Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: How to Select a Venue for your big day

Often the most important task of planning your wedding day is to choose a venue you love. I thought of the team at Jessup Food & Heritage first. I have been privileged to shoot in their venues. Assistant General Manager Tim Archibald was amazing and very helpful at answering all of my questions – something I highly recommend when picking an event venue specialist to work with. 


Left: Tim Archibald-Assistant General Manager ~ Right: Ryan Chartrand-General Manager

How long in advance should couples book their preferred venue?

It really depends on how many guests will be invited , if they have a set date in mind, and how much they plan on reserving for the date ie. DJ, wedding planner, officiant etc. I recently worked with a couple who had 45 guests, they were going to play their own music and didn’t care too much about a certain date. We were able to plan their special day in less than 2 months. If you are planning a bigger wedding with over 100 guests it’s always best to give as much notice as possible to allow them to arrange travel plans.  Most couples plan a year in advance.

What are three questions couples should ask the venue before booking other than if the date is available?

1)  Ask “what is included in the venue rental fee.”  Will they provide linen, glassware, speakers, microphone etc.? The last thing you want is to not ask about these and then get hit with unexpected costs and blow your budget.

2) Does the venue come with any decorations at all?  Some venues will decorate according to the season and already look beautiful. Other places may be bare bones and you are going to need to budget for a decorator.

3) Is there a minimum liquor spend? A trend with newer venues is they have a minimum amount you must spend on alcohol or else they charge you a fee.  Make sure you are only going to pay for what you consume.

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What are the Wedding Trends you are seeing a lot of this year?

A number of weddings I have sold lately will have a smaller number of guests for the ceremony, reception, and dinner and then they will invite more of their friends after for the dance and party portion of the wedding.  This is a way to keep your budget lower, create a more intimate ceremony and banquet and then bring in the friends who will be ready to party and dance afterwards.

We have seen a few clients ask to do food stations for their banquets.  A recent couple I worked with came from German and Scottish backgrounds. They had a German station, a seafood station,  a pasta station and a  Scottish  station.  I thought this was a neat way to bring together families of different backgrounds and make them all feel comfortable while serving a great array of cuisines.

How many people can each of your venues accommodate?

Renaissance Event Venue – the oldest standing church in Kingston: The Upper Salon has a maximum occupancy of 200 while the lower salon can hold 150. Denis Leblanc is an owner and operator of Renaissance and meets with each client to go over details before the big day. His attention to detail speaks volumes to our success.DSC09222

The Great Hall upstairs at Sir John’s Public House can hold 100. It is perfect for smaller groups as it has two gas fireplaces and a whisky bar with rolling ladder and 15 draught selections.

Fort Henry has 5 dining rooms that can hold 58 guests in each. As 3 of the dining rooms run parallel together and are connected we often will use one as a dining room, one for the reception and bar and the other as a dance floor. At Fort Henry we can also do tent weddings in the parade square that can hold 200+ guests. We can also work alongside the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and cater their Discovery Centre at Fort Henry.

What is something unique to the Jessup Food & Heritage Wedding experience?

The name of the company really tells the tale of our uniqueness. Our owner, Paul Fortier is a Historian by trade and lover of world food and beverage. Paul really researches the different cuisines from different countries and eras. We offer historically accurate meals at a high level of quality.  If a client wants to do a traditional chicken, salmon, vegetarian option banquet that is not a problem, but we can also switch gears and offer some incredibly unique menu options like Haggis, Tatties and Neeps  or even a  Cornish Pasty Beef Pie . We are lucky that our owner Paul works so closely with our executive chef, Scott Wemp to come up with new and delicious ideas. If we are asked to create a dish we aren’t sure of, we treat it like a challenge and do our research to make our clients happy.

Tell us a little bit about yourself? What is your favorite part of your job?

After graduating from Mount Allison University with a degree in Sociology and Canadian Studies I moved to Kingston and was lucky enough to meet Paul. I started out as a supervisor at Fort Henry while bartending at Sir John’s Public House for a year. After switching careers for a year and a half I was lucky enough to meet back up with our General Manager, Ryan Chartrand for lunch. He discussed the need for more help in the office and a few weeks later I signed back up as the Assistant General Manager with a focus on event sales and venue operations.

