a peek inside the fishbowl

31 Jul, 2015

Ottawa giveaway alert: win a photo session with family photographer Sara McConnell

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Fishbowl patrons|Giveaways and product reviews

We have a winner! Thanks for your entries!


We’re slowly getting back to regularly scheduled programming around these parts. I have a lot I want to share about our camping trip but in the meantime I wanted to (a) fill you in on a family photo shoot we had with Fishbowl patron Sara McConnell and (b) spill the deets on a special photography giveaway.


I’ve known Sara for some time and have worked with her in various ways, but I’ve never actually been her client in this way, so this experience afforded me a new perspective. FACT: this lady is a pro: so organized and professional, right down to the details, it boggles my mind. Contracts protect all parties and keep things above board. Online payment is seamless. Instructions are clear. There are time frames. The photos come back promptly, which I appreciate because there’s no sense of WHERE ARE THE PHOTOS. I WANT TO SEE THE PHOTOS ALREADY.

The photos, oh, the photos.

Sidebar: I’ve taken a lot of photos of a lot of people but never quite feel comfortable in front of the camera. Sara makes the whole process very easy and dare I say, even FUN. I’ve also supervised a lot of photoshoots in a work-related capacity, and if the photographer is a good one, what you get back is actually better than reality. This was one of those times.

Our shoot took place at the Ornamental Gardens near the Experimental Farm. (I highly recommend this place, whether there’s photography involved or not.) Here is one of my favourites:


The girls were quite happy to have a chance to be intentionally goofy. :)

You know what makes me VERY happy about our photos – other than the fact that they’re gorgeous – is that I’m actually IN THEM. As the person who takes 99% of our family photos, I am in very very few family photos. And this has to change. (I’ve uploaded a few more from our session on the Fishbowl FB page if you want to have a look.)

Sara is offering some special beach sessions this summer. I’ve seen her beach shots and they’re amazing. They truly capture those magical childhood moments we want to bottle up and save forever. (And we can! In photos!)

The beach sessions are part of Sara’s ‘Imagination’ series, and they were inspired by her recent trip to PEI and a desire to bring a little bit of her vacation home. For Sara, it’s an opportunity to create a beautiful backdrop for parents to connect and play with their kids, and help create those wonderful memories.

Here’s a peek at what I’m talkin’ about here:

Beach sessions


You can also see an album of beach sessions on Sara’s Facebook page.

Would you like to win a beach session for your family? Read on:

  • This giveaway is for one of Sara’s “Moment” sessions, which will take place on August 20 at 7 p.m. in the east end of Ottawa. Session has no cash value but can be transferred to another family. The session must take place on August 20.
  • In order for your entry to qualify, tell me in the comments below: when’s the last time you had a family portrait taken? That’s it!
  • One entry per email address please.
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law.
  • If you can’t post your comment for whatever reason you can email it to me for posting at andrea at quietfish dot com. Please note, I cannot be responsible if your entry is misdirected or gets stuck in my Spam folder.
  • I will draw one winner using Random.org at noon EST on August 7, 2015.

If you don’t win, or just want to book a photo shoot before the summer ends, you can do so on Sara’s website.

That’s it! Over to you. Good luck!

p.s. And I really hope the winner shows me their resulting photos. :)

99 Responses to "Ottawa giveaway alert: win a photo session with family photographer Sara McConnell"

1 | Tiana

July 31st, 2015 at 11:33 am


The last time we had a family portrait was with Sara! Years ago, when Molly was just a few months old.

2 | meghan

August 1st, 2015 at 8:57 pm


Last one was when my kids were 6 & 4 and they are now 16 & 14!

3 | lisa bolduc

July 31st, 2015 at 12:10 pm


just had one pic taken at christmas time, but my son has grown so much since then!

4 | Rebecca

July 31st, 2015 at 12:12 pm


The last time we had pictures done was 3 years ago this fall.

5 | Ginny

July 31st, 2015 at 12:44 pm


The last time we had family photos done was also with Sara, when we were just a family of 3, in January 2014. Baby #2 is due any day now!

