Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

I am currently on holiday visiting my son in Dubai. We had visited the City in 2006 and swore we wouldn't be back. But now that our son now lives here, we thought we'd give it another chance.

We cannot believe the changes in that time. In fact it hardly feels like you are in an Arabic country. Before we would walk around deserted shopping malls, that just had Arab men dressed all in white in them. Now the malls are massive and full of every Western shop you could imagine. The majority of the building work has been completed. The sky is not so full of cranes as it was in 2006.

The weather in December, is a lot more forgiving for a British resident. It was 106 every day when we visited in the month of April last time. This time I even need a cardigan.

I must admit this time I feel overweight and old. None of my summery clothes fit me. I have no inclination to attend any of the New Year celebration parties that are going on all over the City and I am hating every photo of myself, captured by others on the trip.

And I am finding it hard to pay the extortionate restaurant prices. I don't consider £80 for the two of us, a great deal. But the restaurants are all fully booked, so obviously all the tax free residents and rich Arabs think it's normal to pay those prices.

So far we have enjoyed the most, catching a metro train down to the old part of Dubai. We then caught an abra ferry boat across the creek to the gold and spice souks. It felt we were truelly in an Arab country, instead of the new polished shiny Dubai that is now everywhere over the creek. We took all the back streets, in the souk enjoying the feeling of being thoroughly lost. That was until I realised my much cherished Chanel sunglasses were no longer with us. I cannot begin to explain the panic we felt trying to retrace our steps. With Indians everywhere trying to get us to go in their shops. Every little alleyway looked the same. I had only been in two shops, but it took quite a few panic ridden minutes to find them again. But my sunglasses were nowhere to be found. We traced our steps over and over again. Returning to each shop three times. We had checked our cameras to pin point the last time I had them on. We even rang the shops today, in case they turned up. Stealing is quite rare here as the penalties are so high, so we hoped they might be found.
So I ended up having to return to the largest shopping Mall in the world to try and find some new ones. A day never goes past when I don't wear my sunglasses. I even wear them driving in fog. I must have tried on over 200 pairs, but I finally near 10pm settled on another pair of Chanels. Of course they were the most expensive pair in the shop. An expense I could have done without and a real downer on what had been a perfect day.
I ended up having a sleepless night, thinking about my sunglasses and retracing all my steps.

Anyway, as hubby said no one died. ( although to me I feel a little of me was lost with my sunglasses) so here's to a better start for 2013.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Merry Christmas

This Christmas and New Year I will partying in Dubai, visting my son.

We are having our Christmas dinner at home early this weekend. My favourite thing to do is the organisation for a big meal and it's cooking. I also love setting the table and always end up doing it days before.

This year I have a new tablecloth from Jaipur, India. It is covered with hand blocked elephants, in the same pink and green the room is decorated in. I thought it was perfect, when I saw it on our recent travels in India.

This year we have invited our daughters fiancé and his family to join us. It will be lovely to cook for a family who appreciate home cooking. Craigs mother is a fantastic cook, so no doubt she will realise all the effort that goes into putting a massive Christmas meal together.

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers, and I hope we all have a fabulous 2013.....

Friday, 14 December 2012

Is scrapbooking dead ?

I've heard the buzz recently on blogs, that scrapbooking is dead.  here

For me it certainly has been dormant for a while. To begin with I had thought it was because of the pain from a spine problem I had for a couple of years. It meant I couldn't sit without pain, so scrapbooking had to stop. But when I think about it, I used to scrap standing up most of the time when I was at home. I also stopped just at the time I finally had the bespoke scrapbook/ study of my dreams.

Then I thought, maybe it was because I had come to realise that no one in my family gave a shit about the pretty 12 x 12 pictures I was regularly putting into albums, that nobody ever looked at.
 But I'm starting to think I have just evolved. It started with the very thing that got me into scrapbooking- photographs. I started to be envious of the amazing captures on the blogs I was visiting more and more. I wanted to be able to take better photographs. So I took a workshop with Karen Russell back in 2010 and then again in 2012.That was it, my life changed.
I spent months doing assignments, reading about photography, experimenting and learning. This then lead me to take a different approach to my scrapbooking. I bought a Project Life kit from Becky Higgins and that changed the way I recorded memories for 2011. It was all about the daily photos and journalling.

