Welcome back to the latest post in this series where I'm answering your frequently asked questions. In this post I'll be focussing on the best time to book your photo shoot. This really will vary depending on the kind of shoot you are after, so here's an overview for each of my different services:
Newborn sessions take place during the first two weeks of your baby's life - they're usually still in that lovely curled up position and nice and sleepy which makes for great photographs. But, because we usually don't know exactly when the baby will be born it's not possible to set a firm date for the session until they arrive.
To work around this I schedule a tentative date for newborn sessions with my clients, and then we confirm or move it when their baby arrives. To make sure I've got enough flexibility in my diary to do this I take on a very limited number of sessions each month and recommend that expecting parents book their session at 20 weeks - once they've had their scan. At this stage they can secure their slot in my diary, and we can set a firm date once their baby arrives.
The best time for a photo shoot during pregnancy is between 30-36 weeks. Usually at this time bumps are nice and round, and the pregnancy hasn't become too tiring. Similarly to a newborn session I recommend getting in touch to book your shoot once you've had your 20 week scan. This gives us plenty of time to plan the location and style of the shoot together to make sure it's tailored to you.
Family sessions are much more flexible on timing than maternity or newborn sessions, and most of the time when we schedule it for comes down to the time of year you would prefer to have it. We spend at least part of the shoot outdoors for most of my family sessions and every season is beautiful for different reasons - if you need a little bit of help deciding which season you'd prefer to have as the backdrop to your photographs let me know and we can discuss the different options.
Generally speaking, if you'd like to have your session on a weekend you will need to book a bit further in advance than if you want it on a weekday. For weekend sessions I recommend booking at least 4 weeks ahead. On weekdays my diary tends to be more flexible. It's quite common for families to have a specific date in mind for a shoot - for example if they want to have it on a special birthday or have relatives visiting on that date and would like to have photographs together. In this case I recommend booking even earlier.
One thing to consider when booking your session is that it's also a good idea to give yourself time to plan for the shoot - some families like to schedule haircuts in a couple of weeks beforehand, and you'll also need some time to decide what everyone will wear. Booking a little further ahead can give you the time to do this.
Finally, if you have a baby in the family there are some ages and stages that work better for photographs than others. You can find out more about the best age to have baby photos taken here.
Over to You
I hope you find this guide helpful as you are planning your shoot. What other questions do you have about booking a photo shoot? I'd love to hear - get in touch with me here.
I'm excited to share this Autumn maternity session with you today. I'm a big believer that maternity photography doesn't always have to be about bare bumps in the studio (although that can be beautiful too.) It can also be about capturing precious memories, places, the beauty of your bump and the story of your life before your baby arrived. I met Jo in Bushy Park for her maternity photo shoot earlier this month. When we arrived we realised it it was deer rutting season, which we could hear the male deer roaring across the park - it's quite something to witness!
There's always plenty of time for an outfit change during maternity sessions, and one of the items Jo brought along with her was this dress from Ankoa (pictured below.) Ankoa isn't actually a maternity brand, but I thought the style of the dress worked perfectly both as a maternity dress and for our shoot together.
I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of the highlights from my shoot with Jo. I'll be launching details of my maternity sessions next week - if you'd like to be amongst the first to be notified when they launch drop me a note here.
Today I'm continuing my series of blog posts that answer frequently asked questions, and am talking all about planning consultations - what they are, what they involve, and how they can help you walk away with photographs you love.
In short a planning consultation is just a conversation between you and I that takes place before the shoot. It can be on the phone or over Skype - whichever you would prefer, and generally lasts around 20-30 minutes. We'll usually schedule it when you make your booking, Every one of these conversations I have is different, because every family is different but there are a few topics that we'll cover every time. Read on to find out more about these.
What's Important to Your Family
Whenever I meet a family for a photography session, it's really important to me that I get to know them and find out what makes them 'them.' I love the fact that each family's photo shoot can include a little of their personality and character. For most families investing in a photography session isn't something you do on a regular basis so being able to capture the things that are important to you right now helps to preserve the memory of this time.
So what kind of 'important memories' do families include in a session? Here are some examples of special moments and milestones I've captured in sessions recently:
In newborn sessions families have brought along a special blanket from grandma, special cuddly toys and some thank you gifts that one mum had made.
In a recent maternity session my client chose her London neighbourhood as the location for her shoot, so that she could include a piece of her life before children
In one family session this Spring the youngest family member was just learning to walk so her parents brought along her walker so we could capture this special milestone. In other sessions recently families have chosen to include bicycles, musical instruments, football and rugby balls, books and even a trip to a favourite ice cream stand.