6 | Tammy

July 31st, 2015 at 1:05 pm


It has been seven years since the last time we had family photos taken. My older son was 5 back then, and now he is taller than me…

7 | TD

July 31st, 2015 at 1:17 pm


Professionally, 10 years ago

8 | Amanda

July 31st, 2015 at 1:33 pm


Took family photos in April when my baby was only three months old. They were cute but he didn’t smile much then so they were all pretty serious! Now he’s a super smiley 6 month old and I would love to get some more done :)

9 | Emily Smith

July 31st, 2015 at 1:53 pm


The portraits of your family are beautiful!The last time we had a family session was 1 year ago. I’d love to have another one, since the kids have changed so much since then.

10 | Brenda A

July 31st, 2015 at 3:20 pm


We are quite over due for a family photo! The last time was 5 years ago. With kids, things change so much in that time. Thanks for the chance for a session with a very talented photographer.

11 | Jennifer W

July 31st, 2015 at 6:16 pm


Our last family photo session was in April for my youngests 1st birthday. Cake smash and gorgeous family photos thanks to Sara McConnell Photography!

12 | Carly

July 31st, 2015 at 7:17 pm


We had photos taken by Sara at the end of June – I LOVE them. If we win, I’m hoping to gift this session to another family I know would appreciate a session. :o)

13 | Roz

July 31st, 2015 at 7:33 pm


The last time we had a family portrait was 2 weeks after my son was born (November twenty-TWELVE). I’ve been itching for another family photo shoot since! Fingers crossed!

14 | marnada

July 31st, 2015 at 7:47 pm


Our last family portrait was 2 or 3 years ago, and Sara did them. They are wonderful but the kids have changed so much since then!

15 | Sarah

July 31st, 2015 at 8:11 pm


When my daughter was 6 months old – she just turned four!

16 | HollyStar

July 31st, 2015 at 9:17 pm


We had fabulous prenatal & newborn shoots done & that “baby” starts JK in September. So almost four years ago. Love the beach theme!

17 | Heather

July 31st, 2015 at 9:32 pm


We are a family of two, and our last family portrait was done when my daughter was 18 months, so that puts it over 5 years! All our pictures are of just her, or, horribly taken “selfies” with parts of at least one of us missing!

18 | carey

July 31st, 2015 at 9:35 pm


Our last family photo session was last summer with Sara. Would love to capture some more beautiful moments.

19 | Ana Mills

July 31st, 2015 at 9:54 pm


I’ve never had a photo shoot with my husband and 15mo baby girl. Would be nice to win one for the first time.

20 | Carole

August 1st, 2015 at 7:02 am


Our last family photo session was for my daughters newborn session which was almost two years ago now. What a great giveaway :)

21 | Anne Longpre

August 1st, 2015 at 8:38 am


We had a photo shoot done 4 months ago when our little Juliette was just born! Would love to have photos now that she full of smiles!

22 | Miss Vicky

August 1st, 2015 at 9:33 am


We have never had a family photo taken. Unless you count the pic the Citizen snapped in the hospital after I gave birth to Wee G. We’d sure love an opportunity

23 | Nicole

August 1st, 2015 at 11:10 am


We had them done when my daughter was born in October. I wasn’t feeling my best and don’t love the photos.

24 | jennieradka

August 1st, 2015 at 7:33 pm


We had a family photo taken in Mexico while on a family vacation when my daughter was 17 months old (now 3.5 years old!). We are expecting another girl any day, and would love a family photo that includes our newest addition!

25 | Chris (@DadGoesRound)

August 1st, 2015 at 8:44 pm


Our last family portrait was taken a month after my now 6 yr old (7 next month) was born. We now have an extra kid. Third child syndrome I guess. We keep talking about getting a new one done so that my 22 month old can be in a family picture… Sara’s photos are beautiful. If we don’t win I am definitely going to look at booking a shoot with her.

26 | coffee with julie

August 1st, 2015 at 8:50 pm


I had a family photo shoot about one year ago and it’s amazing to see how much the kids have changed in that short amount of time! I LOVE your photos. They will be special memories for you and your girls forever. Great job, Sara!

27 | Ann

August 2nd, 2015 at 8:58 pm


At least 10 years ago.

28 | georgina

August 3rd, 2015 at 7:44 am


our last family photo session was back in October 2014.