It took up so much time and effort, that I didn't really have the extra time for making layouts. It seems to be true of other scrappers I know, that Project Life was the death of their classic 12 x 12 layouts. How weird that the very person asked to talk about the Death of scrapbooking might be the very peron that helped cause it. Now it would seem all the "famous" celebrity scrappers seem to be involved with Project Life somehow. So more and more people are using this as a way to document their lives.

I also found the simplicity of making beautiful, yearly photobooks, didn't help. I used all my favourite and best photos from each year in one massive book. They sit out on the coffee table, where my most recent scrap album used to sit. I had always had a sneaky suspicion that my children would just throw away my scrp albums when I am gone. There are too many for them to find a home for.  But I knew they would be more likely to hang on to the photobooks for future generations.

The Worldwide recession seemed to hit , just at the time my back problems did. So slowly, the scrapbook stores that i loved here became more expensive, and then shut one by one. I am lucky, in that I have a store here in my small market town. But it tends to not get my creative juices flowing. I have never been an Internet shopper, I always had to see and buy in person. So slowly that way of getting me excited creatively, died. The cost of petrol went through the roof and the old days of travelling hours to a scrap store stopped.

I think the rot started to set in when Creative Keepsakes magazine stated to have problems. My much anticipated magazine, didn't always turn up and one by one they got rid of all the great scrappers writing for their magazine. Which of course ended up in them all going on line and starting things up like Project Life !

Scrapbooking is something I still love and I would dearly love to get back into it as much as I used to. I still attend crops regularly, so that I keep my brain tuned to be creative. I have a small pile of scrapbook projects on the go at the moment. My India mini book is nearing completion and I have a fab mini book kit from Ann Freemans Enfield Christmas crop I've just attended.

Are you still scrapbooking ? How do you keep yourself motivated, when all around you no one gives a damn !

Monday, 26 November 2012

A test run :North Herts Portrait Photographer

 Ignore if possible.

This is just a test run blog. I am still trying to get to grips with blogging from a Mac.

My favourite blog writing platform is only usable on a Windows computer. Live Writer used to be so easy to use. I could change the size of my edited photos effortlessly. Now I'm trying to find out the size I need on my blog.

So this is a quick test from a recent shoot, of the same image at different sizes.

As you can see it's not easy taking photos of children !!!

Especially when it"s a dull damp day and the photographer isn't well!

Well it looks like my blog is 500 pixels wide. Half the amount I normally save my web images at. Hopefully one day I will have the time to work out, how to widen my blog posts. I did it years ago as part of a Shimelle blogging class. I may have to investigate again the ins and outs of my HTML blog !!

Dog gone easy:North Herts Portrait Photographer

I've had a manic month so far. Lot's of shoots, a trip to India and a cold/cough bug I just can't shake off.

Before I hit you with my India trip photos and commentary overload. I thought I would share with you the easiest shoot I have ever undertaken.

The subject didn't care about me editing his wrinkles or teeth. He didn't even mind that it started raining during the shoot.

Ok, he wasn't the most perfect model, in that I had to bribe him to sit still. But still I was thrilled with the quick results.

The photos are going to be a surprise Christmas present for his owner, Harri.

Harri has special needs and his dog is his best friend.

Meet Buster, the cutest dog ever.

and here's a collage of some of my favourite Buster poses.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Autumn colour

The light is slowly going. In fact this week, it has been non existent due to fog. I have already had to cancel one shoot because of the lack of it. The clocks are changing this weekend and I will loose another hour.

On a recent walk with Teddy I found the most amazing patch of autumnal plants. As I had some shoots arranged for the coming weeks. I knew it would be perfect, it the light was on my side.

Our first attempt at a shoot was on a Wednesday evening. I met the three siblings at the edge of the land. Their mother had booked the shoot as a present for their father for Christmas. It had been hard to arrange a time when all three of them were able to be together for a shoot. Rachel the youngest is at University In Scotland and was only home for a few days, before Christmas.

As we met up, the sky darkened and after just 30 minutes the heavens opened and we had to make a run for it. So I only managed a few shoots.

