborhood, set your bags down and walk away.

6. If you are in questionable surroundings, wear a shoulder bag, and always keep a little something extra tucked away on your body somewhere (for girls a bra or the inside pocket of LuLu’s or workout pants works perfectly, for guys you are on your own with this one).

7. A smile is better than a thousand words. If I see anyone who is looking suspicious or giving me an uncomfortable look, I smile and nod. It instantly softens them and they typically smile back. Smile often and stay safe.

8. If you see any sort of political protest, war, debate, speech, etc, stay the eff out of it. Because really.. it’s none of your business.

9. Respect dress codes. If you visit a country where no one is wearing a tank top, then you probably shouldn’t either.

10. Be friendly and open. No one likes a stuck up snob. No one. If you go into a country feeling insecure and scared, then negative energy is what you will attract. If you go into a country and are friendly and open with people, then those are exactly the type of people and experiences you will attract. If in doubt, always smile.

I love travel and I believe you are in control of what your experiences will end up like no matter where you go. I love Mexico and I WILL be returning 🙂 I hate the common misconception that the country is dangerous and should not be visited. I don’t think anyone will be warning Mexican’s against visiting Winnipeg, even though it’s been labeled the murder capital of the country. Just use your common sense.

I would love to hear about YOUR positive experiences in Mexico and would love for you to comment below!

Stay posted for more photos of Mexico and also some wedding posts about the last two Destination Weddings I had. For now, I will be recovering from my kidney stone and working on some edits.

xoxo – M

Drinks with my new amigo!

Drinks with my new amigo!

How I really feel about Jamaica.. a personal post :-)

We are outside and the heat is thick.. my hands are literally swollen to the size of small balloons (just a fun perk of being me right now). I am wiping the sweat off my brow and chatting with friends or yelling in their ears over the loud music. Despite my trying to stay still, I just can’t. I find myself involuntarily moving in my seat and wanting to get up and grind my whole body to the vibrant and sexually explosive Jamaican music. I am the only white girl in the place and my red hair and fair skin stick out like a sore thumb, attracting all sorts of wanted and unwanted attention. At times, it can be a little tiresome and all I want to do is fit in. I cover my hotel band with my bracelet and try to look casual, like being thrust into such a foreign way of life is normal for me. I run into some people I met last time I was there.. I can hardly believe I know people here already and it’s a great feeling. I want locals to consider me another local, not some tourist who’s rolling in American money.

I take a cab back home in the darkness. I am crammed in a small car that sounds like it might explode if it moves too fast with a tall dark Jamaican man on my right and a cheerful voluptuous looking woman on my left. They chatter with each other sometimes in Patois (the Jamaican language) and I struggle to understand… if only I had bought some books before I left! They start to chatter with me and within 5 minutes we are exchanging numbers and Facebook info, hoping to connect if I should ever be back in Montego Bay. The general vibe is they just want to show me a good time here in Jamaica and they are always so interested to hear about the weather where I am from. It’s nearing the end of my ride and I hand the cabby $200 Jamaican dollars, which comes to around $2 American or Canadian. No doubt I would be paying an upwards of $30 or $40 American if I had taken the “safer” and registered taxi’s that come straight to the front of my hotel. Again, I don’t want to be some rich bitch perceived by the Jamaican’s, I just want to be treated like everyone else even though my face is white as the moon.

The security guys at the gates of my hotel are by now used to my comings and goings. When I left the first night I was there with friends, they were sure to document my room number, name, the name of the person who was picking me up and the location of where we were headed. By the third day, they just smiled and waved me off as I ran off across the street. One of the security guys later told me him and the other guys were concerned about me, but after watching how I waved away certain cabs and chose specific ones they knew that I knew what I was doing. I was really flattered by this and it made me feel happy to know they no longer just thought of me as some “tourist” – confined to the prison walls of a resort. Don’t get me wrong, my way of travel isn’t for the faint hearted or just anyone, but I question the people who fly all the way across the country just to listen to American music and eat American food at resort buffets, and stay trapped in a bubble of at-home luxury without ever experiencing anything real. I ask myself, what’s the point?

I found myself often moving to Jamaican beats in my head, even when there was no music playing. I felt vibrant, alive, energetic! My skin was also literally starting to glow.. my pimples were disappearing and I felt less self conscious about being a bit bigger than I would like to be at this time. The Jamaican men were quite forward about letting me know how they felt about my appearance. It was always positive and I was flattered at most times. It was a self esteem boost but could also easily get tiring. My nose had cleared up.. I slept like a baby, the best I have slept in so long because I could finally breath. Back home my nose is constantly stuffed up and I often wake up not being able to breath. The only downfall was the sweat… ohhh the sweat. I don’t mind sweating during a workout I’m killing, but to sweat all the time every day for no other reason then just because you are hot and uncomfortable is unattractive to say the LEAST.

