It seemed only right we find a place we could explore together to capture their engagement photos.
As is evident by their laughter and giggles, if photos had sound, these two enjoy their time together.
Next summer they will get married, in Canmore, Alberta, celebrating at the Hive Gallery and Gathering.
I’m so looking forward to another chance to connect with them again.
I love that when we talked about this photography session, she said to me; just capture my chaos.
That is my dream job!
Being real, being wild, being a family in the most authentic way.
For this family of 5 that is; wrestling in the backyard, reading books in bed and snacking midway through it all to keep morale high.
I loved getting to snuggle their newest baby boy.
Yup, that’s 3 boys and one Dad for wrestling matches down the road!
Thank you for letting me in and capturing what I get to see all the time when we just hang out;
your love for each other, your silliness, your play, your chaos.
Your ordinary is extraordinary!
Kirstee and Danny were married quietly, under a tree, while rain gently pattered around the green branches,
on the shore of Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park.
We embraced the weather that came up and around Cascade Mountain, without much warning, and to my surprise,
the sky never opened up the way I was nervously anticipating it would.
Kirstee and Danny and their sweet little girl, cuddled in close, shared their vows and enjoyed a moment that was truly theirs.
Banff Mountain elopements are always a wonderful experience.
It feels like the landscape is rooting for the marriage party, towering peaks and
old growth, along with curious chipmunks and the odd whiskey jack overhead.
We cruised into the old Bankhead area along the way, and stopped at the old steps, and inside the old church
for a few photos, before hiding in the woods and strolling the Shores of Two Jack Lake! (I might just make up my own song by that title!)
Marilyn met us under a tree, and lead these two beautifully into married life.
The flowers that Willow Flower Company put together were a compliment to the bright event.
Thank you Kirstee and Danny for including me in your quiet elopement, it was an honour to be a part of your marriage!
Marc went so far as to get Jessica a hair appointment the week before the session. That is some serious foresight and birthday love!
Canmore is full of some great photo spots, and I’m always happy to explore new places with local families.
These four were so game to play under the late evening sun that was ready to set behind the towering Rundle Range.
We chose a fun area with lots of landscape diversity and I feel like these photos tell a nice story of our evening together.
Photographing kids can sometimes be an adventure on its own, but exploring with kids makes for non-stop photogenic moments.
Watching kids find new flowers, skip rocks, hop rocks, jump, dance and play creates some of the best movement and moments.
These two kiddos were wide eyed and ready to track down wild roses, hop over creeks, test out the water temperatures
and most importantly, play. I had such a great time watching these four be a family.
Thank you Marc for trusting me with your surprise and to Jennifer for being so game for the adventure you had no idea was going to happen!
Actually, people in the Canadian Rockies are referring to it as a “Manitoba” winter. Which, is starting to feel quite accurate.
Prairie winters are harsh!
This long winter, and the snowy days that have come with it, has opened up a lot of opportunity for some creative winter family photo sessions.
I have had the good luck of getting to hang out with some pretty fun families and doing some pretty fun
activities in and around Canmore, Alberta.
On this day, I met up with Melanie and her two boys for a walk and play at the Nordic Centre.
When I pulled up, the mountains were shrouded in layer of fluffy clouds, but as we began chatting, the
whole landscape changed. The Three Sisters suddenly appeared as did the Rundle Range. As we headed towards the
North end of the Nordic Centre, the sun flooded us with it’s light and I was giddy to capture this family in this
outdoor and bright environment.
Watching families, mingle and play is becoming such a wonderful addition to taking photos.
One of my favourite photographs here is the snowball fight with poor Melanie in the middle.
These three are good sports! And what an amazing Mama these boys have.
Thanks for the fun adventure!
I was asked the night before this surprise engagement session to help coordinate and photograph it
by a close family friend of the un-assuming fiancé, Madi.
A surprise engagement is a huge moment in the lives of the two people involved and I felt a giant responsibility to get it right.
Madi Serpico, the un-assuming fiancé, is also a professional triathlete and sports model.
Originally from Calgary, AB Madi and Griff currently reside in Los Angeles.
Madi was under the impression that she was headed out to the wintery landscape in Canmore, Alberta for a photo shoot.