The following Saturday morning was the only remaining time they were able to get together. It was a beautiful, crisp sunny morning. Not the golden hour I was trying for on the first shoot, so it was a lot more work trying to deal with the strong sunlight.

Their mum is coming this weekend to watch a slide show of their edited shoot images, to make some product choices.

When I look out of the window at this moment, I cannot believe this was just a few weeks ago. It's like winter has really set in now. 

Moo cards

I finally crossed something of my to do list. It's been the top of my list for months, but I have been so busy I haven't had the time to do it.

I had read lots of great things about Moo business cards. Most of the photographers at the JinkyArt workshop used them as well and I finally got to see some in person.

What is particularly good about them for photographers, is you can put a different image son every card. It took a while to make different cards, but once I got the idea it was easy.

I choose to try out there 50 free first time business cards and their freebie pack of a sample of all their products. they come with the Moo. card logo on them, which I didn't see as a problem for my first order.

The quality of their products is amazing. Next time I would go for the rounded corner option.

In fact I love them so much, it has been hard giving them away.

They went down so well, I got six enquiries within 24 hours after I first got them.

Now I just have to try and complete some of the other 8, to do things on my list !

If anyone would like me to send them a business card and a price list, just drop me a line

Engagement shoot

It was a beautiful hot late summers day in September when my daughter invited me for afternoon tea to my favourite place in the world. The Orchard, Grantchester.

I knew that her boyfriend was going to be asking her to marry him within days, so as the light was so perfect, I took the opportunity to take some pictures of them together, which would serve as a memory of their engagement.

I am so glad I did. As Tasmin looked less than glamorous when he asked her. He was so nervous, he couldn't wait to a planned meal at a weekend away, and blurted it out as soon as they got to the cottage they were staying at.

I couldn't miss the opportunity to try my favourite photo from the shoot, as one of the new photo boxes my print company offers.
I ordered the smallest size at 8" x 6 ", as they are for displaying on the wall, and I am slowly running out of wall space.

The quality of them is amazing. I'm so pleased to be able to offer these to my clients. They even come in a box, so make beautiful Christmas gifts.

Craig's sister joined us, so I jumped at the chance to take some of them together. She has such stunning eyes.

As always, my favourite image from the shoot is a natural laughing shoot.

 I can never remember what it is I say to get the response's I do. But the majority of the time it is something naughty and shocking. 
It gets results every time !

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A wee little test

I just though I would have a play with writing a blog post on my iMac using blogger direct. What I see in front of me looks a lot different to the HTML confusion I used to see on my laptop years ago when I started.

So maybe blogging from an iMac will be easy after all.

Hallelujah !

And I though I would throw in an image I like from a recent photo-shoot I did.
Just to see how easy it is to add.

So far so good. As easy as writing a blog in Livewriter !

I'll go for another one then......

Oh this is toooo easy.....

I have to put the photos in at a smaller size than I would like, but I can play with that another day.

undfind camera lens bag


When I am on a shoot I use a Black rapid women's camera strap. It is one of the best things I have bought. It means I can walk around with my camera safely strapped at my side, leaving my hands free. On a shoot I usually have a lot of props, reflectors and stools to carry around, so I need all the hands I can have.


I also have around my neck my Expodisc, I use to set white balance readings. Essential to my style of shooting.


But the main problem comes when I want to change lenses. I leave my camera bag at home and pop all my lenses in to their own individual padded lens bags. But it gets very fiddly when I am thick grass in a meadow, rummaging through my huge bag of shoot needs I take with me.

I have watched with envy for a while all the photographers I admire in the States who use a Shootsac to hold their lenses. They are essential for wedding photographers, who really don’t have the time to carry around camera bags. They need to merge in with the wedding party. As our time was nearing for our trip to India.




I started to realise such an item would be great on our trip as well as for shoots. Their bags hold two lenses, right up to my huge 70-200mm lens. They have an extra 4 pockets to carry smaller items. That means I could have three lenses with me at all times, within a moments reach.  The bags are made of strong, light stretchable neoprene fabric and you can even buy interchangeable covers.

