Author: Erin Rayner

Surprise, Epiphanies!

It’s into our third week of the Stock vs. Reality Challenge and let me tell you, I was NOT expecting an epiphany to come out of this challenge for me. I was expecting a few ‘real life’ action shots, some laughs at our collective reality and maybe learning to use the camera timer on my phone; but not an epiphany.

But isn’t that when epiphanies show up? When we’re least expecting them? Like when some out of town relative who is rarely seen or heard from drops by for a visit (pre-pandemic of course!) and I feel the need to whip up a fancy lunch and serve the ‘good’ pop. So what have been my epiphanies with this challenge so far?

  1. I don’t want to share my reality… at least not without an explanation. For each of the last two weeks I feel a dread in the pit of my stomach when it’s time to share my ‘reality’ theme picture. My reality needs words and explanation damnit! The first image I wanted to explain why my office was in such a bare-walled state of disarray. The second image was even worse! Why is my workout picture doing squats at my desk? My reality needs to be explained and justified because I’m afraid of being judged. Heck I JUDGE my own reality! But here’s the epiphany – letting go of my need to explain the image, has helped me let go of my fear of being judged. In marketing we often want to control how the message is received as well as when, where and how the message is delivered. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to control the receiver’s response to the message. In the stock vs. reality case – some people will inevitably judge our sweaty, red faced post-workout pics, or our messy, stand up in the kitchen dinner but that’s not for us to control. This challenge has been a reminder that letting go of the fight to control or explain is good for me.  
  1. Sharing our reality takes courage  – and there are a lot of brave souls who’ve joined us on this adventure. Being who I really am is an ongoing struggle and I am committed to continuing to show up to the battleground daily. The battleground is where I choose to  be conscious of when I’m preparing myself for judgement or wearing my armour as Brene Brown calls it. What does this have to do with marketing or events? In order to truly see, appreciate and execute the needs and desires of our clients, I need to see my own self, my own reality,my own vulnerability, my own needs. By knowing how I feel about something, I’m better able to translate my client’s reality and articulate their vision. 

Moving into this week’s meal image challenge I again brace for judgement, but with a new understanding of the reasons behind that fear. Meals with a toddler….what needs to be explained? Ha. I look forward to seeing your submissions on our social channels too and thanks for playing along. 

Prize Announcement – Outdoor Mini Photo Session for 6!

You may have been wondering what’s in it for you to play along with our challenge? Well we have partnered with a fabulous local photographer, Linda Purnell, to provide an outdoor mini session for up to 6 people in the Edmonton area. Check her work out on Instagram and get ready to post this week’s image! 

Prize Fine Print: Winner will be announced May 3, 2021 on the ED social media channels. Photo session must be booked directly with Linda and used by April 31, 2022.  Any location within 15 km radius of Edmonton, must be outdoors. Up to 6 people.  At least 10 processed image files supplied (high and low res of each). No Cash Value. Winner will have 1 week to reply and confirm with ED Marketing and provide their contact information, otherwise a new winner will be drawn.

Stock vs. Reality

While working on ED’s website, our team had an enthusiastic discussion about whether or not to use stock photos or ‘custom’ photos on the site. I mean we all have a phone with a camera, how hard could it be to take a few ‘true to life’ photos for the website? Can’t be that hard. 

Turns out it’s not that hard (HA!), but we liked stock images better – mostly. 

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Who doesn’t have 2 large bowls of fruit in their kitchen? Tell me, where’s the dirty dishes in the sink? The mess on the counters? The screaming kids yelling that they want apple juice, not orange juice? This does not look like my house at all!

Stock images have been used in marketing materials since the 1920’s and are mostly fictionalized versions of real or ‘real-ish’ situations meant to circumvent paying a photographer to build or create a true-life shoot to capture an actual situation. Instead of paying a photographer thousands of dollars to build that specific product shot or commercial office tableau, we marketers often choose to pay a few dollars per picture that captures ‘close enough to reality’ to work in a particular design. The irony is that often there is very little ‘reality’ in stock photography. A quick search of ‘parenting’ on popular stock photography sites will show the stark contrast between the reality that parents know to be true and the clean, mess-less, highly staged, slightly unfocused stock photos of calm, polished parents and their pristine children. 

