Why our Holiday has been The 😊 Best 😊 Ever 😊

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From Brighton to South West France and back again …. It’s official – we have just experienced the most incredible couple of weeks’ holiday we ever thought possible!!

Not just any holiday, may I add. Oh, nope. This was a holiday for a very special family occasion!

And it’s been very exciting indeed!

To give you a little of the back story … my lovely nephew Ross rang us early last year to let us know he was getting married and that the ceremony was to be in a beautiful Chateau in France. We were over the moon at his news of course, although my heart did sink a little when he said it was to going to be across the channel.  The last time I holidayed abroad was many years ago, as I’m not a fan of flying or sailing, and the prospect was a little daunting for me, ridiculous as that probably sounds to most!

But I had to go of course!!!

The Euro Tunnel was the best option to allow for my travel phobia, haha, I knew I could just about manage that!!  It did mean a long drive though so we decided that we’d make the travelling part of the adventure and thus booked overnight stops en route each way so we could soak in the French countryside as we made our way down to Lautrec.

In fact, we’d clocked up 1800 miles by the end of the holiday – just as well Lee enjoys driving, although he was ready for a good rest when we got back home!

To legally marry in France you have to be resident there for a period of time before the ceremony, therefore Ross and Michael had an official legal ceremony in Brighton Town Hall on the Sunday before. Simply a small gathering, just their parents and siblings with their families. Lee and I took my mum, Ross’s nan, who lives close to us, as travelling to France was not possible for her. Since we were taking her to Brighton, we offered to take our cameras to record the occasion. It was such a beautiful day and, in its own way, as magical as the subsequent celebrations in France. The weather didn’t look too promising earlier in the day, but happily the sun came out in time for the ceremony and afterwards we were able to take a few shots of the happy couple and families on the beach. We were in Brighton!! How could we not?!!!!

Emotional hug for Ross from his mum, my sister Lynne.

After that fab time, we headed home and had the next day to get ourselves ready for the drive to France. On Tuesday morning, Lee and I headed back to Brighton, to pick up our youngest son and his girlfriend, who live in Hove, and were travelling with us.  From there we headed to Folkestone for the Tunnel. Just thought I’d mention … Lee booked us a Flexiplus ticket for the crossing, which is well worth doing! This got us complimentary food in the terminal and lets you bypass the queues, which made it so much easier!

We arrived in Calais late in the afternoon French time, and reached our first port of call, Les Airelles Hotel in the small town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray, about three hours later, just in time for dinner!

Wednesday morning, and we set off after breakfast for the next leg of our journey to Limoges, stopping at Orléans on the way, where we spent an hour or two ambling around this beautiful city. A welcome way to break the long journey that day.

My kind of road!

It was getting late by the time we arrived in Limoges, around 7 in the evening, and we were pretty tired, especially poor Lee and all that driving, so we just had dinner in the hotel and didn’t get chance to look around the town itself.  

We set off early the next day for the final leg of our outward journey – our destination hotel in Cadalen, near the charming town of Lautrec and about 3 miles from the Chateau where the wedding celebrations were to take place.

Cadalen is situated in the Tarn region in the south of France, apparently otherwise known as the Tuscany of France. We were blown away by the beauty of the countryside surrounding us!

We were absolutely delighted when we arrived at our home for the next four days, Chambres d’Hotes de Cadalen

We couldn’t have wished for a better place to stay!!

This beautiful hotel has just four guest bedrooms in total, all decorated in a unique way. We had booked three of the rooms, and there was no one else booked in the fourth, so we had this amazing place all to ourselves, along with the lovely couple who own it, Sandra and Sylvain, who made us feel very welcome indeed.

Our eldest son and his girlfriend had flown into Toulouse and met us at the hotel an hour or two after our own arrival.

Since we were the only guests, we in effect had our own private pool and gardens! The pool was only completed this year and proved very welcome in the blazing sunshine!

Dip anyone?

Our hotel also boasted the most incredible views and such a peaceful location. Wandering around the grounds were two peacocks, two geese, and 5 cats, which was lovely! It was our own little haven of tranquility where we could spend quality time with our boys and their girlfriends, but whilst being just a short drive from the Chateau and wedding preparations. Simply perfect! Sandra, the owner, also went the extra mile to provide special breakfasts for the vegans in our family, including delicious pancakes, and her home made jams went down a treat!

