Top 3 Road Cycling Routes out of Brooks, Alberta / Dinosaur Provincial Park

Whizzing pass blanketed green fields pressed up against a pale blue sky feels much like being in a heavy state of happy meditation.
The yellow lines pass quickly underneath our skinny tires, and the Canadian Badlands are beckoning us closer.
A resident Meadowlark is happily perched on top of a fence post and chirping at us kindly, this was my kind of cycling day!


This experience made me want to share my top three rides near Dinosaur Provincial Park and Brooks, Alberta just ahead of Fathers Day.
Road cycling is a pastime that I’m lucky enough to share with my Dad. It’s our thing to do, our place to go when we need some time to hang out.
We’ve tackled many a Rocky Mountain hill as a duo egging each other on and have spread out onto the vast prairies to regain our breath.
It’s a calming experience, and something I know we always have in our back pocket as an outlet for summer adventure.


I hadn’t actually considered our area around Brooks as a prime riding spot, until two weeks ago, when my Dad challenged my husband and I for a spin
from Duchess, Alberta to Steveville Bridge. Being a born and raised mountain girl, it’s been hard to compare the cycling out here to what
we have back in Canmore, Alberta. But on this day, last week, we all rode in awe at what we were seeing, experiencing,
hearing, smelling and enjoying. That endless sky is something I covet!

 If you’re travelling across Canada, or skipping out of the Rocky Mountains to escape the masses and are
enjoying our area’s provincial parks and towns, it’s worth tucking in your bike along to explore a wider area.

 Tips & Tricks:
We’re growing our cycling community, one biker at a time.
Our area is heavily industrial and you’ll notice a lot of oilfield vehicles on the road that aren’t always used to seeing cyclist out.
As always, ride defensively.

Roads to Avoid:
HWY 36: This Highway is heavily used by everyone as it heads straight south to the US Border. Straight North it goes to Lac La Biche.
I’d advise not using this route or even if you’re using it as a link to other routes. Traffic can be fast, intense and distracted.

 HWY 873: Between Brooks, AB and Duchess, AB: It seems like an accessible route to take from Brooks to Duchess, but I’d avoid this section of hwy.
Vehicles pass quickly, often passing other vehicles and the shoulder isn’t cycle friendly.


Route 1:

 Brooks, Alberta to Dinosaur Provincial Park
Distance: 43km (one way)

 When you leave Brooks, Alberta you’ll want to head East on Hwy 542 and cross over the TransCanada Hwy. Hwy 542 turns into Township RD 190 which forces you North onto Range Rd 141, and then East onto Township Road 191, then North onto Range Rd 140 for approximately 10km until you hit Hwy 544 which guides you East for 6km towards Patricia, Alberta. You’ll come to the now closed Dinosaur Rest Stop. Head North toward Patricia and follow the signs to Dinosaur Provincial Park. You will be rewarded with the incredible views of the Badlands, and if you dip down into the Park, you can enjoy an ice cream at the Crustateous Café, or head back to Patricia, AB and have a beer and burger at the Patricia Hotel, an intensely authentic watering hole.


 *The road is almost completely flat, with a few dips here and there. The only big hill you will encounter is the 11% grade 1km hill that dips down into
Dinosaur Provincial Park.

 *This is a great ride to do if you want to meet your family / friends at Dinosaur Provincial Park for a picnic or,
if you are staying at the Park and want make it a return ride to Brooks, AB

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Route 2:

 Duchess, Alberta to Steville Bridge, AB

Distance: 33km (one way)

 A great place to park and start is the Duchess Golf Course.
From there, you head North on HWY 872 for approximately 3km before turning East on the Cut Across Road for 15km.
This road spits you out onto HWY 876 all the way to Steveville. Once you dip down to Steveville Bridge, you can enjoy the Red Deer River running underneath the bridge (springtime) or trickling by (late summer) and looking East you’ll catch the beginning of the Badlands. Going further doesn’t make sense as the road turns to gravel right away.


*The shoulder is a decent size and the pavement great on this route. This route is fairly flat, with only a mild hill down towards Steveville Bridge.

