toronto wedding photography, toronto wedding photographer: a sassy styled shoot with a twist of grunge n’ glamour

i am SUPER excited to blog this next shoot for you all to enjoy! it’s a result of the collaboration between the wonderful lady at the sassy lamb, one ms. jaime “talented” dobbs, and melissa j photography. i met jaime in our secret other life – our day jobs! i was selling travel to the old folks and she was putting their brochures together in large type. we bonded over following our dreams, cupcakes, and more recently the love for dogs whose first names begin with “o” (that would be our olive and jaime’s lovely lady ophelia). in other words? it was a match made in whichever heaven where baked goods abound.

so let’s cut to a snowy, cold day (the snowiest, coldiest day of 2010 thus far!) where two crazy ladies decided that in the middle of the busiest season of the year they were going to tromp over to an abandoned greenhouse with so! many! boxes! of! things! and spend the afternoon shooting, making gorgeous models cold, and staring longingly at cupcakes. behold the result of said collaboration: a sassy photoshoot with a twist of grunge and glamour!

jaime (that’s the sassy lamb to you folks) baked the baked goods (including the awesome red velvet cupcakes and pretty purple cupcake pops above) AND did the graphic design for the invites, table numbers, and place settings! seriously. she’s also a talented knitter, awesome puppy mama, and a photographer! seriously, this girl does it all. drop her a line or visit her website for samples of her work – she also did the cupcake pops from an earlier post. i wasn’t lying when i said she is a genius. here’s some more of her work.

dang. they tasted as good as they looked. a friend, um, wanted me to tell you that.

a sample of her fabulous graphic design word, avec cuppycake pop!

cupcake pops are seriously the best thing in the entire world. also known simply as cake pops (i think i might have invented cupcake pops for my own selfish enjoyment since i love cupcakes so much, second only to delicious things on sticks), i first heard of them through jaime when she blew my mind with samples one day at work. i demanded to know her secrets. and more samples. happily, she obliged. as someone who dabbles in cupcake pops herself, i can tell you with confidence that you should not even bother trying them at home – save yourself the headache and just call jaime and she’ll make up some tasty treats for your next party. seriously – i’m not even trying to hard-sell you on this. the biggest fights that the fiance nick & i have ever had have revolved around properly melting the damn chocolate for dipping the pops. it’s a science (akin to astro-physics or brain surgery or other really super hard science-y things), which happily jaime has mastered so you don’t have to live in fear of ruining your relationship. you’re welcome, from jaime. 😉

and! she does cakes. check that beauty out! it tasted as good as it looked! …a friend wanted me to tell you that.

………a friend wanted me to tell you that she’ll be right back as after looking at all these photos she really needs a cupcake.




back! did you know that it’s scientifically impossible to look at cupcake photos and not eat a cupcake??! a friend told me that.

i shoulda saved my cupcake break. doesn’t that just look like a little piece of baked, adorable, delicous heaven? i can’t even stand it.

and now some detail shots of jaime’s graphic design, just in case all of the delicious food has made you forget how multi-talented jaime is!

so the place where we were shooting is a patented melissa j secret because, clearly, it’s freaking stunning and i want to do more shoots there and i want to keep the secret for myself! it started snowing ever so gently, which just gave the place even more mystique. if it wasn’t for the random animal poop i could probably move in there and just shoot all of my days away in the confines of the tangled plants. seriously. there was a surprising amount of animal poop in there. it was very strange. BUT! ignoring that! look how pretty it issssssssssss:

i think those apples forgot it was december?

now i want to introduce you to two very special people – robyn and jamie. our models for the day were fearless – robyn went coatless in her sleeveless stress and braved the freezing temperatures, and jamie stay strong and resisted eating all of the cupcakes before the shoot was done. a feat of strength for both!

aren’t they just the freaking gorgeous-est??!

