Where have you been?

What a wonderful, wonderful year. So much exploration and discovery. Heart and soul. Laughter, tears, and everything in between.

My training has come to an end - but really, this is just the beginning. I may have a certificate that says that I have qualified. But my learning will never stop, with a curiosity and desire to unearth so much more.

So now, five things.
+ New: Yoga Teacher.
+ Always: Mother
+ Promising: Photographer
+ Stable: Copywriter and social media guru
+ Rekindle: Music

My daughter starts school in September. And it hurts, but also it opens new possibilities. It gives new time and promises to be interesting. I will cry big tears when she goes in for her first day. I remember only yesterday those big blue eyes looking up at me when I fed her. She’ll only be four. We won’t add to the population by having any more. So it’s kittens from here on out - speaking of which, we adopted another one! I’ll include a photo of him (Colin) in this set of recent images.

Until next time - and it won’t be as long this time!










Ethical Hour

I went into my first Zero Waste Shopping store the other day, to buy a bar of shampoo - to not only cut out the plastic I use, but also reduce chemicals. I've been using natural skin care for yonks, but have recently stepped up my effort in lessening my carbon footprint, single use plastics, thoughtless purchases, and other things that cause a negative impact on the world - sometimes even unknowingly.

A quick click of the mouse to buy something from Amazon (click here to find out about their black marks), or a sweep down the supermarket aisle to take home a trolley full of throw-away plastic packaging. Or buying eggs that say Free Range, but actually that means that the chicken has to happen upon the tiny tunnel at the far end of the barn, that leads to outdoors... 

So when Sian Conway of Ethical Hour contacted me to do a shoot with her, I was really bloomin' thrilled! Ethical Hour is super, lovely business - it helps people to live and work more ethically every day. (Check out the portfolio of clients here). Living more ethically is such a hot topic at the moment - it has been for a while, but it seems to be really ploughing forward and it's making me feel hopeful. 

Sian wanted a collection of natural, candid photos of herself, to use on her website and for branding at events she attends. Her brief was foliage, organic and natural... so we headed out to Ashton Court to chat about her business, Hippo's laying eggs, and my witty comments to put people at ease (sweaty bananas, silly sausages, and other very dorky things that I blurt out - always gets a laugh though!). 

 

 

Waiting for Spring

I had the loveliest day last week with my children. It felt like Spring had finally arrived, after what has been a rather long and dreary winter.

We went to Tyntesfield and took our time wandering and exploring. We ate ice cream. We had a picnic. We walked around the gardens, and visited the greenhouses, which were alive with colour, summery scent and beautiful bumble bees! We relished in the sunshine all day. 

And then over the weekend it snowed again. And it was not welcome! Yet it still sits firmly in my garden, keeping Spring at bay. 

And so, we are waiting for Spring once more. 

You Are My Star

It is OK to cry and spread your arms wide
To weep at my side, these are not things to hide.
It is OK to say how much you love me
To ask me to hold you and squeeze you tightly.
It is OK to paint and to play with soft toys
To sing and to dance, to be not like other boys.
It's OK to tell me how you're feeling,
I will never tell you that you are a weakling,
I'll never say, man up and be different,
I just want you to be you, whoever you are.
And I want you to know that you are my star. 
I just want you to know that you are my star. 

Keep. On. Going.

Last year, I became so focussed on where I wanted to be, comparing myself to the photographers who have been doing it for far longer than I have, who get to travel the world and take these amazing photos of impossibly wondrous scenery.  Who get paid to do every single job. Who do nothing else but immerse themselves in a world of cameras and photographs and art. 

Time for a reality check! I am a mother - a full time mother of two children under five! IT IS NOT EASY. I have suffered from chronic sleep deprivation, given 150 billion percent to being the best mum I can be, which in turn has meant that I have also spent time worrying and berating myself over things; do the children watch too much TV, do they eat well enough, am I attentive enough, the list goes on. 

Then we moved house. No wait, first we moved countries. With a four month old baby. Then we moved from a flat we were renting to a house we bought. Then when my son was 14 months, I fell pregnant again. And was really sick. Then having two children was a complete shock and such a huge challenge and a strain on my mental health. And then we moved house again. 

And amongst all of that, I have consistently given myself a hard time for not having a booming photography business. What was I thinking? 

So, now that we are settled, and staying put. And finally, I have a bit more time (and sleep), I can start to absorb this wonderful and chaotic journey I have been on, both as a mother, and an aspiring photographer. 

I am starting this year gently, with photographs of the people I know and love. And then, there are a few things planned for later on, such as a wedding ceremony of a close friend, an exciting elopement story, a maternity shoot, and a few other projects. 

