My 3rd Bullet Journal

My bullet journal has been keeping my life together for the past 2 years. It keeps track of every meeting, session, and event, as well as every little task that I need to get done each day. It also tracks my goals, my progress, my social media growth, and all the special memories I want to save each month.

It is essentially my brain in a notebook.


I've been obsessed with notebooks for my whole life, I'm pretty sure. They're just so beautiful and full of potential. A gorgeous new notebook is full of so many possibilities. Where will my life take me while I use this notebook? What will my life look like when I come to the end of this notebook? How will it have changed my life?

But that was apparently too much pressure, so I would either not start writing in the notebook at all (nothing I had to write would be worthy of those pages!) or I would write in it for a bit with a certain goal/project in mind, but then fall off the wagon.

So when I found out about bullet journaling, I hoped I had finally found a way to USE my beautiful notebooks every day and be productive about it. And it was true! This has been a life saver. I'm now on my 3rd notebook, having completely filled my first two. I use it every day, and it is so satisfying to look through my completed notebooks! Not to mention how accountable and productive it keeps me every day. Which is really the important part.


So here's how I use my bullet journal! You can find the full details of this system (in all its simplistic glory) here:

- an index page so that I can enter pages in there as they are created, and find anything I need at a later date.

- a future log that shows 6 months at a glance. I can enter meetings/sessions/events as they are scheduled, and I know that they won't be forgotten or misplaced.

- a monthly view that I set up a few days before that month starts. Just one month at a time (the future log keeps track of the rest, until the next month needs to be set up). It shows the month in a traditional grid-style and I refer to my future log to enter all the important appointments for the month. I also use the extra space on this page to write monthly goals.

- a weekly view that I set up on the weekend, in preparation for the upcoming week. I just take one week at a time, which alleviates stress about future tasks and allows me to just focus on what needs to be done now. Each morning I write out my list of tasks that need to get done (editing, emailing clients, blog writing, networking, etc) and check them off when they're complete. I refer to the previous day's list of tasks to see what didn't get done yesterday, and add those to today's list. The more times I have to write out a task because I didn't do it, the more I want to get it done so I can stop re-writing it. It works!

- a page of memories for the month, which currently I do as doodles. If I was published in a magazine, or went out to a new restaurant, or had a session in an exciting new location, I'll do a little doodle and jot down what it was. It's fun to look back at that page and see a little snapshot of my month and the fun I had.

- lists or "collections" of things. Anything, really. At any time if I need to make a list of things to remember (movies to watch, groceries to buy, party supplies to find, products to bring to the Doggie Expo) I just turn to the next blank page and make my list. I then add that to my index page so I can find it easily. It doesn't matter if it's in the middle of a month. That's the beauty of a bullet journal - it's evolving and you just go with the flow. Everything is indexed so that the "disorganization" isn't actually disorganized. Instead of having Post-It notes littered around your desk/home/work... you can keep every list in one notebook and never lose them.

- very minimal doodling with markers, just to make the pages nice to look at. I'm not artistic in this sense, so I get a lot of inspiration from other more talented bullet journalers. I don't need mine to be fancy, or to have the decorating take too much time (but if that's your thing and you enjoy it, there is nothing wrong with spending lots of time making yours look beautiful - don't let anyone tell you otherwise). For mine I just need it to be cute enough that it makes me happy to look at it, and excited to use my bullet journal every day. And so far it's working fantastically!


Below is the weekly layout that I've been using for about a year now. It's very minimal and gives me lots of space to write out my tasks each day. I've tried many different layouts during my 2 years of using a bullet journal. It's fun to change it up and try something new when you get bored! That's another awesome bonus of this system versus a pre-made planner where you're stuck with the same layout all year, even if you discover it's not working for you.


With a bullet journal you can change things at any time. If you decide you need a space in your weekly layout to plan your meals, next week you can rearrange it to fit that! Or maybe you need somewhere to track things like water intake and exercise, or books you've read. Whatever you need space for, whatever your life includes, you can create a page that works for you (or look up inspiration from others who are talented in that department, and shamelessly add that to your bullet journal).


So if you've seen photos or videos about bullet journaling before and thought it seemed like way too much work (or creativity) for you, and it just wasn't your cup of tea, I hope that this has perhaps given you a different perspective on it. The point of this system is actually minimalism. The point is to keep you efficient and productive in your life. Since everyone's life is different, the system is extremely flexible so you can adapt it to yours.

