Lisa Tolmie is a Lady on Fire

For Ottawa-based photographer Lisa Tolmie, there has always been photography. Despite being a busy wife, mother and career woman, what began as a hobby chronicling her life with family and friends grew into a passion and her heart’s work. Her evolution as a photographer took the route of a degree in Fine Arts, cabinet making and floral design. Through these varying creative pursuits, she began to realize that photography was a language she understood and one which she enjoyed expressing herself.

When I first discovered Lisa’s work on social media, I immediately fell in love with her unique style. Her images really stood out for me and she seemed like the kind of gal who liked to colour outside of the lines. I was intrigued, so I dug a little deeper & I’m thrilled to share the following Q&A interview with Lisa about her work and business, Lady on Fire Photography.

When did you first think of becoming a photographer? How did you get started?

I’ve always had a camera in my hand but taking the Basic Photography night class at Algonquin in 2014 changed my path in photography to a more professional direction. As part of an extensive final project I had to take 15 portraits of one model. My cousin, Tammy, eagerly volunteered. She wanted portraits depicting a horror movie theme, some as a rock star and a few with Day of the Dead make-up. Her friend Tina, an accomplished make-up artist, brought her themes to life. Together we jumped in with both feet and took portraits like nothing I have ever done before. Unsure of what my professor would think, I handed in my assignment. He loved everything about them! His remarks gave me the confidence to start Lady on Fire Photography, and with both Tammy and Tina by my side we set forth on a path of unique and unusually themed portraits.

Who are some of you favorite photographers past or present that you found inspiring?

My professor at Algonquin, Harry Turner, is definitely someone who inspired me. In his lessons, he always included photos that he had taken and used these as examples to teach a new technique. One particular photo intrigued me, a “photo painting” where you move the camera on a slower shutter speed and create these gorgeous swirls of colour. His work has inspired a part of my landscape photography. He evokes movement and light in a magical way.

Brit Bentine from Locked Illusions Photography takes controversial and shocking portraits usually of young children in fantasy art pieces. Each is unique and not for everyone. Her style definitely evokes a gut reaction and although it can be over the top at times I can’t help but smile when a new piece comes out!

Alexander Khokhlov does amazing 2D face paintings involving a mix of face-art and different textures which inspired some of my own photographs. His love of lines and contrast appeal to me greatly.

Recently I have come to love the work of Melanie Mathieu Photography. She captures “moments” in life so beautifully. Her photos leave me breathless at times, her vision and use of angles are especially inspiring. It is a style I wish I had half her talent in. We are very different in our approach to photography, but she inspires me daily!

What kinds of assignments do you like the most?

The weirder the better! We don’t take “typical” photos. We don’t photograph weddings, babies, or traditional family portraits. I like a client who comes to us with their own vision, preferably one that makes me a little uncomfortable. Then the challenge is to make their imagination come to life! I also love the challenge of my “Phlogs” (photo blog). I ask my Facebook group to suggest themes and I try and make them happen in an original and fun way. These Phlogs often inspire some of my best work and they also provide the opportunity to push myself outside my comfort zone. Run of the mill is not what I am about. There is a bit of an electric undercurrent in my work, as there is with me. After all, I am the Lady on Fire…

Why do you create the photographs you do and what do they mean to you?

Unusual face painting photography brings out a different personality in people. I like that the make-up gives them an excuse to hide their shyness and makes them less uncomfortable. It allows the portrait to come to life. I’ve seen older, married men who were dragged in by their wives turn into the best models as soon as the make-up and the character develops on their faces. In front of the camera the make-up gives the model permission to be weird and to try things they never would have tried. When they see the final results they are usually pleasantly shocked with the outcome. Everything outside of the face painting portraits is created out of simple things that I find beauty in. I like pulling out the things people don’t normally see or take for granted. I enjoy creating a mood and starting a conversation with the everyday made extra-ordinary just by zooming in a little closer or looking at it from a different perspective.

What images or series are you most proud of and why?

