Author Archives: Julia Pelish

Mom with new baby Shay. (©Julia Pelish Photography)

Come on In

Siddhi is already dispensing beauty tips. (©Julia Pelish Photography)

When the weather outside is frightful (like cold and wintery), opting for an on-location outdoor photo shoot may not be ideal. A cozier idea is to bring the studio inside and take advantage of what this offers: consistent lighting, smart posing and letting the image focus on the subject above all else. It has the added bonus of keeping kids in the comfort of their homes, surrounded by the toys and games that put them at ease. Of course a spectacular outdoor setting can really lend a lovely backdrop to a portrait but there are challenges with that scenario too: light that changes often and quickly; annoyances like bugs, sand, heat, wind and humidity; bathrooms may not be close by and you know what a hassle that can turn into with kids.

Sashiv just being him and what’s not to love? (©Julia Pelish Photography)

All the challenges of an outdoor shoot are eliminated when creating portraits within a studio setting. Studios can be as mobile as the photographer. Lights and backdrops can break down and pack up nicely, fitting into the car and reassembled at the shoot location. And these images do not have to be stiff and boring either, they can be a chance to create classic and beautifully lit portraits. To add variety, lights can be moved around, colour gels can be added to lights, outfits can be changed and different props can be added.

Sashiv has all the right moves. (©Julia Pelish Photography)

These portraits were all taken one Sunday afternoon at the home of one of my favourite clients. I brought a black backdrop (only 6 feet wide) knowing that the clients planned on dressing in white and black. I used three lights, one in a large softbox, and two bouncing out of umbrellas. I was about half hour into the shoot when everyone kind of forgot about the big light and backdrop sitting in their living room and had a blast. We did quite a variety of poses too and it seemed like chaos some of the time but when all was said and done, we agreed we got some wonderful shots of a beautiful family that includes a new addition.

I love these portraits too, mainly for the beauty of the light and the classic feel. For both of the older kids we used props that interested them so they could interact and be themselves.

Dad joins mom posing with new baby Shay, who apparently sleeps very well! (©Julia Pelish Photography)

In one, Siddhi shows how she applies her makeup and in another Sashiv is demonstrating his Justin Bieber dance moves. They make great images because the focus is totally concentrated on the subject. On the last sample here, I recreated the backdrop in the digital darkroom (using Photoshop) to further make the image unique.

The key to success in a studio setting is to get all set up with lights and backdrop before the shoot begins, coordinate wardrobe and backdrop choices, bring music and treats, put on some smiles and have fun.

Siddhi is a charmer and poses like a pro. (©Julia Pelish Photography)

©Julia Pelish Photography


I met Joya Paul when I attended an open studio tour at the Casegoods Warehouse in the Distillery District a couple years back. Joya is a successful encaustic artist and seeing her work for the first time just blew me away. After talking a bit we exchanged contact information and stayed in touch and became friends.

©Julia Pelish Photography


I have watched her art career expand and her family grow since we have met. So it was an honour that she requested a family portrait session from me. We got together on a Saturday about 3 weeks ago to make it happen.

We did get lucky too. The early evening light was pretty magical on Lake Ontario; delicate clouds set against pastel blue skies and water. The background resembled a romantic landscape painting, and lent such beauty to the final image. I brought two lights with me to balance out the exposure and we captured some wonderful moments.

I like to create unique backgrounds for my portraits using colours, textures and brushes to achieve custom images, which is what I did to the portrait shown below.

©Julia Pelish Photography


Joya is planning to further enhance one or more of these images using her encaustic painting techniques to create her own masterpiece. And when she is finished with the project, I will share a photograph of the completed piece so you can see the gorgeous effect from her artistry. Perhaps it will be something you may wish to consider in the future too.

©Julia Pelish Photography

Riverdale Farm charms during family portrait session

©Julia Pelish Photography


Recently I had the joy of doing a family portrait session for clients whose wedding I had photographed in Vancouver. They were visiting Toronto and I was thrilled to see them and to be introduced to the newest family member — an adorable and confident girl named Nessa. It has been four years since their wedding day and probably almost that long since I had last seen them. Fast forward and now we were meeting again here in a new park and new city looking to create images of this new milestone in their lives.

©Julia Pelish Photography


We met at Riverdale Farm on a warm fall morning and like all children Nessa was instantly captivated by the animals and became immersed in the historic zoo’s fun atmosphere. Photographing children in their element is always rewarding. The unrehearsed joy they exude when they discover the world around them is priceless and translates into many photo ops.

@Julia Pelish Photography


During the photo session, I documented their visit to the farm that’s within Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood. Nessa and her parents visited with ducks, goats, donkeys and pigs, and also enjoyed the flower gardens. It was wonderful to have our paths cross again and the best part for me came when Nessa gave me a heartfelt hug making me feel like one wonderful family photographer! Now really, who can resist a reward like that?

©Julia Pelish Photography

outdoor family portrait

An outdoor family portrait makes a great gift that can be enjoyed all year. (©Julia Pelish Photography)

It is hard to find a backdrop that can surpass nature in its capacity to lend beauty to an image. Carefully choosing the right location can elevate an otherwise very simple setup into a classic one-of-a-kind image. It also establishes a sense of place that helps root the image to the subject’s particular life story. Weather permitting, I love shooting outdoors — and that is the big ‘if’ since even the Accuweather forecast can sometimes be, well, inaccurate.

Scouting out the location and noting the lighting conditions prior to the day of the shoot will make the ‘day of’ go smoothly. For this image, I consulted with the clients and they suggested we shoot in a park close to their home where they often walk their dog. The wanted a casual look that showed them happy together on a summer afternoon and it was a portrait that their father wished to have for his home. I found this ideal nook where the trees provided even shade and we decided to set up there. The nicest part was being able to utilize the natural ambient light to create lovely highlight effects onto my client’s hair. I added two strobes reflected out of umbrellas to fill in the shadows and balance out the exposure.

My clients felt relaxed and at home in this environment and at this time in their life. My hope is that this portrait captured that feeling completely.