Life by Selena Photography
Montreal portrait & wedding photographer


The official blog of Montreal portrait and wedding photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. Explore her signature photojournalistic style and stay up to date on her latest wedding and portrait photography projects here.

16 : Angie and Steve

Maggie’s excitement grew and she started making circles in the back seat as soon as the car started the left turn towards Fort Edmonton Park. Back when Angie worked at the John Janzen Nature Centre, Steve used to meet her on lunch breaks with picnic lunches. Afterwards, him and Maggie would get lost on long walks along the trails. Maggie knew the footpaths well, and was constantly rushing ahead, pulling on her retractable leash. Occasionally she would take off in pursuit of a mouse buried deep beneath the winter snow.

Ostensibly, this photo session was intended to be a couples shoot with Angie and Steve. They hadn’t had professional photos taken since their wedding back in September 2013, and wanted some fresh shots. But let’s be real: in reality, their dog Maggie stole the show during this shoot, and the attention of couple and camera alike was focused on her.

I had never explored the trails deep behind Fort Ed. Frankly, I wasn’t even aware of the construction of the imposing Fort Edmonton Footbridge which connected trails on both sides of the North Saskatchewan. Presented with a new location, I very quickly adapted my mental picture of the shoot for the scene. Rather than just framing the group as they walked along the trails, with barren trees as my backdrop, I opted to make use of the bridge in my photos. The strong black lines of the metal bridge stood in stark juxtaposition to the low-contrast background of the white overcast day. Using wide-angle shots, the high beams of the bridge and the side rails framed the group, creating pleasing portrait-landscapes of Angie and Steve (and Maggie). With some of the tighter shots, the black rails created leading lines inwards to the subjects.

On the day of the shoot, I was quite pleased with the photos. Let’s call that “the shooters high”. Coming home and loading the photos onto my computer I hit what I call “the editors low”. Let’s just say I underestimated the colour palate effects of a white dog and a couple wearing black and grey against the backdrop of a black bridge on a white winter day. To rescue the photos, I pulled depth out of the blacks while still maintaining a high level of contrast. Any article on the basics of photographing in snow will tell you to slightly overexpose your images, so I boosted the highlights and whites just shy of losing Maggie’s white fur to the background. Finally, everyone’s skin turned red in the cold, so I pulled just a smidge of red out of the photos to achieve a more natural skin tone of the humans in the photos. The cold metal lines of the bridge and the low contrast of the scene created an austere feeling to the photos, so the lively scenes of the trio’s interactions seemed even brighter.

Maggie, like any good-natured pup, was happy to perform for the photos. As Angie tossed snow blocks into the air, Maggie jumped lively into the air. Steve went into the woods to find Maggie a stick, and emerged with a small tree which she happily dragged away. As Maggie played with this stick, I grabbed some solo shots just of her, one ear flopped down and her tongue adorably sticking out as she looked towards Angie and Steve. At one point Maggie got so excited that Angie got tangled in her leash, resulting in a fair few laughs for Steve and I.

And now, the photos.

Tech Specs
Location: Edmonton, AB
Date: December 28, 2015
Equipment: Canon 5diii, Canon 70-200mm, Canon 85mm

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This article about Portrait Photography was written by the Montreal-based portrait and wedding photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle.