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.

The best of Autumn 2017

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It's been a busy one! Always the most popular time of year, the British autumn wove its magic once again, tempting plenty of families outdoors to make the most of the colour and late sunshine of October and November.

Here are a few of my favourites from this season.

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Glorious ladies, of all ages and nationalities, making life behind the lens much easier.

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Families took to the woods, often with their pooches, for either a 30 minute walk and a relaxed mini-shoot, or for the full experience. 

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It's not too late to book a full or mini session, this time with a Christmas tone. 30 minute Mini Sessions are just £99 and include 5 digital image files, and Full Sessions start from £150.

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Shooting in the face of adversity

OK, so before I start I have two things to say here. One - this is a funny story about a REALLY bad day. Two - I am both clumsy and unlucky - a combination which rarely ends well. As you will see.

Beautiful Barney, the best behaved dog in the universe, who looked on aghast as the strange photographer lady sat in the swamp.

That said, I would like you to keep in mind my commitment and determination to plough on through the face of adversity during this family photo shoot. Thank you for not laughing yet.

The lovely family who thought they were off for a calm and relaxing photoshoot. Little did they know!

Meet the Carr family. They requested a shoot to capture their family 'as is'. The children are growing and as for most of families, they are finding that time is romping away lickety split. So, it being slap-bang in the middle of autumn, we headed for some local woodland where a pretty lake nestles amongst the trees, providing lovely bronze and ochre lusciousness as our backdrop.

Daughter C finds the best tree in the world to climb on. Go girl.

Now, I'd been to this location before for a shoot, no more than a couple of weeks before this day, so I was familiar with the lay of the land. Or so I thought.

Less than 5 minutes after our arrival, we headed for the little 'beach' beside the lake. I, taking charge of the situation, walked confidently ahead of the group to 'scout' the location. Here is where it all went amiss. A slight miscalculation on my part resulted in my third (bold and self-assured) stride not ending when my foot touched the floor. The floor, in fact, disappeared beneath my wellington boot and I found myself knee-deep in a stinking, fetid, swamp. Thick, oozing goop was flowing over the tops of my boots and I was entirely and comprehensively stuck. 

A little kiss to celebrate getting this done.

As I contemplated that I would have to SIT into the swamp (largely because I could not move my feet) I suddenly remembered that I had TWO expensive camera bodies strapped to my person, which were currently dangling beside both of my hips and heading straight for the quagmire. In a sudden moment of panic I hoisted them aloft like a falling drunk saving his beer, hoping that my (slightly aghast) clients could rescue them. 

Several sticky, incommodious and frankly, awkward minutes later, I was released from the goop with a veritable splat. 

Mum stifles her giggles as we all try to ignore my wet swampy bottom for these portraits

Now, when you emerge from a swamp looking like Wile E. Coyote (having just suffered another humiliating defeat by RoadRunner), you have to make a choice. To go home and put yourself in the washing machine, or to stick at it, persevere, advance and endure? Well I'm supposed to be a professional, so I dragged my sorry ass around the lake for a full hour and a quarter, trailing my mud-drenched coat-tails behind me, endeavouring to ensure that the quality of my work was not compromised. 

Embracing the autumnal leafy forest floor, Barney sits for the perfect 'me and my dog' portrait

The cameras were fine, by the way. A few baby wipes later, normality was restored in the technical department. The egg on my face, on the other hand, may never come clean. 

This last image was kindly taken by my client. Do with it what you will. Consider it my treat to you.

Me and my muddy butt post-swamp, soldiering on.

An Elf-free Christmas Mini Shoot

Dressed for warmth but not as Elves, our two gorgeous models are ready for their Christmas mini shoot. Not a snowman in sight.

This is the most popular time of year for family photo shoots. And I can see why. The foliage, the clean air, the low sunshine and the enticing countryside all make for the most alluring images.

Rocking the Tweed and only missing a shotgun or a brace of pheasant, Freddie is every inch the gentleman. And teddy came too.

Add in to the mix two enchanting children and a not-too-shabby-in-the-looks-department set of parents, and the perfect autumn image ingredients are complete.

