Most Beautiful Evening

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We received a very intriguing invitation out of the blue a week or so ago!

It kept us guessing for sure … all we were given was the time and date – Friday 16 June – and “come and share and celebrate some unexpected news”.

And to be at a secret location – which was only confirmed on the day!

OMG the SUSPENSE!!!

Of course, we would be there! And we couldn’t wait to find out what it was all about!!

The invite came in the form of an email from our lovely friend, Lynn, Founder of the charity, Their Future Today https://www.facebook.com/theirfuturetoday/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf. You may remember I’ve mentioned Lynn and her fantastic charity several times before, (yes, I’m very proud of her), mainly highlighting her fundraising balls and events. In October 2016 she deservedly won a Best Business Woman award.

I first met Lynn when we worked together at a travel agency in Twickenham. We were both about 17 at the time, so a little (ahem!!) while ago and lots of memories along the way!

And so to Friday …

The beautiful venue, we discovered on the day, was at the home of one of Lynn’s close friend’s, situated on an island on the Thames no less, with simply stunning views across the river from the garden. Such a perfect setting on a gorgeous balmy summer’s evening.

There were around 60 specially invited people, including of course Lynn’s lovely family, who have actively supported her all the way. The atmosphere was so warm, friendly and very relaxed indeed.   We were treated to a delicious barbecue, along with the odd Pimms (or two!), as we soaked up the ambiance and wonderful scenery.

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Ducks in convoy gliding by!

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The “announcement” we were all eagerly awaiting, was to be at 10.30pm. Although, it flew round really quickly though as we were having such a great time and it was half past ten before we knew!

So, the moment had finally arrived!

There were touching speeches by two of Lynn’s 3 sons, culminating in the fantastic news:

Lynn had been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list!! 

(Did you spot the clue in this blog post title lol!)

Wow!!! Everyone was absolutely over the moon for her, and so delighted that her tireless hard work, dedication and fantastic achievements over the years have been recognised and rewarded by such a huge honour, and so richly deserved.

Lynn then gave some lovely words and thank you’s to all the devoted people and volunteers who have also put in such a tremendous amount of effort on behalf of the charity over the years.

Her big dilemma was how to decide who will be accompanying her to the palace – she is allowed 3 guests along with herself, and with her devoted husband, immensely proud dad and 3 caring sons to choose from, there was only one fair way – their 5 names scribbled onto serviettes (in her hands in the pic above left), with 3 being picked at random.

The celebrations and party carried on in style – don’t you just love the cake!!

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Lynn (right) our friend Carole (centre) and myself

Lee and I arrived back home at 2am still buzzing from having been a part of such an amazing evening.

So how did Their Future Today come about? Well, who better to explain than Lynn in her own words (quote taken from an email to her charity’s supporters announcing the exciting news of her MBE award):

‘Who would have thought it when I sat on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight 12 years ago coming home from volunteering after the Asian tsunami?

My heart told me that I had to try to do something to help orphaned and abandoned babies barely surviving in an orphanage in Sri Lanka. This was never as a gesture of charity but as an act of human justice.

I realised I couldn’t do much alone… but, I knew that I knew some amazing people who knew some amazing people, and it’s only with the help, support and love from you, which has made this Medal of the Order of the British Empire award possible and I am extremely grateful.

The United Nations Conventions of the Rights of the Child says that every child deserves the right to grow up in a family. We can make it happen, and we are.

Last year we helped reshape the pathway for 3000 abandoned and disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka by reuniting families, preventing abandonment and enabling education.”

Amazing, eh?

Please take a look at Their Future Today’s story when you get a moment https://www.theirfuturetoday.com/our-story You’ll be very moved indeed.

Congratulations Lynn Stanier MBE!!! You are a very special lady and we are so, so proud of you.

Their Future Today – TransFormaTion of Little Lives. What a difference you have made.

#LOVE FOR EVERYCHILD

 

 

Triple the Giggles!

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So, this week saw the latest birthday visit to the studio of these gorgeous triplets. One I always look forward to!

And this time, celebrating their FOURTH birthday!

