My first trip, post-pandemic: Edmonton, Alberta

My trip to Edmonton, Alberta to visit friends and take some senior portraits was a great first trip after being mostly home for two years.  It’s a beautiful city surrounded by gorgeous natural areas.  It kind of reminded me of central Pennsylvania but with a much bigger city than State College.  And I could have easily spent several more weeks just finding beautiful spots to take photos.

I’ve never been a big traveler.  Beyond the summer week at the beach, we don’t really do a ton of traveling.  The expense.  The planning.  My eating issues (celiac).  It can make planning a trip daunting.  But as I get older, I’m determined to do more traveling.

And this trip was my first time visiting another country solo!  (Yes, I’m going to be proud of that accomplishment!)

As you will see, Edmonton is beautiful and a perfect location for some senior and family portraits!

Portraits and Poutine

So how did I end up doing senior portraits in Edmonton?  One of my best friends has lived there for almost 20 years after being from the western PA and Ohio areas.  Every year or 2 they would make a trip out to visit family and catch up with friends.  We would also do family photos on those visits.  This year it was finally my turn to visit them. 

Combining a visit and portraits is definitely a challenge but my friend was on the ball and it was great to plan this with her.  We had to work together to come up with location options.  I relied heavily on google maps and street view to get an idea of the layout of the city and possible parks.  My friend also scouted locations before I got there.  With just a 5 day visit (and 2 of those being full of travel) we decided one day to scout in person.  One day to have the sessions.  And one day for the fun touristy stuff.

Hawrelak Park

Our first stop was Hawrelak Park.  It’s a beautiful park along the North Saskatchewan River and just down the hill from the University of Alberta campus.  There are grassy areas, wooded spots, and hiking paths.  Lots of potential for senior and family portraits.  We did a quick hike to the river and watched the many pups running up and down in the water.

image of the North Saskatchewan River from the Hawrelak Park foot bridge. It's a sunny summer day with blue skies and a few wispy clouds. Evergreen trees cover the banks of the river. The river bends up to the right.

image of the North Saskatchewan River at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton, Alberta.  You can see the river and the large footbridge that crosses on the left.  It's a beautiful summer day with wispy clouds in the sky.

The Bridges

Next, we headed to check out Kinsman Park and two of the main bridges into and out of downtown Edmonton.  With the river running through the city, it has some beautiful bridges.  My friend really wanted to use the High Level Bridge and Walterdale Bridges for her portraits.  The High Level Bridge immediately made me think of Pittsburgh’s Hot Metal Bridge.  The High Level Bridge didn’t have a good way to walk to it within our scouting window so we just drove over it but decided it would be perfect for the boys’ senior portraits.

So we grabbed some poutine for lunch and then headed to check out the Walterdale Bridge.

image of dishes of poutine and the Walterdale Bridge in Edmonton, Alberta

I don’t usually post pictures of my food but this poutine was really yummy! oh and these were cell phone pics

Kinsman Park is right next to the bridge so we were able to park and go for a little walk.  Edmonton is so different from Pittsburgh.  The river is set down low with steep hills rising up on each side and the city is mostly on top of the hills.  This means that much of the riverbanks are park areas with lots of trails and footbridges and greenspace.  

But anyways, back to the Walterdale Bridge.  It was a huge bridge and a newer bridge compared to our Pittsburgh bridges which seem ancient.

image of the top of the Walterdale Bridge in Edmonton, Alberta.  There are white arches with the blue sky in the background.

Time for Photos

After getting the boys dressed and ready to go, we headed first to the High Level Bridge.  The boys were great.  Like many teen boys, they were not exactly thrilled to do the session but they were good sports and I promised to work quickly.  It also seems that senior portraits are not really a common thing in Edmonton.  

We made our way down to the bridge and got to work.

images of a senior guy on the High Level Bridge in Edmonton, Alberta. He's wearing a black hoodie, a gray knit cap, and khaki pants. He has long wavy and freckles.

Now, keep in mind that it was a very hot and humid day, and yet, I look at these images and can believe that he’s cold.

images of a senior guy standing on High Level Bridge in Edmonton.  He has short hair and black rimmed glasses and is wearing a white t-shirt with jeans.  He also has a pair of headphones around his neck.

The most challenging part of this location was dodging all of the bikers, scooters, and pedestrians that were coming by. 

Then it was time for the twins together.

images of senior twin brothers. They're standing together and smiling. In one image one brother puts two fingers up as bunny ears behind the other brother's head. They're standing on the High Level Bridge in Edmonton

And finally, we needed to add in the youngest brother who had been patiently following along on this outing.

image of three brothers.  Two brothers are high school senior twins.  The younger brother is about 10.  They're standing together on the High Level Bridge in Edmonton.

Family photos on the University of Alberta campus

When you have a photographer visit, you take some time to get some family photos.  (I especially like to encourage my senior families to make time for a family portrait.) 

Just up from the High Level Bridge you’ll find the University of Alberta where my friend’s husband happens to be a professor.  It’s a beautiful campus and was perfect for grabbing a few family photos.  But first I needed a few portraits of the youngest brother.

image of a little boy sitting on a large rock at a park. He's wearing a white sweater and glasses.

images of a family with older kids, two high school age boys and a one younger boy.  They're standing together in a grassy area with large shade trees.  Their white dog is sitting on the ground with them.

image of a family sitting in the grass together with their white dog.

Willow, the dog was the best-behaved pup I have ever photographed.  And I swear she smiled for each photo.


After the portraits were done, we were all rewarded with some delicious Thai takeout and an evening of games.  When our families are together, we play games and this family always has something new to introduce us to.  This time wasn’t any different.  We played Ghost Blitz and Werewords.  Both were lots of fun and easy to learn and I ended up not being completely awful.  I highly recommend them.

Willow the pup

In between our location scouting and gaming and doing pottery and just spending hours talking about life and all things, I also wanted to get some photos of their home and Willow.  

a collage of images of a white dog sitting on a porch.  She has medium length fur and is sitting on a gray outdoor chair.

black and white image of a white dog laying on a window seat.

And after capturing Willow, I wanted to try to capture one final set of portraits of the boys but without making them pose.  I decided to take some photos of their interests- still life images of who they are right now.

collage of black and white images.  image one is a set of climbing shoes resting against the steps.  image two is a computer keyboard with glowing lights and an empty soda can.  image three is a soccer ball resting against a practice goal.

A has been into climbing for several years and spends a good amount of time at the climbing gym each week.  It made sense to take photos of his climbing shoes.  B is a gamer.  Well, all three boys are into games but this is where B connects with his people.  And late-night game sessions are often fueled by soda so I couldn’t resist including the soda can.  O is all about soccer and he’s so fast.  I say that after witnessing it firsthand as we kicked in the backyard.  

Kids’ interests often change over the years but this can be a way to create a portrait for those subjects who might not want to actually be in front of the camera.

Wishing for more time in Edmonton

My last day was spent going into downtown Edmonton.  We had lunch and then checked out the Royal Alberta Museum.  That evening my friend and I checked out a play at Fringe Fest.  Fringe Fest is a festival celebrating theater and story-telling and art.  It’s colorful and loud and funny and such a unique experience.  We caught a performance of Charade with all the characters being performed by 3 actors.  It was pretty good.  There were many more that would have been fun to see and I know I need to go back with my theater-loving daughter.

It was such a nice visit and once again, makes me wish that we had faster ways to travel.  But I loved being able to celebrate this milestone with my friends!

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Hi there, it's Jodi!

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