Tag Archives: humour

How to get a job as a wedding photographer

Step 1: have a friend that is getting married
Step 2: have a big ass camera

That’s about it. Ok, let me elaborate and throw in a few tips for those budding wedding photographers.

My friends decided to get married in a really cool venue (aquarium) who had never hosted a wedding before. They then decided to ask a couple other friends if they would do the photos. I was meant to be the backup photographer. That’s how it all started. Get ready, here comes the tips!

The setup: an aquarium with nice dark interiors the better to see he lovely backlight tanks of fish. An event space with low ceilings and crowded interiors. (If you are a knowledgeable amateur, you probably have goosebumps already, right?)

Tip 1 case the joint. Picks few spots that you think will work and persuade the couple that those are really the best places. “Yes, I know the sharks make a great background, but aunt so and so is never going to make it up and down those stairs six times in a row.”

Tip 2 Make friends with the event coordinator.  Best friends. She is going to be your new BFF. The one who will let you in all the back hallways so you don’t have to walk the whole bloody place too many times. And she is the one who is going to get you permission to go where only the keepers go to get that one shot the couple really wants. Plus, how cool is it to be on the catwalk of the shark tank only 4 inches away from the huge animals?! They don’t jump, do they?

Tip 3 Hump the equipment. It’s tempting to slim down your kit because you will be walking that entire place at least twice, if not 3 or 4 times, but you are going to need it. Flash for sure and I wouldn’t say no to a tripod.

Tip 4 Dont wear a dress. Granted, I was also a guest at this wedding, so I did dress up a bit in a fairly short dress. So there I was, kneeling down to get a shot during the ceremony and braiding myself to steady the camera as there was no room for a tripod and realised how short the dress was.

Tip 5 Shoot, shoot, shoot. I don’t think this requires any more explanation

Tip 6 don’t sweat it. It will be what it will be. You’ve just been asked or hired to do an extremely difficult shoot with little to no prep. You will do your best. And as your mom always said that’s really all anyone can ask (unless they are the bride).

The group shot – honest, there were sharks in the background water. This shot did require considerable scoping out before the event as well as the widest lens I could find, a fill flash (needed a more powerful one), and a tripod.
2015-007_111 FINAL

There’s the fish! My friends were good enough to stand there for a number of test shots so that I could figure out the exposure for the silhouettes, checked the right fishes were swimming by and then held the pose for the long exposure.
2015-007_256 FINAL

Just so you can see the faces. Similar to the one above but I also had to hide the flash in the glass. This made carrying the 5? 10? pounds of equipment through the aquarium in my dress all worth it.2015-007_266 FINAL


From my journal: What the beginner yoga teacher was really thinking

Yoga classes are many things to different people. Some people come to sweat without the annoying “and one more!” of an aerobics trainer in their ear. Others love the balance and harmony that yoga brings to their spirit.  For some, it’s a break from their hectic modern, plugged in lives.  For the novice teacher? It’s 60 minutes of frantic mental gymnastics and acting cool.

I’ve done a lot (a lot!) of presentations before so I wasn’t really that nervous when I offerred to fill in for my injured yoga teacher one day. Plus, she was going to be in the room, so if anything went really off the rails, I knew she’d bail me out.

This was the first time I would be teaching a) a group of yogis who actually knew what they were doing and b) for a whole 60 minutes. Let me walk you through the sweat-dripping experience (and it wasn’t hot yoga).

I had a routine lined up and had just finished week 4 of the 200 level training so we had been running through poses and sequences ad nauseum to date. I remembered to tell the students they would need a strap and a couple of blocks (normal yoga props for all you non-yogis out there!) – all good so far.

First 5 minutes: put them in savasana and start their meditation. Crap! forgot MY strap and block – quietly run out of the room and grab some for me…DON’T drop the block…sit back down and make sure everyone is still breathing..Damn! I’m not wearing a watch and the teacher’s ipod is blocking the clock…quietly get MY iphone out of my bag and place unobstrusively behind a block.

Next 15 minutes: run through my kneeling sequence with them, remembering to look around and make sure everyone is ok.  WHY do they keep looking at me??? The downside of the kneeling portion of the class is that they are all facing you with these lovely looks of expectation and there is no where else to look except BACK AT THEM.  Which is why I forgot one of the poses and then I forgot what it was called.  Oh that’s why they are looking at me, I can just DO the pose and they will follow. On the other hand, when you aren’t facing your students and you hear a big THUD, be careful how you twist your own head to take a look (ow!).

