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Category Archives: travel.

here are some of my faves from 2008 — from weddings, portrait sessions, and my personal life.  i had almost 30 photos that are my faves from the year, and sort of randomly selected ten of them…

this is definitely my favourite detail shot from the year…

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for a band i photographed in january…

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i can’t even identify what i love about this photo.  i know it’s not technically a top ten, but there’s something about it that i love so much…

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this one is so much better bigger…. there’s something about zin’s face that is just so perfect…

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and, without question, my favourite photo from 2008….

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was the part i didn’t actually experience.  on the return home, we flew over greenland.  because i’m stupid, i didn’t realize that there was even a possibility that might happen.  so, when i looked out the window and saw all ice, i was kinda confused…  but so so thrilled…  i’m so glad i got to see that, it was magical.  ice for hours of flying.  not a person, not a car, not a building.  just ice and snow.  it was breathtaking.  (and i don’t just throw around cheesy words like that — it really was).

seriously, isn’t that the most amazing thing ever?!  i really want to go to greenland.  um… do you think greenland has much going for destination weddings?  anyone?

where were we… oh yes… in PRAGUE.  i still can’t believe i got to do an engagement session IN PRAGUE.  i want to live there so i can shout “IN PRAGUE” a thousand times each day…

by some miracle, the maniacal clock-loving tourists gave us a quarter of a second to get this shot…

we had to do something with those beautiful cobblestones… as much as we hated them for the pain they caused us, walking all day…

it kind of makes me mad to see how pretty she is.  and she’s also super adorable and sweet.  ugh.  haha.

i love this  one!

and this one…. somehow, we managed to find a quiet alley.  (just had a flash of what the alley in behind my apartment building looks like… umm… i miss prague!!!!)

ok, i just love them all…

this was theressa’s idea, and i think it turned out perfectly!

then, theressa, damon, the g-man and i went for dinner to this AMAZING lebanese restaurant.  seriously, i can’t stop thinking about that food.  it was soooo good.

theressa and damon, i can’t wait to hang out with you again in vancouver!!!  enjoy the rest of your time in europe!

sometimes, it’s a little difficult to think of good locations for photoshoots.  umm… not when you’re in PRAGUE.  so, here’s a funny little story… about 2 months ago, i had a consultation with theressa and damon, here in vancouver.  i mentioned that i was going to prague in october, and they mentioned that they were also going to prague in october!  so, of course, we couldn’t pass up on doing their engagement session there…

i LOVED hanging out with them in prague.  it was so nice to a) speak english and not feel guilty for it and b) just hang out.  seriously, these two are so fun.  and despite the fact that i was made rather uncomfortable by theressa’s ridiculously unfair beauty, it was one of the most enjoyable sessions ever.

it’s hard to capture the beauty of prague in a photo.  but i think this well represents the architecture…

i love the way the light just wraps around  her hair.  her perfect, beautiful hair.  haha.

ok, part two will come in two days.  be there or be square.


day 15.  the last day.  we started with one last belltower climb…

then, we visited the jewish quarter.  we planned on visiting this synagogue, but we only had about 45 minutes to spare, and it was $30/person, so it seemed a little ridiculous to spend so much when we couldn’t really enjoy it.

this clock is special… because hebrew is read from right to left, this clock is read… get this… counter-clockwise.  graeme and i thought that was pretty awesome.

after that, i did something very exciting, which you will learn about in the next few days…

i am obsessed with pigeons. absolutely obsessed. graeme went to wawel castle, and i decided to hang around the hotel and sort through some images and write in my blog… but in the end, i spent another 2 hours hanging out in the square with the pigeons.

one thing that i have always wanted to do in my life was visit the auschwitz-birkenau museum and memorial, which is the entire reason we came to poland from the czech republic. i am having trouble explaining how i was impacted by this experience, so i’ll stick to the facts and the very few photos i took.

first, we visited auschwitz, which is the museum portion.