That's why I love my bullet journal more than a store-bought planner. Because I love to change it up when I'm bored with one layout, I love to add some colour and feel proud of myself (even for the tiniest bits of creativity - I'm like, "I did that!!"), and I love knowing that my life is in order, my tasks are under control, and I'm not forgetting something important even though my mind is running a mile a minute.


Have you ever considered bullet journaling?

What do you think of the system?

My Favourite Christmas Movies

I have mixed feelings about the winter season. I do NOT enjoy being cold, but I love Christmas. I get upset that the sun sets so early, but I enjoy snuggly evenings on the couch with a warm blanket and a book.

I do love the look of a beautiful fresh coat of snow.

And I do love my Christmas movies.

So I decided to dedicate today's blog to my very favourite Christmas movies! I have a longer list of movies that will be watched this month, but these ones are my absolute favourites and MUST be watched every year or else it isn't really Christmas.


The Santa Clause

Alright, so we're going to start with my have-to-watch-every-Christmas-Eve movie. This is the one for sure. When I watch this movie, everything is right in the world, life feels magical, and I know Christmas Eve is finally here. There was only one year where I didn't get to watch it and I was devastated. I had worked very early on Christmas Eve morning, so by the time my family and I sat down to watch this movie that evening, I was so tired that I fell asleep and only woke up after it ended. I was so disappointed! I waited all year to watch that movie and then passed out. Hopefully that never happens again!

The Family Stone

Over the years, people have asked what my favourite movie is (of any genre), and most of the time I replied that it was impossible to choose one. But a few years ago I sat down and really thought about it because I wanted to have an official Favourite Movie, even if it might change in the future. I just wanted to decide on one for that time in my life. At that time I decided on Rushmore, and was happy with that answer for a few years until I discovered The Family Stone. I re-watched this movie a few times and then it was official - my new favourite movie of all time.

To me it is just so perfect. I love all of the characters and the growth they all go through, I love the sign language, I love their family dynamics, I love all the details in that home, I love the music, and I love the dialogue. It's just perfect to me, and I'll watch it even when it's not Christmas. I break the rules sometimes!

Love Actually

This is another film that I will sometimes watch at other times of the year - it isn't only for Christmas watching. I also love all the characters in this movie, how their stories all intertwine in various ways, I love British humour, I love so many of the actors, and I definitely love the soundtrack.


How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Growing up, this was the other movie that we had to watch on Christmas Eve every year. My dad absolutely love this one (we're talking about the animated movie, narrated by Boris Karlof, just to be clear!) and it was always our tradition to watch it first that evening, followed by The Santa Clause. This movie is short, but it's such a classic. It's so funny and sweet. And who can resist a story with the word "chimbley" in it?

Miracle on 34th Street

For years I'd heard about this movie but never really had an interest in watching it. I think I may have watched it one year, maybe in middle school, but it didn't make an impact on me, so I didn't watch it again for several years. When I did decide to give it another shot, it made a much bigger impression on me that time! Maybe I just had trouble getting into it when I was younger, since it was black and white. Who knows. But after I fell in love with it, I've now watched it every year and it's just so sweet! I love the legal aspect to it, and how this lawyer intends to legally prove that this man is really Santa. Such a cool take on the Santa story. And I always tear up at the very end. "There IS one! There IS one!"

The Polar Express

Finally, this is another unique Christmas movie that I just adore. It feels like you're on a roller coaster the whole time, the animation is so beautiful and vibrant, Tom Hanks is the voice of almost every character (awesome), and the songs are just beautiful, too.

I think I love movies where one character is very skeptical or just flat-out doesn't believe in Santa and then gets won over and the magic of Christmas comes back to them. That seems to be a big theme in three of my five favourite Christmas movies. Even though I'm an adult, I still love the magical feeling of Christmas and pretending, just while these movies are on, that there really is some wonderful magic out there.



What are your favourite Christmas movies or traditions that you look forward to every year?

Confessions: Impostor Syndrome

Do you ever feel like your accomplishments and successes are nothing more than mere luck, rather than accepting the fact that you did something well and should be proud? Do you worry that people will somehow find out the "truth" (it's not the truth) and think you're just a phoney who doesn't know what they're doing?

Guess what! You are not alone, and you're also wrong. And I mean that in the best way.

"Impostor Syndrome is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud"." —Wikipedia


I have a feeling that creative people experience this quite frequently. For me it isn't an ongoing feeling (thankfully) - it just comes in waves every so often. My feelings about my work and my business fluctuate. Some days I'm thrilled with a new accomplishment, or meeting an awesome new client, or delivering finished artwork for their home... everything is going well and I'm excited about the future. But then some days come, and for whatever reason this little part of my brain insists that I don't know what I'm doing at all. The beautiful images I've created are mostly just luck... that any new photographer could do better work than me if they tried... that my clients and followers will think I'm no good, etc.

