Joan McCormack Photography: Blog en-us (C) Joan McCormack Photography (Joan McCormack Photography) Sun, 21 Feb 2016 15:03:00 GMT Sun, 21 Feb 2016 15:03:00 GMT Joan McCormack Photography: Blog 120 93 The Cook Wedding Session Ann Marie and Ian Cook

I photographed a wedding once...a long, long time ago...with a little Kodak instamatic camera in the dark ages of film photography (would have been about 1979). It was by no means a professional endeavour but in my youth I had a great time and wasn't intimidated by it at all. Fast forward to 2015 and along came the second wedding I had the opportunity to shoot. This one was more intimidating, partly because I now have enough knowledge and experience to know that I should be intimidated! In the end it was exciting, fun and successful.

If I were to find one word to describe Ann Marie I would use the word 'elegant'. This bride has a classic style and she looked stunning on her wedding day.

I had gone to college with Ann Marie and over the past couple of years we found each other on facebook. She asked if I would be interested in doing her wedding photos. I was happy for the opportunity but I did let Ann Marie and her husband to be, Ian, know that I had no experience at wedding photography. This was definitely a learning experience for me.

 The wedding was an intimate affair held at Whitehern Museum in Hamilton. The grounds are beautifully maintained and perfect for small group photography. It was a very hot day but there was enough shade that it wasn't too painful although most of the group were happy to be done in a short time. 

The ring bearer (Ian's grandson) was beyond cute. I suggested that they rent him out to wedding parties...he was an angel and lasted the entire day without complaint. Look at how handsome this young man is!

The room which was the coach house of the original home, was very rustic with stone walls and wood trim. It is a perfect spot for an intimate wedding. 

Chris was my second for this event and we were invited to the reception and dinner. There were no formal photos at the dinner but we kept the cameras at the ready and took a few candid shots. 

If I had it to do over again I would get closer during the ceremony. I was too concerned about being in the way and I would temper that and get in there a bit more. I would also do more formal shooting at the reception. All in all the day was a success. Ian and Ann Marie ordered prints and a book, their guests expressed their happiness with the experience. They seemed relaxed and very agreeable with the group shots. Everyone was fun and friendly at the reception and dinner. I was honoured to have been offered this opportunity and while I am not a 'wedding photographer' I would more than willingly consider other wedding shoots after this pleasant experience!

]]> (Joan McCormack Photography) beautiful bride summer wedding wedding wedding photography Sun, 21 Feb 2016 13:50:26 GMT
Rideout Family Photo Shoot at Dundurn Castle March 29, 2015

]]> (Joan McCormack Photography) Sat, 11 Apr 2015 21:04:01 GMT
The Scatter Story- pet therapy at its best

One of my favourite and most used subjects is my dearest pet, Scatter. Unfortunately for him he is at my mercy and as such is unable to refuse me when I get the camera out! Let me tell you his story. 

A few years back we were mulling over getting a dog. We knew if we got one it would be a Jack Russell and we knew his name ahead of time as well. It just so happened that one of the seniors at the day program I spend my days working at had a daughter who bred Jacks. We went to see them and picked out Scatter. Now, while this isn't remarkable the story of his life and work is. 

You see, Scatter became a pet therapy dog at the tender age of 11 weeks old. His then family brought him in to deliver him to me at our day program. It was part of a ruse used to bring the breeder's parents in to see the program. Up until that point they had been refusing, telling their daughter that 'they didn't need to go to a program'. As it turned out, it was Scatter's first duty as a pet therapy dog. The family brought puppies in and delivered Scatter to me. By the way, the couple who were coerced into coming in to help with the puppies did end up coming to the program for several years and would introduce themselves to newcomers as 'Scatter's grandparents'! 


Scatter has a remarkable ability to know who needs him. Like many therapy dogs this is an innate instinct and for some unknown reason he acts on it. Scatter sits on the right lap at the right time. Over the years he has been able to settle dementia clients who were inclined to be agitated and wander, one lady in particular who wandered and paced would sit for up to an hour 'babysitting' the puppy, and by babysitting I mean she would tell me 'you leave this dog alone' when I would go to take him back from her. 


