Liz & Jo

Following a rather last minute wedding day, (Jo found out the morning of!) the beautiful Liz and Jo finally got to party on down and celebrate on Saturday, with their closest friends and family around them.

There was drinking, dancing and plenty of grub...including some very questionable vodka jellies. Oh and did I mention there was dancing? Lots and lots of dancing…

Congratulations Liz and Jo!

Reggie

On the 23rd June I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing the gorgeous little Reggie.

At four weeks old he was a little bit of a wriggler but with lots of patience and some quick thinking we got some beautiful close-ups. Both Mum and Dad had ideas on some of the shots they wanted, so we got creative with some family combos. We took took some of Mum and then some of Dad and then some more of Reggie before finishing up with a family portrait and and image that Mum had specifically requested we try.

What love is to me…

Being a wedding Photographer I witness love on a very regular basis, in fact, through just being a Photographer I witness love; wedding photography, newborn photography, family portrait photography, pet photography, engagements… the list goes on, and within all of them is the common denominator- an overwhelming sense of love. In varying forms perhaps, but it always there, and always expressed differently.  I feel extremely privileged to get to share a window on people’s expressions of love, to capture moments of love, to photograph celebrations of, yes you guessed it, love.  Love can be a great many things to a great many people, it’s what makes the world go around.  It is our strength and all of our weaknesses. Our highs and all of our lows.  Our laughs and our tears. Our happiness and our grief.  It is the love we have for one another, and the love we feel in return which helps shape us into the people we are today and the people we will become tomorrow.

I have always been a romantic, whether it be my Piscean aura, or just the fact that I am an extremely emotional person, (thanks Mum!). So, I guess, wedding photography was kind of always my calling, combining a love of photography, (yes there’s that word again!), a natural creativeness and a love of love.  – What else could I be other than a wedding Photographer!?

Photographing my client’s expressions of love often triggers thoughts about my own views and experiences on the subject, what love is to me and how that’s changed as I have grown up. Was it like I expected it to be? Did it live up to my huge, wild expectations or was it (most certainly, in some cases) a massive disappointment? Is it just overhyped slush!?

I remember when I was younger, say mid-teens, I had braces, I had glasses, I had no sense of style or what looked good on me, I had no idea of how to make the best of myself and I hadn’t yet developed the “I don’t care what other people think of me” approach to life. I felt all of my friends were prettier than me, they were all more popular than me, they all had more boyfriends than me.  I was the geeky, conservative, quiet, shy, sporty, lanky girl with braces. I had friends yes, but I couldn’t help but feel that I would often become the butt of a joke, just because I wouldn’t stand up for myself or because I wasn’t as popular with the boys.  Back then I wasn’t interested in love.  I was more concerned with finishing school and being allowed to live my life my way.  I was always fiercely independent and was constantly told I had an old head on young shoulders.  I had no confidence and was ridiculously shy, especially around boys.

I left school and went to college (sixth form).  An all-girls school so the majority of the students were girls, the only boys that I knew there I had been at secondary school with so already knew me as geeky, conservative, quiet, shy, sporty, lanky Sam with braces, (although I had since had my braces removed,) so it was hard to shake my already smudged reputation.  I listened to music, read romantic novels, watched rom-coms, wrote poetry, planned my dream wedding, my perfect wedding dress.  Kept a scrapbook. But I was still self- discovering.  I still didn’t know who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do.  Love to me then was unattainable. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to be with me.

It was the same throughout and after University.  I studied, I had friends, but ultimately, I was unhappy.  I was in an unhappy relationship, and my view of love had now changed. I had now got to the disappointment stage.  When everything you had been told as a child now appeared to be a lie. How could love suck so badly!?

By this point love had broken me.  I had learnt a lot yes.  But ultimately, I was at a point where I wished I had never experienced it.  That I was incapable of love or being loved. I certainly was in no rush to try and find it again!

