Autumn in Miniature

This is the most popular time of year for family photo shoots. It’s the perfect setting, all that leafy colour, and the perfect timing to create something worthy of Grandma’s festive stocking.

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It’s also my favourite time of year for Mini Shoots with kids. Helpful for me because I can fit several shoots in to one day, and helpful for the families who only have to afford the £99 shoot cost in order to have the raw material for some awesome Christmas presents. It’s also only half an hour to hold your breath and hope the kids behave in front of the nice lady with the camera.

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E arrived on a pastel pink and blue scooter. I didn’t get the memo, but she decided to let me be her friend anyway. Gorgeous AND forgiving.

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Harrogate’s Valley Gardens was our meeting place, and its multitudinous nooks and crannies provided us with lots of opportunities to mix it up.

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When the low autumn sun refuses to play ball, and the late afternoon throws you only dingy shade, the mood of a shoot changes. No bad thing, though.

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Frankly, E and I had a rather lovely time hiding in dark corners and exploring the park whilst mum and dad looked on.

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Choose a photographer who is comfortable and experienced with children. A mini shoot rarely lasts more than 20-30 minutes, and as such there is little time to waste on acclimatising or gently growing a child’s comfort in front of the lens.

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My 30 minute Mini Shoots are available now and include 5 free high resolution digital images and a half-size online password-protected gallery.

Contact me at eyesomephoto@gmail.com or on 07957627217

Denton Hall wedding shoot

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Denton Hall is a 2500 acre estate in the beautiful Wharfedale countryside near Ilkley, North Yorkshire. I was chuffed to be invited to capture some images to represent both the epic-ness of this place as a potential wedding venue, as well as the work of a number of local wedding suppliers who were gathering for a day of nuptial creativity.

The first of these clever peeps was hair and make-up stylist Chrys, whose transformation skills are legendary, and who carefully and lovingly embellished the already-exquisite face and hair of model bride, Christy.

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Wedding details come in many forms. In this case, many of the artistic accompaniments were created and curated by Natalie, a local wedding stylist who showed her flourish with this set of delicate stationery and table settings, as well as a fabulously charming ladder altar. See more of Natalie’s work on Instagram at HandMaid.

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A short photographer’s ‘reccy’ stroll around the immediate surroundings of the Denton Hall estate presented a number of appealing spots for photographic opportunities; none more eyesome (see what I did there?!) than the frontage itself. I’m a sucker for symmetry, so I was practically cock-a-hoop when I saw the proportions of those great stone columns on offer.

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“What are those CAKES?” I hear you cry. Pretty huh? All crafted by the uber-talented Gayle from Where The Ribbon Ends. Check out her mad, mouth-watering creations and fabulous handiwork, you won’t regret it.

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Our groom was suited and booted by the trendiest menswear store in the Dales, Jenson Samuel of Skipton. Modern, mix and match check suits with beautiful details and complementing waistcoats/accessories, spoiling groom George for choice.

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The elegant autumnal florals were all created and designed by Leeds-based wedding planner Gillian from Planned with Gill.

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Amongst some of Denton’s lush features is a pretty, winding staircase - a florist’s dream for embellishing. It’s customary during Denton Hall weddings to host the cake cutting ceremony underneath the staircase, and guests have been known to gather up, over and around, in order to observe and throw confetti. Epic.

The epitome of elegance, this beautiful crossover lace-and-bead gown is from Rachel Allan Bridal’s Lo’Adoro range. Fitted to the hips, it then spills down into a soft tulle full length skirt with a lush train.

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One of Denton’s most elegant features is the enormous stone carved fireplace, in front of which the team set out the table with all its settings. Burgundy, green and orange were the perfect tones to usher in an early autumn, complementing Natalie’s hand-crafted menus and name cards to a tee.

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The delicate rose gold jewellery pieces worn by Christy were all created and provided by So Belle Jewellery of Skipton. Stunning.

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If you haven’t found your photographer yet, 2019 and 2020 wedding dates are still available. Contact Helen at eyesomephoto@gmail.com or on 07957627217. Tell me a little about your big day and we can go from there.