Our breakfast room

On the Friday morning, we headed into the nearby town of Albi to have an explore. Another beautiful spot which boasts stunning views across the river and a cathedral.

Then came the WEDDING!! The celebrations spanned over three days, starting with an afternoon drinks reception on the Friday at one of the bars in Lautrec, which was a nice relaxing way to start the three day party!

The wedding ceremony itself was on the Saturday at the beautiful Chateau de Brametourte.

It was around 38 degrees so a little warm. Phew! We were there as guests (not photographers) which was super – we could relax and enjoy the day. And we did! The boys were led into the ceremony by their mums and the ceremony itself was amazing, and made even more special as Michael’s dad officiated. There were also two beautiful readings.

I couldn’t resist a few phone pics of course …

After the ceremony we relaxed in the beautiful grounds sipping champagne and taking in the remarkable scenery around us, for an hour or so before the wedding breakfast. This took place in a large marquee adjacent to the swimming pool, behind which were more spectacular views across the landscape which we enjoyed whilst tucking in to the delicious meal. Between the courses came various speeches. One from both mums together, in the form of a repartee, which was very amusing; some memories from a couple of the grooms’ dearest friends; and then one each from the grooms themselves, which were really funny as well as extremely moving in parts. Happy tears were flowing as readily as the champagne!

Not a bad view to eat alongside

And how about this for a cake!

Ross and Michael’s first dance was fantastic! They must have spent ages practising it, it was so slick and brilliantly choreographed, not a step out of place!

We then all danced into the early hours and car rides back to our hotels had been arranged for any of us needing them which was a great help!

It was a very special day indeed.

And there were still more celebrations to come! Everyone was invited to a pool party at the Chateau on the Sunday afternoon, during which we were treated to a fascinating guided tour inside by the owner who told us some of the history. The Chateau is 1000 years old; when the couple who now own it took it on, it had been empty for 500 of those years, so you can imagine the challenge they undertook to restore it from its derelict state. A remarkable job they have done too.  You can read more about the history here.

After all the thrills and excitement, Monday arrived before we knew it and thus it was time to say a fond farewell to the wonderful location and to start wending our way home. Lee planned a slightly different route back, with overnight stops in Tours and Montreuil this time.

We loved Tours!  Our hotel there was great and we spent the following morning looking round the town before heading off.  It was the first real opportunity we had during our travels to see a few shops, buy some gifts and take in the glorious views across the river.

Our last night in France was spent in Montreuil. A small town, very picturesque and only an hour or so from the tunnel.

In the morning there was enough time for a look around the shops in City Europe, just outside the entrance to the Tunnel, before boarding our train!

We came home via Brighton and we decided to finish off our holiday with a night at the Artist Residence Hotel in Regency Square. To our great delight and astonishment, we were told on our arrival that we had been upgraded to their very best room!! And I have to say it was awesome!! Talk about finishing our holiday in grand style!!

If you click the link to their website you will see the comfy chairs and sensational views from our room of the West Pier and i360!

The hotel was once featured on the Channel 5 programme The Hotel Inspector, you can read a little more about that and their story is here https://www.boutiquehotelier.com/from-zero-to-hotel-hero-the-dynamic-duo-behind-the-artist-residence/ and since then has gone from strength to strength.

Once again we were given a very warm welcome by the lovely folk there!

So here we are back down to earth after such an incredible time.  Already it all feels like just a dream. Sigh. Holidays often do once you get home and back to reality, don’t they? It seems like forever ago but boy do we have some amazing memories to treasure and of course loads of pictures to look back on!

So glad we went and, now I have my passport, the world is (almost!) my oyster! As long as I can get there by train

Our Wedding Photography Swansong

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We certainly finished on a high for our Wedding Photography Swansong! ‘Twas a beautiful day for a lovely couple who we’ve known for many years through their studio visits.

We decided some time ago that we would not be taking any new wedding bookings for after May 2019.  Not a decision taken lightly, but we know it’s the right one for us.

Thought I’d share a little of what’s involved when entrusted with this very important task.

