The Canadian Tulip Connection

The Canadian Tulip Connection

Tulips, history and photography come together

This May I was thrilled to be able to photograph dogs and also horses in the tulip fields at TASC tulip farm in Fenwick. As Canadians we have a a fascinating history with the Netherlands. If you don’t know the story of why tulips are a such big deal in Canada (and also how my dad fits in to the picture) please read on!

Following the Nazi Invasion of the Netherlands in the second world war, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands took refuge in Ottawa with her two young daughters, Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene.

While in exile, Princess Juliana gave birth to her third daughter, Princess Margriet. In order that the new princess could hold Dutch nationality exclusively, a section of the Ottawa Civic Hospital was declared Dutch soil. Ottawa also helped to celebrate the princess’ birth by flying the Dutch flag at the top of the iconic Peace Tower. Ottawa ultimately played home and safe haven to the Dutch royal family until the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945.

When she returned to the Netherlands, Princess Juliana wanted to express her gratitute to Ottawa and the Canadian people. Among several gifts – the royals sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa. Since that time, the Dutch royal family has sent tulip bulbs to our capital every year – the gift is known as the “Tulip Legacy”.

The black and white photo below was taken on May 6, 1945, in the town of Amersfoort, a day before the war ended. Skip forward to the 50th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe), in 1995. The photo appeared on the front page of an Amsterdam newspaper. Dad had never seen the photo before, but a war buddy of his mailed a copy of it to him.

That’s my dad (she says, bursting with pride), Captain John Black of the Ontario Regiment, leaning over the “Scout Car” to offer the little Dutch girls candy. With him were his driver, and an “Oranjes”, a Dutch freedom fighter (bottom right).

So in a way, this is my delayed celebration of VE Day. I wanted to share this story with you along with a photo of lovely Dutch equestrienne Roos Dystra and her stunning throroughbred gelding, Quartz, among the tulips!

Hope you enjoyed discovering this “colourful” piece of Canadian history!



senior dog looking up at camera

Five top tips for snapping pawfect pet photos!

Five top tips for snapping pawfect pet photos!

Hey there, fellow dog lovers! Do you ever marvel at how easily our four leggers can brighten the day with a wag of the tails and those puppy dogs eyes? Plus their crazy antics are fodder for those of us who are snap-happy with our smartphones. 

If you wonder why your photos are a little meh, read on to find out how you can up your game.

Here are my top five tips to help you capture snaps that that will actually impress your dog’s fan club!

1. Laying Low

Get down to their level. With dogs that means either you get low… like, ground level low – which with some dogs is realllly low. Or you get them up higher, on a bench, a rock or a log. It’s easier on the old hips and knees by a long shot, and gives a totally different perspective to your photos!

2. Treat Me Right

You can’t seriously expect your sweet pup to work for free! Instead, have a pocket of your dog’s favorite treats on hand to keep them engaged. Unless you have a Lab. In which case definitely keep the treats out of sight until afterwards LOL, unless you like slobbery photos!

3. Light is Magic

The right light can make or break your photos. Don’t snap away in harsh midday sun as it casts ugly, hard shadows – if mid day is the time you want to take photos, then look for open shade, you’ll have far better results. Soft early morning or late afternoon light are the ideal times for capturing keepers that showcase your best friend’s star power.

4. The Sunflower Principle

Think about your subject as a sunflower – girasole in Italian, turns with the sun. You want to have your pet’s face facing the direction the light is coming from! Now that you know the best light to shoot in (see tip #3), don’t stick your pup with his back to the sun and expect to see that sweet little face shine in the photo. Turn him around to face the direction the light is coming from. Even on a cloudy day, you can make this work. (Make sure you aren’t making him squint into the light though, ouch!)

5. Safety in Numbers

Ever think you got the greatest shot and then later look at it and see that your dog’s eyes are closed, doh! In the days of digital, one is never enough and it costs you nuh-thing to overshoot! Take several photos so you don’t miss the über adorable moment that always comes 2.5 seconds after you put your phone down. Trust me it’ll increase your chances of capturing that insta-worthy moment!

Bonus tip
6. Focus on what’s most important

To use a way overused expression, the eyes are the windows to the soul. This definitely applies to our fur kids too! As long as the eyes are in focus, you’re golden, you’ve got a winner. You’ll get so much more satisfaction from seeing their little personality shine through those eyes. Most smartphones allow you to tap on the screen to focus on a specific area, so make those puppy-dog eyes sing!

senior dog looking up at camera

I hope that these tips will help you to create beautiful, insta-worthy photographs while you’re out and about in dog-friendly Niagara!

Cheers and wags,


2021 is a wrap! Onwards and upwards!

2021 is a wrap! Onwards and upwards!

It’s a wrap on 2021!

