Category Archives: photograph responsibly

man, oh man | vancouver modern men’s portrait studio

We share many images of the amazing women that have come through our little studio, but as I was doing a bit of archiving last week, I re-realized we’ve had some men come through as well and man, oh man, have I enjoyed those sessions too.

If you’ve been in one of our shoots, you know that I mirror the poses, which with women includes popping hips, smiling with my eyes, weight on back foot and so forth.  It often gets at least a few giggles (including some from Sarah who has been watching me do this for some time now, so obvious watching a 6’5” man hit feminine figure flattering poses doesn’t get old fast). I do ask Sarah to please book some gentlemen in at least once a month so that I can do some more masculine mirroring.

Here is are some of the men I have photographed a while back. We’ve joked, we’ve laughed, we’ve kicked a soccer ball and yes… a few have also giving me those smiling eyes as they put their weight on their back foot 🙂

men's contemporary portraits

Thanks for visiting our blog. Please remember to photograph responsibly.

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!

push. fail. learn. evolve | vancouver modern portrait studio

On Tuesday I re-watched some of a creativeLIVE course from a year back that changed so much about my photography. And this time watching it, a graphic that Roberto Valenzuela created stuck out to me more than it had before:

This is my sketch of it:


I want to make it a point every week to reflect on which of these four I am primarily immersed in. Knowing that one always leads to another, I will not feel bogged down that one phase will never end, for each will, although the cycle will go on and on.

And all of this, to me, relates to Roberto’s biggest lesson: always practice.  Like a concert violinist, don’t wait until the performance. Practice. Practice. Practice and with that: Push. Fail. Learn. Evolve.

This is why I plan on starting a once a month creative shoot starting in September.  I look forward to sharing with you the results… or possibly involving you in the process 😉


business building retreat | vancouver modern glamour studio

I have been feeling scattered this summer.  Trying to give our kids, clients, business and each other time has left me with a major case of “shiney syndrome”.

We have reached a point in our business and life where we need to take a step back, re-assess our goals, celebrate our accomplishments and, most importantly, start to dream again.  Dream about the next stage, visualize our new studio that we are hunting for and take everything to the next level.  But with it being summer, our kids out of school and, thankfully, we are getting busier and busier, there has been little time, opportunity or energy at the end of the day for this higher level of thinking.  So since the opportunity wasn’t presenting itself we had to make it.

I called my Mom, and I did something that I find difficult to do, I asked for help.  “All we need is 2 nights and a full day without the kids so we can have uninterrupted conversations to put together a plan for the next step so when they go back to school we have a plan.”  My mother simply said, “yes”.  The kids are going to stay with my parents and we are getting a hotel.

I am SO excited.  Tomorrow I am going to hit the store and buy a giant note pad (not as in lots og pages but as in 18″ x 24″), a box of colour pens, a pack of fun shaped post-its and some sharpies.  I’m going to pack my books (Unmarketing and Book Yourself Solid.  Both I highly recommend), we have put a ton of creativeLIVE courses on our hard drive and we are going to dream again. At the end of the weekend out hotel room will look like a colourful version of “A BEAUTIFUL MIND”.

This weekend starts the next chapter of our business.  We are out of the “OMG! I can’t believe we are doing this” phase and have grown up, so to speak.  We have survived 2 years of supporting ourselves and our family (in one of the most expensive cities in the world) pursuing our passion, our art.  Now, we are done with just surviving and ready to be proactive.  This isn’t our first rodeo.  We have toed the line of failure and came back stronger and wiser.  We are all in and can’t wait!

Curious to know what we will be studying this weekend? Next Thursday we will post our resource list and let you know how the planning went.



awesome photo app. | vancouver modern portrait photographer and photography enthusiast

Okay, I love photography. Generally I have a preference for DSLR work than iPhoneography. I do appreciate great iPhoneography, but it’s just not too me; however, over the weekend I volunteered as the Media Task Force Co-ordinator of a youth conference for 780 youth, and while there I met a youth who introduced me to Panorama360.  WOW. This camera app is AMAZING!!!!

You can create full 360 images that you can look around or you can flatten the image to a “stereographic”. Like the one of Sarah here:


my world


I’m just beginning to play with it and I’m really excited to give it a little more time and experimentation.

Check it out and let me know what you think. I’d love to see some of your crazy stereographics made from it.



a step outside | vancouver portrait and engagement photographer


Up until last May we were a “shoot everything” photography business.  Partly to pay the bills, partly because Tobin enjoyed the challenges that came with the different types of shoots and subject, but mostly because saying “no” to a potential client and thus saying “no” to income when you are a small business that is just scraping by is TERRIFYING.

At first, when we decided to specialize in portrait photography with an emphasis on the {modern glamour} experience, we had to say “no” to all the work we used to do, including video productions, commercial photography, even doing massages, reiki and pedicures (me, not Tobin).  It was scary but worth it because it gave us the focus to define and refine what we were doing.  Now that we are in the tweaking stage of our portrait and glamour portraits we are ready to selectively open ourselves up to the services we used to offer that we REALLY enjoyed and still saying “no” to the things we don’t LOVE doing.

