A fitting celebration of a life well lived!

The Funeral of Mrs Joyce Chant

2 weeks ago I had the enormous honour of being asked to photograph the funeral of a lovely 87 year old lady, Mrs Joyce Chant. Her daughter Ali rang and asked me if I would be willing to photograph the whole funeral which was to take place at the beautiful church of St john the Evangelist in Staplegrove Parish, Taunton. She had only days before left her family in Australia and felt that it was really important to be able to share the funeral with them and keep the photos as memories of a sad but wonderful day. For her, it meant that although her family was so far away, they would still feel like they had been there. It was important for the (grown-up) grandchildren to be able to say goodbye too.

I, of course, was delighted to be able to say yes and those of you who read my previous blog on funeral photography will know why. I have for a while felt that it is an important service to offer and one that completes the circle of life in reality as well as photography. We often take photos of newborns, christenings, weddings and all the other ‘time of life’ celebrations, so why don’t we do it as much with funerals?  A life is to be celebrated and when it is celebrated like this with tea, cake and strawberries and cream, it is a truly wonderful thing to be able to capture.

Ali has very kindly agreed to let me show some of the images from the day – which I am very grateful for. I am very proud of them and I am sure Joyce would have loved her send-off! There were so many special things that went on that day; Ali had designed small bags with an image of Joyce on the front as a young girl – they contained holly sprigs from her very beautiful holly tree in the garden – I have never seen such a beautiful and well cared for tree. There was one for each of the guests to plant in their own gardens. There was a huge board, full of wonderful photos that Joyce had collected and a book for everyone to sign. We also organised for Steve King Photography to come and video the event and in the afternoon after the burial we went around and asked people to say a little something for the family back in Australia. Last but definitely not least, Joyce’s car – which she only learnt to drive at the age of 65 – was parked in the church grounds, and later on it was full of people and the little ones also got to have a go driving it – though it was well and truly lacking in the battery department – which was really just as well!

I wasn’t sure what the best way would be to show the images, so I have chosen some that I really like and that I hope give a complete overview of the day. Joyce had been attending the church since she was born (87 years ago) and had been a member of the choir for 70 years. Many of the original members of the choir were there, including one gentleman that she had been at primary school with. There was so much love and warmth from all the people there and it was such an enormous pleasure to be able to photograph that. I hope I did her justice and only wish that I had been able to know her when she was still alive.

I must also say a huge heartfelt thank you to Stephen Kivett, the Vicar of St John’s, who ordinarily would not have allowed video and photography to take place, but because it was Joyce, he made a special allowance. Many, many thanks! I also want to mention Nigel Ford Funeral Director, who really was very kind and accommodating as regards the photography too – I have not had a great deal to do with Funeral Directors, but I suspect he is one of the good ones!

What an honour and a pleasure to be able to be involved in this special day.

Christina

Why I love photographing…Women

This is going to be the first in a series of ‘Why I love photographing…‘ There are all sorts of things I love to photograph, but the reason this is the first is because I have truly realised in the last few months that my passion is portrait photography, and especially photographing women.

As women, we grow up with images of long-legged, well-endowed, perky-breasted Barbie Dolls and super skinny, beautiful Super Models and subconsciously – and consciously – we think that this is the way we SHOULD look – not to mention TV shows like Baywatch and any of the American sitcoms, soaps and dramas (there are too many to mention!). We very early on begin to think about all the things that are ‘wrong’ with the way we look, rather than embracing the way we look and loving ourselves as we are. I have noticed that even my daughter who is a complete tomboy has a totally distorted view of her body and her self-image. She compares herself to other girls in her class and in the school playground and even at the age of 6 she was already saying she was fat or that she had a big belly – which incidentally she didn’t/doesn’t – but it was in comparing herself to the others, that for some reason she aligned herself to the idea of being fat. I have always been very careful about the language I use around as far as body-image is concerned, and have never made a big deal out of it, but it very noticeable that it is from such an early age that we are confronted with images and ideas of what we should look like, rather than images depicting what we do look like and how different and glorious (in our differences) we all are.