This family of four are certainly easy on the eye, but also adorable, loving and the most easy and relaxed of clients for a photographer

Freddie, aged 7 was impressive in Tweed, missing only a brace of pheasant to complete the country gentleman's attire for this shoot (pardon the pun), whilst baby sister Amelie, like a snuggly winter fairy in layers of tulle and fur, was fighting off a chest infection with grit and determination. 

Scrumptious baby Amelie sports the most wintery of accessories, all upstaged by a pink tulle skirt. A veritable winter fairy.

Our location was tree heaven. Birk Crag nestles unobtrusively alongside the RHS's Harlow Carr Gardens, concealing a wondrous 27 acres of deciduous woodland, ripe for a photographer's picking at this time of year. Steep slopes lead visitors down to the waters of Oak Beck, where the shallow lapping stream is benign enough to allow children to wade in their wellies whilst parents can drink in the colourful surroundings.

Birk Crag is an enticing network of steep paths, thick woodland and a babbling stream. Autumn's colour is shown off to its best here, and makes for beautiful family portraits

Fallen trees and giant rocks provide excellent climbing opportunities for a betweeded boy, and the procurement of a crocheted blanket gave little Amelie's bottom a dry, warm resting place for a few snaps.

The perfect location for little boys to explore, this woodland has lots of interest for portrait variety, and enough to keep the children smiling and relaxed.

This was a Mini Shoot. Approximately 30 minutes long, it provides families a low budget way to capture some lasting memories which can be utilised as Christmas presents for loved ones, or simply as a way to capture a moment of this impeccable season, in all its glory. 

A kiss for daddy, who was powerless to resist. The perfect moment.

As you can see, you don't have to dress as an elf for a Christmas Mini Shoot, so if this £99 budget option appeals to your needs, get in touch before the moment is gone. The shoot includes 6 digital image files of your choice.

The tiny North Yorkshire town with the colossal heart

Pickering and its tiny streets are always packed with visitors dressed to the nines, and dancing all day long

Pickering is a teeny weeny little town with a gargantuan personality. It nestles on the southern edge of the North York Moors and is, on the face of it, an unassuming little place. Save for the North Yorkshire Steam train which trundles gently through the town, it is a quiet spot frequented by walkers and railway enthusiasts. 

That is, except for one weekend every October, when the place becomes a demented hotbed of 1940s devotees, as it plays host to the annual War Weekend.

Silk stockings, cigars and fox furs are the order of the day for Pickering's war weekend

The main street becomes a pedestrian zone, along which it is impossible to walk without being accosted for a foxtrot by the local Bobby or serenaded with a chorus of "I'll be seeing you" by a crooner in American G.I. uniform.  

The local crooner will lure you in with his charm and that silky Sinatra like voice
The women of the town always turn out in force with the most splendid costumes and expressions to match

Women in fox fur wraps rub shoulders with Land Army girls, and you are never far from a Jeep or a pair of silk stockings.

Looking beautiful, there are men and women all over town with truly authentic costumes, hair and make-up

This is my favourite thing to do in the Autumn, bar none. Friday and Saturday nights see the men grabbing their girls and whisking them off to the 'Dance' , where a live swing band and singers churn out hit after hit from their second world war repertoire. Even if you can't muster a decent tango it's worth the entry fee just to watch the sailors and wide boys faultlessly showing you how it's done.

A nurse and a General? Why not! This is Pickering's 1940s weekend after all!!

The best part of all is the ingenuity of it all. Locals and visitors go to huge lengths to dress the part. Dogs and babies get in on the act, and it is less like visiting a museum than it is actually living a day in the time that, as a nation, we hold so close to our hearts.

Even the canines get in on the act for the war weekend.

Sadly, you've missed this year's event, but get it in the diary for 2017. My tip of the day? Get your costume early and spare no expense, you'll not regret it.

You're under arrest fella. The comedy makes the day all the more entertaining, as does the parade

This particular 'gentleman' seemed to have been making a proper nuisance of himself all morning, so the local constable had no choice but to cart him off with his illegally acquired collection of (super-sized) ladies' smalls!

Later in the day, a parade of second world war vehicles takes to the streets. The only thing that can stop the dancing as far as I can tell.  