Even though I’ve never advertised weddings, we’ve been lucky enough to have had our fair share over the years, from family and friends getting hitched, to some of my lovely studio clients, and of course, word of mouth referrals.  Each wedding equally beautiful in its own unique way. Come rain or come shine, it’s been a joy. Yes, even in the downpours! Heavy rain is challenging, I won’t deny, but you just have to make the best of it and use it to your advantage and grab some fun shots which you wouldn’t otherwise get on a sunny day!

It truly is an absolute honor when you’re asked to photograph a wedding. As the official photographers, you get to share and virtually live the day alongside the happy couple. You see everything first hand and capture all the emotions that invariably occur, from the nerves and tensions of the morning and the excitement shared by the bride and groom with their respective “tribes” as they get ready; the sighs of relief once the ceremony has been done, and the relaxed atmosphere and fun and happiness by the end of the day! Especially once the champagne has started flowing! You also get to photograph at the most beautiful locations and stunning venues – a photographer’s dream!

I won’t pretend it isn’t a tad stressful though. Weddings are after all, a one stop saloon – you just get the one chance and if you miss a shot or something fails, it’s too late to go back after the event. All the suppliers involved, and not just the photographers, want to make sure everything is top notch for the happy couple and their guests and do their utmost to ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible. And of course it always does even if there are one or two hiccups during the proceedings. But these are the moments most treasured and which make every wedding unique – it’s often these little “hiccups” that become the best memories in years to come!

Yes, you can plan all you like but on the day anything can happen and often does, quite out of the blue, not least the weather being so unpredictable in this country. With experience, you learn to take whatever is thrown at you in your stride. But it sure keeps you on your toes throughout the day and that’s a good thing! Lee and I always took our backup cameras. Even though our main cameras are expensive and very reliable, in the back of your mind there’s always a little niggle that technology might fail you at a crucial moment, like during the ceremony. Yikes!! I still shudder at the very thought!!

Fortunately, we were lucky that we never needed our backups but it was always reassuring to have them just in case! (Haha I have never wanted to say this before in case of jinxing any future weddings we had to photograph!!)

Love all those little details too that help make each wedding so individual.

Well I guess all good things must come to an end, although I must admit it’s a little bit of a relief too. Photographing a wedding is perhaps more exhausting than you might imagine. Even fellow photographers, mostly much younger than we are, suffer from what’s known in the trade as “Wedding Photographer Hangover”. Yep, when you get home after shooting all day it sure hits you! And the following day too. You physically ache from head to toe! I think this lady, Karen Julia Wedding Photography, describes it so well in her blog post https://karenjuliaphotography.com/how-to-prevent-wedding-photographer-hangover/ It’s reassuring to know you’re not the only ones and it doesn’t get any easier as the years go by!

We would always try and keep the day after free so we could chillax a bit. I found it a perfect opportunity to go through all the photos Lee and I had taken between us and sort out favourites to post for a sneak peek on Social Media and to start the initial edit. Downloading the images from the memory cards in itself could take a couple of hours due to the enormous size of the Raw files out of camera and there being at least a couple of thousand to download. Speaking of the memory cards, I would not let them out of my sight until all the backups had been done, which was as quickly as possible believe me!

Because we limited the number of weddings we booked, I would try to keep the couple of weeks afterwards free in order to devote this time to work on the edit so I could deliver them to the newlyweds as soon as possible. They’d be very excited to see them of course so didn’t want to keep anyone waiting any longer than necessary. It’s no mean feat doing a wedding edit, especially when you have developed your own style, as most photographer’s do, it involves several hours each day at the computer during this time.

Edit finished and 1000 or more images delivered to the happy couple, I’d start work on designing the artwork for the photobook, which was included in most of my packages. Once that had been approved by the couple, I ordered it, and then time to put together a slideshow of around 25 minutes, using the favourite song tracks of the bride and groom.

Thus, all in all, a fair amount involved from start to finish, but because I really love being creative, it never felt like a chore, just fun to do.

To be told how much the images, book and slideshows have meant to our wedding couples over the years, has been the icing on the (wedding) cake! Great feedback means the world to us and truly makes our day 🙂

It just remains for me to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to all the wonderful couples who have entrusted us with photographing their beautiful days over the years.

