sunshine and me #whatsthestory #magicmoments

I absolutely love the sun. I really really do. I think i might be a hairs breath away from having a little sprinkling of SAD. You know when the sunshine changes your mood so much. It literally lifts me being in the sun, feeling its warmth and seeing the colours it causes to jump around the landscape. One thing that i noticed spending a week in the countryside surrounded by hills and open spaces was just how amazing the sun looks in an uninterrupted landscape with no light pollution. I was taken away by the beauty in each sunrise and sunset. It was sensational. So much so that i tried on several times to just capture it as perfectly as i could. I used a tripod a lot of the time and set my camera up way before the sun started to appear on the horizon.  I was amazed actually how quickly it rises once it appears it is up and shining strong above the horizon within about 10 minutes so i wanted to make the most of the light that it afforded.

I set my white balance manually, so that i could get the truest colour rendition directly in camera. Then i set my camera manually because i really wanted to control the amount of light that was hitting the sensor. So for those who like the details. I set my aperture or F stop to around f18 (remember the sunny 16 rule!), i used a long lens and a shutter of about 1/160 if i was hand holding. My ISO was 125 and i had set my white balance to custom. I have intentionally not edited these shots in post processing. So that the pureness of what the camera has captured can be seen. The only thing i did do was clone out a few dirt spots which were obviously on my lens..tsk..very naughty!


here you go..

the sun….

she rises!


World Book Day. How i do not love you #oneweek

Its that time of year that strikes fear into a mother’s heart. The letter home from school that announces with a chirpy style ‘ we are allowing the children to get dressed up for world book day!’

I have come over the years to really really not like world book day. I love books, i think reading is a thing of great importance and beauty and must be encouraged. The concept of world book day is an awesome one. What is has morphed into in the world of primary school kids is a bloody thorn in my side. It makes me laugh out loud that the letters are always quick to sternly point out..’please do not go out and buy anything..whatever you have lying around the house will be fine’



The school my kids go to decided to only allow the kids to dress up in a certain type of costume. The younger kids ‘had’ to come as either a princess or a pirate..and the two older year groups had to come as something from Peter Pan. Now call me an old cynic but isnt the idea behind something called ‘world book day’ surely designed to display and showcase the colourful and varied books that kids read and lets face it there are not many 11 year olds (my son) who would be reading and enjoying Peter Pan? Sort of squashes the kids own creativity i think..never mind the fact that some kids might actually want to come in as a character from a book they enjoy?

The ‘dont spend any money’ comment irks me somewhat. Firstly I am not, myself, massively handy with the old sewing machine and secondly I don’t have too many pirate type things lying around the house. Having a son who has always hated any sort of dressing up,  he always asks me why he can’t just go as himself to these sort of things, I have very little dressing up clothes at my disposal. Then there is the whine and request from my four little girls who all want to go as Queen Elsa from Frozen because their best friend is going as her and she just ‘has’ to be the same. uh -huh..yeah that will be the dress that is £40 in the Disney store ( no they didn’t get it!)

It is a total headache and a cash cow for the supermarkets, who around this time of year start expanding their dressing up ranges so that we can all go in and lay down the cash so that my daughter can go to school as a pirate in an outfit off the shelf that will be worn once and then unlikely see the light of day for a good while..until the next world book day i guess providing they are allowed to come as pirates! *eye roll*

I know it is a bit bah humbug of me but i feel that surely a day that celebrates literature should be, at the very least, about actual books, stories and the writing of amazing literature rather than just about how many Buzz Lightyear costumes can fly off the shelves? and actually those Toy Story characters? a book? really? Not a screenplay written for a very successful and enjoyable movie series…yes….but not a book?

What about the kids bringing in their favourite book? a book swop? having a writing stories class with a writer for the older kids. That would be something the kids gain from surely?  Opening their minds to the world of literature without having to wear a costume all day and line the fat pockets of the supermarkets even more? Then of course there is the delightful side issue to these sort of days which is the over -competitive parents who kids waltz through the school gates in the morning looking like they have just come from their own hair and make-up department on the set of a movie. You know who they are…yeah…they are everywhere and not just in world book day.

