On the Cover: The St. Denis Family – Life with the YMM Parent Cover Drawing Contest Winner
After the success from the first YMM Parent cover contest, our editorial team wanted to share the opportunity with another Fort McMurray family and launched a second contest. But this time, instead of sharing family photos, residents were asked to draw pictures of their families.
It was six-year-old Hadley St. Denis’ drawing of herself with brother Hudson, 4, mom Megan and dad Brad that won over our editorial team. With the win, they got to take part in a photo shoot with award-winning photographer Crystal Mercredi of Life and Portraits.
“I was super excited,” Hadley said about finding out her drawing had won. And when asked what her favourite part of the shoot with Crystal was, she said, “Getting to be silly with my brother and mommy and daddy.”
Hadley dances at YMM Dance Company and enjoys playing soccer with the Fort McMurray Youth Soccer Association, and her brother is following in her soccer footsteps as he starts his first season soon.
Rewind to 2006, Hadley’s dad moved to Fort McMurray from Edmonton to take on a position at Thickwood Heights School.
Little did Brad know; his soon-to-be wife from Vancouver would be soon joining him to work at the school, only two years following. And now, both their children attend the very place the couple first met.
Today, Brad is an English Language Arts, and Social Studies Teacher at Ecole McTavish High School and Megan stays at home to manage the household.
“My job allows me to interact with the future of tomorrow and there is never a day when I am not entertained or inspired by the school’s community,” Brad said of his career.
As for Megan, she’s enthusiastic about running the house.
“I spend most of my day taking care of, well, everything and everyone,” Megan laughed.
When asked what life is like raising their young children, the pair said they feel “very lucky” because Hadley and Hudson bring a lot of happiness and laughter into their home.
They said it’s their giggles and smiles that have surprised them through their years of parenthood the most. “Giggles and smiles – how much one, tiny giggle or smile from Hadley or Hudson can bring joy to an entire day,” Megan shared. “It does not seem to matter how difficult a day may be, there kids always let us end with a happy memory and smile.”
Photo credit and caption: The St. Denis family: Brad, Megan, Hadley and Hudson during their exclusive cover contest photo shoot at the Life and Portraits’ studio in February 2019. Photos by Crystal Mercredi of Life and Portraits
On the Shoot
YMM Parent spoke with Crystal Mercredi of Life & Portraits, who is Fort McMurray’s only accredited photographer with the Professional Photographers of Canada, to discuss our front cover family photo shoot and her award-winning career in photography, which began when she was seven-year-old after she received a Polaroid camera from the inheritance of a woman she dearly loved.
YMM Parent: We understand you’ve met our contest artist Hadley, 6, and her brother, Hudson, 4, before. What was your favourite part about taking our cover photos with the St. Denis family?
Crystal Mercredi: I loved photographing the St. Denis family because they exude joy and kindness. I first met them when Hadley turned one and had the pleasure of photographing Hudson’s newborn photos, so seeing what beautiful and happy children they are growing into, and the relationship they have with each other makes my heart sing.
YP: You’ve been an ambassador for the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) for three years now. As an expert in child photography, can you tell me why they are your favourite subject to capture?
CM: My goal is to capture the essence of each child for who they are as individuals in this particular moment of their life. For children, their identity is changing so rapidly that mannerisms can be forgotten forever if not captured in a way that resonates enough to make them print-worthy.
YP: Not only are you a skilled professional, but you also teach your talent and mentor other photographers in our community. Can you tell us where your passion comes from to take this on?
CM: NAPCP has been essential in my development as a photographer. This organization sanctions three to four annual gatherings with the goal of helping to develop a supportive photographic community. In addition, I also hold Photographer’s Coffee’s, which are monthly invitations to all local photographers, so we can build on the NAPCP gatherings. We collaborate on business and technical issues, and help each other to always continue growing our abilities and pursue lifelong learning.
Alberta-born Crystal Mercredi is a local photographer obsessed with photography, coffee and her family; husband and three children. Recognized by The National Association for Professional Child Photographers, Child Photo Competition, and The Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers Internationale, you can find Crystal working on community projects around the community or in her home studio in Fort McMurray. To learn more about Crystal Mercredi of Life & Portraits, visit lifeandportraits.com.