2016 Mentorship Opportunity

Photography has always been my dream job. It started when I was younger and wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic. To travel the world and take photos of amazing landscapes and animals with crazy zoom lenses while hiding out in a tree fort sounded like the most ideal job in.the.world.

That turned into a portrait/model photographer in highschool and then eventually wedding photography in college, but to me, being a photographer always sounded like it was up there with being an astronaut or a ballerina. It was one of those jobs that sounds cool, but no one actually does….one of those jobs that’s so far-fetched it’s even further than being a dream.



When I first started I booked a whopping ZERO weddings my first year. I was so disappointed and I wondered constantly if I should pack it in and call it a day before I got too much further in and risked even more disappointment. As a last resort, I emailed a few photographers I really admired and much to my further disappointment only a few of them replied, and those that did reply weren’t exactly the nicest :( I felt so defeated.

I watched a lot of Creative Live and tried to absorb as much information as I could. I just wanted to learn and better myself anyway I could. The one way every article and workshop I took in advised was to second shoot for someone. To find a mentor. To find a more experienced photographer who was willing to share ideas and information. However, everytime I tried to reach out and find photographer friends/mentors, it was met with negativity. I felt so discouraged and I remember telling Marco, a bit tearfully, that if I was ever at a place in my business where I had information that would help someone, I would never hoard it. I would always always try to help and share with others as much as I could.

Last year I invested in business coaching that changed my business, and me, in so many ways! And for the better! Balancing work and life has become less of a struggle and it gave me a clear idea of where I wanted my business to go. One of those ideas that I fell in love with was to have ONE second shooter for all my weddings. I gave it a try last year and had my husband and a close friend do the majority of my second shooting for me and I LOVED it. I realized that it by far is what’s best for me and most importantly my clients. Weddings are such an intimate event, and your photographer is with you from the start to the finish of the day. Most of my clients hire me not only for photos, but also because we are a good fit personality wise. I want to make sure I am bringing a second shooter to every wedding that I not only trust, but know will also be a good fit with my clients as well! I also saw it as an opportunity to give back, invest in someone and share what I’ve learned over the last 6 wedding seasons!

I am so excited for this idea to become a reality again for this year. Although my husband enjoys me bossing him around for a day ;) he loves his career as a financial advisor too much to second shoot all my weddings with me, and my close friend decided to focus on furthering his career! So this year I am on the hunt for a new second shooter/best friend.

I say best friend jokingly but also entirely seriously! I want someone who will be a good fit personality wise and I am definitely looking for personality over experience. This position would be ideal for someone who is passionate about photography whether it be family, portrait or wedding photography, who is getting started or just a few years in who wants to learn more about business and photography from me. I just ask one thing if you’re considering applying – don’t hold yourself back with thoughts of “I’m not good enough.” Dare greatly :)

The position will include mentoring, and full business coaching as well as getting to second shoot all of my local BC weddings. There may be one or two overnight weddings required as well. The second shooting hours will be paid. I value your work and time as a photographer and in exchange for your commitment to learning for the year and bettering yourself, I will commit to sharing as much information as I can!

Below are my expectations of what I am looking for commitment wise –

  • commitment to my 2016 wedding dates
  • commitment to a pre-wedding season one day workshop
  • commit to meet all my couples beforehand either in person, or via skype
  • commit to wedding debrief sessions
  • A willingness to be all in, to have a sense of adventure, and to put up with/share in my sentimentality ;)

To apply email me at justine@justine-russo.com by Sunday February 7 to get the process started. Please don’t be shy! And don’t you dare mutter or even think the words, “I’m not enough…” I will find you and shake your shoulders! haha!

If you think of someone who would be right for this as well please share it with them!

Can’t wait to celebrate with wine! :)

Conn and Francesca: Burnaby Wedding Photographer

Conn and Francesca got married last October in Burnaby and I am WAY behind on blogging! haha so far in fact they’re already pregnant with their first baby!! ;) Their wedding was FUN. I know fun is a relative term, but it’s the only one I can think of to explain it. A sentimental Italian woman married an Irishman. Not to draw on any stereotypes but the ones that come to mind were true and SO SO FUN. There was so much wholehearted laughter, so many hugs, and ridiculously amazing ideas for goofy photos. There was alcohol present throughout the entire day, and goofiness was encouraged! It was amazing!

Langley Wedding Photographer (19)

Francesca is a sentimental to the core. I met her many many years ago when we went to highschool together for grade 8 and 9. I had always adored her but we lost touch other than on Facebook for a few years.  She has a big personality and an even bigger heart. She is one of those women that you instantly notice when you walk into the room….she may not be the tallest ;) but she’s the one with the massive smile on her face, talking animatedly and making everyone around her feel welcome and loved.

Conn is exactly the same! I liked him instantly and could see why Francesca adored him! These two are magic together. They are so passionate about each other and they love every minute of the life they are building together.

I love meeting the wedding party because I find it says so much about the couple and who they are as people for who they choose to be in their wedding party. Conn and Francesca’s was filled with lifelong friends and family who had the most abundant amount of love for these two. Their friendships were the easy, relaxed, goofy and deep kind, the kind that only comes from knowing someone for years.

