The Lion, The Ape and The Whimsical!

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Fresh back from our holiday, just in time for the half term break, so guess some of you may be taking a holiday yourselves this week. Enjoy!

We packed lots in to ours, had a few super days in Kent, got away from it all and included a quick visit to Margate for a bit of reminiscing. My grandparents had a pub/hotel there back in the day so it became a bit like a second home at the time, many, many moons ago of course. Now it’s a pub no more, it’s an antique shop in fact, but the building itself, even the interior, are still much the same. Bought back a few memories 😊

We also had a brilliant day out to Longleat, strangely somewhere I’d never been before considering it’s not a million miles away. Really glad we went, I’m sure many of you have been there too, and if you haven’t, it’s well worth the visit. The safari park is quite an adventure as you drive through, with the monkeys clambering all over the car, so amusing, then lions walking strolling by the car window. Surreal.  Fantastic for taking pictures needless to say. The entry ticket also includes a boat trip where you see a 56 year old gorilla on his own little island, with his own house – complete with his very own smart TV (seriously folks, apparently he loves watching it!!!). The two resident hippos were sleeping at the lake’s edge, we could just about see their backs poking out of the water; then came the opportunity to feed the sea lions by throwing fish from the boat – more amazing photo opportunities!

I’ve had a ball practising my digital art too. At the moment I’m veering along the whimsical route, as I love this particular style. Using techniques I’ve learned from the course, I’ve also been incorporating some of my own hand drawings of whimsical type faces, such as in the pic below, and then combining these in Photoshop with textures and other elements, floral etc which I have acquired since starting the course. I became the proud owner of an Ipad Pro and IPencil a few days ago so have been using those to do my initial drawing – boy have they been a revolution!! Along with the brilliant Procreate App, which transforms the Ipencil into virtually any medium you can imagine, you can sketch and paint to your hearts content! Awesome fun 😊

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Haha but fear ye not 😉 I’ve put my drawing hat aside for now, and am getting back into the swing of things post holiday. As happens after time away, there’s lots to catch up on and this week is busier than usual with shoots as the schools are off, which is lovely and I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and some new ones too!! Thanks so much for your patience whilst I’ve been away and as I work my way through the backlog. I enlisted some editing help whilst I was on holiday to enable me to keep on top of things as much as possible and I’m now getting cracking on with outstanding orders and preparing galleries in between my studio sessions, so I’ll contact you soon if you’ve been in touch whilst I’ve been away.

So here we are again, that busy, busy time leading up to Christmas, which will be here before we know, and with the clocks going back next weekend it will really feel like winter with the dark evenings upon us.

This means it must be time for an offer!!! Yay!!!!  I have that very special gift voucher deal coming up – a £50 studio voucher for only £25 and a £100 gift voucher for only £50 (did someone say half price?) – available to buy for one day only!! I’ll announce the date you will be able to get yours in the next day or so. Ideal Christmas pressies!!

Just one more thing to mention for now … a new security system at Basepoint means anyone coming for a Sunday session will find the front gates closed and will have to gain access by pressing a button on the gate which alerts me in my unit so I can let you in. I’ll be emailing those of you concerned with more info soon and will update website etc with more details soon.

 

Happy half term!

 

 

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.

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!

How it all Began: Dreams DO come true

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Have you ever had a dream and felt it could never in a million years come true?  Me too. But when you really set your mind on something, dreams can become reality! 

As mine did.

I guess it was in the October of 2005 I had yet another one of “those” moments in the job I was doing at the time; you know, one of those days, nothing going to plan, just banging your head on a brick wall despite your best efforts. You feel like screaming rather loudly and walking out there and then.

I didn’t walk out at that moment, tempting though it was, but I did think, “what on earth am I doing, spending the best part of my life feeling unhappy, doing such a thankless task” (as indeed I felt the role I was doing was). A feeling which was becoming more and more regular. If it hadn’t been for the smashing people I worked with, I’m sure I wouldn’t have stuck it out for the 5 years I did.

One day something happened, I can’t even recall exactly what, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew I couldn’t put up with it any longer. I rang Lee and asked him what he thought of the idea of my opening a photography studio?

He didn’t bat an eyelid! Well he knows I can be very determined when push comes to shove and best to go with it than against 😉 So he just said, “Why not? Go for it!!” Bless him.

We both knew leaving my job AND taking on the commitment of a premises was a pretty drastic move all in one go. But I’d been doing a bit of research as to the units Basepoint http://www.basepoint.co.uk/locations/romsey had to offer and because of their easy in/easy out clause, I knew I wouldn’t be committed to the premises for a long period of time should things not go to plan.