*This is a fairly quiet route, but does have some gravel truck traffic. I have found the trucks to be extremely considerate to riders,
(Thank you County of Newell and Liberty Trucking Drivers) but keep an eye out for bouncing rocks and oncoming traffic, naturally.

 *An added bonus to starting and stopping in Duchess, Alberta is access to The Prairie Cottage Bakeshop (Centre Street, Duchess) which always serves up fresh Cinnamon Buns and on Wednesday and Fridays it’s Donut day and if you’re jonesing for a sodium hit after your ride, Alberta Prairie Meats (Railway Ave) a few steps down the street has the right kind of beef jerky.

We stopped in for BOTH jerky and cinnamon buns after our ride, and they were all gone and fingers licked clean between the short drive from
Duchess, Alberta to Brooks, Alberta.


Route 3:

 Brooks, Alberta to Tilleybrook Provincial Park, AB

Distance: 10km (one way)

This is a very easy ride if you are wanting to quickly stretch your legs.
Start at the City Hall and head East out of town and out onto Railway Avenue, which takes you all the way to TilleyBrook.

 *Add on an extra 10km (one way) by heading out to the Centennial Regional Arena and heading West on the Silver Sage Road. This road takes you all the way out to HWY 36, cross the HWY36 and follow Township RD 184 as far as it goes before it turns to gravel and then head back the same way.

*Finish your ride with a coffee and sausage roll at the Steaming Cup in downtown Brooks, AB or a beer and a Brooks Sandwich at The Brooks Hotel.

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 Bonus Route!

Distance: Approximately 143 km Roundtrip.

Add all of these routes up together for a mega day on the bicycle!

Start in Brooks Alberta and follow Route 1 out to Dinosaur Provincial Park.
On your return trip from Dinosaur Provincial Park, skip the right hand turn toward Patricia, AB and continue on Township Road 204 until you hit HWY 876.
Take HWY 876 North all the way to Steveville Bridge and from then take a U-Turn back in the same direction until you reach
the Cut Across Road and take it all the way to Duchess, Alberta. Take a very cautious ride down HWY 873 toward Brooks and take
a Eastbound turn on HWY 544 toward Dinosaur Provincial Park for approximately 6km and turn South
on Range Rd 140 back toward Brooks the way you came.


 *Great pit stops include the Crustateous Café at Dinosaur Provincial Park, or the Patricia Hotel in Patricia, AB.
Duchess Prairie Meats or the Prairie Cottage Bakeshop in Duchess are perfect for the last hit before heading back.
If you want to finish off with a beer in Brooks, it’s gotta be at the Brooks Hotel!

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 What are your prairie riding experiences? Do you have other fabulous routes to add to this list and who do you ride with? Is it your Dad too?

Happy Fathers Day Weekend!


June 18, 2017 - 4:08 pm Lisa O - Great suggestion and pics Rach! I'll bring my bike next time. :-)

5 New Alternative Ways To Have Your Family Portraits Taken :: Rachel Boekel Photography ::

Hey Blog Follower Friends! Thanks for checking in!
I have some fun summer photo session ideas in this blog post and exciting contest giveaway details.
And, I wanted to share this new favourite photo from a family paddling / camping adventure on the Red Deer River.
While our family isn’t the focus of the picture, the moment sure sticks with us.

Best ways to enjoy family camping time

It’s JUNE!!!
That’s huge excitement in our home for may reasons. The biggest at the moment is that
it is one more sleep until our 4 year old turns 5! And as you can imagine, that is huge stuff in a 4 year olds world!
June also brings to Brooks, Alberta the Brooks Rodeo, which means many a pancake breakfast,  The Pink Ribbon Project,
which means supporting this amazing family and their incredible giving hearts.

June’s arrival also means summer holidays are coming up and hiking, fishing, biking, camping and adventure trips are around the corner!
This is one of my most favourite times of the year with the long days and the diversity of activities we can pack into one single day.

We have a lot of fun family activities planned for the summer, and a lot of them around Brooks, Alberta and into the Rocky Mountains!
We are also pretty excited to explore the East Coast for the first time this year and celebrate a dear friend as she
gets married in Newfoundland! Does anyone have any tips for what not to miss in Newfoundland? Please Share!

