Surprise Engagement @ The German Christmas Markets

I was honored to be asked to do some papparazzi style photos for a secret surprise engagement session. Here’s what the lucky bride to be Josette, had to say:

Thursday, December 5th, 2013…

Jenice Yu and I had plans to go out to one of her “Jenice Yu” fancy dinners. 10 courses with wine. Dress pretty she says. Free food?! Awesome. I’m there. We planned for her to come by at 6:30pm. At 6:20pm she cancels saying there’s an emergency at her store. Jenice’s performance was EXCELLENT might I add, ” I’m at Knight and King Ed now, but I have to turn around! An employee cut her hand!! It’s pretty bad.” Meanwhile, she was at home the whole time.

So here I am, dressed all pretty with nowhere to go. Fane C-Bear says “Hey, I have these 2 free tickets to the Vancouver Christmas Market. James Kot gave them to me at work today. Want to check it out?” I’m putting sweatpants on and cranky that I’m not getting my free 10 courses with wine. “Nah, it’s too cold. Let’s stay in. And I don’t really like Christmas markets anyway…” Poor Fane.

Ric Lee and Hennisea text me “You guys up to anything? We’re going to the Christmas Market if you’re around”. Weirdest thing, Ric and Hennsiea had NO IDEA what Fane’s plans were. It was a perfectly timed coincidence that they text us about going to the Christmas Market. Because I wanted to see Ric and Hennisea – not because I wanted to go with Fane – we (finally) end up going to the Christmas market!

Off we go to the Christmas Market. Fane is still wearing a tie from work. He tries to get me to stay in my pretty dress, but I insist that sweatpants, 2 layers of sweaters, and a toque would be a better outfit for the outdoor Christmas Market. (My punishment for being so stubborn is being photographed in that dorky toque.) I’m also wearing Jenice’s coat that I was supposed to return to her that day.

We get to the Christmas Market and of course the first thing I want is food. Fane and I share a quick bowl of soup and a soft pretzel. It’s no 10 course meal with wine, but I’m satisfied. Fane is texting away. Turns out that he was texting the photographer, “Sorry, we’re running late. She’s hungry…”

Around 4 years ago, Fane and I really got to know each other while doing a sketch comedy show. I’ve seen him before at several film & tv auditions for “Asian People” (Yes, that’s a thing). I always thought he was a good looking guy, but I assumed he was too good looking to be interesting. It was through this sketch comedy show – “The Darin Joes” – that I saw what was inside. I realized how funny, and silly and nerdy he actually was. And warm and loving and generous and yes…still ridiculously good looking.

The little theatre where we first performed sketch comedy together is no longer a theatre, but now a shop for handmade Christmas ornaments…a part of the Christmas Market! The shop was beautifully decorated with lights and bright vibrant colours from all the ornaments. We walked around with Ric and Hennisea, however they started to walk faster than us. I just assumed it was because Hennisea is a marathon runner? I dunno. This gave me and Fane a chance to snuggle and sneak some kisses. Fane was being extra cuddly that night, little did I know it was because he had a photographer following us around the whole time!

We get to a corner of the theatre/shop and he tells me to look at a specific ornament. “I might get that one for my mom. Look closer!” So I do. When I turn back around he’s on the ground holding something red. “Oh no. Did you drop a Christmas ornament?” I thought. He opens the red box. It’s a ring. Then I see his face. Everything else was a blur. Apparently there were flashes from cameras going off and people cheering. I didn’t notice any of that. It was just me and my fiance.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in this perfect and magical evening.

So yeah….Christmas Markets aren’t so bad after all. We’re making it a tradition to go back every year.



:: Baby Love…

Here’s a sneak peek of today’s newborn session… We have a new time record for a baby peeing during a shoot…. This little guy couldn’t wait until the first shutter click before he left a puddle behind!


:: It’s Brooklyn In Tha House…

In the words of The Notorious BIG, “It’s Brooklyn in tha house”… Today against all plans and preparation we welcome our second daughter Brooklyn Thilini Gunawardena into the world… She was born on September 5th, 2013 at 9:17am weight in at 6lbs 10oz and 51cm tall… Welcome my little girl… you’re definitely a chubby little monkey and I can’t get over those cheeks!



