Lighthouse Cafe in Smiths Falls

Did you know that Smiths Falls has a cafe that is independent, gorgeous, has game nights, space to meet people and delicious coffee and handmade food?

Susie and Dan, owners of @thelighthousecafesfs, had me over yesterday to make pictures and it was awesome.

There are so many special touches they’ve added to make meeting up with new and old friends (including a pay it forward system and free fruit) that I’m looking forward to my next visit (when I’ll have another latte with a Reuben sandwich on waffles).

Jacqui’s Headshot Session

Have you met someone who is a unique combination of kindness, enthusiastic creativity, and a get-things-done drive? I have and got to make headshots for her.

Jacqui is one of the busiest people I know but my history with her goes back to when she made Wedding Cakes and then moved into the wedding photography field and has expanded through photography genres (website link) printing and now custom embroidery.

Photographing another photographer always comes with shared stories and discussions on the latest equipment and software updates, at one point I shared how a combination of a grey backdrop and by using Photoshop’s AI I could put her on a casino floor, so I did.

Portrait Masters 2024

On Wednesday the Portrait Masters Awards were announced and I’m happy to share that the two entries I made (in the wedding photography category) placed in the top 20.

A little bit about the Portrait Masters and their judging process. 

The judges are internationally renowned photographers, they’ve been there, they’ve done the work themselves and they have seen it all. Having these images judged by them is an honour in its own right as they have a reputational interest to only acknowledge what they see as the best. It has to be a tough gig as they sort through more than 4,000 entries twice a year.

You can see the latest award-winning images and judge for yourself at is inspiring to see the works of amazing photographers from around the world and humbling to have our collaborative work displayed alongside theirs. 

For me, collaborative work involves many people from creative couples (in these pictures, Stacey & Ryan and Monica & Stuart) and their enthusiastic wedding parties & guests, to the abundance of vendors (including venues Ecotay and Britannia Yacht Club) who were on point both days. My direct collaborators/assistants/second shooters on these days, Frank M Zrinyi and Jack Fenn, were invested in making the day and the pictures memorable by not only carrying equipment, holding lights and taking pictures themselves but by keeping everything on the organizational rails and coming up with fresh ideas to “plus” the pictures along the way.

Family Session in Studio

I’ve been photographing Nora and Rob’s family pictures since their wedding 17 years ago and they continue to be a fun group to interact with. Nora even made her own “foil hat” from the aluminum foil we use to control hair static, as it turns out she shared with me that she wished she had a version without the hat and in black  white. 

Keeping up with Photoshop techniques and taking advantage of a full-suite subscription is essential as a photographer so fixed it for her.

Bryan Jones Personal Branding Headshots

My friend, and fellow photographer, Bryan Jones, visited my Smiths Falls Studio today.
Naturally, we made some new headshots for him - but with a twist, I used a 24mm (wide angle) T/S lens which is normally used for architectural photography (tilt function, hence the blurry beard in one of the pictures with dramatic focus on his eyes) as well as my 70-200 mm for better compression.

First Headshot Session in the new Smiths Falls Studio

John shared with me that his teenage daughter questioned him as to “Why?” he needed a headshot.

It’s a fair question.

Blink The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell, answers this question in great detail (I highly recommend it) and I’ll summarize my takeaway as it relates to why people need professional headshots:

1. We live in an overstimulated world and people make snap judgments based on appearance

2. Like it or not, that judgment becomes your brand

3. Your brand, starts with a professional profile image (a headshot) that projects your professionalism, friendliness, and competence that you share on your website and social sites

In the words of Doc Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy:

Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”

In the words of Doc Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy:

Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”

First (unofficial) Session in the Studio

The first, albeit unofficial, session was a test session with our 3-month-old puppy, Poppy. 

In a new space test sessions are important, but this one was even more important. Here is why…

Puppies move around.  A lot. 

You want to catch them without having them blurry, that’s why flashes have always been important. They freeze motion. 

But people, and animals, don’t always appreciate having their retinas burned out.

So, in my main studio, I tested continuous (not flashing) lights through softboxes with a fast shutter speed.

And it worked.

The technology in cameras and lighting gear have come to a high-quality crossroads so people (or pets) don’t need to be flashed to freeze them, not all of the time but in a studio setting it is pretty darn good.

And now, if you’re sensitive to flashes I don’t need to use them

Speaking of technology, Photoshop has had more updates in the last three months than they’ve had in the last 30 years (or so it would seem). So I played with some Photoshop AI to put her in a castle.

And of course, while we are here, here are more pictures of Poppy.

New Studio Opening in Smiths Falls January 13, 2024

Preparations are underway to set up shop at The Artisan Village at the Falls.

Frank Fenn Photographer - Studio 11

10 Maple Avenue - Smiths Falls ON K7A 1Z5

In Studio I will be making Headshots, Personal Branding, School Pictures, and Contemporary Portraits (and Passport Photographs) by reservation. 

Stay tuned for my Vernissage (a fancy word for Open House) Event!

Here is a link to online reservations: LINK

What’s been going on lately?

A lot!

During October we photographed Kristi & Becc’s wedding at KS on The Keys

While preparing the Hazeldean Mall Holiday Studio for Santa, then launching Santa visits at the beginning of November

Photographed the Perth Chamber of Commerce Awards Night

Hired and trained all of the staff for Hazeldean and Billings Bridge Santa presentations…and took time to be photographed with Santa and Mean Green Santa

Brought Santa to the Kanata Santa Claus Parade

Now as I manage both Santa locations I’m getting ready to open and launch a studio in a new space in Smiths Falls!

Portrait Masters 2023

This picture was judged to place in the top 20 (albeit as no. 20) alongside hundreds of other entries from around the world in the wedding category by international professional photographers who have significant accolades of their own.

When I was a judge in the ICSC Maple Leaf Awards one piece of, somewhat subjective, advice offered to me by a fellow judge stuck with me, and what I want to believe judges feel when they look at art:

”After you’ve given your score, ask yourself, do I wish I was responsible for this entry?”

It isn’t about pride or envy, it is about recognizing that something is worthy.

That sinks in.

If you’d like to see some inspiring, best-in-the-world as judged by professionals in the industry (as in, not a popularity contest) portrait photography click this LINK

Ottawa Street Portraits with Keriana

Keriana is a competitor in Irish Dance who I’ve been photographing since she was a baby. 

I’ve been discussing making Ottawa street portraits with her mother, Laura, for a few years along the lines of the work by Jordan Matter.

The Byward Market was a natural choice followed by a walk to the Rideau Canal Celtic Cross.

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