Contest Giveaway // 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit

I was pretty excited to come across the book 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit by Jody Robbins
which full of great family oriented Canadian Adventure. (I bought my copy at the Walmart in Brooks!)
It’s jam packed with fun ways to celebrate our 150th Canadian Celebration Year by exploring Canada as a family.

Jody details some fantastic adventures that are inclusive for so many differently family demographics in her book and
it hits on some great Canadian spots, including some spots we will definitely check out in Newfoundland with our crew.
As Jody explains, planning a family getaway can be overwhelming, but 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit
puts you on the right path with savvy suggestions to make family travel smoother.
This book really inspires you to explore with your kids, plus gives you the confidence to travel with rambunctious types,
ensuring everyone has a memorable vacation.

So, seeing as it’s so Canadian, adventure filled, inspiring and might tickle your brain with new photo session location / activity ideas too,
I am going to give her book away to one lucky winner.

25 place in canada every family should visit

To enter the contest to win this book you must simply follow me and
comment on a post on my Instagram account: @rachelboekelphotography.

Earn an extra entry by following me on Facebook @rachelboekelphotography and
by commenting on my Facebook contest post!

Winner will be selected at random with a draw and announced on Wednesday, June 7th

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram or Facebook.

The arrival of June also means family time, and because summer is full of long daylight hours there are many different ways to
capture your day to day life so I thought I would share 5 of my favourite family photo session ideas.

Top 5 Photo Session Ideas for Summer 2017

1) Camping! A great way to capture your family together outside of the house.
I would love to head to Dinosaur Provincial Park, Kinbrook Island Provincial Park, Bow Valley Provincial Park or
any camp spot for  a marshmallow roast with you!

alternative family photo ideas

2) The Beach! We have many great beaches in Canada, and capturing time with your people
floating, building sand castles, and picnicking is an adventure I’m up for.

dinosaur park adventures with family

3) Hiking! The amazing trail systems all over Alberta and Canada are worth exploring.
A great way to explore wildlife, landscape and adventures as a family could be on a hiking trail!

dinosaur provincial park with kids

4) Biking! City pathways to cow trails to mountain bike tracks, there are so many different levels
and ways to capture your family out for a bike ride!

5 new ways to have family portraits taken

5) Water Fight and Backyard Hangouts! While I don’t advise you getting me wet, I’d love to spend an afternoon watching your family
skip through a sprinkler, throw water balloons at each other or bust out the water guns, or pump your legs on the swing!

family photos in your backyard

What ways do you spend time together as a family in the summer?
Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

June 4, 2017 - 6:51 am Simon - Absolutely adorable photos!

Rachel Boekel Photography :: Meyer Mini Session ::

My Mothers Day Mini Event was such a fulfilling  day, it was full of moments of appreciation, respect, kindness
and so much love. It was also full of variety. I was lucky enough to photograph grandmothers with their grandkids, mothers with their
almost newborn babies, mothers with their grown up daughters and mothers being loved on by their kids.
Mid way through I sent life appreciation texts out to my family, because I was so grateful to be a part of their lives the
way these fabulous mothers were all apart of their own lives.

These mothers day photo sessions were held at LakeView Park in Brooks, Alberta.
I photographed these relationships in under the apple blossom tree, climbing the apple tree, rolling in the dandelions,
and sliding down the slide and walking through the trees. When photographing in Brooks, Alberta I am used to bigger and wider
landscapes, with lots of sky, but for this event we had this lush, green and full corner of town to ourselves to play in.

I wanted to share one of the Mothers Day mini sessions with you today.
This is the Meyer Mama Extraordinaire and her two kiddos and this is what a 15 minute portrait session can look like.
I loved these Mother Day Minis, and actually, I love all my mini sessions because they are fun, candid and with kids,
generally a little more relaxed! I’m always excited to see connections in families and that genuine joy of being together,
and I feel like these three always have a good time together, so being together is easy and fun!