if you check out the photo on the right, you’ll see jamie staying strong in the face of delicious baked goods. not pictured: me, looking at the cuppies the exact same way. we all needed to tap into our strength reserves that day, even just a little.


robyn and jamie had such an easy way with each other, it was so cute! even on a cold snowy day they both found things to laugh about together. and of course, they found a few ways to keep themselves warm…

also, other ways…

you can tell these two have such a great time together.

also an easy way with the camera! i couldn’t have asked for a better couple!

finally it was time to sample the goods! but not before teasing jamie with a few shots just HOLDING the cupcakes before letting him dig in. meanest photographer ever? maybe. but if he had to wait, so did i!! 😉

despite the palpable cupcake tension, they still managed to pull out the cute!!! what a handsome couple, huh?

it was time to taste! the! cupcakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

isn’t jamie the sweetest??! he takes such good care of robyn.

one of my favourite shots of the day! (for obvious reasons.)

one of my favourite things to shoot are the bridal portraits. i love my camera, i love my lenses, and i love using them to make brides and grooms look wonderful! how many of us have really lovely portraits of ourselves that make us feel like a million bucks?? and on weddings our hair is done, our make up is done, so there is no better time to capture you looking lovely like you do! my aim is to take the kind of photo i want brides and grooms to look at 50 years from today and say “holy crap, look how beautiful i was when i was younger!” i want to take a beautiful snapshot for you to look at and feel proud of – clean, simple, just you caught in a moment in time.

isn’t robyn lovely??!

and we can’t forget the groom! ladies, i will tell you that getting a few great shots of your man at his handsomest is priceless! not just for you (cause there’s nothing like showing off your man a little, am i right?), but it also secretly makes him feel good too. whenever i take a great picture of nick, i always show him and give a little whistle and say “haaaandsome” and even though he won’t admit it, i can see he’s secretly thinking “dang, i AM good looking, aren’t i?” and he puffs his chest out a little and walks around with an extra spring in his step. all that to say: groom portraits? also awesome!

here’s jamie demonstrating:

isn’t jamie handsome?

tied for top spot in my favourite photos contest is the wedding couple portraits! these are like the individual photos, but steamier, adorable-ier, and all about the two of you and the love you share!

so i think i’ve kept you long enough for tonight. i’m going to finish up the rest of the photos in a second post later this week, including some outdoor portraits and some more smooching! and potentially the best cupcake shot i’ve ever taken in life??!

thanks again to the sassy lamb for all of her wonderful help in putting this shoot together! i’d like to highlight some other vendors in my next post (including a fabulous videographer and a local florist that blows! my! mind!) so stay tuned friends!

toronto baby photography, toronto baby photographer: pumpkins n’ twins

another long post, loyal readers! i’m taking a break from the europe photos to cute it up in hurr a little! fall is a great time to update your family photos and capture the grandma’s-favourite-grandchild christmas present shot! i was booked up nearly every weekend with family and baby shoots in preparation for the holidays, so you can say that my fall was chock full o’ cuteness!

first up, baby cailyn! she’s just as cute as her name, little cailyn is, and full of funny expressions!

the shoot started off with her like this:

and finished with her like this:

isn’t that the cutest darn pumpkin you’ve ever seen??!

she’s a very lucky little lady, because she has a mom and dad that just love her to bits!

and i’m pretty sure she just loves them to bits right back!

together, the three of them make a pretty adorable family! the only thing missing, i think, is matching mommy/daddy/baby pumpkin suits…. just saying! 😉

so what would happen if we took adorable cailyn and multiplied her by two?

my very favourite thing after one baby: TWOOOOOOOOOOO TINY (or not so tiny anymore) TWINSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

you might remember the lovely sophia and audrey from an earlier post, and here they are again, 20x bigger and 20x cuter! it’s their first christmas so their awesome mommy got them the cutest wee outfits!

fun facts about audrey and sophia:

-they have different birthdays! so even though they are alike from their pretty blue eyes to their adorable chubby toes, they will always have their own special day to celebrate. i just thought that was so neat!

