Vokesy

Photographer of weddings and people around Birmingham and the Midlands

How to photograph your kids Russian style!

Never work with animals or children, that’s what they say isn’t it?! When you photograph kids, that’s kinda tricky. Any of my friends on facebook will know how many photos I take of my daughter, and in fact anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will also know. Russian mom Elena Shumilova takes it to the next level and shows you how she does it. This post is courtesy of the guys and girls at Smugmug, thanks for bringing this talented lady to our attention!

How to Photograph Your Kids

This famous mom photographer shares her secrets.

Last year, Elena Shumilova took photos of her sons as they played by the Russian countryside. She uploaded the photos online, then they started getting shared, and shared again… until they became a viral sensation, with over 60 million views.

These photos hit something magical all across the Internet — a sense of nostalgia for a childhood past. She even started getting letters from people in their nineties, saying the photos moved them to tears.

As parents, we instinctively want to take photos of our kids. We’re trying to preserve this brief slice of time before they grow up. But when we take our kids to professional photo studios, the results can end up looking stilted and unnatural.

We want to remember our kids as they actually are — not with the forced smile a stranger coaxed out of them at the studio, but with the real smiles and giggles they share with us every day.

How can we capture natural photos of our kids, the kind Elena seemingly has a magic touch for?

Photo by Ivan Makarov

Elena has mostly been quiet since her photos have gone viral, undistracted by all the media attention. Instead, she focuses on raising her kids and continues to photograph them every day.

Photo by Ivan Makarov

Given how quiet Elena has been, we’re excited to share a behind-the-scenes look at her in action. She invited us onto her farm in Russia, where we asked her to share how she captures these beautifully nostalgic photos.

This is what she had to say.

5 Tips to Get Better Photographs of Your Kids

by Elena Shumilova

Watch a video of Elena demonstrating these tips.

1. How to get your kids to look natural, not “posed.”

So you catch your kids in the perfect moment — they’re outside playing and laughing, the lighting is just right, and you see this perfect picture you want to capture. You rush to get out your camera, but then…

They see the camera. They stiffen up. They start posing. The moment is lost.

What do you do?

When photographing children, the single most important thing is to photograph them often — every day.

You can’t just do it sporadically, or they’ll freeze up as soon as the camera comes out. Consistency is key. That way they’ll be comfortable around the camera.

It’s these everyday scenes that you want to capture — the ones you’ll remember best when they grow up.

 

To get the most genuine photos, I try to catch them in the moment — when they’re playing with each other and have completely forgotten about the camera.

Here they’re playing “airplanes,” a game we also play together at lunchtime when they’re feeling picky about their food.

Watch Elena explain how she captures her nostalgic photos:

2. The types of clothes that work the best.

I follow a pretty simple rule: clothes shouldn’t be distracting. They shouldn’t take attention away from what’s happening in the photo.

 

For such a simple rule, it’s harder to follow than you might think. Kids’ clothes today are designed to grab your attention—with bright colors, cartoon characters, and writing all over them. In photographs, all this takes attention away from your kids.

When I started pursuing photography seriously, I actually replaced all their outfits. This took quite a while to do, but now I know that anything I pull from their closet won’t interfere with the photo.

3. How to best capture kids of different ages.

Newborns
A lot of parents have asked me about this photo — how did you get your one-month-old to look so calm? Infants are notoriously difficult to photograph because they’re often crying or fidgeting.

Here you’ll have an advantage as a parent. I’m his mom. I’m around him 24 hours a day, and I know when he cries and when he doesn’t. Let your parenting instinct help you choose the right moment.

The Golden Age: Ages 2–4
Something I noticed while photographing many children, including my own, is that there seems to be a universal age when kids are the most photogenic.

That seems to happen between ages two and four.

Kids around this age behave very naturally. They don’t care that someone is looking at them, they don’t care what others think, and they don’t care that a camera is pointed at them.

They aren’t yet self aware. And so, they’re free.

Ages 5 and Older
It gets a bit more difficult when they’re older. As early as age five, they start to become more self-conscious when the camera comes out. They start to pose.

The key here is to be very patient. Let them play while you disappear into the background. My best photos always happen at the end of a photo shoot, when my kids have forgotten all about the camera.

