Disclaimer: I wrote this on the train to the Incheon Airport, I’m just slow to do anything about it. I did warn y’all that I would probably forget to blog. Do I know myself or……? 😛

 

I – Prologue

 

Oh man, how do I even begin to sum up the last three weeks of my life?

An opportunity

An adventure

Exciting

Awe-inspiring

A dream come true.

 

That’s like, super cheesy but honestly there’s something about the Olympics that makes you so much… prouder to be from your own country. I’m not sure “prouder” is the correct word, but even as a fan or member of the media I just found there is this innate sense of nationalism that we all have inside of us, waiting for the right moment to just own being proud of your county. I can’t even begin to imagine that feeling from an athlete’s perspective.

 

Generally, I’m quite a reserved person. I am shy and easily embarrassed. I don’t often get excited over sports other than skating and I never wear clothes that say anything on them. I prefer to spend my time behind my camera and documenting the world than being in front of a it. But honestly, there’s something about singing O’ Canada at Canada Olympic House with 200 other Canadians and athletes that just makes you forget all your inhibitions and proudly and boldly say “Hell yeah. I’m Canadian. Go Canada Go”.

 

II – The Olympics

 

I arrived in Korea on February 7th, nervous, excited, scared and maybe a little apprehensive of what was to come over the next three weeks. This trip was a lot of firsts for me. First long haul flight to Asia, first time at a competition where I wasn’t staying with my mom, first time flying alone, first time relying on shuttle buses (I will admit I am a bit spoiled). I didn’t know anything about the rink or really how the Olympics works for photographers. Everyone kept telling me “it’s like a normal competition…but bigger”…. Update. That’s not actually super helpful hahaha.

 

For some reason I had built it up in my head that I was going to be totally alone fending for myself and that other photographers were going to be cold and unhelpful and it was going to be a dog eat dog world. What I didn’t realize is that I would find a friend in Greg Kolz – someone I have known for a few years now, since we both photograph for Skate Canada on occasion. Somehow, we had the same flight booked to Korea and so we ended up travelling together for most of the first week of the Games, familiarizing ourselves with the lay of the land and adventuring to all the cool places. We rocked the Opening Ceremony the day after we arrived and even made it out onto the floor of the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza before we left (to sneak in a quick photo with the cauldron in the back of course). We also found our way to the top of the bobsled track to watch the ladies skeleton training runs, which happened, for me, to be one of the only other sports I got to take in live and in person.

 

Many of the days are a blur if I’m being honest. As much as I would love to say I got to visit all the sports and see so many cool things live, the truth is that I was working really freaking hard the majority of the time I was there. A typical day when there was a skating event went something like this:

 

5:00 am – Good Morning!

5:30 am – Find clothes/shower

6:30 am – breakfast in the dining hall

6:45 am – pack camera/computer gear

7:00 am – Shuttle bus to the rink

7:30 am – Arrive at Gangneung Ice Arena

8:00 am – Work on photos from the day before that I didn’t get to finish (I’m slow)

9:00 am – Head to arena to stake out photo position

10:00 am – Photograph skating!!!! (Best part of the day)

2:00 pm – Head back to VMC (Venue Media Centre) to work

8:00 pm – realize it was 8pm and I was starving

8:30 pm – shuttle bus to GMV (Gangneung Media Village)

9:00 pm – dinner at the dining hall/buy microwave rice from the convenience store

9:30 pm – edit more photos

12:00 am – realize it was midnight and think about going to bed

1:00 am – fall asleep editing pics

 

On the few off days I tried to take in practices and visit Canada Olympic House to see my mom and sister. Looking back, I could have taken the days off to see other sports but quite honestly, I was trying to soak in every moment of skating I could because I know that the Olympics is not something that you get to go to very often and also, I just really love watching practice.