We’d been doing photography in our spare time for a number of years, at clients’ houses and a few weddings for friends, so it was something I knew I really loved and couldn’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend my working days.

So, having got the go ahead from his nibs, straight after that phone call I gave in my notice. Shortly afterwards we went to see Basepoint to secure a unit.

All too easy. Then it hit. Errrrr …. Yikes what have we done!!!! #ScaryMoment

Our premises would be ready in January, and I was lucky in that my boss allowed me to work a couple of months’ notice, rather than the usual one, so the timing was great. I left there at Christmas 2005; in the meantime I’d found myself a part time receptionist job to begin from January, to coincide with starting up the studio. Had to keep some pennies rolling in while I was getting it off the ground!

Then it was all systems go – loads to sort out!

A real toughie was coming up with a name for the new business, knowing that once you’ve settled on something you’re kind of stuck with it for the duration. Lee and I did a lot of brain storming and came up with all sorts of things, eventually settling on Romsey Fotografix. I’m probably more fond of the name now than when I first decided upon it. I ‘spose it’s the familiarity thing and relating it to the good times it’s brought me. The biggest drawback was, and still is, the spelling which seems to cause no end of confusion. Invariably Fotografix is spelt wrongly … Photografix, Fotographix, Photographics, and all sorts of other weird and wonderful varieties!

In a previous life, I’d run a small graphic design business for several years, Lasting Impressions, so I was familiar with what running a business entails, although on a much smaller scale as I’d had no premises and overheads as such.  Luckily our accountant at the time, who I’d known for years through working with him on the other company, gave us some great advice and generally helped us along our way with that side of things.

A website of course was crucial. After a bit of Googling I found a provider who specialises in websites for photographers called Photium and I have kept with them until this day. They are great to deal with and it’s very straightforward to update and put my own slant on. Ideal.

MOVING IN

So having spent the best part of January 2006 sorting out the nitty gritty, it was finally time to move in!

So this very date, 27 January 2006, we got everything in and set it all up. Then I took stock of the space that was to be my very own studio. Wow! It was a heady mix of emotions for sure … thrilling, exciting, nerve racking, daunting … you get the picture! I had to pinch myself as it all seemed a bit too good to be true!

That very first studio space was in one of Basepoint’s smallest offices. It was a tight squeeze that’s for sure, as you can see from the pic! But we managed to fit in a backdrop and a few chairs, plus those trusty tubs which have travelled along the journey with me!   It was a lovely light and airy space so worked pretty well.

But …. eeeeek … there was still such a long way to go!

I did loads of practice shoots with the help of my lovely family and friends. This gave me much needed valuable experience, as well as some pictures to put on the website and use in my advertising. I was learning a lot, discovering what worked best and what didn’t, both in the photos I was taking, and the way the studio was set up. Even though Lee and I had been taking pictures in people’s homes for a while, they had been of the more traditional and formal type, with the old style backdrops and the sort of “sit and smile” approach, as was still fairly normal at that time.

However those types of images were a definite “NO, NO, NO” for my new studio. Oh indeed! Nothing formal about it! It was going to be fun, fun, fun all the way!! Fortunately it was a way of working  that came very naturally to me. But nonetheless, lots to learn.

Do you know what my biggest wake-up call was? A month or two in, a (needless to say) anonymous person sent me a very rude message via the website basically saying that my photos were awful – and that would be the polite way of putting it! I was absolutely mortified! Talk about give my confidence a rocking. I had thought I was coming along OK, but then again I was mainly still taking photos of family and friends who were, naturally, being very complimentary.

That nasty comment in fact did me a huge favour. I took a good hard look at my pictures. Then I took a good look again at other more experienced photographers’ websites, plus those of some of the pros who are top of the game. Then another look at my own. And I thought to myself, “hmmm, maybe this person has got a point”.

From that moment on I knew I had to seriously up my game else it might be game over!

Being a successful people photographer, is much more than having an expensive camera and being able to take a decent photo and all the technical stuff that is part and parcel of that. It’s also, and probably more importantly, about bringing out the best in folk, making them feel great in front of the camera, knowing when to click the shutter at just the right moment, and lots more besides. These things start to become instinctive the more experienced you become.  This quote by Paul Caponigro kind of sums it up “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”

It made me realise that I must never, ever rest on my laurels or get complacent. There is always room for improvement and always will be.

A philosophy that sticks with me to this very day.

And so things were underway. Now it was just the small matter of finding some clients 🙂 I’ll save that one for the next instalment!

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Back to normality … and a special anniversary coming up!

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There we are then. The holidays are done and dusted for another year; decorations are all back in the loft, house is back to normal, delicious festive treats are (nearly) all eaten and enjoyed. 2016 is officially underway!

Hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year break? Ours was one of mixed emotions, we had a super Christmas Day itself with all the family. But December was overshadowed with sadness, with two funerals to go to, both on the first and the last day of the month. Made us count our blessings even more so than usual.

So, into the New Year. This month, as you may remember, is the 10th anniversary of Romsey Fotografix. Those years have sure flown by in the blink of an eye but have brought with them a giant bucket load of fantastic moments and opportunities along the way.

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It’s been such an amazing decade in my life; meeting so many lovely families; photographing your children as they grow up, and (hopefully) providing you with some treasured memories at the same time. Also, learning so much along the way, doing my best to keep up to speed with all the latest technology and software, along with the onset of social media and researching all about that, and joining as many training courses as I’ve been able to fit in.

All of which I find extremely fulfilling.

As I’ve said many a time, it’s a job I absolutely LOVE! In fact, how can I call it a ‘job’? OK, it keeps me extremely busy, but no complaints there! Most of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all.

In the next few weeks I’ll be posting about how Romsey Fotografix came about and the way things have changed over the years, as indeed they have in so many ways! Oh, and look out for some giveaways and offers!  Also I’m delving into my archives to show several of your ‘then and now’ pictures. Thanks to everyone so far who has kindly given me permission to do so – if you haven’t already and would be happy for me to include some of your previous pictures from way back when, alongside your more recent shoots, please let me know.

 Onwards and upwards !!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year 🙂

Christmases Past & Present

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This time of year always makes me feel a bit nostalgic. Does it you?  Looking back over Christmases gone by; remembering how magical it was when our kids were little, and even further back to the good old days to my own childhood, and the various different Yuletides we’ve spent over the years.

Here’s a snippet from some cine film my dad took of my sister and I eagerly unwrapping our presents on my second-ever Christmas. Things may have been a little more frugal for everyone in those days, but the magic and excitement was just the same. We loved every second, and it’s wonderful to have this little bit of “movie magic” to look back on.

Fast forward many years, and that magical glow of the festive season all came flooding back when we had our boys – I’m not sure who used to be the most excited on those Christmas mornings when they were young, them … or us, as we watched their happy little faces, unwrapping endless presents, usually at about 6am, whilst we took loads of photos and video footage to record the happy times. I’ll bet lots of you can relate to that feeling when watching your little ‘uns ripping open their presents on Christmas morning 🙂 For us, it’s a double whammy, as our eldest son’s birthday is on Christmas Eve – when they were small, the excitement in our house was two days running, and almost always ended in tears as it all got a bit overwhelming!

Funny thing Christmas. It can be equally as stressful as it can be amazing. The daunting prospect of so much to do and never enough time. But we all usually get there in the end. We agonise over what gifts to give our friends and family; get caught up in the pre-Xmas hype and ads, and often end up spending more than intended – only to see half the stuff we bought at a fraction of the price the day after Boxing Day! Annoying, eh? Yet, even though we know that, it doesn’t put most of us off doing the same every single year.

The same old, familiar, Christmas songs can be heard from about mid-November, wherever you go, but we love ‘em (er, don’t we?). Oh, and I’ll never tire of singing along to the Carols and hearing the Christmas Story.

No doubt lots of you are enjoying watching your children in their school Christmas plays and nativities just now … sigh … I remember my boys in their school festive productions with such fondness, always bought a tear to my eyes, as no doubt is the same for you. Proud moments 🙂

And please, don’t even get me started on the slushy Christmas movies!! Should I admit to my guilty secret, oh alright then …I absolutely love them!!! Addicted I think might be the word. You will find me many a night in December, beavering away at my computer into the small hours working on orders and edits, with a Christmas movie on in the background which I’ll glance up at every now and then. Yes, I’ve seen most of them before, and yes, they ARE very predictable indeed (Lee reckons most of them are the same script with different names, as if!) … but one thing is for sure, they almost always end on a note to warm the cockles of your heart. Or is that just soppy old me they have that effect on?

The Big Day is here before we know it. Santa does his deliveries as efficiently as ever, chomping on millions of mince pies along the way 😉 ; little children wake up their mums and dads at the crack of dawn, eager to see what he has brought them; turkeys in ovens, sprouts and veggies peeled, pressies opened over a Bucks Fizz. It can be a time of great joy, with maybe the one time of year all the family get together. But it can also be a time of sadness, memories of loved ones no longer here to spend it with us.

You know, life may be more high tech these days, but how we spend our Christmases hasn’t really changed much at all since my dear dad took that cine film of us all those years ago. The traditions we all know and love would seem to be here to stay.

 Whatever you may be doing, may you have a wonderful time.