Photo by Ivan Makarov

4. How to get good photos of your kids with pets.

Just like people, every animal is different. Some pets like to be photographed, and others don’t.

Because every pet is different, there isn’t a magic formula for this. I spend hours observing our farm animals, figuring out how they move and what angles work best for them — just like I would for people.

I’ve also tried bribing pets with food, but it doesn’t work. It’s almost impossible to get a good picture when they’re chewing or licking their paws. So I’ve learned the hard way not to feed our pets during photo shoots.

With animals, you have to rely on a bit of luck — and constant patience.

5. Don’t give up.

This is the most famous photo I’ve taken. It’s been viewed over 10 million times — but I almost didn’t bring my camera that day.

Before I took this photo, my confidence was at a pretty low point. I had tried for a photo of my son and dog 14 other times — not 14 other photos, but 14 full photo shoots, all failures.

I was convinced that my hands were too clumsy, or my dog was not the right dog for it, or my kid was not the right kid for it. I was just feeling desperate that day and didn’t even want to bring my camera.

But something told me to bring it. And on that fifteenth day, it all just came together.

This dog of ours is now famous — but he’s not all that photogenic from most angles. He’s actually a pretty difficult dog to work with. From the previous 14 photo shoots, I’d learned what angles and body compositions work for him and my son.

It‘s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to think, “Oh, why bother, it won’t work anyway.” And it may not for the first 14 times. Those 14 photo shoots weren’t failures though, because I learned from them. And they’re what made the fifteenth one possible.

Don’t give up.

For when you get frustrated.

Photo by Ivan Makarov

When I was first starting out, I got frustrated easily. I used to create these elaborate setups — I’d bring my kids to a special place, in special clothes, at a special time with the lighting just right. I’d arrange it all. And naturally, I started to feel like they owed me a good photo.

But I started getting better photos when I realized: no one owes me anything.

If you get frustrated, your kids will sense it and won’t want to participate anymore. Which just creates a vicious cycle of more frustration. When I stopped feeling entitled to a good photo, I was more relaxed. It was more fun for me and for them.

Rather than creating high-pressure elaborate setups, observe your kids in everyday simple situations. Do it every day. Bring your camera along.

And then — when the right moment comes along — you’ll be ready.

See more of Elena’s photos on her SmugMug print site.

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The year ahead

Often I come on here and just don’t know where to begin.

Today is one of those days.

One of the biggest features of the last few days was a trek to the Lake District with some work colleagues, as we were planning to get to the top of Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. It was part of our training for our three peaks challenge, which for those of you that don’t know is: Scafell Pike – the highest point in England, Snowdon – the highest point in Wales and Ben Nevis – the highest point in Scotland, all done within a time limit. Usually this time limit is all three, including the driving, done in 24 hours. We have decided to go with the alternative option of all three, with driving time excluded, done in 15 hours.

Recently, as part of our training, a small group of us headed up Snowdon. It was useful in terms of highlighting a number of issues that even though we’d planned in detail, we’d still managed to overlook. So doing Scafell Pike, you’d have thought couldn’t throw any more surprises at us… but it did! Both myself and another colleague were particularly ill, and struggled with the physical effort involved in getting both up and down the mountain. Then there was the subject of where to stop for lunch, as quite unlike Snowdon, there was no cafe at the top, just a pile of rocks, surrounded by cloud and icy cold blasts of wind, It wasn’t somewhere you wanted to hang around long! Then the critical issue of no phone coverage! Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was a genuine, bona-fide problem considering I have almost totally given up my Tom Tom and replaced it with the rather amazing Waze app on my phone, a superb and somehow free app. The only problem with Waze is that you need a 3G signal or better to help it locate you and plan your route. Without a good data signal the phone does little more than make calls and send text messages, it certainly fails at being a sat nav by a long way! Then there was the fact that our original group split, not into just two groups, one fast, one slow, but into a further third group in the middle who didn’t to fall behind, but weren’t keeping up with the faster group.

So we had things to be thinking about before the actual weekend of the climb where we’d have much bigger group numbers, and no room for problems as we wouldn’t be heading home between mountains this time!

