LE MANOIR AUX QUAT’SAISONS
I had so much fun photographing this Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons party! It was crammed full of style, laughter, award-winning food, outstanding guests and amazing dancing. It was quite literally the perfect way to celebrate turning 40.
The Birthday girl explained that she’d never really celebrated a big birthday before now. But she realised that during the past 40 years she’d amassed enough lifelong friends to fill a private dining room at this stunning hotel! So it was time to party and boy did she and her friends know how to party!
The evening kicked off with a champagne reception in the hotel’s private conservatory overlooking the 15th century manor house. As guests arrived so the drinks flowed and the level of laughter increased. It was clear to see this was going to be one very joyous party.
DINNER IS SERVED
The private dining room had a really warm and cozy feel to it. To help her guests mingle, the Birthday Girl gave each table a subject to discuss that was related to a funny experience she’d had with one of them on the table! It was a fabulous idea and worked a treat! Everyone was soon relaxed, chatting and laughing!
Once the seven course meal was over, including two pudding courses, the dancing began! Giant letters lit up the dance floor whilst a huge number 40 glistened in the garden along with a warming fire pit. As the DJ played track after track so the dancing became more frenetic and I had to duck and dive with my camera to get an array of fun action shots!
It really was a night to remember and I can’t wait to see how she celebrates her next special Birthday!
ARE YOU PLANNING A PARTY?
Whether you’re planning a Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons party, celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary or children’s birthday party, then drop me a line! I’d be delighted to photograph your special occasion and can even arrange for your photos to be professionally printed, framed or compiled into a beautiful album.
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER OXFORD
When a new client describes their family as loud and crazy, I instantly know it’s going to be a memorable photo shoot! This family were full of enthusiasm; happy to try unusual photography techniques such as this image on a roundabout; and eager to create a gallery of images their family could enjoy across two continents.
With the Grandparents living in India and their daughters, son in-laws and grandchildren living in the UK it’s very rare for this family to get photographs enjoying time together. So when the Grandparents booked a surprise visit to the UK, their daughters quickly booked me to photograph them as a complete family!
We met in early September in a beautiful park on the outskirts of Oxford. It’s fair to say the weather was extremely changeable that day. One moment it was glorious sunshine and the next it was blustery winds and grey skies. But the family were amazing and happily strolled around the park making the most of its amazing vistas across the city and the lush green foliage.
PHOTOGRAPHS THAT REFLECT THE REAL YOU!
The challenging part of photographing three generations is capturing a range of images that reflects each person’s individuality. This family had it all from Grandma’s infectious smile to young love!
I was especially aware of the 11 year old grandson. Its a tricky age, stuck between no longer being a child yet not quite old enough to be a teenager. We needed something pretty cool for this young man! Thankfully, when I was scouting around the park before the shoot, I spotted a building covered in the most glorious graffiti! I just knew I had to incorporate it into the shoot.
The joy of shooting on a digital camera is that I can do a test shot and show the family my vision. When I showed this family what I have in mind with the graffiti they were all clamouring to be photographed in front of it!
WHY SHOULD THE CHILDREN HAVE ALL THE FUN?
I love it when clients get adventurous and have their own ideas for a photo! Towards the end of our shoot, the two sisters asked if they could climb onto a huge log and jump off it – it was an instant YES from me! Their Dad was less convinced (just look at his expression in the first shot) but he soon saw the funny side and we captured some lovely shots of them being big kids with their Dad!
BOOK YOUR FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT TODAY!
Do you fancy booking a family photo shoot too? Simply click ‘here’ to get in touch and I promise I wont make you jump off huge logs or spin on roundabouts…unless you really want too!
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER OXFORD – TOP TIP!
To find great parks near to your house try visiting https://www.freeparks.co.uk
FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT BANBURY
Waiting to start a new family photo shoot is like waiting for a blind date! It fills me with a weird mix of excitement and nerves, but I need not have worried about this wonderful family as they were literally ‘Incredible!’
Mum had warned me that her son might be a little timid, so when I saw them approaching I pretended to frantically search for him. I looked in bushes, peered behind trees whilst also calling out his name! His little squeals of excitement were punctuated with phrases such as “I’m here…it’s me…!” The whole thing had quite a pantomime feel to it, but you know what…it did the trick! We’d broken the ice without even trying; we’d both forgotten our nerves; and he was quickly showing me where we he wanted us to play!
