Give the Gift of Indie

‘Tis the season of giving and here are some great gift suggestions if you’re looking for unique gift ideas. This year consider giving the gift of ‘Indie’ or independently made, I’m suggesting that in lieu of the more well-known or more sought after gifts there are some really great gems to be had if you know where to look.
My favorite site for all things independently made is Etsy, which has everything from clothes, crafts and so much more. One of my favorite Etsy store is Chattergold Studios, which features the beautiful photography from Seattle-based photographer Tricia.

Do you know a bookworm? Give the give of these amazing books from so authors I’ve been lucky enough to discover this year. My Heart is an Autumn Garage by Anne Theriault(The Belle Jar) is a heart-breakingly honest account of her battle with depression including her experience with hospitalization. S C Rhyne’s debut The Reporter and The Girl MINUS the Super Man! is (in the author’s own words) not a love story but tales the semi-autobiographical story of an interracial relationship in or modern dating world.
Is it a coincidence that Santa and Satan share all the same letters?  Not if you want to give the gift of the Hellbound Trilogy by Tim Hawken including: Hellbound, I Am Satan and the just released finale Deicide.
Angela Kulig’s newest bookPigments of my Imagination(POMI) is a wonderful tale of romance, mixed with adventure and mystery. Savannah Stewart is an up-and-coming author who’s novel Moments of Reckoning should not be missed.
Diana Emuge‘s Seamless is the fictional tale of a women’s struggle against many issues especially within herself.
Not just for actors Anthony Meindl‘s book’s At Left Brain Turn Right and Alphabet Soup for Grown-Ups are informative, enlightening and best of all entertaining!

For the lighter side of things considering giving the gift of laughter courtesy of the hilarious guys from Superego their podcast is gift enough but you can also check out their album Mount Us More by The Journeymen(a fictional band they created).

Give the gift of independent film, consider donating to one of the many great films with crowdfund campaigns, including my personal favorite Thunder Road.  There are still incentives available and what movie lover wouldn’t like the opportunity to go to a private screening of the film with the actors in attendance?

For the philanthropic, why not give the gift of a donation to charity or even just offer your time and volunteer? personal favorite of mine is the newly formed Pedal Against PTSD who aim to help suffers of PTSD through cycling as well as raise overall awareness of PTSD to the general public, and you can donate here. The Young family of Hamilton Ontario, has truly found the meaning of the season and are hosting a Boxing day party and have committed to providing a hearty meal and gifts for 50 people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas or unable to provide those things for themselves, anyone interested in helping can donate to them through PayPal, your donations will go towards the food and gifts for these families.
Happy Holidays!



Kissed by Light Photo Shoot

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I love having my picture taken, the problem is I inevitably hate how I look in pictures. Keeping that in mind I decided to bravely book a session with the Toronto photography studio Kissed by Light, I was immediately impressed by their professionalism and prompt communications. The owner and photographer, Lora Vertue was readily available to answer all my questions and easily put me at ease. I decided to opt for their full service package which included the use of their own stylist Nelly Tsyrlin and makeup artist Irene Sy.
I’ve always secretly wanted to be the star in a fashion photo shoot, and this was my opportunity to play pretend at being a model. Working with Nelly we came up with the concept for the shoot, Nelly was great at suggesting ideas and looks that really connected to the vision of the shoot. I wanted something classy but not overly fussy. We decided on looks inspired by the 1920’s and flapper style.
When I arrived for the shoot I met with Irene the makeup artist and she set to work on making me camera ready. Trust me when I say I don’t look like that everyday, Irene worked her magic to transform me into a 1920’s vision, I couldn’t stop looking at her work and wondering who was the reflection in the mirror.
While their specialty is boudoir shoots, we incorporated some fashion shots as well. Anyone who thinks modelling is easy think again, by the end of the shoot I was sore and tired but excited to see the results. Lora was great and not only creating a comfortable environment but also in giving me directions that were clear and easy for me to follow which helped her get the shots she needed.
After the shoot I returned to the studio to look over the edited shots and choose the ones I wanted to be made into a commemorative photo-book. This was one of the hardest parts! Lora had captured so many amazing images, I was in awe, I barely recognized myself. After much debate I chose my images and excitedly waited for finished products.
I had so much fun with Kissed By Light I would definitely do it again. If you get the opportunity to have a photo shoot like this don’t hesitate. And just in time for the holidays they are offering specials on their packages. For more on Kissed By Light check out their Blog, Facebook page.
Special thanks to Ameri-Anna Ozigis for all the wonderful behind-the-scenes footage.

What do you do Chris?

Creation Entertainment's Amazing Photographer Chris Schmelke and I

Creation Entertainment’s Amazing Photographer Chris Schmelke and I

With one week until Creation Entertainment’s TVDNJ convention I wanted to introduce you to the man who’s soon to become your new best friend, and no I don’t mean Ian Somerhalder. A big part of the convention experience is the photo op, and I was lucky enough to meet the man behind the lens who helps immortalize the fans’ dreams. Chris Schmelke is the professional photographer for Creation Entertainment. Photography has always been in Chris’ blood, His dad was a  photographer, and Chris remembers being intrigued watching his father develop photos in their darkroom as a child living in Vietnam. “Something about the red light and seeing blank pages become something else was very mysterious to me. ”

He got his start in photography after his band split up and he began photographing his friends’ bands. For the last 10 yrs Chris has been working in photography, 9 of which he has been working with Creation Entertainment. Chris’ relationship with Creation started when he was in elementary school, “I used to buy comics in their store. My mom started working there in the 80’s and I started helping out.” Later when Creation was looking for a photographer Chris was right there to fill the spot. Chris has photographed all the various Creation conventions including: The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Supernatural and of course The Vampire Diaries.

When asked which convention was his favorite Chris is quick not to play favorites, “I have actually enjoyed them all, tough to pinpoint a specific, though all the TVD and Supernatural casts have been great.” Throughout his years with creation Chris has been witness to many interesting fan moments, including a time when a fan dumped the water from a celebrity’s glass over their head to “have their essence”. Chris admits to having his own fanboy moment when he got to work with Star Trek stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, “I mean I had a lunchbox with them on it!”  Though he prefers to remain less demonstrative in his fan worship, “I’m the silent crazed type.”

Chris would love to work as the set photographer for a film, but is perfectly happy with his work now. Chris’ camera of preference is once again influenced by his father, “My dad had a Canon, I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and III, so I guess I’m carrying on the tradition.” When not shooting fans and celebrities Chris enjoys shooting in a very interesting space, “May sound strange, but I am a big fan of industrial wastelands such as abandoned asylums. Not an easy thing to shoot but I secure permits before going in, some places require respirators which add to the fun!”

To see some of Chris’ work with photo-ops check out my post The Art of the Con