In this particular photo of myself, near the summit of Scafell Pike, I am smiling and look happy, although secretly I was dying and crying a river inside. The mind was willing, but the flesh was weak! I’d picked up yet anther virus and was struggling, really struggling on this climb. My body just wanted to curl on and go back to bed! I thought I could probably just push through it, but nearly collapsed several times on the way down as I got closer and closer to the bottom! My legs had totally given up, on what should have been a fairly easy walk! I was eventually able to rest them and stretch the muscles enough so that I could at the very least climb back in and continue to drive the bus back home, although it did highlight the issue of making sure we have enough drivers on hand that weekend to each do their stint of driving, rather than just relying on one or two people. The only mountain we didn’t practise is the only one I haven’t been up yet, Ben Nevis! On a plus note, we did get to test the walkie talkies I bought and they were a success!

If anyone is keen to help, we are all doing this challenge, and facing the elements in order to raise money for a local charity close to our hearts, especially considering the nature of our jobs, and that is Resources For Autism and you can help by sponsoring a small amount (or large if you’re feeling generous and its the right side of payday for you!) by going to our team JustGiving page. We’re still a long way off our target  yet, and would be grateful for every single donation, no matter how small!

The only available day to climb happened to coincide with fathers day here in the UK and sadly I couldn’t be in two places at once. I was treated to a very nice surprise when I got home from my walk though, the wife apparently knows me very well!

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For my green fingered friends, I have been able to get more done in the garden recently and I am quite proud of the fact that I have vegetables growing out there and not just flowers, even though the flowers are very beautiful and doing wonders for the bee population! With the loss of the joint allotment I shared with my friend I was left with a lot of vegetable seeds, some of which I had already planted and had started growing. Now I have turned a corner of the garden into a mini allotment, which I thought the wife would protest at, but she has been very supportive about it. We have some cucumbers beginning to appear, the broccoli and brussel sprouts are doing very well and should be ready for late autumn, the cabbage is down and starting to grow, the french beans have found the garden canes and are starting to climb them, the strawberries are doing well and the first strawberry has even begun to appear, and the onions have finally gone in the ground. In the greenhouse the tomato plants look as if we are about to have a tomato explosion, although my habanero and cayenne chilli plants have massively failed for some strange reason this year! Oh well, you can’t win them all!

Olivia apple 1

The apple tree I planted at the top of the garden is coming on a treat, however, and has even started to grow its first apple this year! This will come as much of a delight to Olivia, who in the last 10 days has literally discovered apples and has pretty much announced them as her favourite food of all time, she just can’t get enough of them and will often hold onto one for several hours taking occasional bites from it just when you think its ready for the bin!

What have you got growing in your garden at the moment?

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Summer is just around the corner

Its Sunday night and I am hoping I will have time to get this blog started and finished before bed, without it being the middle of the night before I finish!

The weeks are slipping by at quite a rate now, in the big countdown to the summer holidays. We have just five weeks left, and then the whole summer off, and I’m a little excited about this one. Olivia will be a much more fun age, we’ll be able to get out and about and do things and see people, and then of course there is the holiday as well! Four nights away in Cornwall with the family, I really can’t wait! We’ve been given a whole bunch of leaflets from a work colleague who goes there often, to help us plan our time down there. I don’t like to have holidays set in stone, and tick items off on a clipboard as we do them, but I do like to have a vague idea of things to do if its sunny, and things to do if its raining. When you only have a short time away with the family, its no good being sat around for half a day trying to work out what you’re going to do with whats left of the day. All we can really hope for is some nice weather so that we can keep all our options open, but this is Britain in August we’re talking about, the weather is no more guaranteed than the roll of a dice! August may seem like it should be hot and dry, but of all the weddings I have photographed, it is also the most temperamental month!

Thankfully, even though June has proved to be a bit colder than expected so far, at least it has stayed reasonably dry and the rain hasn’t caused too much of an impact on cycling, but when you are cycling home on a Friday knowing you have the weekend stretched out ahead of you then even a downpour wouldn’t really bother me that much! Friday evenings are all about kicking off the shoes, relaxing and letting the stress of the week just drain away. We put a pizza in the oven, poured a drink and put a film on. The latter part is always a gamble, trying to find a film that the wife won’t fall asleep through, or fail to understand. My choice this weekend was called Traffic, three separate story lines, apparently unrelated, all about the american futile war on drugs and how it effects different people. Not necessarily one I’d have normally chosen, but the imdb reviews all looked quite positive, and so I thought it was worth a gamble. It turned out to be quite a good film, interesting and a real eye opener, and the extra bonus is that Clare managed to stay awake through most of it.