Meeting and working with our clients is my favorite part of the job. I enjoy the unique experience that each wedding or event offers. I love seeing the progression of events. From the first phone call where I put a few ideas down on paper, to showing the venues and revising the proposal to the clients wishes, and finally to the operation of their special day. It truly is a rewarding job.

What is the best piece of advice you can give couples to help them choose a wedding venue?

I would recommend finding a venue that has an operations manager so you know everything will be punctual and run smoothly. Find a location and company that you enjoy working with because chances are over the course of planning your wedding you will have them on speed dial. Lastly, find a space that will leave an impression on your guests and one that they associate with your special day. Chances are they will never forget the wedding that took place at the oldest standing church in Kingston, Historical Fort Henry or the law office of Sir John A Macdonald!

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Best of wishes to all of the local brides reading this as you hunt for your perfect place to say “I do” 🙂

Kingston Expert Interview Series: How to select a Makeup expert for your wedding

To start off my series of interviews with local wedding event experts I thought I would speak with one of the first vendors you see the day of your wedding. As head makeup and Esthetics person at FAB Hair & Esthetics Kristin Melo was a natural choice to interview.

  • Why is it important for brides to get an expert to do their makeup?

The #1 thing for Brides is the photos; you will be looking back on them for years to come. You want to look flawless! All eyes will be on you. A expert MU has the training, tips and tricks to take you out of your comfort zone and ensure that it lasts from start to finish.

  • What important questions should brides ask a makeup specialist before booking?

Just one question needs to be asked, “Is there anything I need to do in preparation for my makeup?” I always ask my clients to come with clean and HYDRATED skin. Hydration is key to having the foundation look natural. If a customer has extremely dry, flaky skin I will suggest a series of facials and products to prepare their skin for a perfect Make-up application.


  • How much time should brides give themselves for makeup?

Minimum 45 minutes to an hour. Application of false lashes takes additional time. Make sure to let your artist know if you want to wear them.

  • What are the Wedding Trends you are seeing a lot of this year in makeup?

Soft and fresh-faced is one that is being seen on the runway a lot this year. Think rosy cheeks, pretty pink lips and lightly lined eyes. This look plays up your natural beauty. You may think that this is easy enough to do on your own, but it’s not! Make-up looks very different in photos. Less is not more in this situation. A expert Make-up artist knows how to give you a natural look and still have it show up in the pictures.

  • Are there any must have beauty products you think a bride shouldn’t do without?

Eye and face primer. It’s the only thing that will stop your makeup from wearing off through the day.

  • Why did you decide to become an Esthetician and how long have you been doing it?

My best friend was going away to college. There was no way she was going without me! I flipped through various College course books. I had no idea what I wanted to do. When I came across the Esthetics program it was like a light bulb went off inside my head. “Ah-ha!!” I instantly knew I had chosen the right career. I have always been interested in the beauty industry. As a young girl I would play pretend and make a Spa in my parent’s living room. My mother would come home from work and I would massage her feet and hands. She loved it! Sleepovers were the best at my place. We would lay in the sun, tanning, with cucumbers or tea bags on our eyes and a hair mask in our hair made from mayonnaise. None of my girlfriends were surprised to hear I had chosen to be a Esthetician, I was OBSESSED with all things beauty. I watched my older sister do her makeup with envy. I used my mother’s firming face masks at the age of 10 and stole her nail polish every chance I got. I’ve been doing Esthetics/ Make-up for over 15 years. I absolutely love my job and it shows through in my work.

  • What is one of your favorite parts about your job?

I love the interactions with clients. It’s a very social career. You develop a friendship and a admiration for one another. I’ve met some amazing people over the years.


Lets Get Gritty in 2016

3 Practical Ways to Get Your Grit on


I saw an amazing talk by Angela Lee-Duckworth not that long ago and it inspired me to build up my grit. A new year is upon us  and that old desire to change and grow is surfacing within most. Here are three ways to focus on how to build grit.


