_MG_0101-2wsI set the table with photo books and magazines, ready for us to dig in and get inspired as we warmed up to getting out our cameras.

This was last night, at the gorgeous Luminous Elephant Studio run by my friend Madelyn Mulvaney.

On the other gorgeous table I’d gathered creative props from around the studio for us to photograph, inspiration galore and behind each item fairy lights adorned the walls adding a sparkle to our shots.

_MG_0171wsEverywhere you look in this space there is something that catches your eye and is just asking to be photographed. It is really a wildly inspirational place to get playful with our cameras.


As I awaited their arrival, I did what I do to get grounded and set the timer on my own camera and got playful with the props we’d soon by using in class.

_MG_0187wsThen they arrived, such incredible women with exciting reasons that brought them to want to learn more about their camera. We swooned over images in those books, the potential of what we could capture with our cameras growing by the minute.

Then we got our cameras out and played. While this is a Learn to Use Your Camera class, it is grounded in learning experientially which means getting playful with our cameras, experimenting and learning by doing. So we got started getting acquainted with the feeling of the camera in our hands, where all the buttons were and the flow of how learning to shoot feels.  I know for me, intellecutally learning about photography is one thing, but it doesn’t always mean we get (and retain) how to make it happen, camera in hand outside of class. So that is what we began.

In the coming 4 weeks we’ll experience and learn so much more, camera in hand. We’ll dig more into learning about light next week, then get acquainted with aperture, shutter speed, ISO, shooting manually and more.

You can register for the full session here and if you’d like to jump in and join us for the whole package, next week I’ll be arriving early for an optional catch-up session with those who are joining in late and missed the first week.

You are also most welcome to come for 1 night if you’re craving a refresher on an element of photography and your camera. Here’s what our focus of each week is:

Week 2: Light

Week 3: Aperture

Week 4: Shutter Speed

Week 5: Shooting Manually

Though of course, the best deal is the whole program but if you’d like to drop in each class is $55.

I love this last photo that was the only one I captured that got a little slice of life of the class with our tea cups at rest (cause our cameras were in our hands), lenses and iPhones waiting for their turn and the rest of us standing on chairs shooting from above or playfully arranging items in our own way to experiment taking photos of.

Seriously, it felt luminous in there. Luminous and lovely and you are welcome too. I’ll have tea (and even champagne) awaiting you!


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  • Alison M

    Love this! And love that you are bringing your vision of more in-person workshops to life is such a gorgeous way. Wish I could go!ReplyCancel


Over the holidays, most of my family gathered together in Portland. We have our routines when visiting there which include lots and lots of walks. When I had been there for my Nephew’s Birthday, he had received a cool kids camera from a good friend (its a VTech Kidizoom Camera).

So when we arrived for Christmas, I asked if he wanted to try it out and he was mighty excited. I was amazed how quickly he understood and could maneuver around the camera, capturing and checking out the photos. It was soon coming along on all our adventures.

I’m sure I was glowing every time the camera came with us. He knows I love taking photos so it was great to be able to talk to him about something I’m so passionate about.  A super sweet moment happened when he, unprompted, aimed his camera at his feet and took a foot selfie on purpose. I’ve made him get in enough foot photos of the two of us that I’m sure that just felt natural to him!

I so hope that it ends up being something we do together on our visits!



As well, just as we were about to leave to head back up to Vancouver, I remembered that while I had taken lot of selfies with him, I hadn’t had a photo of the two of us taken though I had made sure to take a photo (or photos) with him and each family member.  Remember…sometimes we’ve got to pass the camera to other people! So glad I did cause now it’s my new favourite photo of the two of us!


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  • Donna Lange

    What a sweet connection, it is very special! I have a special connection to my granddaughter, we just seem to be mad about each other from the first moment!ReplyCancel

  • My aunts were such an important part of my life growing up. And still are!