 

Speaking of practices, the rinks were beautiful. In photos, the practice rink looked dark and a bit dingy but it was actually really nice. It’s no secret that I’m a lover of all things purple, so the main rink was obviously a dream. I heard from lots of people that I would be sick of the purple by the end of the Games but honestly, I wish every rink was so pretty. I have NO SHAME in saying that. Yesterday when we were packing up after Gala finished, I got a little emotional leaving the rink and the venue for the last time. Something about the Olympic rings on the boards and the beautiful clean ice just made me want to sit and soak it in just a little bit longer. Who knows what will happen in 4 years. This could be the only time I ever see Olympic ice in person. Obviously I hope not, but I think this one is always going to be special. (See Part III)

 

III – The Skating

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the skating. Oh, the skating. It was truly the best Olympics. The skating was what you wish for when you think of the Olympic Games. So many personal best, beautiful programs. Admittedly I am a crier but oh man, how many times did I cry over the last three weeks with joy that skaters were achieving their dreams. Dabin Choi and Hanul Kim of Korea skating clean long programs in front of a home audience. Beautiful. Aljona and Bruno with their most stunning long program. Amazing. Our beautiful Canadians. Gold in Team, Gold in Ice Dance, Bronze in Pairs, Bronze in Ladies. Tessa & Scott, Meagan & Eric and Patrick likely wrapping up their competitive careers with beautiful performances and a team GOLD. Unforgettable. Mirai landing that triple axel and Adam Rippon skating three clean programs. Valentina and Ondrej with 3 outstanding performances. My list could go on and on. It was event after event that was simply amazing to watch. But also bittersweet. So many skaters are capping their careers here. The landscape will be very different even next month at Worlds. I am excited to see where the future of the sport goes, but it will always be hard to say goodbye to the skaters I have grown up with. If any of them read this, thank you. With my whole heart, thank you.

 

IV – Epilogue

 

I know there is so much that I am missing from this post but honestly we’re 3 pages in and I think I’ve bored you enough. I don’t really know how to finish this up, but I think I will end with a thank you. To everyone who pushed me into going and supported me and cheered me on. Thank you. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along. I hope we can do it again in 4 years. If not, this was a really special experience and I will hold it close to my heart forever.

 

  • Danielle
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2018 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships
2018 Canadian Olympic Figure Skating Team. Photo: Skate Canada/Danielle Earl

Somehow, I am suddenly three days away from leaving for a grand adventure to photograph at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Just three. It honestly feels like yesterday that I found out I was even going and suddenly here we are; three days out from the biggest adventure of all. There is still SO much to do – and let’s be honest, I haven’t even started packing.

Figure skating has brought me to some pretty cool places over the past several years. From Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada to Bordeaux, France and Helsinki, Finland, I have been very fortunate to see places I likely never otherwise would have gone to thanks to skating. South Korea is definitely on my list of “places I never thought I would go” and the Olympics is on the “things I never thought I would experience” list, so it feels very surreal to be leaving for the Olympics in South Korea in three days.

I don’t know what to expect from the next month, but I know it’s going to be amazing one way or another. I’m going to conquer lots of fears, learn lots of things and meet some amazing, phenomenal, beautiful people. It’s kind of hard to fathom that at that point next month, a whole year of planning and excitement (and worrying) will be over.

I will be trying to write here and keep an account of what’s going on while I’m in PyeongChang. I don’t know how often I will update or if it will even be interesting, but I know that in 10 years I would like to look back and read this through and remember the anticipation and the fear and excitement I had going into my first Olympics as a photographer.

Things I know: I will be staying in the Gangneung Media Village while in South Korea. I’m going there to photograph figure skating for Golden Skate (www.goldenskate.com), but I would love to experience all the Games have to offer. I will be turning 25 while in Korea (!!!!). This will be my first flight to Asia and the first time I fly by myself. I am very nervous and very excited.

Stay tuned (if you want) – it’s going to be an exciting month.

xo Danielle

To keep up to date in real time, stay tuned to @goldsk8 and @danielleearlphotography on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

Dear Skaters

Originally written August, 2015.

Dear Skaters,

You are amazing. Full stop.

I’ve just finished three back-to-back weekends watching hundreds of skaters from all over Canada compete at Minto, Championnats d’été and Thornhill, and I am simply amazed. You are all astounding.