-they love shoes…

(wearing AND eating)

-they love their mommy and daddy

-they love each other!

-they are SUPER, SUPER, SUUUUUUUUUUUUPER adorable!!!!

-and together with mommy, daddy, and charlie puppy they make the cuuuutest family ever!

autumn isn’t the only time for family photos – why not book a session in the spring and do an outdoor lifestyle shoot? drop me a line for pricing and availability!

a personal post: gelato, you were mine. (part due.)

buongiorno again amici! we’re finishing off our grand venetian adventure and moving on to the wonderous city of light – dubrovnik, croatia! while we were in venice, i was determined to head out and see some of the countryside surrounding the city – just a stone’s throw away from the city are magnificent villas, beautiful lakes, and fascinating structures leftover from the roman era. so, we piled into our car and headed out into the veneto countryside to visit the brenta riviera, sirmeone on lake garda, verona, and palladio’s villa rotonda outside of vicenza.

first, the brenta riviera. it was something very low on my to-see list, but it ended up being one of my favourite stops! it’s an area full of magnificent villas down-river from venice, where the rich and well-to-do folks from the city came to get away from it all. and boy, did they ever.

that? that’s the ENTRANCE HOUSE. the real villa was behind me in this photo. seriously. this is villa pisani, which was the vacation house for one of the doges. the best part wasn’t the house, the entrance house, the lush lawn, or the wading pool – it was the awesome labyrinth! nick and i got stuck in there for an hour, which made us miss most of the rest of the property. totally? worth it.

the villa was also full of old statues, beautiful landscaping and flowers, and random passersby that ruin photos. (i may or may not know said random passerby and think that they are adorable. i refuse to confirm or deny.)

from the brenta riviera, we moved on to sirmeone on lovely lake garda. it was an unplanned stop, and again one of our favourite. i may or may not be biased since it was the ONLY spot in all of italy to have waternmelon (anguria) gelato! yeah yeah, october is off-season, but whatever. aside from the delish gelato, the city itself was quirky and cute. and had random busts in buoys in the water. i’m not sure what they mean, but behold!

the only stoplight in all of sirmeone. the streets were so narrow and filled to the brim with tourists, so i’m really not sure how anyone actually DRIVES in sirmeone anyways…

olive! the food kind, not the adorable dog kind.

next we were off to verona to witness the famous roman arena and juliet’s balcony. we were frankly a little underwhelmed by verona as we found everything other than the arena to be a little bit of a letdown. juliet’s famous balcony isn’t only purported to be hers (remember, she’s a fictional character!) so it’s essentially a tourist trap. and when we were there there were nooooo love letters wedged between the bricks of the wall, which totally destroyed my letters to juliet fantasy that i cooked up while watching the movie on the plane ride over. hmpf.

the entrance to the alcove where juliet’s balcony is. it was coooooovered in little love notes, which was a little romantic. it was also full of shove-y tourists so we didn’t stay long since i was starting to get stabby.

verona redeemed itself through its brightly-coloured houses and interested door-knockers. and its adorable book-shop owning nuns! (not pictured. i was too scared to ask them for a photo :s)

our final destination in the veneto was the villa rotonda outside of vicenza. we arrived just before sunset so the light was amazing and the grounds were a photographer’s dream. also, nick and i had already seen so much that we got a little goofy. proof? see below.

thankfully we did stop to take some nice photos to take advantage of the great light. my photos courtesy curiosity core. all rights reserved (except not really cause he only took ’em cause i forced him to).

okay, so i may have still been a little goofy.

the next day we boarded our fine vessel and i promptly got the worst cold of life thanks to the many tourists that insisted on smoking on every dang street corner in venice. i was very luckily aboard one of the finest cruise lines so i was well-taken care of with 3 great meals a day in bed, all the hot tea delivered to my stateroom that i could muster, and lots of in-room movies to keep me busy. i was feeling only a little better by the time we arrived in croatia and i had to force myself to get off the boat, if only to track down some cold meds.