BUT the conversation around stock vs. reality inspired a powerful discussion about the reality of our lives; the messy, beautiful, productive, loving chaos in which we live and work. We had a good laugh around the idea of a stock vs. reality photo series on our blog and social media. When the laughter died, in true Erin-stir-the-pot style, I said let’s do it. The silence on the Google meeting was stark. *cough* “Um. You want me to take a picture of my ACTUAL desk?”

The vulnerability of showing our true spaces and faces is terrifying. We are a team of very different, highly accomplished, driven women. We each wear approximately 100 hats EACH, on any given day. That’s a lot of hats, and they’re everywhere, well at least mine are. Why in the world do I want to bare my shit show of a soul to everyone!?

Here’s the deal though, we’re bad asses. No really. I didn’t say we’re perfect. I didn’t say we’re not business blouses on the top, fuzzy pants and animal slippers on the bottom. I said we’re bad asses. We are dedicated, driven, passionate and REAL. The REAL in us is what we love about each other and what we want our clients to see and appreciate in us. 

Are you ready to get real with us?

April Stock vs. Reality Challenge

Each week in April, we’re going to share a stock photo on social media. It might be work or life related –  ‘home office’,  ‘bosses’, ‘healthy lifestyles’. Each Tuesday we’ll share the stock photo and pair it with a shot of our reality and we invite you to join us. At the end of the month we’re going to do a draw for a prize from the names of those who participated. More details on the prize to follow shortly!

Rules of Engagement:

  • Be nice. Reality is ducking vulnerable. Don’t be jerks. If your reality is being a jerk just keep scrolling
  • Share 1 reality photo for each week’s stock photo as a comment or tag (Instagram) on the social media post for that week. Social media posts will be on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. 
  • 1 entry allowed per person per weekly photo shared. But if you share your photo on all 3 social media platforms, you can get 3 entries!
  • Contest closes April 30th, 2021. The winner will be announced on May 3, 2021 by random draw. 
  • Disclaimer: your submitted photos will not be saved, used or shared by us for any reason. This contest is not sponsored or administered by any of the social media channels. Sharing the post is not required for an entry. (But we’d certainly appreciate if you do share!)

As usual I’m kicking myself a bit for my big mouth, but I’m committed to the outcome. There’s enough ‘stock’ in this world. Let’s get real.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels
Why are some stock photos so weird?

Shoes for the Shoemaker’s Wife…. Finally!

There’s an old proverb that can be traced back to the mid-1500s ‘the cobblers wife/children have no shoes’. It is referenced in some variation in German, French, English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese and it even transcends industries – the cobbler and his family are shoeless because they focus all their efforts, product and knowledge onto their customers and, in a more modern version, the plumber’s house has a dripping tap. I feel many an entrepreneur can relate to these sayings, the ED team included.


The proverb aptly describes what has been happening in ED’s digital life for at least the last 7 years if not longer. The shoemaker’s wife has long been poorly shod in the digital world – our ED website was a great investment…in 2010 and has been in dire need of updating and attention for at least the last 8 years. In the proverb, the shoemaker’s wife spends her days surrounded by beautiful, well-crafted shoes, meant for other’s feet. The ED team has always been hard at work on behalf of others and we rarely make the time and space to work on our own ‘shoes’ (aka brand). We have worn the outdated shoes of the cobbler’s wife long enough!


Like was the case for many in the event world, the pandemic put a heartbreaking hard stop to all our work in the Spring of 2020. The ED team stumbled along like everyone else stubbing our toes in the dark as we tried to comprehend the incomprehensible. For a bunch of planners, it was torture (and very hard on our toes!)

Standard issue pandemic foot wear


After a few laps around the pandemic dance floor, we found the joy of a slower pace; bike rides and family time, close-to-home stay-cations and five star take-out. Through the summer we consulted on the important projects of a few brave clients but we were still wearing our worn out shoes, standing on the sidelines at the dance.


As September came, the leaves turned and began to fall, we found our bearings in the world of virtual events and have again begun to thrive. We found our groove – and the old, worn out ‘digital’ shoes just could not keep up anymore.


We are so excited to introduce you to our new, beautiful, shoes…I mean website!


Thanks to a lot of hard work of the incredible Kelsey and Jen we have a brand new website that, in this humble ‘shoemaker’s’ opinion, beautifully captures our passion and work with our amazing clients. We invite you to have a look around, let us know what you think and we can’t wait to dance the night away with you again soon.

The shoes I can’t wait to wear after the winter and pandemic!


Also connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram – yes, those shoes also got some much needed attention.

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