It has been a privilege and a joy.

There is one thing a photograph must contain. The humanity of the moment.

Quote by Robert Frank

Loving Two “Babies” Equally?

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Here we are almost at another summer holidays already and another year zooming by! There’s been lots going on here even though you may have noticed fewer posts from me on Facebook of late. Read on and I will explain all!

As many of you know already, I now split my time wearing the two hats, so to speak. Romsey Fotografix being one, and my Zazzle Store – Fotografixgal Designs, t’other.

Now please don’t get me wrong. Just because I have found a new love in my Zazzle store, doesn’t mean I’m no longer “in love” with my photography and Romsey Fotografix. Nah, not at all, that’s still my baby. As we all know, when the second “baby” comes along, you love it just as much don’t you, if you’ll forgive the analogy!  I guess what I’m saying is, it’s possible to love two babies equally.

Of course, finding time to devote to each and give them both my all has meant a little compromising – but not at the expense of letting go of good customer service I hasten to add. So yes, I have cut back on my photoshoots, which means that I can still devote the time necessary for each photo session and the subsequent edit and correspondence, and thus maintain the standard of customer service you are used to from me and, of course, deserve.

My time is split about 50/50, with a little leeway naturally where needs be. Hence, I only do studio photoshoots now on Sunday mornings and outdoor location shoots on Saturday mornings. I edit the images from these as soon as possible afterwards so I can get your galleries out quickly without keeping anyone waiting.

Once I know everyone has their pictures to look at, I devote the rest of the week to designing for my Zazzle store. This really has become such a passion for me, I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy it! Haha my friends and family know exactly how much as I do go on about it a lot!!!

(Goes without saying that I deal with enquiries and orders for Romsey Fotografix regardless of when I get them!)

A little about Zazzle if you’ve not heard of them before. They’re a huge print on demand website and they do all manner of goodies – as you can see from their website. And here’s their story. As a designer, artist or photographer, or indeed anyone who wishes to, you easily set up a Zazzle store, or several stores if you want to. I just have the one store for now Fotografixgal Designs, as that keeps me plenty busy enough!  I also set up a separate website especially for it to help showcase the items in my store.  

There’s quite a complex strategy involved in running a Zazzle store, it’s not just a question of designing and plonking it onto any old products if you want to progress and do well on there. When I first started on there about a year ago, I had no idea at all about best practices for it and it was frustrating not to be making many sales at the time. I took the step of investing in some fantastic training from Elke Clarke one of Zazzle’s top sellers. She was running an offer at the time and I can honestly say it was the best money I ever spent and am so pleased I decided to go for it. I would never have discovered it all on my own. It’s been onwards and upwards since putting into practice everything I learnt (and am still learning). And the training from Elke doesn’t just stop when you finish the course, so you’re not left high and dry. She has a private Facebook group and does regular live sessions so we can ask her anything we need to know. She also assesses our stores if we ask her to and tells us how we can improve and what we’re doing right and wrong which has been invaluable.

A year in, and I’m delighted to say my sales are really starting to take off which has been very encouraging. Ironically, my most popular items are wedding stationery, photo gifts and photo blocks – so the “sisters” Romsey Fotografix and Fotografixgal Designs do cross paths in some ways!  Oh and not forgetting inspirational/motivational quote products, I have loads in store, which I decided to do not only because I love this sort of thing myself, but I reckoned they would be popular as you see them in shops all over the place nowadays don’t you. And indeed they have become bestsellers for me – I’m always racking my brains so I can add new ones.

OK, heading back to the subject of Facebook posting. As I do fewer shoots now, I have less photos from current sessions to post on Facebook and am therefore not posting every day or two, as I did at one time. And I don’t want to bombard you with too many Fotografixgal Design related posts as I guess you didn’t follow me on Facebook to see those 😉!!  Maybe just the odd one or two if you don’t mind lol. In the main though I use my Instagram and Pinterest accounts to promote my Zazzle store. To be honest, Social Media takes such a lot of time to get it right. There’s quite a strategy involved if you want to keep your loyal following entertained. And unless you pay for your posts to be promoted, they invariably only get shown to a small handful of your followers so it can be very soul destroying taking into consideration the amount of time and effort put into creating them. I’m not knocking it, because it’s obviously very useful and brilliant for connecting with your audience. As long as you stay in control of it and not let it take over at the expense of other things.