Most of my favourite photos are when they are looking at each other and not at me.
I’ll post my favourite from the day first.
And, I promise to share more of these Mothers Day Moments soon!

xxx, Rachel

Brooks Alberta Photographer

Brooks Alberta Photographer

Brooks Alberta Photographer

Brooks Alberta Photographer

Brooks Alberta Photographer

Brooks Alberta Photographer

Brooks Alberta Photographer

Brooks Alberta Photographer


May 30, 2017 - 7:35 am Debbie Berg - Rachel what a wonderful Mothers Day event, these are such beautiful, love filled pictures that will be a special reminder of that mother bond.

Pat and Soulafa :: Bragg Creek Maternity Session ::

I met Pat and Soulafa on the edge of Calgary, where the foothills move toward the mountains, and the
strong prairie landscape still stretches vastly in front of you. It was a very windy day when we met for our Bragg
Creek maternity session, but nothing can un-ruffle these two with their big sense of humour and exciting adventure ahead.

Patric and Soulafa are from so many different corners of the world and so I love that they chose
to do their sessions out in the windy world.

Patric is a Swiss-Canadian and Soulafa a Syrian- Canadian and they both blend their cultures and
histories together so nicely. I was lucky enough to photograph their wedding in Canmore, Alberta at the Hive Gallery
and Gathering last summer, and watched as their worldly family celebrated them in every way. There was even a Haka dance
from a New Zealand niece. The best part about these two is how diverse and broad minded and kind they are, and how
supported and loved by their families they are.

Soulafa had a clear idea of what she wanted. As they didn’t and still don’t know the sex of the baby, they wanted to
incorporate different coloured balloons in their maternity session. We used the single red ballon on the hay bales.
(I realize that by saying “hay bales” and not just “bales” I have outed myself as a non-native prairie girl)
I love the contrast of the red ballon with the beautiful Rocky Mountain range loading up the background.
Boy, those Rocky Mountains  sure do make a magnificent backdrop for a photo session!
Pat has mad jumping skills, and when put to the test, he nailed his position and ballon hold in one shot.
Scroll down for a sampling!

When we moved locations and attempted to retrieve the pink and blue balloons from the back of the car,
we underestimated the braveness of the wind, which, in an instant had all of the strings crossed and pulled together.
The other lovely thing about Pat and Soulafa is their flexibility. We lost the idea of separate pink and blue balloons for this maternity session,
but gained a wonderful mix, and a big blowing colourful show!

I am always inspired by a new landscape to photograph, and certainly the foothills provided a fabulous
new spot to explore. Sometimes it takes someone with a great idea to collaborate on to get great images,
and I am so glad that Pat and Soulafa had a vision of for their maternity session.

Thank you for the fun filled afternoon Pat and Soulafa, and happy days ahead!

Soulafa+Pat_Maternity1460 Soulafa+Pat_Maternity1437









The Kiedrowski’s in Dinosaur Provincial Park :: Rachel Boekel Photography ::

I hosted a contest awhile back for a 2hr documentary photography session and had so
many great comments and replies to my blog post, discussing the idea of “what if you fly.”
(I have a blog post to share tomorrow of what the last 3 months since that blog post have looked like!)
The winner of that contest was Ryan and Eusebia Kiedrowski and I am so happy to share their images today!

Ryan is also a Brooks, Alberta local photographer as well and does videography. It’s always
amazing photographing a fellow photographer because they know when the sun is good, what the best backdrop
is and how to just hang out. I had such an amazing session with them, filled with wild adventures!

When I first showed up at the top parking lot at Dinosaur Provincial Park for this family photography session,
I was met with a funny scene. There was a whole gang of people dressed up in grim reaper costumes and some looking
like farmers… and then I had an aha moment and recognized Lindi Ortega from a conversation
my husband and I had had the night before, that she was in town. They were filming a music video!
Dinosaur Provincial Parks wild and abstract landscape attracts so many creative people.
I’ve been following some amazing photographers through Instagram doing some starry night work in Dinosaur Prov. Park
lately and aurora captures. The landscape is dramatic and inspiring to say the least.

At any rate. I was excited that the Kiedrowski’s chose Dinosaur Provincial Park to play and adventure in
for their lifestyle session. When they arrived their kids promptly got to work putting up a kite.
I’m not sure parrots have flown above the badlands before, but they sure did that day!
While I was catching Aleta with the kite we heard a giant shriek and scream from a little below in the coulee.
Thea and Eusebia had stumbled upon a rattlesnake basking in the warm sunshine.