Then everything changed, and I know this may sound a little cliché but… I learned to love myself.  I had spent years being told I wasn’t good enough and that I was wrong, had spent years feeling worthless and that I would never be happy – because I didn’t deserve it! Forever thinking that I wouldn’t get the happily ever after that you see in the movies. But, and it took time, I slowly learned that actually, it wasn’t me that was the problem.  I learnt to accept my flaws, learnt to embrace those qualities that made me different from my friends – and for that exact reason, because they made me different and different was good. I realised that people liked different and that they were drawn to different…. who wants to be the same anyway!? I bought a flat, moved jobs, joined a new sports club, made new friends and finally started living the independent life I had wanted at school. I could do it! And I did...and I loved it!

Love to me was a journey of self-belief and learning to be comfortable with the skin I was in.  There is a well-known saying,” you cannot expect someone to love you if you cannot first love yourself” and it’s true! By learning your own worth, you learn what you do and don’t deserve, what you will and won’t accept.  And no standard is ever too high. Your happiness should never be limited and never be measurable.

Love is a learning curve, as you change so does love. It means different things to you at different points in your life, when you need it to be different things. I am sure it will continue to mean different things to me as I continue to grow and change. It can be a hug and companionship when you are bored or lonely, or it can be a lifelong partner and a happily ever after…the love of a child, of a pet, the heart and soul of a business, a passion or hobby…but above all, it is adaptable. It is fragile, and it is enduring. And right now, for me, it is dinner on the table after a long day at work.  It is planning a weekend’s activity to separate out the chores. It is patience and understanding. It is time together that involves just being in the same room.  It is saying sorry after a row. It is being annoyed with someone 95% of the time and you still not wanting to be with anyone else. It is tolerance. It is a running partner when you can’t face going out in the evening cold alone.  It is a friendly face in a still unfamiliar part of the country. It is teamwork. It is about tolerating your worst habits and encouraging your best. It is a hug whenever you want one. It is your best friend. Love is giving you time to grow and support to change. Love is home.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Me...

So, I figured it was time for things to get a bit personal on here.  Besides, as a photographer it is generally my job to catch people’ getting personal’ during a wedding, at their most natural; relaxed and at home… (I much prefer a natural style of shooting!) …

Here we go: 10 things you didn’t know about me… (this was really hard, and I have actually realised how boring I am!)

1)     ‘I have spent most of my career working in IT’

Despite being arty from the day I was born pretty much, and studying art and graphics at A-Level, and then Fine Art at University. I have always worked in the not so creative world of tech!  I am highly organised and love admin, so I guess I naturally gravitated towards a Personal Administration Assistant role when I graduated.  It was whilst I was working in London, as a PA, that I discovered I had an interest in computers, maybe because I was good at it? Maybe because I was a quick learner? Or maybe because I was half the average age of the rest of the workforce…? Any way I quickly ended up seconding for the IT department and fell into an IT career.  Working my way up from an IT Administrator to Support Analyst and finally to a Helpdesk Operations Manager.  Despite this though, photography, art, craft, painting, remained a huge part of my home life and when I wasn’t working (or exercising) I would probably be indulging in one of my creative passions – it’s fair to say, if I could sit and draw/ paint/make all day, I would.  I would often come home from work and sit down to work on a drawing, stick some Bob Marley on my iPod get completely immersed in a piece.  I would look at the clock four hours later and realise it was nearly midnight and I hadn’t even had dinner! I would be completely and utterly oblivious to absolutely everything else going on around me – my house could burn down, and I probably wouldn’t notice! 

My creative streak never left (and I hope it never does) so I decided it was time to start embracing it on a more professional level – maybe I could be creative all day and get paid for it! Thus, I started up on my own in Photography.

2)     ‘I definitely have psychic abilities!’

Believe it or not, (and most people don’t!) I do!