They’ve been in each year on their actual birthday, and before that at 8 months old. It’s lovely seeing how much they’ve changed each time they come in. Growing up fast!

Here’s the post I blogged after their First Birthday Photoshoot back in 2014: https://romseyfotografix.blog/2014/03/01/a-sneaky-peak-behind-the-scenes-of-the-adorable-triplets-first-birthday-shoot/

They usually bring in a favourite present or two that they’ve been given for their birthday – and this time was no exception. They were very excited to show me their new toys when they arrived. And these of course featured in one or two of the shots!

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There was lots of running around and squeals of laughter, along with some great cuddles for their mum!

And they really got into the swing of dressing up and having a little song and dance at the end of the session.

So funny 🙂

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And a few highlights from across the years…

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You see why this “job” is so rewarding 🙂

‘Tis The Season to be Jolly

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Yes, ‘Tis the season to be jolly once again! (Maybe that should be the mantra for all year round really).

It’s not always easy to be “jolly” this time of year is it, with so much extra stuff to be done, but we usually get there in the end!

So, once there’s time to breathe …. chill … and start winding down a bit, you might begin to feel a little nostalgic about Christmases past, as I always do this time of year. Aha, cue for last year’s blog post https://romseyfotografix.wordpress.com/2015/12/ Must be that old cine clip that does it 😉

Also, maybe a time to reflect a little on the year gone by. I hope it’s been a good one for you.

It seems like only 5 minutes ago that we were just coming into 2016 and the approaching ten year anniversary of Romsey Fotografix, back in January. I really enjoyed putting together the Then and Now montages from some of your shoots, delving into the archives and looking back at all your photo sessions over the years.

Speaking of which, here’s a young lady who’s been in every year on her actual birthday in December since she was 2 years old (bar one year when lots of snow stopped play!). Lovely to see her again, looking all grown up, for her 11th birthday shoot last weekend, this time along with some friends – and her gorgeous dog Alfie!

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Giggles galore!!!

For us, both socially and workwise, there’s been lots going on, which I guess has made it feel like the year’s gone by even quicker. Particular highlights of course, my weekend of surprises https://romseyfotografix.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/surprise-after-surprise-after-surprise/ and the beautiful day we renewed our wedding vows https://romseyfotografix.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/renewing-our-wedding-vows-30-years-on/

If any of you have kept up or started a 365 day photo project, it’d be great to hear how it’s going. I’m still doing mine, and am glad as it’s pretty cool having a daily picture diary to look back on, although it’s time consuming and ‘twould be fair to say I’m not quite so enthusiastic about it as I was when I first started!! More about this year’s in another post, here’s last year’s https://romseyfotografix.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/on-the-blog-today-update-on-my-365-photo-project-for-2015-365photo-365project/

I would love to take this opportunity to say a massive THANK YOU to each and everyone of you who’ve entrusted me with taking your photos, whether in the studio or for your “big days” – and in some cases both! It’s always such a privilege to share and photograph the special times in your lives; it really means such a lot to me to be asked. And it’s been brilliant to see so many familiar faces again this year, as well as lots of new ones too!

So many amazing, memorable moments 🙂  As I’ve said many a time, you make this job of mine so joyful, it just doesn’t feel like work!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And have yourselves a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year.

I bet you know someone who’d love one of these!

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Do you know something I love so much about this ‘job’. The sheer variety of it all!

In the last week or two for instance I’ve photographed a wedding; a very large tractor (yes, really!); the meeting room, reception area and a couple of the units at Basepoint http://www.basepoint.co.uk/locations/romsey/gallery ; a gorgeous pooch or two; of course several siblings and families, beautiful newborns, and even my mum as a model in her home!

Oh and did I mention, a vast amount of … Lego Men!!

Ha, yes, you did read that right!

In fact, the Lego characters were the props used to demonstrate some fantastic 3D bases from Base Ace to show examples of how they can be used with mini figures and building bricks for imaginative play.

montage-1Look very impressive don’t they!