dubrovnik is known as the city of light and boy, did it live up to its nickname. the light was fabulous and the old city quaint and lovely, albeit very stair-y. it took me about 30 minutes to get up the 150 or so stairs to the top of the city just below the wall. an adorable croatian grandma lapped me and nick was getting quite impatient with me so he took off to enjoy the vistas of the orange roofs and laundry. it was worth the pain once i finally got up there!

the sky and the water in dubrovnik was so. freaking. blue!

the old city was again very busy with tourists and touristy things to do, but i loved the local flavour there that popped out in places, including a poster of the croatian kathy griffin (fail!) and the adorable culottes the men wear.

there was also a heavy religious influence in the city, from the busload of italian nuns visiting, to the crosses in the tourist busses, to the beautiful white stone crosses for sale, to the ringing church bells.

low-lights included the many homeless/sick kitties of the city (i may have gotten distracted by those kittens in the wood pile for about 30 minutes and tried to devise a plan to sneak them back on board the ship and get them home), and the still-evident destruction from the war in the 90s.

highlights included the stunning orange-on-white roofs. and the pizza. and the cold meds. (not pictured.)

this was my first experience with cruising, so i was fascinated by waking up in one port to the sunrise and then seeing the sun set across the same port as we departed in the evening.

after dubrovnik, we set sail to the lovely amalfi coast, followed by rome, florence, the cinque terre/portovenere, and then finally finished of our tour in the welcoming arms of pain au chocolat and franck b. in the french riviera. i have another two posts to finish off our whirlwind tour but we’re going to take a little break so that i can catch you all up on some of the non-gelato related shoots i’ve been doing lately, including TWINSSSSSSSSSSS!, a baby pumpkin, and an awesome styled shoot in an abandoned flower factory. i also need to catch you up on my OWN wedding plans, including my self-shot save the dates! keep an eye out over the next few weeks for all sorts of goodies, friends!!

a personal post: gelato, you were mine. (part uno.)

phew. it’s been a whirlwind couple of months over at melissa j photography – blog redesign, busy portrait shoot season in preparation for christmas, and the general hubbub of returning from a trip, doing your laundry, putting away souvenirs, and sifting through the 5000 photos you took on your vacation.



5000 photos.

dangggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg. that’s a lot of pictures.

so, now i’m left trying to condense said 5000 photos into a blog post for you to enjoy – and i’m happy to report that i’ve whittled down the 5000 photos to 200 photos, which i will split between two or three posts for you so you’re not all “omg too. many. photos. of. gelato. and. stone. penises.” you’re welcome.

alright, so on we go with installment numero uno!

we began our tour in venice and arrived straight in the middle of a thunderstorm (a weather pattern that would follow us for the next two weeks, pretty much). it was actually really cool to see rain in Venice, watch the lighting and hear the thunder. something about the grandeur and pomp of the city suited it? and anyways, it was better than 40+ degree heat (100+ for my yankee followers) and stinky canals – so we weren’t complaining.

our hotel was on a major intersection of canals near st. mark’s square so we got to hear the gondoliers singing to their fares all day. sounds like it would be annoying, but it strangely wasn’t. and as evidenced below, they weren’t deterred by the rain and kept on singin’.

one of my favourite shots from the trip.

we had a couple of days to play with in venice so we set about to wandering. venice is by far the coolest city in italy (florence is lovely and pretty, rome is fascinating, and venice is just…. cooool) – it’s like a maze so navigating is nearly impossible, which is perfect since you basically just want to spend the day getting lost, walking around, and discovering new things. no two trips to venice will be the same if you’re planning on walking around since you’re guaranteed to take a wrong turn somewhere and land somewhere wonderfully unexpected.

the awesome weather-beaten shutters of venice.