Okay, so before you freak out and think of never going to the Badlands ever again. Please know that
in all of my years of trekking through the area and visiting the park, I have never seen a rattlesnake.
And, I still haven’t!
That shriek had Ryan down the coulee in a moment and me at the top making sure a cool young boy
named Jack didn’t end up stumbling into a cactus or down the hill.
So, I don’t have an impressive photo of a snake with a family scampering up the coulee,
but no snake bites were had, and a good story is told!
Type 2 fun as it is often referred to in our family!

My favourite part about these photography lifestyle sessions is just seeing what unfolds.
You can’t predict the light, the landscape or the kids and capturing the spontaneousness of the
day is what I get pretty excited about.

After our  their exciting / nerve-wracking snake encounter, we headed down the big hill and into the
park where we chased photo of the first crocus’s of spring, and played in the soft, sandy silt that is
such a child’s treat. Adventures in Dinosaur Provincial Park with families always
lead to inquisitive moments, and these kids knew a lot about the landscape and area.
I could tell that this family spends a lot of time together playing, exploring and interacting.
They were comfortable together, and as a photographers family, they were pretty comfortable
with a camera in their faces!

Thank you Kiedrowskis for having me along for such an adventurous and inspiring day!













May 15, 2017 - 8:11 am Ryan Kiedrowski - Thanks again for the fun adventure! You captured everyone's personalities perfectly. We had so much fun, and thanks for the fantastic blog post!

Calin + JP Winter Wedding :: Rachel Boekel Photography ::

Calin and JP were married on a warm February afternoon in Brooks, Alberta at St. Mary’s Catholic Church
followed by a wonderful reception at Trinity Luthern Church down the street.
Warm meant no snow, which was a bummer when you plan a Winter Wedding, but weather
is such a small element of a wedding day. Love, now that is the forecast we were after and boy did
we ever get that in spades!

Calin and JP along with their families are bathed in love and respect and attention.
It makes my job so easy, I just get to sit back and watch the emotions flow over. I hope you
can see what I am talking about in the photos below.

The way JP’s Mom attentively put on his corsage, along with that embrace that was so bright and the
way Calin’s Dad teared up at the sight of his beautiful daughter in her wedding gown. Now that is some Love.

Calin had Cosmo hair in Brooks look after her hair and had makeup artists Amanda and Lindsay do her makeup.
I love the image of the veil being put on, and all of the hands that it took to put it in place, secure it and care for Calin.
Moments, that’s what I’m after, those moments. Give me moments any day!

Calin and JP chose to do a first look.
I LOVE a first look.
First looks take a lot of pressure off the day, and they are a great way to have a moment with your future
husband and wife before things get real.
We choose to do the first look at Calin’s family farm just outside of Duchess, AB and I loved the white barn
and most of all their glee at seeing each other for the first time. Their wedding party was a spirited bunch that had no
problem being bossed around the yard by yours truly, for which I am always thankful for.

Sometimes Often, when I am setting up shots, or working with couples I mutter a lot of stuff
out loud to my head and I sometimes always get my lefts and rights mixed up in mirror form,
so I’m always thankful for people who are quietly patient while my brain and my mouth catch up to each other.
These guys were all very patient!

Another shout out to Prairie Blooms who never fail to do an amazing job with florals.
Willy has a knack for putting together multiple colours, layers and ideas and it works out so
beautifully! I think she did a brilliant job with Calin and JP’s flowers.

It was such an honour to photograph your wedding Calin and JP, thank you for including me in your
wedding day, I love your spirit, joy and love for each other!





















May 5, 2017 - 9:49 pm connie runyon - Love the photos. Calin and JP you had a beautiful wedding.

Brooks Alberta Graduation Photography :: Rachel Boekel Photography ::

Every time graduation rolls around it reminds me of 2001.
It also inspires me pull my lilac coloured homemade flamenco styled prom dress
out of the closet and remember what it felt like to be ready.

Okay so that is uber vague (are you grads still using the word uber?)

Ready as in…. Go. Giver. Onward. Jump!
I probably haven’t felt that ready since.
Graduation was the beginning of that feeling and it was the raw kind of Ready.
The best kind of ready!