The bases are the brainchild of Brian from Talking Products https://www.talkingproducts.com/

He arrived for the session along with a car load of boxes, which were promptly unloaded, and then he and his colleague started putting it all together! It was really fascinating seeing the various bases taking shape ready to be photographed. And then seeing them come to life even more as the figures were placed on them as examples of how they would look in play.

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I think these bases are such a brilliant idea and I know my kids would have loved them when they were in their “Lego-building” hey day.

So maybe just the ticket for those fans of mini-figures in your life when building their little fantasy worlds.  Christmas pressie anyone? 🙂

Here’s where you can find them:

www.baseace.co.uk

Thanks very much to Brian for asking me to photograph them.

 

Every Chair tells a Story

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So I’d earmarked the last couple of days in my diary to knuckle down and get my annual accounts done, dusted and ready for my accountant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a lot to sway me from this arduous task.  Accounts and me, we just don’t gel well at all …

So when those lovely folk at Design Cuts came up with this remarkable value bundle  https://www.designcuts.com/product/the-gigantic-mockup-templates-bundle/ I simply couldn’t resist!

So many goodies at such a bargain price.  If you’re into design at all you could find this lot very handy indeed!!

As soon as I saw some of the chairs in the bundle, I could just visualise them working well with certain of my studio shots, as a series of portraits. So putting the accounts aside for an hour (or two!) I started creating.

Hence my “Chair Project” was born, the idea being that, by incorporating into the picture a chair or two and maybe another prop, might add a touch of storytelling to the scene.

Such as ….

Chair Project

OK, I know it doesn’t help get my accounts done, but projects like this and my 365 Photo-a-Day are vital to keep the old creative juices flowing, which in turn helps to keep my work fresh and the ideas coming when editing your portfolios too.

I’ll be adding these pics to my Instagram feed as and when, as well as any others I may add to the collection.  You can find me here https://www.instagram.com/fotografixgal/ and search for the hashtag #FotografixgalChairProject

Big thanks to Design Cuts for this incredible deal which I’m sure is going to inspire lots of other ideas too, and also to Studio Magic  https://www.layercakeelements.com/studio-magic which helps make creating these types of combis easier than it might otherwise be!

Such choice – I feel other projects coming on soon!!

In the meantime  … errr …. best get back to those accounts ….

Behind the Scenes of the “Watch Your Back” Campaign Photoshoot with Charlie Dimmock

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Yep, I have to admit it was a little strange seeing another photographer at work in my studio, but fascinating all the same to see how he expertly approached the task in hand and to witness how this photoshoot unfolded.

And all for a very good cause.

It all came about a couple of weeks before Easter when I got a call from Michelle at Caffeine Communications http://caffeinecommunications.co.uk/ She was looking for a studio space in the Romsey area to use for a photoshoot with Charlie Dimmock which was to take place on Easter Monday. As I was closed over the holiday weekend and the studio was going to be free, I was more than happy to offer my studio space.

Michelle explained that Charlie was fronting the new campaign of The Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research fund (MTMRF). The campaign is called Watch Your Back! and is aimed at men, in particular gardeners, to review their sun protection habits and get their backs checked often for any warning signs of melanoma. You can read more about the campaign here on their blog http://www.melanoma-fund.co.uk/whats-new-for-spring/  You’ll also see in the post the beautiful picture of Charlie from the session they ultimately chose for the campaign – which you may well see in a garden centre near you after the end of April as the campaign gets underway.

On the morning of the shoot Lee and I arrived bright and early and soon Paolo, the photographer, http://www.ferlapaolo.com/ and Shona https://twitter.com/ShonaAdeleWhite , the hair/makeup artist arrived, having travelled from Bath, followed shortly afterwards by Michelle.

As things got underway, I took a few shots on my phone, as well as a couple of video snippets.

Shona making sure everything is to hand

Shona making sure everything is to hand

...whilst Paolo sets up his lights

…whilst Paolo sets up his lights

Paolo had brought along his own lights and equipment and I found it very interesting to see how he was setting everything up as he chatted through the brief with Michelle.

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Interestingly, after trying out several different angles using Michelle as his test model, he decided he was going to use the studio the opposite way round to my normal set up for his first shots, incorporating the white table, which usually sits unobtrusively to the side of the room, to use as a prop in the pictures. The images automatically synced to Paolo’s laptop so he and Michelle could see them straightaway and decide if they were exactly what was needed.