29 | Susan

August 3rd, 2015 at 9:05 am


We’ve never had a professional family photo done! Our family photos tend to be taken by others at a family event or on vacation. Never quite right:)

30 | Sarah

August 3rd, 2015 at 2:45 pm


We’ve never had a professional session done of the entire family.. I don’t even think there are any pictures at all of all us together. Sad. I’ve been talking about getting some done for ages though! Hehe.

31 | Cory Young

August 4th, 2015 at 7:14 am


Far too long ago. I believe it was about 6 years ago. My son is 10 now, so big changes!!!

32 | Stephanie

August 4th, 2015 at 9:17 am


Our last family portrait was about a year and a half ago. Time for a new one!!

33 | Judy

August 4th, 2015 at 9:17 am


Our last photo session was about four years ago. It has been too long! Life gets very busy and a year passes by in a flash. It is important to have photos as the kids grow up so quickly! Like Andrea, I am the one taking most of the family pictures, so it would be nice to be in some family photos :)

34 | SLL

August 4th, 2015 at 9:56 am


It’s been about four years and we are definitely due for some new family pics.

35 | Tracy

August 4th, 2015 at 10:53 am


The last time we had a professional family portrait taken was in 2008 – when my daughter was 7 months old!!!! Time for a new one.

36 | Becky

August 4th, 2015 at 10:53 am


August 20th is my husbands and my 10th wedding anniversary. Couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than doing photos with my family. We have a brand new 4 week old Daughter and. 4 year old son. This would be amazing!!!!

37 | Sara Anstey

August 4th, 2015 at 11:18 am


Our last family session was in October for our first family of four pictures!

38 | Nicole B

August 4th, 2015 at 11:31 am


We had a family portrait done in march when we had our family visiting from Portugal. It was great to have one of everyone together!

39 | nikki

August 4th, 2015 at 12:27 pm


Last photo session was with Sara in the spring of 2014. I would love another one!!

40 | Carolyn

August 4th, 2015 at 12:59 pm


Our last family pictures were last month with sara. She is really fabulous.

41 | valerie

August 4th, 2015 at 1:33 pm


our last family picture was 2007. My kids have grown just a touch since then, LOL!

42 | Elana Aptowitzer

August 4th, 2015 at 2:31 pm


Our last portraits were taken 5 months before the light and joy of our lives – our son! – arrived!!

43 | Nicole

August 4th, 2015 at 3:39 pm


A few months ago. I could take them all the time :)

44 | Janine

August 4th, 2015 at 3:50 pm


Our last official family photo was just after our son was born and he’s already 16 months! Our daughter is almost 3 so this would be perfect!!!

45 | Angie

August 4th, 2015 at 4:02 pm


We have been together for 15 years and our kids are 14 and 11 and have never had a family portrait done. We have talked about it many times but have never been able to do one. Would love this! Thanks for the opportunity

46 | Laura Johnson

August 4th, 2015 at 4:10 pm


The mast time we had a family photo taken was when my youngest was born – she turns 6 on August 9th!! My oldest just turned 8 – I would love updated, non-baby shots! :)

47 | Amy Nesbitt

August 4th, 2015 at 5:06 pm


Last time we had a family photo session done was when my 9 year old son was 1!

48 | roshena

August 4th, 2015 at 5:21 pm


We had a session a couple months ago but would love another one as my father in law passed away a few days ago and could incorporate him into a session that my son could remember forever! My son is 11 months old.

49 | Sherry

August 4th, 2015 at 5:25 pm


8 years ago…love you pics…win or not we will be contacting you! Your photos are great!

50 | laurette

August 4th, 2015 at 6:08 pm


Three Years ago

51 | lindabedford

August 4th, 2015 at 6:48 pm


Our last family photo was done nearly 4 years ago, when our little guy was only a few months old!

52 | Lida

August 4th, 2015 at 7:07 pm


Our last family portraits were actually done by Sarah three years ago! Time flies. She did a wonderful job and I’d love to do it again.

53 | Erin

August 4th, 2015 at 7:56 pm


I’ve never had Professional Family Portraits done. Would be a great idea to have them done.

54 | Erica

August 4th, 2015 at 8:24 pm


We had a 5-minute session a year ago. Our son is now almost 17 months old, so a lot has changed!