Why do our brains do this? Rationally I know that this voice isn't telling the truth, but it can be hard to fight it on those days. I know that I've worked hard for years to get to where I am right now. I know that I've built great relationships with my clients and they genuinely do love my work. I know that I do have a skill that not everyone with a camera can replicate. But I think sometimes our brains don't allow us to feel "too much" pride in our accomplishments. I think we subconsciously remember how often our society has shamed people for feeling "too confident" in themselves. So if things are going really well for us and we're feeling really good about our achievements, our brain decides to knock us down a peg, just to keep us in check.

I really wish it wouldn't, though! Most of us already spend so much time feeling bad about ourselves and having low self-esteem. I've finally found something I'm pretty good at and I thoroughly enjoy, so it's nice to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride sometimes. I'm sure the same is true for you as well!


"I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'Uh oh, they're going to find out now. I've run a game on everybody, and they're going to find me out.'" — Maya Angelou

To combat Impostor Syndrome the last time it appeared for me, I decided to write some affirmations to myself. I reminded myself of the things I knew to be true every other day, even though it was hard to truly believe them that day. I reminded myself of my worth, of my skills, of the time spent educating myself in this field and business, of my clients who love their images, and of all the other things that I am usually reminding others of (on their bad days). That day I had to remind myself and give myself the same pep talk that I'm usually giving to friends and colleagues. It helped a lot to write those things down and remind myself that they were true. And after talking with my fiancée about the negative feelings in my head, I was able to refocus myself and get back on track.

Have you experienced Impostor Syndrome before? How does it manifest itself in your life? And what do you do to push it away?


Brain Games for dogs!

Nourishing and exercising our dogs' minds is just as important as nourishing and exercising their bodies. Tiring them out mentally is equally as wonderful for them as tiring them out physically. Just doing one without the other isn't likely to keep them as happy and well-rounded as they deserve.

So how can we exercise their minds? And when should we do it?

The "when" is an easy one... whenever you can! On a rainy day when your pup isn't in the mood for a walk (just gets their business done and zooms back inside), that's a perfect opportunity to work on some brain games. Or instead of watching a half-hour sitcom, practice some mental exercises instead (and then you can both relax on the couch for the rest of the Netflix marathon together). Or if you work from home or are doing some other tasks around the house, you might be able to multitask and keep your dog busy and out from underfoot while you work!

Check out 2 Paws Up dog treats by Madison  here .

Check out 2 Paws Up dog treats by Madison here.

Now for the fun stuff... how to do it!

There are so many different ways you can help keep your dog's mind working and learning. And they can vary in terms of how active you need to be during the game (some of them will allow you to multitask if necessary).

First off, Ruby's favourite thing is to work for treats - specifically hotdog pieces! She has learned so many tricks and commands because of how badly she wants that hotdog. That's how I taught her to be such a patient model when I photograph her, how to run to me and get in the "heel" position, to back away from me, play dead, spin, sit pretty, weave through my legs, etc. So getting some yummy treats (or you can use toys as a reward if that's more motivational for your pup) and working on tricks is a great way to get them thinking and learning. As always, start small/basic with the tricks and build on them once you've repeated them enough to get reliable results. If your pup is getting confused or frustrated and isn't understanding, try disecting the trick a little and see if you can teach a simpler version of it first. It's no fun for your pup if they can't understand what you want and they can't earn that treat. Set them up for success by ensuring that they can understand what you want.

The moment they do the correct behaviour, you're going to "mark" it. This can be done verbally with a "yes!" or a "good!" or you can use a clicker instead. And then treat them! If you and your dog really love working on tricks together, you can even work up to earning your Trick Dog Certifications (you can check that out here).


Another game Ruby loves to play is Find It, which is basically Hide'n'Seek but with treats. Your pup will need to know the Stay command for this one while you hide the treat. Or I suppose if the room has a door you could close it and leave them outside the room until you're ready to let them in. Our version goes like this: I bring Ruby to the mat by our front door and ask her to sit and wait. I go into the living room (which is out of her eyesight) and hide one piece of hotdog somewhere. Then I shout "Find it!" and she comes charging in and has to search for the treat. As soon as she's found it, I say "good!" and then bring her back to the mat to wait while I hide another. This game helps her practice her nosework and learn to find things by scent and not just look for the treat with her eyes. You could build on this after a while by requiring her to come back to you and sit after she finds the treat, or maybe even go all the way back to the mat! The more you rehearse what you want them to do, the more they'll catch on and probably try to do it on their own before you ask.