I see you. Week after week with your beautiful costumes and stunning smiles, doing what you love. I see your tough events, I see your fantastic events. When you have a personal best skate, I am right there with you. I’m clapping and, knowing me, I’m probably tearing up. Things are great. You are thrilled. Your parents are excited. Even your sibling, who’d rather be hanging out with their friends, is happy for you. New PB in the short; landed that new jump in the long. You’re on top of the world! You may not know it, but I’m thrilled for you. I see you improving week after week and it makes my heart sing.

But, I’m also there when you have the bad skates. I hurt when you fall. I know that botched lift is going to cost you and you’ll be annoyed when you don’t get your levels. Maybe you were gunning for an international but you got passed over. Maybe you fell 6 times in your long program. I feel bad taking photos when I know you’ll be upset that you’re not performing how you’ve practiced. But I want you to know; even if you have a million bad skates, YOU ARE AMAZING.

Over the past three weeks I have seen the spectrum. From the happy to the sad to the mad, I’ve seen it all. What do you all have in common? Your love for figure skating, sure. But in reality its so much more than that. You all have an amazing ability to put yourself out there and be vulnerable in front of family, friends and a panel of judges. You can teach a course in perseverance by picking yourself up after any number of falls – whether it be tripping on a toe pick or a fall on a quad lutz – and finish what you started with dignity. You can write the book on losing with grace, winning with humility and being a team player. But best of all? I know that even though you may have had the worst competition or the best competition weekend, you’re going to go back to the rink on Monday afternoon, strap on your skates for that 12:30 freeskate session and work your butt off because you love to skate.

Listen, I’m not a coach. I skated at a very low level and any technical knowledge I have comes from years of watching you guys put your heart and soul into your sport. But I want you all to know that you will always have a fan in me. I don’t care if you come dead last or always place first. What I do care about is you knowing how amazing you are to dedicate yourself, day in and day out, and that every time you go out there and compete is a victory in an of itself. I see you skaters beating yourselves up over bad lifts, messed up twizzles or under rotated jumps and I understand that to be a competitive athlete you have to be self critical, but I hope you know that through the bad days and the good days, you are, without a doubt, some of the bravest people I know.

So, thank you. For being you.

Love always,

Danielle

2015 Dance Season, A Summary

Hey y’all,

As is standard for me, I’ve neglected this blog for the past 5 months… January to May is the busiest time for the company at this point. BUT! We’re finally at the end of a very intense 6 weeks of dance competitions, and I have to admit, I’m glad to have a couple of weeks for a break. I have nothing exciting to say really except a huge, heartfelt thank you to Natalie and Christine at En Pointe & Just Dance, as well as Jessica and Todd at REAL Dance Competition for trusting me and my company to capture your competitions week after week. I’m truly humbled by the response that I have received from you guys, dancers and parents alike. Thank you for letting me live my dream.

Now that I have a bit of breathing time over the summer, I hope to be able to blog some images from some of the many exciting competitions/shows/events I’ve been able to capture over the past year. Stay tuned!

I will leave ya’ll with a few (a ton) of photos that we captured during the past 6 weekends and 8 dance competitions. Enjoy! (Please note that all photos are Copyright Danielle Earl Photography and may not be copied or reproduced without permissions. Doing so is considered stealing.)

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If you are new here, please don’t be afraid to reach out! If you’re wanting to stay up to date with all my most recent adventures, you can follow me on all the social media platforms. Thank you for the support!

Facebook: facebook.com/DanielleEarlPhotography

Twitter: @DanielleEPhoto

Instagram: @DanielleEarlPhotography

Looking Forward, Looking Back. Welcome to 2015.

Hey ya’ll.

2014 was, in all intents and purposes, one of the best years of my life. I know that people say that pretty much every year – I’m pretty sure I said it myself last year during my year end wrap up – but honestly, this was the biggest, most exciting year for me as a business.