Paolo decided against shooting the table scene this way round ...

Paolo decided against shooting the table scene this way round …

...when he reviewed the resulting images with Michelle

…when he reviewed the resulting images with Michelle

So the table was placed on the edge of the backdrop and Paolo set up his lighting so he could take pictures from the backdrop side of the table. Which was actually very effective.

Lee took Michelle to a local garden centre to buy a few props so it was down to me to stand in for a few more test shots.

Test shots of yours truely with the studio area behind, compared to the shot of Michelle taken with the white backdrop behind and the use of a coloured gel

Test shots of yours truely with the studio area behind, compared to the shot of Michelle taken with the white backdrop behind and the use of a coloured gel

In the meantime, Charlie Dimmock had arrived and Shona had made a start on her hair and makeup in the reception area.

It made a refreshing change to sit back and watch everyone doing their thing and seeing it all come fantastically together. No pressure, just had to keep the teas and coffees flowing!

Once Charlie was ready, the first shots were taken, with her sitting at the table, and various props such as lilies, plants, garden gloves,  were experimented with for some of the shots.

Session underway!

Session underway!

Once these shots were in the bag, there was a quick change of top for Charlie whilst Paolo changed the lighting setup to the other direction, now facing back towards the backdrop. He took some shots of Charlie to the front of the backdrop, then moved his lights to the back, and asked her to lean against the back wall, and he photographed her in this very relaxed pose. These shots were especially stunning and it was no surprise that it was one of these that was selected for the campaign.

Leaning against the backwall ...

Leaning against the backwall …

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…and some of the resulting shots

We then headed into the Basepoint Centre car park, fortunately relatively empty due to the bank holiday, for some outdoor shots. We moved one of the wooden benches to the front of a leafy area to the far end of the car park, which looked rather effective and rural in the pictures, with a few plants and pots strategically placed on the bench where Charlie sat.

It was a pretty windy day, but fortunately blowing in the right direction so Charlie’s gorgeous long tresses blew gently backwards. A wind machine couldn’t have done the job better! The sun made an appearance too – and thankfully no rain!

Haha it may look like a glorious sunny day in the stills but this little snippet shows just how blustery it was!

As you can see, it was quite a team effort – and no mean feat to stop those reflectors tossing and turning in the wind!

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And time for a quick phone photo opportunity…

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A couple of final shots final shots were taken of Charlie leaning against one of the trees and then it was a wrap!

Back in the studio Michelle took this pic of the “team”…

And it's a wrap!

And it’s a wrap!

1pm and time to say our goodbyes. It had been such an interesting morning; something a little different to the norm. Lee and I really enjoyed seeing how these very talented folk brought it all together, and seeing Paolo’s amazing pictures. Absolutely incredible.

Our thanks to all and wishing the campaign huge success in getting this important message across.

In the Beginning Part 2: 2006 Getting off the ground

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February 2006.  I had my nice little studio, plus the part time receptionist job to keep me going.  All I needed were some clients.

There was no social media of course in those days to help spread the word. I had placed an ad in a local magazine but that wasn’t due out for a few weeks. As you may remember from the previous post, I called upon friends and family to be my “guinea pigs” to help me on my way, so there were lots of opportunities to test everything out before the ad went live and “real” customers started to book in!

And so it did.

As is often the way with advertising, the enquiries trickled in at first. One booking here, another there, and another, if I were lucky, three weeks later.  I didn’t expect it to take off big time overnight, even if I did live in hope! I knew it would be tough going in the early days.

The part time receptionist job I was still doing wasn’t really for me, so three months in I found myself another local long term temporary job, working there a couple of days a week, which at the time fitted in well with the few bookings I was getting at the studio.

Then fate stepped in.