Ruby also has a wooden toy that she enjoys, but she's too smart for it already. It's a flat rectangle with 8 sliding covers that conceal hollow compartments beneath. So I can hide treats in some of those compartments and then she has to use her nose or paws to slide the compartments open and find the treats inside. The compartments do have a peg that sticks up to move the cover easier. But when you first introduce this game, the dog doesn't even know that there are compartments, or how to access them, or which direction the covers might move. It looks easy to humans, but it's fun to watch them try out different strategies until they discover the secret!


You can make your own variations of that type of game - you can put treats inside an empty 2L bottle and have your pup roll it around the house until they figure out how to get the treats out. I've seen some people take 3 or 4 of those bottles and cut a hole on either side so that they can slide a wooden dowel through all of them (almost like you stabbed all 4 with one sword!)... then they attach that piece of wood to something more sturdy that holds it in place. Now the bottles can swivel on that dowel and the dog needs to get them upside down in order for the treats to fall out! You can see a picture here. There's also a "snuffle mat" that I've seen people make, where it's a little rug with ruffles all over it, and you can drop treats into it so they're hidden and they have to be sniffed out and retrieved!

I would recommend joining the Facebook group "Brain Games for Dogs" for more great ideas from other pup parents!

What games does your dog love to play? And what treats or toys get them most excited to work with you? These kinds of games are a great way to bond with your dog while also exercising that awesome brain of theirs!

How to Teach Tricks

So you have a new dog and you want to teach them some commands. Or maybe you recently adopted an older dog and need to work on training. Or maybe you've had your dog for a while but haven't put in the time to really work on commands and now you're ready to get to work. No matter the reason, every dog benefits from learning new behaviours, bonding with their person, and learning the power of positive reinforcement!


Ruby's favourite thing is to work for treats - specifically hotdog pieces! She has learned so many tricks and commands because of how badly she wants that hotdog. That's how I taught her to be such a patient model when I photograph her, how to run to me and get in the "heel" position, how to back away from me, play dead, spin, sit pretty, weave through my legs, etc. So getting some yummy treats (or you can use toys as a reward if that's more motivational for your pup) and working on tricks is a great way to get them thinking and learning. For every trick or command you will want to start small/basic with the tricks and build on them once you've repeated them enough to get reliable results. If your pup is getting confused or frustrated and isn't understanding, try dissecting the trick a little and see if you can teach a simpler version of it first. It's no fun for your pup if they can't understand what you want and they can't earn that treat you're holding. Just think how frustrating it would be for you if you couldn't understand the language someone was speaking and couldn't get what you wanted. Set them up for success by ensuring that they can understand what you want from them.

Since they can't speak English, we need to learn to speak (and think) Dog instead. Learn how to read your dog's body language to understand their moods and when they're happy or frustrated or nervous. Learning to think like them means that we need to see things from their perspective and understand the stepping stones that might be required to build up to a trick or command. It may seem like an easy trick to us, but your dog has no idea what you're asking, so you need to break down the trick into steps and start at the very beginning. You also want to get the dog to do the movement themselves instead of you using your hands on them.


For example, to teach "sit", you don't want to just push their bum down (even gently) because they didn't do the work. They didn't get to feel their muscles move and put their bum on the floor, and they didn't get the benefit of the thinking process that gets them there. What you want to do instead is lure them into the position with the treat so that they end up doing what you wanted (even though they didn't know it at first). So you want to hold the treat in front of them and then move it upwards and back over their head towards their tail. If they follow the treat with their nose, they'll end up leaning backwards and sitting. It may not happen on the first try - they might try other ways to get the treat, like turning sideways, or pawing at it. But just say "nope" and start over.

The moment they do the correct behaviour, you want to "mark" it. This can be done verbally with a "yes!" or a "good!", or you can use a clicker instead. You want them to know exactly which thing they did was the good one. So if you're teaching "sit"... the moment their bum touches the floor, mark it and then treat. Through repetition they will recognize that moment as being the goal, and they'll be able to get there quicker.

Still using the example of "sit", you want to use the lure technique for a while at the beginning but don't use the word "sit" yet. Just lure, mark the good behaviour, and treat. Once the behaviour is consistent and they start sitting right away when you move the treat up, then you can start giving the behaviour a name. So you want to say the name while luring, then mark the right moment, and treat. This period may last several days or training sessions (you also want to keep each session short and sweet - don't overdo it, and always end with success). Continue the luring and using the command name for a while and then try just the command name without the lure. If they don't get it yet, continue with the previous phase until they make the connection and you don't need to lure them anymore.