But the problem was the exorbitant price of The Shootsac $180. She pretty much has the market locked down. But one day I came across the UNDFIND waist shooter . At $80 the bags are much cheaper, and really do exactly the same thing. The great thing is they are slightly smaller, as they only have two pockets as apposed to the 6 the Shootsac has. The Shootsac is designed to really only have two lenses in the pockets, just like the UNDfind bag. The extra pockets are just for things like flashes and keys. The Shoot sac just looks too bulky and big to have strapped across me. So the UNDFIND bags seems even better to carry around, in my opinion. I need things as light as I can , because of my previous back problems.


The great thing about using it in India is it doesn’t  look remotely like a camera bag. Just a trendy over the body, leather bag. I ordered one from B&H for Hubby to pick up in Chicago on his last trip. I went with the black leather cover and may add a colourful limited edition one at a later date.


They have 2 zip able pockets on the inside flap, that I keep my extra CF cards and batteries in. I’ll be able to keep money and hand sanitizer in there as well on our trip.

The great thing about the UNDFIND waist shooter, is it comes with a detachable strap and also comes with strong Velcro straps on the back so that you can wear it on a belt around your waist as well. Great for men, who wouldn’t want to be wearing a “bag”.



I just LOVE it and put it straight to work on shoots.

If only I could find something to strap to myself to hold a reflector at the perfect angle. Then everything would be sorted. But boy how stupid would I look !

Smash book- India


K&Co are one of my favourite scrapbook companies, so when they bought out their new SMASH books, I was very excited.

The only thing was I didn’t want to use them as inspiration books, as they are intended. I knew I wanted to use them as mini scrapbooks and that they would be perfect for my trip to India.


I set to decorating it yesterday.  The colours look very Indian to me. I am trying to use as much of my old supplies as possible at the moment.

It took me hours choosing one of the editions when I was in Archivers in Chicago. I settled on the Retro version. The pre printed inspiration pages, seemed to match the best with what I hope we will experience in India. There are pages for journaling about hotels, food and the colours inside were perfect. Any that weren’t I have covered with more appropriate papers.


I filled an added pocket with lots of journaling cards to complete on the trip. Plus a 6x4 photo to use as a template, for where I expect any images to go. This means I can do any writing in the moment, and add my photos later. I added some page tabs and decoration to some of the pages.


I’ve added envelopes and pockets throughout to add any ephemera as we travel. The red spotty envelope was an envelope from a card I received for my birthday. I kept it in my stash to use for this project all year.


This is one of the pre printed pages I added an extra “wow” embellishment to. It should be perfect for a page with a Taj Mahal photo.

So the Smash book is packed now in the suitcase, ready for our adventure.

I sorted through all my warmer weather clothes, trying to choose appropriate clothes for 90*+ weather. I also need to keep covered up, from mosquitos and be comfy for the massive distances we are going to be covering.


I bunged in a really old, light packable evening style dress, just in case I feel I need to dress up one evening. I’ve had it about 15 years and just about still fit in it. The other clothes I have picked are all extremely comfy and most importantly interchangeable together. I normally end up buying a lot of clothes abroad, and wearing them instead of what I bring out anyway .

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Tigers and the Taj

In a few weeks time, I will be in a different world. With no doubt all my senses on full alert. After the success of my operation last year. I had wanted to return to the old me. I used to love to travel and explore, exciting new places. Whilst I was ill, I struggled with the trips we took. In fact, some of them are our worst memories of that time. I couldn’t even visit our apartment in Spain this year, because of the memories.

A trip to China was also cancelled during that time, and we thought about rebooking this year. But I wanted to do a more exciting trip, so we booked a small tour of India, taking in lots of key sights and lots of wildlife to keep Hubby happy. After hours of deliberation we settled on a trip ( like this) that includes lots of tiger safari's, a train trip and luxury hotels added to all the famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal.


But unknown to us last July, all visits to see the tigers in India were stopped by a court order. So the tigers part and the train were removed from our itinerary. The carefully chosen hotels went out of the window, as the tour was changed . It looked like we were going to be staying here, at a hotel that can only be compared to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. phoca_thumb_l_1

We would be eating with the Maharajah and taking a step back in time to the 1930’s .