To veil or not to veil

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Long ones, short ones, thick ones, thin ones, or no ones at all. To veil, or not to veil on your wedding day? The veil has been around for centuries and historically signified the bride's modesty and virginity. Her unveiling, at the end of the marriage ceremony was said to represent the husband's gaining of paternal permission to enter in to conjugal relations with his new wife. Perhaps this is the reason that modern weddings rarely employ this tradition - after all, how many 21st century couples can say that they have abstained from their conjugals before the day of their wedding?!

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From a photographer's perspective, a veil provides a number of creative opportunities. There is the chance to add texture to an image, whether shot in close-up or to be appreciated in full length. 

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A partially concealed face can be beguiling, and just as appealing as full flesh and make-up. There is a certain mystique about an anticipatory bride-to-be making last minute adjustments to her headwear and moving her fingers beneath the lace of her veil. Poetic, methinks.

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One thing to bear in mind is the location and conditions in which you are expecting to be married. A clifftop, whilst the epitome of romance, is rarely without a breeze; ditto the beach, so watch out for windy days...even a short veil will take off if the conditions are blustery!

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Heavier fabrics and longer, cathedral lengths can give a vintage impression. The almost impenetrable mesh of a classic, old fashioned veil hides the bride's beauty until the second of the great reveal, and the mystery of her virtues remain intact until that moment, helping to create an early 20th Century feel. It is said that a veil was once also designed to actually prevent the bride and groom from seeing each other before they were married, so heavier fabrics were a necessity.

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A well-timed breeze can definitely be a benefit in other ways, however. A half-caught glimpse of a bride's eye beneath her billowing veil can be a very romantic treat. 

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Whether or not you are planning to be veiled on your big day, consider the pros and cons. Yes, they add a certain coquettish charm, but they also require careful handling and need to be matched with your headgear and hairstyle.  Try on several in different styles before settling, and since you've gone to all that trouble, ask your photographer to capture your careful choice on film.  

For wedding photography enquiries, please contact me, Helen on 07957627217, or at eyesomephoto@gmail.com.

Boutique bouquets - wedding florals

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The brides that come to me for wedding photography tend to be chilled. Their wedding-day-in-planning is destined to be relaxed and intimate. It will be a day without pomp, but chock-full of celebration and love. 

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No expense will be spared on the important items - an exquisite bridal gown, fabulous food and a half decent photographer, but neither will money be thrown out of the window like the proverbial baby with the bathwater. When it comes to the florals, my girls, being both classy and romantic, opt for understated and generally petite bouquets which enhance but do not overpower their look.

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In many cases I've noticed that my brides have chosen a single colour for their flowers, often just cream or white, and have added herbs and foliage to strengthen the design. Often it is the waft of these herby additions which out-plays the perfume of the flowers themselves. The bouquet above belonged to Frankie, whose bohemian Italian themed nuptials with Richard were inspired by the couples' engagement in Sicily. 

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Elegance and romance appear to be the consistent watch-word, however. I have rarely had a bride who has thrown investment at great swathes of rose pergolas, or festooned the altar with six foot standing floral displays. They have selectively added their splashes of scent and colour in a discreet and well thought out manner, in order to optimise their impact whilst saving the bigger bucks for the real show stopping items.

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A pink posy accompanied its owner, Tala, her hubby and their three children at their relaxed and gloriously summery, tiny family wedding. The occasion was less about big statements of ostentation, and more about the affirmation of their togetherness. The roses came along for the joy ride.

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The gents are never forgotten. These gloriously cute daffodil buttonholes which featured in the recent Easter wedding of Charlotte & Simon summed up the time of year perfectly. Little sprigs of rosemary and string ties added a rustic touch.

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So when you're planning your big day, remember that size isn't everything. Spend it, but spend it well. The carefully curated selection of blooms you hold in your hands on the day you meet your man at the altar will most likely remain special in your heart for many years to come. Make sure you have them photographed.

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Quintessential couple portraits - getting past the awkward

Saudade - nostalgia; the love that remains; a desire to be near someone or something distant....

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I have photographed quite a few couples now, often in wedding attire and high on life and love. What fascinates me most, however, is the first ten minutes of the shoot. Without exception, both parties are feeling self-conscious, looking awkward and generally asking 'what do you want me to do with my hands?'

To be fair, that's a great question. There's nothing worse than a dangly arm or spatula fingers, yet a couple who are thrust in front of the lens for the first time often suddenly lose the ability to snuggle, or even walk. Exit gorgeously relaxed couple, enter Pinnochio and friend.  