For newborn sessions the question of location is easy - they take place at my in-home studio in East Molesey. But for family and maternity sessions we have lots of options. Some families choose to have their session at home, some in an outdoor location, and some will split the time between both. When we speak on the phone this is one of the things we'll discuss.
I always like to find out whether there are any locations that are meaningful to your family - if so you may like to take the photographs there. I can also make suggestions of lovely locations around Surrey and South West London and which might suit your family best, and during this conversation we'll usually agree a location for the shoot.
If you have a baby I may suggest that we spend some or all of the session at your home. Find out more about shoots with babies here.
What To Wear
Top of most mums' list when we have the planning consultation is to chat about what everyone will wear. When you book your session I'll send you my digital guide, which includes lots of guidance on choosing what everyone wears, but the planning consultation gives us plenty of time to talk through options and for you to ask any questions about outfits before the shoot.
The planning consultation is also a great opportunity for you to ask any other questions that you have about the shoot, how to prepare, or what to expect afterwards. I always want you to feel well prepared and relaxed for your session so encourage you to ask as many as you would like! And if you think of any other questions after the call, you can always get in touch to ask me at a later time.
Over to you
I hope this gives you a good overview of what to expect from a planning consultation. What other questions do you have? I'd love to hear - you can drop me a note and let me know here.
Last week I had the privilege of sharing my business story with Sarah over at Surrey Mama. Every Thursday Sarah shares an interview on her blog with a mum who has changed career direction, started their own business or negotiated a more flexible role to fit in with family life. I've loved reading all the other mums' stories in the series, and so it was a real pleasure to be able to share my story there too. You can find the whole 'Mama You Can' series including my interview here.
I'm excited to share this guest post from Interior Designer Fiona Brass today. Having photos on display at home can bring such joy, but sometimes it's difficult to know where to display them and how. In this post Fiona answers those questions with lots of ideas for decorating your home with photos. Over to Fiona...
“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce”
Karl Lagerfeld was onto something with this quote. These moments are priceless and are bespoke to each one of us. They make us smile when we think about them and give comfort when called upon.
So, with that in mind I want to talk about decorating your home with photos, adorning your walls and spaces with memories and snapshots of your family, moments shared together. In this post, I will share with you how to decorate with photographs and, of course, making sure the whole thing is styled beautifully!
Built to last…and grow
One of the most popular ways to show case photos in your home is by using a gallery wall.
These walls of photos can take on a formal appearance – think one size, thin steel frames, black and white photos all hung in a very distinct grid. Habitat has a superb collection of steel frames to choose from. Using a laser level will help you achieve perfect alignment when hanging these photographs.
Picture walls can also be playful and fun. This can be achieved using a collection of various frames and colours with a more haphazard layout (a well planned out haphazard layout!).
When looking to realise a more relaxed feeling for these walls, use chunky wooden frames. Antique frames can also give these art displays a bespoke touch. Colour is welcome in these displays but consider the tones you use, try to avoid conflicting or clashing colours.
When having any professional photographs taken, it is always advisable to make the photographer aware at an early stage of specific colours and tones you would like to achieve for your gallery wall.
One last thing to remember when planning a gallery wall, if possible, include space for future memories to join the past ones. Think of it as an open family album, something that when you walk by it makes you and your guests smile fondly!
Style around the photos
Picture ledges have been around for a long time but have recently seen resurgence in popularity. By mixing some pictures on these mantles with other special items they can create a really beautiful vignette.
The allure of the picture ledge is that you can chop and change the style as and when you please. There are no nails in the wall holding your frames up and also you can play around with a variety of frame heights and accessories to compliment your photos depending on the occasion. A beautifully framed Christmas card can cost very little and have a wonderful seasonal effect sitting on these ledges alongside other styled items for the event.
These sills come in all shapes and sizes so consider what else you want to add to your shelf before choosing the width and depth. Ikea’s RIBBA Range is a simple ledge that offers a variety of colours and lengths but if you want something a little more special, consider employing a carpenter to build a bespoke ledge to your exact requirements. Your “made to measure” ledge can be painted the same colour as your wall so it just blends into the background providing a perfect space for your photographs and other treasured possessions.
You can find lots of picture ledge inspiration over on Pinterest:
One very special photograph that is…it might be a portrait or perhaps an abstract photograph. But this is the one picture that evokes a myriad of feelings when you look at it, one that is too special to sit within a gallery wall or ledge.
Supersize it to at least 50cm x 70cm and bestow on it a very special location fitting to the photograph.
Consider bespoke framing and mount and even a picture light to sit above this beauty. Yes this is a financial investment but trust me if you happen to have one of these important photographs look after it. It’s an important memory that is to be cherished and you won’t regret the investment in the long run.
