Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Farm

As you are probably aware I have run  little photography get togethers for the past year or so and love looking for new locations for you all to play. In January last year , when snow was all around, I spent the day with Chris, a very good friend of mine who is also a photographer....although he needs to get his camera out more than he does! He told me about the ruins of Lydiate abbey, which are next to Farm not far from home and we spent the afternoon exploring them - it was like Narnia, cold, snowy and quite beautiful, and so later in the year when I was thinking of a new location for a Walkabout I remembered the farm and popped along to meet the now famous Farmer Brian who agreed to let a crazy bunch of photographers and scantily clad models wander around the Farm!

Brian was amazing, he opened up all the barns for us to use, and let us wander pretty much anywhere we wanted to. I ran a few Walkabouts there and always had my eye on one of the little outbuildings and dreamed of being based there but was still working full time and this remained a dream....until the chance of voluntary redundancy came up and I took the leap. On Christmas Eve that year, Mike and I popped down to the Farm for lunch and a walk and on the gift shop was a sign - 'Closing Down' cut a very long story short - I pretty much nagged Brian for the next month to let me lease the gift shop - he was reluctant at first as he did have plans of his own for it and was not going to consider renting it again but I promised to bring more gorgeous models and he finally agreed to leasing it to me for the summer so we could both see how it went and this was perfect - it gave me the chance to see whether I wanted a permanent base or not. So after some frantic painting and spider removing I opened on my birthday - (March the 12th - cards and presents always welcome) and had a fantastic time with lots of friends and family popping in to say hi

So over the last few months I had had an iterating time at the Farm, I have organised Walkabouts, hosted a course by John Denton and Andrew Schofield, and done numerous photoshoots, from frosty ones, to the bluebells and daffodils in the spring, through to the summer with the wheat and corn in the fields....but don't tell Brian it was me that flattened the wheat, I am bring to convince him its the work of visiting aliens!

Towards the end of the summer I had to make a decision - I knew that it was going to be quiet at the Farm and very cold over the Winter and so I made the decision to close up over the Winter months with an option to re opening again in the Spring - and so this is where I am at the moment - my lovely new home office has arrived and photoshoots are taking me out and about all over the Northwest. I am probably going to wait and see what Spring bring and then decide whether to go back to having a base at the Farm - Brian has made it very clear that he is very happy for me to continue using the Farm for photoshoots and Walkabouts and so I will not be leaving completely

I really want to say a huge thank you to everyone at Lydiate Hall Farm for just being the most supportive bunch of people I could have wished for - and I will be back for the scones!
I also want to say thank you to all of you who have come to love the Farm - and Farmer Brian, and the peacocks as much as I do. I feel  have grown as a photographer this year and a lot of that is due to being around all of you and being inspired by what you do.

My absolute highlights of the year are
  • the opening of the studio - and having Laurel and Hardy come along!
  • being welcomed by the amazing peacocks very day
  • watching the seasons change, the crops grow and shouting at Brian when he has plowed a field I planned to use!
  • hosting John Dentons art nude course and noticing that the farmers were plowing some very wonky lines as they were trying to see what we were doing
  • throwing buckets of water at the lovely Jamie - all in the name of photography!
  • trying to jump onto a haystack with Casey....... and having Claire Penn photographing me falling off the other side - I am just so graceful its untrue
  • meeting an awesome bunch of very talented photographers, make up artists and models who worked their socks off this year - all in the aid of fun and learning
So - the end of the year is nearly here and I feel that there are new places to explore, new challenges to accept, and lots of new people to meet......keep in touch, pop round for a brew if you are in the area and keep an eye out for some events being planned for next year and if you have some great memories from this year feel free to leave a message on here......I will leave you will the video from Johns workshop - see you all soon xxxxx

Friday, 25 November 2011

BIPP, bridges, pancakes and an Angel to watch over me

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster ride to say the least! Real highs and lows but we got through it which is all that counts......don't worry readers - this post is all about the good bits!

In the summer I decided to join the British Institute of Professional Photography and to start working towards gaining my first qualification. I know that this is not essential for me as a professional photographer but I like the fact that I might get a certificate....I am a little sad about this sort of thing - anything that gains me a badge or certificate means that I sign up there and then! Ok thats not the only reason I have done this - I like the idea that my work will be assessed to be of a certain standard and  I like the fact that it makes me work really really hard to produce work of the highest standard for all my lovely clients. In order to come a qualifying member of BIPP I had to send 30 of my images off for an initial assessment and only when they have been see can I start the journey towards my Licentiateship which will show that I have an 'established professional level of skill and competence'. Only when I have reached this level will I be able to use the initials BIPP after my name.

So this week Mike and I went up to the Northeast so that I could attend a portfolio review - 40 of my images were to be assessed by Fellows of BIPP - members who have the highest level of bet!!

Up to the last minute we were not sure if we were going to be able to make the trip due to family illness but we finally got on the road and arrived at the amazing Hilton Hotel right on the Tyne with amazing views of the bridges and the river , the first picture below is the view we had from the window- we were well and truly spoiled courtesy of the lovely Lisa who had arranged this for us in return for some tuition I did for her recently - I am now offering tuition to anyone who an repay me in hotel stays! We chilled in the evening, going for a walk down to the Millennium bridge and the Sage - an amazing theatre and arts space where we saw the exhibition of paintings by an amazing artist Jolomo 

Taken on my iPhone

Taken on my iPhone

Taken on my iPhone

Taken on my iPhone
So the next morning after a traditional Hilton breakfast including pancakes from a do it yourself pancake machine - yes I did get very excited about this.....we headed up to Newcastle college, though the town, past amazing buildings , a castle, cobbled streets, railway arches, it was killing me not having the time to take pictures but I will just have to go back again won't I?