So please forgive me if I don’t post as often. However, I’m always very grateful when you give me permission to post pictures from your session as this allows me to showcase my work for others to see and also give you a little sneak peek and to share with your FB friends.

Another decision I have not taken lightly is to introduce a small booking fee for my studio photoshoots from August 2019. This won’t apply to outdoor shoots. I’ll only be taking one or two studio shoots a week on a Sunday and will request and pay for the studio as and when someone contacts me to book. This session fee is to safeguard me against late cancellations and no shows and cover my costs. I know I have never charged a session fee before as I didn’t feel it necessary when I had my own studio and was doing loads of shoots in a week, therefore I wasn’t out of pocket in the event of no shows. However, now if someone doesn’t show up on the day, which does happen sometimes, I won’t be able to fill that slot at that short notice and may even have turned other clients away for it, it’s just to ensure I’m not out of pocket. The good news is I’ll refund you the booking fee when your order comes to £150 or more.

You may also have seen that we have now photographed our last wedding as the official photographers.  I was going to tell you all about that in this post however as it’s already quite lengthy (haha sorry that’s not like me at all 😉 ), I’ll do a separate post shortly about the reasons behind our Wedding Swansong.

I truly hope you understand my decision to veer in a slightly new direction wearing my two different, yet complementary, hats. I am a firm believer in doing what you love most in life, after all you only get one shot at it (excuse the photography related pun!!) Grab those opportunities as they arise!

You gotta be content and fulfilled in your work. I have found my very Happy Place.

As ever, thank you so much for your support. It means the world to both Lee and I and we look forward to taking your next set of pictures!

The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day 

anonymous quote (but oh so true!)

5 Undeniable Reasons to Love A Cup Of Positivity

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Picture courtesy of toa-heftiba unsplash

I have a sign by the bed which is probably the first thing I see when I wake up.

It simply says

TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO SMILE

Nothing fancy, just those few words. But powerful none the less. A little bit of positivity for the start of my day.

Right. I put it out there – I’m a huge fan of inspirational quotes and messages. My Instagram feed is full of them and all sorts of goodies with different kinds of quotes on, from inspiring to funny, feature a lot in my Zazzle Store!

Methinks I’m not alone in this, judging by the number you see on social media, and on loads of items in shops wherever you go – from pillows to mugs, on clothing, fridge magnets, cards, notebooks, cosmetic bags, crockery, etc. etc. and of course posters and signs and wall art.

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Very popular. There’s something about emotive quotes that really draws you in, especially on any with words you personally resonate with.

How great for giving too! What better way to show you care than by sending someone a gift or card with a message of encouragement or positive vibes. Nothing like being told how great we are to make our day!

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So here’s what I reckon are the 5 undeniable reasons to Love a Cup of Positivity …

  • Brings The Feel Good Factor

When you feel good about yourself, it makes it simpler to feel positive about other things in life generally. Encouraging messages help you to believe in yourself more and therefor feel good about yourself.

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  • Creates a Positive Vibe

When you have a positive attitude – it’s catching! People around you respond to it, which in turn makes for a happier atmosphere around you which makes everything much more bearable to deal with.

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  • Helps to get us through Life’s Challenges

No one ever said it would be easy – nope! Life throws all sorts of stuff at us, both good and bad, sometimes it’s hard, even virtually impossible to stay positive through it all. It actually takes practice to keep positive and upbeat but truly worth it.

Absolutely

Obviously you can’t be happy about every situation but simply trying to find a positive from a negative situation, and possibly learn from it, will certainly help to make you feel better.

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  • Reminds us to feel grateful for what we have
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“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.” Michael Josephson

When I read  The Secret by Rhonda Byrne a couple of years ago, I got a lot from it. It was actually quite a turning point for me. I was inspired to set up a Law of Attraction Board on Pinterest.

One of the most important things I learned was to remind myself of all the things I have to feel grateful about every day.