Consider hanging this photograph on a dark painted wall as the impact will be even more striking!
Wire picture frames are a fantastic idea for transient smaller photos that you want to cherish right now and perhaps replace with another in a few months.
They are a superb way of capturing a child’s first year, family occasions or even a holiday. They range in size and shape. Maison Du Monde do a great range of frames that are on trend in copper and bronze at a reasonable price point.
Finally, if you are running tight on a budget but want a clever option to display your cherished photos look no further than the myriad of washi tape available on the market. Washi tape is a type of masking tape that comes in pretty colours and designs so will add to the overall display of your photographs. Most cost about £1.50 per roll so it’s guaranteed not to break the bank.
If you’re renting or are reluctant to make any marks in the wall, one trick stylists and interior designers use is Command Strips for hanging artwork. These clever things adhere to the wall to hold your frames in place and can be removed seamlessly when you move out or just want to change the location of your artwork. You will find a variety of options depending on the size and weight of your frame.
Over to you
I hope you've found all of Fiona's tips helpful - there were quite a few I hadn't thought of before. What about you? Let us know how you got on in the comments below.
Autumn seems to have arrived very quickly this year, and before we know it it'll be Halloween. Going to a farm to choose your pumpkin has become really popular in recent years, and it's also a lovely opportunity for photographs. But did you know that simple things like the clothes your child is wearing, or the time of day you visit can make a difference to the overall feel of the photographs? Read on for five tips for great photographs of your children at the pumpkin patch.
1. Choose the right colour clothes for your trip to the pumpkin patch
It might seem a bit excessive to plan the colour of your child's clothes so that they coordinate with the location, but the fact is that the right colour clothes can make a really positive difference to your photographs.
There are no set 'rules' for what your children wear to the pumpkin patch, but some colours will complement the surroundings better than others. I recommend starting off by thinking about the colours at your location, and then about which colours will complement them. Generally speaking, most pumpkin patches will be a combination of orange, and soft browns and greens and I find that autumnal colours complement these tones well. Here are some colours that you could include in your child's outfit:
The other important thing to note is that you don't need to include all of these colours in your child's outfit! In fact, just choosing two or three colours is much better. If you have more than one child I suggest choosing a maximum of three or four colours for the whole family to wear. This guide to dressing your family for outdoor photographs explains more.
2. Visit the pumpkin patch early in the morning, or late afternoon
The obvious benefit of being the first or last people at the pumpkin patch is that you'll hopefully have the place to yourself, and won't have to worry about lots of other people appearing in the background of your photographs. But the bigger benefit is that you'll have better light. In most pumpkin fields you'll only have shade at the edges, and that's only if it's surrounded by tall trees or bushes. Visit in the middle of the day, and you may end up with a lot of bright, direct sunlight which can result in lots of shadows and contrast. At the beginning and end of the day you should avoid direct sunlight, and your photographs will have a much softer feel. You can see this in the photograph below which I took very late in the afternoon.
3. Sit back and let your children explore
Once you're in a lovely location it can be tempting to immediately try and get your children to sit still for a nice photo. But as most parents will find, this is the last thing the children want to do! Let your children spend some time exploring and deciding which pumpkin they want to take home. This is a lovely opportunity to take some candid photographs of them, and once they've chosen 'the one' it will be much easier to keep them in one place!
4. Get down low
Once you do start taking photographs be sure to get down to your child's level. You'll have a much more natural perspective and will also be able to capture much more of their surroundings than if you are standing up and pointing your camera downwards towards them.
5. Capture the whole process
Keep your camera out through the whole trip, and you'll also be able to capture the different stages your child goes through - from exploring the field, to selecting their pumpkin and (depending on how big they are) picking it up.
Over to you
I'd love to hear how you get on using these tips when you visit the pumpkin patch this year. Let me know in the comments below.
One of the most common questions I'm asked before a client books a session with me is "do I need to decide what to order now?" The short answer is most definitely not, and I thought it would be helpful to tell you everything you need to know about ordering your photographs (i.e. the long answer) in this blog post.
What happens before my session?
When you book your session, paying your session fee secures the date. This session fee includes: a planning consultation with me (usually on the phone), my digital session guide which covers everything you need to know to prepare for your session, the photography session itself and an online proofing gallery where you can view your fully-edited photographs and make purchases.
The session fee doesn't include any printed products or digital files - you can purchase these after you've seen your proofing gallery, but when you book I'll also send you my product guide so that you can see all of the products available to order.
What happens after my session?