Scatter also knows when people are lonely or sad. He has comforted people who have suffered the loss of a spouse after many years of marriage and snuggles up on their laps to provide that warmth and make them feel just a little less lonely for a while. He seems to know a bit about physical ailments too. There have been several stroke patients over the years who have suffered paralysis and Scatter is very selective about how he sits on those laps, taking care not to sit on or sleep on their affected limbs. 

Another one of Scatter's specialties is the seated exercise program that we provide the seniors with. His role in that exercise circle is to play ball with the seniors. He has a plastic hockey ball in his mouth and chases a large beach ball, bopping it with his nose to all of the seniors who throw it back for him. In this way he helps them get a little more exercise and he is also very entertaining. 


On the 10th of February 2015, Scatter celebrated his 8th anniversary at the day program. Just to put a little icing on his cake a lady who had attended program into her nineties had left 5 or 6 years ago. She recently passed away and Scatter's impact on her life was such that the family thanked 'especially Scatter' in her obituary. This was a true tribute to this remarkable little four-legged piece of 'feel good'!

]]> (Joan McCormack Photography) Jack Russell pet photography' pet therapy puppylove Thu, 12 Feb 2015 11:24:47 GMT
A Note Above Recital November 2014 They say (and I have no idea who 'they' are) that difficulties are opportunities for learning. I think that in this case that is true. If I had it to do over again...

This session was challenging in many ways. First, the recital took place in a gym lit with flourescent lights. While in itself that isn't bad the light level was still pretty low and I would have liked to use a little flash so that the photos would be less grainy, but I was worried about being a disruption, not only to the performers but also to the proud parents. 

I arrived early to check out the lay of the land. I was asked to take photos that would be printed at 4 x 6 to be given to the parents. The head of the music school also wanted a group shot of all of the performers.

To minimize the distraction of having a photographer present I took the beep off of the camera and I used no flash. I used a tripod and took it around the outside of the room to find better angles.



Another challenge is that the kids who performed have been taught to look at their music all the way through, so no one lifted their head resulting in no full face photos. Since I have a love of candid photos I found that to be disappointing in a way. However, I did get some opportunity to capture a few candid moments! This little one's face when Santa arrived was priceless!


She was also quite the dancer!


I would love the opportunity to try this again...I discovered that when doing this kind of photo shoot the photographer has to take charge more than I did. The group shot at the end of the program was near impossible. Each parent in attendance had their phone out to take the picture and I ended up on a chair to even get a clear angle...I had not expected that and didn't take control. This resulted in a badly posed group picture.


The group shot was taken at the end of the program and a great many of the families had already left.

This one was definitely a 'live and learn' experience!


]]> (Joan McCormack Photography) learning experience piano photo shoot Sat, 07 Feb 2015 12:26:57 GMT
Halloween 2014 Halloween is that great time of year when adults can get dressed up and act like children all over again!

Each year I am amazed at the creativity and sense of fun among those who go out to celebrate.

 It is truly liberating to dress in costume and be someone or 'something' else! So if you have never tried it, I suggest you get out to Value Village and pick out a costume for some fun this year.

Inhibitions can go by the wayside and hilarity is sure to be a part of it all.

These head shots are just a few of the people who came out to celebrate this spooky event in Hagersville. 

Hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween! Remember...don't take candy from strangers!!!


]]> (Joan McCormack Photography) costumes halloween head shots masks Sun, 26 Oct 2014 17:46:46 GMT
Campbell Family Photo Session August 2014 Late in August my good friend Sheri asked if I would do family photos for her. We were fortunate to be able to shoot out on Lake Erie near Peacock Point at the home owned by Jenny Almas. We had free run of her beautiful property and we also had several hours to complete the shoot. My son Chris came with me to assist and we arrived early in order to scope out the place.

By the time the family arrived we had explored every nook and cranny and had done some test shots. I knew right away that I wanted to utilize the rocks at the shore. I waded in, luckily it was warm water but the blue-green algae did worry me a bit! 

I had asked Sheri a few weeks back how the kids, all in their teens and early 20's, had responded to her idea to do a family photo session and at that point she said that she hadn't told them!