:: Maternity Session With Elaine & Wei Kiat

Our close friends Elaine and Wei Kiat are expecting their first baby and I was delighted when they asked me to do a maternity session for them. They didn’t want the typical cliche photos, so I opted to do more of a lifestyle session with them. The weather was perfect and we made good use of this beautiful Vancouver summer day. Here’s a few photos from the session:


:: Cousin Love



There’s nothing more precious than the sight and sound of cousins playing together. Even though we live halfway around the world from the rest of our family it’s amazing to see my little nieces and nephews embrace Savannah and before long they act and adore each other as if they’ve live under the same roof their whole lives.

:: Bali Getaway

We just got back from a quick whirlwind trip to Australia and Bali to catchup with family and friends. It was great to be re-introduced to the sights, sounds, smells and most importantly foods that we took for granted while we lived there. Eating simple things like rotisserie bake chicken with “chips and chicken salt”, the south east asian flavoured chinese food and not to mention the good ol’ Aussie meat pie brought back a flood of nostalgic memories and satisfied those cravings of food that we can’t get in Canada or just doesn’t taste the same.

It has been 4 years since I was last back in Perth and while the city has changed and grown one this hasn’t… and that is the close friendships that were forged all those years ago. It’s nice to meet up with old friends and pick up as if not a day has gone by without seeing each other.

While our stay in Australia felt all too brief, we found ourselves packing our bags again and were off to Bali to get some heat… Here are a few photos I’ve taken during our stay there:


:: Cherry Blossom Family Portrait Session


Today I was excited to have a family portrait session with Rachel, Matthew and Naomi. Our initial plan was to meet at Stanley Park and work our way around from there. I got a call from Rachel saying that they were running a bit late, so I decided to drive around to scope out some shooting locations around downtown. The previous week I wanted to do the portrait session with Cherry Blossom trees as the backdrop however they weren’t blooming yet. I drove around and in that short time frame between shoots they were out in full force! I changed our plan of location and we had this amazingly colourful backdrop to use for the session. Being an Easter long weekend it was quiet and there weren’t many people around. These trees only bloom for a short period of time before they shed their petals and look just like any normal tree, but when they do come out they just attract the masses…

So once I got us all setup we followed through the session and I made use of the huge water feature and surrounding gardens. Little Naomi has a pout that can man any father melt and hand over all the candy he’s holding and she definitely put it to work!

Check out some of the photo’s from the session below:



:: Portrait Session With The Narula Family

Today I had the privilege of doing a portrait session with the Narula family. Avi, Krista and 6 month old baby Kai were extremely fun to work with and it was  a perfect day to shoot with the overcast sky creating the perfect lighting. Since they are moving away from Vancouver, they wanted to have a session done before they left that captured the essence of the city. What better location than on the waterfront with the iconic city scape and mountains in the background. The first stop was Vanier Park where we used the marina’s rocks and clear views of downtown to set the perfect backdrop. Bubba Kai showed his Kiwi roots throughout the day doing the Haka dance complete with his tongue sticking out! The next stop was Coal Harbor sea wall and the Westin Bayshore gardens. This shoot was the first time I tried out my new Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5’s on location for wireless flashes and I’m loving the convenience and results! Let me know what you think of the photos!



:: When The Toys Come To Life…

This is my re-creation of a photo concept that I had seen done before and wanted to take it and put my own spin on it. I wanted to make it a more whimsical feeling of magic to the scene portraying that the child’s imagination is running wild and is bringing the story to life.

Some of the components in the scene like the chair, cabinet and lamp were reused from the original photo.  This is more of a composition project with elements being photographed individually like the room, floor, play chest, drawer panels, baseboard and then integrated each one into the photo one by one to build the environment. Other elements were taken from stock photos and finally the characters were taken from rendered wallpapers to give it a more animated feel. I didn’t want to go too dark with the characters coming out of the shadows because I didn’t want to create a creepy “child’s play” effect. Lol I don’t want to traumatize her just yet. The photo of Savannah was taken with the softbox angled up at 45 degrees to to emulate the light source emitted from the book and the rest of the smoke, mist, flares & character shadows were created in post production.

Overall I’m quite happy with the final image and hope that it looks believable and portrays the feel that I was trying to create!



:: It Takes Tutu To Tango…

While travelling in Mexico my wife and I came across this cute little shop that sells hand stitched tutus for children that were absolutely adorable. The craftsmanship and attention to detail was so amazing and we got to meet the little old lady that makes them. After trying on almost every tutu in the shop, we ended up buying 2 for Savannah. Every little girl wants to be a ballerina or a princess at some stage in her life and with a tutu like that who would blame them?!