1)Take the challenge and make it compelling:

You must set goals or resolve to make change happen in your life to see any growth and be clear about what you want. If you don’t set goals for yourself now you will not find yourself in a magically better situation later. If your goals are hazy so will be your results. You can’t build a muscle without using it and you cannot build grit without pushing yourself in some way towards something of true meaning to you. So set a goal today. Not because it’s the first day of January but because that’s who you are or genuinely want to become. To achieve your goal, you must be a gritty, tenacious and dedicated person. Make that goal compelling. Let passion be your guide and then build that passion to a fever pitch. I say build because that is what must happen. Like an ember is tended to and built upon before it becomes a roaring fire, you must find that which ignites you and then focus intently upon it.


2)Failure is a yield sign, not a stop sign:

Thomas Edison is attributed with the quote “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Be grateful for failures as they give us the ability to course-correct. Resilience is the persistence to push on in the face of set-backs.  Success can only come by accepting risk and embracing challenge and the possibility of failure.  If the idea of failing is daunting, just do as Edison did and refuse to see anything as failure again but rather a crucial part of your journey to success and nothing more. Thinking of set-backs in this way is called having a “growth mindset”. It’s the ability to see that even in the darkest hour something can be learned and growth still achieved. It’s the idea that failure is not a permanent condition.


3)Get back-up

While there is conflicting data on whether or not it is a good idea to share goals with others it is definitely a great help to surround yourself with those with grit themselves. I can say that I have seen the advantage of having a support system around first hand. Along my path, my husband has been there with me. He has supported and listened to me while I complained about running my own business, and also when I’ve been discouraged chasing health goals. His empathy, steadfast support, and cheering me on has been an immense help in getting me through tough times. There have been many instances when I’ve felt like giving up on so many things, and he was there to keep me afloat. Find your own cheerleader. Having even just a single truly supportive person, with whom you can share your journey to your dreams, can make all the difference.

Go do it!

Hopefully these ideas will help you to become the grittiest animal on earth, tearing down limitations to become the person you intend to be this year. Get out there and live the life you want to live. Don’t stay comfortable. For added motivation check out Angela’s TED Talk.  I hope you all stay hungry in your pursuit of growth.


See Angela’s TED Talk HERE


10 Gifts for your favorite Photographer in 2015

‘Tis the season for gift-giving and if someone on your list happens to be a lover of photography (and well, feminine, like moi – SORRY GUYS!!), you have come to the right place!! Lets get to it. We’re losing daylight and shopping days here.

  1. Camera straps are like shoes to a lady photog, you can never have enough. These ones made by FotoStrap are not only customizable but a portion of the proceeds goes to charity. You can have your loved one’s name or even business name, if they are a pro, monogrammed for that extra touch that says you care.On-Camera_Scarlet_Monogrammed_grande

Get it here

If she happens to be more into the look of a camera scarf these days, you CAN NOT go wrong with Bloom Theory.


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2. Camera shaped USB Flash Drive: Who doesn’t need an extra flash drive? These camera shaped ones are sure to please even amateur shutterbugs just getting started. 31Rn9msUy5L

Get it here


3. Think CUSTOM. Photographers are artists and they love to know that you like their work or see something special about it. That’s why ZAZZLE is a tremendous resource for anyone hunting for the perfect gift for that artistic friend. If you have access to some high resolution jpegs of their work now is the time to get sneaky and put it on a  shirt, mug, iphone case, stickers, notebooks, totes, buttons… ok you get the idea. The options seem endless with Zazzle. My personal favorite is the old customizable mousepad. That way when they are working away on edits they can periodically think of what a supportive sweetie you are. Not to mention the customizable tote with a shot they love on it or business name.


Get them here

4.Speaking of totes, that brings me to our next gift that is sure to please your fashionable photographer loved one. Just like straps, you can never have enough camera bags, and the Hanover, made by Jo Totes is the perfect cross between fashion and function. A nifty feature in this bag is the removable insert that could even be used in other bags of similar sizes instantly turning them into camera bags too!! Who doesn’t love options.


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5.What gift gives instant gratification better than an instant camera! I received my first Polaroid camera when I graduated grade 8 and I was overjoyed with it and still have photos I took with that little red number. Now people can really get their craftiness on with Instax cameras and Project Life. It’s the modern woman’s version of memory keeping and journaling and the Instax camera is a great way to get started in documenting life. Or she can simply hang them from the wall with decorative clothes pins. If she is really crafty she can turn her insta pics into tree ornaments. Look here to find out more about Project Life. Project Life products and Instax cameras are sold at Michaels stores.


