Grateful Head Salon Featured on Desire to Inspire


Desire to Inspire typically showcases beautiful residential projects from all over the world. So it was exciting when Jo Walker immediately emailed me back to say they would be featuring the Grateful Head Salon. By the time I responded back she had already downloaded all the images and was ready to post the story. Please click here to see the full post.


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Portrait of Bruce Clemmensen


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For a long time I’ve shied away from taking portraits of my clients, partly because I’m much more comfortable photographing buildings, or to be more specific non moving objects. But when Bruce Clemmensen of Clemmensen & Associates asked me to photograph him for his appointment for the Order of Canada, I decided that this would be a great opportunity to get over my reservations of photographing people. Bruce was an amazing subject to shoot and we had a great time during the session. Now I wonder why I didn’t try it sooner – I’m eager to shoot my next moving subject. Congratulation to Bruce Clemmensen for being recognized for his volunteer work chairing the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes. It’s a well deserved honour!

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IDS 2013 – Joel Loblaw


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After the holidays each year, I look forward to the Interior Design Show. I enjoy connecting with people I haven’t seen in a while, exploring the exhibits and listening to the trade talks. It’s even more fun when I get to photograph. This year landscape designer Joel Loblaw asked me to photograph his project featured in the exhibit How Do You Work?. Joel in his words “created a landscape piece to tie together the architectural structures of lackLAB architects, DUBBLEDAM Architecture + Design, Igloodgn and Samare Studio.” I hope you enjoy the photographs as much as I enjoyed photographing it.

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Nuit Blanche 2012 Part 2


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A perfect warm fall night, balloons, straw bales and lots of people – recipe for a great time. Here are photos from Will Hudson and Joel Loblaw‘s project for Nuit Blanche.


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Nuit Blanche 2012


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For the past three years, I’ve been documenting the Semaphore Group‘s Nuit Blanche installations. With an emphasis on using natural materials, Will Hudson and Joel Loblaw‘s projects are always fun and surprising. Please come and check out their installation Sept 29th at Front Street East and Parliament Street from 7pm to sunrise. Here are photographs from past years.


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New Brenda Liu Photography Website

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I’m happy to announce that my new website is up and running. New on the site is the blog section which started during the construction of the website (comments section coming soon). I’m very thankful to my assistant Robin Hamill for all his hard work in making the website what it is. Please check it out and do visit from time to time – there will be new images and new blog entries to enjoy.

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In the works: Grateful Head Salon

Chandeliers, skull wallpaper, a red bathroom and sparkly guitars. This salon was so much fun to shoot. Here’s one of my favourites. More to come…



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Straw Bale House Part 2: Plaster Base Coat


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A couple of weeks after the bale raising party last August, I went back to check on the progress on the house. When I arrive, Janna is applying the plaster on the exterior while Jon and Ali are working on framing the interior. I’m surprised to see that half of the house is already coated with its’ first layer of plaster (called the push coat). Since plaster can take a week to cure, Jon,Janna and Ali want to get the base coat finished well before winter sets in.

The push coat is a mixture of straw, sand, clay and water and when applied to the straw bales, the combination creates very strong walls. As Janna plasters by hand, she pushes her finger tips into the plaster to get it to stick to the bales.

It’s exciting to be able to see the progress of the house, and as I stand back I am beginning to see the house as a giant piece of sculpture.



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Straw Bale House Part One: Bale Raising Party


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The photos above are from a bale raising party last summer, where friends and family came out to stack bales in Janna Bufford and Jon Hiscocks’ timber framed house. Janna and Jon collaborated with natural building specialist Ali Lam to build their octogon shaped home.

I’ve had a long time fascination with straw houses but I’ll restrain myself from telling you all that I know and let you look at Ali’s site instead. There are a lot of misconceptions about the durability and function of straw bale construction which Ali expertly dispels.

In short, for Janna and Jon’s house, bales of straw were coated with a mixture of sand and clay called slip. They were then stacked between the frame to form the walls. Sounds simple but it is labour intensive; each bale needs to be measured and re-sized to fit the frame. Once covered in slip and stacked, additional loose straw is mixed with the slip and used to fill in the gaps left around the bales.

It’s dirty messy work that would satisfy any hardcore do-it-yourselfer.

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Harry’s Garden


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Even though Harry’s garden no longer exists, I think it’s a story worth telling.

I met Harry when I realized that his house and garden were going to be demolished to make way for a condominium. At the end of the summer of 2010, I decided to take some quick photos of his garden before it was gone.

I learned that Harry used to be in the pool and hot tub business before he got tired of chlorinated pools and became an advocate for more natural ponds. He conceded that it was hard to convince clients to swim with the fish and so he quit. The inspiration for building his own pond came when a condominium was built across the street and he lost his view of the lake.

He started by bringing rocks from the Canadian Shield and over the next six years, the garden slowly evolved. Every year he changed the colour of his front yard and almost daily added or changed something in his garden. One year he got carried away and painted a pole that was city property which landed him in jail for 5 days and a heavy fine.

Yes, Harry is a little wild and so was his garden.

But it was a community garden of sorts and his gate was always open to visitors. Children would come in to see the fish and Harry was often around for a chat. It was a place to pause on a busy stretch of street, to enjoy a moment in a little urban oasis.

When people realized that they were going to lose their neighbourhood garden, there was a lot of media attention in an attempt to save it. A number of people expressed interest in moving the pond to their own property but in the end Harry refused the offers because he had his heart set on having it on public property. It wasn’t a feasible plan and so that was the end of Harry’s garden.

I see Harry in the neighbourhood from time to time and I’m hoping that one day he’ll start another garden. In the meantime I have these pictures to remind me of Harry’s gift for creating an inspiring place.



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