Essence of Woman

Essence of Woman

As we get older, these limiting and often destructive self-beliefs stay with us into adulthood. When we grow boobs, get pregnant, grow bigger boobs, get a belly, get a bigger belly, lose the belly, lose the boobs, have more children, develop scars, suffer during hormonal changes, fight our way through menopause, go through depression, end up with a hysterectomy etc all these beliefs shift and change, and not usually for the better (at least not for a while, and often not without help)- they often get worse and leave us without a clue as to who we are or how to feel good about ourselves.

This is where I hope I come in. The reason why I love photographing women is that through the medium of photography, I hope to be able to not only show women how beautiful they really are – even if they have forgotten – but also show them how other people see them. I can’t count how many times someone’s partner or husband has told me that the woman in their lives is the most beautiful thing on earth and that she just can’t see it herself. It is so difficult to see ourselves objectively. I for one, hate my own smile. I don’t like my teeth, but if ever I mention this, people inevitably say ‘what’s wrong with them?’ – they can’t se what I see – and likewise, I cannot see what they see. We are terribly self-critical, more so, I believe, than most men.

Photography can be such an amazing aid in rediscovering one’s inner and outer beauty. I can’t recall ever doing a portrait or boudoir shoot where I didn’t think the person was beautiful in some way. To me, it is all about the person and finding out who they are on the inside and then capturing how they shine. When you see that ‘shine’, you see their beauty – both inside and out. Being able to capture that, is why I want to be a photographer and why I love photographing women. Helping women feel beautiful, helping women feel special, helping them regain part of what has been lost or forgotten. It is such an immense privilege really and being there when they see the images, is really special. It is, however not just about the final images. When a woman walks into my studio, nervous and a little anxious about being there and not really understanding how she got there (emotionally), seeing her relax, seeing her start to have fun and then once the shoot is over, saying upon leaving ‘I didn’t think I could do that, but I would do it again!’ THAT is why I do what I do. THAT is why I love photographing women.

Tips for photographing women

This is a whole other blog post really, but if I was to just give 3 tips for photographing women, I would say:

1 – If possible, meet with your clients in advance of the shoot. Get to know them a little bit, make them a coffee and chat with them to see what it is they are after and what they want to achieve – and most importantly WHY they want to have a shoot in the first place.

2 – Pinterest! I always send my clients away with some homework. I ask them to set up a Pinterest board and share it (with me in advance of the shoot) full of images for inspiration for their shoot! We all want very different things, like different pieces of art, have various ideas of what beauty is – so by giving them some homework and making them think about the sort of things that inspire them, I am giving them ownership of the shoot, so the shoot becomes a two-way thing and they can truly feel a part of it, rather than an object within it.

3 – Don’t worry! If for some reason the shoot isn’t working – your client is ultra nervous or perhaps something is just not clicking – just breathe! Take a break, have a laugh, make a coffee – and don’t be afraid to tell your client that you might want to try something else… even if it means redoing the make-up, or changing clothes. Of course it is important that you are in control so that your client doesn’t feel any more nervous than they already are, but the most important thing is to be REAL, to be CONGRUENT. Don’t pretend something is working if it isn’t…take 5 and fix it! Guess that goes for all subjects!

Essence of Woman

Essence of Woman

If you would like more information on my Essence of Woman project or would like to talk to me about booking a session or seeing what is involved in having your photograph taken by me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch either via social media or email: christina@christina-dithmar-photography.co.uk

Objectivity – a lesson learning.

I have recently met a most wonderful photographer by the name of Emily Fairweather. She specialises in rustic Children’s portraits – natural, outdoors, a little ethereal at times, simple and always, gorgeous. You can check out Emily’s images here: http://www.emilyfairweatherphotography.co.uk/

She contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing some work with her, which of course I was/am. Having chatted, I recently went and helped her out with going through her images from a few weddings she has been doing, and getting them down from too many to just about enough! As with all digital photographers I suspect, she overshoots. I do that too, because I would hate to think that the shot I wanted most was not actually the shot I got and of course, shooting digital means you can do what you like – take as many or as few photographs as you want. The problem of course comes when you have to go through them and delete all the rubbish ones and find the ones you love, because sometimes there are simply too many good ones, but no one wants the same/similar photo twice.