Once you can phase out the luring, you want to also avoid bribing. When your pup knows the command name, you don't need to dangle a treat as a bribe. Teach them that they should do the command even if they can't see a treat waiting... and as soon as they do it, the treat appears! Because eventually, you want the command to be reliable enough that they'll do it for praise if you don't have treats handy. Their reward can be a pat on the head sometimes, once they're very consistent with the command.


Other things that you can build on are duration and new locations. Dogs aren't very good at generalizing, or understanding that something in one specific scenario is the same even if it happens in a different scenario. For example, let's say your dog knows how to follow the "sit" command when you're in your living room and standing facing each other. But if you were to go outside for a walk and ask them to do the same thing on the sidewalk, or when you're standing side by side... they might act totally confused. They don't seem to understand that it's the same thing as before because it all looks so different. So once you get consistent success with a command, you want to start practicing it in other places so that they understand "sit" can happen anywhere.

You can also work on duration, as I mentioned. So asking for a "sit", marking the behaviour the moment it happens, but then waiting 1-2 seconds before giving the treat. Then tomorrow maybe you wait 3 seconds before giving the treat. The marker is still happening at the right time to confirm they did it correctly (very important), but they have to be a tiny bit patient for the reward. You can build this into a longer stay, or you can practice moving around or walking away, etc. But remember, if your dog gets frustrated, you may have rushed and done too much too soon. Back up a step and go back to where they were having success. Then move forward in tiny steps when they're ready.

I hope this was helpful in getting started, and learning how to think more like a dog when training them!

I Went to Hawaii and It Was the Best Ever

In May I went on a trip with my family to Hawaii. That was the farthest I'd ever flown before! It took me 3 flights to get there: Halifafx to Toronto, Toronto to Vancouver, and Vancouver to Honolulu. I was in transit for about 24 hours in total, but it was SO worth it - Hawaii was my reward at the end of that long journey!

We spent our first week on the island of O'ahu and stayed in Honolulu and then Punalu'u. Then we "island hopped" over to the island of Kauai and stayed in Kapa'a. Both islands were so gorgeous and each place we stayed was so different from the one before. But everything was sunny and green and lucious... just incredibly beautiful.

One of my all-time favourite movies is Lilo & Stitch, and it felt like I was right in the movie! Everyone said "aloha" and "mahalo" and we started saying it, too, because it felt so natural after a while. We drove up Waimea Canyon and stopped at so many look-offs, we went on a 5-hour boat tour to see the Na Pali Coast and snorkeled there as well (we saw turtles!), my siblings and I took a surfing lesson one morning, we went zip lining down a mountain, we climbed Diamond Head, we visited the Pearl Harbour museum, I saw the sunrise almost every morning (thanks to the 7-hour time difference), we visited Sea Life Park, we spent a whole day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, we enjoyed a Luau, we visited the Dole pineapple plantation, and we swam at the base of a waterfall.

Oh man, it was just the best. Have I said that yet? I still can't believe I got to experience all that. And now I need to go back :)

Here are some photos from the trip!


Where is the best place you've ever visited?

Pup Parent Confessions: The Beginning


Hey, fellow dog parents! Today I wanted to "sit down" with you today and talk about some stuff that I think many of you will be able to relate to. I might make a series out of this and have more blogs in the future that cover topics like the one I'm about to discuss today.

I want to talk about those sneaky feelings of guilt that we have, as dog owners. Just like parents of human children, we often experience guilt about whether or not we're doing everything right for our pups. Whether we've made all the right decisions and choices since the day we brought this precious soul home. On almost every possible topic in the dog community, it seems that there are often two drastically different viewpoints. But lots of us are stuck in the middle and not sure which side is right (or right for us) until we do more research. Or sometimes we make a decision, and then later educate ourselves and realize that maybe that wasn't the best one to make.

Nobody is perfect! Everyone is continually learning and growing for their whole life. We all make mistakes or regret some choices, but that is life, isn't it?

Today I'm confessing some of my guilty feelings. Something that can't be changed now, and I honestly don't want to change it now anyway. But whenever the subject comes up, I feel a little guilty and embarrassed about the decisions of my past self.


We didn't adopt Ruby, and we didn't get her from a reputable breeder either.

