Author Archives: Sarah- calls the shots at phoTobin photography

shift happens | she said

This is a very exciting time for us!  Right now I feel like every egg that I have had in my basket is up in the air and I am just waiting to see where they all land.  Our home is in a major state of shift, our business is in a major point of shift and me, well, I’m shifting all over the place.  I feel like, with all this potential and all these unknowns, that I have been given a pop quiz in regards to my ability to surrender and stay in a state of surrender.

At this point, I think I am doing pretty good, but I guess we shall have to see how things play out.  Until next week…

Thanks and have a beautiful day!

Christine’s {modern glam} experience | vancouver portrait and posing studio

Christine Nielsen of Ms Pixel shares her {modern glam} experience on her blog,  Whine and Cheese. Click here to read it!


subtle and beautiful transformation with glamour photography transcending the everyday to see how beautiful you really are

Thanks and have a beautiful day!

engagement by the sea | vancouver modern portrait, engagement and wedding photographer

Amy and Brett found us by blasting out Facebook messages in the middle of the night looking for their ideal photographer and when we sat down with them we just clicked (yes, pun totally intended!).  These two are so in love and Tobin and I got very excited as they talked about their day.  In two weeks these two will walk down the isle and into their happily ever after and we are excited and honoured to capture all the planning, details, and love that is going into their wedding.

Here are a few shots from their sunrise engagement session down by the sea at Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver.  The very place Brett asked Amy to be his forever.


West Vancouver sea side sunrise engagement session by Tobin Smith of phoTobin photography



Thanks and have a beautiful day!

true surrender | she said

So, about 12 years ago, I went to a friend who was a karmic astrologer and I we did a little trade. I created his logo and he did gave me a couple of readings. While he was doing my reading he told me a lot of very interesting things but the biggest thing that stuck with me through all these years was that he said, “you’re life is meant to be easy. you are the one who is making it hard. all you have to do is surrender and everything will be easier for you.” Between his reading and a scarily accurate psychic I saw only a few months before who told me that, “after having children, you will pursue your passion, you will travel, life will be easy and money will never be an issue.” Well, that left me feeling very optimistic and with 2 big questions.

What is my passion?
How the heck do I surrender?

So, after the first 10 years of trying to figure out what my passion was and declaring to the world, with a white flag in my hand that I surrender, nothing happened. No closer to knowing what I was passionate about and, unfortunately, giving up and surrender are not the same thing, I started to think that somewhere along the path I altered my destiny and life would never be easy or completely fulfilling. Then, everything changed one day when I found my passion. Glamour photography. (insert record scratch sound here. EEEERRRRRKKKK) Wait?!? What!?! Glamour photography. Isn’t that a super cheesy trend of the 90’s with big hair, boas and satin gloves? Not the way we do it! I’m sure I will go on about this in great length over time but it boils down to; Tobin took a Glamour photo of me and it changed EVERYTHING! At first I allowed myself to see myself the way others must. I am not a hideous monster and I was slowly believing I was actually beautiful. This gave me a boost in confidence, my posture improved, I could make eye contact again, I was okay with being noticed. My light began to shine brighter and now I wanted all my friends (especially my mommy friends who had also lost themselves) to have this experience. I was and still remain changed!

So, it had looked like I had found my passion (and it was the last thing I would have ever expected it to be!), now, onto surrender. HOLY CRAP! The true act of surrendering is the hardest thing I have ever done and I’m sure I’m only at level 1 Surrender and there are infinite levels:) .  The true act of surrendering for me was like slowly tearing away painful layer after layer of objections, other peoples beliefs that I made my own, feelings of worthlessness, default reactions, to get to actually making the decision and choice to be happy, to forgive the list of those who have “wronged” me, to actually step back and see, again, from the outside, not just me but my life and how amazingly blessed I am and how grateful I am. This all culminated last week when I wrote my SHE SAID blog and in that moment of true surrender things… scary (in a good way) things started to come together.

