Saturday, 21 August 2010

Lifestyle photo session in the country park

This morning I had the great Pleasure of working with family R. A local family whom had been rather disappointed with the images  received from a studio session with another photographer.

The image were not bad the family just didnt feel they captured true feelings and emotions. The studio images were also very posed making the family feel stiff and not at all relaxed.

Mrs R approached me a week ago asking if I could photograph her  family, Of course I could,
All though the sky this morning was slightly overcast we didnt have rain and the sun  did keep breaking through.
 The family decided the best location for them would be the country park as this would allow the children to  play and run around. I was assisted today by Jeff Schwingen. Jeff is a great photographer but lacks confidence so I hope working with me this year will make Jeff see just how great he is.

We started the photo session with some must have images that are wanted by the family.
The Boys

Boys having fun
The family soon all relaxed Granddad was a great sport and Little R kept me busy. Uncle C was just a gem with the children and great and getting them to runaround and have fun. It certainly was a fun session and the R family were just excellent and a pleasure to photograph.


The idea of a lifestyle photo session is to use the great outside  as the studio,.Allowing people to feel more relaxed and letting children behave in a natural way , In to days case  running  around and having fun, Which is how children should be. I never  say cheese which is why I capture the natural person. 
Todays session for me was fun the R family are such a lovely family and the children just adorable, full of beans running here there and everywhere. 

She did smile everytime she ran away from the camera 
The youngest little one laughed her head off every time she ran in the opposite direction to the camera. As you can see though  some nice natural shots were still managed.

Last but not least is the little man that kept me on my toes, such a fun great little one to work with. Even if did shot everyone with the bubble gun.

Little live wire
Thank you to Mr and Mrs R it was a pleasure to photograph you ,your children and your lovely Grandchildren. I hope you enjoy this sneak preview 

All images are copyrighted to Andrea's photography and are low res for web hosting
Final images are high res and printed by a master printer

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Finding new places

Well I felt like doing some landscape photography and having really exhausted flat Essex, I decided to venture into the Chilterns. First stop was Pitstone and the little 13 century church . which is open on Sundays and Bank holidays from May until September.

Next port of call was the windmill with a nice walk across the countryside , taking in a pleasant view, We then made our way to Ivinghoe beacon, a good hill climb.

Stopping off at Whipsnade and The Chiltern gateway to fly a kite. Certainly different from Essex. It was also wonderful to watch the Red tailed Kites flying freely across the downs.

I normally take a holiday in July but this year has been fairly busy especially weekends and it looks as if 2011 and 2012 are going to be busier. I already have bookings for both years 12 bookings for 2011 and 5 already for 2012.

The good thing is my new passport arrived today so now to plan a trip I have promised myself for a long time which will be to Norway  around March 2011. I have been working out the places I want to go which include Finnmark for the Northern lights, Lofoten for whale  watching Svalbard island for Polar bears, the Fjord and oh so  much more

The best thing is I could not have achieve my dream without the support from friends . One of my biggest supporters and  the guy who made me believe in myself is my friend and fellow photographer Jeff Turnbull, whom  did tell me "Andrea this year is going to be great for you", did I believe Jeff at the time,no I didnt. Oh how wrong I was Thanks to his encouragement I have gone forward  not just with photo sessions and sales but also with the sales of my ICM images  which people in the USA cant seem to get enough off just recently .I decided to do a limit addition of an ICM print limited to just 10 canvas wraps including a certificate with the number of the print on so far I have sold 5 prints at just over five hundred pound each. This is just amazing and  each person whom purchased them has written back to me saying how thrilled they are with them. In fact 2 people put in further orders for different ICM prints .

Without the  encourage meant from Jeff and the others on the mentoring workshop I would never have achieved this so my Thanks goes to Sam CarterDavid TyrerRoss Dean ,Gary Wilson and  not forgetting James Neale . Great photographer, great friends and a huge support

Saturday, 14 August 2010

In Between The Rain

What a miserable few days we have had here in Essex grey skies rain,thunder,hail,wind and more rain. On the plus side my grass now looks a nice shade of green instead of burnt brown and my flowers certainly look a little perky.