Within two weeks of your session I'll send you a link to a private, online proofing gallery where you can view the fully edited images from your session. The reason that I do this, rather than invite you to a viewing and ordering appointment is to give you time to view the images, and think about how you want to enjoy them. I know I wouldn't want to make my decisions in a couple of hours and I don't want you to feel that pressure either.
Your gallery will stay open for 7 days, and during that time I can be as hands on or hands off as you like. If you feel you need a little help to decide I can make suggestions - for example which photographs would work well grouped together as a gallery wall, or within a storyboard frame. Thanks to some wonderful modern technology I can also show you how different frames, and frame sizes would appear on a particular wall in your home, or mock up frame or album layouts. Alternatively, you may want me to stay out of it completely!
Once you've decided what you would like to order, I'll confirm all the details with you and then send you an invoice for your items. Then you can sit back and relax! Your products will be delivered to you within 4-6 weeks of payment being received.
Can we see the product guide before we book our session?
Absolutely - I strive to be completely transparent about pricing. I hate the thought of anyone having a session with me and not knowing what the prices were. You can view all of the products in my range, and the prices here.
Can we see the products in person?
You can. I have samples of all of the products available to order - if you'd like to see them before, during or after your session just let me know and I'll make the arrangements.
How much should we budget to spend?
To give you a guide most of my clients spend between £600-£2,000 in total, including their session fees. What you spend is entirely up to you, and there definitely won't be anyone pushing you to buy one thing or another. I do recommend making sure that you're familiar with all the prices before booking so that you don't find that the things you want are out of budget afterwards.
I want to order more but my budget doesn't cover everything I want. Can I order some more products at a later date?
Absolutely. When you book your session, the product prices will be valid until 28 days after your session. You can still order additional items after this time, and I'll send you the latest product and price list at this point so that you can choose your items.
Over to you
I hope this guide is helpful in explaining the ordering process and answering some frequently asked questions. What other questions do you have? I'd love to hear. You can get in touch with me here.
We had a wonderful summers morning for this family photography session in Bushy Park last month - not too hot, and rain-free! I was due to photograph this family a month before - and we did start the session but unfortunately their daughter wasn't well so we decided to reschedule until she was better. I think this was definitely the right choice - she was happy, chatty and into everything when we did meet again which was exactly what we hoped!
I always like to keep family sessions moving fairly quickly - it keeps things interesting and enjoyable for everyone, but children in particular. During this session we explored lots of the park which gave us lots of different backdrops. I've put together a little selection of my favourites from this shoot - I hope you enjoy them!
I am a newborn, baby and family photographer based in East Molesey close to Hampton Court. I cover Surrey and South West London, including Esher, East and West Molesey, Thames Ditton, Cobham, Weybridge, Haselmere, Farnnham, Frensham, Virginia Water, Teddington, Richmond, Kew, Chiswick, Twickenham, Chelsea, Fulham, Putney, Wandsworth, Wimbledon.
I know that deciding what everyone is going to be wear is one of the things my clients spend the most time thinking about before a family photo shoot. After all, the photographs are an investment in recording your family's history and you want to be sure that everyone looks their best. The good news about having a photo shoot during the autumn is that almost any colour will work, and with a little bit of planning you can pull together a really cohesive look. Read on for my guide to choosing what to wear for a family photo shoot.
Decide on a Colour Palette
As I mention in my guide to planning outfits for an outdoor photo shoot, choosing a small colour palette to build everyone's outfits from will really bring your photographs together. During the Spring and Summer lighter colours tend to work really well against the blossom, daffodils, greenery and long grasses so I recommend families stick to a fairly neutral palette. In the autumn however almost anything goes, and bright colours can really complement the golden yellows, oranges and browns of the autumn leaves.
If you'd like to add something in a bright colour to your family's colour scheme I suggest choosing one bold colour - for example a mustard yellow or bright red, and then choosing 2-3 more gentle colours to complement it. Here's an example of how you could do this:
From left to right: 1. Blue Shirt by Barbour, Chinos by Selected Homme 2. Berry Jumper by Warehouse, jeans by NYDJ 3. Navy jumper by Little Joule, brown cords by Boden, 4. Yellow cardigan by Boden, denim skirt and navy tights by Next
There are some rules do that apply all year round - black and bright, neon colours don't work well against nature's softer backdrop and can make people look washed out. I recommend avoiding them for your shoot.
Be Prepared for All Temperatures
Whilst autumn is beautiful, it's not reliably warm or cold. I remember meeting a family for a shoot on a bitterly cold day last autumn, but having another shoot in December where it was so warm nobody had to wear a coat. After all the hard work you've put in to planning everyone's outfit, you don't want to find that you'll have to put a coat on top of it, or take off the coats you had planned on everyone wearing. Think about what everyone will wear in both situations so that you have a plan B you're happy with.