So after the disappointment and uncertainty, we decided we were still going to go ahead with the trip.

Imagine my surprise when I received our tickets yesterday, to find the Courts had removed the ban just the day before and our original itinerary was now in place.


Now begins my favourite part of any holiday, all the planning and packing. It’s going to be hard to choose suitable clothing. I always pack very light and this time I want to really par back what we are taking as part of our carefully chosen tour includes a walking tour of New Delhi with former street children. The Salaam Baalak Trust support and look after street children. Included in our tour package was a note that the trust would be grateful for any things we could donate for the children.


During a tour to the largest township in south Africa, Khayelitsha. I wasn’t expecting to take such a scary trip, deep into the township, but we did a private tour and where taken into schools and private homes.


I felt totally inadequate with the pens, sweets and bubbles we had bought the night before to take with us. To see the delight in the children's faces when the teacher had them come up one by one to be given a biro was heart-breaking.

So this time I would like to take a selection of the things they have asked for. If anyone has watched the recent TV programme about India, you will know how delighted the youngsters are with a “label”. One lad, was so proud of the worst copy of a Man Utd football shirt I had ever seen. So I have put a shoot out on Facebook for some nice clothes and I will be looking for some small toys, and bits and bobs to pack the cases out with. The only problem is, the tour is on our last day of our tour, so we will have to travel around with all the donations in our bags for the entire trip. And let’s put it this way, my husband isn’t in any way as charitable as I am. But he will be the first one with tears in his eyes, listening to the children when they talk about their lives. I said to him it is better to give than receive. To which he came back with the expected sexual comment !

I was delighted to find out this week we don’t need to take any malaria medication, just preventative measures. However I found out we are best to have a cocktail of immunisations. So we lucked out when I didn’t have them at the travel clinic I was referred to by my GP. (They cost a fortune and I knew hubby was very reluctant, as all his workmates go to India with no preventative health measures.) I told the clinic I would check with my GP surgery to see if they would give them to us on the NHS, and bingo we can. So we saved ourselves a small fortune.

I will share with you later, what scrapping supplies I am taking with me to journal our trip. I have also bought an amazing camera lens bag, that I want to share with you, that is perfect for shoots and traveling.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Definitions of success


Some people need to “be somebody” or have people recognise their talents. I have never been one of these people. I know I have lots of secret talents, and I don’t need other people to give me accolades or money for them.

I read a blog post by Brooke Snow the other day that really resonated with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day and night. I used to read Brookes blog as she is an amazing photographer and I have wanted to take one of her classes. But recently she has given up most of her photography work, as she wants more time for herself and her family.

The article was written by Sarah J. Bray in the Going Pro magazine.  I downloaded the magazine to have a better read. Now me and Sarah are in others ways very different. But her words on her definition of success,  made me stop and think.

Sarah says, “My definition of success is that I enjoy an abundance of space in my life. Space in my time. Space in my finances. Space in my relationships. I don’t want to feel squeezed and pressured. Anything that makes me feel that way is not success for me.”

That has always been my mission in life. That is were I am at at this moment with my photography business. I am lucky in that I do need need to work, financially. Yes, I am sure I could find many things I could want to buy. But I feel I do not need these things really. I think once you have the finances to buy pretty much anything you want. You quickly realise, you don’t really want it anyway.  What I can’t buy is peace of mind and time. I have always tried to work in my life with these two things upper most in my mind.

If I’m not happy, my whole family knows about it. They like a happy, at peace Mum. I get stressed very easily, because I have such high expectations of myself, and I always strive for perfection. 

So, at the moment there is no website for me, pushing myself out there in the Web. No Facebook page for my photography business. I just sit back and wait, for my work to do the talking. No marketing strategies, or networking. That’s really not my style and would eat into my precious time. My time is currently spent, how I want to spend it. Just perfect.

And if and when the day comes when the phone doesn’t ring about a potential photography shoot. No problem, I’ll just have more time to do other things.

Its just lovely to share my photography with people who maybe wouldn’t have had the chance of a photo shoot in my style. I have kept my prices very low. Each shoot  I try and keep personal to the families. I still can’t bring myself to charge for my time, it’s something I still want to give away for free. Which always shocks people.

