lifestyle session

The Aldous Family

lifestyle session

A Lifestyle Session is for Life!

A lifestyle session is one of the most important sessions I believe I do. In my opinion, not enough importance is given to these within the family and it’s my mission to change this. I, for one, am guilty of letting time fly by without giving it a second thought, and then I realise that I have zero pictures of me with my kids or my husband. Recently I noticed that I had not been in a family photo for over a year! So when families get in touch and ask me to document their little tribe, of course I jump at the chance.

Lifestyle Session: Meet the Aldous Family

I recently did a lifestyle session with the lovely Aldous family and their new baby, Daisy. We had such a lovely time shooting in their beautiful Suffolk home and baby brother Charlie got extra time to cuddle his new baby sister. The house was gorgeous and they are clearly smitten with their new addition. Frankly, who can blame them!

Charlie showed me his room and some of his favourite cuddly toys then had a great time jumping on his bed for photos. He told me his favourite thing is dinosaurs and showed me his favourite red nose too.

Steph and Chris also asked to have Daisy photographed on Steph’s wedding dress. I gently laid Daisy on the dress with some support underneath her and took the shot using natural daylight. The dress was beautiful and she looked so small amongst all that organza!

Many families contact me to take their photos and it is such an important thing to do. Photographs are imperative to your memory and you can pass them down for generations to come. Too many women avoid the camera at all costs. But what happens when you are gone? Your children will not have anything to remember you by and this is an absolute tragedy. This article outlines exactly how this can pan out for people when they avoid the camera for vanity’s sake.

If you are interested in booking a lifestyle session, take a look at our packages and contact us.


Clown fish family in anemone

How Do I Photograph Tropical Fish?

How Do I Photograph Tropical Fish?

Photographing tropical fish can be tricky, but is surprisingly rewarding! I took the opportunity to take my kids to the local aquarium and here are the results. How do you photograph tropical fish in their tanks? Read on for a few tips…

1. Use a medium ISO level.

Okay, okay…. so a lot of you are thinking, “What the actual eff is an ISO?!” Well if you have a DSLR camera, there will be an ISO setting that you can change. This is simply the sensitivity of the sensor to light. If you are shooting outside in full sunshine, you’ll want that puppy on about 100. If you are shooting indoors on a sunny day, you’ll probably get away with about 400. However, if you are shooting in a dimly lit aquarium with lots of glowing neon lights, you’re looking at a minimum of 1600.

Now, this is where things get a little tricky. If your camera isn’t advanced enough, an ISO setting this high will cause your images to look grainy, but if you lower the number, the images come out too dark. Also not ideal. Your best bet is to make sure that you place your focus points on the fish in the brightest looking tanks, lower your ISO number and focus on the fish inside the tank.

Sound like I’m talking in a different language? Grab your camera and practice it at home. Turn the lights off and take a photo of the TV. Notice that the picture will be perfectly exposed if you focus on the screen? Now do the same thing but focus on the frame of the TV, or on the darkness outside of the screen. Notice how suddenly the screen is super bright with no detail in it? That’s what I mean. Same principal applies to the tropical fish tank. (Top Tip: The TV needs to be switched ON for this experiment).

2. Avoid flash.

It may be tempting to switch on your auto flash during this visit, but I implore you not to. Due to the reflective nature of the scales you’ll be photographing, the flash will just light them up like a road safety vest. It will bleach out the natural, bright and beautiful colours of the fish that you are trying to photograph. Which kind of defeats the object. Always use the available (ambient) light that you have available to you in the aquarium. You will get much better results.

3. Use your lens hood.

If you have a DSLR, the lens it comes with will most likely have a lens hood. It is beneficial to use your hood, right up against the glass of the tank to block out any reflections. One of the biggest issues I had was tackling the new, swanky (I can think of another word), CURVED tanks and its crazy reflection problem. You’ll see that I didn’t quite manage to get rid of the streaks of light on some of the images. It’s no huge deal when shooting for myself, but if I was shooting commercially, this would need to be rectified.

You can actually buy rubber lens hoods for most of your lenses (if you have a DSLR) which will help you to close the gaps around the glass and will not scratch or damage the tank surface in any way. If you are using a regular point and shoot camera, this will be much more tricky. You could try getting as close as you can to the glass before taking your picture, and maybe shielding the worst of the reflections with your hand.