Saturday was set to be a busy day for me, starting off first thing with 3 hours looking after J again, which was hampered by the rain, as he is quite energetic and loves getting outside. So it was time for plan B and  some indoor activities. From there I had to shoot home once I was finished and let the wife get ready to go out as she was meeting friends in town, while I took Olivia over to see my nan. As it has been a while since I saw my nan, far too long in fact, and I’d like to get over much more often, but for one reason or another there just doesn’t seem to have been the time recently. I feel a bit bad about it, especially with my nan at her age, as she can’t get about much like she used to and relies on people visiting, and obviously she’s no spring chicken anymore, you just don’t know how long grandparents will be around for when they start creeping towards 90! I really want Olivia to remember seeing her, and not just from photos that she looks at when she’s older. I really must make more of an effort to get over a lot more often. Once I’d left my nan’s it was time to head home and start getting dinner ready as we were feeding my sister and her boyfriend, who would be baby sitting Olivia for us later that evening while we popped out to a quiz. It was a good day, and the only problem with being on the go all day is that the day seems to go so much faster! In fact it actually seems crazy that we are pretty much halfway through the year, we are as close to putting christmas decorations up as we are to the last time we took them down! Where does the time go? Our little lady is two years old soon, and I’d be lying if I said we’d even begun to think about what we’re going to do to mark the occasion! If you want something really depressing to think about, this Sunday marks the longest day of the year, which means every day from them on is going to get shorter and shorter! I know, I really didn’t need to put that out there, but you’d have figured it out soon enough anyway, so don’t blame me for highlighting it! It has been lovely enjoying these lighter evenings though, I was even out tonight doing some gardening at 9:30pm because I could. The wife was in bed early and I never sit around and watch tv anyway, there is rarely anything on that I want to watch, to the point I do actually question why I pay so much for Sky TV each month. I have thought about getting rid of it, but the reality is that we get our phone line and broadband from them anyway, and the TV really isn’t that much extra, plus the wife always has the tv on, she’d never be able to live without it! Combine all this with the fact that we removed the connection from the living room for the tv aerial, meaning we wouldn’t be able to pick up freeview tv even if we did ditch Sky! In a way it feels a little bit like a drug habit, it costs us a small fortune and yet we can’t give it up! While we’re on the subject of Sky, we’ve recently had an upgrade to our broadband and taken up their Sky Fibre offer. They had recently put their price down, and made it a bit more appealing, but in reality I am not feeling the huge benefits from it that I had hoped for. Our line speed on the original broadband would quite often hit 16.5mbps on a speedtest, and the fact that I was promised 40mbps with Fibre would only have been encouraging if it had actually happened, as 40mbps isn’t bad, but still isn’t exactly the leap I’d quite hoped for. Some of my friends with Virgin have exceeded well over 120mbps without any issues! The fact that some of my first speed tests on Fibre gave me speeds of just 15mbps (on a service I am paying extra ££ for don’t forget!) was not encouraging at all. After a little research and playing about with some settings, I am not getting around 30mbps on the speed test, better, but still not great. The real bonus that I am not going to complain about though is the upload speed, which is 9x faster than the original broadband, crucial for times like when I am uploading several hundred wedding photos to the website, a job which frequently means leaving the computer running overnight, and just hoping that I wake up in the morning to the job being done, and not having paused halfway through for some unforeseen error. When I have been uploading stuff previously, it can literally feel like it is taking forever, so this is a huge bonus! Trialling their 25Gb usage cap to try and save a little money was a total waste of time though, as they emailed me within a week of the Fibre going active to say I’d burnt through the 25Gb in less than a week, (although I am still not sure exactly how we managed to do that, 25Gb in six days sounds a bit fishy to me!), but it looks like we’ll end up switching to their ‘unlimited’ Fibre plan instead and having to pay extra for it. Although I do feel a grumpy phone call coming on to complain about the line speeds and see if I can get them to waive the extra monthly fee as compensation. If you don’t ask, you don’t get… right?!

