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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Here comes Summer!

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Isn’t it great occasionally to do something a little different from the norm?

This bank holiday weekend I set up a stylized shoot in the new studio. My main reasons for this being, a) to take some photos for my digital art projects using techniques I’ve been learning on the fabulous Photoshop Artistry and Awake courses ; and b) to create some studio images for my Shutterstock photo gallery (It’s still very much a work in progress with a very limited number of images at the moment. I’m working on it, but it’s a more involved process than I imagined.)

Anyway … back to Sunday’s shoot. My lovely model for the morning brought along loads of her own shoes, hats and bags, not to mention a fantastic mask, which is quite unique as she had very cleverly glued the feathers on herself. Perfect! As soon as I saw it inspiration sprang to mind in leaps and bounds!

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We also incorporated several of the props already in the studio, the bright orange deck chairs featured rather a lot – love, love, love ‘em!!! That bright orange really pops against the white backdrop!

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Summer and sunshine was of course the theme for the session what with the deckchairs, sun hats and shades! I was able to create a super variety of images.

I got Lee in on the act to pose for a couple of shots! And, dare I say it, even yours truly – even though I’m much more at home t’other side of camera!!! Suitably disguised of course – and yes, I really did wear these stilettos! Not to walk in mind, I know my limitations!! 😉

We joined in too

And sticking with the beach theme …

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Shoes anyone?  (Still working on the edit on most of the shoe pics!!)

Stepping out

I’m really pleased there’s a guitar in amongst the studio props! I’m sure this will prove popular with any “budding musicians” you may have in the family when you come in. Instruments always lend themselves nicely to some arty shots.  I’ve given these ones an impressionist feel!

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This session has really inspired me, as well as given me lots of images to play with. I am already planning the next creative shoots  based on other themes. The more you do, the more ideas seem to come flooding in!

Some you may think, “hey that’s pretty cool”, and others a resounding “blah!!”

Isn’t that just the thing with art and creativity: some things you put together work, and some things just don’t. In your own eyes at least. Whilst of course it’s an amazing feeling when the outcome of your creation makes you happy, it really doesn’t matter when it doesn’t. Experimenting and throwing caution to the wind is all part and parcel of the creative process. You don’t know until you try, and if it turns out to be a disaster chances are you will still have learned a lot, even if it’s what not to do next time. In your own opinion of course. You may find another person would absolutely love it!

That’s the funny thing about art.

I found one of the recent art projects for the Lifebook 2018 Art course I’m doing especially challenging and wasn’t at all happy with the end result. I uploaded to the private Facebook Group in any case as it’s always good to get constructive critique, but was astounded by the positive feedback – it gained more likes and loves and wows than any of the other artwork I had previously uploaded. Well I never – to think I nearly relegated it to the camera roll never to see the light of day!!

Just goes to show, eh? Which is why just doing your thing without worrying about what anyone will think is the way to go. Such freedom is quite exhilarating, and once that penny drops, and the pressure is off, ideas flow much better.

Here’s all the shots from Sunday’s photoshoot in a teeny collage! There are some duplications of course but still lots – you can see why they are taking me a while to edit!! You may need a magnifying glass to see them though!!

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“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

Oh so true!

 

Celebrating a New Beginning

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“And suddenly you just know…it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” -Meister Eckhart

Yep, you could say it was quite a spontaneous decision to move out of my studio at Basepoint! At Christmas I had absolutely no inkling that by Easter my lovely studio space – my second home for the last 12 years – would be back to its bare shell, workshop roots.

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Sometimes things happen quite out of the blue to take you on a different path you hadn’t even considered until that point, don’t they? In my case, I knew it would happen one day of course. In quiet moments whilst sitting in the studio waiting for shoots I would often glance around at my set up and imagine when that day would come and what it would feel like.

Now I know. It just happened to be sooner than I expected!

I guess the clincher was an increase in costs this year which made us look at everything closely and decide whether to stay and increase my prices, which I really didn’t want to do, or find an alternative.

The solution, we discovered quite quickly, thanks to a brief Google search. Hive Studios. It immediately looked like the perfect answer.