This past week has been a whirlwind of decisions, like big life altering decisions, and I am full to the rim with joy, gratitude and faith that those 2 people over 12 years ago, who planted a seed of hope and worth in my mind and heart, were right and with passion being aligned with true surrender I will be fulfilled.  I am serving my purpose.

Thanks for listening!  Have a beautiful day!

casey’s {modern glam} experience | vancouver glamour and maternity portrait studio

Casey found us through a contest we ran with Sex and the Suburb.  She won a runner up prize back in February and was so excited she booked right away.  Then she found out she was pregnant and wanted to postpone her {modern glam} experience until she had a nice little bump.  Fast forward 6 months and we had the pleasure of having Casey and Mitch in.  These two are SO in love and can’t wait to meet their newest family member.

Here is Casey’s {modern glam} experience in her own words:

I’d like to share a special experience with everyone that I feel very fortunate to have had. After booking a photo shoot with phoTobin I was extremely excited. Being 6 months pregnant, you don’t get out much let alone feel sexy, or look much better than mascara and hair thrown up in a messy pony tail for the most part. For me, applying makeup or doing nice hair were never a strength of mine so getting dolled up is an extremely rare occurrence for me.

When it came to that magical day, I had become very nervous. Yes I was going to get all glammed up but did I know what I was doing?  Would I be able to take a picture without a double chin or grinning funny (thoughts that crossed through my mind all morning) Fortunately, after about 5 mins of meeting Sarah and Tobin I chucked all of those thoughts out the door. These two could not have been more warm and welcoming and downright comfortable to be around.

We started with my “before shot” which is a brilliant idea because it is so nice to see how much you can evolve. Next we went through my outfits that I brought, and then Sarah turned this no makeup, pony tailed mom-to-be into a beauty queen. Confidence level rose about 100%.

As Sarah was making me up, Tobin was setting up the shoot, mapping out in so much detail, what I was going to wear, how I was going to pose, what back drops or props were needed. He had so many great ideas; it was like creative genius at work. You can tell Tobin puts so much thought into his work, that everyone’s photo shoots are designed specifically for them, not everyone is going to have the exact same experience and photos.  Basically all I did was show up, literally, and the professionals took over.

When it was time to shoot, he guided me and gave me great tips on how to take the best photograph. It was so smooth and comfortable and I had Sarah at my side helping with the minor details making sure there were no wardrobe malfunctions and that everything was perfectly in place.

Getting to know them, the whole time, seeing this couple and how happily in love they were, it made them the best team I could imagine. They really know how to capture a moment. I took a few pictures with my other half, and I don’t know how they did it but I could just feel the love pouring out of these pictures.

They captured some really precious moments for me. I would definitely recommend them to everyone. Like I said, all I had to do was show up and they did all of the rest. I felt like I had such a high when I walked out of the studio at the end of the day, I felt like a million bucks. Not only did I have a blast but my boyfriend did as well. For a guy who bores easily, I couldn’t believe how into this he was. He and  I would definitely love to do this again.


vancouver based modern glamour portrait studio maternity shoot

Thanks and have a beautiful day!

OMG! PST in BC for photographers

This one goes out to the photography businesses here in BC.

With the return of our beloved (insert sarcastic cough) PST (Provincial Sales Tax) here in BC it left me in a bit of a quandary. We are a service business with a tangible product… when do we charge PST?

Being the Google Geek that I am, I started there. I figure if we ever give up photography, I could Google for businesses as a profession! I can find anything and in record time… usually. This one was a tough one. Everything I Googled came up with either people wanting me to pay them to tell me about the rules or the actual PST document from the government which was a little too vague for my specific question. Do I charge PST on my sitting fee when it is collected separately than any sales of goods?

So, when Google left me still confused. Though to me, I figured that no PST on sitting fee and yes on prints but then came the question about video work and weddings and other times that a tangible good and service are packaged together. Do I only charge PST on the actual tangible goods or on everything? And this I did not want to get wrong because if I under charge on PST and at the end of the year figure that out, well, that would stink! So, I asked my accountant (who is fabulous!!!) and she thought the same as me in regards to the sitting fee but suggested to get it in writing from the government to CYA should I get audited and the auditor have a differing opinion.