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I find that couples who are attracted to my photographs are looking for (and I quote) 'natural shots'. They want their images to reflect the beauty of their romance but they don't want to be 'posed' or have to gaze into each others' eyes in front of 200 wedding guests and the passing postman.

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Let me tell you a story - it relates to my own wedding day and, rather embarrassingly, the making of the very mistake I am now advising against. It was a very informal wedding and even more embarrassingly, it was not my first. (I should emphasise that the shame relates NOT to the fact that I've been married more than once, but to the multiple opportunities I have had to get wedding photos wrong). Our reception party and back garden were littered with close family and friends, where folk mingled and kids played. I asked our photographer for 'natural stuff'. Candid shots of the fun, the chatter, the love, and the sunshine, please. Ask and ye shall receive. All very sound until I received the digital files and realised that my husband and I had spent the entire day separately - wandering, networking and satisfying our guests, resulting in not a single photograph of the two of us together. D'oh.

I can also tell you that (sshh, it's a secret), if you come to me for couple, engagement or wedding photos then you WILL be posed. You WILL be directed and I WILL ask you to gaze occasionally. Creating romantic, organic images of love takes work and orchestration. If I were to pass the buck and leave you to it, we would probably end up with a hot mess of awkward stances and grooms holding brides in half-Nelson headlocks. 

 
 I rest my case.... (click on the photo for a full dose of these fabulous deliberately awkward engagement pics)

I rest my case.... (click on the photo for a full dose of these fabulous deliberately awkward engagement pics)

 

So, think again as you browse those Pinterest boards filled with elegant, atmospheric, love-filled couplegraphs. It is highly unlikely that they were achieved by a photographer who was lucky enough to be recruited by a couple so confident and skilled in front of the camera that they were able to drug, take a day off and let them loose with a command of "just smoulder for me". 

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Once the lens cap comes off and the moment arrives, my advice is simple - take a few deep breaths, look your baby deeply in the eyes, remember how you love him/her, pull them close and follow your photographer's lead. If you got this far because you are a fan of their work, the chances are you are already in very safe hands. Embrace your SAUDADE!

Engagement and couple shoots can be booked independently, or as part of a wedding package. We can shoot pretty much anywhere, but I highly recommend reconnecting with a place that has special meaning for you; it will make all the difference. 

Please get in touch by phone, via email at eyesomephoto@gmail.com or via my social media pages.

Helen x

Inner City Pretty

If you're into alternative and atmospheric wedding imagery, then this one is for you.

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Last week was my birthday. Some people might treat themselves to a new frock on such an occasion, or a pair of shoes. I took a slightly alternative route and spent my birthday money on a full day's photo shoot with Photography Farm. This is my personal idea of fun. Me time. Utter selfishness. A day with myself, my camera and a delightful bunch of strangers in the inner city of Sheffield.

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Our venue was a the Abbeydale Picture House, 100 year old semi-derelict cinema. Magnificent in its shabby condition, the peeling walls were nothing if not an asset for the photographer's eye. We were spoiled by the addition of two professional (and totally sublime) bridal models from J'Adore Models and the experienced and thoughtful styling of Erica at Mr & Mrs Unique.

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Once I had overcome my fear of the dark (not, you understand, because I believe in ghosts, but because I know that to make photographs one requires light), and explored a bit, it became evident that the old picture palace (venue organised by Inner City Weddings and which is, incidentally, available for hire for weddings) was littered with pockets of natural light, eeking in to the building through tiny cracks and pores, and little port-hole windows. Perfection.

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The shafts of light which pierced the darkness provided just enough drama to prove that you can make a beautiful bridal portrait just about anywhere. In the case of the image below this happened to be on an ill-lit, crumbling stairwell with wonky steps and splintered windows. The ancient walls retained just enough paint to add urban interest, complementing the softness of the incredible bridal gowns provided by the fabulous E&W Couture and Bowen Dryden

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The faces of the two beauties in frocks were both naturally magnificent, but were enhanced by the skills of professional Make Up Artist, Jenn Edwards. Further details and embellishments were contributed by Campbells Flowers of Sheffield, Halo & Co (jewellery), and Faber Novella (shoes).