My favorite series was the Sesame Street Phlog. This was a Facebook suggestion that I would not have considered otherwise, but it turned out to be something I am very proud of. It was a challenge for me as it was the first time I had left the studio and did location shooting. I enjoyed sourcing the costumes, scouting locations and developing the background stories for how each childhood character had grown up. At the time it was the largest series I’ve put together and is still one of my favorites. Many thanks have to go out to all involved in making that session happen!

One of my favorite single images is “stranger on the rocks” it was a very quick split second shot of a gentleman on the rocks at Britannia beach. I loved his vintage swimsuit look and the clouds. It doesn’t always have to be a large set- up. Sometimes the best pictures are one-offs that just happen!

Day of the Dead- Tammy. This was one of the 15 portraits for my assignment at Algonquin College. This set the path to the creation of Lady on Fire Photography.

Image: Day of the Dead - Tammy. Photographer: Lisa Tolmie of Lady on Fire Photography.
Day of the Dead – Tammy. Photographer: Lisa Tolmie of Lady on Fire Photography.

Stranger on the Rocks. One of my favorite fluke pictures! I literally turned the camera and with very little thought I snapped the photo. (private collection). Lady on Fire Photography.

Image: Stranger on the Rocks. Photographer: Lisa Tolmie of Lady on Fire Photography.
Stranger on the Rocks. Photographer: Lisa Tolmie of Lady on Fire Photography.

Painted Forest.  Inspired by my professor, I love making these photo paintings. It’s a lovely marriage between my Fine Art Degree with photography. Lady on Fire Photography.

Image: Painted Forest. Photographer: Lisa Tolmie of Lady on Fire Photography.
Painted Forest. Photographer: Lisa Tolmie of Lady on Fire Photography.

Creepy Clown.  From my last Phlog. I am terrified of clowns and yet I felt compelled to face my fear and do an epic clown photo-shoot. This picture captures my worst nightmare! Lady on Fire Photography.

Image: Creepy Clown. Photographer: Lisa Tolmie of Lady on Fire Photography.
Creepy Clown. Photographer: Lisa Tolmie of Lady on Fire Photography.


If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself and to other aspiring photographers?

Starting a business was not on my radar ten years ago. I was at home with my daughters who would have been 3 and 6 years old. Being immersed in my family and motherhood felt isolating at times. Taking pictures of my children was an outlet for me, a way to be creative. Finally taking the leap into a more professional photography business has led to stronger bonds with my family and friends and opened up a confidence I didn’t know I had. I am blessed with a husband, daughters, family and friends who are ready, (though occasionally unwilling), models who inspire me daily and allow me the freedom to experiment. I’d tell myself, GO FOR IT and never second guess a shot, just take it!

What are your main goals now as an artist?

I want to be as original as possible and break rules. Through my work I want to continue creating a conversation in a positive and inclusive manner.

Can you tell us where you feature your work?

Many of my pieces are in private collections in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. I have recently put my photography out on various forms of Social Media. I began with a Facebook page that allowed an interaction with people that I really enjoy. Their suggestions end up being some of my best creations. I love the feedback and creativity they invoke. I’ve recently started showing my photographs on Instagram. I feel very new age and hip being on there! It’s been a fascinating adventure to see how each photograph is received. I have a website this is where you will find the famous Phlogs and a sampling of my landscapes, oddments and portrait work. Pixieset is where you will find the body of my work as well as a way to purchase Fine Art prints. In its infancy I have ventured into the world of RedBubble. It seems my more eclectic photography makes for fun leggings and I-pod covers! Things will be removed and added over the coming weeks but feel free to check it out!

About the Author
Deanna White is owner and publicist for storylinePR, exclusive PR firm & marketing agent to Ottawa’s most talented fine art photographers. If you would like to be featured on our blog, connect with us!


Using Social Media as a Newswire

We recently participated in a survey by TekGroup who were interested in finding out how social media users are following, sharing, posting and monitoring news on various social media outlets. In their ‘2015 Social Media News Survey Report’ -survey respondents indicated they are using social media tools habitually with more than 90% saying they use Twitter, Facebook, and blogs on a daily basis to follow and monitor news and information. We thought we would share some tidbits we found interesting.