At my own graduation, which was held at Mount Norquay in Banff National Park,
I remember doing the Grand March while trying to balance on heels that I had no business wearing.
(They were kitty heels – I’m a hiking boots kind of girl!)
But I was ready and I was wearing heels no matter the discomfort.
I’ve been searching high and low for my photo albums to share a photo of me in my Grad Dress, but no dice so far!

Little did I know that years and years later, in that same venue, I’d be feeding my own kids lunch in between ski
runs of the bunny hill and doing mountain bike laps of Stoney Squaw with my husband
or photographing families playing in the snow.

But, back to the prairies….

Every year since I’ve been in Brooks, I’ve had the luck of photographing several graduation
sessions and I love them. I love meeting and photographing a graduate at the start of that ready moment.
It’s a nervous, happy, teary and wonderful occasion. Sometimes families bump into the photo frame and
you can feel the pride and admiration of parents and grandparents.

It’s a moment worth celebrating and so this year I am doing a Pop Up Event.
A Graduation Special Photo Event for Brooks and area graduates on May 26th.
Check out the poster below and book your spot. There are only 10 spots available.
Fun, fast, formal with a sprinkling of candid portrait sessions.

To Book:
Email: or call you right back 1-403-363-7579


Canadian Badlands Tourism Ambassador

So very often I am met with a funny face when people inquire as to where I live.
“Brooks?” they answer, and then quickly their nose scrunches.
Sometimes their next question is “why?” or “really?” or “huh” with a long pause….

Yes, we all know, Brooks has a reputation to smell like cow poop.
Bam – I said it.
But who cares, thats only one of 5 amazing senses.

My favourite people are the ones who answer:
“Oh awesome, that big sky is something else.”
“That’s close to Dinosaur Provincial Park, we love it there”
“Oh lucky, there is good bird watching and Kinbrook Island Provincial Park”

To put it in perspective, I’m a mountain girl, born and raised in Canmore, Alberta.
It’s easy to love Canmore.
I grew into a family and wedding photographer in the rocky mountains and then met my
now husband and followed him to his hometown of “beautiful and bountiful” Brooks. I embraced
this new life with wide open arms and can’t fit it in my embrace because of it’s vastness.

So. When I meet with a scrunched up nose person, rather than kick them in the shins,
I hit them with words.

I am passionate about the prairies. Most of the best people I know are products of this
environment. Salt of the earth people.
You can’t experience a prairie sunset and not be in awe. A prairie crocus sighting
in the spring will offer inspiration in a pastel landscape. The sight of cows lingering on the horizon
or hay bales guarding fields and that golden glow of canola, that is what Alberta calendars are made of.

That is what I throw out there.

I was very thrilled and honour when Jody Robbins and Pete Heck got in touch through
the Canadian Badlands Tourism Association to ask if I could join them
as ambassadors for the Brooks area this summer.

Heck YES!

To be able to spread prairie love and experiences is what I love to do as a photographer,
so a bonus is that I get to share it with a wider audience.
I look forward to sharing my photo sessions, and what it is to be a prairie dweller with
more people. The Brooks and Badlands peoples stories are this landscapes stories. It’s
an important part of the weave that makes this place so humble, kind, hardworking,
raw, full, brilliant, energetic and inspiring!

With my family and portrait and wedding sessions, I am working to incorporate your real life stories.
If you are a blog follower, you’ve likely read below how I am inspired by authenticity and telling
stories. (if you aren’t, scroll down to check out my “jam”)
The story is the best part. I have had a lot of magical moments with people
in their homes, on the prairies, in the marsh, around dinosaur bones sharing their experiences
through my camera lens. As an ambassador for the region, I hope you will help me
share your experience and your life and what makes Brooks and area so unique. Follow
along through the #MyBadlands and #CBTAmbassador tags to see what fellow ambassadors
are scoping out as well. It’s going to be an amazing summer celebrating our home.

And hey, if are dreaming up photo session ideas, leave me a comment below on what
experiences are unique in the area for you. I love new sources of inspiration and I’d love
to capture your story!