Their reception was full of good food, and dancing. Everyone piled onto the dance floor! There was kids everywhere just giving every dance move their everything. Francesca’s Nonna was making rounds with homemade Italian desserts, and the Irish Whiskey bottles were floating around.

Conn and Francesca, it meant the world to me to get to be a part of your day! Marco and I had the BEST time and I wish we could do it all over again!!! I can’t WAIT to meet Baby when he/she arrives!! Love you two!

Conn’s Mom was the best…and she so obviously ADORES her kids. She partied with them every chance she could and they adore her right back!

Their wedding favours were Italian Biscotti and Irish Breakfast tea :)


Leave them some love below or hit LIKE!

Highlights of 2015!

This is one of my absolute favourite posts of the year. My sentimental heart loves looking back on the last year of engagements and weddings and re living each and every moment while I pick out the highlights that really stuck with me!

I finished my business coaching earlier this year and made the decision in 2014 to take less work in 2015 to focus on focusing my brand and really investing in the couples I had the opportunity to work become friends with. It was AWESOME!! I had three hour coffee dates with couples, met for wine with a few more, and I had an absolute blast celebrating with each and every one of you!

This year was one that meant so much to me. It marked a real change in both me and my business. I completed business coaching and had huge doubts that it would work. I worried that my decision to work less would bite me in the ass and end up with very little work at all. I worried that it would affect my family negatively and put me in a worse off position. To me it felt like a risk to change my branding, and specialize in engagements and weddings. It felt like a risk to take less work and focus on solidifying my brand.

It turned out to be the best decision I have EVER made. I made new friends that have quickly become super close friends. At times working less was challenging, but I had the time to invest deeper with my couples, and to challenge myself creatively. I had time away from work entirely, to have more beach days, and days at home with my family. I had opportunities to travel and see bucket list places like Moraine Lake, Banff, Yoho, Glacier National Park (hmmm more mountains haha) I had time to focus more on myself than I have in YEARS.

We bought a CrossFit gym with friends of ours (also a past couple!) and I had the time to work on the social media and branding for the gym. It has been SUCH a refreshing year and I am so grateful something inside told me to do it. Trust that voice inside. It’s usually right!

I am so incredibly grateful for the last year. I can’t thank everyone enough who was a part of it, and before I get too sentimental, here are some of my favourite moments!






Mike and Allison: Manning Park Engagement Photographer

This session I have been holding hostage for way too long. It’s one of my MOST favourite sessions to date, and I’ve been keeping it to myself. Perhaps for too long, but I was nervous not everyone would love it as much as me. I was worried it wouldn’t be as special anymore.

Manning Park Engagement Photo (20)

You see, Manning Park is my most favourite place in the entire world. I’ve been camping there every single summer since I was 8 years old, I grew up there. I know that park better than I know my own backyard (seriously, it’s pathetic, my backyard isn’t that big), and it’s one of those places when I see other people say they’re going there, some irrational part of my brain goes, “ahem, that’s MY spot.” I am naturally a VERY sentimental person, but when it comes to Manning I get even more sentimental. I get goosebumps when I talk about it with others, and my Dad on MANY occasions has been known to say at family dinners, “hey….in 6 months we will be sitting around the picnic table at Manning…..”

When I suggested Manning for a location to Mike and Allison and they got so excited, I knew it was going to be a good day!

My husband and I met Mike and Allison almost two years ago at Dan and Emily’s wedding in Cancun! We hit it off with them right away and loved seeing them at parties Em and Dan held! When I saw the photos of Mike proposing at Centre Ice at ROGERS ARENA (best idea ever!! They’re HUGE Canucks fans!) I was over the moon happy for them!! When Allison first booked, she mentioned how much she LOVED sunset photos, so we stalked the weather network and were so excited to see sun in the forecast for Manning!

We drove up and it was solid cloud. Not even blue sky peeking through. Straight grey, dreary, blah cloud. Not even nice bright cloud. Not gonna lie we were both bummed. But the trees were a gorgeous vibrant yellow so we decided to make the most of it!! We explored all my favourite spots! We walked along Lightning Lake, we went out to Rainbow Bridge, and pulled over for some photos along the river!

We decided to end their shoot up at the Alpine Meadows. From down at the lake, the alpine was buried in clouds, but in the back of our minds we were hopeful it might be above the clouds, and if not foggy photos were pretty epic too! The drive up was SOOO foggy….until about 3/4 of the way up. It started to break, and then the sun poured through an opening and it lit up the forest like it was covered in sparkles. I hadn’t thought about the fact that the alpine would have frost! It hadn’t even crossed my mind! The trees were COVERED! By the time we got up to the top it was a crazy mix of sunset and fog and I’ve never been so excited! The fog lit up like it was on fire!

The drive down I am sure I drove Marco nuts (he was my chauffeur for the day!) I don’t know how many times I got him to pull over! Poor Mike and Allison, I had told them we were done, but every corner had a more epic view of the sunset!! haha I am SO glad we did it cause they turned out to be some of my favourites!