The College housed all the creative arts courses and so I was surrounding by beautiful and inspirational work by the students - I did have to giggle when I saw one of the classrooms full of students who were knitting!

So my turn for assessment arrived and I have to say it was a brilliant experience - very nerve racking having someone reviewing and critiquing the images which I love so much, but it was done in such a positive way that I actually really enjoyed it - and I know that I have already learned so much. 

I feel really pleased at the response I got from the assessors, they have advised me to go for my full assessment in the New Year when I will have to submit another 25 images, and a ton of supporting evidence to a panel, another scary experience but I already feel that this will increase my skills and my confidence as a photographer and that can only be a good thing. I am passionate about teaching and learning from my last job as a University Lecturer and know that it is essential that I constantly improve my skills, and grow as a photographer. So the hard work starts now and I will let you know how things are going.

I really want to thank the assessors at Bipp this week who, although they have been on the road all week they were still incredibly enthusiastic and supportive, and also the rest of the BIPP team at Head Office. 

Anyway ....enough chatting - here are some of the images I submitted for  review 

When we left yesterday we did do a very quick stop off at the Angel of the North, and I was just in awe of this incredible structure looking over the town, just beautiful x

Monday, 7 November 2011

If you go down in the woods today........

Tara got in touch recently to chat about having a photoshoot, she had realised that she had loads of photographs of her 2 gorgeous girls but she had no photographs of herself and Oliver together since  they got married - Tara is very much like me and prefers to be behind the camera! But she did not want the girls to grow up and not be able to look back and see Tara on any of the photographs in their family album.

So we decided to do a family shoot with a slight difference, the focus was very definitely on Mum and Dad and luckily Grandma and Grandad came along to entertain the girls so that Oliver and Tara could have some time together in the woods........ now that sounds a little risqué.... even more so when you remember that I was pointing my camera at them!

I wanted this to be a special afternoon for Tara and Oliver - I asked them to think of somewhere they love to be and I am so glad they chose Delamere Forest - this was somewhere these childhood sweethearts used to go for walks when they were dating and so when they look at the images in their album they will remember the afternoon, the weather, the gorgeous colours of the leaves, the sounds of the children running....and running....these girls can run!

I really love my job... and this was one of those afternoons that made me realise just how much I love it, I got the chance to spend time with a lovely family , to meet 2 little girls full of character and bursting with energy, to explore the woods in the beautiful autumn sunshine and best of all I know that Tara, no matter how nervous she was on the day, will always have these images in her album to look back on, and the girls will be able to see just how beautiful their Mummy is . 

I want to say a huge thank you to Grandma and Grandad for occupying the girls for a little while, and also to say thank you to the girls for including me in their adventures in the forest, including the incident with the 2 very lost children we found who were really calm and were able to tell us their Mums mobile number, unfortunately Mum had left her phone at home and I ended up leaving messages starting with 'Hi, we are in the forest and we have your children...' I nearly left a ransom demand but thought that they might not see the funny side of that! Thankfully children and parents were soon reunited and a memorable afternoon was had by all!

So, if you are like Tara, you love photography and looking at photographs in your family album but are realising that there always seems to be someone missing from them , why not give me a call to talk about booking a photography session.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Victoria Baths - the return!

I am not sure where to start with this post! I am exhausted from the workshop on Saturday - but I did not want it to end....

Earlier this year I  organised a workshop for photographers at the amazing Victoria Baths in Manchester and I knew that I would have to go back again, it is such a special place and is being lovingly restored by volunteers . 

So I announced another date and was really pleased that people seemed to be as excited as I was to go back. I arranged amazing models, make up artists, borrowed clothes from the very talented designer and off we went!  

I want to thank a number of people who made the day possible,

Neil, and all the volunteers at Victoria Baths, for having the passion and the drive to bring this beautiful building back to life - head to the website and have a look.       Victoria Baths

To the amazing models, Zana, Kayleigh Jo, Jenny Brook and Flo, who worked so hard and made it very easy for the slightly nervous photographers in the group!

To the make up artists, Persis - who came at the last minute, Abi, Anghared and Victoria. Can I just say a very special thank you to Victoria, this was her very first job after finishing her training - talk about being thrown in at the deep end!!!

To Amy Saville - who is the very talented and lovely designer who gave us the fabulous clothes for the day - head over to her Facebook page and say Hi!          Amy Saville Bespoke dressmaking

To my long-suffering family who put up with my stress levels in the few days before any of the workshops, who know when to leave me alone , when to hug me and when to just put a very large glass of wine in my hand!

And finally...... yes this does feel like an acceptance speech at the Oscars, but bear with me! - I would like to say a huge thank you to all the photographers who came along, you are a talented bunch, your willingness to share always amazes and inspires me, and I will keep organising days like these for as long as you want me too , because I love seeing that lightbulb moment when you try something new, I love seeing people getting excited about photography, and of course I adore the fact that people bring cake - thanks Dawn - you can come again!

Here are some of my images from the day - click on them to see them bigger


I am off on a little trip tomorrow to check out a new location - so watch this space - and please leave a little comment if you like, its always lovely to know that you have stopped by 

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