When I do this for myself I can’t look at the images from a wedding until a few days later or I run the risk of deleting the lot! I have to give it just enough time for the adrenaline of the day to settle before I actually dare look at them, and even then, I am uber critical of them at first, but from a very subjective point of view.

Having helped Emily with hers, I have notice that actually when I look at my own images now, I am starting to look at them in a much more objective way, almost as if through someone else’s eyes; the eyes of the person in them, or the people or person who I am doing them for. So, for example, when I went through and rejected some recent studio shots, I thought mostly about what sort of photo Sarah would like to see of herself, then I thought about what makes the photo a good photo and then about what I thought I could do to make that photo better – not necessarily for all the photos individually. It was a big change as before I had found myself mostly thinking about whether it was an image I would like and that represented me as a photographer, as well as whether it was an image they would like. I am not sure I am explaining this terribly well, but I what I think I am trying to say is that there are many different reasons for keeping a photo or deleting a photo, but that the sole reason cannot be simply whether I like it or not. It has to be more than that, and that is why being objective and not always following your heart is one of the hardest and yet most valuable things to be able to do.

I really felt that having done this exercise for someone else, I am beginning to learn to not be so overly critical of myself, which is a very valuable lesson to learn. I have in other instances learnt not to take so many photos as well, whilst shooting next to someone shooting film, and that in itself has been an invaluable experience.

Claire Tom Wedding lores jpgs (10 of 251)The great thing about getting to know other photographers so much better is the amount of knowledge sharing you can do. All the people I have met recently have been incredibly kind, helpful, and communicative, not to mention, totally up for collaborating. I do really believe in the power of collaboration and that as there are so many photographers out there vying for business it is essential that we start to communicate and we begin to think about the prices we charge, so that we don’t undercut anyone else. Obviously there are different levels of pricing, but it really is essential that we become more aware of our impact on ourselves and those around us!
Tyntesfield lores (55 of 62)So, I am loving my new found friends with similar interests. In the last few months I have met and got to know a lovely group of photographers, who I think would all get on really well. I think it will be one of my missions to get us all together, even if it is simply to chat about fstops, the beauty of film, wedding traumas, memory cards and exposure settings – all over a drink or two. Well – it would be rude not to!

Love and fstops to you all, – mine’s a 1.8 barman!

Christina

Blow up

blow up pster

I don’t know if any of you remember the film Blow up… I didn’t see it the first time around as I am actually not quite that old, but in my mid-twenties my then partner and I bought a poster of the film. It was a photo of a woman that was completely pixelated so you could only just make out what it was. The colours were black and cream, red and blue and it was in fact a Polish design with Polish writing on it. The British posters were of the photographer and the woman, nothing quite as gorgeous as this…  I remember when I first saw it and loving it. Just this morning I was thinking about the effect of this poster and how after we bought it, I converted a couple of images of my partner into pixelated images, using the same effect, for a birthday present. So, since I sadly had to leave it behind when we split (14 or so years ago), I decided to get another one… so I bought it this morning!!! I am now very excited for it’s imminent arrival.

At the time of buying the first one I was working in reprographics and was surrounded by beautiful photography, extremely talented Photoshop workers, designers, illustrators and retouchers and I had never thought about becoming a photographer, but something about this poster really resonated with me. It was a few years later that I sat down and finally watched the film. It was all about a mod photographer who takes a series of photographs of a mysterious beauty in a London park and finds something rather suspicious going on as he develops the film. It is incredibly 60’s, a little avant garde at least for the time, I think, and is an absolute joy to watch. It was nominated for a couple of Oscars and won a number of other awards I believe.

I am not hugely into old films, but there was definitely something about this one that lit the fire of passion in me for photography. It took many years for it to develop, but this film, along with working in reprographics and publishing were definitely key to me finding my dream. I often wish it had happened sooner, but I would not be the photographer I am today, if that was the case, so I really can’t complain.

I recently did a shoot for Chrissie. She wanted photos done for a profile picture as well as photos for her reinvention, her rejunevation, her coming to terms with an ageing body and ageing face, and learning to embrace that, whilst also in the midsts of menopause. I was immensely honoured that she chose me to accompany her on this journey.