After further research and a visit, we found Hive Studios to be very well-equipped. There’s also a changing area/makeup room and also a welcoming reception area. What had been a distinct possibility, soon became a no-brainer.

Hive Studios – looks great eh?

I can hire studio space there as and when I need it, as well as block book certain days. This arrangement suits me very well. As many of you I’m sure know, the vast majority of a photographer’s work is done at a desk, editing photos and processing orders – taking photos is but a small part of the overall process. In my case my desk is at home, which means my studio was empty a lot of the time. So paying for a studio premises on a full time basis, whilst a nice luxury, doesn’t actually make great financial sense.

I decided to take a block booking out at Hive Studios for Sunday mornings, which is my most popular day, and other days I can request as and when necessary. Hive Studios have kindly allowed me to take lots of my trusty props with me and keep at their studio, which was a real bonus! Some things you just can’t do without!!

I will be doing lots more outdoor lifestyle shoots too which I really enjoy!

With anything new comes changes of course and this link will tell you more the types of shoots I will be doing in the studio and outdoors, and also changes I have made to the booking system.

It’s been quite a full on couple of weeks sorting it all out! Last weekend, we hired a large van to empty the studio of all the furniture and props we were taking with us. The snow was a little inconvenient!! However, we got lots done.  We took a load of stuff to Hive Studios, and all the remaining furniture we offered to other business owners at Basepoint and to friends on Facebook, and luckily it was all snapped up very quickly.

This weekend we hired some Abbey Grab Bags so I could throw in the backdrop and floor panels as Lee dismantled them. It all came to bits more easily and quicker than we anticipated. Thank goodness.

Didn’t he do well?

It looks like Lee was doing all the work as these pictures might suggest!! I did do my fair share, honest guv, I wasn’t just snapping away on my phone at him working hard!! Although of course I had to take plenty of pics! Obviously I want some good memories of the place that has been so close to my heart all these years, eh!!!

Now, it’s all done and dusted! Feels mighty strange to see it in its guise of being a warehouse again.

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Those 4 walls have sure seen a lot of emotions within them throughout those years – happy, smiling faces; contagious giggles; tears of joy; squeals of laughter; screams of excitement; baby cries and chuckles; toddler tantrums; family get togethers; surprises; hilarious party shoots, etc., etc..  Capturing so many of your special moments here has been such a joy … seeing your offspring grow from babies to teens, and from children to adults, has always been a particular highlight.

Each time I’ve gone in over in the last few weeks, since knowing I’d be moving, different memories have sprung to mind. Golly, so many brilliant times!

Of course, I won’t be leaving behind all these memories, they’ll stick with me forever! And I look forward to creating many more for you! It may be a sad goodbye to Basepoint, but it’s also a very enthusiastic hallo to Hive Studios and to lots of photo sessions in the great outdoors too!

It all dismantled quicker than expected – not this quick though!

As I come to the end of this chapter in my Romsey Fotografix story, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Basepoint over the years who have made it such a lovely place to be. A very special thank you to Kate, Sam and Neil from the Romsey Basepoint Office, who are always on hand to help whenever we pop by, with their cheery smiles, and organising various social and business events during the year to make it special for the licencees. I shall miss you all.

And, of course, a huge thank you to every one of you who has ever stepped foot into 45 Basepoint, and for being so supportive over the years. It means such a lot to me. I look forward to welcoming you to Hive Studios or meeting you for a photoshoot in the New Forest, in your garden, or even on the beach!

My biggest thank you of all is to Lee, who has worked so hard, making my dreams come true, and without whom none of this would have been possible. Thanks, lovely hubby.

And here’s an outtake of me attempting to lock the door for the last time at 45. Clumsy me, if only I’d remembered to take the key out of my pocket first!! Haha 🙂

 

 

Celebrate Endings – For they Precede New Beginnings

– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

 

Almost there!

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So here we are again, another Christmas almost upon us and another year nearly gone by! It’s such a hectic time of year isn’t it, filled with mixed emotions from huge excitement in anticipation, to utter panic making sure everything gets done!

It’s a rollercoaster ride that’s for sure – but we usually get there in the end, eh!

