The Martens | Family Lifestyle

Family lifestyle is a style of photography that I have grown to love over the last couple of years. I believe there are little moments in the day that pass us by and we want to grab onto those moments and hold them with both hands. Maybe it's the kids giggles from the living room. Or the sibling rivalry. Or the way the sun filters into a room. Or the excitment of mixing up a batch of cookies. These moments make up our lives. We baked cookies, chased some geese, collected eggs - just a typical afternoon at home on the farm.

What is a Real Life session? | Documentary Sessions

Lifestyle sessions are a way for you to document your life. I know what you are saying - but my life isn't exciting. It's not about excitement. It's about the memories of where you have been and where you are going.

A couple of years ago I was going through some old photos with my siblings. We laughed at our matching outfits and forced posing. Don't get me wrong in the 80s that was the look! But you know what photos that made us remember stories - those snapshots. It brought back memories of family trips, things that drove us crazy about each other as kids (and still sometimes as adults!), our 'stunning' fashion sense, It made me realize while getting that family portrait is important, it's also important to document the everyday.

Here is the problem though. How do you document it if you aren't in the photo? You can document things here and there, but maybe your kids flinch away when they see you bring out the camera. And how do you capture that moment when you are both making a meal and that song comes on that causes you both to sing and dance.

That is what a lifestyle session is all about. Often these session are marketed to families. But they aren't just for people with kids. They are for people that have pets. They are for couples with no kids or pets. They are for single people.

Single people? Why you ask? Because you are single doesn't make your life any less interesting. In fact I bet it's pretty interesting and you might not even realize it. This is a chance to realize how fabulous you are.

Black Mountain | Wedding Inspiration

Early in a November a group of 10 south east Saskatchewan photographers decided to hold a retreat in Canmore. It was nicknamed the 'ghetto retreat'. Most photographers retreats are full of swag bags and gifts and pretty things to photograph, along with speakers and presentations.

Our retreat certainly had pretty things to take photos of with four shoots that were organized, but we were more relaxed. Chatted with each other about business and life. We had some laughs. Ate some good food. Enjoyed the mountains, which is so very different than our landscape.


The mountains are majestic and gorgeous. The light was pretty and soft. It was enjoyable to shoot in a place that is so different from our rolling prairies. Don't get me wrong I love the prairies. I love photographing in the prairies. I don't have much of a desire to move to the mountains, but having a wanderlust heart and a passport that is always ready to go, I love visiting places within Canada and traveling internationally.

This section of our style shoot was based of a darker, more gothic, non-traditional type of wedding vibe. To see the Blue Mountain version - a more light and airy traditional feel, you can see that here.

Jessy + Shaun | Swift Current Engagement

We had our fingers crossed that on the day we scheduled engagement photos that the leaves would still be on the trees. And they were! Such a great evening out on the family farm by Blumenort.

And should this be the last thing I see
I want you to know it's enough for me
'Cause all that you are is all that I'll ever need
I'm so in love, so in love
So in love, so in love
- Tenerife Sea Ed Sheeran

Josh + Holly | Beaver Flats Wedding

From the bride, Holly:

We got married in a small country church just outside Stewart Valley and had our reception on my husband’s gorgeous family farm, where his parents and grandparents each have a house and a yard surrounded by trees. As people were traveling from around the country (I grew up in a military family and lived all over Canada), we housed lots of friends and family at the farm including all of the bridesmaids and two of the groomsmen. We designated the “girls house” would be the grandparents’ and the “guys house” would be the parents’ place about 30 feet away. There so much excitement getting ready so close but not seeing each other! The girls woke up to a beautiful home cooked breakfast made by my husband’s grandmother and mostly relaxed for the morning before my hair appointment. After that, all the girls buckled down and finished getting ready for the ceremony across the field at the country church!

The church was packed full of friends and family which was so special, but also VERY warm on the 34 degree Celsius day! We were both pretty nervous standing at the front of the church, but mostly because it’s a little awkward having everyone stare at you! We still enjoyed every second of the ceremony and the beautiful music played by my sister-in-law on her guitar and ukulele. One of my favourite memories is seeing the look on my husband’s face when he watched me walk down then aisle. I will always cherish that moment that I knew he didn’t see anything else, and wasn’t thinking about anything else but me. It was the most romantic moment of the day.

Following the ceremony we did a receiving line, which was necessary to really visit with all 130 guests. In addition, before we jumped in our “limo” (actually an old bus owned by my in-laws) and took wedding party portraits, we did family portraits on the steps of the church as a nice keepsake for relatives who traveled from BC, Nova Scotia, California etc. and would likely never all be in the same place again. We loved this part of the day and seeing how big our now-joined family was!