It’s important to make the photo shoot fun for little ones as well as the adults. In general, a family photo shoot will last for up to two hours so I always suggest we play first and then focus on any posed, portrait shots later on. Kids seems to be a little more willing to stand still for the camera if they’ve burnt off some energy first! That’s why I always try and find locations which include a playground, trees to climb or paths to race along. All of these offer up great photo opportunities whilst keeping little ones occupied.
Today we met at St Louis Meadow Park in Banbury which is filled with everything a four year old could desire!
WHAT TO WEAR!
Did you know I send parents a clothing guide before their shoot? Don’t worry, you don’t have to dash out to the shops (unless you really want to!) but it is worth following a few simple steps to ensure you look your best in your photos! This family scored 10/10 for their choice of clothes as it complemented the foliage perfectly and even co-ordinated with the playground!
CAN WE DRESS UP AS A SUPERHERO?
Absolutely! The thing about a ‘family’ photo shoot is that it needs to reflect the real you! So yes, if your family love superheroes or want to dress up as anything else for that matter then let’s do it!
In the case of this little man, he’d asked his Mum if he could bring his Incredibles costume to the park. Mum had agreed in order to get him into the car without a fuss, but he kept reminding us that he was going to put it on before he went home! So we took all the important shots and then he and his Dad headed back to the car to change. A few moments later he proudly walked back into the park and our hearts melted all over again! In fact there’s part of me that loves these images even more than the portrait and candid shots above! What do you think?
WANT TO BOOK YOUR OWN FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT?
Simply ‘click here’ to get in touch!
The sun was certainly shining for this little boy’s Baptism day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky which allowed sunshine to flood through a large church window and bath the entire family in glorious autumnal light!
Father Jamie McGrath of Our Lady of St Edmunds Church in Abingdon held a beautiful service and kindly allowed me to move freely around the church. His relaxed attitude allowed me to obtain some really intimate and memorable photos for the family to enjoy for generations.
The baby was superb throughout the service and took the whole thing in his stride! However, he did give Father Jamie a rather concerned look before and after the actual Baptism which I couldn’t resist capturing for posterity! This is where a Baptism photographer comes into their own as we can capture those priceless moments you’d otherwise miss!
TIME TO CELEBRATE!
Once the service was over, it was time to relax, eat, drink and explore the church grounds. We found some really beautiful locations where we held a series of formal family portraits shots as well as capturing those chilled informal moments!
BAPTISM PHOTOGRAPHER’S TOP TIP!
Before any shoot, be it a Baptism, family session or mini shoot, I always ask parents about their children. What are their likes and dislikes; what makes them laugh and how do they feel about being photographed? This family had warned me their daughter would either love the camera or hate it, depending on her mood that day. It became clear quite early on that she was in a ‘hate it’ kind of mood that day.
In situations like this, I find it best to give the child space and not force them to smile for the camera. Nine times out of ten, the child sees everyone else having fun with me and decides I’m not so bad after all! There’s only about an hour between the two shots below but you can see how a chilled out approach can make all the difference! We simply chatted about her favourite things (she was totally unaware that Mum had briefed me in advance!) and by the time I said goodbye to this lovely family, she and I were the best of friends!
So don’t panic if your little one won’t play ball on the day, just let me and my camera work our magic!
Meet Puddles an adorable Golden Cocker Spaniel puppy who, if I had to describe him in one word, would be described as fast, actually make that FAST! Now as a family photographer and even a dog photographer, I’m used to photographing fast moving objects but Puddles took things to an amazing new level!
His owner had heard I was running a series of mini bluebell shoots in Oxfordshire and asked if my ‘family shoots’ extended to dogs? Well, as you can see from the images below, the answer was a resounding “yes” and so we met early one Saturday morning to photograph Puddles amongst these beautiful and extremely colourful flowers!