Image of news release with soical media icons Where do social media users go?

73% use press releases when following, sharing, or posting news info. Your news releases must be available on your online newsroom when you use social media for distribution. Links from Twitter and Facebook should go directly to your online newsroom and your branded press release.

Controlling your own story on social media

84% of survey takers believe news gathered via social media sources are more timely than traditional media. It is imperative that you update your corporate social media sites regularly so that you are in control of your own story. Being able to publish your news content on your online newsroom and then making it immediately available on social channels will increase your chances of reaching your audience in a more timely fashion.

Gaining visibility

88% believe social media tools are important for following/monitoring news and information. A lot of people are alerted to breaking news using social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter. By including your own corporate news on these channels, you give your organization more visibility in the social media universe.

Just how important is social media to news content

With 95% of users finding social media an important vehicle for sharing and recommending news and information, it is essential that you have social sharing icons readily available on all of your news content, not just press releases, but also photos, videos and other news assets.

The key take-away?

More and more bloggers and journalists are writing about companies every day – both positive and negative stories. Comments on Facebook and message boards also are becoming more commonplace as areas to discuss products, services and companies. Make sure that you are involved and engaged with posting and writing content on a regular basis. You can download the full report here:

Are you fully taking advantage of social media to share your story? We can help! Contact storylinePR and tell us your story.

About the Author Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

Get more activity to your Facebook page through Twitter.

I’ve seen a lot of chatter online from social media consultants and marketers advising that you should never auto link your Facebook page to your Twitter account. I disagree. Here are the various arguments I’ve heard against syncing the two platforms and my thoughts on how it can’t hurt and only help gain activity on Facebook.

It looks unnatural when you feed content from one platform to another

If you were posting Twitter updates to Facebook, I would tend to agree. The @ symbol does not lend itself well when represented in  Facebook (nor are they clickable). Nobody wants to see every single twitter message you send to followers with their twitter handle. When you sync your accounts, make sure you’re syncing your Facebook business page to Twitter – and not the other way around.

They are different audiences that deserve different messaging.

I would say they are different channels and that if you built your following on your Twitter business account strategically, your audience should be fairly similar. Having the same message appear on both platforms helps with organic reach. Although,  I do need to preface by saying that you also need to log onto Twitter and send unique content in addition to tweets that engage your audience. Think of your Facebook updates you feed to  Twitter as a supplement, not a staple of your content management strategy.

It creates an ugly Facebook link that lets your audience know you’re sending them to Facebook.

Yes, the ‘’ link is a dead giveaway you’ve cross posted, but personally, I want to let my Twitter followers know I have other social channels and want to drive them my Facebook page. For a couple of reasons…

  1. Let’s face it. It’s a lot easier to get Twitter followers than it is Facebook fans and by cross promoting, you may convert followers to fans. With Facebook’s feed sorting algorithm, known as EdgeRank, the pay for play model for business pages makes it increasingly harder to get organic eyeballs on your Facebook updates. By sending your Facebook updates to Twitter, you’re gaining more reach and possible post clicks – you can even increase traffic to your blog. Why wouldn’t you want that? I would even argue this reason alone is enough to get you to consider syncing your accounts.
  2. Facebook lends itself to visually appealing pics in conjunction with content beyond the 140 character limit, allowing you to expand on the topic. I like to think of it as ‘mini’ blog post. If you take anything away from this post- it’s this: Ensure that your salient points are in the first 140 characters of your Facebook update with enough room for the ‘’ link. You don’t want your message cut off mid-sentence when it appears on Twitter. That’s not helpful or coherent for your brand. Make sure you create content in those first 140 characters click-worthy, as you would when sharing any other content.

Here are a few examples of how a Facebook update will appear on Twitter with the ‘’ link when full Facebook messaging is carefully thought through within the 140 character post limit on twitter.

image of facebook and twitter posts example one

image of facebook and twitter post example twoWhat do you have to lose?