This photo below is of fellow Canadian Badlands Ambassador and photographer Ryan Kiedrowski
and his family during a portrait session at Dinosaur Provincial Park. I can’t wait to share
more of this fun session soon, and the big stories that go along with it.

What a lucky place to call home!

dinosaur provincial park


April 25, 2017 - 10:14 am Ryan Kiedrowski - Absolutely thrilled with this image, Rachel! We had so much fun that day, and it was such a treat to have you there capturing these memories! These images will be come family heirlooms where Eusebia and I not only remind our kids about when they were small, but when they tell their children about that day under the big sky.

April 27, 2017 - 7:35 pm Dbbie Berg - Rachel you already are a fabulous Canadian Badlands Ambassador, they are fortunate to have you on their team.

Celebrating Mothers :: Brooks Alberta Family Photographer ::

This is a bit of a personal post, and I am certainly not the best about writing about myself!
I love writing about how amazing you are dear reader and client, but I will take a moment to share about about me and my own life
and why I think photographs are so important.

All of the photos below are of me!
This is a little history of my adult life as a daughter and as a mother.

I was very lucky to have the very best mother in the whole wide world.
Yes, I am totally biased; she was kind of a big deal!
My Mom and I were great friends. We travelled the world together, along with my Dad and Brother and
later on in life we did a trip together to China and Tibet. We loved each other, we spoke almost daily and she coached me to find the silver lining in life daily.
She was positive, happy, motivating and also human, which means we had our fair share of fights and struggles.
She also taught me how to be brave, how to admit when I was wrong, or how to fight when I was right.

My Mom passed away almost 5 years ago and I think about her every single day.
That is not an exaggeration at all. I really do. I miss her, but I also think about how happy
I am that she was my mother, or I think of how much she would laugh at what my kids are doing,
and sometimes I think of how she might not agree with how little I clean my windows!

My Mom had this funny thumb, it was a bit double jointed, and the nail was wobbly on top, maybe from a hammer accident in her youth,
and her hands were well worn. If anything, she was a hard worker, and used her hands to garden, woodwork, haul furniture, and her
hands were a great expresser of her work. I miss her funny thumb. I miss her rubbing it on my temple when I couldn’t sleep at night when I was
younger. And hilariously enough, I love that I have a photo of her hand, and although not her funny thumb hand but I can feel the expression in her hand,
and the way it’s getting ready to steady me.

These photographs are treasures for me.
This is why I love being a photographer and capturing your life moments, your hugs, your kisses, your tears,
because I know how important they are for myself.
I believe in life’s authentic moments and being in the photo, and passing it on.
Which is why I know it’s important for Moms to also get in the photo.
The first photo of my Mom and I is actually one of my daughters favourite photos. I love that we are looking at each other.
If I’m telling the truth, we both started crying. It was hard to take these photos. My Mom was sick at this point, and we just wanted to hold
onto each other forever, and I am lucky to have a photo for myself of what that felt like.

Now being a mother myself, I think of all the amazing moments I get to share with my kids.
Their high moments and their low moments.
I try to raise them up and keep them organized and love them to bits.
I never really know what that looks like as I am usually the one photographing them being funny, candid, creative or wild!
Luckily I have some amazing and talented friends who have photographed us on separate occasions.
I now have my own story with my own children. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s raw but it’s my life and I love it.

My own story also includes my mother in law, because lets be honest, my kids wouldn’t be around with out her!
While I miss seeing my own Mom mess around with my kiddos, I’m always thankful for the loving relationship I have with
Trudi, my mother in law, and the love she showers on my kids and the kindness she bestows on me.
I know that when I have something totally silly to share, she will listen, and my kids know that when I am being
a total bear, Grandma will save them. We have a great relationship and a great life all together. I have included one photo in this mix of her
and her Mom, and Geordie ( my husband) and our eldest daughter, that I love from our time together in Manitoba some years ago.
Trying to find a photo of Trudi and I together is hard, so we might need our own session to fix that up!

To celebrate Mothers, I am hosting a Mothers Day Event in Brooks Alberta on May 13th, 2017
It’s Mom or Grandma’s chance to get in front of the camera with their own mothers, or their own children and create a visual story of their own.


