Racking Up the C/Klicks: Shutter & Mileage

Who hasn’t had a creative slump? The story of how master photographer Rodney S. Braun hit the road and the shutter button to inspiration with his photo adventure tours, and how you can experience it for yourself.

Rodney Headshot-S.jpgRodney has been a photographer in Winnipeg for 16 years. He and his wife Sonya run Eve’s Studios, “building the self-esteem of women through beauty and art nude photography.”

Art is an amazing thing. It…give[s] us a perspective into how someone views the world…In my work, I seek to capture a small part of the amazing beauty that God has created, and I seek to do it in a way that is honouring and respectful to both the Creator and the creation. H2Oohh

Rodney currently teaches at Red River College and sits on the National Board of the Professionals Photographers of Canada. He has a Master of Photographic Arts designation, five solo art shows and two books to his credit.

In 2013, Rodney was in need of inspiration – something to re-awaken his love for photography – so he hit the road. In Winter 2015, he led his first photography tour and was instantly hooked.


I was giving so much energy to teaching. I felt burnt out. I designed my own dream trip to the stunning landscapes of the Southwestern US to bring back my creative spark. What I discovered is that others share the same dream. It’s been a blessing.

Tours are a unique experience. Small groups of eight to ten people travel in a 2016 van with executive seating. Pre-scouted locations in national parks include Death Valley, Yosemite, Zion, and the Grand Canyon.

Photographers range from amateur hobbyists, to students, to professionals. All skill levels are welcome. The small group allows for individualized guidance from Rodney plus the opportunity to learn, share, and grow with others.

RBS_tour“The bus becomes like a little family very quickly,” Rodney explains. “Everyone helps each other capture amazing images, even our drivers pull out their iphones and join in.”

The scenery is breathtaking. Rodney describes his favourite moment from the most recent trip.

At our sunset stop in Yosemite, we sat on a four-foot wide tree that had blown over, looking out at the mountains and waterfalls. We all put our cameras down and just watched the sun set together.

Upcoming tours include:RBS_Yosemite_545_Ret[1]

Landscape/Portrait/Art Nudes: August 20-26, 2016 – South & Central Utah

H2Oohhh Workshop: December 29, 2016-January 2, 2017 – Southern Arizona

Reading Week: February 11-18, 2017 – Utah, Arizona, New Mexico



Anyone who loves photography, or even just seeing great scenery, is welcome to join a tour. Our focus is on seeing the best sights in the best light, so you can take home some beautiful images as well as some great memories.

All images courtesy of Rodney Braun


Monthly Feature: WAHS’up Reads Winnipeg Blogs

Hello everyone!

For this month I am taking a look at three blogs authored by Kenton Larsen’s students in Winnipeg’s Red River College Creative Communications program, or CreComm for short.

It’s a rigourous and exclusive 2-year, full-time program. Only the best photography and writing portfolios are accepted for interviews. The waiting list is long. Many students have already completed a university degree.


All this pre-amble to prep you for some excellent writing. Some posts are based on assignments. Bloggers who follow prompts and challenges will understand.

I hope you enjoy as much as I have.

Joy to The Winnipeg is authored by Joy Balmana. She’s also the arts columnist for Red RiveScreen Shot 2016-04-12 at 8.24.10 PM.pngr’s student paper The Projector.

Covering our local culture scene, she’s short on patience for self-absorbed, inauthentic poseurs and long on enthusiasm for young, entrepreneurial artists.

The River City Rambler blog is named for one of Winnipeg’s nicknames – River City – since our city was established where the Red River and Assiniboine River meet.

(We have other nicknames too, such as Winterpeg or simply The Peg, or Peg City.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 8.27.02 PMLike a river, author Erik Fjeldsted meanders in a good way. Insightful comments on current events that resonate across borders, fun events and outings, and topics near and dear to his heart.

I will admit I was prepared to not enjoy Sincerely, Kristi. The blog’s main focus is fitness and exercising, (ugh.)

However, Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 8.32.05 PM.pngthere is a warmth to author Kristi-Jo Nikkel’s honest encouragement for staying in shape.  I think it comes from her experience from being coached at an elite level.

