s’more sessions.

Families.

They’re unpredictable, chaotic, usually kinda messy and it’s easier to corral kittens than it is the corral your family and make them smile at the same time for ONE photo.

Conversely, they’re adorable, heartwarming & oh SO fun.

A question I get asked most is “what is your favourite thing to shoot” and my answer is always families.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of capturing moments for so many families in the small town I’m based in and it fills me with the same amount of joy nine years later as it did the first time I photographed a family. I have captured a new addition within the first 24 hours of joining a family. I’ve been there for christenings, birthdays, and family reunions. I’ve been lucky to have some of my favourite families behind my lens three and four times a year and I’ve had other families who have never had a family photo and I get to take their first one. I’ve photographed multiple generations and at weddings, I get to capture two families coming together. In the past few years, I’ve also captured families facing a terminal illness who want to make sure they get a few more special photos with their loved one. These are never easy but those moments are a something to hold on tight to.

I’ve seen so much love happen on the other side of this lens of mine and it never ceases to amaze me. I’ve laughed and cried with families during sessions. I’ve been invited to dinner or in for a beer after sessions so many times I can’t count and I’ve made so many amazing connections that it makes my heart burst at the seams.

This year, I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to catch those little moments that families tend to capture on an iPhone but that will likely get forgotten in a cloud somewhere. I wanted to catch the bedtime routine, days at the pool, a picnic in the middle of a hike in the woods, or a bonfire at the beach. THESE ARE REAL MOMENTS that beg to be captured and I want to be able to do that.

I was able to get The Hayne family out for a “s’more session” at sunset and we mixed traditional photos in with a super fun bonfire/messy s’mores! Here’s the incredible results! I love love love these shots so much and had a smile on my face the entire time!

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oceanstone.

Oceanstone Seaside Resort can be found nestled along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean not far from Downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. If I could describe the property in three words it would be charming, relaxing & perfect.

I took my mum for a little mother-daughter retreat. We checked in and were given our keys for the Periwinkle Cottage – a sweet little spot featuring two cozy bedrooms & a deck close enough to the ocean that you could throw a rock off into the Atlantic! The cottage had cute features like barnboard throughout, driftwood accent furniture and a beautiful wood stove. DSC_0030 copyDSC_0029 copyDSC_0361 copyDSC_0032 copyWhen we arrived, there was a cute little customized package waiting for us that included trusty tide charts as well as close-by hikes to check out!DSC_0373 copyDSC_0347 copyDSC_0359 copyDSC_0091 copyWe found the guest log that dated back to the early 2000’s – it was sweet to see little love notes from others who had enjoyed their stay in the Periwinkle Cottage.DSC_0064 copyDSC_0056 copyDSC_0081 copyDSC_0084 copyDSC_0105 copyDSC_0055 copyDSC_0088 copyDSC_0097 copyDSC_0160 copyAfter settling in, I took mum for a drive to the picturesque Peggy’s Cove which is a quick two minutes down the road from our cottage. It doesn’t matter the season, the weather, or who you’re with, this place is always beautiful. Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Nova Scotia. Tourists flock year after year to take in the stunning coastline she guards making it one of the most photographed lighthouses around! DSC_0110 copyDSC_0138 copyDSC_0148-Edit copyMum said the coat made her look fat. We laughed pretty hard at this moment. I thoroughly enjoyed being touristy in our home province. I also enjoyed spending some one on one time with my mum. It can seem hard sometimes between work and having other siblings to really scrape out time for just the two of us but I think we both enjoyed the bonding session. DSC_0155 copyFor dinner, we headed for our 6:30pm reservation at Rhubarb Restaurant. I’ve enjoyed several meals here in the past, each surpassing the next experience to the point where I know I’d devour anything placed on a plate in front of me as long as it was made by the talented folks here! We probably could have been rolled out by the end of our delicious meal! DSC_0171 copyDSC_0185 copyDSC_0194 copyDSC_0213 copyDSC_0193 copyDSC_0260 copyAs the night wore on, we caught a beautiful sunset from the back step of our cottage – a view of the sky that anyone would stop and stare at. I threw my onesie on and stepped outside to watch it. It’s been a while since I’ve just stopped to take in a sky like this. Life gets in the way. Time slips too quick… It’s hard sometimes to give yourself the time you really need and deserve to unwind. I came away from my evening at Oceanstone completely relaxed and recharged and for that, I’m grateful!DSC_0288-Edit copyDSC_0269-Edit copyAfter the sun set, I made sure to stargaze from our deck as well. It’s hard to believe we were so close to the capital yet it felt so far from everything. The only thing you could hear was a slight breeze and the waves kissing the shore. The later it got, the wind picked up a little more and the sound of the waves crashing harder was like a sweet lullaby that put me right to sleep.DSC_0319 copyDSC_0343 copyI made sure to put the s’more kit to good use! I love a good ooey gooey s’more before bed! If I could say anything about my stay other than that I love love loved staying here, it’s that you should bring your coziest clothes you’ve got so you can completely unwind here. Wear those ratty sweatpants you’ve had since high school and bring the softest blanket you’ve got so you can snuggle up and de-stress. My other advise: don’t set an alarm! Those beds are too comfy to get out of – stay in bed as long as you can, honey!DSC_0328 copyDSC_0353 copyDSC_0390 copyDSC_0392 copyMy kind of wakeup looks exactly like this: rolling out of a cozy bed well rested, into my warm flannel and checking out the new day in front of the ocean with a hot cup of coffee! DSC_0401 copyA massive thank you to the folks at Oceanstone for inviting my mum & I to stay at their GORGEOUS accommodations. We were treated like royalty and would highly recommend Oceanstone for a stay. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