What a year! But, before I recap, I want to thank all of my clients for making 2021 such an epic year!
I’m starting 2022 with this very upbeat image of Indy because I think it will be that much better than the one we just kicked to the curb LOL.
Here are a few highlights from my 2021:

It was a year in the making and delivery came in right under the wire LOL. I published my very first coffee table book, “Bed Heads and other irresistible furry faces”. It was worth all the rescheduling due to weather and pandemic concerns – we now have this fabulous record of dogs (and a couple of adorable sheep) with Covid hair, and all manner of other “doos”. I’m thrilled with the outcome and so proud of every dog, and their humans, who supported the project. The book has raised $2000 so far for local rescue Pets Alive Niagara through registration fees and book sales. $10 from each book sold goes to the rescue. It’s a limited edition printing but are still a few copies available for sale ($85 + tax for the next few days). 

Bed Heads book flanked by scruffy dog paws

The Winery Dogs of Ontario Calendar was resurrected (in no small part due to the up front support of Malivoire Wine) and raised an additional $2000 for Pet Alive Niagara! A few wineries still have copies, let me know if you did NOT get a copy and I’ll help you source one. Also let me know if you HAVE a copy and loved opening it up to Gunner from Fielding Estate Winery this morning.

Collage of 2021 Winery Dogs of Ontario

I participated in a challenge as well this year with an international group of pet photographers, this pushed me to be more adventurous and creative in my work and I had an amazing time. I managed to place in the top 20 in 8 of 12 challenges, including a few top 10s and a category win! In fact my category win of Evil the standard poodle in front of the Hard Rock sign with her skate board actually captured the attention of Drake — he had his people track her dad down to book her for a music video. I had a had in launching her career as actor and model 😁

Embark challenge submissions
2021 was a year of camaraderie with other pet photographers, even managing a few live meet ups including one with my friend Bridget Davey from the UK whom I met in 2017 at a workshop in the south of France! We had a blast in and around Niagara and Toronto doing what we do, photographing dogs LOL. These connections have all inspired me and helped me to propel my business forward in the most wonderfully positive ways!


various dog images in Toronto and NOTL

So many new puppies came into my orbit, who doesn’t live for puppy kisses and needle sharp teeth! Unfortunately, several dear four-legged friends left us as well. They each take a piece of my heart with them. It never gets easier when we lose our best friends, but we are so blessed to have had them in our lives.

I’m incredibly grateful to all of the delightful new clients that I worked with in 2021. It feels like I’ve made so many new friends. To those past clients who came for a return session with me, I can’t thank you enough for your continued support! I imagine the animals helped by the funds we raised would be most grateful to you as well!

Cheers to the new year, an opportunity to start afresh. I am hopeful that Covid will play far less of a role in our lives and that we all remain healthy, happy and enjoy good fortune. Happy New Year!


Angel’s Rest Dog Rescue and Sanctuary

Angel’s Rest Dog Rescue and Sanctuary

Here we are on Giving Tuesday

It’s been a tough year for everyone. And many people have taken solace in their fur kids and some have welcomed new four-leggeds into their lives. Our pets that have helped us maintain our sanity and navigate this tough time.

With that in mind, let’s not forget how tough a year it’s been for rescues and charities! Very few opportunities for fundraising have drastically cut not-for-profit agencies funding across the board.

Below are links to a handful of local animal related charities, that I’ve worked with or know people who have, in the event that you are looking for a way to give back and honour your four-legged companions. But today I’m going to  highlight Angel’s Rest.

Angel’s Rest Rescue and Sanctuary

This truly is a remarkable sanctuary created by Christine Van Moorsel and her husband in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They welcome into their homes small breed dogs to live out their golden years in a loving home environment. There are some that come with behavioural baggage, some have lost their human companions, and some have special needs. Many of the dogs that Christine takes in cannot be re-homed, but she makes room in her heart and home for each and every one of them.

My visit last Sunday

I made arrangements with Christine last week for Kim Kester (from Best Friends Pet Resort) and I to drop off the donations that we had collected of soft food, pee pads and much needed dollars to help offset their costs, which with so many seniors, you can imagine is great. I was able to donate $320 from my Deck the Dog Holiday Sessions so a big thank you to everyone booked with me!

We met so many gorgeous little souls, including Dragonfly, the tiniest little puglet you could ever meet. He was found in the remnants of a puppy mill, full of worms, malnourished and the size of a guinea pig. He’s developmentally challenged, but all he wants is to give you as many kisses as he possibly can and to get ALL of your attention [melt].

Pixie could sure use a forever home!

Pixie is a new addition to Christine’s santuary, she’s a 4 year old Chihuahua with a congenital eye disease. the surgery is $4-5,000 to fix her eyes, so unless someone would spend that – or would be willing to take her on as a blind girl – she’ll be staying forever at Angel’s Rest. Not a hardship for sure, but I sure hope someone with a big heart would be interested in adopting her in spite of her condition. She is absolultely GORGEOUS and so full of love.

There are so many oldies at Angel’s Rest with no teeth, but they all have one thing in common. Their tails still work… and so do their lickers 🙂

If you’re interested in donating you can do so through Canada Helps or contact Christine at 905.262-6585 if you have canned soft food, pee pads or soft treats you’d l ike to donate.

Pixie the chihuahua

Looking for an animal related charity to help out?

Below are a few more animal charities that I’ve either contributed to or worked with!