TOP TIPS FROM A DOG PHOTOGRAPHER
If you’ve ever tried photographing a dog you’ll know that it takes speed, accuracy and patience (for both the dog and the photographer!) It’s always a good idea to take your dog for a walk before your photo shoot to help reduce their energy levels. But as a young puppy, Puddles was full of energy and bursting with excitement and the fact he was roughly the same height as the bluebells didn’t make life any easier! He literally darted between the flowers with nothing visible but his tail! But then, just occasionally, he’d stop, sniff the air and woosh he was off again – thankfully it was just long enough for me to get my shot! Just look at that pose, he really should be standing in the Crufts arena!
Another top tip is to get down to your dogs level. Yes that means lying on the ground, and thankfully it was a baking hot day so the woodland floor was pretty dry, but by doing this you’ll get a great perspective of your dog as they race towards you!
DOCUMENTING THE PUPPY STAGE
Like children, puppies grow so quickly. In a blink of an eye they’ve gone from puppies to wise old hounds, so Puddles’ owner wanted the shoot to capture his cute puppy stage. To achieve this I decided to give the images a sense of scale from cuddles with his owner, to standing ear high to a bluebell.
As the shoot went on, Puddles energy levels thankfully reduced so I was able to get a selection of shots at different angles, as well as documenting his fabulous puppy-dog eyes! He really was an adorable little thing and I look forward to photographing him again when he’s a little older and a lot slower!
Lots of people have asked me about Puddle’s dog harness. Well I can reveal it’s from Doodlebone and comes in lots of great colours, so for the best photos I’d suggest going for a contrasting shade that really makes your images pop!
It’s so exciting to receive new enquiries and discover how families learnt about me! On this occasion, the family had asked a local parenting Facebook page if anyone knew a good Christening Photographer and a client of mine kindly recommended me!
Fast forward a few weeks and I’m arriving at the beautiful St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Tanworth-in-Arden. It really is the most beautiful, chocolate box village with an idyllic church right at its heart.
The vicar was so welcoming and kindly took the time to show me where I could and couldn’t photograph during the service. I was to stay behind the last row of guests, could not to use flash and was only to come to the front of the church during specific parts of the service. As a photographer, you want to be in the heart of the action getting the very best shots possible, but Christenings are not a photo shoot and I’m not the paparazzi! My job is to quietly document the event and be remembered as the photographer nobody noticed during the service, rather than the photographer who ruined the Christening by getting in the way!
My favourite image from the service is the one below which became my Facebook and Instagram sneak peek image. This is a great way to quickly showcase an image from your shoot before you receive the entire gallery. When the little boy’s Mother saw the image she commented:
“Just perfect. Exactly what I wanted, thank you so much xxx”
LET THE FOOD AND DRINK FLOW!
Whilst I enjoy photographing Christenings, I really, really enjoy photographing the after-party! Guests, both young and old, get to relax, loosen their ties and let their hair down. This results in some great photographic opportunities. They’re often fleeting little moments the hosts are unaware of until they look back through my images.
TIME TO PLAY!
Whilst the baby napped, I got to work photographing the older children enjoying lots of fun and frolics! There were wigs, animal masks, footballs and of course a fabulous bouncy castle with a super-fast slide!
Family occasions such as this are a great way to update the family album. It could be candid little moments such as the little boy taking a selfie with his Godmother, to posed images with his Godfather and Grandparents.
I also got the chance to photograph a fellow photographer with her son. I know all too well that as the photographer of the family you’re rarely in any images yourself. So I was delighted to photograph her with her wonderful boys!
The party was also overflowing with opportunities to capture fun, candid portraits which look particularly stunning in black and white.
All in all, it was a splendid day and I was delighted to be able to document it for this wonderful family! Oh and did you spot the little boy’s shorts in the final image? Go on take a second look!
Top Tip: If you’re looking for party organisers, venues and suppliers then check out this brilliant list compiled by Red Kite Days (and yes I’m listed under Party Photographer!)
WHAT TYPE OF DAD ARE YOU?
I thought it would be fun to review the different types of Dad I get to meet! I love to get Dads in my photos, and Mums for that matter, as it’s important to document your life as well as your childrens’. So tell me, what type of Dad are you? And more importantly, do your children have enough candid images of you simply being you?