Sunday turned out to be a quieter day, although it did start early, with Olivia deciding that 6:30am was her time to wake up. She woke us both up, but it was Clare’s turn to go back to bed while I took madam downstairs and entertained her for a couple of hours until she’d caught up on her sleep. I wanted to get a few more portrait shots of Olivia in the garden as it was a dry day and it wasn’t too bright with the cloud cover breaking up the light a bit. Getting these weekly portrait shots is something I am keen to try and keep up, and she is changing so much each day, and now that she is on the move I find I am taking much less photos of her, as its harder to get her to keep still and/or look at the camera!

It was nice to get out in the garden, turn off the tv and enjoy some fresh air and natural light. It was also a chance to get a little gardening done. One thing I have learnt from owning a house with a greenhouse in the garden and growing things is that I need to be planning and planting stuff far earlier in the year than I am. I have left some flower seeds until May to plant, which doesn’t really give them much growing time! Being in the garden is definitely therapeutic, gardening and growing things is relaxing, and that is definitely something I need much more of. I don’t feel very relaxed at the moment, like my to-do list is never empty and I am always racing through it to cross things off. I like being busy, but sometimes I can make myself too busy, and that is not good for us. In fact I have just read an article on “The disease of being too busy” and do have my own views on it, but I will share those another time!

IMG_0107After a while in the garden, I thought I felt a drop of water on my hand, and it turns out that rain was most definitely stopping play this afternoon. The gardening equipment was in, the play sand covered up, it was time to head indoors, where we were to stay for the rest of the afternoon. There was a momentary break in the rain where I caught this shot of one of the foxgloxes with droplets of rain on it, and with the colours it made a very beautiful sight! The break in the rain didn’t last long though, and we were resigned to an afternoon indoors, although its never a bad thing when I get to spend an afternoon at home with my two favourite people!

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Falling way, way behind…

It has been a busy couple of weeks one way or another, and as much as I’d like to blog, there sometimes doesn’t seem like there’s enough time in the day! Time is already a premium, and this is something I am well aware of, but technically I already have a full time job, a part time job, a part time business, a family, my martial arts class… and all this before I have any down time, time for me! I recently read online about a family who gave up their reasonably well paid jobs and sold their home to buy a caravan and just travel around the country, living from one day to the next. Initially it sounded daft, but they put up a convincing argument that at the end of the day noobe judges us by the things we bought, but by the time we spent with them. Time that can’t be bought, or replaced, or regained if we waste it. Time is essentially a currency, it’s all we have, and when it’s gone it’s gone!

It’s made me think, and I definitely need to manage my time a bit better. Although I can be forgiven this week as I haven’t been well, and had to take a few days off work with a throat infection. I don’t like taking time off work, I always feel guilty, but sometimes you just have to let the body catch up and rest. It wasn’t a fun time, sure I got to watch films and eat ice cream (it’s all I could swallow, it the cooling effect helped my throat!). Previous weeks have been a little hectic though, take half term for example, the days just disappeared. Out of five days, Clare was off which left me with four, I looked after J for two of the days and took him out, this left me with two, one of which I had taken the morning to visit the Newborn Photography Show at the Botanical Gardens. Very inspiring, and an easy way to part with large chunks of cash if you weren’t careful! So yeah, now suddenly I am down to one day, and of course I have Olivia with me, which as fantastic as it is means I don’t even get to look at a to-do list, my day is pretty much mapped out for me with food and naps.

[some of the animals from the Birmingham Nature Centre taken whilst out looking after J.]

What else has been going on recently? Well we can’t forget last weekend where we met up with friends for a day trip out to Drayton Manor Park. Our friends had managed to get us some discounted tickets, which was quite honestly the only way we could afford to join them. Its a far cry from the Drayton Manor that I last visited as a child some 30 years ago, where we had to buy strips of tickets to be redeemed against each ride, or a wristband for the day getting us onto all the rides for a whopping £6, which, for a family of four, back in the 80s, was not the kind of budget we had for a day out! The prices have rocketed since, and it may still be Alton Towers poorer brother, but its still not cheap to get in and even then, there are still ways to part with even more of your cash once you’re inside! The rides have improved significantly, and there is now the added bonus of Thomas Land for parents of small children, an assortment of Thomas the tank engine related mini rides for the kids, which seemed to be very popular! It was nice that there was something for the little ones to do, and it wasn’t just a case of us running around the park from one big ride to the next, dumping the little ones on whoever drew the short straw. Don’t get me wrong, this did happen a lot anyway, but we still managed to give the little ones a chance to have some fun on rides more suited to them! We had decided to make a full day of it, and got there early and stayed right up until they closed and literally threw us out! We found time to sit down together for lunch halfway through the day, and really made the most of catching up with our friends. We did try to get around everything in the park, and found ourselves coming back to this ride more than once…