I was a little worried thinking that they would be unhappy with the situation but to my delight they were a lot of fun.

Everyone worked well and we got some great shots. This was a very relaxed family session, we had some laughs and everyone really enjoyed the setting on this beautiful August evening!

In the end, Sheri and her family were very happy with the disc they purchased. All in all it was a great experience!


]]> (Joan McCormack Photography) Lake Erie Photos Portraits family photography Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:45:00 GMT

This post is going to the birds. One of the things I love to do is watch the birds who visit the backyard feeder. They are entertaining and if you watch for some time you will get to know their personalities as you see them preen, compete for the best seeds, and feed their young. The pair pictured above sat on the fence for a while. The entire time they sat, the baby bird tried to convince mom that she should feed him. Mom managed to ignore him until the last shot where she gave him a look!

The cardinals always come in pairs, quite often she will eat while he sits in the tree a little ways away, watching over her. In the spring the pair bring their young one and take turns feeding him.

The blue jays are noisy, nasty birds. They are beautiful but they have no hesitation in chasing away competitors for seeds. Their favourites are the black sunflower seeds. We get dozens of sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees, mourning doves and finches as well.

We could fill the feeder everyday but every now and then it stays full and we know that there has been a bird of prey in the area. Everything stays quiet for a couple of days before the smaller birds brave a trip for some seed.

I've been lucky to have captured some shots of birds of prey. Most of these were captive birds at a bird of prey rescue at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Flamborough.

The most recent and (to me) most amazing was the snowy owl that I saw on my way home from work on Feb 13 2014. He was sitting high up on a treetop. He wasn't afraid of me, he just kept looking around and watching me at the same time.

This hawk had divebombed a tree and snagged a bird in there for dinner.

The turkey vulture is a sinister looking eating machine.

Over the years we've had lots of fun taking seeds to Cherry Hill Gate at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario to hand feed the chickadees and nuthatches. Along the way you are sure to see woodpeckers as well.

Living outside of the city allows a lot of opportunity to photograph birds that are generally afraid of people. Great Blue Herons fly away as soon as you get close so you have to be quick with the camera to capture magnificent shots of these graceful beauties.

Ducks are plentiful in ponds and lakes as well as parks with water features.

One of my favourite places I have visited on my bird travels is a place called Swallowville. I hope to make return trips throughout the seasons and to continue to update my bird page.

]]> (Joan McCormack Photography) Mon, 17 Feb 2014 15:59:21 GMT
Ethan Allen Design Workshop On Saturday I attended the annual Christmas Design Workshop at the Ethan Allen store in Burlington, Ontario.

It seems that the traditions of the Christmas season are now kicked into gear after seeing the creative designs that were put together by the Ethan Allen design team. The caliber of the designs and the soft quality of the lighting in the store made photography child's play.



MantelThe chair that started it for Benn

I'm proud to say that my brother Benn is one of the designers and his theme was retro, even down to the Fisher Price toys that for a moment I thought he may have kept from when we were young!






His rooms were done in greens                                             with a touch of blue thrown in  here and was stunning and he won the attendees' vote for best design.





 I thought that the designs this year were for the most part, quite traditional. One of the designs was a little out of the box, very elegant and suitable to keep past Christmas and into the New Year.



This room was accented in purple and the result was quite beautiful. The use of boas and feathers softened the room design.





 The nautical themed room was another one of the designs that were a little outside the box.  Melissa found some beautiful starfish and seahorse glass ornaments.











The traditional reds and greens of Christmas made their appearance in the designs as well.  











If you are looking for glittery, elegant d├ęcor for the holidays the red and black design was perfect. Black was a beautiful accent along with the silvery and red pieces on the table and buffet.













  ...and we also had rustic, Scottish design. Burlap, and other more natural materials were used and the design was capped off with some lovely 'tablet' made by the designer. Tablet is fudge as we know it and it was delicious.











                                  We finished off the morning with coffee, cider and sweet treats. We also teamed up to make tinsel Christmas trees as demonstrated by Vincent.


]]> (Joan McCormack Photography) Sun, 17 Nov 2013 21:57:07 GMT