A genuine enthusiasm for adventure also comes through, from sketchy urban corners to open rural highways.

Want to find your own local blogs? Try searching categories & tags using your town/city/region name. Happy hunting!

Plan D Art Exhibition & Sale: Programme de D

It’s every gallery owners’ nightmare. Six weeks prior to an exhibition, your featured artist cancels. The show is scheduled to open April 1, but this was no April Fools’.

“There’s always a solution,” says cre8ery Executive Director Jordan Miller. “Plan B wasn’t ready, Plan C was too busy! 12 hours later thanks to a fabulous crew of 18 cre8ery members ‘Plan D‘ was formed and confirmed.”

The cre8ery is a Winnipeg art gallery, located in the historic Exchange District.  Owned and operated by Jordan Miller, it is a membership-based business, offering studio rental space, classes and workshops, and ongoing exhibitions.

For ‘Plan D’, Jordan carefully selected various artists for their voices in art and their strength in character. These artists have joined together to bring a diverse mix of unique pieces.

From shadow boxes, to illustrations, abstract paintings, mixed media, mandalas, digital paintings, photography, ceramics, and sculpture, the exhibition offers fresh, new creations.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 9.08.31 PM“Blue Fallen Reverie” by Sonya Topaz Joyal

‘Plan D’ Artists include: Jordan Miller, Sari Habiliuk, Dave Swiecicki, Sarah Neville, Steve Jorgenson, Bernard Ferguson, Yvette Hawkes, Darlene Drewniak, Noella Hanan, Kristi-Marie Chech, Sonya Joyal, Robert Coulter, Michael Joyal, Dan Hawksworth, Cindy Garrioch, Lynda Gilchuk, Jo Holmes & Marilyn Folson.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 8.33.16 PM.png

Jo Holmes, pictured above, explores rarely visited corners, camera in hand, searching for truth in the light. Images are entitled ‘Rampart Reflection’, ‘Decommissioned’, and ‘Bastion Crumbles’shot on-site at Old Pinawa, Manitoba. In the early 20th century, residents constructed and operated the first hydroelectric plant of its kind, pioneers of hydroelectricity.

The Plan D exhibition is a reflection of that same spirit. There’s a great expression in French, I think it might be local. “Programme de D” is shorthand for “se débrouiller” meaning literally to de-fog one’s self. It translates to managing your own way out of a situation and getting your hind-tail in gear.

Which is exactly what Jordan Miller & company have accomplished with Plan D. Bravo.

Check it out! Plan D Art Exhibition & Sale runs until Tuesday, April 12 at 6pm. Gallery Hours are: Tuesday to Friday 12-6pm; Saturday 12-5pm.

Meet Your Maker

Do you ever wish you could meet the artisan that made something near and dear to your heart?  I have, and did last week.

I had the pleasure of assisting the hubs on a commercial photo shoot  at local jeweller Sutton Smithworks.

As the hubs was setting up, co-owner and goldsmith Tom Sutton approached me and asked to see my wedding ring. Per my Leibster Award post, my wedding ring is my most prized possession.

I removed my ring, handed it over, and commented “it’s a saddle-band.”

Tom’s bushy eyebrows shot up. “A saddle-band is very unique. Most people have no idea what that means,” he said.

He asked me if the ring was from Simon Imports. It was indeed.

“I made your wedding ring” he declared. “I cast it and made it. Simon sends almost all his work to me.”

Beaming, I immediately shook his hand and gave my thanks for his beautiful craftsmanship. Tom whisked away to his work room with my ring and my husband’s.

A few minutes later, he returned . “You’ve lost a bit of weight,” he said. “I’ve re-sized your ring, and cleaned it.”

I could not believe my eyes. After 15 years, my wedding ring looked like new. See the before and after for yourself.

Wedding ring  _MG_7536-Edit





What an incredible moment to meet the maker of the one object that means so much to me.

If you are looking for gorgeous, unique jewellery, visit Sutton Smithworks on Etsy.

How to Survive Your Blogger Award Nomination

They’re out there fellow bloggers. Circling, watching, leaving a happy trail of likes and encouraging comments.