It was December 24th and chilly. Chilly being -21C to be exact. Much chillier than LA.
Madi’s boyfriend, Griff Whalen, a talented American NFL wide receiver and surprise engagement planner extraordinaire,
“came along” for the shoot.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a chatty girl, with a lack of subtle coolness.
Here I was, trying to be cool, trying to ignore Griff, but trying to be being kind.
At the same time, I was trying to not give anything away to Madi. I was a sweating, I can only imagine how nervous Griff was.
As I photographed Madi, a modeling professional, who despite the frigid temperatures, looked warm and comfortable,
Griff took the dogs for a walk and prepped for the moment.
Cascade Mountain and the Rundle Range lit up the background behind Madi and when Griff returned, I suggested we include him in some photos.
It was such an iconic Canadian Rocky Mountain landscape.
I loved watching these two together. They smile at each other with their eyes, they hold each other tenderly.
They are madly in love with each other.
While photographing them, Griff stopped, he got down on one knee.
The rest is history!
He asked, she said yes!
One of my favorite images is the one where Madi looks at me,
realizing that this event was planned and coordinated without her knowing.
I could tell right away how much their family and friends meant to them.
When I asked if they would stop in town to celebrate together, they insisted on going straight home to celebrate their news with their family.
Congratulations you two on your engagement and next adventure in your relationship together.
It was such an honour to be trusted with your surprise!
“Alright, Griff, you get in there too….”
Makeup & Hair: Mountain Beauties
Ceremony Venue: Riverside Park
Reception Venue: Hive Gallery and Gathering
Caterer: Chez Francois Bistro
Wedding Commisioner: Patricia Compton
Photographer: Rachel Boekel Photography
Assistant Photographer: Myra Altwasser
During our first opposite ends of the earth chat (I live in Canada, they live in Australia), I knew I was in for a treat with this couple.
Trish spoke so fondly of Furqan and their life in Australia.
Both of them busy in their respective professions, they were taking a trip to Canada to get married.
Furqans family is from Calgary and they chose to celebrate their marriage first in a Pakistani ceremony in Calgary and then as a small wedding in Canmore, AB.
I was thrilled to be a part of their Canadian Rocky Mountain wedding and meet their family and friends that cheered them on.
Canadians and Australians coming together to celebrate! Seems like a familiar theme in our Bow Valley!
Trish had visited with Furqan in Canada before and was smitten with the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
Unfortunately, the crazy wildfires pushed heavy smoke into the Bow Valley and made for some pretty dense and hazey days.
Love doesn’t wait for the wind to blow and clear the air; the show must go on!
Often my favorite part of a wedding is watching the bride and groom get ready.
Seeing and observing the very private rituals of a wedding day is such an honour to be a part of.
I never tire of the details, the preparation, the gentle help of family and friends and the rush out the door.
Key moments of fun at this particular wedding, was watching Furqan panic as he didn’t have cufflinks,
only to have Trish send him a gift of…. cufflinks. (What a team!)
Trish had the Mountain Beauties girls come into their family friends home and set the women up for their day.
I adored the time she spent getting into her dress with her Mom and sister and smiling at her Father’s first look.
Despite the smoke, the sun pushed it’s warmth through and we basked in the warm orange glow of its heat.
Riverside park in Canmore offers a variety of stunning wedding spots, and with family gathering around,
it was a bright ceremony with laughs and tears and love.
Oh the love! These two love each other! You can witness it in their careful gaze, and their wide smiles.
We scrapped our big mountain plan for portraits, seeing as the smoke was getting in the way of the view,
and enjoyed a quiet session beside the Bow River, and near the old Canmore mine sites.
Canmore doesn’t starve for dynamic photography locations, and we had some pretty great places to pick from.
The ending to their day was spent at the Hive Gallery and Gathering.
I love this setting for many reasons and particularly for the comfortableness it offers as a wedding venue.
The space creates conversation for guests as they wander through the gallery,
it also offers two outside spaces and ample room to dance, eat, cheers and celebrate a beautiful couple.
This night, outside, under the soft party lights with guests stretched out on a long table, sharing beautiful toasts, was one to remember.