THE ‘FUN LOVING’ DAD
Just look at their faces! Utter joy on the Dad’s face and complete resentment on his son’s as he’s not allowed to pedal! This image still makes me chuckle and I know it’s one of the family’s favourites too!
THE ‘REASSURING’ DAD
Occasionally photo shoots can be a little daunting for children, so this lovely Dad took some time out to reassure his son. I got to work photographing his older sisters and when I turned around to check on them, I found them enjoying a reassuring cuddle inside a rustic folly. It became one of my all time favourite images that season and I’m glad to say the hug did the business! This wonderful little chap was soon very eager for me to photograph him instead of his sisters!
THE ‘ALWAYS THERE TO LISTEN’ DAD
This is my son’s Dad! I just love the way they’re positioned on either side of the frame yet the eyes pull the image together! I have no idea what my husband and son were talking about, and sometimes it’s best not to know!
THE ‘I’LL SAVE YOU’ DAD
When you’re lost in the middle of a huge maze, who ya gonna call? Dad-busters of course! Is it me or are child’s eyes and outstretched hand almost reaching out beyond the screen for help? I’m glad to say they both found their way safely out of the maze and were quickly onto the next adventure – climbing the biggest trees imaginable!
THE ‘FULL OF SMILES’ DAD
This is a sneak peek from one of this year’s bluebell photo shoots! This Dad had the biggest grin imaginable, even though I asked him to “move to the left a bit, no back to the right a bit, actually back to the left a smidgen” until I’d got him sat in the perfect shady spot located between the two trees in the distance! And I’m glad to say the family ordered this lovely image as part of their final gallery!
THE ‘PROUD AS PUNCH’ DAD
If you follow local blogger A Little Piece of Me you’ll know this family rarely sit still! They are more active and adventurous than any family I know which is why I’m so glad they took a few relaxing moments out of their busy schedule to enjoy a family photo shoot with me! And this Dad certainly has a lot to be proud of as his girls are simply adorable!
THE ‘NEW’ DAD
Candid moments such as this are amongst my favourite styles of photography! Taken at a family party, this new Dad was so proud to show off his baby son! They both look so dapper for the occasion and I can’t wait to meet them again later this summer when I photograph another of their wonderful family parties!
So what type of Dad are you? Perhaps you deserve a category I’ve not even listed yet? Why not book a shoot with me and ensure your children have a collection of beautiful images to one day share with their children!
ALL ABOARD AT RIDE ON TIME!
Before starting up my own photography business, I spent over 20 years in PR & Marketing. Early mornings were generally filled with rather tedious meetings reviewing stock levels, discussing new promotions and showcasing the latest press coverage. Don’t get me wrong, it was great fun at the time, but I’m far happier being a Pre-school Photographer! Take the other day as an example. There were no spreadsheets or mission statements in sight, just miles of smiles at the ever popular Ride On Time toddler group!
The clever clogs behind Ride on Time is husband and wife team Tracey & Justin. The initial concept of running a toddler group filled to the brim with ride on toys, came to Tracey in a dream. When she explained her idea to Justin he thankfully said: “Let’s do it!” And before long they’d built-up a fantastic fleet ranging from tractors and vintage planes to princess carriages. The toys are used for two purposes. Firstly the couple run toddler groups in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and then, at the weekend, they hire them out for the most spectacular Birthday parties!
The children not only get to scoot about to their hearts content, but can fill their vehicles up at the plastic fuel pumps and stop to let others walk across the zebra crossings!
PRE-SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPHER BRIEF
I attended a toddler session in Witney, Oxfordshire. My brief was to capture a selection of candid, relaxed images for the company’s website and social media pages. There’s nothing I love more than photographing children having fun and, as you probably know by now, I hate posing children for the camera! So the next hour was spent on my knees, mingling with the children, and capturing fun images to reflect the energetic atmosphere within the village hall. And as you can see there were smiles galore!
TAKE A LOOK!
Whenever I’ve got my pre-school photographer hat on, I always ask parents if they are happy for their children to be photographed and shared online. Occasionally there a few parents who prefer I don’t, so I simply work around that child and ensure they don’t appear in the background of any shots. Offering this reassurance to parents is extremely important to me, and one of the reasons why I am proud to be a DBS approved children’s photographer.