Next 20 minutes: Teachers, the biggest clue that you are not cue-ing the moves right is when people start to fall down. I’m not saying you are doing anything wrong, but generally, there’s something you can do better at that point. So, when one of the yogis sort of fell over and had to put her hand on the wall, that should have told me to slow down or maybe go and stand in front of everyone rather than making them turn their heads to see me!!  Ah well, noone was hurt; lesson learned.

At this point, for all you math whizzes, I should be just past the halfway point in the class. So, as I look at my iPhone and see that I’m only 25 minutes into the class, my heart starts pounding faster (OMG, what am I going to do with them for an extra 15 minutes) and my mind starts to go into overdrive (longersavansanaattheendandmaybethrowinsomeomsandmaybesomethingelse??)

If you recall, my teacher was in the class and while everyone was resting in child’s pose, I look over at her and she gives me the big thumbs up!!!!  and I give her the face of panic!!!

All bets are off now, I pull out every single routine I can think of in the standing section and hold every pose extra and make them do every pose 3 times. I also notice that the class continues to face you in the standing section so you don’t have the chance to surreptitiously try the routine before you teach it!!! grrrrr (lesson learned – throw in a bunch of stuff where they are looking up or back or to the side)

By about 10 minutes to the end, I haven’t lost anyone, I haven’t made too many verbal flubs but I still have 10 minutes to fill.  I’m wishing I knew my arm balances better because those take a ton of time to do. Alright, so we’ll do a longer than usual meditation.  The class is great, they do all the breathing exercises and I keep checking my iphone’s clock just in case – time runs differently for the teacher than the class.  But when the students go really really still and quiet, I start to wonder if they have fallen asleep. I start to be afraid that the next sound I hear is gentle snoring. Then I start to panic that they are all totally bored and can’t wait to get out of there!  Quick! wake them up! make them do “om”s…..

Letters to strangers – the timid shopper

It was refreshing to see someone politely ask someone else to move a bit so they could reach something on the shelf.  Really, common courtesy is not common anymore, so good for you for not bashing your way into the checkout line to reach that 1 chocolate bar that you wanted!  I would suggest however, that when you ask someone to excuse you and move out of the way, it might be more effective if you did so louder than a whisper. And then, when that person either doesn’t move because he’s a rude boor or just didn’t hear you, it is perfectly acceptable to ask again, just a tiny bit louder so that you are, oh, I don’t know, audible. Then, may I suggest that if he did shift out of the way, even if it isn’t too far, if you have line of sight to that candy bar, go for it.  Just because it means that you will be putting your face near his butt is not a reason to hesitate since you have already skipped the entire check out line that will go right past this shelf anyway and left your basket in the middle of the floor. And I’d like to give a shout out to the shopper behind the guy who is “blocking” your path to the candy bar who reached down and picked up the candy bar for you, turned around, asked how many you wanted and went back to get the 2 others and handed them to you.  She was far more compassionate than most of us who were just wondering whether you were scared to reach in and grab it or if your tight skirt prevented you from bending down that far.



Letters to strangers – the absent cashier

Hi there, it’s me. One of dozens of people you cashed out today. I know your job isn’t particularly stimulating. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you stood there longing for an irate customer with inventive language to just give you something different to do. I see you’ve even prepared your entire cash station with plastic bags just begging for someone to come and ask for one. Which is why it puzzled me when you made no move to use those bags until I asked.  You didn’t even reach for my purchases in the carry basket until I made it clear I really wanted to pay for them. And even then, you limited yourself to a total of 1 word in the entire transaction and that was “swipe” – thank goodness I knew you were referring to my credit card. Although then I was puzzled again when you didn’t ask me to sign the bill since it was a swiped, non-chip card. But that’s ok. I get it. You probably had laryngitis from being uber-friendly to all the customers who came before me. Catch you next time…:)

Letters to Strangers. The colourful pillow person.

Dear colourful pillow person. I walked by your patio as I do often and this morning I saw you had placed two bright, striped coloured pillow on your two rattan chairs. How cheerful! Afterall, you’ve had those chairs for at least 3 years and last year, I saw your seat cushion sitting on the ground all winter when it rained. Plus you don’t really have any other furniture on that patio or any plants. So, it was about time you spruced it up a bit! Maybe you’ve turned a corner? Maybe you got a raise? or Did you just decide on putting some brightness into your home?  In any case, it looks great!

Yours sincerely,

Jamaican Joy

Frozen (Not just Still) Lifes

A random collection of frozen objects that I found interesting – because in my opinion, that’s all that matters 🙂

Bowed Down


Is this a Stop(ped) light?


This willow has survived a windstorm that almost totalled my car, several thunderstorms and now an ice storm….and yet it still stands despite losing several branches and basically threatening to fall on us any day




The flowers are artificial, but if that wasn’t enough to preserve them, we decided to put them on ice


You can see which way the wind was blowing



You would not be sitting pretty on this


And kids, do NOT stick any part of your body (especially your tongue) on this!