The parade includes army vehicles, vintage cars, Jeeps and steam engines

I found this gorgeous bevvy of Navy Wrens stopping the traffic with their ruby red lippy, although they were quickly outdone (as is so often the case at Pickering) when THIS lady (below) rounded the corner on her bicycle. I have no idea what she was selling, but I don't think it was onions.

Gorgeous Wrens stopping the traffic with their red lippy.
Whatever she was selling, the crowds seemed keen as mustard to grab some

There's no doubt that anyone who attends this event as a normal 21st Century civilian will feel disappointed with themselves for not making the effort. You will be the elephant in the room here, standing out from the crowd so much that you may as well scrawl 'Boring' on your own forehead.  We rented our costumes in past years from the equally fabulous West Yorkshire Playhouse costume warehouse and York based Dress Circle.  

That fox was so very much a fox that I did wonder whether it was actually dead

If you like surprises, and fancy a giggle, please don't miss it next year. And if the weather turns chilly, follow the example of these gentlemen and wrap up warm. 

Crazy but effective. Begging with a p-pot.

Is Autumn the perfect time of year for family portraits?

When the light is perfect and so are the family, then heck, yes.

We chose a day in early October for this family portrait session and headed off to the glorious gardens of RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate. Resolutely ignoring the cakes in the window of Betty's tearoom, I made my way through the crowds (note to self: check that I have not booked a photo shoot in the middle of a BEER festival next time) to find mum & dad, Helen & Paul, wrapped up for a leisurely stroll with their two cheeky boys in tow.

The joy of finding a leaf and catching the wee man's expression just before he actually eats it! Little O is only just starting to walk unassisted, but with the help of a handy tree he managed to stabilise himself for this portrait. The light was just beautiful on this early autumn Sunday, and the gorgeous gardens of Harlow Carr in Harrogate was our chosen location

The first thing you notice about this family is their special affection for each other. There is something about their interactions which is so deeply gentle and loving, which I'm struggling to put my finger on as I write this, but which is not present in every family, and which is quite moving to witness.

Plane spotting amongst the silvery trees. The boys were enjoying a game of 'where is the thing that's making all of the noise?' and searched the sky for the aeroplanes, which were clearly out in force in the blue autumn skies. I love how they are so totally wrapped up in this activity that they ignore the camera and concentrate on their game, which helped me capture a few happy, candid family portraits

The silvery trees in which we found ourselves here still had a lovely light canopy of feathery leaves, which were so delicate in the late morning sunshine. The boys got totally wrapped up in a game of 'where's the aeroplane?' which relaxed them in to a perfect state of ignoring my camera and allowed me to capture some happy, candid family shots.

Okay, so we had to stuff a banana in baby O's hand to get a sitting still moment here, but big bro A helpfully assumed a nonchalant pose against a nearby tree.

Hoping for a shot of littlest bro, O, we stuffed a banana in his hand and managed to get a sitting still moment. Big brother A decided to get in on the act by helpfully assuming a nonchalant 'leaning' pose against a nearby tree, and so this became a 'two brothers' family portrait instead! Why not? The more, the merrier, say I!

Big boy A assumes the pixie on a fence pose for me, amongst the moss and the greenery of the woodland at Harlow Carr in Harrogate. I love this portrait. He looks so funny with his cheeky grin

Pixie? Gnome? Whatever it is that hides amongst the moss and greenery in the darkest corner of the Harlow Carr gardens, we found one. This one was particularly cute, with a mischievous grin and a half-wink. Definitely up to no good, but enjoying the attention more and more as the shoot went on.

Another aeroplane causes mummy and her youngest charge to look aloft at the same time. I love the one-ness of this image, mother and son together in a simple moment

As another aeroplane passed overhead, mum and littlest son, O both leaned back and looked skyward for a moment. I love how their tiny moment of accidentally coordinated movement was somehow harmonised, mum and son in perfect unity.

An impromptu game of football in the autumn leaves for dad and eldest son, A. Their faces were joyful and full of affection whilst they played, and therefore easy to photograph here

Do you see what I mean? Such a loving family, wrestling over the football in amongst the fallen leaves, gave us some rough and tumble moments, and expressions of pure joy on the faces of dad and his big boy. Bear hugs and chasing, followed by willful kicking of the ball down a (very) steep hill for dad to retrieve, followed by a bit of cheating and a lot of laughing. Lovely.