My friends are gems.. I made some real connections I feel so good about. There were other people I met and the general over all consensus from a lot of people was that a friendship could be bought and paid for. After all I am from Canada and I MUST be loaded with cash and have plenty to give away at leisure. I am not. My money is worth just as much as theirs is back home and it’s not cheap to live here in Canada. Not cheap at all. I may make more, but I sure spend a hell of a lot more on the necessities of life. There were times I felt taken advantage of and merely used for the hopes of receiving my money. It didn’t feel good and it didn’t feel right. That was the one biggest negative that I have about being in Jamaica. All the more reason fitting in as a local was so important to me. Now let’s be fair… not ALL Jamaican’s are like this. On the opposite end of the spectrum I was treated the best I have been treated by anyone in a long time by my friends, who are all amazing and wonderful people.

The last night in Jamaica my friends took me to a street party… Yes, a real street party in Jamaica. The type of party that would not have been legal anywhere here and totally shut down immediately. Honestly, sometimes I had to take a step back to realize that I was actually there and it was real and this was happening. The sweet smell of pot wafted around and drinks were flowing. The music was sick. I had begun to pick out my favorite songs and move my body freely when they came on. Kartel, and I Octane, Mavado and Lady Saw… have all become household names for me now. Suddenly at some point, the party went from seeing space between people to crammed and jammed up against one another.. in a sea of dark faces I was the only white girl at the party yet again and the guys walking around with video cameras seemed to be attacking me with bright lights. Being there was amazing though, and the feeling was humbling and surreal. I never wanted it to end.  I was feeling good but the last couple of days had exhausted me. By the next morning I was feeling emotional and heavy with regret at the thought of leaving this beautiful tropical paradise. I felt like perhaps I had let myself feel too fast and too much for some of the connections I made and didn’t want it to end.

Yes, I do believe I made real connections and also a couple friends for life. The number one question I am being asked by all is did I find love in Jamaica? Well the answer to that is simple. No. But I believe I could. It would be easy and effortless and it scares me to death. There are some things a girl doesn’t need to share with the world either. What I really need to do now is fall in love with myself.

What are the things I brought back with me that are the most treasured? First and foremost, the memories and the friendships. After that, I would have to say the mixed CD’s of music I bought from random guys selling burnt discs from their cars and on the streets. I still feel like dancing and it has me motivated to start dancing once again. Overall I brought back a sense of myself.. a longing for change and self appreciation. Yes Jamaica will change you and affect you in many ways if you are willing and open to let it in.

Will I be back to Jamaica? I have no plans as of right now to be returning to the beautiful country, but sometimes fate has a way of intervening and whatever is meant to be will be. For now I am studying up on learning some Patois and dancing around the house in my underwear to these ripped Jamaican beats , feeling more free and irie than I have in my life.

*Stay tuned for a mega blog post on the AHHMAZING Wedding I shot in Jamaica and all the fun details behind it and other shoots I did while there!*

Good friends and good vibes

Good friends and good vibes

I have been so neglectful… again!

Wow… can you believe it!? Last time I posted there was snow on the ground! I am so ashamed, I have been so neglectful of my poor blog again. However I must say I have been keeping up regular posts on both Instagram (#martinesansoucy) and twitter (also #martinesansoucy) and of course dear Facebook. My worst enemy and my best friend. Do other photographers find Facebook hard to use? One minute you are posting updates and the next you are clicking on some random person’s photo and off you go into the land of nothingness that is Facebook. I have been trying my very best to leave that obsession behind and concentrate solely on work when I am logged on. Never-mind Pinterest… I banned that from my life months ago due to countless hours of sheer waste spent on that site. Not to mention it makes me feel like I have to be wonderwoman/wondermom/wondercrafter/wondercook/wonderdesigner! So many awesome looking things that I would LOVE to have the time to do in life, but knowing I never will so albums of silly little dream boards build up until … sigh I will probably never get to anything from there. 