Aside from theme parks and being off work sick, we have also been out in the garden a bit, as the wind and rain is starting to disappear and leaving us with sunnier, slightly warmer days.

These are all plants I grew last year from seed, the sweetpea, the lupin and the foxglove. The garden is taking some work, but is starting to look at bit more colourful now, and hopefully over the next couple of weekends we’ll be able to tidy it up a bit more, especially as it feels like bbq weather is pretty much here, and its time to get inviting some friends round for drinks and food!

Its great finally having a garden, something I have missed having for so many years. I can’t even remember the last time I had a proper garden to look after, and although its not always easy finding the time to do what needs doing, it is very rewarding, and almost a little therapeutic whilst you’re doing it. There is always the greenhouse as well, of course, which is is currently full of tomato plants and more flower seeds, some of which will need planting out in the coming weeks! Then there is the beauty of relaxing in it, and Olivia being able to play in it, and of course firing up the bbq in it! My plan for this summer is to invest in some kind of sun lounger and spend at least a couple of hours here and there with my feet up, catching a few rays, and quite possibly with a beer in my hand. Sometimes life is all about the little luxuries!

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Gotta love a bank holiday

Gotta love a long bank holiday weekend, nothing feels better than sticking two fingers up to Monday morning and turning off your alarm clock, and there’s still one more bank holiday left for this year as well! There are numerous ways to kickstart the weekend, and while I couldn’t be out propping up a bar with friends or dancing the night away, I had a suitable, albeit a slightly antisocial alternative… film night! The wife was out with friends for food and wine, so once the little one was fed, bathed, and in bed, I had the evening to myself. I already had the pizza and the beer, so now all I needed to do was find a suitable film to watch. On a normal weekend I have to be fairly selective in my film choices with Clare around, if the pace is too slow she’ll fall asleep, if its too complicated she will lose interest and fall asleep, if the film is too long she will fall asleep, too much sci fi going and she will probably fall asleep… you see a pattern forming here? In fact, if we manage to get to the end of a film and a) she’s still awake and b) says she that she actually enjoyed it, then I am secretly high fiving myself and mentally doing victory laps of the living room! Tonight though, I had no such concerns, I had the full spectrum of films available to me, and could choose to watch absolutely anything I wanted, so where to begin? Well, the obvious two choices are Netflix and NowTV, as I have subscribed to both and have them available through the Apple TV. I eventually whittled my choices down to just the one film, Edge Of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise, the IMDb reviews were good, and although I’d previously discounted this film as I think Tom Cruise can be a bit smarmy, I have to say it turned out to be a pretty good film and I quite enjoyed it.

Saturday started out as a bit of a slow day until I decided that I was going to treat Olivia to a new car


and so we headed down to Toys R Us to have a look around. We already knew what we were buying as she had enjoyed Oliver’s push along Mini so much, and we knew it was currently half price, I certainly wasn’t going to be buying it later on in the year at full price! She had a look around and a play in the other cars, but the battery powered ones were ridiculously expensive for childrens toys. After wearing herself out running around the toy shop it was straight home for her nap whilst Clare went out food shopping. After the shop and nap we headed around to the in-laws to show off Olivia’s new car, and ended up staying for dinner.

I even managed to grab a few beers in the evening with a friend at the local, although it seems a little odd that he has moved into our old flat and so now has the long walk up to the pub and its me who has the five minute walk. I didn’t really mind when it was the other way around, but I definitely prefer it this way round! Its good to catch up with him, and also reassure him that after knowing him for almost 30 years I am not going to jump on the bandwagon of people who have turned their back on him after his marriage broke down. He is definitely very grateful that after all this time our friendship has never changed, we have been through quite a lot together over the years after all. I just hate when not only friends, but couples whose weddings I have photographed also split up, only this week I found out about another separation, and I was at least pleased to hear it was amicable between them, both parties are happy and have moved on, but for me half of the enjoyment of what I do is getting wrapped up in the excitement and emotion of what should be the biggest day of the lives of two people! Often at least one side of the couple will add me on facebook, and so I do get to find out when the marriage didn’t work out. Obviously the couples that do add me and then stay together make me even happier!