But they are waiting, eager for the right moment to strike.

These creatures are pleasing to eye and the soul. You catch glimpses of them on other blogs, colourful and enticing.

When you finally meet one, you are overjoyed. You feel fulfilled, elated.

But they are hungry. Oh, so very hungry. Starved for your blogging time and attention. Accept them and follow their rules, they will consume your evenings whole.

They are…. Blogger Awards..!!! (evil laugh)

Do not despair. Help is available. Know your blogger awards. Be prepared. Survive the nomination and blog another day.

The Usual Suspects: Common Blogger-Nominated Awards

Verstile BloggerVersatile Blogger aka “VBA”

Has an entire blog dedicated to the award

Nominees must demonstrate quality writing/photography, unique subject choice, level of love in words/photo


One Lovely Blog One Lovely Blog

According to BentOnBetterLunches sometimes awarded with the Very Inspiring Blogger award.




Lorraine Reguly, author of  Wording Well blog researched the origins and variations of the rules. The Leibster is intended to bring profile to bloggers with 200 followers or less.



Preparing in Advance

What do all these awards have in common? In accepting, you pay it forward, spread the love, and shine the light on other bloggers. Here are some tips for finding them.

  • Take a FREE BloggingU class from WordPress and meet new bloScreen Shot 2016-03-15 at 9.19.04 PMggers plus learn insider tips for finding new blogs to follow
  • Check your city or town for an in-person Bloggers MeetUp
  • WordPress recommendations on your Reader tab
  • Good ol’ Google searches on “Your topic of interest” + “blog”


Process for Accepting

Wow, you’re still here! So you really want to go through with this and accept? I found the following helpful, flipping between your blog post and a draft email:

Blog Post

  1. Start a new blog post right away. Lead with your thank you.
  2. Don’t worry about editing the thank you, just get your initial reaction on the page with a link back to your nominator


  1. Open up a draft email and start copy-pasting the links for the blog home page, plus links to the specific posts where you want to comment with your nomination
  2. Why? Unless you have a full evening/day of time, you will not finish your nominations in one sitting. Give yourself breadcrumbs to follow.
  3. At the same time you are copy-pasting the links, write up your kind and encouraging personal message about why you have selected each nominee below their blog link (trust me, this will make sense soon.)


Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 8.55.05 PM

Blog Post

  1. Back to your blog post. Fulfill all the other acceptance requirements.
  2. Copy-paste the blog home page links from your email to your Nominations list
  3. When you are ready, publish your blog post


  1. Go back to your draft email as soon as you hit “publish”
  2. One by one, go to each of the blog post links. Copy-paste your thoughtful, personal message into the Comments for each post, including the link to your own post.
  3. Sit back and congratulate yourself!


Alternate Ending

Not so much for you?

Leah, the genius behind Travel.Taste.Create, graciously declined my nomination for a Leibster Award by citing another blogger’s post Why I Don’t Like the Leibster Award. Please Don’t Hate Me.

Good luck!


Liebster Award!!!!!

Your blog is so wonderful…keep writing 🙂



And with those heartwarming words, the lovely and talented Ameena’s Musings nominated me for a Liebster Award. Thank you so much Amina! You made my month and it has barely started!


Encouragement and recognition from peers carries a special meaning. Someone out there with similar blogging goals and aspirations took the time to read your blog and prepare the nomination (which is no easy piece of work as I am learning.)

Liebster Award Acceptance Rules:

  • Thank your nominator.
  • Share the award on your blog.
  • Answer the 10 questions asked to you.
  • Ask 10 questions to 10 new nominees.
  • Notify them.

Ameena’s Liebster Award Questions

1. How did you decide on your blog name?

Winnipeg Arts, Hearts and Smarts is a summary of the content I want to share. As an added bonus, it generates the base for a catchy acronym – WAHS’up?

2. Why did you decide to blog?

Closely related to #1, I have written a monthly column for a community newspaper on a freelance basis for four years. I am editorially restricted to my own neighbourhood.