Stay tuned for my big announcement in January for my next fundraising effort! It’s gonna be a doozy!!!

Beamsville 4Paw Rescue

JRTRO (Jack Russell Terrier Rescue Ontario)

Niagara Dog Rescue

Pets Alive Niagara

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!!

Paws for Oz – It‘s a wrap!

Paws for Oz – It‘s a wrap!

Five short months ago, the most pressing thing on my mind was the Australian Bushfires and Paws for Oz.

The videos of burnt, hungry, dehydrated and exhausted wildlife were keeping me up at night. What started as an idea that came to me at 4 a.m., in three short weeks was catapulted into a full blown international fundraiser – all with the help of my wine industry/animal loving friends, Jennifer Hart and Meg McGrath.

The idea was to bring together an international group of Pet Photographers – intense animal lovers by nature – under the banner of Paws for OzKnowing there is strength in numbers, our goal was to raise $10,000, which was later revised to $20,000 when we smashed the $10k goal!  All donations were made directly to established rescue Wildlife Victoria, to help with rescue and rehabilitation of koalas, wombats, kangaroos, dingoes, kookaburras and many more species.

The first phase of the fundraiser involved a silent auction in Niagara’s wine country. The wine community donated exceptional wines and experiences that locals were invited to bid on at the launch event in January. The auction raised almost $7000 for Wildlife Australia, a rather auspicious start to the fundraiser!

Phase two was the recruitment of pet photographers – ultimately twenty nine incredible pet photographers joined the cause, representing Canada, the US and Australia!

Go big or go home!

A massive shout out and THANK YOU to everyone who supported Paws for Oz, through donations, time, expertise and interest! Together we raised $20,753 and I’m incredibly proud of that achievement. Over $3,000 was raised was through Indigo Pet Photography alone. We received lovely notes of thanks and appreciation from Wildlife Victoria via email and social media. Not to brag, but we were the top fundraising team in the Australian Bushfire appeal on GoFundraise, where Wildlife Victoria was taking donations! Okay, yeah, totally wanted to brag about that!

On Instagram we encouraged our Paws for Oz photographers to tag their posts, please click here for an assortment of adorable images captured  –  including a few by yours truly!

I still have several sessions in Toronto that I’m very much looking forward to once restrictions are loosened. I imagine they will need to be outdoors sessions – in keeping with the 2020 theme of social distancing – and they will be lots of fun, of that I have no doubt.

Please take care and think happy thoughts! Give your beloved four–legged some extra lovin’ for being such a great isolation partner  🐶❤️💕

Cheers and wags,


Good things come from sweaty palms

Good things come from sweaty palms

Fact: Good things come from sweaty palms

Last year, I made the decision to invest in myself, heavily. I am so grateful that the universe kicked me in the pants to go to an incredible pet photography retreat in the south of France. One of the biggest aha moments that I took away from the experience, is the fact that if I’m going to be successful, I need to shake things up. I was stuck in a safe zone and clearly I was going to have to start to look for and embrace photographic opportunities that made my palms sweat.

Welcome to the Year of the Sweaty Palms

This year, I’ve taken on several jobs that made me step waaaay outside of my comfort zone. No longer am I saying to myself, “yeah, a big no on that job. That sounds scary and complicated and like someone else should do it”. If I let that crazy lady hold me back, I won’t grow as a photographer and that, my friends, is my never ending objective. I was blessed to have found a path into pet photography and I will throw my heart and soul into it until I breathe my last breath.

Just this past week, I stepped further out of the old comfort zone than I ever have before. I had a pro bono photo shoot for a social impact company called Mother Erth. They upcycle discarded plastic materials, keeping them out of landfill… aaaaand, wait for it… they work with artisan mothers in third world countries to create gorgeous fashion accessories. Thus enabling them to become financially independent! I love that!

We are creating a movement of people wearing our bright bags as a statement of their commitment to care for others and the Earth.

It came together like it was meant to be

I was contacted by Co-Founder Sean Kelly and asked to create images that would appeal to Mother Erth’s hip, youthful, stylish customer and promote their line of pet carriers and beds. Pet photography has created a vehicle for me to give back, so when a good fit comes along, I’m all over it.

I reached out to friends, clients and colleagues to pull this shoot together and I have to say, that it all came together beautifully because of their generosity and kindness. The shoot took place in the ever gorgeous surroundings at The Good Earth Food and Wine Co.  My canine models were a breathtaking Papillon named Betsy (thank you so much Kait Ripley) and the fluffiest most adorable little Pomeranian Kismet aka Kitty Kat (can’t thank you enough Nikki Fowler). The dogs interacted beautifully together and with my stunning, stylin’ hoomans Eva and Loire, who along with Eva’s mom, coordinated their own hair, makeup and wardrobe selections. EEEEK, you girls ROCKED it!!!

For someone who works almost exclusively with four-leggeds, this really was a big stretch for me creatively and I’m proud of the final product. Even more importantly, my clients and models all had a great time and love the images. The feeling of accomplishment that comes along with doing something that literally gives you sweaty palms is so immense! I gotta say… I like it!!

Here are a handful of the final images, enjoy!