In October, I met the Sandau family at Kelso Conservation Area in Milton on the most gorgeous, unseasonably warm, evening. This was my first time visiting Kelso, so I excitedly arrived early to take a look around. I’d driven past the conservation/ski park a thousand times, but never visited to see the beautiful views from the top of the Niagara Escarpment. With lots of vibrant orange and yellow leaves on the trees and ground, it was the perfect time of year to shoot family portraits high up at the top of the hill. Before you get to take in the breath-taking view, the hike up the trail will take the breath out of you – but it’s all worth it.
Angela & Brian’s 7-year-old, Addis insisted on not leaving his stuffed dog, Barky, out of the family photos. Barky even got a new outfit to match for the occasion, so of course, he got his own solo portrait (which Angela noted made his day when he saw the resulting photos). The most perfect, golden, late-day sunlight made the beautiful fall colours pop and created a perfect atmosphere for a quiet evening hike.
After checking out the view, the four of us continued along the trail into the forest. There, Addis found a walking stick, which quickly became a stabbing stick. My favourite moment of the shoot was when I asked the trio to crouch down, along the trail, for a quick photo. Addis wrapped his arm around his mom, Angela’s neck and leaned into his dad, Brian. This motion pulled Angela off balance and the whole group would have toppled over, if it weren’t for Brian swooping in to support the group. The near-disaster made for a shared hilarious, genuine moment of laughter and the resulted in some of the best smiles of the day.
Addis beat Brian at rock-paper-scissors to get to be the one to retrieve their wagon from where it was abandoned earlier in the shoot. The small boy filled to the top with enthusiasm started down the hill with a bit too much speed, resulting in total loss of control of the vehicle and he had to bail before making it to the bottom. Thankfully, daredevil Addis made it out with nothing but a scratch on his leg and got to relax in the wagon all the way back down the trail.
It was such a pleasure to get to know the Sandau Family during their shoot and I’m looking forward to shooting an updated set of photos this year.