In late spring, I got a call out of the blue from a college asking to book us to go and photograph their prom. I said a very excited “yes” – but little did I know what I was letting us in for, especially with our somewhat limited experience at the time. It turned out to be quite a night!! Lee and I took our lights and backdrop to the venue to set up a studio there, and our youngest son came along to help – thank goodness! We sure needed the extra hands – it was utterly crazy!!!! I’m not quite sure how we made it through the evening. Although adrenaline and several wine gums helped, I seem to remember! It was absolutely exhausting, and we were frazzled at the end of it, but it was thankfully an overwhelming success – and we thoroughly enjoyed the buzz of it all!!

That was my first lucky break and from it came several new leads and clients.

Yes, business was picking up, but it was still early days. The expense of the studio was no way paying for itself as yet. I got to the point of wondering if I could afford to carry on, with keeping the studio at least, but after much discussion with Lee, we decided we had to give it a little more time. We’d ploughed so much into it so far, we simply had to persevere.

I was also getting requests for larger family groups to come in, but that first small studio just didn’t allow for lots of people at once. Rather than turn down these types of bookings, we took the bull by the horns and decided to move to a larger space, still at Basepoint http://www.basepoint.co.uk/locations/romsey. Fortunately the rent wasn’t too much of an increase and soon paid for itself as the extra space meant I could take on larger group bookings which I couldn’t before.

So by the summer of 2006 we had moved into Studio Number 2 !

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Studio Number 2

Then along came another great opportunity.

A local school rang and said they were looking for a photographer to go in one October weekend and do mini-sessions with as many of their families as possible and they’d like us to do it.

Woah – really? Did I hear that right? “Why, yes of course, thank you so much!”

It turned out to be just the opening we needed and a fantastic weekend – if very hectic – 40 photoshoots in two consecutive days – yikes!! Completely shattering, oh yes, but we learned heaps. Not to mention, we met loads of lovely families, some of whom could well be reading this.  You know who you are!!  Delighted to say many of you are still coming in today, as well as over the years pointing several of your friends in my direction, which was, and still is, fantastic.

So by the end of 2006, things were progressing just fine. I had a regular ad in prime position on the back page of a local free magazine which worked very well at the time, along with referrals from folk who had been in during the year and were spreading the word. And as more and more people were coming in and telling their pals, the bookings really started to snowball.

I was so very glad I had kept on going and not thrown in the towel when things got tough earlier in the year. It became time to give up the part time temporary job that had been keeping me afloat. I’d been happy there, but the studio was now at the stage of keeping me so busy, there just weren’t enough hours in the week for me to do both.

By January 2007, one year in, came another defining moment. I had outgrown studio number 2. I desperately needed room to hang all my sample wall display products and photobooks. I had accumulated quite a few by this time, but there just wasn’t enough space where we were to show them to their best advantage. Also, ideally, a separate reception area.

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Studios 1 & 2 were both in this building at Basepoint

We knew Basepoint had several workshops on site which were much larger, so decided to take a look at one. As we gazed around the huge empty warehouse, with its brick walls and stone floor, it was Lee I think, who said, “you know, we could make this work”.

And indeed we did.

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When I took the above pic of the Basepoint car park in August 2006, I had no idea that Unit 45, which coincidentally happened to be in the shot and at the time housed another company, would within a few months become home to Romsey Fotografix.

We went home and planned the layout, then took a trip to B&Q to order board to make partitions and flooring, wallpaper, etc – plus lots of white paint!  Then a lorra, lorra hard work over one weekend to put it all together, with the brilliant help of my lovely sister Lynne and her hubby. Shameless plug for Lynne’s page https://www.facebook.com/Lynne-Arty-Stuff

Back to the story …  once all the building and decorating was done, I had a carpet fitted over the rest of the stone floor to give it all a more homely feel. Then added some comfy chairs and display cabinets for the finishing touches.

Phew! Before you could say “cheese”, I had this amazing new studio with its large fixed backdrop for taking photos (hooray, no more paper backgrounds!!), a neat little waiting area, and plenty of space for displaying all my products.

Golly. Dream. Come. True. Pinch. Myself.

And so our third studio at Number 45 has served me well to this very day 🙂

Needless to say there have been lots of changes in other aspects of running the business since those early days – the advent and huge rise of social media for one and so many advances in technology. More about the impact this has all had in another post!