sarah & tom // antigonish wedding.

Dear Tom & Sarah, 

Thanks for making me cry a thousand times at your wedding. For good reasons. The profound love you share for each other is so heartwarming that your feelings become contagious. The words swapped between you during your vows were so genuine and beautiful that I know there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Your sense of humour as the day progressed made every ounce of your wedding day one of the most fun days I’m sure not many will forget. Thank you for allowing my to be a part of your day! May the love that you share for each other never ever fade and I hope you keep the jokes flowing! 

Love,

Your sappy little wedding photographer.

Tom & Sarah’s wedding date got changed around a few times. When we finally settled on a date, the day started out beautiful and quickly progressed into downpours that you couldn’t see through. In case you didn’t know, a downpour isn’t optimal for an outdoor wedding. About 10 minutes after the ceremony was scheduled to go forward, the sky cleared up and it was go time for this beautiful couple. I meant it above when I said there wasn’t a dry eye in that yard (and maybe not a dry bum either as the chairs had been left out in the rain). Tom and Sarah’s words they exchanged were so captivatingly beautiful that everyone was deeply touched. It was absolutely beautiful!

We didn’t have much time after the ceremony to catch sunset BUT what we did catch was spectacular! The sunset that poured through the dark clouds at the top of Beech Hill was one of the most stunning I’ve ever seen. I was in my little happy place playing with the gorgeous light that glowed through the dark clouds!

Thank you so much, Tom & Sarah for including me in your day! It was truly a pleasure! 20160903-hbh_206720160903-hbh_208220160903-hbh_209120160903-hbh_217520160903-hbh_226820160903-hbh_2304hbh_2609-copy20160903-hbh_269020160903-hbh_297820160903-hbh_330920160903-hbh_320920160903-hbh_312720160903-hbh_307720160903-hbh_309820160903-hbh_304620160903-hbh_3949

hump day’s were meant for road trips.

660 kilometres of rural Nova Scotia roads, countless sights, endless laughs, and a memorable day off with two of my favourites was how my Wednesday last week was spent. It’s not often we get days off that line up together so Sheena, Lily & I made a point to make the most of it by heading to the Valley for a day trip. We didn’t even see 10% of the gorgeous Annapolis Valley but we’ll pick it up another day. Our province is incredible and I want to explore it more before I dive fully into other places. We live somewhere so diverse that everywhere you go, there are different rock formations, new bodies of water with different behaviours, great little communities that all have their own quirks and cute spots and incredible people – someone please tell me why I’d want to leave?