Chrissie July 2013 Colour BW LORES (15 of 132)We spent 4 hours together, walking, talking and taking photographs. It was a very valuable experience for me, and for her, but what it has made me understand more experientially is that there is something so incredibly strong about women in general, the way we have to go through all these hormonal changes at various times of our lives, whether it be the teens or the pregnancy or the menopause and how we simply just have to get on with it – transitioning from one woman to the next woman we are going to be. It is not easy, but we do it. I have also realised that the joy that I have felt taking these photographs of Chrissie, and more importantly, the time I have spent with her, showing her the photographs, and seeing her grow from someone who could hardly look at them at first, into someone who shows absolutely acceptance of who she is, and not just acceptance but ‘love’ for who she is, who she is becoming and how she is transforming herself, was the greatest gift anyone could actually ever have given me, whilst looking at photographs I had taken and enables me to know, truly know, that what I am doing, and where I am, is where I want to be.

Chrissie July 2013 Colour BW LORES (89 of 132)This is what Chrissie wrote on her FB status:
– just a recommend for all my menopausal or post menopausal friends – if you are feeling a bit crappy about how you look, sagging in places you didn’t know could sag, and wondering how to inhabit this ageing (gracefully or otherwise) body, then this is a tonic for the soul. A photoshoot with Christina.’ –

If I ever needed a reason to be where I am now, this would be it. I love being a tonic for the soul and if there are any peri, meno or post menopausal women out there who would like some help coming to terms with where they are and who they are and who they are becoming through going on a photoshoot with me, I would be only too pleased to help where I can!

Love and Chocolate (possibly the only cure :o) to all!

Christina

35mm – Trials and Tribs

agfa

My first ever camera – one I hardly used as a teenager – what a shame!! Making up for lost time now though…

I recently started to get interested in shooting film, rather than digital, at least for street photography. My lovely friend Col, an incredibly talented film street photographer, and I have had big long chats about shooting film and he totally awakened in me the need to go and do just that! Having never shot film before – well not really, only on cameras I took on holiday with me, before the advent of digital technology, I really had no idea how this was going to play out, what I was going to feel and whether I was going to like it or not – there is strange symmetry in this with the rest of my life currently – doing something just because it is fun and it doesn’t matter necessarily what the result is. Anyway – as usual, I digress!

Knightshayes Court Tiverton

This was one of the first colour images I took on the AGFA.

I decided to dig out my great aunt’s old Agfa Silette 35mm camera and see if it actually worked. At the same time, I came across a bric a brac shop that was selling all types of old cameras, and I just happened to buy 4 of them, for £20! A Minolta, a Beirette, a Ricoh, a vintage kodak and later I bought a Praktica from an antique shop! Well, you know me, can’t do anything by halves!!

The first film I shot was on the AGFA, it was a black and white Ilford 200. It was ok until the wind-on button stopped winding the film on but photos were still being snapped – oh no, that wasn’t the worst bit, it was the fact that I could hear that there was something wrong with the film, as it kept crunching and there was nothing for it but to… open the camera!!! Yes… that is one thing to remember when shooting film… don’t open the camera unless you have either managed to run the film back or you are in a very dark place, like a black binliner! I did have the excuse that I had to open it in order to get a new film in, but on reflection it might have been better if I had simply left it. Obviously, I had to wait until the film was developed to really ascertain the damage… I ended up having to pay £8 for a totally exposed film with no images on it what-so-ever… we live and learn.

Taunton Street Crew

Taken on the Agfa

The next film I popped in was an AGFA film which I bought 20 of in Poundland. I popped that into the camera and it worked like a dream. I actually had no real idea how to use the camera and was using it before I went on a film workshop, but somehow I managed to get it mostly right. The images were gorgeous… or rather, the colour was gorgeous.

Taunton Street Crew in the air

Taken on the Agfa

The images were OK… pretty average really… but because of the colour they just look super vintage and beautiful – even more so than any Instagram filter could ever do.  I also took some shots of the street dance boys in Taunton and I was utterly amazed at what I came out with. I didn’t think I would have really been able to capture them in mid air as I didn’t know the speed of my fingers or the camera, but it actually worked.