Our photo adventure began in my husband’s family canola field directly across from the church, and then we moved around the area to the family farm and Beaver Flat (a little resort village nearby, with a beach where we shared our first kiss three years previous). Although my husband isn’t a huge fan of photos, our photographer made the experience not only hassle-free, but super fun! She was willing to try any ideas we had and made suggestions as she looked around the area. It was the absolute best case scenario for a wedding photo session.

We came into the reception area of the farm which was decorated perfectly! We had tons of lights hanging above the tables in the trees, all the tables were decorated just as we had planned, and the best sight of all was the yard full of loved ones waiting for us to take our seats at the head table. My older brother and friend were the MCs, and did a fabulous job even though we rented the sound equipment and only had one mic. To dismiss the tables to eat, we had trivia where guests ran up if they knew the answer to one of the “Jolly” (Josh+Holly) questions, which was so much fun to watch! They also led a kissing game where guests spun a wheel and had to complete a task like “tell a story” to get us to kiss. Provided great entertainment for the night until the dance!

We did some traditional toasts and speeches, but the surprise of the evening was when we were all asked to go into the large shop (where our dance was about to take place) to watch a “multimedia presentation” made by my family. Once everyone moved their seats, a lovely slideshow of Josh and I was played, and then a hilarious video welcoming my husband to my crazy family inside jokes and obsessions with rugby and Harry Potter. We laughed until we cried and it wasn’t too family oriented that no one else got it, which was great!

After this, we shared our first dance to Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” and then did a special bouquet give away. Instead of lining all the single girls up and drawing attention to their singleness (which can be a sore spot for some), we asked all of the married couples to join us on the dance floor. The MCs slowly asked people to leave if they had been married less than the time they announced (i.e. “if you’ve been married less then a day…”) until the couple left dancing has been married longest and they win the bouquet! It was already special seeing all the couples, but what happened next was totally unexpected. My husband’s grandparents won the bouquet after 52 years of marriage, but what we didn’t know was that this was their first dance together… EVER! His grandmother was crying tears of joy because she was so thankful he danced with her after all these years, and they got to the flowers to boot. It has been the talk of the family ever since! The party got started after this with a simple playlist on my friend’s computer. We danced the rest of the night away, and before we left, we had a beautiful sparkler send off that felt almost magical. It was a perfect day!

Holly and Josh – July 8, 2017

Josh and Holly's wedding was featured on Sask Ever After - check it out for even more photos and details about their day.

Blue Mountain Wedding inspiration

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I found myself in Canmore this year with a group of southern Saskatchewan photographers. It was a bit of an impromptu trip. A chance to get away to the mountains. A chance to network with each other. A chance to organize a couple of gorgeous wedding shoots. A chance to simple be.

Mike and Jenn from Calgary graciously were out models. Which is a hard job to have 10 photographers coming at you! And while it wasn't freezing cold, it was cold enough when you are wearing a wedding dress.


Aurora Borealis

You may be thinking, did I go on a trip? Nope. Well not in the sense of going outside the province. This fall I was introduced to chasing the elusive Northern Lights (aka Aurora Borealis or Aurora). It's not common yet not uncommon to see the lights this far south. One has to be on the lookout for them, follow some smart forecasters and get out of the city lights. Occasionally  they are seen in the city but more often than not you have to get as far away from light pollution as possible.


Aurora is also something you have to be patient for. Lying in wait. You find your foreground hopefully before the sky explodes in colour. But sometimes you pull off on the side of the highway because you didn't quite make it


While waiting you get a chance to admire the stars. Listen to the complete silence of no other humans and be still. Or read a book. Or eat chips. Really it all depends on the chase. And it is a chase because you want to be set up in a good location and you want the lights to flare up in all their glory filling the night sky.


It's a different type of chasing than storm chasing. Space weather is even more tricky to forecast than Earth weather so days when it is forecast to storm can have the solar winds not co-operate and you might not even get a show or a very small one. There also days when the forecast is not favourable for an aurora show and you get rewarded with rippling lights going across the sky.

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All of these images were taken in Southern Saskatchewan in an approximate 200 km radius from Regina. The exception is this image aproximately an hour north of Prince Albert. 


Tristan + Erica | Swift Current Wedding

Erica and Tristan has a beautiful fall wedding in Swift Current. The day started off with getting ready for the big day. Erica had arranged for the make up and hair artists to come to the home for getting ready which helped keep everyone relaxed.

Erica and Tristan opted to have their photos done before the ceremony. The fall leaves were in all their glory - full of yellows and oranges. We were also able to use an indoor location that had a very industrial warehouse old vibe about it.

The ceremony and reception was held at the Palliser Pavillon. It showcased shimmering golds and dark blues. Instead of the traditional clinking of the glasses to have the couple kiss, they constructed a giant Jenga game. Guests would then have to take one of the pieces (instructions on how the kiss was to be done was written on the board) without having the stack falling.