Wednesday I took and afternoon trip out with my friend Amanda (click to see her images). We went to the lovely Mersea Island off the coast of Essex, Mersea is connected to the mainland via a causeway that can flood at high tide. Mersea is nestle between the Blackwater and Colne estuaries about 9 miles south east of Colchester . A wonderful little place to visit both East and West Mersea are different, with sandy beach,s as well as salt flats and marsh land. The weather was kind to us although we had cloud we didnt get any rain.

Thursday started off looking as if it may have been a fine day. I took a drive out through the Rodings and into Chelmsford by following the A1060  just before Chelmsford at the Writtle roundabout we found a field of wildflowers and sunflowers, Just had time to stop pick some flowers and get a few quick shots before the heavens decided to open and the rain came down and down and down.

Thursday night cleared allowing me to go out to  do some long exposures of the meteor showers and an extra added bonus of having the Northern lights intruded on my images. This we didnt know at the time as appeared to the naked eye as just intermittent random flashing across the night sky .

30 minute exposure capturing meteors.

8 minute exposure capturing the Northern lights Aurora Borealis.

To end my week Friday bought Thunder storms and more rain through out most of the day, A very cloudy night. Saturday looks much the same as well

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hitchin Lavender Cadwell Farm

I held out some hope yesterday that the Met Office may have been right with the weather, With rain ceasing at 13.00 and not starting again until 18.00.

I say held out hope because actually it lashed down all day. Anyway when we departed from Braintree for the drive to Hitchin things did looking promising, The rain had stopped, But after Bishop Stortford the rain just got heavier and heavier. I did debate on turning round but I was 3/4 of the way  to Hitchin and still held on to the  small hope that the Met Office may well have got it right for once.

My destination was Cadwell Farm The home of Hitchin lavender Just over an hour from my home, I would say far better then a trip to Provence although the weather in Provence was no doubt sunny and fair compared to huge misty grey skies chucking the rain down .

After over shooting the entrance to Cadwell farm and having to turn in the farmers drive way on a blind bend we arrived, Turning off the wipers on the car and  desperately searching for an umbrella, we made our way into the barn tea room and shop, Where we had a lovely cuppa with carrot cake , My husband opted for a cream tea while little Missy opted for fresh apple juice and a huge chocolate brownie.

We paid our £3.00 and was given a bag each and a pair of scissors to cut our own lavender or sunflowers to take home at no extra cost.  You are left to wander the fields at your leisure no pressure or guides.
On a better day the photo opportunities would be fab . Brides have wedding pictures taken among the lavender fields and they even do wedding teepees , what a fab place as a backdrop for your wedding.

I found out about Cadwell Farm via a friend the lavender season is short July to about the 15 September, But I really hope to return on a day when the sky is blue and I can put my daughter in a white dress. It will sum up summer for me in one image

The Lavender field 

Feeling droopy from the rain

The Umbrella came to

Looking down towards the farm

Sunshine on a rainy day

Saturday, 7 August 2010


This weekend friends of mine will be jetting off to an exotic island in the South Pacific. The cheapest flight they could find will include multiple changes and long waits at airports.

Despite this their stay on the sun-kissed idyllic island will last just 24 hours before they turn round and make the trip back to the UK.
Why the odd behavior why put your self through hours of travel and jet lag? Because they have been invited to a friend's wedding and felt unable to refuse and the funny thing is I'm pretty sure the bride and groom think they are doing their friends a huge favor by inviting them to their wedding.
No doubt they believe that all their guest are delighted to be part of their wonderful international extravaganza.
The truth is modern weddings have lost there way.The fact the average wedding now cost more than £20,000 is ridiculous and wrong, especially when you think of how many people on this planet struggle to survive on less then 50p a day.