The mouse at Knightshayes Court

The mouse at Knightshayes Court, shot on the Agfa

Taken on the RICOH 500 - wingmirror - 35mm AGFA colour film

Taken on the RICOH 500 – wingmirror – 35mm AGFA colour film

My favourite camera that I took out had to be the Minolta, A zone focus camera, but it kept jamming. Little did I know that it was because the battery wasn’t working. I changed the battery and lo and behold it stopped – or rather, the lovely men in the London Camera Exchange sorted it for me. It still jams every now and then, but not to the same extent. I love the zone focus because it is so easy to use and I think that if I was going to go and do some London street photography, it would be my camera of choice. I haven’t seen the results from the Minolta yet so I suppose I could change my mind! I love the ease of it! Saying that though, the Ricoh 500 is a great little camera too – and although I have a major light leak problem with it, it is just a real beauty. I love the results from the Ricoh! I do need to stop the light from leaking, however awesome it might look! I took it out for the day in Bristol and shot a lot of benches it seems!! There are an awful lot of empty benches in Clevedon. I also used it for a shot I took of my wingmirror. I personally love this shot. It’s not innovative or edgy, but its just a gorgeous colour!

Sadly the Beirette doesn’t work and although the Praktica did work it now seems to have lost all function of its lightmeter – I however just love the fact that I even know what the light meter is on an SLR and that I know what it should be doing! Apparently this could be because of the battery. However, I changed the battery… and still nothing… so it looks like I will have another excuse to visit the LCE again… not that I really ever need an excuse.

Ricoh 500

Taken on the Ricoh – with the light leak!

All in all, I have shot about 10 films and have still got two that need developing. I was doing a really good job of labelling the films at first, but now it seems I have been a little remiss and I haven’t a clue which is which. Hopefully the images will remind me of which camera I had with me on that day…

As well as shooting film, I also went on an excellent 35mm film workshop run by Justin Orwin in his fabulous studio in Martock. It was myself and my friend Jan, who quite frankly behaved like school girls most of the day! Saying that though, we did learn an awful lot! We were supposed to shoot some film too, but there was so much to take in, so much to learn and rather a lot of laughing and chattering that there was simply not time. I am glad in a way, as it was so good getting down to the nitty gritty technical aspect of film and camera work.I already knew a lot, but this was uber helpful! I learnt more about speed than I had done before -my complete downfall as I never ever shoot in TV and if I shoot in Manual it is always the depth of field I am paying attention to… It was great knowing that I know so much more than I thought, and it was equally as great learning about the film speeds and exposure and which films to use when, about lenses and filters, as well as light temperature and more about white balance. There was such an awful lot to take in that I simply don’t know if it will all stick!

Vivary park

35mm agfa film on the AGFA camera

I have to mention that Justin was incredibly patient with us and I mustn’t forget that he also gave me some medium format film for my vintage Kodak, which I have only used a few times. I am so looking forward to taking it out on my next street photography outing or perhaps even to my next portrait shoot in a couple of days!

I have really enjoyed shooting film, I love the fact that I can’t see the result straight away, though that is more of a love/hate relationship. I do love the excitement of going back into the developers and seeing what is on my pictures. I am getting used to the disappointment too, as many of them don’t come out, but the worst thing about film? The expense! It might only be a couple of pounds for the film itself, but the developing is sooo expensive – I guess in a way that THAT is what makes us so much more careful about when we press the button. I noticed on a recent shoot with Justin that I was more careful pressing the button on my digital camera than before, as he was slower, shooting film. I rather like to remember that now when I shoot. We should treat our digital shots in much the same way, with the same care and attention as we give to our film shots. For me, it was a revelation to come away with so many decent shots, just because I slowed down a bit!

Will I ever shoot just film? No. No! I am definitely not brave enough for that, but I will take some film cameras with me to weddings and other shoots and see what comes of them, and I will gladly shoot film for street! It’s been an amazing exercise, and I am so grateful to Col for releasing this love of film in me that I simply didn’t know I had. Long may it last.

