Me :)

About Justine Russo

I love to photograph love. Love between people who are light-hearted, a little bit goofy, who arent afraid to laugh at themselves. Those who cherish time outdoors, who arent afraid to try something new, and who believe that time spent with family, is the BEST time spent.
I genuinely believe a good laugh can cure any bad day. I am tall! (6foot1 tall!), I love to cuddle up with a good book and a cup of tea, I have a collection of blankets for my couch. My favourite season is usually whichever one is coming up next and I could never live where I cant see the mountains everyday.

Markus and Lisa: Golden Ears, Maple Ridge Engagement

December 18th, 2014

Golden Ears Provincial Park Engagement (13)

Markus and Lisa have the quality I most admire in couples. They make each other laugh constantly.

We walked through Golden Ears Park, and as I checked my camera settings, Markus and Lisa held hands and I could hear bursts of laughter and giggles. After being together for 9 years and highschool sweethearts their relationship is the best mix of history and newly engaged spark. I loved getting to hear their stories and excitement for their wedding plans!

They both love the forest and mountains, and when they told me how much time they spend outdoors, I knew Golden Ears was the best spot for us! We hiked in and explored, stopping to take photos whenever a spot stood out to us.

We had so much fun exploring, that we lost track of time. So much lost track of time that we got back to our cars a little bit late. I have never sped so fast. Especially along a narrow windy road in Golden Ears Park!! The park gates closed promptly at 5:30, it was 5:25 and I still had 3km to go.  So I sped. And made it barely as they closed the gates!

Markus and Lisa I LOVED adventuring with you two!! :)

Being festive is a lifestyle choice….commit.

December 16th, 2014

“Even though she was a grown woman, she believed in Santa Clause, flying reindeer, elves and sacks with bottomless room for toys. Furthermore, she believed that believing in these things was the chief reason she had more fun in life than others.”

Festive (10) - Copy

(My daughter at the Christmas tree farm this year)

I view the world with a sentimental heart and a mind that longs to always be filled with wonder and awe. I am eternally viewing the world glass half full, and believing the best about everyone. Every year as summer draws to an end,  I get this overwhelming feeling of excitement, joy, nostalgia and goosebumps all rolled into one. October through December is my absolute favourite time of year. I live for these three months.

A close friend this year asked me, “why Fall?” and I had a hard time putting into words why Fall and Christmas mean so much to me. Until I realized, to me they aren’t seasons or holidays, they’re opportunities to experience that wonder, joy, emotion and to create those memories that will be etched in our minds for the rest of our lives. They’re the one time of year, it’s encouraged to believe in magic. Where we can freely experience the same wonder and awe we felt when we were 3 years old and meeting Santa for the first time. It’s the time of year random acts of kindness are done more often, singing on peoples front door steps is encouraged, everything sparkles, eggnog comes out, printer paper can be made into snowflakes, and Elf is quoted and on repeat. The best part for me is friends drop by more often, family dinners  last a little bit longer, and stories are shared over food and wine….so much food and wine. :)

Growing up, I was blessed to have two parents who embraced both Fall and Christmas. My parents invested so much of their time and energy into making sure we had the most magical childhoods. My Dad would take us for walks in the forest and tell us to listen to the sound of the crunching leaves. October was pumpkin patch visits, homemade costumes that my Mom spent hours on and my Aunt coming over to help us sort through our candy.  My Mom would enlist our help with her Christmas baking, decorating, and crafting, all while listening to Christmas music. We would light the Advent candles, eat tortierre and attend Christmas Eve mass in our fancy Christmas dresses and celebrate the birth of Christ. We would watch the same movies every year, and now have inside jokes for most of them that go back to when we were little.  Our Christmas family traditions are so etched in stone, that without them Christmas just doesn’t feel like Christmas.

So many people this Fall sent me memes and funny cartoons about pumpkin spice and girls in uggs loving starbucks, and I LOVE them all! And so love that those things remind others of me! :) At the same time, it’s so much deeper than just a love of pumpkin and spice. I fully embrace both seasons and fully commit to everything that comes with it.

Christmas for us starts November 25 with decorations, music, baking, movies, candy, scented soaps and candles and so much more. We start our festivities full swing with a trip to the christmas tree farm, the High Street Christmas tree lighting where I cry every single year when the tree gets lit and it starts snowing. I am right in there with the kids staring up watching the snow fall (who cares if it’s fake. Be all in.) Two years ago, we woke up our son at midnight to run outside and twirl around in the first snow of the season. We surprised him this year by sneaking into his room after he had fallen asleep and decorated his room with hanging snowflakes and Christmas lights. And I know once again, I will cry Christmas morning watching the kids open their stockings.