Get it here

6.A Photobook company gift card. This is a very versatile gift as it can be used towards a variety of things that will spark that special someone’s creativity. They could design the perfect canvas, photo book or even coasters. They can have fun showing off their work thanks to you. Many companies offer gift cards. Two of which are Photo book Canada or Shutter Fly.


7. Creative Live online classes. This is a gift of learning for that budding photographer or seasoned pro alike. In the field of photography, one HAS to be a lifelong student as our industry is ever-changing. The BEST online resource for this is Creative Live. Unfortunately, they currently do not offer gift cards, but Giftly is an online resource that will allow you to give an amount of money with a suggestion of how to spend it, but the recipient has complete flexibility (you are a considerate one, aren’t you). This way you tell them that you know they love photography and getting their creative learning on but hey, if they would rather buy another camera strap, that’s cool too.


Get it here

8. Give the gift of inspiration. Books and Magazines are great for this but not all are created equal. My eyes tend to glaze over whenever I look at the photography section of the magazines at my local book store. Every article preaching about gear and the covers heavy on print and light on artistic expression or thoughtfulness. Enter Click Magazine to save the day. Created by an online forum of very talented female photographers who happen to be moms it is a world apart and yet still manages to delve into that technical side of photography. A subscription to this magazine is a gift that will keep giving all year round and they can be proud to have it on their coffee table.


Get it here

9. Sometimes the only gift better than jewelry, is jewelry based on your passion. My hubby surprised me with some gorgeous silver camera earrings one year and my clients always notice them. This pendant will be sure to please your shutterbug too.51SHDoQobbL._UY395_


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And if the lady prefers rings there is always this gorgeous and budget friendly choice…


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10. And when all else fails go with a mug!


Get it here


or here

I hope this list helped and I wish you the best of luck with your gift giving this season. Happy Holidays!!!


I love my job.

I love my job.

I find myself saying those four words so often that it almost feels ridiculous… but its true.

I wake up each morning, head to the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee, usually put on a sundress or something comfy, tend to all my mommy duties and then settle into my desk at home to edit, market, web design, blog, network and budget etc. Whatever the day calls for, I will give to my job, and I absolutely love it.  I can’t wait to get to it.  I think about it nearly constantly.  It’s always exciting, and I never feel the fire and drive diminish.

I switch gears a lot – after all, being self-employed does mean you need to wear a bunch of different hats (but I’ve always been a fan of hats anyways), and today was no exception.

I finished up edits on an event shoot, gave my website and blog a little face lift, and put in several hours of editing on a wedding I am hoping to have done soon.

Even though I do get to set my own hours, I can’t seem to get enough, and I do think my boss (aka me) is a bit of a slave driver.  It’s hard for me to imagine now, but I remember that there was a time when I didn’t have this much drive and passion, when it was all too easy to take a few too many days off.  That was a time when I felt anxious about the responsibility of capturing moments, memories and emotions, before I embraced the enormous up-side.

What drives me the most now is exemplified by a moment that happened today. A bride whose wedding I recently shot stopped by to bring me a gift. The bride and groom gave me a pot of honey (oh I cannot WAIT to break into it, pooh bears got nuthin on me!) and a beautiful bracelet with a Venus charm on it. It’s meant to symbolize love, beauty & inspiration…and it made them think of ME!!!  It was so generous and sweet, and truly touched my heart to think that something I can do, can be so meaningful to people that they end up seeing me with such warmth.

Really, it’s I who feel lucky.  I got to witness people on the most precious day of their lives, surrounded by so much happiness.  I had the honor of caring for the recording of that day, and I’ve been reliving all those wonderful moments as I edit.

I often catch myself smiling at my desk as I edit, perhaps looking into a client’s sparkling eyes as I edit.

…then as if that wasn’t enough, I also get gifts!!