4. Respect your subjects.

This goes without saying, but please make sure you respect your subjects. Avoid hitting/tapping the glass both with your lens hood (remember the rubber ones), or indeed with your finger. This can alarm the fish and cause them great stress. As mentioned before, please also avoid using flash as this will have the same effect.

neon green jellyfish circle

5. Check your shutter speed.

As well as adjusting your ISO settings to let in the available light, you will also want to check your shutter speed. I found that I really couldn’t drop below 1/250 of a second without risking motion blur. The brighter tanks will be easier to shoot and will allow you to increase you shutter speed to one which will freeze the fish in motion (if that is what you wish to do).

So, how do you photograph tropical fish? It all sounds a little complicated, but in reality shooting in an aquarium is pretty straight-forward and can be incredibly rewarding. The colours and textures combined make for a potentially incredible image.

For information on beginner’s photography courses, please get in touch.


5 Reasons You Should Hire A Professional Photographer For Your Wedding

Beautiful bride facing camera with groom kissing temple.

5 Reasons You Should Hire A Professional Wedding Photographer

Why should you hire a professional photographer for your wedding? Over the years I have had so many people tell me that they wished they had hired a professional photographer for their wedding. These people had relied on friends with ‘really good cameras’.  This, or they got in people they knew who were hobbyists and regretted their choice. Over those same years, I have also had so many people enquire about my packages only to then tell me that they now have [insert friend/relative/co-worker’s name here] because they have a ‘really good camera’, ‘do it on the side’ and will do it for cheap/free. It always makes my stomach twist when I hear this. It rarely ends well. I spoke to one woman who was so upset with the terrible quality of her wedding photos that she begged me to try and edit them to make them better. I wish I could have helped her, but nothing could be done with the dark, noisy, blurry mess that she presented me with.

Following that conversation (and many other similar ones) I decided that I needed to blog about this worrying misconception. Good cameras do not necessarily mean incredible photos. If you are considering your wedding budget and don’t know whether you want to hire a professional photographer or not, please read on. Ultimately it is completely up to you of course, and some of you may be thinking ‘of course she will say these things, she’s a photographer!” But let me lay it all out for you and then make your decision. It causes me SO much pain to hear newlyweds tell me that they wish they’d hired a pro AFTER the damage is done. Please don’t make the same mistake!

1. An expensive camera does not produce great photography on its own.

In the same way a singer uses their voice, a carpenter uses a hammer and an artist uses a brush, photographers use a camera. All of these things are simply tools that have been used with skill and and precision to produce amazing results.
If you decided to have a bridal gown made for you, would you ask your Auntie to hash one together because they have a “really good sewing machine”? Probably not. More likely you would do your research and find a professional seamstress who consistently produces gown after stunning gown.
You will want to make sure the most important day of your life is captured in its entirety and in a truly beautiful way. After all, once the day is over, the years have passed and the memories start to fade, what else will you have to remind you of your special day?

2. An amateur means that you will have more to worry about on the day.

Professional photographers have years of experience capturing weddings. They will know how to capture your day in the most meaningful yet efficient way possible. Most professionals visit your venue if they haven’t already photographed in it. This means that they have already scoped out the best backdrops, nooks and crannies to take some beautiful pictures against. No time will be wasted traipsing you around in search of these on the day. Not only this, but they will know how to get the most natural smiles from you and your guests and how to capture every moment of intimate detail without getting in the way or disrupting your itinerary.

3. Feeling at ease.

Every wedding is a mixture of both natural and candid moments with some posed elements too. A good photographer will know when to step back and capture the moment and when to give a little direction to you or your guests. They will be be able to read the day as it flows and react in a timely manner when the day throws new opportunities or even obstacles their way. This is so important because you will not get a chance to go again if you miss a moment. Your friend or amateur may not have the experience to do this and could potentially miss vital moments as they happen.

4. Plan B?!

So let’s ask the big, scary questions shall we? What happens if the photographer falls ill, or their equipment fails, or the weather is horrendous? Well, the worst case scenario is that you end up with no photos at all. NOT okay, right? A professional photographer will always have a Plan B. They will have contacts, other professional photographers, who will be able to stand in at a moment’s notice. Professionals will always have backup cameras, lenses, cards, lighting equipment and ALL the gear. And finally, a professional will have a plan for ALL kinds of weather too. Rain is not the end of the world! They will also be insured.