Clavelshay Barn Photography Workshop

I have been a bit remiss in my blogging over the past few weeks, but that does not mean I that I have been sitting on my laurels – no siree! I have plenty to say, but just not a lot of time to say it. A few weeks ago I shot the wedding of my year for Abby and Ben and absolutely loved it. However, there is a lot to say about the ins and outs of wedding photography and my experiences thereof, so that is a blog that is currently in-formation… in my head… and will soon be put on to paper, erm on ‘line’. In the meantime, let me introduce you to a little piece of heaven, hidden in the Somerset countryside, just outside Taunton. Let me introduce you to Clavelshay Barn. 

Spring in the woods at Clavelshay - f1.8

Spring in the woods at Clavelshay – f1.8

On Saturday I had the immense pleasure of going to a photography workshop at Clavelshay. A workshop, I hear you say? Well, yes, it was a basic, introductory digital camera workshop, a ‘how to work out what your camera can do for you’ type workshop and boy was it good! Now, I know I already ‘should’ know what I can do with my camera, and I do already know, but what was really great about doing this workshop was that I had a whole day to myself, to play! No washing to be done, no child to be fed, just me and a bunch of like-minded lovely people, walking around a farm, learning and experiencing all that is photography. The workshop was lead by the quite brilliant Justin Orwin from http://www.orwinstudio.com/.

Workshop weekend lores (30 of 104)

Nothing like a good nut and bolt combo!!

He has an incredibly welcoming style and approach to photography and to leading a workshop. He was very knowledgeable and answered all questions succinctly and gently – there was definitely no such thing as a silly question. It was such an enjoyable day. At first we spent a while talking about the technical side of our cameras and of photography. There were people of different levels in the group and the workshop was pitched perfectly for all. For me it was incredibly helpful to hear all the things I knew already, as well as being able to spend the time challenging myself to use Manual rather than AV and to use Manual Focus, and spend the whole time using my 50mm. It was a challenge, but I loved it! Throughout the day, Jan and I were both heard on countless occasions saying ‘oh god I’m in Manual’ as we were half way through a shot before we realised that we had forgotten either our exposure, fstop or manual focus setting! It was very funny! For me, it is all too easy to use my zoom lens all the time, and taking it back to using my 50mm did mean I had to move around a lot more, but it was worth it – and think of the calories I burned! Double whammy!

Really love the grunge aspect of this image!

Really love the grunge aspect of this image!

Once we had covered the technical aspects whilst sitting upstairs in the restaurant having our morning coffee (which I have to say was a treat in itself; the light shining through the windows was astoundingly beautiful, the solid oak tables and chairs stood tickled in sunlight and the daffodils danced happily as they too revelled in the first warm day of spring) we were then let lose on their working farm, and spent a lot of time taking photos and talking to the cows – talking to the cows was something I noticed myself and Jan do…it was very funny! Cows are actually incredibly difficult to take photos of, as I realised once I went through the photos the day after I got home. I did not end up with as many good shots as I had hoped, in fact, there were a lot deleted! I can put some of that down to using my camera in Manual and Manually focusing as well, but not all… I think I was thinking a lot about the technical aspects and I forgot about the composition really, but it was worth it! Workshop weekend lores (51 of 104)We took shots of farm machinery, the stalls, the cows, the garden, weeds, nothing was left out! It was definitely a no mercy approach to photography! I realised that although I love shallow depth of field, I don’t always need to keep my fstop as high as 1.8. There are times that call for less! An interesting bit of learning! I also learnt that I like my images slightly overexposed with lots of light, a sort of lifestyle/country homes look – very clean and crisp and ‘light’, and that has definitely come across in my images from the day. The wonderful thing about that is that I didn’t have to do that to them in Lightroom afterwards, I did it on the day as I was really thinking about how I was shooting as I was walking around. It was such a luxury to have time to think!

Great patterns made by the cow stalls

Great patterns made by the cow stalls

After a busy morning we came back in for lunch downstairs in the restaurant. The lunch was quite simply perfectly delicious! Homemade quiche, salad (with a sneaky bit of fennel in, which really took me by surprise and was utterly refreshing) and beautifully baked bread. I am not eating wheat or gluten so Sue made me my own beautiful little quiche with gluten free flour and some gluten free rolls. It was perfect! We even had a glass of wine too! Dessert however was an even bigger treat… gluten free brownie (and cream… shhh)! I really wish that I had taken some photos, but I was just too busy eating and enjoying the conversations around the table.