55 | Michelle

August 4th, 2015 at 10:01 pm


Never as a family… Last time was at our wedding 12 years ago without our two kids…

56 | Laurie-Ann Staniforth

August 4th, 2015 at 10:16 pm


Last February :) I once read a quote that really stuck with me- we take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. We try to get photos done fairly regularly! Would love to win this!

57 | Alison Chayka

August 4th, 2015 at 11:06 pm


2010…will check out Sara’s website win or lose :)

58 | Amy Williams

August 4th, 2015 at 11:08 pm


We had a photo session with our WHOLE family in May. That’s grandparents, 6 kids and 7 grand kids (ages 3 months – 12 years). Chaos rained down. I’d love to win this to get some calm family pics haha!!

59 | Connie Regimbald

August 4th, 2015 at 11:37 pm


The last time my whole family had a family photo shoot was back in 2011. It was my home town’s anniversary. I’d love to win this photo shoot. My parents have been married for 45 yrs, my brother’s family have a 17 yrs old boy and I’m a single mom to a 20 yrs young adult who’s paraplegic. My mom would love to get us all together. Also August 20th is her birthday.

60 | Charlene Argaez

August 5th, 2015 at 9:15 am


The last time we had a family photo shoot was last October (2014).

61 | Abedi

August 5th, 2015 at 9:27 am


The last time was around 7-8 years ago, and it would be great to do it again!

62 | Melissa

August 5th, 2015 at 10:29 am


The last time was with Sara for xmas lights in 2013 while I was pregnant with our 3rd and final baby. Kids are 6, 4, and 15 months now so would be awesome to win! Thanks!

63 | sassymonkey

August 5th, 2015 at 11:02 am


Never. I mean, there are only two of us but I can’t remember the last time there as a decent photo of the two of us that was NOT a selfie. I’ve been meaning to book us for photos for, no joke, years.

64 | Yumi

August 5th, 2015 at 11:40 am


Last April at Disney World. It was a lucky shot! Before that, two years ago with Sara. She’s fantastic!

65 | Wendy

August 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm


My family and i havent take pictures for a long time the last time was when my little one was 2 now she is seven i am pregnant with my second one and we will love to have pictures done but just cant afford it

66 | Lara

August 5th, 2015 at 12:59 pm


When my daughter was born three and a half years ago.

67 | Melissa Boisvenue

August 5th, 2015 at 2:52 pm


When my son was born Oct 2014

68 | Lana

August 5th, 2015 at 3:51 pm


Our last family portrate. Was the year we had our daughter and she’s pushing 2.5

69 | Karen

August 5th, 2015 at 4:04 pm


We’ve never had professional pictures done, despite my daughter being almost 3 – a perfect age for this. It would be so fun and appreciated!

70 | dawn

August 5th, 2015 at 4:47 pm


My daughters newborn pics and she’s 16mths now ????

71 | Isabelle Goulet

August 5th, 2015 at 4:57 pm


We took family pictures with Sara when our youngest daughter was born some 18 months ago.

72 | Danielle Fluit

August 5th, 2015 at 6:11 pm


Our wedding photo (10 years ago) when our 3 littles were just twinkles in our eyes.

73 | Carolyn

August 5th, 2015 at 8:28 pm


We had our last professional family protrait done 3 years ago so we’re due. I take family pictures every chance I get but it’s never as good as the pros can do.

74 | Stephanie

August 5th, 2015 at 9:52 pm


Canada Day 2011, when our three were all under three.

75 | Jodi

August 5th, 2015 at 10:22 pm


We had a picture taken for a community paper about 3 years ago – not a real portrait though!

76 | Johanna

August 5th, 2015 at 10:24 pm


last & only family photo shoot was climbing trees 4 years ago at the Arboretum. Would love to do it again and with someone fun & relaxed!

77 | Andria

August 5th, 2015 at 11:01 pm


our last family portrait was last fall with you….no wait I lie. The birth centre event with you again :)………I love your work Sara!

78 | Rozy

August 5th, 2015 at 11:08 pm


Oh how I LOVE LOVE your beach session pictures! The last family session we had was in December 2013, before we had baby boy number 3! Now our boys are 6 , 4, and our baby is turning 1 mid- August ! It would be a great first family photo with the 3 of them! Thank you !

79 | Kristen Cassidy

August 5th, 2015 at 11:46 pm


Would love a family photo session. We have never had a professional family photo session and I have a 3 year old son and a daughter who just turned 1. Would really love to win this!!! Sara’s work is amazing!