I also share a gallery of images with parents via a secure online website. They can even purchase any images they wish to keep. In fact, if you attended the session in Witney on 8th May, then you can view the gallery by clicking this link
MUDDY FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER
If you go down to the woods today you’ll be in for a muddy surprise! You’re sure to find a rather muddy family photographer having far too much fun with a bunch of Forest Tots!
To be fair, the session at Muddy Feet Forest Training started free of mud, but as with all Forest Schools you need to be prepared to get dirty! So on went the wellies and the old clothes, and the search for mud and endless adventures began! And it didn’t take long to find either!
The best thing about photographing children outside is seeing them relax. Sure there’s still the odd tantrum or tearful moment. But their ability to run free, climb, hide and generally explore, reflects in the quality of images I capture! And none of the images in this blog are posed. They’re all candid, documentary style photographs, so what I see is what I photograph!
TIME TO RELAX!
All this running around is tiring work! So once, they’d started a fire (yes that’s right, the children were allowed to rub flint together to create their own fire! You don’t see that at many toddler groups but the children loved trying it and one clever little girl did manage to get some sparks!) So with the fire lit, the children took a much needed pit stop whilst the parents tried a mug of freshly brewed nettle tea!
Tea break over, time for more fun! This time in the form of bubbles, hide ‘n’ seek and of course mud slides! The children’s laughter was infectious, their smiles were outstanding and the mud was extremely wet!
I’d been told that one of the children, a twin girl, was very shy in front of the camera and so there were very few photos of her smiling! As a family photographer I was instantly on a mission to photograph her, and her sister, with the happiest smiles imaginable!
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER CAKED IN MUD!
So the big question is, did I get covered in mud! The answer is…yes! It’s impossible to be a family photographer without getting down on the same level as the children, so that means kneeling, sitting, or even lying in mud to get the best views! It’s a dirty job, but I absolutely love it!
Discover more about Muddy Feet Training School by visiting their website
Fancy a woodland family photo shoot,
with or without the mud slide,
then do get in touch!
Contact me now!
HADSHAM FARM EVENT PHOTOGRAPHER
The life of a children’s photographer is certainly varied! This week I’ve had my event photographer hat on as I joined the team at Hadsham Farm, near Banbury.
The farm is renowned by families far and wide for it’s amazing lambing days. And this year, over a three week period, more than 4,000 people visited the farm to witness 250 ewes give birth. And in case you’re wondering, that’s about 400 lambs!
I’ve known the team at Hadsham Farm for sometime now, so when they asked me to document a busy Lambing Day I couldn’t resist! I donned a Hadsham Farm sweatshirt, pulled on my beloved Dubarry Boots and grabbed my camera! I felt like I should be on Spring Watch or even Countryfile!
EVENT PHOTOGRAPHER BRIEF
From the moment the farm gates opened, families poured into the farm eager for a glimpse of farming life! And they weren’t disappointed! As the official event photographer my job was to document the day. The images were to be used to promote the lambing days both now, and for coming years. Plus the farm also wanted the families to see the images, so I created an online gallery where parents could view, purchase and download a momento from their day out!
Children not only got to hold lambs, but feed them too! The children sat excitedly in a line waiting to feed the hungry lambs. And goodness me can those lambs drink quickly! Once they’d been fed the lambs did what all babies love to do, fall asleep in the children’s arms!
Of course a trip to the farm at springtime wouldn’t be complete without a lot of newborn chicks! I loved the farm’s idea of putting the chicks on a bed of hay inside a small box before placing it on children’s laps. Not only were the chicks safe and sound, but it gave really young children the chance to hold a chick without fear of them dropping them!
TIME TO PLAY!
Once the children had finished looking at the ewes, and possibly seen a lamb being born, it was time to play! The Farm had thought of so many activities to entertain the children. There was a craft area, giant tractor tyres filled as sandpits, a mud kitchen and even a playground! So if you’re looking for a great day out next spring, then I’d fully recommend this superb farm! And if you can’t wait until then, you’ll be glad to know the farm will be open to the public again when they start selling their beautiful Christmas trees!
It wasn’t just the children who were worn out by the end of the day! Thank you to the amazing team at Hadsham Farm for such an outstanding event!