My name is Shawna (she/her) and I am a wedding photographer originally from Vancouver, Canada. My middle name is Rae, given to me by my mom because she's kind of a hippy (her thought- my baby is like a ray of sunshine!!!!!) but not enough to spell it like she is. My last name you can't pronounce, so I won't go there. I have been travelling all across this great, big world, which started as a solo trip, but in 2015 I picked up this crazy Belgian guy along the way and just couldn't get rid of him ever since! Turned out I had met the love of my life, and he's recently put a ring on my finger, so I've packed up once again and moved to Ghent, Belgium.
The serious bits: A graduate from photography school, I've been shooting professionally since 2013. My specialties are elopements, weddings, honeymoons... anything to do with love - including classy boudoir! I love the way a camera sits in my hand, the sound of the shutter clicking, and the anticipation of seeing those photos on the computer. It's one of those passions that gets me so excited that when I start doing it, suddenly it's three days later and I haven't eaten, slept, or showered since.
A few things about me: as an outdoorsy person, I love being in nature. I’m down for adventure any day and find happiness when I’m surrounded by mountains. My favourite drink is green tea. My favourite food is lasagna, although it's a tough one because I'm definitely a foodie. I eat (whole foods) plant-based because I am against animal cruelty, for the planet, and want to know I did my best to live a healthy life. I'm a huge environment geek and try to lower my footprint whenever I can (#zerowaste #takethetrain). Some of my favourite things to do are yoga, rock climbing, hiking, and camping in the wilderness with a cozy fire to curl up by. I love multi-day hikes in particular - you know they’re going to be difficult, sweaty, and painful at times, and you have to gather the courage to begin them; but they are always worth the effort! Kind of like marriage, perhaps?
I'm looking for couples who are FEARLESS and ready to show their vulnerable side. Ones who are not afraid to let the wind blow through their hair and are ready to EMBRACE the mess. I need you to be an expert at looking deeply in your partner's eyes and letting your knees get a little weak. A couple who wants to nuzzle their faces together while remembering the moment when one of you popped the question, and the other one answered HECK YEAH. Show me some RAW AF kisses like you haven’t seen each other in years! Are you prepared to not hold back and ready to show me how much you love your partner in crime? Did I hear a YES? Well, let's pump up the energy and grab the essentials (a speaker with good tunes, a flask or a bottle of champagne, and some sunglasses or a headlamp). Let's tighten up those hiking boots, and let's create what you'll one day refer to as "the good ol' days." I want to make sure you're feeling relaxed and chill during our sessions, so let me know what brings you to your happy place! Nothing to see but GOOD VIBES here.
I love taking my new friends (I'm talking about YOU) on little adventures, whether that’s deep in the woods, up in the mountains, or on a stroll through a cute village. I prefer to get away from the crowds and chase the sun’s warm, evening glow before it sets, or embrace it as a new day appears. That being said, sometimes the crowded places are full of people for a reason - they can be some of the most beautiful locations and I won’t hesitate to butt people out of the way if I need to. If you do choose a more touristy spot, I recommend weekdays, off-season months, and definitely sunrise (or sunset) for beating the crowds.
If you’ve read this far, I’m sure we are a perfect match! If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. I want to make sure you're confident about your wedding day and will answer anything you're unsure of. Click right HERE to go to my contact form.
This is that Belgian guy I mentioned earlier! I know 2020 was a mess of a year, but for me it ended up with a beautiful bang when my partner in crime asked me to marry him. After all of our travel plans for the year got cancelled, we had to figure out a new direction. We were living in New Zealand and had planned to backpack to Belgium via Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, China, Mongolia, Russia, and eastern Europe starting around May. Since that didn’t work out and our flights were all cancelled, we made the decision to fly to my home in Canada and hang out there for summer.
We did a final road trip through New Zealand, sold our car, donated what we didn’t need, and enjoyed two weeks of quarantine in Vancouver. Once we were out, we spent our time doing little road trips, hikes, and rock climbing. We embraced the outdoors as much as we could while we were there and soaked up the beauty of my mountainous homeland (Belgium is quite flat, if you didn’t know). He would need to go to Belgium eventually because his Canadian visa wouldn’t last forever. Since winter was coming, we did one final road trip through the Rocky Mountains before he left.
We took the long route, as we usually do, and got to spend some time camping with friends in the wilderness and enjoying the breathtaking views with half the tourists. On our way back home, we made a stop at quaint and serene Emerald Lake. That's where we love the colour of the water the most, because of its vibrant green, glassy waters. Harry so badly wanted to rent a canoe, which I thought was weird because we normally don’t care to spend money on touristy things like that (we are backpackers, after all). Also he had canoed on that lake several times in the past when he worked for a tour company and took people there every other weekend. But, I said alright, LET'S DO IT, we’ve never done it together before!
We arrived just in time for the last canoe as they were about to close. We paddled out to the middle of the lake and off to the side where there weren’t many people. I was in the front, and he in the back. Then he asked me to turn around. So I started paddling on one side to turn the boat around. Turns out, that wasn’t what he meant, so I got the hint, and there he was holding his hands out to take mine. Then he asked me to be with him for the rest of our lives!
We were really lucky to have had a wonderful couple paddling by take this photo, it meant the world to me. Even though my car was slowly breaking down, forest fires were raging just south of the border (you can see the smoke in the photo), and the ‘Rona was spreading all over the world, none of that mattered in this moment. Having this photo really gave me an appreciation for my own work; photography really is priceless.
I'll keep this as short as possible, because I could talk about this forever. It's impossible to deny that our planet's health is declining because of our actions, so I try to do my part. Here are some of the things I do: walking/biking/public transport and taking trains/buses over flying, buying second hand, rewilding with what little space I have, refusing before reusing before recycling, composting properly, having a Tupperware fetish to avoid food waste that has allowed me leftovers for days, and switched to a vegan (mainly whole-foods-plant-based) diet. How can you make your day as eco friendly as possible, even when you want to have a destination wedding? Not only do I have all the tips, I have a legit document full of suggestions on how you can make your day more conscious- JUST ASK! This one is free regardless of whether you hire me or not.
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action
I'm am accepting of everyone, no matter who they are and/or who they choose to be. This one is just so obvious to me- how could you not let someone be who they truly are? Why would you not? What threat is it to you if their skin is a different colour? Why should some people be denied the extra help they need to have equal access to society? It baffles my mind. So this is a safe space, please be you and rock your own socks off. My camera prefers authenticity anyway!
Animal Rights + Empathy
I am NON-JUDGEMENTAL- please don't be afraid if you're not vegan or vegetarian! I don't bite, I swear; my friends come from all walks of life.
Yes, I believe animals have rights too. I'm vegan for several reasons, but this is a huge part of it. And why is empathy in the same section? Because I'm an extremely empathetic person (as you'll find out as the three of us are bawling our eyes out as you say your vows), and that's what brought me to veganism. I can imagine myself being in the situations those poor animals get put in, and it breaks my heart, it scares me that humans can let this happen. I won't go too far into detail, but if you want more information, again feel free to reach out. I will never, EVER judge you for your eating habits, I just think it's great whatever positive changes you're thinking about making (or that you've already made) for the animals, the environment, and your own health. (PS- you know, vegan catering exists, and it's freaking AMAZE-BALLS).