To those who asked me “why”, the only reply I can think of is “why not?!” This is your once chance to fully live this season. (Because then comes January, and let’s face it, who out there actually likes January?!)

Living life full means embracing every moment, and living it all the way in. Living it as full and as big as you can. Squeezing every last drop out of it, so you can look back and say “yea, we did that good.” Feeling every emotion, taking advantage of every tradition, letting yourself get caught up in it all because there is nothing better than being swept off your feet by life. We have this glorious opportunity to create our own memories. We get to make our life what we want it to be. We have the choice to be festive. To live in the moment fully.  Why not dive right in, Santa hat and all and let the magic in?

 (My son last year after we drove to the top of a mountain cause all he wanted for Christmas was to build a snowman….that and Lego)

* Follow along on Facebook and Instagram as I reveal more details about the NEW brand launch, January 14!



Andy and Sarah: Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, Sunshine Coast Wedding

December 10th, 2014

Andy and Sarah’s wedding at the Rockwater Secret Cove Resort this past Thanksgiving had it all….stormy winds, rain, crashing waves, wooden walkways through the forest towards breathtaking lookouts over the Sunshine Coast. Their ceremony included writing love letters and locking them into a wine box engraved with their name and wedding date for their later wedding anniversaries. It had just the right mix of adventure and sentimentality.

Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, Sunshine Coast Wedding (38)

The day started off with downpouring rain, crazy winds and dark gray stormy clouds. I was in love. I know rain on a wedding day is often seen as a disappointment, but Sarah embraced it and I was excited. The water looked SO blue and vibrant, and there’s something so romantic about wind and a brewing storm, especially with a cathedral length veil :)

Sarah and I are both sentimental and warmhearted. She had the most thoughtful touches throughout the day that accentuated both families coming together and that recognized the strong examples of marriage they had in their lives. They each had gifts for their parents to honor them for being such an integral part of their lives and amazing examples for the kids of love they wanted. Sarah had her florist wrap her bouquet in two, and then together into one, so later on at the reception she could seperate them to give to each of their grandmothers to honor them and their amazing marriages as well! It was such a touching moment to see her hand the bouquets over with a hug.

Their reception was cozy and warm. We all snuggled into the hall overlooking the stormy seas. Let me tell you, there is NOTHING better than the amazing, warm, halibut dinner we had after spending a few hours out in the cold, wind and rain. It was amazing. Everywhere we looked, everyone was cuddled in, with huge smiles on their faces, sharing stories over food and wine. It was perfection.

There was not a dry eye in the room after dinner, when Andy’s parents got up to read “Love you Forever”. Or when Sarah’s sisters got up to tell stories of them growing up, and how much they valued having Andy as a part of their family. It was the most perfect way for them to spend their Thanksgiving weekend, and I felt so welcome in joining them!

* A HUGE thank you to my epic, amazing, best friend AND second shooter JacilynM for helping me out! #dreamteam

Andy and Sarah, being a part of your engagement session hike, and your wedding weekend meant so much to me. I felt so welcome, and I loved getting to know your families. You two are surrounded by so much love. You two together have something so special and I feel so honored to have gotten to witness a small portion of it. Love you guys!! :) xoxo

Risk Being Seen.

December 4th, 2014

I’ve had so many people ask me what my business coaching was all about. What it entailed. What it focused on. I realized I had been a bit vague about it. Mostly because it’s a fairly unique approach to any other sort of business coaching I have ever heard of before.

Over the past 8 months, I have stretched and pushed my muscle of inward thinking more than I ever have before EVER in my entire life. I have never thought about myself more. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and kinda scary.

The process was more therapeutic than anything. It was an indepth look at who I am. Not really a marketing plan, or rebrand, just an inward look at what makes up ME as a person. What is my first impression on people when they first meet me? Why do people love me? (talk about a hard thing to think about!) and even harder, when people don’t like me, what’s usually the reason? And the hardest and perhaps easiest  at the same time, was figuring out how my heart views the world. My deep, core temperament.