Sunday was another grand prix day, this time around it was Monaco, and I was very excited about this race, as its one of the classics. Clare is really understanding about the Formula 1, its totally not her thing at all, but she makes no fuss of the fact it takes up an entire Sunday afternoon, as she is pretty grateful that at least I show zero interest in football, which I know can take up the majority of weekends, and even weeknights, every single weekend of the football season, which pretty much runs from the end of August until the start of the following August… in fact I am not actually even sure why they have those four weeks off!

I had just enough time to see the race and watch the cars cross the finish line before we headed out to our friends housewarming, which we wrongly assumed was just going to be a couple of us and a few hot drinks. Little did we know it would be an actual houseful and and full on bbq! We were supposed to be meeting some of Clare’s friends afterwards, which was nice, but it sadly meant leaving the bbq early. It turned out that they couldn’t make it in the end, which was a shame, but on a positive note we hadn’t left the bbq when we found this out, so at least we got to stay a bit longer!

And that was the weekend, normally by the evening I’d be thinking about Monday morning and returning to work, only this time I didn’t have to… half term baby! I am totally going to pretend I don’t have a toddler who will be waking me up early, and at least living the dream of a lie in, for a short while in my head anyway!

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Lets use this power for good…

Well, as usual, I am falling further and further behind with the blog, but it has been a busy week at Vokes HQ and I’m trying to catch up with myself. In the last week, there have been drinks, mountains and birthdays… well, one birthday specifically… mine!

The rather busy weekend started with our long awaited date night on Friday, with one of my sisters being very kind in agreeing to babysitting for us for a couple of hours. We couldn’t really go out until Olivia was in bed, as we like to keep her bedtime routine the same each night. Its no secret that children thrive on routine, and the bedtime routine we have in place for Olivia seems to work very well for us, so why change it if we don’t need too? No matter how energetic she seems to be before bedtime, she always goes down at the same time. The curtains close, the lights go down, we have some milk and read a book t her, and she gets starts to calm down and become quieter, and once she is down, she’s often asleep within ten minutes or so! So rather than complicate things, we figured that we’d just wait until she was in bed before we headed out, and then made our way round to the local indian restaurant, before moving on to a new “micro bar” that’s opened up a few doors down. I do like the idea of it, but I feel they could have executed the idea a bit better. Still, the few beers I’d had by this point, had really gone to my head, so I was in no place to be judging people. We soon headed off for the walk home, and had a lovely night all the same.

Saturday was one where we hadn’t really made any plans, and with me planning to head up Snowdon the following day, I had to take the opportunity to purchase a few extra bits for my walk from the local outdoor shop. When I got back Olivia was already in bed, so Clare took the opportunity to get our weekly food shop in, and we are still loving the Aldi, saving a small fortune on our normal weekly shop from Asda! Their own brands are easily as good, and we’re pretty much converted now. The afternoon seemed to roll around quite quickly considering we didn’t do much, and soon it was time for me to tidy myself up and head out (courtesy of a lift from my very kind wife!) into town to meet some old school buddies for a few beers. They’re a great bunch, and I definitely don’t get to see them often enough, our nights up town seem to be over so quickly! Hopefully if we cant catch up for another beer soon, we can at least meet up with the families!

As it wasn’t a late night, and I was home at a sensible time, this meant I was able to get up with a fairly fresh head on the Sunday morning ready for my Snowdon walk. I had offered to drive the minibus for the day, and had to meet everyone at work to pick them up. It was a slightly late start and a longer drive down than we’d planned for, so we were late starting, and due to a triathlon that was taking place in the area that day, all the parking places were full! The nearest place we could park was a layby over a mile away, and so another 30 minutes added to our start time! The promise I’d made to my wife of getting home early and taking her out for a carvery was looking extremely unlikely at this point! From our planned start time of 10am, it was now 12pm and we’d only just set off! Still, we made it up to the summit, via the Pyg track, in just 1 hour and 50 minutes, which I was pretty impressed with. I had taken my new cycling helmet camera with me to video clips from the ascent, which can be seen here, the whole climb condensed down to 39 minutes…