5. You only get ONE chance!

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. Make sure that you have someone you trust to capture it as honestly and beautifully as possible. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress in the long run by getting a mate in to do it for free. Make sure that when the memories start to fade, you have something beautiful to go back to for years to come. A beautiful wedding album makes a wonderful heirloom which can be handed down to your kids and grandkids to remind yourselves of your most special day.

In A Nutshell

There are plenty of places you can cut costs for your big day. Do your guests all need designer keyrings as favours? Could they do with something a little less extravagant, or even nothing at all? Your cake doesn’t have cost thousands either, after all, it will be gone in minutes. Once all of this has gone, you will probably forget about those tiny details. Spend the money where it counts.

 

Still not sure? Read this cautionary tale before you make your decision. Still not sure? Try this one instead.

For details on our wedding packages click here. If you would prefer to chat on the phone, by email or face-to-face, click here.


Take better pictures of your family...

Black and white image of girl miming with a fake mic diva

This is real life.

There is something you all need to know. Nobody loves the hundreds of photos you have on your phone of your kids grimacing out the word “cheese”. Even less so the ones with the ‘cute’ snapchat filter on that makes them look like some kind of weird pixie cat. While we’re here, I’m just going to throw it out there that with that filter on, you look ridiculous too.

So there it is – I’m just telling you what you already know. And if you didn’t… you do now.

Here is how you fix it.

Taking pictures of your family, whether it be your kids or your Grandma, or you sister or your dog, should not be just about how pretty it looks. It should not be about how to manipulate them into looking like creatures from another planet. Family photography should be about capturing the moment. Immortalising snippets of your life so that you can go back and remember what it was like, for real, when the kids have grown up and flown the nest. With all the incredible mobile phones and point-and-click cameras available on the market, there should be no excuse for taking naff, meaningless photos.

Here are a few ways to improve yours:

Make sure there is enough light.

Taking photos outside, at daytime, should mean that you get crisp, clear, bright images. You will notice that the photos you take in the sunshine are always the sharpest ones right? Light is important. If you don’t have enough, switch on your flash or turn on some lamps/lights. If you don’t you risk your pics being blurry.

Focus!

It might seem obvious, but try and take the time to focus your images. On a phone, this usually means tapping on the area of the image you want to be sharp, before you take the photo. With most cameras, it means holding the shutter button down halfway to focus and then pressing it down all the way to take the picture. A lot of the modern cameraphones (such as the iPhone X) have some incredible new features, including depth of field. This means that you can focus on your subject and choose how blurry you want the background to be. Very cool for a phone.

Compose.

Think about the scene. Is there a lamppost sticking out of the top of his head? Is the top of her head cut off? Where have his feet gone?! Make sure that you have everything you want to photograph INSIDE the frame. Equally, think about what might be in the frame that you might not want in there. (What a lovely photo of your little boy! Shame the dude in the background is knuckle deep up his nostril, digging out a booger).

DON’T say ‘Cheese’!

This will NEVER get you a natural smile. Try making silly noises, making a joke, distracting or getting them to say a rude/silly word, and then take the picture when they’re laughing afterwards. It’s all about natural smiles.

Don’t get frustrated.

Let’s face it, children especially can be sooooo frustrating when you are trying to get a good photo of them. But getting ratty will not get you natural smiles. Walk away and try again later or get someone else to take the pic.

Capture the natural.

The absolute best photos of life are taken when no-one realises you are doing it. Observe, appreciate and document what happens in real life but try not to orchestrate. At the end of the day, you want to look back at these photos and remember exactly how it used to be. When your children have all grown up and flown the nest, you WILL go back over old photos. How sad would it be if all you had was photos of you and your children looking NOTHING like yourselves but highly resembling something somewhere between a cat and a Pokémon.

Answer: It would be tragic.

Last of all, if you really want some good photos of your family, whether it be portraits or lifestyle, pay to have a professional do them for you. It is one of the soundest investments you will ever make. Whether it’s documentary style or a studio shoot, you will never, ever regret having them done and on your wall.