Oh, and their love! Their deep, rich and very respectful and caring love for each other.
I wished they lived closer so we could be friends!
I would and will do it again in a heartbeat!
Elizabeth Parker Hut sits just up from Lake O’hara in a wide meadow.
It’s a small hut compared to the tall mountains that rise above it, but it is a huge hut if you are a but a wee
child with an exploring heart. We were gifted with beautiful weather and the kind of snow that could be easily moulded into snowmen,
which lead to endless enjoyment in a sea of snow.
Planning and executing a winter family trip has many variables with young children,
but I have found that the best adventures are often made with friends in tow.
The kids are distracted and happily entertained by each others jokes, antics and are motivated by each others skills.
Our ski up to the Elizabeth Parker Hut began from the Lake O’hara parking lot, just off of Hwy 1.
The road into Lake O’hara, which is accessed by school bus and a reservation system in the summer, is closed in the winter.
The only way in is a walk, ski or snowshoe up the 12km windy road.
We slapped on the skinny skis and promptly began dropping gummy bears along the trail.
Not only did this provide motivation for the kids, it also created a lite competitive spirit to get to that next gummy bear first.
Lunch stops and water breaks and a few meltdowns later, (notably by yours truly, who
overestimated her strength and underestimated the weight of the chariot) we arrived.
It took us 6 hours of skiing to arrive to a warm fire in a log cabin the depths of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
The whiskey jacks made friends with the kids and their ability to leave crumb treasures behind in spades.
Exploring the wood piles, outhouses and bunk beds inside and around the Elizabeth Parker Hut made for hours of entertainment,
not to mention tobogganing down the roof of the hut on cookie trays!
The adults found joy in the bag of wine, the fresh air and the wild open space.
As always, I tote my camera along. I lack the ability to “un-see” the world from a photographic perspective and, I feel naked without my camera
to frame and capture our relationships with each other and our loved ones.
Isn’t that what it’s all about anyways; experiencing life with your friends and family?!
How do you build and capture your moments as a family?
What adventures made you stop and think, and grow a little more?
Which adventures with your people ask you to dig deeper?
I guess, in a sense, what I always want to know is; what makes you, you?
What makes you a family?
In life we build our relationships through actions and experiences,
these are the tangible moments that make up who you are,
and the only ones that really matter.
These also happen to be the moments I enjoy photographing the most. The nitty gritty!
I want to capture and document your ski, or hike or breakfast time or snowman building!
It doesn’t have to be a 12km ski into Lake O’hara, that’s just for crazy people
What we learned from our trip was:
1) we should have made it a 3 night stay
2) we might have needed more wine
3) we sometimes underestimate our children’s abilities, they are totally capable
4) good weather makes adventures fun and
5) sleeping together in a small cabin with 4 adults and 5 children = zero sleep!
A small gallery of our adventures is highlighted below.
Thanks to Steph O’Brien for having the wildest of ideas and for her family for being excellent adventure companions!
I can’t wait to see where we end up next.
What are your family day / week plans? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear how you build your time together as a family?
When you ski up 12km, it means you get to ski back DOWN 12km on the way home!
Check out the video on my Facebook Page @rachelboekelphotography to see what it looks like to haul a chariot,
backpack and kids down the road from Lake O’hara.
Happy Family Day Week!
Someone, well actually it wasn’t just someone, it was Rebecca Campbell of The Mindful Mama, recently asked what her friends favorite thing about winter was. My list of winter loves is long. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the moment stepping out into that cold air and feeling it freeze in my nose! What a delight! That and the breath that wraps itself onto strands of hair on a fiercely cold day, eloquently turning me into an ice princess. Those things combined make me a happy girl. I’m happy because this means I am outside, I am active and likely doing something I love.
Now that we have moved back to Canmore, AB, right in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, our access to winter outdoor activities has changed. A move you say? Yup, our crew of five recently made the jaunt across the awe-inspiring vast prairies, back to my hometown of Canmore. We are happy to be in our new to them, old to me hometown. We do, however, miss the community, strength, landscape, and wildlife around our past prairie dwellings.