I am addicted to making my clients happy. As a child I wanted to be a singer, and I would often do so at the drop of a hat (wow gross miscalculation, I apparently could not hear myself!).  As I have grown to really know myself, I have discovered that the reason I wanted to sing and dance for people was because I LOVED to make people happy. Today I can think of no better job then the one I do to fulfill that desire within me. Somewhere deep down I’m still a 7 year old girl singing “Tomorrow” as loud as I can.  I remember my family and random strangers always kindly smiling and never letting on that I was destroying their ear drums.  Let’s hope now that my clients are smiling genuinely and with me when they look at the pictures they let me create with them. I promise you that behind the camera is an equally smiley girl:)

I’m so grateful to my treasured clients every day. Thanks for your smiles:)


Kingston Ontario Engagement Shoot-Peter & Tammy

Mom truly does know best.

Before Peter and Tammy met, Peter first met Tammy’s mom. He left such a good impression that she was soon telling Tammy all about him. But, when Tammy and Peter finally met, it was by coincidence, attending a wedding.

Now that I’ve had the privilege of spending time with these two fun, easy going and sweet people, I have to say that mom really had the right idea. Tammy and Peter could not be more perfectly suited for each other, or more in love.

Peter adores Tammy, and it’s easy to see why. Not only does she have the most beautiful and stunning eyes ever, she has the kindest heart and an absolutely radiant soul…a perfect match for a true gentleman like Peter, who not only won Tammy’s heart, but her whole family too.

Their romance was definitely in the air as we walked through lake Ontario park and also shot in downtown Kingston in Springer Square. Walking by lake Ontario they told me about how Peter had proposed to Tammy in the Bahama’s with their feet in the ocean (swoon!!!).

I could not be more privileged or excited to be shooting this amazing pair’s wedding. I will be counting the hours until then, and as I told them my finger will be very trigger happy for the big event 😀

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Kingston, Ontario Engagement Shoot ~ Matt & Corin

If someone were to write a modern day fairy tale, I believe it would start something like Corin and Matt’s love story:

A man walks into a Starbucks and behind the counter is a beautiful brown eyed barista. Matt was one of Corin’s regulars and they became friends. They were both already taken at the time but eventually (proving that all good things truly do come to those who wait) they were both single and they were meeting up as friends which turned into so much more. Almost 7 years later they are together and ready to make a lifetime of memories.

The day we were set to have their engagement shoot it was expected to rain, but the weather Gods smiled upon the happy couple and decided instead to let us enjoy a perfect day on the Queen’s Campus. We walked, talked and joked our way around the limestone buildings. Adorable Corin who plans to bring flats for her big day, was soon walking around barefooted with heels in hand. Matt offered to give his bride to be a piggy back ride. Matt confided he was not a fan of having his picture taken and I assured him most grooms are not. It was ok though, because I knew we had the secret weapon with us to get natural awesome smiles out of him, and that was Corin. Every time I would ask him to look at her it was easy to see she made him smile. Some of my favorite shots were the ones where I felt like a fly on the wall just witnessing two beautiful people looking in each other’s eyes, so devoted to each other.

We ended the shoot on the waterfront where we braved an onslaught of Mayflies for water shots. At one point I was waving my hands like a maniac and doing a dance of some sort. Proving that chivalry isn’t dead, our modern day hero offered to go back to campus to get the car for Corin who’s feet were definitely done.

I’m so grateful I got to spend an afternoon with these two very real, down to earth and special people. I can’t wait for their big day!

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Kingston, Ontario Engagement Shoot~Jo & Brad

When a bride-to-be cries happy tears twice during an engagement shoot the joy is tremendously infectious. Jo and Brad met online and then had their first date at Starbucks. They fell in love and eventually that love created one of the cutest little gingers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His name is fittingly Benny.

Jo and Brad share a love of things vintage and coca-cola so our shoot had that theme in mind. We started the beautiful, sunny spring morning with Benny at a park the family frequents. Seeing these three together and the happiness they have found is like looking at a perfectly fitting puzzle. All the pieces for joy are present. We then went on to the Star Diner in downtown Kingston where we were welcomed so kindly by owner Ida Mae. The perfect backdrop for all things fifties era inspired. Jo and Brad enjoyed cokes from vintage bottles, holding hands and snuggles. Jo felt the moment was perfect and even the songs playing were favorites of hers.

