Thursday, 18 October 2012

Unity Candle Ceremony

Couple weeks ago I was invited to take photos of the event that was organized by my co-worker.  This was the first time I've seen Unity Candle Ceremony. But before going into the ballroom all the guests gathered at the nice park.

The weather was great, warm & sunny. Everyone who came to the park were close friends of the couple. There were lots of families, kids and grand parents.

I'll come back to the ceremony and will tell you more about it. The lighting of a unity candle is a relatively recent addition to the traditional wedding ceremony. The unity candle ceremony uses two taper candles with a large pillar candle (called the "unity candle") in the center. 

 At the beginning of the wedding ceremony, a representative from each family (usually the mothers of the bride and groom) light the two taper candles. Later in the ceremony (usually after the formal vows), the bride and groom use the two taper candles to light the large pillar (unity) candle together. The candles are almost always white. The lighting ceremony may be accompanied by special music, reading of a vow, an explanation of the symbolism.

It is sometimes performed to symbolize the joining together of the two families, and their love for the bride and the groom, into one united family that loves the new husband and wife. More often it is to symbolize the union of two individuals, becoming one in commitment. The popular explanation is that the taper candles are lit by representatives from each family to symbolize the love and allegiance that each family has for either the bride or the groom. As the bride and groom use these two flames to light the unity candle, they bring the love of both families together in a united love of the new couple.

  Generally, the two tapers are left burning and replaced in their holders (because each family's love for their own will continue). However, in some ceremonies they may blow out their individual candles. The Unity Candle is saved and kept by the couple, to be lighted on each wedding anniversary, as a reminder of this first day when they gave their promise to each other. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Jenny's Debut

The Debut is a traditional Filipino coming-of-age celebration for young women.
On their 18th birthday, Filipinas customarily throw a large party, complete with a her own hand-picked entourage of 18 people or sets of 18. These 18 are 9 males and 9 females who the celebrant pairs off into partners. The celebrant's court usually wears a uniform formal outfit chosen by the celebrant, similar to the dress of a wedding party, while the celebrant herself typically wears an extravagant gown.

The birthday celebrant along with her partner and court perform traditional dances for their guests. The most important one is known as the "Grand Cotillion Dance" which is usually a classic waltz. There is also an "18 Roses Dance", where 18 males picked by the celebrant beforehand dance with her after presenting her with a single red rose. This dance is almost always preceded or concluded with the memorable "Father and Daughter Dance", the father sometimes taking the place of the 18th rose (who is sometimes the girl's boyfriend).
During the celebration, the debutante also has 18 chosen "candles". These "candles" are females who know the celebrant and must give a short speech on either their relationship with the celebrant and/or any special birthday wishes they have for their celebrant. After all the food, entertainment, and Philippine Debut traditions for this occasion has gone under way, the celebrant brings the celebration to a close with a Debutante's speech in which she shares her life experience and gratitude with her guests.

Monday, 16 July 2012

I recently I discovered for myself a night flash photography and decided to brush my skills up a bit. I remembered about my friend's place that has an access to the roof top. Not many buildings normally have it. Usually there are private patios that belong to penthouses and only few people can enjoy them. So, I was lucky to get to one roof in Yaletown, the trendy and upscale urban neighbourhood of downtown Vancouver. I made couple of shoots there and some time later my other friend took me to the roof of Woodward's Building ("W" for short) that is in Gastown, a national historic site of the city. I was taking photos before, during and after the sunset. There are now words to describe the beauty of the night city with all its colours, fresh ocean breeze, yummy smells from top notch restaurants and pubs. Very magical and special is the feeling you get being on the level of 44th floor. While getting upstairs of those buildings I could not pass without noticing the staircases, textured walls, social rooms and other amenities of both architectural pieces and took several photos inside as well. Big "thank you" to the models I worked with and other people who came to help and support. After that I decided to make my own collection of Vancouver night views and take night flash portraits of people from different roofs, balconies and patios. So, if you know one spot- give me a shout. 

With all my love,


Monday, 28 May 2012

Beauty Queen

Guess everyone loves to decorate their living space with photographs - photos of the family, friends and oneself. Time came to look at my walls and I decided to hang photos of me and my husband in some simple minimal black frames as it fits the most in my apartment and matches the furniture. One evening I opened my quite huge Aperture photolibrary to choose three or four photos, spent more then an hour and could find just one or two that were “kinda” ok but could be better. That was a discovery – a photographer that doesn’t have her own photos. How could I have missed myself?

Photograper: Valeriya Zhmak
Model: myself Katya Smol
Edited by me at Zodiac Photography studio

Fortunately, I have several friends that are also in this field and take wonderful photos. So, not waiting any longer I’ve organized a small fun shoot and with a talented photographer and editor of Russian World newspaper published in Vancouver and Seattle. I decided to start with myself and she suggested me to try to step into a model’s shoes and get the feeling and experience of what it takes to be on the otherside of a view finder. Should admit it was not that easy, so many things to watch for – hair, pose, hands, chin, facial expression, being natural, relaxed, not to fake smile; have I mentioned pose, hands and hair?... Oh….  To make the long story short, it was lots of fun and lots of creativity when two talanted people meet and work together.

Photograper: Valeriya Zhmak
Model: myself Katya Smol
Edited by me at Zodiac Photography Studio

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Vancouver at Night

Here are couple of photos of the night scenes in Vancouver. This is a city with lots f contrasts. Along with dirty dusty concrete allays there are beautiful parks, water views and incredible architecture pieces. Another big contrast of the city is its day beauty and calmness that is followed by colourful night vibe of Yaletown restaurants, pubs and Granville Street clubs.  

On April 21, 2012 me and my husband decided to go for a nigh walk with the camera and tripod. It's not hard to take such photos but every time is amazing what you can get, how colours and lights will be reflected in the water, would it be a clear sky with tons of stars and the Moon and if you could catch them as well. This exact night was a little cloudy so there was no moon or stars but still the views of renovated Science World, BC Place and English Bay are totally stunning. Should admit that was a pretty romantic walk, came back home almost at midnight tired but happy.

Friday, 6 April 2012


Another gorgeous girl and beautiful boudoir photo shoot done by Zodiac Photography.

What is interesting is that even we are using same settings and interior all photos are different for every client as all ladies have their own individual image, style and character.

That's why I love taking those boudoir photos as they allow to capture those intimate moments of a woman being herself when she is happy or sad, dreaming of the future, doing make up, getting a bubble bath after a stressful day at work, or getting ready for a date.