This is how loving this family were. I took control of the boys for a moment whilst mum and dad cosied up on the bench for a snuggle. Man, they look so happy in this shot!

I'd love to tell you that I planned for the word LOVING to be centre shot when I made this photo, but it was merely serendipitous. A very happy accident. I asked Helen & Paul for a shot, so as I took this image I was balancing baby O against my knees (he has only JUST learned to stand up & walk on his own) and coaxing big bro A in to holding his brother from behind. Movement was impossible,  for fear of unbalancing the wee man, who was gamely gripping my knees for dear life. Accidents were, thankfully averted, and the two boys were returned to the fold, unharmed. Phew!

It ought to be illegal to be this cute, to be honest. But since it's not, let's just savour the moment and keep it forever for mum and dad to enjoy when he's not so cuddly any more. That's the beauty of a family photo shoot!

That face. Frankly, being this cute ought to be illegal, but since it's not, let's capture it for mum and dad, forever. 

Gorgeous light and the phenomenal surroundings of Harrogate's RHS gardens at Harlow Carr. The perfect combination for this family to create moments to remember on film forever. Turned out A was just as good a backwards walker as a forewards walker, and I made him prove it to me to slow him down for this shot!!

It turned out that A was an excellent backwards walker, as well as being an expert in the traditional forwards method. I know this as I asked him to prove it to me for these shots, in an effort to slow down his pace a little!

This was no hardship - a beautiful day, an adorable foursome, and a leisurely stroll doing what I love. Epic.

For more family portrait stuff, go here, or visit my Pinterest page.

My family (and other animals) on holiday

The annual tribe-on-tour event has taken place. This year's destination - South Western France.

Failed full length selfie of the old couple. Failed as my tummy was unshowable and had to be cropped severely

A mercifully brief (but paradoxically expensive) flight to Toulouse was how it began. Land of sunflowers, mediaeval hilltop towns and above all else, apples. Apples everywhere. Hectare upon hectare of the bloody things. A veritable Scrumper's Paradise and I didn't even pack my cider press. This countryside provided us with a glorious vista from the comfort of our sunbeds, with the grape as our preferred fruit of choice on most evenings. Everyone admired the view.

Shot of the best friends admiring the apple-encrusted countryside view from the family's holiday home

I love my family holiday. I love my family, of course, and they are 50% of 'family holiday' after all, but the actual 'holiday' part where I get to read a book and not wash up is, without contest, a very close second.

The camera is never far from my side, and since this area of France has more mediaeval bastille towns than one can throw a stick at, it was easy enough to capture the atmosphere as the sun went down and the corks started popping.

Photographing a local gourmet night market as the sun went down was no hardship

I was struck by the sense of community here. A festival of light in Lauzerte required the co-operation of every single village resident to plunge themselves into darkness at dusk. If one stubborn ex-pat had refused to turn off Eastenders or close the fridge door, the whole event would have been a write-off. 

Mediaeval towns are ten-a-penny in this Labyrinth inspired part of France. Photographic manna from heaven

But what of the animals, I hear you cry? Well, our ever-present lifeguard came in canine form. This adorable but highly strung beauty was our constant companion. She was the seeker-out-of-food-scraps-that-she-was-allergic-to and saw her most important role as pool intervention - woe betide the child that attempted to effect a dive or jump in without her consent as she formed a canine shield with her large body between the offender and the pool.

Our family's adopted pet for the week. The canine lifeguard.

Tradition dictates that no vacation pass by without a visit to the local 'Accrobranche'. Our 6 adrenalin junkies can't get enough of the high ropes harness hell, and this year the added attraction of a nearby close-contact monkey sanctuary proved too much to resist. See? Animals! The hand-feeding of the monkeys, which roamed freely amongst the visitors, was very much encouraged. They will happily take popcorn from you without so much as a by-your-leave, but there was no sign of a Multiplex anywhere.

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Lest we forget that homosapiens are animals too, too many late nights will bring us back to earth....

Tired and emotional offspring will happily remind us that it's not only the furry animals that can be wild.