When one of my kids was in reception they had to do a ‘build your own house’ out of boxes etc. We give our kids the stuff and tell them to get stuck in. One year, i kid you not, there was a model of a lighthouse with a working tiny sized lightbulb!!

You see what we are up against? 😉

I am ALL for celebrating literature with bells on and i love that kids should be allowed to let their imagination run away with them if they want to add an outfit to their world book day…but the yearly nightmare that has become the dress up for world book day i think is missing the point by a country mile. in my opinion. 🙂

One of my little misses working a dorothy/madonna wig/lazy town combo.

and why not?

one week


Reflection part 6: Where are the kids? #whatsthestory #magicmoments #mammarazzi

Continuing my series of looking at some of my favourite images from the last year. You can see some of my other posts by following the link ‘ishoot’ in the menu bar. They are all in there! 🙂

So this week i thought i would look at that elusive model..nope not the toddler but the teen!! *gasp*

Yes i do occasionally get asked to photograph older kids, young adults. Generally they are as part of family group! But they aren’t toddlers and they are certainly not kids..and would never want to be considered one of the old adults. I do really enjoy working with this sort of age though, they really stretch me and i have to put some thought into how to make them feel at ease and relax into the shoot. Some of my favourite images have come about from having a older kid in the family. They are particularly good at getting younger kids to do as you are asking them.

Here are a selection of some of my favourites and some of my ideas about how I got there:

This shoot was for two teenage sisters and we were in a large warehouse type building. I have found that walls are great for teens. Often they are a bit at a loss with what to do with themselves, what to do with their hands, etc. If you give them something to lean against. In this shot she was standing under a hole in the ceiling that was letting some sunlight in! Which was so ideal for the shot as it threw light in such a directional quality that we just had to use it! We got her to stand in the light and put some HUGE shades on and look up to it like a movie star. I love the texture of this shot!

I shot this image using flash! Yes really! It gives a little bit more of a edgey feel to the shot i think. Shot using high speed synch flash at a fast aperture to blur the background.

Adding a dramatic background and using some leading lines for this shot. Again getting a young lad to lean against a wall means that he doesn’t have to think about what to do with his limbs!

Leaning on something is another go to pose i have found that works. It looks natural and you can slap them straight in the middle of the shot, commanding the stage! I was asking this young man about his girlfriends which his family thought was hilarious..he was quite dignified in telling me though, it was serious stuff!

This is a great shot for a teen and also for anyone else really as it is really flattering. Lean yourself and your model against a wall or something similar and shoot along it, you can see how it gives a real depth to the shot leads the viewer exactly where you want them to look. Just remember to focus on the right point!

Always good to give them a chance to ‘cuddle’ their siblings!

Up close. Super sweet portrait shot, in soft sidelighting, i had mum holding a reflector to the right (being really picky i should have asked him to turn his head slightly). I really love this quiet seeming stillness, at the beginning of growing up!

That POSE. that all girls do 😉 But it works really well and again is a good way of getting your model to do something with their hands. For boys have them stand with their feet about shoulder width apart with their thumbs tucked in their pockets.

Another portrait shot, this time with a slight angle on the shot as i took it and ive also added some texture in post processing which adds something. Plus this guy had incredible eyes! I have found as well that teens like the serious look, brooding with attiude. I think its great to let them do that. This guy also cocked his eyebrow in a really cool way, something which probably makes him..him if you know what i mean! lol,

Actually one of my favourite shots! Three brothers. Look at how the littlest one is trying to copy the cool older bro! Priceless!

Motivational Monday


Reflecting part 5: make a shape and pull a face! #magicmoments #whatsthestory #mamarazzi

I am continuing my series of looking at some of my images from last year and sharing some of my thoughts and the settings i have used. Last week i was talking about learning and how, i believe, that is the greatest investment you can make in your photography arsenal!

One of those things that we all say is how much we love natural shots, those candid captures that really bring out the personality of our subjects. Its something that we all strive to do as we tell the stories of our lives. Sometimes its not always the easiest to do. The light may be poor, the environment might not be right or you might just have not got to that shutter quick enough! 😉

One of those images that people love is the everyone jumping in the air type shots. We have all seen them, they are a favourite wedding shot or portrait session shot of the family. Its something everyone can have a go at and when you have a couple of wriggly kids it is a great distraction and they all love getting involved.