Then we headed out to Kingston’s City park to finish off our shoot with the couple in the lush greenery of spring. We had a lot of laughs and I learned some of the surprises to come on the big day (perks of being the photographer, no i wont tell you). Needless to say I am very excited for this adorable little family’s big day and I plan to bring plenty of kleenex. For me and the bride.

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A Classy Kids Party

Sorry I have been delinquent as of late in updating the blog. Jasper was sick and well life was doing that thing where it takes over and doesn’t leave you time for these nice little reflective things like blogging. So I’m going to give you the highlights of my last week or so! Well top of the list would have to be when a client sent me her payment but instead of paying me what I charged her  she paid me DOUBLE my rate and sent along a sweet note saying I “undercharge for my fine work”. Well I’m a happy crier so that got me going. The gesture just blew me away:)

I also want to leave you with a few pics of a birthday party. My friend Ashley is starting a new children s party business focused on themed birthdays with gorgeous decorations in Kingston. I’m always on the look out for a beautiful birthday solution for my little guy that doesn’t have to involve a certain Mouse in a certain “cheesy” ahem costume but that I don’t have to do a massive amount of cleanup for or cooking. I’m very excited to see more of Miss Ashley’s kid themed parties at Le Petit Cafe in future 🙂

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On Best Laid Plans

This week I had a lot of editing to get to and as I have said before fast turn around time is something I really aim for. I even stayed up one day this week until 5am just editing so I could get pictures to my client that much sooner because I know that waiting isn’t fun. Unfortunately in today’s culture we live in a society that watches people do editing sped up and usually on super fast computers which gives people the idea that editing is a fast and quick en devour. In truth it really can be very fast just not necessarily done right. Things like removing objects and making composites takes time. Factor in the artistic side of the equation and it all adds up. Especially if your a perfectionist like me. I had given myself enough time to have all my edits from shoots earlier in the week done by yesterday early evening and scheduled my time just so. Then I got a phone call. The secretary from my sons school had called to tell me my son had fallen and hit his head. Of course as a mom you dread seeing the schools number on your phones screen because you just know it can’t be good. She said he had a large bump on his head and they wanted to notify me. She said he seemed fine but of course I had to see for myself so I instantly got my purse and keys and went out the door. Once there I saw the large red bump on my poor guys head and winced. The teachers aid said she heard the sound of his head hitting the concrete floor and it was terrible. He did really seem fine but I still wanted to be sure (which the aid and teacher totally understood) so I decided to take him to be checked down at the KGH. Many hours later he saw a doctor and relieved that my son was in good spirits and health I took him home. He is still doing great and his bump is healing right up. I’m so grateful it was all fine. Editing flew out the window when my babies health was in question. Fortunately I am all caught up now (or I would not be blogging!) I am so lucky that I always have wonderful clients that understand and never rush me. I rush myself. I think I may have to loosen up my expectations on myself for turn around in future. Life always has a way of telling you it doesn’t like schedules.

These shots are from my recent shoots that I love and leave you with. Hope your all having a wonderful day. xx

When Alex and Andrew met they both had dogs named Lily. How perfect is that? I like to call them Lily squared. I had so much fun on this shoot with them and their doggies and buddy Justin. We shot at Babcock mill in Odessa which is a gorgeous location and moved on to a private residence and hunting grounds. I got to ride in a “mule” with my own driver (thank goodness!!) and the lovebirds rode out on a three wheeler. Like I said it was FUN! We got to shoot in golden fields. The best part about it was that I got to visit this secluded spot where Alex and Andrew spent a lot of time together while falling in love. I love it when shoots are very personal to the couple and unique because every love story is just that. Special and unique and these two are no exception.










The next images are from a doggie shoot I did with a wonderful family. Susan and Fraser are truly wonderful people who take the time to give back to the community. I met Susan volunteering my services for the Kingston Humane Society. She is a wonderful woman who volunteers and adopts older animals. I had the joy of photographing her doggies in the past who have since passed away. These are her new adopted doggie’s Mr. Muggs and Lucky. They both have wonderful personalities. Lucky is quite the protector and is ready to face off any doggy who comes near his family but “luckily” he gets along great with Muggsy. It was such a lovely way to spend a morning. Their eyes just melt my heart!