The excessive cost is also a symptom of a deeper problem.For what all the taffeta in the world can not cover up is that the modern wedding has become far to much about the egos of the bride and groom.
These days its almost as if the happy couple are not just getting married- they are also directing some over the top Hollywood epic which they have cast themselves in the starring roles. Look at the couple who insist that everyone attended their wedding dressed in white from head to toe. Those that didnt have white suits and shoes handy would have had to pay out to get them. The couple then sashayed down the aisle in matching scarlet. Talk about look at me. It would be easy to laugh at this overblown vanity if it wasnt all such a huge waste of money.
Of course, its absolutely right that the bride and groom ought to feel special. After all this is the day when they look into each others eyes and promise to LOVE and CARE for each other for the rest of their lives, FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE, FOR RICHER,FOR POORER, IN SICKNESS and IN HEALTH

The appeal of my special day has now become an excuse to demand the best of everything from flowers to clothing to hairdressers to napkin rings.

To many couples want to sit in their Posh and Becks style thrones and be admired by the invited audience, is this what make the best wedding?
Or is it the simplest weddings  that are the best, The wedding in a church all country flowers put together by a friend trestle tables laid out with food cooked by family and friends. A heartfelt exchange of vows in the local register office then a table in a crowded restaurant for dinner. What makes these wedding so special is the love the couples had for each other a love that spilled out to family a friends.
The essence of that love whether expressed in a sacred or secular way is the promise to put the interests of another before those of your own. Love is a movement away from the idea that everything in life is about you.

Which is why modern weddings are a travesty. For in becoming a great celebration of the ego,they are a threat to the very thing they are supposed to be about.
Just look for instance at the excruciating self obsessed tantrums shown on livings TV's Four wedding series where four brides get to compete with each rating the others weddings.
Some of the problem is the widespread influence of celebrity magazines, where the whole experience charade of show biz marriage is posed for cameras. Of course these staged set up make everything seem fake and unreal, even worse is they treat their guests like props. For ordinary couples wanting to recreate that feeling of being a celebrity for a day is not the right template for a celebration of true love.

There is hope however as I feel people are tiring of the modern obsession with ostentatious weddings, we,ve had enough of this triumph over style.
Marriage is at the heart of a stable society It provides a secure environment for bringing up children and its conducive to our long term happiness.
Yes we need to celebrate and why not have a fantastic party to mark the beginning of your married life?

The images makers in the wedding business and thats to often what it has become want to persuade you that a simple wedding is cut price second class bargain bucker affair. In truth they don't like simple weddings because they don't ring up the cash registers
So they ramp up expectations with ever more glamorous proposals, investing the wedding with false hope and envious fantasies. These expectations can so impossibly high its no wonder so many weddings are desperately tense affairs in which superficial smiles mask blazing rows erupting off stage.

The happiest weddings are the ones where who give more weight to the promises being made to each other than they do to the table decorations or gift list.
Simple wedding are by far the most beautiful . For when we do away with the expensive and distracting rubbish, we are better able to see the love two people have for one another.

This LOVE is the most beautiful thing in the world.

taken from an article by Giles Fraser St Pauls London

Friday, 6 August 2010

Spooky Places

My teenaged sons have suddenly developed an interesting in spooky places. Essex has a lot of so called haunted places ,so as a start they decided to camp in the ruins of St Peters church Alresford.

Tales of black magic, witchcraft ,white witch,s and  ghost sighting surround this church. Interestingly a team from am American Tv station did a  show from this location and were to scared to ever come back.
Books have been written about it although I cant find any but apparently the author who is deemed a ghost hunter was so frightened he has written he will never return to St peters.

It was about 4 years ago I first discovered this little gem tucked away not visible from the country lane its off. In 2008 and visited the church at night to do some spooky strobist photography, At the time I had a fair amount of different colour strobe lights set up. Obviously the lights could be seen and the police turned up.

Heres the funny bit the police came as far as the entrance and gave us a call of "hey excuse me would you like to come out" Of course I duly did, after I explained what I was doing they were fine but proceeded to tell me that once it was dark they would not enter the church!

A few weeks later I decided to take along a friend and do some extreme light painting in the ruined church, While we were doing this a group of ghost hunters with loads of techie things turned up they had driven all the way from Northumberland to spend the night on a vigil, They were convinced I was a ghost hunter errr no! you can see images here .

Any way I dropped the boys off let them set up camp and came home. Only once I got home I set about  gathering some items together to go back and give the boys a scare and Oh what fun that was.