And I shall just go with the flow. Enjoy the adventure and the learning. Study faces and lighting, practice different environments and situations. Critique my work honestly but kindly. And just Keep. On. Going. 

Swinging through Autumn

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday, and my Dad's 64th birthday, swinging through the Autumn trees. I really do relish these family moments - moments that matter, to me, more than anything else in my life.

I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to be famous. And we can make excuses for everything, but when I say that I would prefer this life, a life with my wonderful, loving family, over another life I could have had, I mean it.

I can dream of that other life, about touring on the road, living in the studio, spending my days and nights writing music. But what would I have to forfeit to have that life? 

When I imagine the end of my days. I imagine feeling content because I made time to be a mother and a wife and a daughter and a sister, an auntie and a cousin and a granddaughter and grandmother. If I didn't have those things, I would regret it more than anything. I would wish I had chosen a family over a career in the music industry. How could it possibly compare? 

I do ask myself if I could have had both? And maybe I could have. But not in the way that I have it now. There would have been days and weeks and months I would have missed of my children growing up. And that is not the mother I wanted to be. No. Being a mother - the mother I am, is something I could never, ever regret. 

Monday Musings

It is my daughters nap time. Cup of tea. Biscuit. And time to catch up on stuff in peace and quiet. BLISS. 

So, the first news is that we are moving! We decided to bite the bullet and move to the countryside. We wanted to do it now, (slightly last minute) so that we can apply for schools for our son, who will start next September. 

The village we are moving to is about 40 minutes commute from Bristol. It has a pub, a bakery, dentist, doctors, charity shop, wine shop, and a little library, too! And, we will be closer to my family. 

We may well be in by Christmas, which is, unbelievably, only six weeks away! So, we are making the most of the lovely woods behind our house, with its falling orange and yellow leaves. We will miss these woods a lot, and have so enjoyed walking in them almost every day for three years. But, it really is time to escape the city. It just feels right for our family. 

With all the stress and chaos of the move preparation, I've lost my mojo a little bit. And I haven't picked up my guitar since our last gig in September. I've been going to bed as early as 8pm! But I have managed to finish my book (This Must Be The Place, by Maggie O'Farrel - a gripping read). And I WILL get back to my guitar and our plans to record an EP. 

Photography wise, I have my first wedding booked for next May. So that's really encouraging! I am also investing in a new camera - I borrowed my friends Canon 5d iii and fell in love with it. My 60d just doesn't cut the mustard any more. So, I'm really excited about getting that. 

I'll leave you with a few photos from my adventure in the woods with the children last week... using trusty Canon 60d. 

Let the Forest Grow

I always wanted to be a singer or an actress. I did Performing Arts in College, and Commercial Music at University. I started songwriting at 14. I played in bands. I acted in plays. And I had boyfriends. I always wanted to be a wife. And then later, a mother. Oh, the desire to be a mother. It hit me hard when I met my husband. And it took over everything else.

All my existent desires were put out, like a forest on fire. Every tree alight was extinguished. But an aftermath of burnt earth lingered. And one day, what life remained would find a way to grow and prosper, and once more stand tall and bright with life and dreams. 

And that is where I find myself. Sitting in a cosy corner of a city cafe, with desire bubbling away in my blood. Stubborn and firm in my bones. Wanting to find a way out into the world. To do something special. To make a mark. But there's one thing that imprisons it in my body. 

FEAR.

I am afraid. Afraid to do what my heart yearns for. To hike in the hills alone, to swim in the deep sea, to run in the dark, to make a record, to write a book, to cut my hair, to be a photographer. I am afraid that I cannot do it. I am afraid that I won't be good enough. I am afraid that I'll have to sacrifice my life as a wife and a mother.  Because I cannot do that. I need to be the best mother. And I want to be. I am. I know that motherhood is actually something that I am not afraid of. 

But it's time I took a leap of faith. It's time I start to extinguish the fear. Every time I say no to fear, I let myself grow. I let life grow. I let the forest grow. 

Below image from Women Wild and Free, (c) Fur and Gold Photography. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing it my way.

I've been pondering lately... what do I really want to do? Why am I still pursuing my music? Why am I a photographer? Who am I doing it for?

Because it's bloody hard work. Both music and photography consume plenty of my energy and time, and I don't have an awful lot of that to spare, in between being a mum and a wife, (and a cat and hedgehog and bird feeder). And all of those things I want to do really well. 

And then the answer floated into my mind like a falling leaf from a tree. I am doing this for me. And I don't have to pretend otherwise. And I don't have to perform to expectations. I don't have to do it the way other people do it. I just have to do it my way. 