We have no school, no community centre, and no residents’ association. In researching and pitching stories, I have come across some amazing people that I am unable to feature. My blog is a vehicle to bring a little profile to positive contributions flying under the radar.

3. What is the goal for for blog in 2016?

To achieve 100 followers. Shooting for the moon, I would love to have one of my blog stories picked up by mainstream media.

4. What is your favourite blog to read (besides your own)?

Currently, I am loving The Road to There by Amanda. I find her conversational tone so very engaging. I am trying to bring that quality into my own blog so that my stories are less editorial.

5. How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?

Ha-ha! I don’t! I am struggling right now to balance maintaining accounts on a variety of social media platforms, plus freelance work, plus a full-time job. Blogging 101 was a great experience, but I know I can’t keep up with daily, or even weekly, posts. I accept this will take me away from achieving my blogging goals. It’s a matter of platform priority.

6. Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?

For now it is a hobby. I would like to blog on a freelance basis, or find a marketing communications role where blogging is a job function.

7. Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?

Again, I come back to The Road to There by Amanda.Ameena’s Musings of course. Other bloggers include The Lonely Tribalist and Sableyes.

8. What is your best piece of advice to anyone considering blogging? 

Wow, that is a loaded question for me. If you are looking for an all-consuming hobby and enjoy writing, I highly encourage it. If you know you won’t be able to blog daily, I would say invest the time up-front to plan your blog post ideas to establish an editorial schedule.

And for sure take advantage of awesome, free resources like Blogging U and The Bloggers Meetup. (We love a good deal in Winnipeg and free is as good as it gets.)

9. In the future where do you hope your blog will take you?

In addition to my answer for #6, I hope my blog will help me meet more wonderful people online and in-person.

10. What is your most prized possession?

Wedding ring


That’s an easy question. My wedding ring. For all that it symbolizes and because after nearly 15 years, it is a beautiful, timeless piece of jewellery that still gets compliments.



My Nominations


Questions for Nominees

  1. For you, does blogging replace or enhance journalling?
  2. What is your must-have while blogging? Glass of wine? Snackage? Helpful cats sitting on your keyboard? Music? All of the above?
  3. Have you ever attended a blogger’s meet-up in person? What was it like?
  4. Do you always blog in the same physical location?
  5. What is your most creative time of day/night for blogging?
  6. Are you active on any other social media platforms?
  7. Do you have plans for monetizing your blog?
  8. What is your all-time favourite post and why?
  9. Name one person who isn’t blogging that you wish had a blog
  10. What is your reaction to the nomination?

WAHS’up Reads

Feature: Winnipeg Arts, Hearts & Smarts WAHS’up Local Blogs

Introduction: I completed Blogging 101 in February 2016. One assignment was to start a regular blog feature, another was to take part in a blogging event. Two birds, one stone. Pretty darn efficient for a Wednesday, eh?

1. So excited to discover a blog-in-the-making! Day 1= Broadway theme + four posts. Day 2 = Sketch theme + two posts. By student, fitness and fashion maven Celeste Petrick Lifestyle Fashion.  I prefer the Broadway theme for highlighting the energizing images dominating the posts so far.

2. Down Uneven Pavements Discovering Life Off the Beaten Path also uses the Broadway theme. Author is a recent photography school grad.

I am loving A tourist in my own city post. Hope “destinations” become regular features. Towns and cities are constantly morphing. Big-name clothiers take over past dive-bars. Grand, stately brick monuments to national retail barons torn down to build a hockey arena.

Osborne street festival.jpg

So much energy all you can do is focus on your little piece of the world and try to keep up. Reminds me of a poem that has moved me for years Out in the City.

3. The Fine Game of Nil  is deliciously dark and eerie, founded on excerpts from a recent book release with the same title. Local places and faces are mixed in and mixed up telling tales of impulse and death.

The Fine Game of NilThe author’s invitation is irresistible:

This site will be a place of death, torture and hopelessness. A place where those thoughts of depravity will have a place to live free. I will spit up whatever sludge is found in the pits of my mind and translate it into words…Don’t be afraid to hit the follow button, the like button or to leave a comment. All are appreciated. All are welcomed.

Welcome to Winnipeg. Enjoy our world.