I’m no good at writing blogs, but I wanted to sit down and really thank you – yes YOU reading this – for the support and encouragement you have given me this year. Not everything was easy this year. I had to learn a lot about what owning a business and being “the boss” means.  I had to say goodbye to one of my longest friendships (Note: sometimes you shouldn’t hire your friends, no matter how strong you think your friendship is). I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if it was worth it, was I going to be able to support myself as an adult at some point in time. There were times when I wanted to pack it all in, enroll in a general arts program and do the “normal” education thing because I was so busy and there were so many people who needed something from me I was beyond overwhelmed.

You know what I started to figure out in 2014? It’s going to be okay.

Being a boss isn’t easy. You have to make tough decisions, stand your ground and fight for what you want your business to represent. Sometimes you have to let go of control and trust that your people will make you proud. But, as it turns out, I like that. I like continually striving to be better. I like hearing comments from you guys about my wonderful photographers. It makes me feel so proud.

Saying goodbye to a 10 year friendship. Not fun, not easy. On the other side of it though, I’ve come to realize that I’m happier, less stressed and enjoying my business so much more. It’s not okay to let yourself compromise or be pushed over for the sake of a friendship. I want you all to know that you are better than that and you deserve more. In 2014, I learned that. It’s like a huge weight off your shoulders.

As for being able to support myself in the future. Who knows. I hope so. All I can do is take it one day at a time and count my blessings as I go. So many amazing things happened this year, and it’s honestly all thanks to YOU.

In 2014 I got to witness the 2014 Olympic team be chosen, I spend more nights in hotels than I can count, I burnt a million calories laughing with my people, I started to photograph dance competitions, I did my very first competition in Quebec, I went to Kelowna for my first international competition, I went to PARIS and Bordeaux for the first time, I got to photograph CHALLENGE. Most importantly, I met so many skaters, parents and coaches who were supportive and encouraging and kind and just plain LOVELY. When I meet you guys and hear how you appreciate photos and learn about you as people, it reassures my why I’m doing this. It’s not just about my personal love of taking photos. It’s much more than that. It’s about making connections with you, following your path through the skating world, celebrating your successes and trying to build you up after rough performances.

One of my favourite moments of 2014 was in December at Challenge. A mom of a skater who I met last year at Minto Summer Skate came over with tears in her eyes and thanked me, in her limited English, for taking such beautiful photos of her daughter. This was one moment of hundreds that made my heart so happy and my mind so sure that this was why I’m doing this “photo thing”; to capture those fleeting moments of skaters and dancers and now gymnasts doing what they love so fully.

Thank you. For allowing me to show you what freedom and joy look like. I’m so excited to see what 2015 has in store for you, for me, for the sports we love.

So maybe I’m no good at writing my thoughts down in a cohesive way. But I wanted to try. Because I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your support so much. I also have to thank the wonderful group of people that work for me; Maddie, Jenni, Kris, Kristy, Irene, Paul, Jeff, Sydney. I wouldn’t be anything without you guys.

See you in a rink/theatre somewhere soon!

xoxo Danielle

Octoberfest

A few weeks ago was the annual Octoberfest competition run by the Barrie Skating Club and Mariposa School of Skating. What an event! It was one of the largest I’ve ever photographed (definitely the longest – it started on Wednesday!) This year the event also coincided with the inaugural Skate Canada Autumn Classic International. It was pretty great for the Octoberfest competitors to be able to go watch all the international competitors compete right in the same building as they were competing! A unique experience for sure!

Here are a few photos from the Octoberfest event. If you would like to view more, or see your own skater, you can visit my website (www.danielleearlphotography.com) or click HERE to do so. The photos are still available for purchase if you would like as well! 🙂

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Octoberfest Photo Draw!

Are you going to be attending Octoberfest competition in Barrie, October 15-19th? Would you like the opportunity to win FREE photos? Great!

All you have to do is purchase a USB of your photos at Octoberfest and your name will be entered into a draw to WIN your photos at a future competition of your choice.

Each program you purchase = 1 entry, so if you skate a short and long then you have the chance to earn 2 entries! This also applies to siblings.

The draw will take place on Monday, October 20th, 2014 and will be announced on this Facebook page and by e-mail. Depending on how many entries there are, up to two winners may be drawn.

See you soon!! Good luck!

Octoberfest Photo Draw