My Jamaica is more than patties

My Jamaica is not just the beach. When I speak with fellow Jamaicans or when I am back in the homeland, the one thing that screams “I’m back ayard!!” more than the patties or oxtail or ackee is what we Jamaicans do to names. People’s names, street names, town names….anything is fair game.

When I was growing up far from the island, I always associated food with my culture. It was so different than the Canadian food – full of peppa (HOT peppers) and spicees and rich sauces and flava (flavour)!! Not to mention the exotic ingredients – cassava, oxtail (yes, real tail from real ox, not like the British toad in the hole which doesn’t involve any real toads), okra and plantain (the sweet fruit, not that leafy green medicinal plant).

The next stage was when I met my cousins and aunts and uncles who all still held onto their Jamaican accent. I still remember with some trepidation one of the first dinner parties where I could not understand a word Uncle T said. I had to find my mom and ask her if he was speaking a different language. Oh, how I wanted (still want) to speak like them! It was musical, intriguing and it was “home”.

But I realize now that more than the rum that leaks from our very pores (comes from having it poured on us every time it rains), it is the use of language that ties us together. This is what allows us to recognize each other as soon as someone walks through the door and you hear “Awhahappen?” But you know the soul of a Jamaican by how they use the language. We don’t bat an eye at names like Pretty (uncle) or nicknames like Plumby (uncle – spelling approximate as I’ve never actually seen it written – real name Ronald), Cutie (aunt), Evadne, etc. The absolute highlight had to be this gravestone we found in the cemetary. Only in Jamaica would you find:


We also use it to be a colourful descriptor. So while you can certainly find a “Main Street” (actually Avenue) in Kingston, Jamaica, you are just as likely to run across “Half Way Tree Road” or “Birdsucker Lane” or “Constant Spring road” or even “Red Hills Road”.  Each name conjuring up a visual or indicating that there must be a story behind the name. The most innocuous name I saw on my last visit was “Orange Grove” and even that makes you think of bright orange fruit with a leafy green backdrop!

However, it’s not all fun and interesting names. I was in my early 20s before I realized that one very ordinary and plain word was being used to indicate the staple of boiled yams and bananas in our diet. This, they call “food”.

How to survive 32 hours of travelling for business

I have certainly learnt my lesson this year. Just because the schedule looks ok on paper doesn’t mean it’s ok. On paper (or on screen if you’ve gone totally “e”), things are only 2 dimensional. It doesn’t take into account that 2 overnight flights in a row are going to wipe you out even if you can sleep on planes or that a 5 hour tour of a city (see my Istanbul post) in a 9 hour window means you are on the go for the entire time or that 3.5 days in Cape Town really IS just enough time for your body to adjust before you yank it back to North American time zone and you have to readjust again. So, here’s what you do if you have to go to a conference halfway around the world:

  1. Do NOT schedule a 5 hour exam the day before you leave (I passed, by the way)
  2. Do take your own travel pillow with you even if travelling business
  3. Do drink loads and loads of water, not alcohol or soda/pop, in addition to the gallons of caffeine you will be consuming
  4. Do NOT expect to land after 22 hours on a plane, 3 takeoffs and landings and 32 hours travelling and go to a briefing session
  5. If you do make it to the briefing session, do NOT expect to stay awake
  6. Do take extra time for your body to adjust to the new environment and take a moment to relax before shoving your body back in a tin can (the plane) rather than travelling for 63 hours and only spending 96 hours on the ground
  7. Do boost your immune system because you will be breathing in so many things on the flight you just don’t even want to know
  8. Do sleep whenever you can, but preferably not during the plenary session when sitting at the front
  9. Do bring your paitience and humour with you and leave everything else at home

How to keep friends

At a funeral I went to recently, the family said they found this prayer in the deceased’s chair. I searched the net, but didn’t find an author. Comments in brackets are mine.

A Daily Prayer for Those Growing Old

Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old.    [I think everyone of any age should read this!]

Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.   [oops, I guess this blog post ignores this one]

Release me from craving to try and straighten out everyone’s affairs.   [agree, but don’t stop telling me about all the affairs – gotta have some fun]

Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all … but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.    [my advice is to write a book – that way people will pay for your advice anyway and you can get your friends to “proofread” the book so they have to read it]

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.  [I would add here not only patience but also the social graces to exit a conversation]

I dare not ask for improved memory [that’s what smartphones are for now], but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint; some of them are so hard to live with; but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. And give me grace to tell them so!   [Sainthood should be saved for the afterlife, I’m growing old, but I’m not dead yet!]