    It makes me so happy to see you filling that role so awesomely.ReplyCancel

  • Looks like you guys had fun, isn’t he a cutie?!ReplyCancel

  • If you weren’t my friend, I’d totally want you to be my auntie. You rock. And so does that nephew of yours.ReplyCancel


I once followed it without knowing

Letting its ever-changing beauty become habitual

Then it was gone.  Or at least I was too caught up

in shadows to see it.


Now it is always visible to my eyes, even when absent

it stays subtle for many months and then bursts out

falling between tree branches

leaving its patterns, impermenant art on building walls

that always stop me in my tracks


I walk down my tree lined street

the light and shadow

pulse between hot and cold

singing to me

you are alive

you are alive

you are alive


I listen.


(from this post in the archives written June 10th, 2011 over at my old blog…and still very much true)

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I’m excited to share that I’m involved in a super lovely photo project this year called The Hours. The idea being that this collection of photographers (there are 40 of us) each share a photo we’ve taken at a specific hour, each month having a different hour as we work through the clock. For January it is 7am, February 8am etc.

My friend Audrey asked me to join in which definitely was part of why I said yes (cause she’s super lovely) but also because the idea of taking photos at a certain hour lights me up. I love going for photo walks but I do find they are often at a similar time of day when the light is the brightest.

Light has been one of the things that drew me into a love affair with photography. I especially adore late day light, as it moves so quickly and I’m reminded of the beautiful impermanence of it. So heading out for a walk in the dark to get a 7am photo felt outside of my ‘light’ comfort zone in the awesomest of ways.

I’m not sure if all of mine will be selfies. I’d love to give myself the freedom to take any kind of photos that arise. I’m also excited to be getting my DSLR out even more for this project, especially since my phone is my go-to camera so often.

Since there are so many people involved, there are 4 posts per month on Sundays. I’m a part of the first week crew so each month you’ll be able to check out my contribution over there along with the other inspiring photographers involved!

Y’all are welcome to join in with your 7am photos this month (and join us any month) with the hashtag #thehours2015 and you can find out more over at The Hours website or The Hours Instagram or Facebook Page too !

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I love the practice of picking a word each year and choosing it as a guidepost for the year. I learned about the practice from Ali Edwards and her One Little Word project and my one word of the year has felt like such a guidepost for the personal body image healing I’ve been doing these past few years. Words like Thrive, Confidence and last year’s word which was Worthiness.

I confess I’m not sure what my word (or phrase) is yet. Sometimes I find it takes digging into the year a bit for it to be clear. I have inklings though, a yearning to have this year be more about settling into the new normal of being more at peace with my body, savouring life more. I suppose I’m craving a more gentle word this year after all these earth-shaking, change-making words.  It also feels important to me that in some way the word is in alignment with this path of Being our Own Beloved. So I thought I’d make this list to spark ideas and share it with you too in case it will be helpful in choosing your word of the year!

  1. Beloved
  2. Love
  3. Compassion
  4. Kindness
  5. Body Love
  6. Confidence
  7. Worthiness
  8. Enough
  9. Embody
  10. Be Yourself
  11. Uniquely You
  12. Radical Self-Love
  13. Set Free
  14. Embrace
  15. Making Peace
  16. Valuable/Valued
  17. Thrive
  18. Belief
  19. Sacred
  20. Cherished
  21. Treasured
  22. Awareness
  23. Exquisite
  24. Loving
  25. Reclaim
  26. Body Peace
  27. Well Fed (inspired by Rachel Cole’s work)!
  28. Emerge
  29. Wholehearted
  30. Sweetness
  31. Appreciate
  32. Passion
  33. Shine
  34. Self-Acceptance
  35. Claiming Space
  36. Devoted
  37. Enchanting
  38. Adore
  39. Care
  40. Cultivate
  41. Reverence
  42. Nourish
  43. Support
  44. Nurture
  45. Radiance
  46. Open up
  47. Live/Alive
  48. Whole
  49. New Perspective
  50. Home
  51. Heal
  52. Acceptance
  53. Ease
  54. Wholeness
  55. Letting Go
  56. Possibility
  57. Reconnect
  58. Savour
  59. Listen
  60. Authentic Self
  61. Flourish
  62. Full
  63. Revolution
  64. Yes
  65. Discover
  66. Embrace
  67. Heroine
  68. Voice
  69. Intuitive
  70. Journey
  71. Hope
  72. Celebrate
  73. Change
  74. Unique
  75. Appreciate
  76. Seen
  77. See with New Eyes
  78. Permission
  79. Tell Your Story
  80. Visible
  81. Recognition
  82. Movement
  83. New
  84. Heart
  85. Loveable
  86. Forgive
  87. Unconditional
  88. Spark
  89. Magnificence
  90. Precious
  91. Luminosity
  92. Grow
  93. As You Are
  94. Right Here, Right Now
  95. Dare to be…
  96. Inherent Worth
  97. Open to Possibility
  98. Celebrate
  99. Feast on Your Life
  100. Choose Love

