Updated: Jul 5, 2019
When a family asks me where they should have their photo session a flood of locations comes to mind.
I decided to map out my favourite locations, and as I pinned them to a map, a surprise emerged.
A river that I had never paid attention to before was the inspiration for so much adventure. It was in so many of my photos, and had soaked my shoes so many times, but until now, I hadn't even noticed it.
I knew that there was water, but not that it had all been one river; the Moira River.
It shouldn't be so surprising because rivers are often the source of life for a community. The Amazon, the Nile, the Jordan, the Mississippi. Life finds it's way to a river.
Of all my favourite places, there isn't one that is better than the other. The fun is in taking a family to each spot over the years and having a new adventure along the Moira River with each photo session.
Vanderwater Conservation Area
Vanderwater is a quiet conservation area north of Belleville. The shallow water and flat rocks are irresistible. It's the best place to play in the Moira River.
I insist that you play. Or, at least let your kids play. Playful exploration and laughter is in their nature. When your family is at play, you're being real. You won't feel like you have to force a smile for the camera.
If your time together is all about "the session" then it's no fun and the photos are forced. If we just let it be about real life, then great moments happen naturally.
Hideaways on the River
Plainfield and Corbyville, ON
There are all sorts of hidden spots along the river that only the locals know.
Sometimes these hideaways are the best spot for photos. Not because of the location itself, but because this is where the mask comes off.
This is where they leave work behind. This is where it's quiet. This is where they go and what they do when nobody is demanding anything from them.
I swear an oath never to give away the location of their hideaway. All I can tell you is that it's on the Moira.
If you grew up in the Quinte region, you must have taken a class trip to the Frink Centre.
The Frink Centre was an oasis from the boring routine of school. The bus driver let us off in this wild place where even the "classrooms" were in the woods.
During winter months we'd learn to snowshoe through the trails, orienteering our way through the woods. In spring we'd scoop tadpoles out of the pond, meeting back at the portables to study our findings with the research equipment next to the indoor beehive.
During my last class trip we had an epic game of capture the flag, where all those skills we had learned as little kids found their fulfillment in conquering the other team and claiming ultimate victory.
Then I went off to high school and forgot all about the Frink Centre. Come to think of it, I didn't even know where it was on the map. It was like a mythical part of my past.
As time went on, I had completely forgotten that wonderful part of my childhood - until I met a family who took me there for their photo session. I remember what it felt like the first time I went back. Everything was just how I'd left it as a kid - even the sign that said, "Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures."
I want your kids to have that feeling of stepping back into history one day in the future when they flip through their family photos. There's nothing like discovering photos that represent a part of your childhood. When you're a kid you're just living and life unfolds as an adventure. But when you're an adult you long for those days when you were a kid. Photos of you and your parents (and grandparents) together become priceless.
The Frink Centre boardwalk provides such a beautiful backdrop for photos. Kids love it because they can spot turtles, tadpoles and little fish along the way.
The Moira cuts through Riverside Park, which is actually a whole network of parks in the heart of Belleville.
For a tiny window in late spring there are blossoms. You have to go off the path to find them though. But I always take you a little off the path anyway.
In summertime, the sunset filters through the willows and kids race to see who can make the biggest splash throwing rocks into the river. Little ones try to skip stones like their dad.
When it comes to Christmas photos, we can skip the manicured tree farms and explore the wild evergreens that grow by the Moira.
Downtown Belleville, Ontario
The Moira reaches home in the Bay of Quinte, another of Belleville's inspiring bodies of water.
Along the shores of the bay are trails, parks, gardens and harbours. Kids love the wildlife, being kindred spirits with the turtles, baby swans, geese and ducks that roam free.
Call to Adventure
Quinte Conservation Area
The Moira isn't content to flow straight from Tweed to the Bay of Quinte. Like a kid full of energy, it begins to make it's own path.
There's a little creek that breaks off from the Moira River. It sneaks it's way through Belleville, finding it's own hideaway in the Quinte Conservation Area.
The QCA is one of my favourite places to take families because there is so much fun there. Sometimes we start at the big barn (kids always want to figure out what is inside). A little hike takes us through little meadows, apple blossoms (in May), and under a train bridge. A big fallen tree crosses the creek and it just begs you to find your balance and walk across it.
Potter's Creek passes along a network of trails and eventually finds it's way into the Bay of Quinte.
Regardless of where we end up, I don't think of it as a photo session.
It's family time and I'm there as your photographer to help preserve a little part of your journey together. One day those photos will be treasured by your kids. And some day, they just might bring there own kids along for some family time on the Moira.
To Book Your Session:
Or, follow the link below.
Hi, I'm Mat!
I want you to round up the people you love most and find a special place to enjoy your family photo session.
It could be on the shores of the Bay of Quinte, somewhere up the Moira River, or your own hideaway.
Get in touch with me to book a photo session. We'll call it family time and make some memories.