“arbeit macht frei” — “work makes you free” — one of the messages to mock the prisoners. another was “keep your head covered — one louse can kill you.” it makes me so sick to think of people thinking those messages were funny or clever.

it was a rainy and dreary day. this woman carried a bag full of flowers to leave. in the museum were photos of victims, and some of them had flowers placed on them from relatives of the victim that visited.

photos are not permitted inside the museum, but i saw some startling things: almost 100 lbs of eyeglasses. 460 artificial limbs. over 2 tons of human hair, shaved off the bodies of women killed with cyclone b. over 80000 shoes. approximately 3800 suitcases (most of the jews that were there in the beginning were tricked — they had been forced to live in jewish ghettos in krakow, unable to go to work or leave their neighbourhood at any time — and so they all given train tickets and told they could start a new life in the east. but of course, their train line stopped at auschwitz and their posessions, families, and lives were all taken away.)

you can’t see the barracks here anymore, but there used to be sooooo many buildings. in 1944, the camp had more than 121 000 prisoners. honestly, i don’t know how poland can be such a wonderful, welcoming country. first, they were invaded and occupied by the germans. then, just shortly after being liberated, they were invaded and occupied by the soviets. during that time, the people were so poor, the government allowed everyone to take the wood from the barracks to heat their homes, and that is why all the wooden barracks are gone, only a few brick buildings remain.

for over a year that the prisoners (primarily polish and hungarian people worked here — all jews, sick, elderly, and young children were immediately sent to the gas chambers) were there , they had no washrooms. the women built this washroom. you can’t even see how long this room is in this photo, but there were more than 60 toilets in here. there was a separate room with a long sink like this. there was no soap, and only cold water.

each level of these “beds” (wooden planks) slept 6 women. the huge room had one small furnace. the weaker women would have to sleep on the bottom level, and they had it the worst because no one was allowed to leave the guarded barracks at night. they would often vomit, urinate, or have diarrhea… but could not leave their “bed.”

on the 27th of january, 1945, 7000 prisoners were liberated. a minimum of 1.1 million people had been killed during the less than 5 years the camp was operating.

it’s taken me so long to write the little bit i’ve said here. i have so much i want to say, but honestly, i don’t know how to express with words what it was like to be there. i was ashamed to be a human being, capable of such cruelty. at least 3 prisoners escaped and contacted north american media to tell what had happened to them. no one believed them. the nazis put on a good show when people would go look at the place — they would dress up the healthiest prisoners and have them sort of on display. they said all the “workers” were able to write to their families, and showed the mock post office they had built. they would have their musicians who normally played death marches, play classical music in the main area. and no one realized. it was very difficult to be there, and more than once, i thought i was going to be sick. but i’m so glad i went. i just think it’s important.

so, day ten was supposed to be spent at prague castle, but once we saw the main square (the largest square in europe), we decided to add on an extra day to our stay in krakow and hang out in the square.

i love pigeons. a lot. and i’ve never seen so many. so i took about 200 photos of them. seriously.

this little girl loved the pigeons almost as much as i did.

the pigeons rule the square…

there was a beautiful photo exhibit showing the faces of people from all over the world. it was very touching, and reminded me of how powerful a good portrait is…

i’m not sure what this was for, but it seemed like perhaps a memorial of some sort? the children were all lined up in a long row, and i caught these girls playing a clapping game behind this boy’s back while the ceremony was going on…

then, we took a group tour to wieliczka salt mine. i know that “salt mine” might sound boring. but it was insanely cool.  here’s a summary from wikipedia…

“The mine reaches down to a depth of 327 meters and is over 300 km long.  The Wieliczka salt mine features a 3.5-km. tour for visitors (less than 1% of the length of the mine’s passages) that includes statues of historic and mythic figures. The older works were sculpted by miners out of rock salt, more recent figures have been fashioned by contemporary artists. Even the crystals of the chandeliers are made from rock salt that has been dissolved and reconstituted to achieve a clear, glass-like appearance. The rock salt is naturally grey, in various shades like granite, so that the carvings resemble carved unpolished granite rather than having the white or crystalline appearance that many visitors expect.

everything you see… salt.

salt.  a huge chapel made of salt.  they said there were 36 chapels in the whole mine.  the miners were very religious and the job was very dangerous, so they built chapels all over the place to pray in.

salt.  seriously.  it’s all salt.  even that huge floor is just one solid piece of salt that was then hand-carved to appear paved.  they have weddings in this room.  i would like to shoot one of them.  :o)

day 9 was spent in olomouc, czech republic, a tiny university town with amazing food. if you ever end up here, order the fried lemon chicken from caesar, in the main square. but get it to go because the air there is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. that’s what i hate about here… everyone smokes everywhere. yuck yuck yuck.