Date: May 13, 2017 10.00am – 3.00pm
Location: Brooks, Alberta (at a local park, yet to be determined)
Cost: Sessions are $60.00 + GST and include 1 digital image.
Sessions are 15 minutes. You will receive 10 images in your viewing gallery.
Additional digital images can be purchased for $75.00/each or the whole session is available for $340.00 +GST.
Prints sold separately.

You must RSVP to book your spot by emailing or calling 403-363-7579

*Alternatively a Gift Certificate for a family session is also a lovely way to celebrate.

Photos below are by a bevy of lovely and talented photographers:
Brittany Esther, Dana Pugh, Roxy Grove & Niki Boon

BoekelFamily191Photos by Brittany Esther



Photo by Brittany Esther – I can just feel her hand on me, I love this moment, this frame this capture from my wedding day.


Maternity photos by Dana Pugh – sheesh that was a chilly dip in the river, but I’m so glad we did it!

Newborn Photos also by Dana Pughboekelheal-108


This is another favourite. Love our moment together with my Mom.


Photo by Brittany Esther.


Nothing like getting kisses from your mom to make you laugh!


Newborn Photos by Roxy GroveIMG_4805

This photo is also a favourite. My Mom passed away a month and a half later, but was there for
the birth of our second daughter!

I love this silly capture by my amazing husband.


Newborn Photos by Roxy Grove.084Parks

Boekel Family 2016 (52 of 455)

These classic ‘us’ moments were captured by Niki Boom during a family session in Canmore late last year.
I love that these really represent me as a mother and our ordinary lovely life!Boekel Family 2016 (108 of 455)

Boekel Family 2016 (352 of 455)

Thanks for checking in!

I hope to meet you behind my camera soon!

xx, Rachel

April 10, 2017 - 7:07 pm Debbie Berg - Rachel, thank you for sharing such deep special personal moments. The eloquent words and moving photo's expose your soul to us all. Love them all.

April 12, 2017 - 2:07 pm Lisa Ochowycz - Beautiful Rach! My heart is full (and my eyes with tears.) Oh, the power of photography!

April 13, 2017 - 10:16 am Ryan Kiedrowski - Amazing to have those memories! It's wild how an image can transport you back to a moment (we had that same wood coffee table, too!).

April 18, 2017 - 12:30 am Marlies Lammers - Dear Rachel, Once in a while I take a peek at your blog. I'm glad you're doing well. Beautiful pictures of you and your family. Greetings from Amsterdam! Marlies Lammers (your cousin)

Ice Queen Maternity Session :: Brooks Alberta Photographer ::

 Lake Newell at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park never looked so good!
Dressed in a blue and purple haze, with jagged ice chucks bursting through, the frozen lake provided
a brilliant backdrop for a collaborative maternity session.

To be honest, I was nervous. I had this idea in my head of what I wanted, but sometimes pulling that off is really
really hard. I have wanted to photograph a maternity session on the expansive Lake Newell, Alberta in winter for years,
but coordinating a maternity with winter, the right weather and a willing model isn’t something that just happens.

Lucky me, Aimee was game and the weather was amazing.
We actually held off one day, and we were gifted a calm, snowy, blue sky day.
When I spotted the jagged ice chunks, I felt like I had won the photo lottery!

I had photographed Aimee and Chris’s ranch wedding several years ago at Aimee’s family Broadview Ranch, which is just north of
Brooks, Alberta. So, having the chance to photograph this next phase of their life is such an honour.

When I told Aimee my ideas of a frozen Lake Newell maternity session, she mentioned she had her grandmothers Mink Stole that might
compliment the session and BOOM, my brain was buzzing.
Somehow, the idea of coloured smoke bombs came into the picture.
While we were all a bit skeptical and a bit unsure, I can say that what we accomplished makes me proud.

Smoke Bombs are completely new to me and I was lucky enough to have my friend Marise with me
to do all of the igniting, running, and smoke work. Who knew! This was too much fun!
(If you scroll to the bottom you can check out a behind the scenes image of smoke work in action)

What do you think of this session? I’d love to hear!

Aimee looks like the Ice Queen of Lake Newell.







A little behind the scenes shot! Boy did we have fun! Thanks Marise for your hard work!