Photoshoot Adventures: Cullen Gardens with Nick of Artanis Collective.

Last Thursday night, I got to hang out with a great friend from high school and take some pictures. It was as hot as the Amazon and we got attacked by ants while trying to find a spot for me to stand in this really lovely overgrown flower patch, but it was totally worth it.

Nick and I have known each other since we were but wee grade seven students at band camp (DIAC was lit… I know I can’t pull off saying “lit” but just let me have this one, okay?). We ended up at the same high school and have stayed friends to this day.


This is a photo of us from Grade Eleven. We both had really cool hair.

Nick is a super cool dude, and I always enjoy spending time with him. He’s the kind of friend that you always feel good after hanging with them; and that makes making art together super easy. Every time we get together, it feels like it hasn’t been two years since the last visit. I’m not sure how I managed to befriend so many fabulously talented people, but Nick really has a special style, and I love how I look in his photos. I look how I imagine myself.

What I do have to tell you is that the spot we chose to take photos at is an absolute landmark in our hometown. It used to be this really beautiful botanical park, with exquisitely manicured gardens, hay rides, splash pads, mini-golf, and a lights show in the winter. Cullen Gardens was also home to the Miniature Village. The Miniature Village was SO COOL. It was made up of all these really neat scenes with tiny buildings and tiny people. There were moving parts, and the pathway was marked so you would be sure to see all of the tiny things. As a child who was completely rapt by fairies and the like, you can imagine how much I enjoyed visiting the Miniature Village. It was also the home of one of the town’s summer daycamp programs for kids. People got married here. People went here on a Saturday with their family, and it was always the spot to bring visiting relatives and friends for a nice walk, or a picnic. A great deal of my childhood memories took place at Cullen Gardens.

A number of years ago, the ownership of the park changed hands, and Cullen Gardens closed its doors on its days as a family hotspot. The gardens overgrew. The Miniature Village was dismantled and taken away. I was really sad. And I hadn’t been to the park in probably four years. So when we rolled up on Thursday in Nick’s shiny white Mazda 3, I was really taken aback by how derelict the main building looked; Suburban Gothic. It was a very strange feeling to see the gardens so out of control, and the wedding venue completely out of use and broken down. At the risk of sounding totally weird, the place sort of looked how I felt.

The photos turned out so beautiful. We ran out of sunlight, but I’m always a fan of darker lighting. Adds some mystery, I guess.

Here are some of the beautiful portraits from the session.


When Nick asked me about wardrobe ideas for the session, I knew I wanted to do some of my favourite wedding looks. The blush dress, I wore to my bosom friend Teresa’s wedding this summer, and the floral print, to my cousin Luke’s wedding (it’s actually their first anniversary today! You can find Emily’s incredible blog HERE.) I love both of these looks so much, and I was really glad that Nick and I were able to capture them together.

Both looks are also very feminine; this isn’t always my go-to vibe with my outfits, but I just love both of these outfits so much. Blush is a really flattering colour, and the relaxed fit of the skirt, as well as the length and bodice detailing, made this an absolute must this summer. The floral print is gorgeous, and really gives the 70’s vibe, especially with the cut of the neckline and the long sleeves. This piece is great for a day later in the summer because it gives extra coverage just in case, but the fabric of the sleeves is sheer enough that you won’t melt.

I’m also excited about this set because its the first time I’ve been able to capture myself wearing my gorgeous teardrop Orchid Crystal necklace from Bella’s Treasure, with something other than my iPhone! This piece went really well with my floral print maxi, and was the perfect accent for the neckline. So pleased to be able to collaborate with a brand that makes such lovely shiny things! If you use the code EMMA25 at checkout on the Bella’s Treasure site, you’ll receive 25% off your purchase.

Outfit Details

Blush Dress – Suzy Shier
Quartz Crystal Necklace and Claddagh Ring  – The Patch
Blush Nude Ballet Slipper Flats – Winners

Floral Print Maxi Dress – Forever 21
Teardrop Orchid Crystal NecklaceBella’s Treasure

Creative Credit

Nick Driver
– @nickdriver – – @artaniscollective –

Looking forward to collaborating with Nick again this fall, on a creative project!

Love Always,

Emma Cate


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