The afternoon was spent around the pond and in the woods, followed by a trip to the horses.

Rachel having cuddles...

Rachel having cuddles…

One of the things that I most loved about the day was the lovely people that were on the workshop. I really feel that I have made some lovely new friends and look forward to seeing them again! We discussed at length with Justin, the need for some more workshops, and I really hope that we will be able to do a portrait workshop there soon. I know that Justin is planning a SLR film workshop at his studio in Martock as well which I will definitely go on. I really just need to earn a bit more cash to be able to afford all these workshops!!

Jan talking to and shooting the cows

Jan talking to and shooting the cows

For me, the day ended perfectly with a lovely chat, sitting in the garden with Nadine and Sue, talking marketing, photography, music festivals and social media. The sun was shining and although there were preparations to be made for the evening service we all just seemed to stay there, soaking up the sun and enjoying the bubbles. It was also Sue’s birthday! It was all so beautifully perfect and wonderful and I for one felt so refreshed, enlivened and upbeat from this amazing day! I am very grateful to have met so many lovely people, especially (but not exclusively) Jan, Peter, Rachel, Nadine and Sue of course –  all in one day! I know I am gushing a bit here, but honestly, I could ride on these happy vibes for a long time – at least until the next workshop!

A massive thank you to Sue and Nadine for organising the workshop and a huge thank you to Justin for being a great teacher!

Justin Orwin... sadly my manual focus was focusing on the table and not Justin - it would have been a lovely photo if I had focused on the right bit!!

Justin Orwin… sadly my manual focus was focusing on the table and not Justin – it would have been a lovely photo if I had focused on the right bit!!

Gorgeous Baby Nya at 17 days old

As I was sat here trying to work out which part of my marketing I should concentrate on next, I just realised that it is in fact Friday! And Friday is my unofficial blog day! Hurray!!! So here I am… wondering what you might like to see or hear about. I doubt very much that you would like to see more snow pictures… I have a few of those, but to be honest they are not as good as I want them to be! However, I might pop a few on in another post, anyway. Rather than snow, I will tell you about Baby Nya. Well – last week I was very fortunate to have been asked to do a newborn baby shoot. Baby Nya was born on New Year’s Eve, so she is a very special baby! She is also incredibly wriggly, and did not fancy lying still one little bit, or going to sleep, or having her photo taking. However, we persevered and did manage to get some lovely shots. She’s a beautiful little thing… I love doing baby shoots because I get to spend some time with the mum, really getting to know her and the baby. The shoots are usually quite long, as we spend an awful lot of time waiting for the baby to feed, to sleep, to wake up, fall back asleep etc etc. There are many shots you can get in between this, especially of mum and baby together, and it is never a hardship. I love spending 3 or 4 hours simply being around and taking shots as they appear in front of me, or drinking tea and eating biscuits hearing about all the horror stories of the births! It is really such a privilege to be allowed into the home of a new born baby and a new mum. It is a bit like a hurricane that comes in and disturbs the peace and quiet for a while. I often have to remind myself of what it was like for me when I was a new mum. I loved having people come round, but I also so loved the time when M and I could sit on the sofa together, on our own, with no one else around, and she could just lie and fall asleep on my chest. I always know when it is time to leave as well, as babies have an amazing knack of telling me when to go… by the 3rd hour they have usually had enough! I Know that some people think that they don’t really need the photos done or want them done or… well, I don’t know, I just know that I took so many photos of M when she was born, but they were all on my phone, and I wish with all my heart that I had known someone who could have come and taken some really special ones of my baby. A friend of mine told me that although she had not been that fussed about having her daughter photographed, when I came and did them and she saw them a little later, she was so pleased! She now thinks that it is almost essential to have them done at the very earliest of stages because they change so quickly from newborn to big baby, but it is not until you have experienced that, and until you can see it in front of your face, that you know it is a good thing to have done. The best ones are usually within 10 days of the baby being born, the earlier the better though – the main reason for this is that they are still pretty malleable and you can usually make them sleep with their legs tucked in or resting their heads on their own hands, for that funny effect! After about 12 days their legs just start to splay about and they are much more aware and awake. So I shall leave you with a few photos of the lovely, awake, smiley and extremely cheeky baby Nya.

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