The province was in full bloom as Spring really went full throttle in what felt like an overnight. The colours were beyond vibrant to the point we kept commenting there was no way it could be real. Greens were greener. Blues were bluer. Flowers were on everything that could grow a flower. Between the immense beauty we found roaming the roads that day and the laughs that didn’t end, I can easily say it was one of my favourite days. HBH_6417 copyWe made a little pit stop at Nova Scotia’s longest river: The Shubenacadie River which winds its way 72 kilometres through our province. We’ve got plans to ride the tidal bore this summer! HBH_6464 copyHBH_6476 copyBurntcoat Head is a little known gem which has the highest tides in the world. This little spot sits on the Bay of Fundy so at a time when the tide is low, you can explore the ocean floor and check out some caves along the coastline. Below: three nuggets and one who has a dirty butt from sliding down the rocks. Take a guess at who that was! *cough* Sheena *cough.*HBH_6507 copyHBH_6525 copyJust free spiriting 24/7.HBH_6528 copyThe Tiguan’s first road trip, officially climbing her mileage to over 1000kms after less than a week of owning her. So much love for this rig already. We made a pit stop in Walton at the lighthouse as well as the Walton Pub. The lighthouse was opened so we could go up and explore the view from the top – a very neat opportunity and a really cool view. It’s amazing that this is all coordinated by hard working volunteers who likely don’t get enough credit but deserve it. It’s so nice to see landmarks like this preserved for generations down the road to enjoy!HBH_6531 copy_DSC9974 copy26F956FA-7EB3-48DA-ABE8-BBC63017E375The same sign as McDonald’s… Only different.HBH_6539 copyA pit stop at Paddy’s pub yielded some delicious cool patio beverages and some beyond yummy burgers!HBH_6533 copyHBH_6536 copyHBH_6649 copyThey say that work friends are like family and for us, it’s true. Our little family at Justamere Café is a fun loving, big hearted group who make shifts fly. Couldn’t wipe these smiles off our faces if you tried.HBH_6719 copyHBH_6570 copyBe sure to stop at Hennigar’s Market for an ice cream and a little stop at their little petting zoo and go visit the adorable goats! HBH_6546 copyHBH_6813 copyBlomidon has always been a favourite stop for me. The endless coastal views, the rolling hills of prosperous farm land & the blossoms; oh, the blossoms! We picked the perfect time to go down as blossoms were at their peak. Lily, pictured in her happy place is one of the freest spirits I know, and I love it! HBH_6848 copyHBH_6839 copyHBH_6892 copyHBH_6786 copyThis is my boss, Sheena. She’s the glue that holds us together and for that, we love her. She’s understanding, doesn’t really take shit from anyone and dreams bigger than big everyday. HBH_6816 copyHBH_6863 copyWe stayed at Blomidon Park until our shadows were long and our bellies were rumbling again. The three of us debated staying the night but ultimately decided someone needed to be at the restaurant the next day! HBH_6886 copyHBH_6898 copyOn our first pass towards Blomidon, I passed the wharf in Pereau and told them we would stop on the way home. Sheena just couldn’t wait to see “the boats at the bottom of the sea.” It was one of those things you had to be there for but the three of us were in absolute stitches over that statement, despite it being true – at low tide, the boats do sit on the ocean floor but the excitement was too much to handle! HBH_6901 copyHBH_6903 copyLibrary Pub stop._DSC9991 copyThat brings us the the end of our day where we landed at Luckett’s Vineyard to catch a gorgeous sunset. HBH_6957 copyHBH_6931 copyHBH_7049 copyThere aren’t many things in life better than a great day spent with great people. My heart was full after a day of adventures with these two. Not only did we catch an gorgeous sunset but we got to stargaze a bit through the panoramic roof in my new Tiguan on the way home (if that day was a first date, I’d be married – I swear, the romance levels coulda been really high!) Keep posted for my next adventures by following my Instagram @hilaryhendsbee.

peggy’s cove.

Over the years, I’ve gotten in the mindset that I hated photographing at Peggy’s Cove. Everyone does it. Everyone has pictures of that god damn lighthouse. I don’t want to be like everyone else. After I got over myself, I actually thought about it and I really don’t have any stand out images from my many ventures out to the rocks. Kaylie & I needed a little adventure so off we headed, at rush hour no less from Downtown. As we drove past Prospect, I watched the sun going down and figured we had about 30-40 minutes before the sun really disappeared. The moments that happened while we were in the Peggy’s Cove vicinity were absolutely “take your breath away” “put the phone down” “holy friggin’ shit are you seeing this? We live here!” kind of moments. I’ve packed in some beautiful sunsets in my twenty six years but this was definitely up there in good ones. Although there were no clouds in the sky to hold an afterglow or anything, it was stunning for February. The wind was a little crisp but that was something to be accounted for at this time of year.

