Hello! My name is Dallas and I'm a photographer and makeup artist based in Toronto, Ontario. This blog features a collection of my latest photo work, along with lots of makeup tutorials and stories of my everyday life. Thanks for stopping by, and don't be shy to visit my website or say hello.


the feeling of fragrance | roses

It's time for the next edition of my The Feeling of Fragrance series, where I show you the final image that was included in my collection, then share some other options and talk about the stories behind the images. Today I'm sharing shots from my "Roses" portrait. Here is the image from the show:

These portraits were shot in late September, 2014, just around the corner from my apartment. We shot in the quickly fading light of dusk, with almost no direct light. In fact, many of these portraits were done after the sun had set using only the lingering ambient light and shot at a high ISO. I chose the shot above as my final image after much internal debate and suggestions from family and friends. I landed on that image because it captured the feeling of buying or receiving a giant bouquet of roses, and the buoyant effect their aroma can have on your mood. I think my friend Paige did a wonderful job of embodying that blissful feeling where just for a moment your reality is elevated by a fragrance alone.

The coolest thing about prepping for this shoot was walking home from different flower shops with all the roses I bought. Almost every person I passed would break into a grin when they spotted the bouquet. A lot of people even said "aw, for me?" or "congratulations!" as they passed.

I wanted this look to be very natural. Paige arrived with her hair and makeup done, so I just added a few touches of products that I always use for natural light portraits, such as luminous cream and extra blush. And though it took me a few tries to get the colour right, I finally found the perfect lip shade to complement Paige's both colouring and the roses. Part of the reason I asked Paige to model for this portrait is that I thought her peaches and cream complexion and vibrant hair would look really lovely with the multi-hued roses.

While scouring the entire west end of Toronto for roses (I'm not exaggerating!) and finding so few, I discovered that early fall is when many florists have their lowest stock of roses. Obviously they stock up for the holiday season, Valentine's Day and springtime, but apparently roses just don't sell well in the fall. Luckily, I found Poppies, and the friendly ladies who work there were able to help me. The introduced me to the creamy/pale yellow roses in the bouquet known as Crème de la Crème, which are incredibly gorgeous and startlingly fragrant.

Paige, thank you so much for spending an evening with me in your very chic outfit. I appreciate your time and assistance so much!


2014 goodreads challenge

Are you on Goodreads? If you're a book lover, it's the best! Both the website and complementary app are a lot of fun, and quite helpful for both organizing your current reads and discovering new books. At the beginning of last year, I noticed they pose a Reading Challenge to their members, so I decided to join in. It's totally customizable, so you set your own goal in terms of how much you plan to read. Once you've got it set up, you can track your progress and also see what your friends who are participating are reading. It's basically just a good tool to keep you encouraged and organized.

Reading has always been one of my top sources of inspiration and the stories I read always fuel my work. As much as I love television and film, the written word is the medium that engages my spirit the most. Sitting down with a book and a cup of tea or a glass of wine is just heavenly, and I found that pushing myself to read consistently this year made me a more relaxed person overall. When life gets too crazy, taking even 10 minutes to sit and read is my form of meditation. My goal was to read 40 books for the challenge and I ended up reading 41. That's definitely the most I read in a year since grad school and it was glorious!

Here is everything I read, ranked in order. If you love to read, I hope you'll check out some of these gems yourself. Anything in the 4-5 stars range is truly exceptional, and many of the three stars books are worth reading too. I'd love to know if any of you have read anything on my list and what your favourites were. And if you're into being book nerd friends, here's my Goodreads profile.

Rating System:

***** Took my breath away and/or broke my heart
****   Excellent stories that I could read again and again
***    Solid, satisfying/fun reads
**      Left much to be desired
*       Definitely worth skipping

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer
The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls
Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Nose by James Conaway
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfiled
Hello New York: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Five Boroughs by Julia Rothman
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard
The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Percy Jackson and The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Complexion Perfection by Kate Somerville
The Venetian Years by Giacomo Casanova
The Innocent by David Baldacci
The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
Annie Leibovitz at Work by Annie Leibovitz

The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferris

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

I'm doing the challenge again this year, but this time around I'll do two things differently. Whereas last year I just kind of read anything I stumbled upon or whatever people lent to me, this year I'm really going to choose my books thoughtfully and focus on stuff I've been meaning to read forever or new stories that I'm really excited about. I also want to read more books about business, marketing, personal finance and creativity rather than just fiction. In fact, it's always nice to read fiction and non-fiction concurrently. If you've got any recommendations, I'd love to hear them. Happy reading!


2014 highlights

When I think about 2014, I feel grateful for so many things. For every client, model, editor and creative collaborator. For every friend who offered an encouraging word. For every person who recommended my services. For every family member who supported me in myriad ways. For every fellow photographer who inspired me. And for you, dear readers, for following along. This past year was stimulating and wonderful and so full of experimentation and fun because of all of you. Your trust and encouragement pushed me to push myself as an artist and business owner. The momentum you've given me has carried into the present and I can't wait to see what 2015 brings. Thank you so much. Here are some of my favourite images from the past year.






I've got a few more projects from 2014 that haven't been shared yet, but I'm excited to show some peeks in the future!