80 | Julie

August 6th, 2015 at 12:02 am


Would love a family session, it’s only me and my daughter as I am a single mother, last time I had professional pictures taken was when my daughter was 4 months old, she is turning 2 August 12th so I would love updated professional pictures of her and I :) Thank you for a chance to win !

81 | Helen

August 6th, 2015 at 7:28 am


We last had our portrait taken by Sara when our premature baby was five weeks old. We had an amazing experience and were able to celebrate our son coming home after a scary arrival and stay in hospital. She was an amazing lady to work with and so natural with our son. We’d love the opportunity for another session to celebrate him being happy, healthy and eight months!

82 | Caroline

August 6th, 2015 at 7:47 am


Our last family portrait was done by Sara! She truly is amazing!

83 | Manon

August 6th, 2015 at 7:50 am


We received a session with Sara as a gift this spring and it was a great experience and beautiful memories with our grand children.

84 | Carrie

August 6th, 2015 at 8:32 am


We had our first family portrait last year. My son was 8 months old and I still think it was the best birthday gift I ever received.

85 | Shannon

August 6th, 2015 at 8:51 am


Our last family photo was taken in October 2013. We have two sets of twins and I find it a real challenge to get a good family pic! Would love to win a session!

86 | sarah

August 6th, 2015 at 9:15 am


We Had photos at xmas, but he is growing so fast!

87 | Life of K

August 6th, 2015 at 9:19 am


Love Sara!! We’ve never had professional family shots taken. The closest was when I was pregnant with my second and a friend took a picture of the three of us with my huge belly. Does that count?

88 | Cecilia

August 6th, 2015 at 11:26 am


The last time we had our family photos taken was last fall, when I was pregnant with twins (babies #6 and #7). Now that they are here , we would LOVE a family portrait with all nine of us !

89 | Chelsie

August 6th, 2015 at 11:42 am


The last time we had a family picture taken was in 2012, just after my daughter was born.

90 | Lisa

August 6th, 2015 at 12:05 pm


We had our family photos last taken in November of 2014. Seems like ages ago!

91 | Alicia

August 6th, 2015 at 10:07 pm


Last Fall with Sara! My youngest was just a few months old. Now he’s walking and has changed so much. Would love a beach session with my 3 boys :)

92 | Magdalena

August 6th, 2015 at 10:17 pm


last family portrait was at the MacKenzie King Estate in 2011

93 | Lynn

August 6th, 2015 at 11:13 pm


Ooooh boy. We have actually NEVER had a family portrait taken. It’s something I fantasize about and I’ve come thisclose to booking it a few times but then I think about everything that can go wrong – someone is cranky, someone hates what someone else is wearing, someone just doesn’t feel like it. GAH. I’m willing to give it a go if Sarah is willing to put up with us :).

94 | Susan

August 7th, 2015 at 9:07 am


Last family session was the fall of 2012 and now we have a new family member to add to the pictures.

95 | Julie G

August 7th, 2015 at 10:21 am


We’ve done the family selfies (love those) and the timed picture when one of us is running back to the pose, but our last professional portrait was in 2003 when there were just 4 of us. Now we are a “5 family” as the kids say with a 15 year old, a 13 year old and an 8 year old.

96 | Ottawa Limo Guy

August 7th, 2015 at 4:04 pm


We’ll have to keep her in mind as we often have people looking to capture the moments in our ottawa limo service. My family could probably use an updated pic now that I think about it.

Ottawa Limo Guy

97 | andrea tomkins

August 8th, 2015 at 8:42 am


We have a winner! It’s commenter 69, Karen, who wrote: “We’ve never had professional pictures done, despite my daughter being almost 3 – a perfect age for this. It would be so fun and appreciated!”

Woot! Congratulations Karen! Please check your email. And thank you all for entering. Your comments really got me thinking. Although we can’t have a family portrait done every year, at the very least I’m going to be better at setting the camera on a timer and making sure we’re all in the photo more often!

98 | stacey

August 18th, 2016 at 11:29 am


great stuff thanks for the info!!

99 | betty

October 6th, 2016 at 4:55 pm


love to see companies actually proving valid services to consumers and prizes that are not fake!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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