We got her from someone who had a puppy who needed a home. Yep, the thing you're not supposed to do. The shady people you're not supposed to support. Those are the kind of decisions you sometimes make before you're better educated about these things. And I am no exception.


So sometimes when people ask where we got Ruby, I'm embarrassed. That is where we got her and that will always be the answer - there's nothing I can do to change it now. But do you know what? Ruby is perfect for our family. I mean, none of us are perfect (including her, haha) but she fits our lives so well and we love her so incredibly much. I don't want to think about where she might have ended up if we weren't the ones who took her home. It could have been bad.

But guess what - that didn't happen! We have her now, and she is ours forever. We may have made a less-than-stellar choice in hindsight, but since it's in the past and I can't change it now, all I can change are my feelings about it. I'm SO glad we got our precious Ruby because our lives are so much better with her in them. She is right where she belongs.


2016 Reflections

2016 was an amazing year for me and for this business. I met so many incredible dogs, their lovely humans, and we explored new locations! Every new client brings me a new friend, a new challenge, a new adventure, and so many wonderful memories of our time together.

Would you just look at all these sweethearts I got to spend time with last year? How lucky am I?

Halifax dog photographer

To celebrate and reflect on the year, I want to tell you about ten awesome things that happened in 2016.

TEN. I did a holiday photo day for the first time, and I think I'll do it again this year! This one was at Pampered Paws Inn. I set up a few mini trees with lights in the background and used my 70-200mm lens to compress those lights and make then big and beautiful! This is exactly the look I was after and I'm so happy with these images.

halifax pet photography


NINE. I hired a fantastic group of brand Ambassadogs to assist me with increasing my reach and brand awareness within the community. They have been incredible. I photographed each of them last summer so that they could see what it's like to be a client of Wet Nose Images, and they've been wonderful to work with. Meg, Candice, Kristen, Alana, and Allison... I appreciate you all so much!

Norbert and Gilbert -- @norbsgilbs

Norbert and Gilbert -- @norbsgilbs

Capone -- @thevelveteenpig

Capone -- @thevelveteenpig

Mason -- @masonthemini_

Mason -- @masonthemini_

Hoffman -- @doctorh0ffman

Hoffman -- @doctorh0ffman

Oliver -- his mum is @kristendunlopphotography

Oliver -- his mum is @kristendunlopphotography


EIGHT. I got to be a small part in two more "happily ever after" stories for two dogs in rescue. Siblings K9 Rescue contacted me to photograph Red and Gizmo, who were waiting very patiently for the perfect families to take them home. While waiting in their foster homes I did a little photoshoot for each pup - one in July and one in August - which helped their new families find them and fall in love. Getting the call that they've been adopted is a wonderful feeling! What I've done doesn't compare to what the rescue organization or the foster families do - not even close. But I'm so happy that I can contribute something that makes a real difference in the lives of these sweet pups.





SEVEN. I started using a Bullet Journal and it has changed my life. Really! I don't have to worry about forgetting something, because I know all my tasks and important dates are written down in one place. I am so much more productive with a running To Do list every day. And I can also jot down other notes about things that happened during the day that I'd like to remember when I look back through it. A Bullet Journal is basically a combination of planner and a journal, and it can be as simple or as fancy as you want it to be. It's completely customizable because you just start with a blank notebook and do it all yourself. If a certain layout or system didn't really work for you this month, then try something different next month. You're not stuck with the same strict layout for the whole year like you would be with a store-bought planner. You can use your Bullet Journal to plan/track/log/remember anything and everything in your life. Whatever you need it for, you can make it happen. Exercise goals, business tasks, mental health, new habits you want to create, books to read, etc. Check out some blogs, YouTube videos, and Instagram accounts about bullet journaling to get some inspiration!


SIX. In October I was asked to give a presentation for the Kennebecasis Valley Camera Club about my business as a pet photographer and tips for photographing animals. This was pretty exciting, as it was the first time I'd been asked to speak for a group about what I do! And since then it's happened twice more. Last month, of my teachers from photo school asked me to speak to the first year class about what I'd been up to since graduating, which was a great honour! And I'll also be speaking to the Sackville Photo Club this week. I love talking about photography and dogs to anyone who will listen, so this is really cool!


FIVE. I was hired by the IWK to photograph two of the amazing therapy dogs who volunteer there. These images were for the S.T.A.R.T. program (Suspected Trauma and Abuse Response Team), which is an amazing resource for kids who have experienced trauma and are in the process of reporting it. These therapy dogs are there to provide support and comfort to these kids while they're talking with staff and police officers about their situation. I got to meet these wonderful dogs, as well as their handlers and the amazing staff at the IWK.