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It was our privilege to be led by four aspirational pros for this romp in self-indulgence. It was as fascinating to watch and talk with them as it was to snap away in this masterpiece of a venue, so thanks indeed for the patience and tolerance of the following:-

Lisa Devlin, Jo from Enchanted Brides, Lee Allen and Lisa Jane.

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If you are interested in my wedding photography, please get in touch via email or my social media, or by using the contact form

Brand New Brothers

Meet Daniel. So new that he still carries that amazing post-natal 'fur' around his neck and shoulders. An absolute beaut.

And this is big bro Marcos. Equally awesome, but MUCH busier. They only met very recently, but I'm not sure Marcos has so far been still enough to fully make the new acquaintance just yet!

A tale of two halves, this shoot presented on the one hand the perfect subject in newborn D, quiet and still, contrasted on the other hand by a race around the house and garden pursuing lively M, and relying on fast shutter speeds to attempt to pin him down. 

To be fair, M has a right to be excited. He just became a Brother for goodness' sake, and the new guy is VERY cute.

The mission was to a) capture Daniel's newness, and b) to get some shots of the two brothers (together). That last word, small but vital, turned out to be the stone in my shoe. OK, so we managed to get one image of them both in the same room (ta da! below) which will henceforth act as evidence that they are actually related, but I left the shoot feeling that my task had only been  50% completed.

The one thing the boys have in common is the deepest, darkest of brown-black eyes. Impossible to discern where the pupils ended and the iris colour began, their beautiful big eyes and lashes drew my attention in a mesmeric way. 

Mum was relaxed and calm, clearly in deepest love with her new bundle, keeping him close and safe in her arms, stopping when required for on-demand feeds, between shots.

When shooting a newborn, this is how we work - slowly and calmly, letting mum and baby guide us. With the new family's comfort in mind, I always come to your home and maximise the available natural light where possible in order to bring out baby's best.

When the subject requires it and the weather allows, we also use the outdoor space. In this case, an active 3 year-old needed the space to be distracted and given the attention which, until recently all his, had so rudely been pulled from under his feet by his new sibling.

Strangely, not all dads want to get in on the act. The camera sets them scarpering to the four winds, making tea or taking important calls, or just keeping a low profile so mum can take centre stage, but thankfully, in this case, dad was on hand to share the love.

If you are expecting your second, first or fifth baby and would like some help capturing those early moments, please get in touch. It is my honour to work with families at such an amazing and emotional time in their lives, and I will always do my utmost to do yours justice.

 

Contact Helen 07957627217 eyesomephooto@gmail.com

Being One

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Kate's parents decided that their gorgeous daughter's first birthday was one for commemoration. Maybe a party? Perhaps a particular gift? Maybe a special day out? Maybe all of the above, but more than anything else they wanted to ensure it was captured for posterity. That's where I came in.

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One of their favourite spots happens to be Fountains Abbey near Ripon, North Yorkshire, so where better for a relaxed walk and some photographs?

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We took a turn about the empty ruins and a romp across the grand lawns, but there were really only two things that engaged Kate's attention in a deeply pleasurable way. One was her little lion teddy bear. The other was a brown puddle. 

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It gave me serious joy (although from the expression on Kate's face, not quite as much as it gave her) to watch her creating a Jackson Pollock-like mess on her perfectly manicured outfit as she jumped and stamped gleefully in the mud, and it soon became clear that extraction was going to be problematic.

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Being one, it seems, is to enjoy life's simple pleasures. Walking unaided. Lingering for a while to enjoy one of nature's great wet gifts.  Getting up high (with daddy's help) to admire the view. Sharing a snack with best friend, Basil. Pointing at birds. Maybe we could all learn a thing or two about pausing from time to time, from the our pre-schoolers.

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Kate has already grown since we made these images, and by the time she's two, or four, or ten, she will quite probably have changed beyond all recognition, not only in features, but in actions and taste for those small pleasures which gave her so much joy on this day. So her parents have done her a huge service in investing in my help for the laying down of this record of her very first year.  In years to come they will be able to look back and enjoy exactly who and how she was in this moment in time, and leave that legacy for Kate's future.

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Family photo shoots are available from just £150, and all inclusive packages (with and online gallery and a full set of high resolution digital image files) from just £399. Please enquire to Helen at eyesomephoto@gmail.com.