Being grateful has a very profound and positive effect on the way we feel; it makes us more optimistic and kind, less judgemental, so just generally makes for a happier and kinder person to be around, which again, is contagious!

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  • Just Because

I guess they’re not for everyone, but there’s no denying inspirational quotes are hugely popular right now.  They can be amusing, emotional, encouraging; they virtually give us “permission” to be who or what we want to be so we can go ahead and just do it!

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As I see it, there can be no harm in spreading joy and comfort with kind, inspiring and motivational messages, whether it be on your social media sites, on presents you give, or just getting it out there on a T shirt!

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And if you fancy more of the same, I expect it won’t surprise you to know I’m always  Pinning inspiring words – Pinterest has millions!

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“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine”  Roy T. Bennett

It’s Christmas!

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Christmas is just around the corner and 2019 is on its way!

Haha, just stating the obvious!

I hope 2018 has been a good year for you.  In some ways, it seems to have rushed by. To me, it feels like five minutes since last Christmas – but on the other hand, it seems like forever ago since I had the old studio at Basepoint – even though I only finished there at the end of March.  The mystery of time, eh?

The move was a massive decision for us at the time, but happily it’s worked out really well. Hive Studios feels like my second Sunday home now! To find such a great studio, so close by, was incredible luck.

It has also given me the flexibility of concentrating on my artistic pursuits, as well as my photography.  I enjoy both immensely; now I can split my time equally on each. Best of both worlds.

It has been really lovely to see so many familiar faces this year and welcome you to Hive Studios, as well as meeting lots of new faces of course!  Not forgetting the numerous shoots in the great outdoors during the summer months too! Great fun, and we were mostly lucky with the weather! I am so appreciative of your continued support. It means such a lot to me, thank you.

Lee and I have also photographed some beautiful weddings this year, come rain and come shine!

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With my artist hat on, earlier in the year I started some courses spanning the whole year, which I mentioned in a previous post. I have managed to work my way through most of the lessons, and golly have learned so much! Not only to improve my drawing and design skills, but also learning lots of new tricks and techniques in Photoshop, which have helped speed up my editing processes for my photos too. It has been very inspiring.

The most amazing outcome of the art courses though was to set up stores on a couple of Print on Demand websites.  Firstly Red Bubble, and then, WOW, I discovered Zazzle.

I promise I won’t gush too much about Zazzle but I can honestly say it has transformed my life!  Best. Fun. Ever. I invested in a course from one of Zazzle’s topsellers, Elke Clarke, and through her I have learned the very best strategies for making it work. And I am over the moon that it is paying off 🙂 My store is still growing but after only a few months sales are already going well and I know with the techniques I have learned, and am still learning, it will get better and better as I add more goodies to it.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason. This time last year I had no inkling I would be leaving Basepoint (I would have shuddered at the thought!!) but fate stepped in with other ideas for me and I am actually very grateful it did.

I’m closing for the holiday this weekend. We have a wedding to photograph on Sunday; Christmas weddings are always especially magical! Then we have our eldest son’s birthday to celebrate on Christmas Eve, and a big family get together on Christmas Day, followed by a trip to Brighton on Boxing Day. Then a little R&R before reopening in January.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful New Year.

SUMMER UPDATE!

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Just to keep you posted on what’s been going on at Romsey Fotografix (and beyond) lately – and notice of our upcoming holidays!!

Hope you’re enjoying the summer and heatwave!  We’ve been making the most of it with lots of shoots outside, which, as I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned before, are great fun for all concerned!  There’s something very calming about being in the great outdoors surrounded by nature in its glory, basking in the shade of woodland trees on a glorious sunny day, with dapples of sunlight seeping through the leaves. Makes for some great natural and carefree shots!

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It’s been several months since I left my old studio, and happy to report that working out of Hive Studios is going very well indeed, and very pleased to have made the jump 😊 It’s been lovely to have welcomed lots of you there already and I’m already starting to book up my Sunday slots there in the lead up to Christmas, so please let me know if you’d like to reserve a slot before they all go!

Things have been very busy of late, not only with the studio and outdoor shoots, but we’ve also been out and about photographing local goings on, for ourselves and some for stock images.