I have predicted many a natural/and not so natural disaster and have even gone as far as to predict on what day of a week I would be stuck in a broken lift! I have also foreseen what outfits people will wear and even the conversations we will go on to have.

-Okay so its not so clear that I could tell you exactly what was going to happen and when-nonetheless the dreams follow a certain theme which makes no sense at the time and then falls into place once the event has happened - confusing I know! And of course, no one would believe me even if I could interpret them! – No-one does. Maybe one day I will be able to harness the power of my fortune telling psyche – (queue epic music) to realise the power that I dream I have…to become so much more than I am…to hold so much power in the palm of my hand…but until then…(end epic music)

3)     ‘If I couldn’t be arty, I would have been a marine biologist!’

This one is quite simple. When I was seven years old, I was sat watching a program with my Dad about life in the sea. As a true Piscean, I am obsessed with water.  I drink it, swim in it, love to have it in my garden and just love to be near it.  There was a lady on the TV who, I believed at the time had this amazing job working in the sea and with water and with sea life.  I decided then – that if I couldn’t be an artist I would do her job and be a Marine Biologist. – simple!

4)     ‘I have freckle's’

They are hidden most of the time until I go out in the sun, then they appear out of nowhere – on my nose, cheeks and arms! They are directly inherited from my Mum and I love them!

5)     ‘I was a cat person growing up but now have two (soon to be three) dogs’

In my eyes there are two types of people in the world, cat people, and dog people. (I don’t speak to people who don’t like animals).  I currently have two little dachshunds and if I can persuade my other half enough will eventually have four! Put simply, I love dogs.  Their loyalty, their love, their gorgeous happy little faces…argh it makes me kind of broody (just for more dogs). My two are such characters. However, I actually grew up with cats.  We had two beautiful cats, Suki and Allie, both rescues to a point and both lovely, well-loved, still very much missed family pets.  I had asked for dogs, but my Mum and Dad, who also were cat people always said no. So, it never happened.  Now though, both my parents and my sister (who has a cat called Scamp) love my dogs and do everything they can to embrace them and help us look after them. Bertie in particular has taken a shine to my Mum and he will literally be carried around by her all day. Dad too, isn’t content until he has chased them both around the garden at least twice by lunchtime.  I guess I am lucky to come from family of animal lovers and they can be both cat and dog people!

6)     ‘I still have no idea what I want to do or who I want to be never have) – only where I want to be…’

Now this one is honest… I still don’t really know what I want to do with my life, or how I am going to get to where I want to be…- but I do know where I want to be.

Basically, in a villa with a vineyard in the south of France! Or by the coast. Or in the mountains. Or in a lovely old country house! I want to travel a bit, see the world, enjoy life a bit more.  I want to be happy ultimately – which I guess is what most people want.  Not necessarily rich, just happy.  Earning enough to allow me the lifestyle I want, without having to constantly worry about money or to constantly have to budget but doing something I enjoy.

I remember at school, when we were asked to pick our options.  I panicked! I had no idea what I wanted to do.  And then it was okay. We were sent to careers advisories who all tried t prepare us, and all remember is feeling angry and a little rebellious about the fact I was being asked to place the rest of my life on four school subjects at the age of 14! I wanted to do something creative. That’s all I new and to a point that is all I still know.  I have never had any real career ambitions. Yes, I have always wanted to be the best I can be and if that meant exceeding in whichever job role I may have had at the time then that is what I would do. But I have never been able to say what I wanted to be. I have never had that direction, a path to follow, nothing clear cut like a lawyer or a doctor for example. – It has been chaotic and, in the moment, to say the least; which is actually a huge contrast to how I decide to live my normal everyday life. I have in effect, “winged it.”

7)     ‘I have a massive Coke habit.’

Diet Coke.

I drink it with everything, all day, every day.  I know it is filled with aspartame, but it is the only thing that keeps my sweet tooth cravings at bay.  Without it I would be the size of house! It’s the one thing I cannot live without.