Have you already found your word of the year? Or are any of these jumping out at you as potential candidates for your word of the year? And how do you keep your word in the forefront during the year (one of my favourite ways is to get a piece of Soul Mantra jewelry with my word on it)!  I’d love to hear in the comments!

Copy of Nextbyobeloved

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  • Thanks for this! I too am struggling to find a word. The last couple of years the word totally found me so its difficult it doesnt want to surface this year.
    Love seeing what youre doing and watching you grow. Havent taken your courese but know youre inspiring all of us to prctice loving ourselves a little bit more everyday. Hope you have a fabulous 2015!ReplyCancel

    • Some of them do jump out at us don’t they…and others we really need to listen in for. Hoping you have a fabulous 2015 too lovely!ReplyCancel

  • Great suggestions!! My word for 2015 is purpose – I am prepared to seek and embrace mine more fully!!ReplyCancel

    • LOVE that Barbara! Such a good word and I can’t wait to see what is in store for you my friend!ReplyCancel

  • […] McMaster‘s 100 Word of the Year Ideas. I’ve already gotten my word of the year, but this is a great […]ReplyCancel

  • […] one of these goals could have directed me to a word for the year. I used Vivienne Mcmaster’s list of 100 Words to work through what I was thinking about, but unable to articulate. And then it hit me. […]ReplyCancel

  • Alanna Jane

    thank you for this, Viv! You are amazing (as always), as is this beautiful list of personal word suggestions for 2015.

    I have been hovering over “CREATE” for both creating the life I really want to be living right now in this moment, as well as the re-creation of my artisan wares and business (after so many medical reasons why not). Reading this list has me contemplating “THRIVE” as well. Hmmm. I am certain that my word will make itself clear in the next week as I complete Susannah Conway’s yearly new year journaling workbook.

    Last year my word was “RECEIVE”, in 2013 it was “ACCEPT” (as in full, unconditional self-acceptance), and in 2012, it was “SELF-LOVE”.ReplyCancel

  • […] like to have a word, but you aren’t sure about which one, Vivienne shares 100 beautiful words to choose […]ReplyCancel

  • […] I was strolling the pages of Pinterest. I saw this pin.. Check out this whole site, she has some great stuff there. What a great idea. A word for the whole […]ReplyCancel

  • […] If you’re wanting to choose a word but still waiting to find the right one, here’s a lovely list from Vivienne McMaster to begin […]ReplyCancel

  • Love the list! I’ve been having trouble coming up with one word that does it for me. I’ve got three right now and I’m kind of waiting for one to come to the forefront.

    One thing I did do that helps me remember them is I used a graphics program on my iPhone (InstaQuote is what I used, but there are dozens out there) and wrote out my words and then used the image as my lock screen on my phone. I can’t switch my phone on without seeing it (and I look at my phone a heck of a lot).

    I’m taking the Cultivating Self Care class now and I’m loving it!ReplyCancel

  • […] I read through Vivienne McMaster’s 100 Word of the Year Ideas and saw […]ReplyCancel