Darlene McCowan bio picture
  • Hi There!

    Thank you for stopping by for a visit. I'm so happy to have you here!

    I love photographing special moments...memories that will last a lifetime. As a child, I recall sitting in my Grama & Grampa's spare bedroom, going through their "treasure trunk", which was full of old black & white photographs. Mostly I had no idea who the people in the photographs were, but that didn't matter to me. What mattered was the story they told...the memories they held for my Grandparents. Now that Grama & Grampa are gone, that same treasure chest is a piece of furniture in my home, but I have no idea where the photos went. I do know however, that I'll never forget looking at those images...little pieces of the history of our family.

    I am a natural light photographer and especially enjoy capturing moments in time that tell a story. Whether it's someone's wedding day, moments with loved ones or a special date night...it's all worth capturing the memory. While photojournalism is my true love, I also understand the importance of capturing a family portrait.

    As you may already know, after five years of full-time photography, in January of 2014 it became a secondary career, as I ventured into a career in a completely different field. I have since struggled with what to do with my photography business and am making some major changes in coming months. I know my site is a little dated and there will be some wonderful updates in coming weeks.

    Please see my recent blog post entitled "Things Change" for more details. While I'm completely booked for the remainder of 2014, I will be taking some bookings on a limited basis for 2015. Please visit the "Availability & Investment" page for my availability and pricing.

    Love and smiles, Darlene

‘Tis the Season {Kookies, Kocoa & Kris Kringle}

I love Christmastime…not just because of the gifts or the festivities (though they’re both nice too), but because of the magic in my children’s eyes and kindness in their hearts at this time of year.  While I know they look forward to their gifts, they also look forward to celebrating with family, enjoying time together baking, decorating and crafting.  They enjoy the simple things and their big hearts show through.  When we’re shopping for our own family, we often talk of others and how it’s a wonderful time to share what we can with those less fortunate.  In past years, I always did a give-away through my photography business, but as I slow things down it just didn’t seem feasible to do that this year.  So, instead we decided to partake in giving to the local food bank, the Huron-County Christmas Bureau, the Salvation Army and other local organizations.  We also decided that we don’t need as many gifts this year and instead of buying for each other, we’ve decided to sponsor one’s of God’s children in Africa, hoping that we can help improve her way of life.  Her name is Hope and she is a beautiful little 8-year-old girl.  It’s important for us to give back at this time of year and be selfless, and appreciate what we do have.

Amidst all of this, I do also believe that it is important for my children to enjoy their childhood and for them to have Christmas experiences that they will remember forever.  While shopping and baking with family creates wonderful memories, it has also become tradition in our family to have a visit from Santa each year, from the time my little monkeys could walk.  Sometimes it’s for a photo session at a local trail, sometimes it’s at a Christmas party and sometimes he even manages to make it by on Christmas Eve.  This year however, as I mentioned in my last post, it rained on the date we’d scheduled our walk with Santa…so instead we went to the Queens’ Bakery in Blyth for some Cookies and Cocoa with Santa.  The way their eyes lit up when they saw him coming down the sidewalk and when they were telling him their wishes for Christmas, my eyes smiled and my heart sang.  It’s not only a wonderful experience for them, but also for me to watch and to capture in images.  Each year, I bring out the Christmas canvases to hang on our walls, of past year’s visits with Santa (who happens to also be very near and dear to our hearts)…and I can’t wait to have another canvas printed from this year’s visit.

I’ll be spending most of this month enjoying some time with my own family, so won’t be posting much.  However, I want to take this time to thank all of my fabulous clients for a wonderful 2014!  It really has been a great year and it’s all in thanks to the wonderful people who allow me the opportunity to capture their memories.  Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and all the best in 2015!

Love & Hugs, Darlene



Hot Cocoa with Santa {Miss E & Miss M}

This year I decided that with the closing of the studio and with finishing up wedding edits from the fall, while working full time…well, it just wasn’t going to be feasible to offer Christmas mini-sessions and find the time to edit them all.  However, of course I still needed to have a little session with my own children and in the process of setting it up and chatting with my dear friend Lisa, I invited her to bring her sweet girls along too.  While we had intended on a trail walk with the jolly old fella…the weather forecasted freezing rain for the day we’d set aside.  So, planning ahead, I contacted the Queen’s Bakery in Blyth to see if we could reserve a window seat and have Santa meet us there for some hot cocoa and cookies!  In the end…it did in fact rain…and the bakery was the perfect location (not to mention wonderful hosts) for our little session with these sweeties!  Enjoy!

Love & Hugs, Darlene



The End of a Chapter {studio closure}

I’m not going to lie…these past couple of weeks have been very difficult for me.  While I am blessed and truly grateful to have a full-time career within the school board, it’s still so very bitter-sweet to have to give up my studio space.  It’s not only the end of a chapter, but it’s like closing a book and being slightly disappointed with the ending.  Hmmpf.  There’s a feeling of emptiness…a dab of disappointment…and a whole lot of second guessing my decision of letting it go.

When I went up to the studio for the last time this evening to pick up the rest of my belongings, I stood for a moment and just looked around the room.  My camera in hand with the intention of taking a few final photos of my space, I decided against it.  I don’t want to remember the sad memories of having to let go…I want to remember the wonderful memories I captured of my children and for so many others in that beautiful space.  So, instead I will share some of my favourite images of studio sessions from 2014.  Keep the memories happy ones.