I say all of this like I live by these words. But there are days when I really don't. And my confidence gets sapped. And I am fragile and lost. On those days I ask myself why am I doing this? All over again. 

Art is a tough career. Whether you paint, make music, take photos, dance... you have to put your heart into it, or else it isn't genuine. And a big part of me is that I am incredibly genuine. And I want that to show in the stuff that I do. But sometimes it's hard to put it out there when so much of you has been invested. And not everyone is going to understand it the way you do. And not everyone is going to love it, either. 

Perhaps the answer, that I'm doing this for me, will help me to get go forwards, and help me to find and hold onto that wavering self belief, so I can carry on doing it my way.  

 

 

 

boy and box

Today we had a blast in the sunshine and a box! These moments are simple. And there's something about that simplicity that I absolutely love. 

I read something recently by a photographer called Zalmy Berkowitz, and he said something along the lines of documenting moments as they are, aka - showing it like it is. And I wholeheartedly agree - in fact, it's become my moto. I want to show life as it happens. Life as it is. Life like today. 

Hello Sunshine.

Ah... here are my two little rays... warm and sweet, happy and yummy and oh, the littlest smells wonderful! The largest smells nice too, mostly. But not when he's 'washing' his own face with his hand. "My washing mummy". This boy likes cats. Or does he? I mean, he does, but he thinks they are hilarious and sort-of-a-little-bit terrorises/plays with Mouse (our cat). She's very good and doesn't seem to mind though. And it is entirely my own fault!  

But aren't they beautiful though? I mean, they are really beautiful. And I love hanging out with them and feel so grateful. But in case you didn't know, being a mum is actually the hardest job in the world. I don't care what anyone else says. Because it is.

In fact, I uttered those very words only today to a friend, as I had my biggest on my left hip, and my littlest in her car seat under my right arm, with a bag on my back, walking into a whooshing wind.

Oh and did I mention I've been getting up every 1/2/3 hours for the last several weeks? The 4/5/6 month sleep regression, or whatever you want to call it. But as with my eldest, I resign myself and my sleep for the first year - totally. I will just be there. And suck it up. Because it's only a year. And there are no regrets that way. 

So... here they are. My children. 

And here I am. Well, not all of me, but some. The some I can lend for the time being... with my tired eyes and aching bones. And with that, to the sofa for ten minutes to sit with my husband, and massage feet. Then... to bed!  




Secret Garden

I love getting outside into our little paradise garden. OK, so it hasn't got a permanent sunshine hanging over it, nor does it have an infinity pool, or a luxurious outdoor lounge area. But, it does back straight onto woodland, and we adore our little woodland friends - the Blue and Great Tits and Robins are my favourite. And Wilfie loves being amongst it all. Getting muddy, unearthing worms, and catching newts and frogs from the pond. It's our little city secret, because it doesn't feel like it's only ten minutes from the centre. We mostly just hear bird song... Lucky us. 


Winter

I love winter. I always look forward to it after the summer (OK, only if we have a good one), but I do love dressing in cosy jumpers and big boots. Wearing hats and taking walks in the fresh air. 

This time last year I was preparing to move from the sunniest place in the world - Perth in Western Australia - back here to Bristol. We were really lucky and found an awesome little home for ourselves, backing right onto a wood... close to the city but you wouldn't know it... 

And as we're in the midst of winter... all my friends back in Perth are sharing all their amazingly blue and sunshine filled photos of the aqua water and white sand... and I must admit, I have a bit of a pang to be there myself. Any warm beach actually, somewhere where I can feel the sun on my skin, and then take a dip in the ocean. 

But it's just this time of year... January/February, where you already start to look forward to the summer again! Bring on the Spring... we have plans to redo our garden a bit, add a BBQ area and my husband is going to make a wood fired pizza oven! 

And look at the woods... still beautiful in the Winter, on what was a beautiful, clear day today. 


Being imperfect

As a photographer, I think it's important to believe in yourself and what you see in front of you. I'm a complete romantic at heart, and the images I am drawn to the most have a sense of romance, mystery even... they tell a story that can be interpreted in different ways. They're not obviously brilliant or perfect. They're subtle yet strong. 

I've just had my business cards designed, and I was trying to decide whether to call myself a family photographer or a lifestyle photographer. And in the end I went for lifestyle, the definition of which makes total sense to me.

"Lifestyle photography is a kind of photography which mainly aims to capture portrait/people on situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner and the art of the everyday. The primary goal is to tell stories about people's life or to inspire people in different times."

This photo is of my son, Wilfred. Crawling and playing amongst the beautiful, autumn leaves, beneath a great oak tree. I took a few of him here, but this is the image that most appeals to me. It's not perfect. It's not straightforward. And that's why I love it.