So I wrote the taxman asking this question:

I have a photography studio and I am seeking clarification on if I am to charge PST on my session fee.

When our clients come in they are charged a sitting fee that is a service only. They get their hair styled, makeup applied and photos taken. At this point they have not purchased any tangible product and this is charged separately without guarantee of any purchase of photos. They then come in at a separate time to purchase photos, though there is the chance that they may not purchase anything. I do charge PST on any photos purchased but I am unclear if I charge for the session.

Because it is considered a service without tangible product, should I charge PST?

I got my response today and, when I was telling Tobin about it, he suggested that I share it with you all since it is excruciatingly detailed, not only for photographers but for videographers as well! I would LOVE to sum it up for you, but on the off chance that I get it a little wrong, I would hate to give you misinformation. So, without further ado, here are all the answers in regards to your photography/videography business and PST in the Province of BC as of September 4, 2013.  Oh, yeah and I made it pretty to encourage you to share and pin it 🙂

Clicking this guide will take you to the PDF and all the links will be live, the little hand that shows they are live doesn’t pop up but they are live!

 PST guide


Thanks and have a beautiful day!

a small shift | she said

Today I am grateful.

Today I take control.


Today I allow myself to see things from the outside and be amazed.


Today I choose love over fear.


Today I let go of my need to be right, perfect and prompt and I let go my expectation for
others to do the same.


Today I measure my success not by “likes” or my bank account but by the lives I have also
given a small shift to.


Today I measure my success by the smiles on my children’s faces, by the joy in my heart
and the love in my home.


foundation part 2! | vancouver makeup artist

So, last week we started to dive into foundations and, as promised, here is part two!  More types of foundations:


type of coverage: medium. good for evening out skin tone and texture but not full coverage of dark circles or bad breakouts

good for_______ skin type: good for all skin types

how to apply: same as a liquid foundation (see last weeks post) but you will find that since it is lighter in texture that it doesn’t require as much blending.

cream to powder:

type of coverage: medium to light

good for_______ skin type: oily and “normal” (I have a hard time with calling it “normal” because normal skin is whatever the skin your in is doing at the time, that’s normal but I have yet to come up with or find a term for not too oily or too dry.  If you have one let me know because it is not cool that women of all ages think that just because there skin is a little shinier or drier means that they are not normal! Sorry, psychology of marketing and the way that it kills our self esteem rant over… for know) oh, if your skin is on the drier (lacking oil) or dehydrated (lack water) side then you will want to stay clear of a mattifying product because it will dry you skin out a little more and enhance any flaking or dry patches that you have.

how to apply: same as a liquid foundation but you will want to apply it in smaller sections since it is harder to blend once it is set.

powder foundation:

type of coverage: medium to light

good for_______ skin type: oily and “normal” for the same reasons mentioned above

how to apply:  powder foundation is usually pressed into a compact  and comes with a sponge applicator.  You can use this for more coverage or if you are looking for just a little coverage use a powder brush


So, I hope this helps you next time you are heading out to buy or even use the foundation you have in your cupboard J


Thanks and have a beautiful day!

annette’s {modern glam} experience | vancouver portrait and lifestyle photography

When you are on the right path it seems like one thing just leads to another.  Everything is connected.   You meet someone and they introduce you to something where you meet another person and you end up finding something that you need. Everything is connected.  This was the way Annette ended up in our studio for some head shots and we ended up in the park with her, her dogs and possibly a bear cub…

Annette shares her journey and {modern glam} experience on her blog here.

corporate head shots and pet photography


Thanks and have a beautiful day!

foundation 101 | let’s makeup | vancouver based makeup artist

So, let’s talk makeup! I decided for makeup tips and tricks I would start with the base and work my way up. Last makeup tip I talked about the importance of primer, why we use one and how to use it. So logically the next step would be foundations.