So what do you think you have to lose by linking your Facebook page to your Twitter account? Perhaps a few new followers from Twitter gained as fans to  your Facebook business page? Increased traffic to your blog and possibly some new business? Just sayin🙂 Connecting your Facebook page to Twitter is just plain smart for business. IMHO. In case you are wondering how to do that – here’s the link ->

About the Author Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

How to connect to reporters through social media

Journalists are leveraging social media to distribute news content and engage their communities. They are also looking for news stories.

Media outlets have made it very easy for you to connect with reporters by listing the bios of their journalists as well as links to their social media accounts and email addresses.  Here are a few examples:

CTV News Ottawa
CTV News Ottawa provides a list reporters with links the outlet’s Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts. If you click on an individual reporter, you’ll have access to their bio, Twitter account and email address.

Image of CTV Ottawa(click to enlarge)

The Ottawa Citizen
Many outlets maintain Twitter lists of their current reporters. The Ottawa Citizen is one  of them.  Nine times out of ten, reporters will outline what they cover along with contact details in their profile. This is a great way to quickly find the reporter who covers topics that will be relevant for your business.

Image of Ottawa Citizen(click to enlarge)

The Globe and Mail
Every Globe and Mail reporter, columnist and contributor has a page on the Globe and Mail site that feature bios, contact information, RSS feeds and Twitter feeds.  What we like about this outlets’ page is that after linking to a journalist, it provides a  list of their ‘latest stories’ so that you can get a sense of their writing style and what they cover to better target your pitch.

Image of Globe and Mail(click to enlarge)

We recommend building a relationship first before pitching to journalists directly through Twitter or Facebook. It’s a great way to find the right media contacts and craft the right story to pitch through traditional channels.


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

transition from tradition

Every year when I was a kid, I remember lovingly wrapping a bottle of Old Spice aftershave for my dad to open under the tree on Christmas morning.  And every single year, my dad would act surprised and manage to muster a genuine look of  appreciation on his face. It was only years later that I found out he wasn’t so fond of the stuff. I look back now and find it quite comical.

Originally marketed as a women’s fragrance in 1937, Old Spice for men followed in 1938 in its classic buoy-shaped bottle,  known as Early American Old Spice. Like mine,  Old Spice after shave and cologne became a staple product in homes through traditional radio, television and print ads.

By the time Procter & Gamble purchased Old Spice from its original founders in 1990, it was tired and in need of a new lease on life. P&G has made a number of changes over the last 20 years including the branding, packaging and product lines.  But the most impressive changes were attributed to its marketing, transitioning from traditional paid media to social media  – and in the process, re-invented the brand. After all, for years it was known for being loved on your dad – not your man.

In February 2010, Old Spice introduced their new sex symbol pitchman, Isaiah Mustafa, referred to by its audiences as ‘Old Spice Guy’. They launched “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” television spot, and it was a huge success.

Read more

dangling the reading carrot

I created a new group on facebook the other day called “the gift that lasts a lifetime.” 

I have had the fortune of having Madeline dive into reading head first, but I am always looking for more fun ways to continually encourage the good habit we have developed together.  I created this group is for parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and anyone who has children in their lives who value the importance literacy. It is a venue to share their thoughts, reflect on their own parent-child reading experiences and contribute ideas on how to create unique and creative ways to enjoy story time together.  I have posted it to all my friends who have kids, on other “mom” like groups in hopes that I would have more participation from like minded individuals.  I am sad to report that I have not had many join the group.  In fact, I have had only one person join in the last 24 hours. 

In my latest discussion topic, dandling the reading carrot, I decided to dangle a little carrot of my own by starting a contest.  Those who join and post an answer to this topic on to how to make reading fun, will be entered into a draw to win this years’ Storyline for kids seasonal story – “A Dreamy Adventure with Santa” for their child this Christmas – plus a personalized letter from Santa. (A $25 value). 


One of the benefits of the creation of storyline for kids is that it encourages Madeline to read.  Surely, moms will see the value of sharing creative and unique ways to do the same.  Doesn’t anyone value literacy any more?  Has the digital age really replaced good old fashioned reading habits?  Have we forgone the importance of reading and what it can do for young minds?