Some roman candles placed inside the church away from the tent with a voice changer to yell "EXPELLIARMUS" some strobe lights. a recording of  chants. All made for some very loud noise coming from the tent. We kept this up for about 30 mins. Then ran at the tent . The climax was 4 rather white shivering 17 year olds coming out of the tent .The fear on their faces was priceless. Obviously at this point we let them know who we were. which made even more fun as none of them could believe they were so frightened by a friends mum.

At least all the lads then saw the funny side. I collect the boys in the morning they had heard knocking during the night  which I had heard when i was there but apart from that and feeling really brave when 4 locals said no way will anyone from the village go in there at night, They had a great time now in search of the next most haunted place in Essex

These are really images taken on the D300 with the Sigma 10-20mm lens, the spooky ghost like look is achieved by slowing the shutter speeds right down. If you slow the shutter speed giving the camera a longer exposure time any people will merge into the background of the image or in some cases disappear all together . Give it a try you need a DSLR and one you can put in M mode a tripod dull or dark conditions. For dull conditions use F22 and an exposure of around 2 seconds. Have fun with making some ghosty images.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

I've Been Thinking

Something we all do from time to time, Only with the recent crash of my computer and its data, including backed up data,. I have had to ask myself many questions. One of those questions is am I enjoying what I'm doing?

In truth the answer is no!, Why  you may ask is the answer no,
So I begin by  telling you about a simple wedding, Right now times are hard, people dont have  x amount of money for luxuries, Unfortunately people seem to see wedding photography as a luxury. So let me tell you what is involved for me. I take time to come and visit you and show you some pictures and albums and chat to you about what style you would like. These pictures and albums were not given to me free I had to work on them make them up and pay for them. We  then have a quick pre wedding photo session,  Ok you might say I get the easy job here just taking a picture, well no I dont its a skill, You see to get nice images I have learnt how to use my camera , Its not just about pointing and snapping, Its about reading light and distance, its about posing, and looking at the background and other distractions.

I then come home and work individually on each picture I have taken.  Yes each single image gets my personal attention, blemish are removed, skin softening can be done, each image tone is adjusted to give my clients the best.

Come your wedding day I will work flat out all day, and the next day in fact every day for at least 14 days on your images,  Once your happy they are then either placed in design software to make your album or uploaded to a master printer for printing.

From start to finish I work personally on them They are not farmed out for some one else to do. You see I create something that is everlasting and I wont compromise by doing the £150.00 or £200.00 wedding. I have insurance and have had training, I have a professional camera and lenses that cost twice as much as the camera. I have access to top of the range products .

You see I wont and cant turn up on your special day with a camera set on a pre-set mode of portrait and then get your images printed by either some high street store or basic on-line photo store and charge you £150.00 for that service.

The shame is this is what many of you want, your willing to fork out thousands on venues, dress,s food,wine but when it comes to your wedding  photography you only want to pay a few hundred quid,
fine if you want images with people missing, horrid lamp post or road signs in the back ground, out of focus shots, fine if you only want your pictures to last for between 10 and 15 years.

So my first thought is to drop weddings as obviously a quality service is not  really what people want. Then I thought again no I wont drop them but I will place a new limit . The limit I have decided is 5 weddings a year. The price is as it is no cheaper.

Areas in  photography I will be concentrating on are families,children and babies, Why because unlike a harsh studio set up I offer something much more relaxing  and personal . Also unlike a studio if baby is unhappy or extra tired then the  session can be rescheduled for another time .

My first venture is Children's birthday party shoots and having completed two of these I found them great fun Lots of children running around having a great time meant some wonderful images for parents to keep. It also meant I got jelly and ice-cream to eat.

Secondly I am going back to photographing for myself, yes just random images I personally like to take, Maybe challenge myself to just taking one lens and using it for the whole week, Getting back to some arty type photographs

Time spent with a camera and lens is not time wasted, It allows me to stretch myself, it allows me to push my limits.

In future my blog will no doubt be more about me, whats been happening, what I have been doing.

Taking time out for myself and doing what I please