Maybe, one day I will have a need for financial gain and will have to change my strategy. But seeing's I have no debts and nothing I wish to buy. I am happy  with my definition of success.




I am finding getting back into this blogging lark on my old laptop hard going. I will have to try out Trevor's previous comment on my last blog. I used to use blogger to write my posts. But I found it too complicated and layered. It took up too much of my TIME. Whilst doing a blogging course with Shimelle Laine, I discovered Livewriter and loved it. It’s so super easy. Maybe I will have to look into going back to writing blogs in Blogger. The main problem being it doesn’t recognise me. I didn’t used to have an email account. So I used what is now a defunct one of my husbands. My blog never recognises me and I have to impersonate him. ( not a good look ) I have tried everything to be just myself, but it just gives me grief. I’ll have to give it another go on my super fast iMac. Because this cute, pink Sony laptop now does my brain in.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Big apologies

a huge apology for not blogging recently. The truth is I have just been toooo busy. Blogging is on every list of jobs to do, I write every day. But I have recently gone over to the other side.

The other side, being Mac.

For a few months I was continuing to edit via my Sony laptop and a calibrated monitor. Sat right next to it was a new iMac. It was a steep learning curve for me. I am not very computer savvy and working on them, doesn’t come naturally to me. Luckily my son has always used a Mac, so he was always at the end of the phone to pop round to help me with any difficulties I was having. But he has recently moved to Dubai, UAE. So I am all on my own now, with my Mac.

I took the big step, and put my laptop away in a drawer, and I have been doing all my recent photo shoot editing, on the Mac only.

The main problem with a Mac is, there isn’t really a great blog writing platform out there. I have used Windows Livewriter  for years. It is free and effortlessly easy. I tried an app for writing blogs on my iPad, but it’s nowhere near as good as Livewriter. Can anyone out there recommend a workable app, they think I would find super easy. Because my laptop now stays in a drawer. and is so much slower to work on than the Mac’s, I never seem to get around to blogging.

I have been shooting non stop since my last blog, and have so many shoots to share with you.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of our own lives. We have had two major events in our family recently.

Firstly my son has moved to live and work in Dubai. Before he left I begged him to have one last shoot for me. I wanted pictures of him and his girlfriend to include in my yearly photo book.



and then my daughter went and got engaged to her boyfriend of 5 years.


They bought the Teddy as a reminder of the day. So he had to be included in their engagement photo.

Tasmin choose to have a family ring as her engagement ring. It had belonged to my Great Aunt. She would be so please to know that Tasmin was going to be wearing it for the rest of her life.

IMG_5961 web

I apologise for the unedited pictures. The edited ones are all on my Mac. See what I mean about how complicated it is getting about blogging.

I need to be able to blog from just one computer, that has everything on it.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Hitchin Lavender fields : North Herts Portrait photographer


My son and his girlfriend are moving to live, and work in Dubai in a matter of days. His apartment is rented out, and they are busy packing everything away to put into storage here or to take with them.

My son rarely lets me photograph him and I was sad that our 2012 family photobook, will be severely lacking in pictures of him, so somehow I persuaded him to agree to a shoot at the lavender fields, near Hitchin.

To say when he arrived at the fields he wasn't keen, is an under statement. But by the end of our session, he could see what all the fuss was about, and he happily cut away at some lavender for me to display at home.

You can cut as much lavender as you like in the field, for just £4 !! Plus they have a wonderful cafe, with scrumptious cakes. That kept him happy as well.



































I even persuaded them to take some pictures of me for the photo book and as always I was able to get some beautiful ones of my daughter , Tasmin. She is such a pro.

It wasn’t the most perfect weather for the shoot as it was really sunny, so I just made the best of the opportunity and grabbed every bit of cloud cover I could.


It made this Mummy very happy, to have some great photographs for her 2012 Family Photobook.

The Hitchin lavender fields make the most amazing backdrop for family photographs, if you would like me to capture, just such a memory for you, then just contact me and we can sort something out.

I have a lot more shoots to share with you from this fantastic location. Just be patient, please. I have a humongous pile of editing to do !


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