The sun took forever to go down which gave me plenty of time to hop around the rocks trying to compose some images. As the last slivers of the sun went down, we stood for a little bit. I helped a lady take a photo of herself with her iPad. Kaylie snapped a few with her phone and for once, I actually put my gear down and took it in with my own eyes. Once it was gone, we headed towards the car to warm up our now numb fingers when I realized it was a full moon. A FULL MOON! At Peggy’s Cove. Jackpot. I pulled my phone out and found out exactly where it was going to come up and when. It would still be a few minutes. I let myself thaw out a little bit, snapped a few more slower shutter shots and then began heading out BUT then, there it was. It was like I was looking into a pot of honey. The moon was just beginning to rise above the barren rocks and my goodness was it beautiful. We pulled into a parking lot. I could barely contain my excitement and pretty well jumped out of my car without putting the brake on. I threw on my 70-200mm and fumbled with my tripod quickly to compose my first shot. Click. I looked and nearly threw up I was so excited. This continued for a while. I think I enjoyed it more than the sunset and that’s saying something.

All in all, I managed to get some incredible shots of my own to add to all the other shots taken by thousands each year at this beautiful spot. We are beyond lucky to be able to call Nova Scotia home. It’s places like this that really make us remember how lucky we are. There’s something about the coast & the crisp salty air that really make your heart happy! It can be the crappiest day but the coast will never disappoint.HBH_6779HBH_6786 copyHBH_6796 copyHBH_6802 copyHBH_6812 copyHBH_6862HBH_6932 copyHBH_6938HBH_6964 copyHBH_7000HBH_6991 copy

the mountains are calling & we must go.

It doesn’t matter how many time I’ve seen the Rockies in the distance along the skyline of Calgary – my heart always longs to go. I love how small I feel when I’m in the mountains. I love looking at their faces, peaks and valleys. I feel at ease while I’m in the mountains.

We set out early to make the hill at a decent time. We managed to get a perfect day. Minus 4, sunny but the snow at Lake Louise Ski Lodge was slightly less than favourable with icy patches. There are worse things._DSC7096_DSC7104_DSC7110_DSC7114_DSC7115_DSC7119_DSC7129Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset_DSC7134_DSC7136IMG_3329So if any photo sums up my day – it’s probably this one. I lost the boys and ended up on a black diamond. To consider myself a skier by any means, would be a lie. I had gone a few times over the years with my ex, who is a MUCH MUCH better skier than I could ever be so while he would hit the insane hills and do insane things that I would constantly worry about and I’d stick to the one really long green hills and be content all day (minus worrying about potentially taking Luke home in a body cast.) I’ve rarely hit blue triangles and with icy conditions, black is basically a death sentence for someone of my skill level or lack there of especially after not being strapped in for over two years. I got separated from the guys because I couldn’t get myself slowed down (much like my skating ability, I could never grasp the concept of stopping.) I veered to the right, blurred down some deadly part of a hill before feeling beyond unsafe and unstable and tumbled my way into a snow fence in the most ungraceful way you can imagine with skis and limbs flying. Of course, grace isn’t what I was going for – humour was. Luckily a kind lady helped me get my feet untangled from the fence I was hanging from and I began to walk down – an even worse idea as I gained momentum and tumbled again. Those ski boots are literally skates somehow when it comes to venturing down a hill on ice. I sat down, feeling utterly defeated with slight dignity in tact and was approached by quite a few AMAZING, kind workers – one of whom knew people from Antigonish, talk about small world! Long story short, after chatting with a guy from Hamilton, Ontario and another from England, they decided to help me down with a “courtesy toboggan” where they literally strap you down with blankets and things and tow you behind a skier. Seeing as I had no dignity left – this was probably the best way to get down and get a drink into me at the Whiskey Jack Lodge after my traumatic experience (I’m over exaggerating a little for effect.) I was literally mind blown by the terrific staff at Ski Lake Louise – kind, interesting & awesome people! For the rest of the day, I wandered the hills, snapped a few photos and remained in awe of how beautiful the natural wonders of our country are. How lucky we are to call Canada home. _DSC7219_DSC7241_DSC7161_DSC7165_DSC7176This gondola takes you 2281m above sea level! The view literally take your breath away if the altitude doesn’t first. I caught the last run to watch the sun set behind the mountains._DSC7181_DSC7189It’s hard to get good photos when you’re travelling alone with a more complex camera than most are used to. I end up with a lot of selfies and the ones I try to get people to take of me end up out of focus. I just can’t bring myself to have a bunch of shitty iPhone photos if I have the chance to get a good one. I’ll have to do a crash course next time I go somewhere with an unlucky passerby. The freckles were out in full force along with the rosy cheeks and Rudolph nose!  _DSC7302Lake Louise, Alberta. Never ever ever disappoints. _DSC7284_DSC7275I am so so so happy I caught a moon rise in the mountains. A full moon would be incredible to capture. Someday… _DSC7336