part of my obsession with italian door knockers (you’ll see lots more of these in posts to come) – they have the most ostentatious/ugly/interesting door knockers ever. this particular one is a modern take on the knocker that uses a bell instead!

since venice is a city built on water, there are two ways to get around: walk, or boat. there are bridges everywhere (from the ostentatious, tourist-filled to the quiet, back-alley ones) so it’s quite easy to walk everywhere you need to go. however, for the locals and the tourists in need of getting someplace fast, there are water taxis and vaporetti (the venetian “bus” system). of course if you’re local you own at least one boat and chances are you’ll drive down the grand canal at least once a day. here’s a shot of it at sunset – how very, very grand indeed!

where do gondolas go to sleep? all parked in a row, that’s where. you can see the majestic rialto bridge in the background in the top left corner.

and here’s a full shot of the bridge, including a vaporetto travelling underneath it!

other things i love about venice: the details! like the brightly-coloured houses.

the random, lovely antique chairs in alleys.

the light, the crumbling buildings, and the frescoes.

the random store names (and my fiance nick!).

the expensive, expensive fresh food selection.

the door knockers (again). this one scares me!

the hilarious signs.

the people and the wonderful little shops.

and the main sights like st. mark’s square, the doge’s palace, and the campanile.

one of the latest controversies in venice is that they’ve recovered the area around the bridge of sighs in a huge bulgari advertisement! italians are very passionate about their country and their cities, so something like this is seen as a huge insult, even as a type of sacriledge against the city! i love that they are so proud of where they are from and fiercely protect it. and beside – the advertisement is pretty ugly and pointless anyways. (wink!) the text says: the sky of sighs. i mean, seriously??! the bridge of sighs is so-named because that was the route condemned prisoners would take from the jail to the doge’s palace for sentencing for their crimes… way to make light of the situation via advertising. i think the venetians are right to protest – ew, ew, ew.

and speaking of protests, we witnessed one while we were there!

i was going to include photos of my side trips from venice, but dang, this post was long!! so i’ll be back later this week with more italy. until then……… arrivaderci amici!!!!

a personal post: gelato, you will be mine.

so as some of you may know, every since high school i have been smitten with all things italia. so much so, in fact, that i studied in all throughout school, in university, and even did my masters degree in italian literature!!

it was a true dream come true, then, when i went to italy for the first time in 2007. i took SO. MANY. PICTURES. seriously, like 3000. in a month. it was such a thrill to be able to capture it all on film, test my burgeoning photographic skills, and share my pictures with family and friends when i got home. at the time, i only had a point and shoot (seriously. we all start somewhere, eh??!) but i was bent on doing my damndest to get shots i would love for a lifetime. and you know what? i STILL love these photos today and display them around my house. just goes to show that it’s not the equipment that matters. (keep that in mind if you are just starting to shoot yourself – “weak” equipment only makes you work harder to develop your eye, which any photographer worth their salt will tell you is what makes you good!)

in any case, the reason i bring all this up is because i am shortly on my way BACK to italy, and i couldn’t be more thrilled. i’m excited for the beautiful cities, the wonderful food, the warm and passionate people, and THE FREAKING GELATO.

if i have any regrets about my last trip to italy, it was that i didn’t yet realize the wonder and the glory of italian ice cream. oh sure, i sampled it here and there and enjoyed it, but in the intervening years i’ve refined my gelato-palate and have truly come to appreciate the beauty of this frozen treat. and when i love something, i truly L.O.V.E. it, so you can expect a heck of a lot of pictures of gelato popping up in the coming weeks. i can’t lie – i’m a little sad i didn’t take any pictures of it when i was there the last time. hindsight is 20/20, as they say.

in any case, enjoy a sampling of my month-long italian adventure from 2007. it’s interesting to see how far i’ve come and what i can do beyond the point-and-shoot.

ci vediamo a presto, amici. il gelato mi chiama…………

first stop: ROMA

the famous sistine chapel. little known fact: there are lots of bums in this painting.