Well the summer is officially underway.. I have had so many amazing and awesome weddings in the past few months. I can hardly contain my excitement about some of them. Honestly it’s a little ridiculous how excited I can get about these things. First in May there was an amazing Pakistani wedding with such an amazing couple Sadaf and Saad who I grew to fall in love with over the weekend’s events. There were so many traditions that intrigued me and I felt truly blessed to be photographing two of the most kind-hearted wonderful people I have ever met. Sadaf is in a word…. stunning. Absolutely stunning. Her Sari’s were beautiful, the colors vibrant and beautiful. Saad was pretty handsome as well haha he looked great in a suit and his traditional attire.  I think one of my favorite parts from the weekend were the dances and the music. Surprisingly I actually even knew a few of the songs that came on, since I love Indian and Hindi music and listen to it often.  It was just a fabulous weekend and here are a couple of my favorite shots from it!

Pakistan Wedding Photography

Pakistan Wedding Photography

Pakistan Wedding Photography

Pakistan Wedding Photography

Pakistan Wedding Photography

Pakistan Wedding Photography

 

 

Another favorite wedding was a few weeks ago right here in Saskatoon! Ashley & Codie Prevost were both just such amazing people to spend the day with… not to mention totally gorgeous!! What made this day extra special… honestly when I heard the rumble of a 67′ Mustang I was totally hooked. I mean totally hooked. So I grabbed the opportunity to do a few shots of the guys by this fantastic car and it was absolutely worth it. 100%. What else made this day fantastic? We had a colossal downpour about mid-way through the photos and when the sun broke through, it was seriously gorgeous and amazing. Here are a couple of my very favorite shots from this day! 

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Mmmm so many to list it’s so hard to choose which ones to share with you! Another day that stands out was Stacie & Graham’s wedding. I just loved this couple and what a fun group of people to spend the day with! It also started off as a rainy day and ended in complete bliss on a country roadside with the couple and their guitar. Stacie was just a beautiful bride and Graham just a super great guy! The day ended with a drive in Stacie’s dad’s convertible car and we managed some wonderful shots of the two of them riding off with the cloudy sunset. It was a beautiful way to end a wonderful day. Here are a few of my favorite shots from that day 🙂 

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

Saskatoon Wedding Photography

 

Sigh… how can I even begin to describe some of the other weddings I have shot recently? They have ALL been amazing and special. I have even gotten to see old wedding clients at some of the weddings I have shot this year and it has been so awesome to see them together and happy! I feel pretty blessed to have some amazing clients. I was out in Cudworth a couple of weeks ago for a wedding and this past weekend I was in Moose Jaw. This upcoming weekend I have one wedding in beautiful Saskatoon and one in Moon Lake!

As much as I LOVE my job and weddings and love, I am SO ready for my family vacation coming up soon! It’s been a chaotic crazy summer and there are so many exciting events coming up. In fact, if you check out the most recent Flow Magazine here in Saskatoon you will find one of my promo photos for Roofstock! It’s an upcoming event with musician’s playing on the roof of Winston’s and it’s totally going to rock  your little world so if you are interested please check out the details! Here’s a shot from that little shoot!

Roofstock at Winston's

Roofstock at Winston’s

 

In the midst of being super busy I am making some changes in my personal life and it’s been very positive for me! I am also doing a lot of experimenting in photography and looking forward to much more this winter when I have some breathing time. I am not going to lie… I am a little excited for winter, now that I have another Destination Wedding coming up. That always gets me inspired for bigger and better things 😀

Okay, it’s time for one more Facebook post and then bed! I will TRY my hardest to not neglect my poor blog again even if I don’t make a photo update, it would be nice to keep it up with my life. 🙂

Night everyone – M

 

 

A week of insanity and a frosty little engagement session preview!

Hey everyone!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter and were able to spend time with your family & friends!

Sooooo the boys are out of school this ENTIRE WEEK…. I hope I can stay sane through it all. I will just be continuing on my with my spring cleaning and clearing out massive amounts of props. I am trying to make an entertainment area in the basement so we will see if I accomplish that this week! I am also painting my boys bedroom and looking forward to have some brand new paint for them to draw on and for me to clean haha.

What else is new!? A LOT. I have been doing a lot of photo sessions as the weather is FINALLY coming around to the idea of spring. Thank goodness, because I was really going to wonder if we were ever going to see a blade of grass again! I got some fantastic new business cards made from ProPrint here in Saskatoon and they did an amazing job. They are working on the second set as well and after that I have one set left to go! I have some exciting news coming up in about three weeks and also expect a post soon about my newly redone website 🙂

So I thought I would post a few shots of a sweet little engagement shoot I did recently with couple Lauren & Dan! I am excited to be photographing their wedding as well and I had fun with them on this wintery frosty day!

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography

Saskatoon Engagement Photography