Foundations come in many types and a lot of ladies don’t use “traditional” (a.k.a. liquid ) foundation any more. There are so many kids of foundation our there (liquid, powder, whipped, cream to powder, mineral powder and tinted moisturizer… and I’m sure a few more too!) that it can be overwhelming to me to pick the right one for my need and skin type and I am educated in this stuff! Oh, little side note: I get overwhelmed very quickly by too many choices. Cereal, clothes, makeup… really anything, if there are too many choices my brain goes into overload and shuts down and I end up leaving without what I was set to get. I LOVE to research things online so I can avoid decision-indecision… but I digress…

So, the best way to know what YOU want to pick up next time you are at the makeup counter here is a little Foundation 101. I thought I would share a little about all the different types out there but, once I was done, I realized I went on a bit long so I decided to break it down into more digestible chunks. Today’s types of foundations are the 2 of the most popular types…


type of coverage: medium to full. Good for covering scars, breakouts, dark circles under the eyes and general discolouration.

good for_______ skin type: all skin types but some that are made to be “long lasting” may cause sensitive skin (and even not-so-sensitive skin) to breakout because they add oils and other waxy products to make them stay put. If you use a primer you don’t need long wearing products because that is what the primer will do for you!

black makeup sponge

most amazing (and chuckle worthy shaped) makeup sponge EVER!!!

how to apply: You can use your fingers or a foundation brush to apply the product to your skin (I use my fingers when I do my own makeup but when I’m working on clients I like the brush… I’m sure I will post about that another time ☺ ) When I am working on a client I approach the face in quarters since liquid foundation can set up a bit and make it harder to blend. If I am doing my own make up then I take the make-a-mess-and-clean-it-up-in-a-hurry method,. I put a good amount on the tips of my fingers and then smoosh in onto my face (hey, I’ve got two young kids and a whole lot going on so the days of having an hour to get ready are long gone). Then (whether on clients or myself) I use my MOST FAVORITE makeup product in the WORLD… the blender sponge. It is a makeup sponge made of rubber that looks more like a sex toy than a makeup applicator but it is AH-MAY-ZING!!! With it’s unique design you can get into the corner of your eyes, the crooks of your nose and use it’s broader sides to blend. I use it damp and it blends so beautifully that you look like you’ve been airbrushed. No streaks! Also, because it’s rubber you can just give it a little wash with shampoo when you’re done, let it air dry and it’s like brand new every time you use it!

personal favourite: Make Up Forever HD Foundation.

tinted moisturizer:

type of coverage: light to barely there. good to even out slight variances in the skin and slightly evens out skin tone. Really great for those who want to wear makeup but don’t want to look like they are wearing makeup.

good for ________ skin: all skin types and very beneficial to drier skin since it only has a slight pigmentation but is high in hydration.
how to apply: just like you would your moisturizer, a little on your finger tips and rub it in until it is absorbed.

personal favourite: personally, I think buying a tinted moisturizer (unless you are in LOVE with your brand) is a waste of money. I take my favourite cream and add a couple of drops of my favourite foundation to it, blend it in the palm of my hand and, viola, I’ve got tinted moisturizer. Then I can vary the amount of coverage when needed by changing the ratio of cream to foundation.

How do I get the right colour?

Especially post summer tan this one is a tough one! A lot of girls match their face but because a lot of girls where sunscreen all the time on their face but not their necks or chest there can be a couple of shades difference between the two.

Here’s my rule of thumb when it comes to skin matching. The lighter the coverage, the higher you match it. If you are going with a full coverage foundation, match it to your neck because that is where you will blend to and if you match it to you face and it is a couple of shades lighter than your neck it won’t look right BUT is you are using a tinted moisturizer then you want to match it more to the skin on your face otherwise you could end up with dark and light streaks and that’s no good. When in doubt, ask a professional! From Holt Renfrew to Shoppers Drug Mart, there are plenty of places that will give you samples and do your colour selection for you. And remember you may need to colours; one for summer/fall when you have a bit of colour to you and one for winter/spring after your tan fades.

Next week I will cover the rest of the foundations.

Thanks and have a beautiful day!