Our winter activities now include steeper toboggan hills and greater access to downhill skiing terrain. That being said, we will miss our quick access to ice fishing, the vast cross-country ski trails and our skating parties on Lake Newell.
What I’m getting at, in a very roundabout way, is how dynamic Winter is anywhere! It’s full of fun, adventure, and activity. Families often reserve their photo sessions for bright summer days. Bright yellow Fall evenings are also a hit! But, for me, Winter is unique. It’s a wonderful season for capturing families, couples and friends in action.
I’m always nattering on and on to people about how movement is key to a good photo. Winter makes you HAVE to move! (It’s chilly out there) I love the look of glee or downright fear of a family on a toboggan! I also love the power and excitement of a good outdoor hockey game or skating party. Winter photo sessions out ice fishing with families is thrilling; the excitement of the catch and the squeamishness of a flopping fish make for picture-perfect moments.
Being able to photograph in Canmore, Alberta does mean easy access to some incredible scenery. Having spent a lot of time exploring many corners of this area in my youth and early adulthood, I have a pretty good idea of where to play off of the beaten track. Being a local in Canmore now is quite different from when I was a kid. The streets have gotten much busier. The spandex scene has exploded! There are also well over 20 local coffee shops to get your caffeine fix at, about 19 more than when I was a kid. Who remembers the Fireweed Cafe? (My favorite cafés now are CommuniTEA, Le fournil, and the Summit cafe, in case you were wondering). The “joie de vivre” and joy of pursuing a life in an active and creative community is the same, and it’s a beautiful thing.
So, are you a family or a couple who embraces winter? Do you spend your winters on the ski hill? Are you ripping down the toboggan hill or playing shinny at the skating pond? Do you ice fish or enjoy roasting marshmallows while you cut down your Christmas tree? Perhaps you are holidaying in the area, exploring the Canadian Rockies with fresh and mesmerizing eyes? I’d love to capture these moments!
Here are a few of my favorite ways to photographer families, couples and friends playing together during the other
6 months of a Canadian calendar year!
1) Cross Country / Snowshoe Adventure: Spend your time moving through a wintery landscape with your favorite person or people.
Lots of laughing, falling, snowball fights and hot chocolate stops included.
2) Ice Skating / Ice Fishing: A frozen lake is such an inspiring photographic location.
Whether you are out playing a game of shinny or casting a line, any frozen lake is a dynamic landscape for a photo session.
3) Baking / Christmas Cookie Making: Maybe you aren’t the outdoor type, but instead gather to bake together during the
Christmas season and winter months? What fun it is to capture the flour flying, the icing dripping and the baking being enjoyed!]
Do you have your own ideas? Your own winter traditions or experiences? I’d love to hear from you!]]>
In those 15 years I have had the opportunity to photograph so many amazing weddings, families and business’s
all over Alberta, Canada and the World. I consider myself to be so lucky to have had such bright and strong relationships with
my dynamic subjects and to have learnt so many new skills from colleagues and friends.
Growth doesn’t happen without everyone, it’s a big community involvement, especially with photography!
Trust is also incredibly important and being able to do what I love for so long has meant that you must trust me.
(Well I hope so!) So thank you for trusting me with your memories, with your events and with your time.
In these past 15 years I have learnt that what I love to do most is connect.
I love to connect with people (ask my husband… I will talk to anyone, anywhere) I love to connect you with your family,
with your spouse, with yourself. I believe that in order to achieve amazing photographs you have to feel connected
to the time you are spending with me, and the time you are spending with the other people in front of the camera.
This is a huge part of the recipe for great images.
Having started out photographing weddings and families in Canmore, Alberta over a decade ago prepared me to
travel to Rotterdam in The Netherlands to photograph a family wedding as well as set me up with skills
to grow as a photographer in Brooks, Alberta. I’m grateful for the mountain settings, the cityscapes and the canola fields I have photographed in.
Recently my very first wedding client, whose wedding I photographed in Banff, Alberta, who trusted me despite the fact that I had never photographed a wedding before,
hired me to photograph their young boys in a canola field in Brooks, Alberta. I love following your stories from the start. What a lucky girl I am!
So, in celebration of small business week, I wanted to say thank you to YOU, for giving me the opportunity to follow my passion and for trusting me!