Vancouver's Chinese New Years Parade... LAST Year...

It was very wet last year...

It was very wet last year...

So it's taken me a while to blog this. Life became busier and wedding season went into full gear and I found myself with little time to edit my own personal work... but these last few months have been a great time for me to sit and look back at the year that was. As I sit here a week prior to the 2018 Chinese New Year Parade, I thought I'd share some of the major photo highlights from last year's 2017 Chinese New Year Parade.

Last year's Parade was a defining moment for me and this Chinatown Project that I'm involved in. It was the first time I was actually IN the parade rather than taking photographs outside of it. This afforded me opportunities to document the events and the moments happening all around me, including taking some firework debris to the face (true story), getting up close with the lion dances and seeing the smiling faces of those being drenched on by Vancouver's rain but marching onwards with pride.

I'm looking forward to being a part of the parade again this year. For now, here's the Chinatown Parade from last year. Full Gallery at the bottom.

Up close with one of the lions.

Up close with one of the lions.

The kind of moves these guys pulled with this dragon was mesmerizing.

The kind of moves these guys pulled with this dragon was mesmerizing.

A lot of people attended, despite the heavy rain fall.

A lot of people attended, despite the heavy rain fall.

If you see anyone you recognize (or it's you!), let me know as I'd like to send you a photo :)

Stanley and Jen's Wedding at Burnaby Alliance Church and Westwood Plateau

The bride prays with the bridesmaids and her pastor before heading down to the ceremony.

The bride prays with the bridesmaids and her pastor before heading down to the ceremony.

It's funny how sometime time repeats itself. It was only 6 years ago when my wife and I were married in Burnaby Alliance Church and had our reception at Westwood Plateau golf course. I was pretty stoked to get to document Stanley and Jen's wedding but even more so when I realized they'd be getting married in the same places we did! In some ways, I got to re-live the experience of my own wedding day through them. 

What made Stanley and Jen's wedding a unique experience was their dedication to God and to each other. Early on, while I was photographing their Engagement Sessionthey made it clear to me that they had not kissed prior to their wedding day. I found that prayer was a fundamental and strong part of their wedding day and it was evident that they both wanted to glorify God through their union. It was a privilege to document their first kiss, which would take place on their wedding day! This was soon followed by a tea ceremony at Westwood Plateau with family and friends around to witness this Chinese cultural event and a reception dinner that followed. 

The day ended with Jen surprising Stanley (and the rest of us) with a solo song performance, which led to their first dance and then everyone joining them on the dance floor and busting out some crazy moves. 

While the locations were similar, Stanley and Jen had an amazing wedding day that was unique to them and I was all the more glad to document their fantastic wedding day.

Shout out to Ivory + Gold Photography (Juliette) who was my second shooter for this day.

A groomsman gives a heart-felt speech while reception guests look on.

A groomsman gives a heart-felt speech while reception guests look on.


Image Gallery below with photographs from Stanley and Jen's wedding day:

Jeff and Melissa's wedding at Westwood Plateau - Seconding for Jody Nay

Jeff and Melissa's son laughs during the middle of the reception dinner.

Jeff and Melissa's son laughs during the middle of the reception dinner.

I've been to a number of weddings at Westwood Plateau. In fact, even my own wedding and my brother's wedding has been there. I love the venue and I love the food there. It's a great little hidden gem in Coquitlam. 

Last year, Jody Nay asked me to second shoot for her. While it did take place at Westwood Plateau, it was the camaderie of friends and the closeness of family that made this wedding amazing. 

Seaside Oregon Vintage Dress Photoshoot

Last year, as part of going on vacation in the beautiful place known as Seaside, Oregon, my wife and I decided on trying a photoshoot that involved a vintage dress and getting it utterly wet. Yup, we took this very beautiful dress and tossed her with it out to sea. 

Kidding. Well, not really. See, we had this inspiration from an article we had read about a vintage find of some amazing photographs:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3181283/Who-mystery-1950s-girls-surf-Photographer-launches-hunt-women-vintage-photos-Virginia-thrift-shop.html

While our lighting wasn't as good (we got the typical PNW cloudy sun) and while both my wife and I were freezing cold in the water, we managed to get a few photos. Before all that, though, we had to find a dress!

Simply Vintage Boutique (located in Portland, OR). This is where we found the dress after walking and driving around Portland.

Simply Vintage Boutique (located in Portland, OR). This is where we found the dress after walking and driving around Portland.

One of the ladies helping us find a dress. It wasn't easy! The Canadian dollar didn't help either. haha.

One of the ladies helping us find a dress. It wasn't easy! The Canadian dollar didn't help either. haha.

Wet and cold, my wife still tromped onwards towards the large waves.

Wet and cold, my wife still tromped onwards towards the large waves.

It was quite an effort but in both our minds it was totally worth it. Most importantly, it was fun and the results we obtained are (at least to our eyes) amazing.

Dana and Family Documentary Photosession

I remember having a train set like this one. I guess Brio is still a thing!

I remember having a train set like this one. I guess Brio is still a thing!

Being a documentary photographer means being a part of people's lives. I've found out over the years that cameras, film, technology and other things really have little to do with a photo... although, of course, you need these items to actually make a photograph. Yet, much of it is about connecting with your fellow human and relating on a personal level. Too many times I find myself hiding behind a camera to take photos only to realize that the best ones I take (at least to me) are ones where I've connected with people.

When I met Dana, she introduced me to her two boys and her husband. One of the boys, like my nephew, is autistic. I automatically connected. Dana realized that getting two boys to sit still for posed photographs was going to be next to impossible and so, after looking at my work, she contacted me and we arranged a date for a photoshoot. 

When I gave her the 4x6 prints, she mentioned how she loved the photos but also how she was glad that I was able to create something that they could not do on their own. 

This photoshoot was not orchestrated at all. Other than a few location suggestions, I was hovering around the family and their dog in the backyard and even in the bedrooms. From the moment I stepped into the house, I started photographing and after a few minutes of some slight awkwardness, Dana and her family eventually let me document a day in their life.

Further into the photograph set,  you'll see a photograph of one of the boys crying. This is due to the boy falling through the crack that separates the two beds (the boys were jumping on the bed). Dana later told me this was a pretty common occurrence for them. Fun fact: There's a video of me back when I was a kid jumping on the bed and, of course, falling over the side and onto the ground. Tears ensued. I was 29....er.... 2 years old or so.

While I tried to get some time for Dana and her husband together, it was only a few moments before we heard the boys rush into the room and start jumping on their parents' bed. All the moments in this photoshoot were real. Life is real and never really perfect... but it's in that imperfection that we find love and we find what makes families.