Being outdoors in the autumn doesn't have to mean thick coats - layers are a great way to stay warm and add lots of interest and texture to your photographs. Some ways you can introduce layering are with gilets, scarves, and thick cardigans.
Just in case you need a little more inspiration as you prepare for your session you can find my Pinterest board full of ideas below. And, I'll be on hand for all my clients in the run up to their shoots to offer support and ideas as they need it.
Over to you
I hope you've found this guide helpful as you prepare for your autumn photo shoot. What other questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below.
Over the last few months I've had the pleasure of working with Jo from Tilly + Cub on a couple of different shoots. Jo is a fellow Surrey-based mum who has started her business whilst juggling life with a young family. Tilly and Cub launched in June this year, and stocks beautiful and fairtrade Moses baskets, homeware baskets, changing baskets and more. I've been in awe of how Jo has built her brand in such a short time - in just three months she has grown an Instagram following of over 4,500 and been featured in Baby London magazine. I've loved hearing about Tilly and Cub's journey and I thought it would make a great addition to the brand stories series. Over to Jo to tell you more about her story...
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family
I'm Jo, mother of a fiesty 2 3/4 year old + pregnant with "Cub" due later this year. My husband is Australian and we had been living there until last year when we moved back to my childhood home: Surrey. I both love being home and miss beautiful Oz in equal measures, but having my family nearby now is invaluable.
What inspired you to start Tilly and Cub?
Creating something I was equally passionate about and which worked for my family has been a priority since my daughter was born. I had always wanted to start my own business, but somehow everything just came together organically at the right moment and Tilly + Cub, aka my third baby, was born!
Two things that really stand out about your brand are the story behind your baskets and the fact that you give back to charity - can you tell us more about these?
The Baskets and their weavers are the true talent behind Tilly + Cub's products, I just have the privilege of sharing them with a new audience and bringing them to famillies across Europe. The Baskets are handwoven, a process which can take up to four days. They are made using natural dried elephant grass and traditional techniques. Because the Baskets are fairtrade, they empower their makers to support their own famillies and communities.
Tilly + Cub gives 5% of sales from every basket to a variety of different charities. I believe in responsible, sustainable business and that we can each play our part in this. Our packaging is recyclable whenever possible, we support other small businesses and independent makers and support fundraisers whenever we can. Beyond our baskets we offer some lovely handmade moses basket sheets, all of which are handmade by mothers. Even our matresses are manufactured by a company which has been run by the same family for decades.
You've grown your Instagram following very rapidly since starting your business - what advice do you have for other business owners who are looking to do the same?
Instagram is an incredible Community, and I think if you approach it as such (as opposed to simply a sales platform) you get the most out of it. Working from home could be isolating, but knowing there are so many other parents out there doing the same thing and being able to connect through Instagram is fantastic.
I support other businesses through purchasing, and sharing their products, and by commenting on their posts. Taking part in group giveaways is also a great way to collaborate. I have been really fortunate to have been welcomed by some really talented creatives and business people.
I actually prefer selling the baskets directly on Instagram than in our store. Although store purchases are logistically far simpler, I love getting to know the families who are purchasing the baskets, hearing their stories and even better- being updated of safe arrivals of beautiful babies. I love packaging a basket knowing where it's headed.
Instagram is a visual platform, so imagery is key. I have long been a champion of the power of professional photography, and it was something I prioritised investing in straight away. I work to blend my own images with the professional ones. Using apps such as VSCO and Mosaic help me create a cohesive feed. I took an online course with Sarah Tasker (@meandorla) which I have found really helped me understand things like hashtags and the algorithm. I think most of all, I really enjoy Instagram, and that goes a long way.
How have you found the experience of starting your own business with a toddler at home?
I really love being able to use my mind in a different capacity and doing something "for me" again. Working around my daughter is both wonderful and exhausting. Of course there are days I bank on a nap to get things done and it just doesn't happen. But she can be the sweetest little assistant and is chief of both stickers and the stamp so it's very much a team effort. My husband really helps too both practically and emotionally.
And finally...what's next for Tilly and Cub?
It seems to have a life of its own and has evolved very much organically. It's exciting to share new products with our customers and meet their needs. We hope to bring a basket stand out in the near future, and there are mini Moses baskets for teddies and dolls coming soon! Next year I would love to get out to Ghana to visit the talented makers and see the work of one of the charities we support, but it just depends how newborn life is treating us. As always, family comes first.