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Its been pretty crazy here; not complaining of course, I am truly thankful that you love your pictures and the kind things you say about them, and of course, for your valued custom. It’s just having that same deadline for everything (ie Christmas!) that creeps up before you know it – it can get a little overwhelming! Happy to report that everything is now done and delivered. Phew!

I’m sure it’s the same for you, and before we know it, the big day has come and gone!

Hope 2017 has been a good one for you. For Lee and I, outside of work, we had the house move of course, which wasn’t even on our radar this time last year, but happy to say has worked out fabulously, we’ve settled in well and absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our new place.

The trials and tribulations of moving did mean that certain things, such as my personal Photo of the Day Project, which some of you may remember I have been doing over the last few years, and have really enjoyed, had to take a bit of a back seat. Eventually, I got so far behind with updating the Diary I kept with each daily photo, it became more of a task than a pleasure to try and get it all back up to date, so I sadly had to let it go. For now at least.

However, I am very excited to have been getting back into art, and intend to do as much as possible in the new year. The hectic lead up to Christmas has meant putting it to one side for a few weeks, but I hope to get really stuck in over the holiday. I have lots of creative ideas milling through my head and can’t wait to start again! It’s so therapeutic!! On one hand it complements my photography, helping to keep ideas flowing, but on t’other, it’s different enough to take me away from it all and lose myself in the dreamy world of artiness! Bliss!!

Exciting news too, we are planning on opening a commercial side to Romsey Fotografix in 2018, with Lee at the helm! I love my “people photography” so have never really promoted product photography before, but it’s something Lee excels at. It’s early days and we are still working it all out, but I’ll be giving you more info as soon as I can.

I am closing for the Christmas break from Friday 22 December until Wednesday 3rd January. Quite a busy holiday, as this year we are having two Christmas Days – yay!!! It’s the first year ever we won’t be spending the 25th with both our boys, as our youngest son isn’t able to be with us on the big day itself.  We knew it would happen sometime and understand of course, but all the same it will be strange without him there at our annual large family gathering, so we’re doing it all again on 28th December – in our new abode!

I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been in; to meeting so many new faces, and seeing again lots of familiar ones! Thanks for your continued custom, and to all of you for keeping the studio atmosphere alive with your laughter and giggles!  It means such a lot to me and I feel truly blessed. You’re wonderful!!!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas – have a wonderful time, and a very Healthy, Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Equine Photo Session … behind the scenes

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“To ride a horse is to fly without wings”

Equine photoshoot

Much as I love horses, I must admit to having very little first-hand knowledge of them, let alone ever learned to ride. Even though a part of me has always imagined that it must be a fantastic feeling, taking to the saddle, wind in hair and galloping across the land – just like in the movies! 😉

In personal projects, I really enjoy taking photographs of the ponies in the New Forest, albeit mainly from a distance – and often from the other side of a fence!

So, I was really thrilled to be invited to do this equine photo session at a stables in Lymington.

When Lee and I arrived at the location, we were first introduced to the beautiful mare, Orla, who was being prepped for her “photoshoot” by her lovely owners. I joined them in her stable to start taking pictures as she was being groomed and saddled up – it was brilliant to be so close and get these natural shots, and very interesting to see what was involved.

Once Orla was all spruced up, we headed over to the paddock.

First up some shots of the star attraction. Isn’t she beautiful!

Then pictures of her with the family.

Then the action shots!

Lee was on hand with my phone to take a few snippets of video for a little behind the scenes glimpse!

Luckily the weather was perfect … sunshine and clouds, with blue sky peeking through – much more interesting in photos than cloudless days. I decided to make the most of it to add a little drama to some of the images, so took several of the pictures from a low vantage point so as to feature as much of the sky as possible.

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Equestrian clothing completed the scene – the amazing period style attire was truely something else!! It made for some gorgeous shots (and the opportunity for me to get a little arty!)

So a first Equine Photo Session for me – and hopefully not the last (hint, hint anyone?) 😉

Loved it! Thank you so much for the lovely family who made it possible for me – and of course to Orla who was very obliging!

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 🙂

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!