From a photographers point of view that type of shot is actually quite hard to do well. I like doing the shot because the kids love it but it isnt an easy shot for me to do well and be happy enough with it. Its often a shot that i would ask a family with older kids to do as they can actually jump away from something..rather than fall, which is what a lot of toddlers will look like they are doing. But if we are getting nowhere with some little ones then this type of shot can certainly bring them back into the spirit of it!

Its a hard shot to do outside of a studio setting. When you can control the lights and use strobe lights and have a fast shutter and lower aperture then you can get a sharp image and freeze movement. Outside you are limited to using settings that are appropriate for the lighting you have been afforded and so you might not be able to have a fast enough shutter in order to give you that low aperture (big number) so that your depth of field can work for you and more is in focus!

I mentioned this type of shot to another photography hero of mine who i spent a workshop day with and his advice was don’t do it unless asked!! 😉

So here are a few of my thoughts on how i go about getting these shots.

1. As i mentioned it is a great shot to get the kids back on side. They love to do it, all kids love to jump and they love the fact that they might be caught in action. It is the one shot that always gets them rushing to see a preview back on the screen.

2. One thing i always make sure that i explain to the kids is that they have to listen to me and only jump when i say so. I usually count them down 1.2.3.jump!

3. I always tell them to make a shape. usually arms out to the side, legs out..or something…if they just jump then if you capture that moment it will just look like they are falling. Doesn’t give much of a feeling of movement. So…make a shape!

4. Look Ahead! its natural for all kids to look down to where they are falling. That is going to get you a shot of the top of their heads. So i always say look at me and pull a face!! We go for make a shape and pull a face! It usually works!

5. You need a low or narrower aperture (thats a high number) or F stop. I would usually aim for F8 so that i can try my very best to get most of the family in focus. A family is made up of lots of different heights so if you are asking them all to jump up in the air, focusing each person well is hard. A wide aperture (low number) may give you one person’s face in focus but everyone else will be soft.

6. You need a fast shutter speed. You want to freeze movement right? Generally i would shoot at above 1/250 to capture the movement.

7. Aim to try it in good lighting…bright daylight conditions. Then you won’t have to massively increase your ISO to cope with the aperture etc that you are needing for your camera.

8. Hold hands! This is a really good one if you have little kids, will help to get everyone going ‘up” at the same time.

9. Put your subject on a little hill or step and ask them to jump off that rather than jump UP in the air from a flat surface. It’s easier and not so much effort for a little one.

10. Set your camera’s focus to a single point. On a lot of cameras it will give you lots of AF points. You can set your camera to only pick the one you choose. If you leave it to select it, it will be jumping around all over the place trying to focus on the different subjects. Use it to help you get folks in focus. Select one ( i usually go for middle) and then you can always re-compose your shot if need be.

I never really tire of this shot. Even though, in reality, most clients are not going to choose it for their wall. But i do love the joy that it brings out in the kids and the kid its brings out in the adults!! 🙂

Here are some of my favourite ones…

the ordinary momentsMotivational Mondayliving arrows


ladybird ladybird fly away home #whatsthestory #magicmoments

This past week the weather hasnt been too great and so we have been inside quite a bit. Coming up with things to do with a lively toddler is a little bit of a challenge sometimes. When we were shopping in the week i noticed some ready to roll icing on special offer and wondered if we could have a go at making some cupcakes with a ladybird theme. I had seen some on pinterest and thought it would be fun to have a go! 🙂

Our little ones love baking and always get stuck in when they hear the mixer fire up. They could probably all make a batch of cupcakes without much input from me to be honest!! After the baking the fun began as we had to colour the white icing paste..which resulted in quite a lot of red hands and my black icing turned a little grey…but i quite like the finished effect. We used little circle cutters i have for the spots and the face. The eyes got a little fiddly! I dont know how these professional cake bakers do it! Mine all looked a bit squiffy but with a toddlers input it was going to take on a much more ‘fluid’ look!!

She was thrilled with them though and had great delight in showing them to her siblings…met with lots of ‘awwww…so cute!’ and ‘ooh are they ladybirds?’

Phew 😉 at least they could tell what they were!!


Motivational Mondaythe ordinary moments

this post is a competition entry to win some vouchers with Littlewoods!!