a cool statue from the vatican museums.

the famous trevi fountain – i guess all the coins i threw in the fountain worked! (legend has it that if you throw coins into the fountain it guarantees you’ll return to rome.)

the colosseum – they “cleaned” half of it before realizing that the cleaning was actually destroying the structure. (not joking.)

roma da notte. (rome by night.)

the spanish steps. and my feet on the spanish steps.

no visit to italy is complete without sightings of the many gypsies begging throughout the city. this one was a’ight because she didn’t have a sign saying “i have hepititis c, please give me money” (actual gypsy sign spotted in florence.)

the view from the keats/shelley museum. fun fact, percy shelley is one of my all-time favourite poets. this time around, i’m hell-bent on visiting his grave in the protestant cemetery!

on to wonderful venezia, home of handsome gondoliers, dead-end streets and wonderful, cheap jewellery.

venice had the most interesting graffiti in all of italy. this one is of a bird. all together now: “oooooh! ahhhhh!”

venetian mask shop. i didn’t buy anything cause it was all like elventy bazillion euro.

fun fact: this picture hangs in my bedroom! i wasn’t joking when i said i STILL love these photos. this one is probably one of my favourites of all my photos ever!!!

on to assisi, home of st. francis. it was one of my favourite stops in all of italy!

mostly cause the graffiti here was also…………… interesting. and because of the city pride. (naturally.)

but seriously though, the city is spectacular. nestled in the umbrian hills, the town is perched high up on a hill overlooking a fertile valley filled with olive groves. we walked down from the town after visiting through the groves just as the sun was setting. it was (as you can see below) LOVELY.

the city itself boasts spectacular views of the umbrian countryside.

one thing to note about italy is that since it has a very strong religious influence, you’re going to see a lot of church. lovely and wonderful churches, churches that have a dress code to enter. covered shoulders and legs are a must.

mesh tube tops and short shorts? …not so much.

(fun fact, i also love this photo. a lot.)

andiamo a firenze adesso! the birthplace of the renaissance, simply walking around florence you will find wonderful art, quaint nooks filled with interesting shops, and amazing museums.

this photo is from the piazza della signoria, where the original david stood. it’s now replaced by a replica, but you still get the idea.

my favourite statues are the ones where bums are being grabbed. see below.

the wonderful ornate ceiling of the baptistery, where dante was baptised!

that’s a big jesus.

my first view of the famed duomo of florence. florence was the first city i visited and seeing this duomo in the distance was honestly a dream come true!

i was so lucky, the day i was there was the ONE day a year that they open the balconies of the duomo for travellers to walk along – so i got to climb up and basically scale the building! it was so lovely.

the view from up above of the crowds.

florence had hands down the best door knockers in all of italy.

the wonderful duomo ceiling! sad that it’s starting to crumble a little….:(

florence also had the best building facades and shutters.

ladies and gentlemen, i think this next photo is proof of the first time i ever backlit a bride. amazing!!

e finalmente, siena, my absolute number 1 favourite city in all of italy. it’s so, so lovely and i recommend that everyoneeeeee go. this is a picture of the main square and campanile (bell tower) where they run the palio every year.

siena was full of cute little alleyways. i am planning on retiring here. (seriously.)

now i hinted at this previously, but italy is fullllll of graffiti. everywhere. some pretty (a la bird above), some weird, and some… statement-y.

below is a lovely scrawl on a wall from the small tuscan town i was living in for a few weeks. troia is roughly translated as “whore.” sometimes, i guess you just gotta get it out.

the following photo was taken in florence, where the locals aren’t shy about voicing their opinion about the other, possibly more famous, cities in the country. i’m going to let you google this one for a translation…

allora! i hope you enjoyed a brief tour of italy through my eyes. i can’t wait to post again once i get back and show you the latest round of photos. i’ll try to boil the thousands of photos into a succinct rundown… but i promise nothing.

a dopo, amici!