8)     ‘I am a self-confessed feminist’

Anyone who knows me knows how true this is – especially work colleagues!  Having worked in a male dominated environment my entire professional life (up until now), I have always felt as if I have had something to prove.  This was undoubtedly not helped by the fact that I had quite a tempestuous environment at home.  Me, my Dad and my sister are strong, feisty people and there is often a lot of shouting to be heard over one another. That being said my Dad never made me believe that I wasn’t just as capable; of doing anything than anyone else-and both my sister and I have thus grown up into feisty, independent young women. Therefore, when I started working in a male dominated team (I was the only girl in a team of 15 or so), things were bound to get messy.

Ok, so messy is a little bit of an exaggeration, but I did spend a lot of my time fighting to be heard and trying to get people to listen to my point of view.  I would often be ignored in a team discussion or talked over and would more often have to raise my voice to get people to take notice.  My perseverance, determination, drive and sheer stubbornness paid off though and I was promoted to team manager within two short years.

9)     ‘I own over 100 pairs of shoes’

FACT.

Slightly embarrassing and grossly unnecessary. But it is what it is.

1)     ‘I play Hockey 2-3 times a week but have never broken a bone’

I have come close – oh so many times! I have bumped and bruised and sprained and strained and dislocated.  But never broken.  I got smashed in the face by a hockey ball and still didn’t break anything.  I swear I am part cyborg.  This is good though because it means I can keep playing - being as active as I am, being laid up in cast would drive me absolutely insane!!!

So, there we have it! 10 things we can talk about when I see you next….!

'Why Did I Want to Become a Photographer?'

From a young age I remember having an eye for imagery.  I was a keen artist and loved to draw, paint and create and I would spend hours beavering away on a portrait or painting. 

I was always around imagery; wherever we went my Mum would take two cameras with her; a 35mm film camera and a 35mm slide camera (a kodachrome 64).  When the slide negatives had been developed I would love taking them out of the long grey box and holding each one up to the light one by one.  It was like a secret image, a secret window into an exact moment in time, captured forever within a little white frame!

Every Christmas and New Year we would set up the slide projector (35mm long cassette type) and giggle our way through years and years of memories (some of which I was too young to remember).  It wasn’t New Year without it.  Cosy, warm, and content in my Grandparent’s front room, with the big, glass bowl, retro style light fitting, high ceilings and grey velour sofa.  I would usually be drinking a Bucks Fizz loving prepared by my Grandad and our bellies would be full from one of Nan’s amazing roast dinners.  I will always remember the overwhelming feeling of safety and contentment. It was the highlight of our Christmas Holidays and I look back on those days so, so fondly.

My Grandad was also a keen Photographer and used to develop his own photos of my Mum when she was growing up.  For my 18th Birthday he gave me a small photo album with some of these inside, black and white and a little aged around the edges.  Each one captioned with a small label written on a typewriter, each depicting a different year of her life.  They were treasured memories shown through a proud father’s eyes and I treasured them even more.  It was this, my Grandad’s influence, that really triggered my awareness of Photography and my love and passion for it grew from this shared interest.  I felt it bought me closer to him and when he died this brought me a great deal of comfort.  I wish he were still alive today to see some of my photos.  I have never developed in a dark room and would give anything to travel back in time and watch him.  Things are so different now, although just as much time and effort goes into capturing and editing an image, the raw, handcrafted skill involved in developing your own images has given way to a technological haze of RAW format and Lightroom; (hands-up, guilty as charged!)  Grandad though would be fascinated by it and I would love to show him all the ways you can manipulate an image in Photoshop for example; it would be almost alien to him!

It was without a doubt these fond memories that helped form my love of photography and my passion for creating beautiful images. 

Weddings, newborns, family shoots, birthdays, I feel extremely privileged to be able to capture these special memories; so that people can look back on them, share and enjoy over and over again.