The 'Rock God' Shoot

The gear

This little look was created in my cabin studio in a space no bigger than about 4×4 metres. I used:

  • 2 x Godox TT600 speedlights with in-built wireless transmitters
  • 1 x Godox X System receiver
  • 2 x basic light-stands
  • Magmod Sphere
  • Magmod creative gel kit
  • Nikon D810
  • Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8
  • Atmosphere In A Can (‘Canned Fog’)

Why this? Why now?

As a natural light photographer, working with flash and gels has not been something I’ve dabbled with much before.

So I did what I usually do when something evades me, I went and got some training from some industry leaders and went to town trying to make it work.

The first thing I will say is that in the 12 or so years I’ve been taking pictures, I realised that I have NEVER shot for me. I always have clients needs in mind, so am fairly limited in what I can create for them. I mean, not everyone wants to be photographed in a steampunk dress with crazy hair, holding a chicken do they?! (Unless you do… in which case, get in touch NOW).

Here is a little run down on what I did to create our ‘Rock God’ look…

This shot was set up with a basic light stand set about two feet behind Henry on both the left, and the right of him. A speedlite was connected to the top of each stand and pointing inwards towards him. Each speedlite had a different coloured gel on, in this case, one was pink and one was blue. This was shot at 70mm with the ISO set at 100, the aperture at f/14 and the shutter speed at 1/250 of a second. I had each speedlite set somewhere between 1/8th and 1/16th of power. To add to the image I had my assistant spray some canned fog across into the mid-point between the two speedlites, behind Henry.

What worked?

We were all pretty pleased with this result as it gave Henry quite a nice rim light on each side and in contrasting colours. The fog was lit up nicely on either side too providing a really nice, textured backdrop.

What could have been improved?

Looking at it now, I wish that I had added a neutral key light at the front to illuminate Henry’s face a little and the front of the guitar, including where his hands are placed. I would not have used the Magmod Spheres on both of the speedlites either as I would have achieved a wonderful flare from each of the lights if I hadn’t. As a result of this oversight, I have had to crop out the brightest point of light on each side as you can clearly see the Spheres in place on either side.

This image was shot at 70mm, at an ISO of 100, a shutter speed of 1/250 and the aperture at f/14. Exactly the same as the last one. The only thing we changed here was the positioning of the light. I left the speedlite with the blue gel where it was, slightly behind and to the left of Henry. Then I moved the pink one around to the front, in the opposite position to the one behind Henry. This was then used as the key light and illuminated Henry from an angle.

What worked?

Again, we really liked this one, especially the contrast of colours against one another. It was also nice to see Henry’s face and what he is doing here. It gives quite a nice ‘live gig’ feel which was the main aim of this shoot.

What could have been improved?

If I’d had another TT600, I may have one where the pink one was originally, again with a blue gel so that Henry had a rim light on both sides of him. This would have created some much needed separation between his arm, the neck and head of the guitar and the background. I would have also maybe increased the power of the key (pink) light or decreased the power of the rim light. This would have meant the focus would have been more on Henry and his guitar.

This image was shot at 50mm as I wanted to fit Henry completely into the frame. The ISO remains at 100, the aperture has been changed to f/10 here so that the backdrop is slightly more visible but the shutter speed remains at 1/250 of a second.

To make things even more simple, I ditched one of the speedlites and placed the remaining one (complete with blue gel) directly behind Henry, about halfway up his back and facing him.

What worked?

Gladly, most of it! I was deliberately aiming for a silhouette style image and this is what I got. It has a wonderful gig poster feel to it which works perfectly in this context.

What could have been improved?

Having blown this up and inspected it, I can notice that the light behind Henry has illuminated his ears so I would have covered the back of his ears with dark electrical tape to prevent this (yep, apparently that’s a ‘thing’ in the world of studio photography)!. Also, there is a very small amount of light reflecting from the ceiling onto his forehead and shoes so I may have had to use flags to prevent this. The only other thing is that I had used a muslin backdrop which had fallen down onto the smooth wooden flooring and had to ‘clean’ this up in PhotoShop. I would have perhaps used an all-in-one solution to prevent this.