Munich (left) and Rocsie.

Munich (left) and Rocsie.

FOUR. In July I got to combine two awesome things in my life: roller derby and the Pride parade. Until last year I had only ever watched the parade; I had never been part of it. But I had joined Anchor City Rollers in January and a bunch of the skaters were going to skate the parade route as their "float"! I decided to be brave and join them, and I'm so glad I did. It was so much fun! I can't wait to do it again this year. Did you know we have our own roller derby league in Halifax? If you want to watch some games this summer or even join the league and learn to skate yourself... check out their website!


THREE. I had a table in a vendor show this summer: Victoria Barks in the Park (held in Victoria Park, Halifax)! It was such a neat experience to have my booth outdoors with other awesome dog-related businesses and rescues, and to meet all the dogs and owners who came by. Next month I'll be in another one - much bigger! The Doggie Expo, held in the Dartmouth Sportsplex on March 26th. Will I see you there? You can bring your dog!


TWO. I started teaching! I love, love, love to talk about cameras and photography (I think we've already established that) and I know that many people have a decent DSLR camera sitting at home that either isn't being used or is being used only on AUTO. Which isn't doing that beautiful camera any justice. It's capable of so much, and so are you! So I started my Mastering Your DSLR course to teach folks the basics of photography and how to find their way around their camera. My course is different in a few ways from other short courses that I've taken in the past. First, it's split up into 2 parts so that you don't get information overload in one day. Secondly, it takes place outside while we walk through the park, so you can all try out the new things you've just learned, and get immediate results and feedback from me if you need help with something. And lastly, you get to join my private Facebook group for participants of the course. That way your learning is ongoing. I don't just give you the information and send you on your way. We can continue talking, sharing images, giving and getting feedback, etc.

And very soon I'll be offering this course via Skype for those who are too far or can't make it to the group walk. Keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram for details when it comes out!

ONE. And most importantly are the year's highlights that involve my little family. I'm now engaged to the love of my life, which is a wonderful feeling. She said 'yes' last January, and although we have no immediate plans for the wedding, it will happen one day and we're both completely happy with that. We've got the rest of our lives together! We're in no rush.

Also our pup, Ruby, has made a doggy friend. This is a big deal for her because she's dog-reactive and very fearful of most dogs. But she made friends with a wee Dachshund who lives nearby and my heart could just burst when I watch her invite the little guy to play. Ruby is obviously much bigger than him, and she's also younger and more energetic. But he's very patient and doesn't mind some excited hopping and twitching from this big goofball of ours. Anyone who has a reactive dog can certainly understand why this is such a big deal.

So I had a pretty FANTASTIC 2016. What about you? What were the highlights of your year?

What's in my Bag?

Here's a little behind-the-scenes for those who are curious! What does Cassie bring on a Wet Nose shoot? Well, let me give you a little peek into my camera bag...

Starting at the top left:

1) My sling strap. This handy strap allows my camera to hang at my side if I should need my hands free (to pet puppies and the like) and then easily swing it back up to my eye when I'm ready to capture the shot.

2) This one may stump many of you. But I know some will understand! Take a guess for now, and I'll give you the answer later in this post...

3) This bright green guy is a Cuz squeaker. He makes a great attention-getting squeak, plus he's bright green so he can get some pups' attention visually as well. Waving him around in the air while doing a silly dance is a great way to get a deaf pup to look in my direction. My amazing assistant, Wendy, usually gets this task ;)

4) My main camera body: the Canon 7D Mark II. I've had this body for about 6 months now and we're getting to be better and better friends with every shoot!

5) This is my 70-200mm zoom lens, which can allow me to hang back and give space to nervous dogs while still getting some great portraits, and it can also help me turn an otherwise boring background into a beautiful blend of colours by compressing and throwing the background out of focus. Here's an example!


6) My second lens is a 30mm by Sigma and it's perfect for pups who aren't afraid to let me get nice and close for a portrait! It also has a wider aperture, which means it's handy when the sun begins to set and we start losing light at the end of the session.

7) Those are my Blundstones! I finally got a pair in the fall and I've worn them nearly every day since I got them. They're perfect for rain, mud, snow... all the things a dog photographer ends up walking through! I love 'em. So comfy.

8) Back over on the left is my business card with Great Dane Sully featured on the front. What a handsome boy. I always have a few cards on me in case someone notices us during our session and is interested in chatting with me and booking their own!