We do do a select number of weddings, lifestyle shoots, commercial work and video productions (but still “no” to massages, reiki and pedicures) but since our website is designed to introduce people to our {modern glam} experience we haven’t showcased much of it here… or anywhere, but now we do.

Along with our tips, tricks and opinions in the world of photography, PHOTO THURSDAYS give us a chance to share our “other” work.

We did an engagement session for this awesome couple that they used for their wedding invitations.  We were excited (and I was a bit nervous) for this shoot because we were stepping back outside for the first time since we went “natural light studio”.  The groom-to-be is a Director of Photography in the film industry, it was January and from our consultation and inspiration package we really needed it to be sunny so Tobin could shoot the lens flare that photographers and DP’s seem to be addicted to.   Well, all the cards aligned and, even though it was VERY cold, our bride-to-be was a super trooper and didn’t let it show how cold she was.


sunset engagement session in beautiful Vancouver BC

Thanks and have a beautiful day!



creativeLIVE | vancouver modern portrait studio


checklist to success

Our first and most common tip to photographers about a variety of questions is simply one answer… creativeLIVE!

Tobin discovered creativeLIVE when I took over the business of our business (you can read more about that here) and we have treated this educational resource like someone is going to give us a diploma at the end.  We have purchased over 100 classes, we have watched and rewatched, studied, discussed, practised and debated all along the way.  Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran, whether you photograph weddings, babies, fashion or food, there is something to learn.  We have watched SO many classes that if there is something specific you are struggling with, comment below and we can give you some guidance on which course is best for you.

But here’s the best thing about creativeLIVE, it isn’t only about photography.  Want to know how to do photoshop, design an interactive PDF, even manipulate code on a wordpress site?  Or how about manage your finances, build meaningful relationships or even create your own ugly Christmas sweater?  Yup!  It’s all there.

You have and will hear us talk about creativeLIVE a good amount in blogs to come.  The main reason being, we owe most of what PHOTOBIN PHOTOGRAPHY is today to creativeLIVE.  When we started our business we had a hope and a dream but no clue where to begin.  Now we have a plan of action and sustainability for our little business so we can continue to do what we love.

Thanks and have a beautiful day!

*side note* we are not sponsored by, nor affiliated with, creativeLIVE.  We do not benefit at all from you purchasing any courses.  We simply want to share the answer we found that helped get our business off the ground.

our content commitment | vancouver modern glamour portrait studio


overcome your fear and work hard for your deams

these words sat on my desktop over the past year to keep me focused!

Hi and thanks for stopping by!

Well, after a year of irresponsible blogging (as in not knowing what the heck we were doing and thinking no one was going to listen anyway, silly us ;)) we are reformed and ready to make the change.  If you decide to join us on this journey we promise to be consistent, educational, informative, opinionated, authentic and maybe even entertaining.  This is where you will get to know us and we would LOVE the chance to get to know you too so feel free to comment and start a conversation.

Yes, we are a photography studio but our blog won’t be just photo talk.  My (Sarah’s) hope is that we become a diverse resource.  As we go through this journey of life we are not JUST a photography studio, we are a married couple (for over 16 years), we are parents of young children, we are embarking on whole food cooking, we are running a business AND a household and we are doing all of this together.

To help us be consistent in our blogging (and to let you know what you can look forward to) here is our content commitment to you… though we do allow (and hope you do too) for some small variances should something super awesome happen that we want to share.

Mondays- HELLO BEAUTIFUL!– this is where I (Sarah) will share my primping and pampering tips and tricks as well as my favourite finds.  I will blog and even vlog some step by step demos.  For this one I will reach deep into my decade of esthetic expertise.

Tuesdays- HE SAID– this is where Tobin gets to share what’s on his mind.  The rants, raves and other inner workings of my modern man not put through the Sarah filter… okay, well, maybe a little filtered but, hey, I’m a totally control freak. 🙂  Tobin will share his thoughts on everything from smoothies to movies to tips on surviving crazy wife syndrome and everything in between.

Wednesdays- SHE SAID– my turn!  Here I will share what it really is like “behind the curtain”.  I will candidly share what it’s like systemizing the family and the business, balancing the notion of “having it all” with the reality of it, cooking, cleaning, co-parenting and co-working with my soul mate.  But I’m not JUST going to share but I’ll let you know what I’m doing about it.  Recipes, crafts, trials and triumphs will all be shared here.

Thursdays- PHOTOGRAPH RESPONSIBLY– this is for you photographers out there.  Tobin and I will take turns talking about our business and photography in general.  Tobin will talk the technical stuff (I’m not a photographer AT ALL) and I’ll talk business (though Tobin has AMAZING insight in business too so he’ll share as well).  What we are doing, what is working and what isn’t working.  Tobin will vlog tips and tricks from how to take a better selfie to how to pose.  We would also LOVE to know what your questions are for us.

Fridays- THEY SAID– this is where we will feature one of our clients.  We will share their story, either through their own words and photos or a video of their experience.  We can talk about what we do until we are blue in the face but we want you to hear from the people that really know what they are talking about.  The ones who have experienced for themselves!

Some posts will be long (we both can get going sometimes when given a soapbox to stand on) but some will be short and we are excited for this journey to begin.  I hope you’ll join us.

Thank and have a beautiful day!