but how could you hate a place where grass grows on the roof?…

there’s that awesome statue again…

this is another one of the 5 billion statues in the square…

this is an astronomical clock. the czechs believe that you have a birth day and a name day, and it’s at least as important as your birthday, if not more so. ie. you get more presents. the problem is that i couldn’t figure out my name day. so, i’ll just have to accept presents 365 days a year. there’s no other way.

this is sort of a painful memory that this photo can’t quite capture. this was taken about half way up a little bell tower that we climbed. it was an “enter at your own risk” place with thin pieces of wood with holes in them to walk on. really, it didn’t feel very safe at all and we just kept walking and walking and i kept thinking of how the wood will break and we’ll fall to our death. i’m weird — every day, i think i’m going to die. does anyone else have that?

in the end, we made it to the top. i wish i had taken some better photos, but i was pretty much panicked.

then, we made a very special shopping trip. you’ll see that soon…

our last activity was checking out this beautiful cathedral. i can’t even remember the name of it. seriously, we’ve seen soooo many cathedrals.

next was a 5 hour train ride to krakow, poland. on the way, we met the nicest girls, and i was super sad when they got off the train. :o( graeme and i passed some time playing cards. at one point, we were playing crazy 8’s and i had 34 out of 52 cards. so i was really glad when graeme won and put me out of my misery.

poland is a beautiful and magical land. we arrived just after 9pm and were greeted at the train station by an english-speaking man whose job was to give directions or travel tips, etc. then, we went outside, and were in this square. the moon was way prettier than it looks in this photo…

as you can see, krakow is a really modern (yet historic) city. it’s the perfect balance…

so by the time we got to our hotel and checked in, it was after ten, but there was an amazing restaurant just a few doors away from us still open. we had pierogies and duck and delicious roasted carrots and a bunch of other stuff that i can’t remember but wish i could because it was so freaking good.

well, yesterday wasn’t really too exciting in terms of activities, but it was still one of the most wonderful things i’ve ever done!  i just can’t believe that the czech republic isn’t given the same attention as france or italy, it’s just amazing.  graeme and i talked about it and said it must be related to communism… it wouldn’t have been the best place to come to during that time, and it just takes a long long time for a nation to recover from that.  it’s very sad, because it’s honestly the most wonderful place.

karlovy vary is a spa town. but not the kind of spa we would expect.  there are (i believe) 13 different springs here, full of minerals, and they are believed to have healing properties.  you can stay in a “spa,” but it’s very much like a hospital, very bright and sterile.  at these spas, you get 3 treatments daily.  well, when i read that, i was really excited.  but… what that means here is that you get examined 3x daily as you drink the spa water, or maybe you’ll sit in a bath tub full of spring water for a few minutes.  good health is for the rich though, because it’s upwards of $500 for two people for one night.  the funniest part is that the treatments we think of as “spa treatments” are really cheap here… about $30 for a 60 minute massage.  i read that like north americans don’t understand their spas, they don’t understand ours.  anyways, the springs basically look like this, although each spring has their own display style.  people come up with little cups specifically made for drinking the waters and fill up.  each of the springs is at a very different temperature… i sort of liked drinking one of the hot ones (I think 76 degrees), but didn’t like the taste of the others.  they were all really salty.

one thing i did like the taste of, though… oplatky!  this is the best little cookie ever.  they sell them everywhere here in about a dozen flavours, and they only cost about 30 cents.

I like birds.

like i said, we didn’t really “do” a whole lot yesterday, just walked around and went in some shops.  (we also went to the grandhotel pupp, which graeme was excited about because it was featured in some james bond movie) but it was amazing just to experience this magical little town.  the streets are somewhat difficult to navigate (true for everywhere in the czech republic) because they are so windy and hilly and you never know where you’re going or if it’ll be a dead end when you get there.  that’s what happened to us here, but it was ok, because we got this wonderful view…

I am now sitting in that same café as yesterday, eating the same delicious toast.  After this, I’ll grab another oplatky on our way to the bus station.  I don’t know where we’re going from here… maybe cesky krumlov, maybe budejovic, maybe pilzen… but i know it’ll be wonderful.  and I’m really looking forward to the ride there.