I fought against most of what I learnt. I had it in my head I would discover this person hidden inside me that I had always wanted to be. This impressive person who would surprise me and make me more confident with myself. Instead it was just me. An amplified version of the me I had known all along. Parts of me I had hidden because I was scared. At first, to be honest, I was disappointed. Where was this impressive person I was searching for?  This better version of myself? I really struggled.

I was afraid to own myself out of fear my husband wouldn’t like me anymore. (This sounds so silly writing out but seriously I was!) I was afraid my friends would find out just how sentimental I actually am and take a step back. I was nervous to share how I viewed the world. I am a people pleaser. The idea that I may not be able to please everyone (although an obvious idea) was so hard to come to terms with.

I shared my struggles with a close friend over breakfast. She had been through the same coaching herself and had the best perspective. I have this great privilege and gift of knowing who I am. Most people go their entire lives now really knowing who they are. Knowing this, I now had a choice. I can own who I am, really acknowledge it and embrace it, or I could continue to adjust myself to be who I think the world wants me to be. I could continue to make small changes to my personality to fit in with whoever I was hanging out with.

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That night Jim Carey’s speech popped up on facebook and it blew me away. I was in tears, I had goosebumps and I watched it twice through. It was exactly what we had discussed at breakfast and more. If you’ve never seen it, go watch it now. Seriously. (and while you’re at it read “Daring Greatly” and watch all Brene Brown’s Ted Talks….haha while I am plugging other people’s shit may as well go all out!)

“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible….risk being seen in all your glory.”

It’s scary and relieving all at once. The pressure of worrying about whether or not people like me it diminishing. The needs to censor myself out of fear is slowly going away. I understand myself better than I ever have before, and I love myself more than I ever have before. It’s so freeing to be able to now say, this is me.

To risk being YOU everyday is a muscle that needs worked. It takes practice. I work at it every single day. I am constantly reminding myself to lean into the discomfort. Because it is uncomfortable. Lean into that, stepping away hurts only us. It damages our confidence. It chips away at our self worth. It numbs us. It makes us doubt our relationships, because how could they truly love us without truly knowing who we are?

Life is too short to be somebody else. Why miss out on the feeling of pure joy of being loved by people who know you inside and out. Fear traps us in our own doubt that no one will like us if we let ourselves be seen. We start to doubt our words, our actions, everything we do.There’s no greater feeling than telling that fear to screw off. To let yourself be seen, and having people see you back, and love you for you. Yes, it’s scary as shit, but I’m finding that the things that scare the shit out of me are often the most worthwhile. I’m finding I have less regrets, I am doubting myself less, I am building friendships that are so much deeper and meaningful than ever before. My marriage is stronger than it’s ever been….because my husband sees me.

So lean in. Lean in hard. Lean in so hard you jump in with both feet. Embrace you. Tell fear to screw off. Stop listening to what others think. (because in the words of the great T-Swift, “…the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate”)

You ARE worth the risk.

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LAUNCH day!!!!

December 1st, 2014

No it’s not today. haha before you get to excited!

It was supposed to launch last week. My site was done. Everything was gloriously done! I sent my site to a few of my closest friends to view on their computers to make sure everything aligned properly. My mobile site was done and tested. Everything was GOOD TO GO! I was so excited!!

Until… friend with a MAC got back to me. haha (insert jokes about PC vs MAC here) Apparently there was aligning issues on some MAC’s. Layers overlapped and a few of my links weren’t working because of the overlapping layers. I spent a few days stressing, trying to learn technical tricks that are so beyond my knowledge of design and none of them worked.

So I have hired an amazingly talented designer to help me out!! She is working away on it as we speak actually!! :)

My plan was to launch next week, but I kinda wanna be done work for December! I have a bit more editing to get through, but I am sentimental and festive. Christmas is literally MY season. My house already looks like Buddy the Elf decorated!! I snuck into my sons room and hung snowflakes from his ceiling a few nights ago to surprise him when he woke up. I’ve already started Christmas baking and shopping. We went to Disney on Ice yesterday and we bought tickets last night to another Christmas event this weekend. I love celebrating every last moment of Christmas!

To me, there’s no such thing as going overboard at Christmas. Just no such thing.

Sooooo the launch is officially and FINALLY January 14 2015!!!! I will be starting off the New Year with a brand new site! I feel so good about the date!! SO GOOD! 14 is my lucky number, and I love starting off the New Year with something to look forward to! (and hopefully give you all something to look forward too!)

I won’t leave you hanging though! I did a branding photoshoot last week and here’s a little peek at how it went!!


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