So, as I turned and stepped out of the studio this evening, I stopped in the doorway…looked back one last time, with happy thoughts and memories.  I smiled, while the tears stung my eyes.  I closed the door slowly…slid the keys back under the door…and walked away…

Love & Hugs, Darlene



Things Change {Choose Your Own Adventure}

I may be aging myself here (as I’m not sure these even still exist), but do you remember the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books we read in school as children, where you were able to choose one of two directions for the story to proceed?  You kind of got to make your story, by choosing which direction it would go at different points throughout the book.  I don’t know about you, but if I started reading one of the options and didn’t like the way it was rolling out or just wanted to see what would happen if I’d have chosen the other route, I just switched…went back and chose the other option.  I was basically reading two completely different stories…reading through one first and then the other.  Then I would choose the one I liked best.

I think the process of these books can also be applied to both my business and my life too.  And while I understand, I can’t just roll back time, get the time back and start over…I can change the next chapters in my story.  So, here it is…I’ve gone back to one of the “Y”s in the story and I’ve started to take the other path, to see where it leads me.  I’ve gone back to where my photography business started and thought I’d try a different direction…slow things down a bit…make some time for other things that I love in my life…my hobbies, my friends, my family and me.  It all started a little over a year ago, when my 9-year-old asked me, “Are you ever going to spend a weekend with our family?”.  You see, when my children were younger, I spent lots of time with them through the week because I could be at home with them and make my own schedule.  Now that they have both been in school full-time for a few years, I haven’t had that same time with them, since I am out at sessions and weddings most evenings and weekends…when they are at home.  So, when she asked me this question, I just knew it was time to make some changes…because I didn’t like the feeling I had when thinking about the future direction of the chapters I was living.

So, just over a year ago, I began applying to career opportunities that would allow me to be at home with my family in the evenings, on weekends and on holidays.  The day before my daughter’s 10th birthday, I received a call.  I’d been the successful candidate for a 1-year contract with a local public school board, working in the curriculum department.  I accepted the position immediately…went back to that “Y” in the story and began reading in the other direction.  I’m liking the chapters I’m living through currently…enjoying some extra time with my not-so-little children and my husband.  We’ve had a chance to reconnect.  While I’ve still been running my business, along side being employed full-time, I’ve managed to start slowing down my photography business as time progresses.  (You’ll notice the lack of blog posts…yep, I’m over a year behind on them…sorry.)  The results for my family…less chaos…fewer arguments…less anxiety…more smiles…more laughter…lots of love!  It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the first route I chose in my story…I just like this one a little better…it fits my life better.

Then this week I got some great news…after applying and going through the interview process…the position I accepted back in January is now mine on a permanent basis.  A weight was lifted and I know that this path is the right one for me, especially at this point in my life.  However, this is going to mean a lot of change for my business.

I’m officially closing the doors of my wonderful studio space at the end of October and in order to do just that, I have a lot of furniture, props and gear that I will need to sell in the second half of October.  So anyone who might be interested, stay tuned to my facebook page for sale details to come in September.  It makes me a little sad to let this beautiful space go, simply because I love it…but, I do have someone else taking over the space and I hope they love it as much as I do.  As you may have read on my facebook page, I am fully booked until the end of this year and there will be some changes to my bookings for 2015.  I will be limiting my availability, which you can find in the “Availability & Investment” page.  This means that I have little flexibility, which will probably lead to me not being able to photograph many newborns…because we all know they have their own schedules for arrival. ;)  And without a studio space or props, all sessions will be lifestyle…meaning that I won’t be carrying props or backdrops of any kind and will work with what is available on location.  I want to keep it simple and capture people’s memories…people’s immediate family, children, weddings and other events…as long a the timing is right and fits with my schedule.

There’s still more.  I won’t be blogging much anymore…one because I always seem to get soooooo far behind…and two because I want to be able to focus more on my own family.  I need to free up some time to give to those I love most.  So, you may catch a sneak peek or two from each session on my facebook page and a few photos here and there on the blog.  But the biggest change will be that I’m also going to let go of the Jakal Photography name.  It’s meaningful and people know me by that name, but I want to change it all.  I want to be connected to my photography because it means something to me.  Instead of having people say to me “Hey, you’re Jakal Photography!”, I want them to say “Hi Darlene.  I’ve seen your photography.”.  So I’m going back to using my own name for 2015…Darlene McCowan ~ photographer.

I want to thank my friends and family for understanding over the past few years, when I was missing out on functions because I had to capture someone else’s memories.  My husband and children especially…thank you!  I know you’ve had to put up with a crazy schedule and last minute schedules for what probably seems like a loooooong time.  It’s time for me to start joining in on those moments, making more of those memories with my family.  And last, but certainly not least…thank you to all of my FABULOUS clients.  Without you I wouldn’t have been able to build such a successful business and live my dreams of becoming a professional photographer.  While I poured my heart, soul and sometimes even tears into my business, I’ve learned and loved every moment along the way.  So…thank you all so very much!

Smiles, Laughter & Love, Darlene