This story begins with secrets, lies, and double-lives… sort of.
When Clarice and Stanley planned their trip from Hong Kong to Canada to visit Banff National Park and the Rocky Mountains, Stanley suggested that Clarice bring a wedding dress so they could set up a tripod and take some pre-wedding photographs (a typical Chinese tradition). They are both photography enthusiasts so it seemed like a good idea. What Clarice didn’t know, however, is that Stanley was planning on surprising her with two human tripods (named Davina and Daniel) AND an engagement ring!
We picked up Clarice and Stanley at their hotel in Banff after location scouting for the previous two days and I think we may have been even more nervous than Stanley! We kept our real names, but the story was that we were friends of Stanley’s cousin, fellow photography enthusiasts who happened to be in Banff at the same time as them, who would show them around since we had a rental car and they don’t drive. When we got to Lake Minnewanka, selected for the proposal spot for its privacy, I nervously asked Clarice and Stanley if they wanted us to take a photo of them on the rocks. I nodded to Stanley to take the ring out of his backpack while I distracted Clarice, and convinced her to leave her backpack with me. There wasn’t a single tourist around as they climbed the rocks, posed for a photo and Stanley got down on one knee and presented her with a sparkly engagement ring to the sound of a music box he had hidden in his pocket. A shocked and thrilled Clarice said “yes!” and we all got a little teary-eyed.
Able to finally reveal our real identities to Clarice, we were excited to tell them about all the great spots we’d be exploring the next day. All four of us were visiting Banff for the first time and it was truly spectacular. To have the opportunity to photograph Clarice and Stanley against these breathtaking backdrops was an experience that we will never forget. We could not have asked for a sweeter, more willing couple to go on this adventure with.
Thank you, Stanley, for inviting us along, and to Clarice for embracing the surprise and the adventure!
To see a photo from the proposal itself, head over to our Instagram page where we post behind-the-scenes photos of our travels and photoshoots, as well as (embarrassing) photos from the last 10 years of Davina + Daniel.
You might remember the Lee Family from two years ago. We travelled to Taiwan to document their family vacation to Sun Moon Lake when Esme was a feisty 2 year old and Flynn was a sleepy newborn. We were supposed to meet up with them again last year at Disney World, but unfortunately their trip was cancelled at the last minute so we missed the opportunity to photograph them there (side note, this might have been for the best as I was freshly pregnant with our daughter Charlie and let’s just say the Happiest Place on Earth was the “Puke-iest” place on earth for me!)
This time, we met up in Paris, one of our favourite cities, and we got to be the translators for a change! While the kids have grown significantly, a lot has remained the same: good appetites (I cannot get enough of watching Esme eat!), followed closely by food-comas, diaper changes on the go, tons of personality, and the occasional meltdown of course (Flynn’s turn now!).
While we love photographing weddings, there is something so incredibly special about documenting a family vacation. Travelling with our own kids is one of our greatest joys in life and being there to document the experience for another family is just so special. I love the idea that Esme and Flynn looking through these photo albums years in the future, looking back on experiences that shaped them despite not having any memories of. I just hope that our images can allow them to see how sweet and spirited and hilarious they are, and how loved they are by their parents.
We are excited to keep this tradition going and look forward to many more trips with the Lee Family!
It’s been a quiet year on our blog… but it’s been everything but quiet in our lives. 2016 was a challenging one for us in many ways, giving us one of our highest highs: our daughter Charlie, and one of our lowest lows: the sudden loss of Daniel’s father.
But back in June, before either one of these events rocked our world in completely opposite ways, there was a spontaneous trip. A trip we’d intended to take 5 years earlier for our honeymoon, but that we never got around to actually taking. It took a seat sale and our favourite motto: “Just Do It” (borrowed from Nike), to convince us, and before we knew it we were on our way to Iceland with our 2 year old son Max and my 7 month pregnant self. We rented an RV and planned a rough itinerary to take us all the way around the country in 7 days. We planned some stops, but mostly we planned to be surprised.
It’s hard to describe this place, or this trip. The scenery, the fresh air, the adventure that allowed our little family to have… it was just so special.
We pet Icelandic horses on the side of the road… danced in front of waterfalls at midnight… skipped rocks on a lake reflected by an endless sunset sky… ran through smelly sulphuric clouds on an otherworldly geothermal field… drank glacier water straight from a river… watched the waves crash into bright blue icebergs… got our hands dirty with black sand (well, that was mostly Max)… ran halfway up a mountain in the pursuit of a herd of sheep (Max again)… soaked in a 100 year old pool surrounded by mountains… and again in a cliffside hot tub at midnight… and again in a geothermal pool in the rain…
This magical place gave our family of 3.5 exactly what we needed at that moment in our lives; solidified us and gave us a life-long priceless memory just before life threw some major changes and challenges our way. We can’t wait to return when the kids are older and make some new memories in a land that now holds so much meaning to us.