9) That little clear object is a squeaker that I got from inside one of Ruby's toys before she broke it! It's handy for getting a pup's attention and is really easy to hold in my hand while I'm shooting. If my assistant isn't with me, I need to do the squeaking myself while also keeping both hands on my camera. It's tricky, but I've got a little system to get the job done.

10) Below that is my spare camera battery, so that I've got plenty of battery power to last me through multiple sessions if needed.

11) Next is my Canon Speedlite, or flash. I use this in combination with the wireless triggers below it to fire my flash remotely. I can have it on a lightstand or in my assistant's hand wherever I need it, and it doesn't have to be connected to my camera to fire.

12) That big black rectangle is my trusty kneepad, which keeps my knees protected from the hard ground, and also keeps my pants dry if the ground is wet or muddy. I use it all year long, in both the mud and the snow!

13) Back on the left again there is my notebook, where I keep notes about sessions and clients to make sure I know exactly what each client wants out of their session and how I'm going to create those final products for them. Every session is customized to my clients' needs.

14) Finally I have my 32GB and 16GB SD cards, where all my images are saved while I'm shooting. I always have multiple backup cards in my bag in case of any malfunctions, or even filling up the card (unlikely with those sizes, but just in case)!

And for those who are curious about item #2 ... well, admittedly I'm a bit of a geek. This here is a "sonic screwdriver" because you just never know when you'll get into some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shenanigans. #DoctorWho

Why Prints? (Or, Why Not Digitals?)

In this era of digital-everything, we want everything fast, compact, and always accessible. And for most things, this is wonderful. Now almost everyone has access to a camera because of their smartphone or tablet so they can always take photos of their little ones, their silly drinking moments, or their new puppy. And I love this! Not everyone has the budget for professional photography, or has it as a priority in their life, which is just fine - everyone priorities purchases differently than the next person. Some spend hundreds on a purse because that brand is very important to them. Some spend hundreds every month on their Starbucks coffee because it is the best thing they’ve ever tasted and they cannot go without it. We all get to choose what to do with our money, and what we feel has most value for us and our lifestyle.



Digital copies are great to have of your own pictures - we’ve all got hundreds, no thousands of pictures on our phone or computer. And that’s probably per month, right? We take so many pictures these days because it costs nothing and it’s so easy. Once our phone gets full we have to move the pictures to our computer to make more room. We save all these snapshots on our hard drive, on a USB, or a CD. We think they’re safe because digitals seem indestructible. If we wanted, we could print them over and over, as many times as we want and still have the digital to go back to. But you know what? Digital technology changes so fast. If your wedding video is on a VHS, you may still have that cherished tape… but do you even have a VCR anymore? Do you have a way to actually watch that special video? USBs and CDs are still current, but the newest laptops are coming out with no CD drives now. So a CD of pictures is no good to someone without a CD drive!

Max's parents purchased several of these beautiful  mounted prints  for their home.

Max's parents purchased several of these beautiful mounted prints for their home.

All my clients' images are archived in 2 separate locations so that I know they’re safe and I can access them to fill orders when needed. But the service I provide to my clients is actually not focused on digital images at all. Sure, my camera is digital, and I store my work on an external hard drive (until a new futuristic storage system becomes the norm!)... but what my clients come to me for is prints. Real, tangible artwork that I can deliver in person, and they can see every day in their home. Whether they’ve hung their 20x30 canvas above the sofa, or they have their leather coffee table album in the living room for guests to flip through, it’s all a physical experience. This is truly what a photography is about (printed photographs), the idea of printing our photos has been pushed to the side since digital technology came along. And I was guilty of it myself. A few years ago I used to give clients a CD of images after I’d spent hours carefully editing each one to my standards of quality. But I know the images just stayed on that CD. They were never printed or framed or enjoyed the way they were intended. When booking a professional portrait session, you’re making an investment in artwork and memories of this unique time in your pup’s life. They will only be this age once. “Print what you want to preserve”, a wise soul once said. New technology will become outdated so many times in your life. But those prints of your grandparents as children? You can still see them without any fancy gadget necessary. A print stands the test of time and doesn’t rely on anything else to be enjoyed.



The Wet Nose Experience is focused on printed products because you deserve to see your favourite images every day in your home. You’ve invested your time and money wisely when choosing Wet Nose Images as your photographer. From beginning to end, you’ll be taken care of and met with in-person multiple times to ensure clear communication, to make sure your needs are met, and that you are completely overjoyed with your final images. Wet Nose Images believes in printing the images you love so that you can adorn the walls of your home with love and fluffy, four-legged joy.