Exactly the same as the silhouette image, this was shot at 50mm to fit Henry entirely into the frame. The ISO was set at 100, the aperture at f/10 for a little more background detail and a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second. The speedlite with the blue gel was left exactly where it was, behind Henry and about halfway up his back. The ‘ditched’ speedlite was brought back into play, extended up quite a bit higher and placed to my right, facing Henry at about a 45 degree angle. The gel was taken off so that a neutral/warm light illuminated Henry from the front through the Sphere. A grid was added to prevent the spill of light from affecting anything other than Henry.

What worked?

This was, by far, my absolute favourite image of the set. It is almost perfect (in my eyes and wearing my ‘Mummy Goggles’ of course). The pose, the expression on Henry’s face, the colours and the composition just work for me and I’m really proud of it. It’s one that has already been printed, ready to frame for the wall.

What could have been improved?

There are only two things that I think I would have changed on this image. The first is that I think I would have swapped out the Magmod Sphere on the key light for a larger modifier, perhaps even a strip box to illuminated Henry from his head down to at least the bottom of the guitar.

The second, and probably most irritating oversight being that I wish I had plugged the bloody guitar in.  (!!?#@!!)

Still, we live and learn right?


Katie & James

Saturday 26th January 2019 - St. Peter's Brewery

Katie and James are two of the most beautiful people I have ever met, not only that, but they are my friends. I was lucky enough to be asked to capture their special day for them and I am so happy that I got the opportunity.

Getting ready…

Katie and her bridesmaids got ready at home and Katie had her make-up done by her niece, up-and-coming make-up artist, Aimee Gibbs. Mum made bacon sarnies for everyone (once Katie’s brother got to grips with the new grill), and the vibe was chilled and relaxed. Katie and James’ daughter Eloise spent the morning excitedly showing me her ‘wedding dress’ and swishing and twirling in it until she was dizzy.

The venue…

The ceremony took place at St. Peter’s Brewery in Bungay, an incredible building that dates back as far as 1280 and was extended in 1539 using ‘architectural salvage’ from Flixton Priory. Not only that, but they also brew incredible beer.

The place was absolutely perfect, from the dark wood panelling, to the giant fireplaces and the London style pub. Katie and James had a small reveal prior to the ceremony where James saw that Katie was actually wearing a proper wedding dress, something that was not at all planned and of which James had no idea. It got emotional.

The ceremony…

Katie was given away by her father in the ceremony room and the rings were delivered by their son Jensen. Katie’s bridesmaids consisted of her nieces Aimee and Poppy, sister Susie, best friend Jenna and daughter, Eloise.

All in all, the day was incredible. The laughter, the tears, the absolute joy of it all was just amazing to be part of. Plus, the gargantuan pork pie and cheese wheel wedding cake was possibly the best thing I’ve ever seen at a wedding.

Mr & Mrs Anderson-Cousins; you guys rock.


Autumn Adventures

And about time too...

I love the autumn. Nothing is more beautiful than the warm colours of this season and it makes the perfect backdrop for family photos. I finally managed to get my kids and their cousins to Reydon Woods in Suffolk and captured them den-building and having fun amongst the trees. The kids absolutely loved it, and we managed to get some lovely images in the process.

Win, win.


Surf's Up with Suffolk Secrets!

Take to the waves...

Everyone loves spending time at the seaside. Especially in the hot, Summer months when they can paddle, swim and frolic around in the water with their families. But how many of us actually know what to do if we were to get into trouble?

Local holiday letting agency Suffolk Secrets started something incredible last Summer. They joined forces with the Waveney Surf Life Saving Club to bring about a series of free ‘Junior Lifeguard Camps’ for children aged 7-14.

These one and a half hour fun sessions took place on Lowestoft and Southwold beach and are based on the Surf Life Saving GB Surf Cadet programme, providing the children with the tools and knowledge to be safe in and by the sea.

Each session saw the children paddling on rescue boards and body surfing, while providing education about rip currents, waves and other dangers. The children were also able to play fast-paced and exciting beach games, both in the water and on the sand.

Children who took part received a goody bag and a certificate and were visited by the RNLI‘s ‘Stormy Stan’.

What an incredible event it was too! The kids absolutely loved every second of it and it gave them such invaluable skills which would last them a lifetime.

All we want to know now is where we sign up for this year’s sessions!

Surfer girl catching her breath on the sandy beach in front of a row of colourful beach huts