Mike and Allison, I had the ABSOLUTE best day!!! Thanks for driving up to Manning with me and braving the crazy weather and my constant pulling over haha! I can’t WAIT for your wedding this June!! :)

Love you guys :)




We sat on our hand-me-down couches in our small basement suite, in front of our gold blinds watching our tiny TV and trying to figure out what to do next. Our landlords had decided with no notice to up our rent, and limit our laundry days. Their daughter had just moved home again and was having loud parties until the early morning hours and one night we are pretty sure a bowling ball was dropped from standing height onto the floor. It is the only way to explain that 2am noise that startled us both awake.

We’d been married less than two months and living together for the same amount of time. We still had wedding presents in boxes in the corner of the living room waiting to find a home in our tiny kitchen.

We were 22. He had been living on his own since he was 19, and I had moved out of my parents house the night after our wedding. We were YOUNG. Both Marco and I are the oldest child. We were the first ones to get married and move out of our families houses. Being newlyweds at 22 was SO exciting. I remember the first time I went out to a party thinking, “I don’t have to tell anyone where I am. My parents have no idea where I am right now and that’s ok!”

My first thought was, “Well we have to ask our parents. Get their advice. See what they would do.” Maybe Marco could call his parents too and get their take on the situation. Even though I knew we were now two married adults, my instinct when a problem arose, no matter how small, was to reach out and talk to my parents. To ask for their help, to get their advice. Everytime a dinner I made turned out, I called my Mom to tell her with pride what I had made. Everytime it was time to apply for student loans, we would call our parents to get their thoughts. Everytime my car made a funny noise, Dad got a call. Even though we were married, we were still very much a part of our own individual families.

They say you can’t choose your family. 

We still identified strongly with being a part of our individual families. The fact that we were embarking on our own adventure and starting our own family and creating our own identity was lost on us. If someone had asked me to think of my family, I would have thought of my parents, and siblings immediately. I wanted to maintain ALL of my families traditions. We were very much ingrained in our individual families identities.

We got pregnant within a year of being married, and when our son was born we were bombarded with advice from family. As all new parents experience, much of the advice is asked for and some of it not so much ;) We quickly realized that we hadn’t had or taken the time to build our own family identity. It was a huge struggle for us….we were trying to finish college, (I went into labour during one of Marco’s final exams! he answered all C’s for the rest and passed!), we were trying to start our own businesses, and raise a newborn all within those first two years of being married.

We were a little lost for those years. We didn’t have a clear sense of what our values were. We didn’t know who we were as a family, and what we wanted from our life. We at times, let our families traditions and values influence our own more than they should have. Don’t get me wrong, we both come from AMAZING families with incredible support from both sides and couldn’t have done what we did without either of them!

I’m not sure when it happened, but we started to shift. We slowly started growing into our own family. We have maintained a few of our individual family traditions, but we’ve also added many more of our own new ones. When I think of my family now, I picture Marco and the kids immediately. I no longer feel like I’m pretending to be an adult, like someone is going to come along and tell us we are too young to be doing this. I feel settled and content in our life and we are us. We have our own identity. We’ve become our own family. We have our own values.

I look at Marco, and I see the family we’ve fought to build and the life we’ve grown together. I see this man who has seen me at my absolute worst, who has fought alongside me through post partum depression, who has celebrated the success of my business, who has encouraged me in every goal I’ve ever set for myself, who has patiently pulled over on the side of the road when I had too much to drink at a friends wedding, who laughs at my jokes even when they aren’t funny, who eats every bite of dinner when it doesn’t turn out, who will quietly (although not happily) sit next to me while I power through all 10 seasons of Friends or Greys Anatomy for the fifth time and most importantly a man who gives me space to be me. He lets me grow, learn, fail, be my stubborn cranky self, and he lets me take down my walls and just be me, and he never judges, he almost always laughs but he always always has loved me.

They say you can’t choose your family, but I chose mine.

I chose him, and I chose him everyday. I don’t care how cliche it sounds. Being married, next to parenting is the hardest, most rewarding thing I have ever done. This didn’t happen by accident, and I don’t believe I am “lucky”. I chose him and he chose me, God put us in each others paths for a reason, and we have worked our butts off to build something beautiful. It’s not beautiful because it’s perfect, far from it, it’s beautiful because it’s ours. It’s beautiful because we are both invested and present. We chose everyday to show up, let ourselves be seen, and to love each other no matter what life throws at us. This sometimes means slamming door fights where I wonder how the heck we are ever going to get past this, (haha which usually happen cause someone forgot to clean something up or some other mediocre unimportant thing that suddenly becomes the most important thing in our entire lives.) but it also means the cuddles, the lying in bed together at 2am cuddling cause we got woken up when a bowling ball got dropped on the floor. It means getting to come home to my best friend every day, it means having endless inside jokes, it means having a new level of intimacy that we’ve never experienced with anyone else.

So here’s to 8 years of glorious, messy, chaotic, challenging, rewarding, happy, and love filled years. I couldn’t imagine spending them with anyone else, and I can’t wait for the next many many many years.

Happy Anniversary Marco :)

blog collage


Powered by Netfirms