We had an incredible evening back in June in The Terrace Pavilion in The Houses of Parliament, no less, taking photos for my friend, Lynn, at an evening event there for her wonderful charity Their Future Today It was a bit surreal being there to be honest, had to keep pinching ourselves and remind ourselves where we were!

We were up bright and early (4.45am!) a few weekends ago to get ourselves down to Hurst Castle in time to photograph the yachts in the round island boat race. It was a beautiful morning, albeit a bit of a trek with all the equipment along the pebbles, but worth it to sit on the shore and watch the boats go by in the lovely morning sun, with a little picnic to keep us going! We did cheat though and take the ferry back, which was very pleasant in itself! It wasn’t just the race we photographed as you can see!

Then of course our annual trek to the Winchester Hat Fair which is always a great day out with photo opportunities right, left and centre. A very enjoyable and colorful day for sure. I added a few to my stock photos on Shutterstock  (which is still a work in progress by the way, I’m adding new images as time permits!)

We’ve managed a couple of trips to Marwell as we love taking pictures there and making the most of our membership.

As well as the photography,  I have three online art and digital art courses on the go and am learning lots.  I’ve been working on some Fairytale characters, this one is Snow White and the Wicked Queen, a lesson I did from the fabulous Ever After Course by the very talented Tamara Laporte at Willowing Arts  I’m a little behind with all my coursework, as of course my photography takes priority, and these paintings take quite a while to do, but hope to catch up on some more of the lessons during my holiday. I will have my Ipad and IPencil to hand for sure 🙂

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And great excitement!!!!!! I’ve recently opened a Zazzle Store where I can sell my art and designs on a myriad of items! I’m adding new goodies to it almost daily, as time allows! Best. Fun. Ever!!

Amongst other things, I’ve been preparing a BACK TO SCHOOL range of lunchboxes etc  (good timing eh 😉 ) as well as a new Collection of items for LITTLE MISSES and LITTLE MISTERS including clothing and party invites etc. They’re not showing up in my marketplace yet as it takes several days for them to appear, but hopefully will be there soon.  And according to Zazzle, it’s time to start uploading  products for Christmas – a little task for after our holiday I think!

Of course it’s still a work in progress as I’m only a month or so in, I have nearly 600 products in my store so far and some of them take a little while to show up in the store front. I’ve also taken a training course to learn all being part of the Zazzle Marketplace, which is slightly more complex than I expected.  It’s not just a question of uploading a design onto one of their T shirts or mugs or any of the other thousands of items they sell (take a look it’s amazing!), and hoping for the best – there’s a lot more to it! The great thing is everything can be personalised, which is brilliant if you’re looking for a special gift or maybe some personalised items for a sports club you may belong to (badges anyone?) or whatever! Lots of choice across the whole of the Zazzle site with some amazing designs and art from thousands of artists from all over the world.  Haha, shameless plug there!!

And now – it’s time for a holiday! We have a couple of separate holidays coming up … we close from Thursday 9th August until the 20th  and then again between 14 and 23rd September.  Looking forward to a bit of a breather!

Happy holidays to you all as well!

 

Al Fresco Anyone?

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There’s just something very special about spending time in the great outdoors on a glorious sunny day, whether it be a BBQ in the garden, a picnic in the park … or a photoshoot in a beautiful location.

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Having photos taken outside in the open is a sure fire way for everyone to feel chilled and relaxed – which of course makes for some great spontaneous images!

Speaking of which … I thought you might like to see some highlights from our visit on Sunday to  The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.

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Such a beautiful setting, and with a lovely family 😊 who I’ve known for several years now, having done numerous photoshoots in the studio with them since their children were babies. The girls were brilliant as usual, star models in fact, and even coming up with several ideas of their own for some of the shots – and good ones at that!

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Alfresco shoots may be at the mercy of the good ol’ British weather, but really are rather magical, especially when the sun shines! Lil’uns can more or less do their own thing and the natural shots come thick and fast!

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Great fun!

After all that walking around the arboretum – haha I understand we did around 7,000 steps (!!) – and ’twas a scorcher of a day, we all had a very welcome ice-cream in the café.

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What a great time we had ambling around in the sunshine.

It doesn’t feel a bit like work you know! 😉

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