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.

Day Eleven: Make a Prompt Personal

The Road Less Traveled

Today’s assignment: publish a post based on your own, personalized take on a blogging prompt:

Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

I was working for a narcissist. It was essentially a cult. The expectation, if you wanted to advance, was to be on call 24/7 and respond immediately to all questions and concerns.

Moreover, staff who found favour always anticipated ways to ingratiate themselves. Special birthday wishes at the exact hour of the boss’ birth. Offerings of mid-day snack runs. Acceptance and eternal gratitude for gifts and raises bestowed.

After awhile, on the fringe of fully buying into the dysfunctional work environment, I knew I was sinking into a black hole of self-loathing. I had to escape. But I hung on. I had witnessed the punishment, the defamation, of others who had left before the boss had deemed it was time for them to go.

I descended further, alienating myself from family and friends. I felt worthless. When the prospect of another job in a similar environment appeared, I jumped at it, if only to free myself of one pile for another. It took me another couple of years to get extricate myself from that job, and several more to recover from the combined experience.


If I had stayed in the first place, if I had bought in, I imagine I would have been handsomely compensated financially. I would also be divorced, perhaps one true friend remaining.

My life would consist of fatty foods, alcohol, destructive relationships, and extravagant clothes and trips – failed efforts to escape my prison. I would also have my next career move pre-arranged for me, complete with a glowing reference and a tether of obligation.

Many years later, I continue to pay for my decision with diminished reputation and job opportunities. I never regret it.

Day One: Introduce Yourself to the World

WordPress Blogging University logo

Hello everyone! I’ve signed up for WordPress’ “Blogging 101.”

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post on your blog.

The best explanation is my Twitter profile , because I started on Twitter about the same time as my blog, not quite a year ago.

Passionate about writing. Foodaholic. Late-nite cookie baker. PR under-bulldog meets cat lady. Kill ’em with kindness. Toute stweet. For the pun of it.

Yes, I am passionate about writing. I have maintained a community correspondent column in a local neighbourhood newspaper for more than four years on a freelance basis.

I am restricted to my area for content. No school, no community centre, no resident’s association. Each month is a creative challenge that I relish. I research, pitch, interview, photograph, write, in addition to a regular full-time job.

That is the main reason for starting my blog. I continue to come across stories I can’t use. I want to bring profile to the little guy. People and projects flying under the radar of mainstream media.

Foodaholic is pretty self-explanatory. I love to eat. I have been told on several occasions that I “really get into” my food. When I was a child, I took so long to eat my lunch the classroom monitors turned my desk to face a corner because they thought I was spending too much time talking versus eating. It didn’t make a difference. I savour my food. Here’s some sushi from my favourite spot, Meiji.


I also love to cook, the less of a recipe the better. Hence late-nite cookies. If they don’t turn out, I blame it on the hour.

PR under-bulldog is a reference to PR underdog. On Twitter and in my blog, I enjoy getting the word out about people and organizations not currently in the media. The bulldog piece means I don’t let go of a story.

And yes, I am a cat lady. Ann is 15 1/2 and lives with arthritis and kidney disease. My whole life I wanted a cat. Due to allergies, I could not have one. Finally my husband surprised me with the Fudgeford more than ten years ago. I adore her. Irresistible white belly.

Ann yawning

Kill’em with kindness means that I believe in being kind and considerate. It’s a pretty strong leg to stand on when faced with opposition.

Toute stweet is a play on words in French, “toute suite”, pronounced toot-sweet, which means “right away,” and well, there’s the pun.

Winnipeg Arts, Hearts and Smarts is about the little guy. In Winnipeg. Doing cool creative stuff, doing good for others, and takin’ care of business.

I look forward more of WAHS’up stories this year. Keep sharing and reading as I make my way through Blogging 101!


A look back at the year in Royalwood

Hello everyone! In addition to the blog, I write a monthly column as a community correspondent. Here is an overview of the past year including links for more detail. Enjoy!

Republished from the Dec. 23, 2015 issue of The Lance, a Canstar Community News publication.

Republished from the Dec. 23, 2015 issue of The Lance, a Canstar Community News publication.

We’ve had a great 2015 in Royalwood!

The themes that dominated many of the columns I submitted in the past 12 months were Royalwood residents staying active and visitors to the Bois-des-Esprits enjoying everything the forest has to offer, in all seasons.

Here’s a quick run-through:
• While their namesake animal was asleep below the riverbed, Team Turtle of Trail Run Manitoba laced up for a winter run through the Bois;

• On a warm and muggy summer evening, more than 60 participants enjoyed a guided botany walk. Led by botanist Charles Burchill, the event was part of Save our Seine’s 25th anniversary celebrations;

Botanist Charles Burchill leads a guided botany walk along the Seine River
• This fall, Royalwood resident Dee Dee Budgell kicked off weekly Sunday afternoon walks through the Bois trails. The walks continue all winter and into the spring, wrapping up at the end of May 2016;

Dee Dee Budgell leads weekly walks through the Bois-des-Esprits. City councillor for St. Boniface Matt Allard gives his support

• Two Royalwood women were profiled for their community fundraising efforts in walk-based events;

Connie Robertson led her Cure of Duty team in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in memory of her brother-in-law.  One month later, Danielle Denny and her Boston Terrier, Martha, took part in The Fairmont Winnipeg Paws in Motion;

• Recently, readers met Wally MacKey and her mother Erna Leipert, both living with arthritis. The daughter-mother duo take walks in the Bois and do warm-water arthritis aquatics at Boni-Vital Pool to stay active and manage pain.

Wally MacKey and her mother Erma Leipert live with arthritis. They manage pain by staying active.
Matt Allard, city councillor for the ward of St. Boniface, was highly engaged and active in Royalwood this year. From hosting a spring town hall, to advocating for improved transit service, to promoting community initiatives like the weekly Bois walks, Allard’s support made a difference;

• Finally, readers met a trio of Royalwood business owners: Lisa Chapil of WedLife Photography, Jamie Robertson of United Therapies STRIVE Rehabilitation Centre, and Colin Flockton of redroc Drywall and Renovation.

Everyone has a story to share. The people and organizations involved in our neighbourhood make it a great place to live. Sincere thanks to Royalwood residents and everyone who participated in this column.
A big thank you to my husband for all his support.

I am excited to share more stories of Royalwood people and places in 2016. Contact me by e-mail at tanya.royalwood@gmail.com with your feedback and ideas!