It has been about 8 years since I last went up there and the cafe at the top has had a major overhaul, from the little wooden hut that I was last in, it now looked more like an airport terminal! We waited for the couple of people that had fallen behind and headed down on a different path, which although much easier, sadly took us the wrong way and left us 6 miles from the minibus once we were down! Thankfully the cafe at the bottom allowed us to grab some drinks, use the toilet and call a taxi to take us back to the bus. By this point I’d given up all hope of getting home in time for a carvery and just wanted to get home to see my little girl before she went to bed!

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It was too wet to get my camera out, but I managed to grab a selection of photos on my iPhone. Even though I was late home, the day had been a success, and our climb and descent were well within our allotted time to complete our challenge. We are aiming to get up and down all three of Britains highest mountains, Snowdon, Scafell Pike, and Ben Nevis in under 15 hours (driving time excluded), and raise money for Resources For Autism whilst doing it. If anybody is feeling generous, please make your donations online (it saves me going to the bank and handing over lots of coins!) at https://www.justgiving.com/calthorpeacademybirmingham/

Then came Monday… my birthday. My final year in my 30s, and not a thought that excites me greatly. I have kind of accepted that this 40 thing is going to happen to me soon, and its not like I am in a bad place in my life for it to happen. I have a house, a wonderful wife, and a gorgeous daughter, on top of which I am fitter than I have ever been and also have my own photography business (even if it is small and part time!)… its more than some of my friends have, so I must be grateful. I just don’t feel old enough to be 40. It kinda creeps up on you while you’re not looking, pretty much exactly like this…

So I still get to call myself a 30something for one more final year, and have to finally accept the inevitable, I have gone way beyond having to get my head around the idea of “being a grown up” that seems so alien to us when we enter our 20s, and now have to really engage my brain with the fact that I’m actually “a bit old”!! So, I guess the first thing on my list of “stuff to do before I am 40″ is look at the financial aspect and feasibility of a brother or sister for Olivia. If money wasn’t a concern than this wouldn’t even be a talking point, but nursery doesn’t come free and these bills won’t pay for themselves, we have to be realistic about how we’re going to cope with it!

Man, where is that lottery win when you need it?

I am sure that if I put my mind to it, there is a whole bunch of things I could add to a list of “things to do before I am 40″, but the likelihood is that by this point, most of them are just going to stay on that list and never see the light of day!

A lot of my friends are also in the same position as me, and some of them have already hit 40, they don’t seem too fussed by it all, or maybe they’re just not saying anything. I mean I know nothing actually changes, its just another day, and yes age is but a number… but we all know that the big 4-0 at least bothers us a little bit… doesn’t it”?! So the next question is how do I actually celebrate it? It certainly won’t be Vegas like I hoped it might be! Do I just put my head under the pillow and let the day slide past without being noticed?

My 39th birthday was a very low-key affair, and obviously spent at work as I couldnt take the day off.  At least I came home to a beautiful dinner cooked by the wife, and both sets of parents to join us. It was a lovely evening, and my sister in law even showed up to drop off a card and present, and just when I thought the day was done my friend knocked on the door to drop off a card and a bottle of red wine! Even facebook had gone crazy today, I was definitely feeling the love, even if it wasn’t exactly a crazy day!

As I am running behind with this blog, I can even catch up on Tuesday. I decided to miss a week of Jujitsu, and although I felt a bit guilty, I didn’t really have the time without rushing, and my legs were still aching from our rapid ascent of Snowdon on Sunday, so I stayed at home and made some good use of the time. In between working on a wedding album, I somehow made the decision to have a bit of a catch up with some old school friends. It has been over 20 years since we left school, and with the magic of facebook bringing us back in touch with one another, it seemed a shame to waste the opportunity, so I put the word out to try and see if I could get a dozen or so of us to meet up for a few hours one sunday afternoon over the summer. Suddenly a whole bunch of people have jumped on board, and this thing looks like it could be growing bigger than I’d ever imagined! I guess we’ll see who actually turns up though, people are very quick to say yes to things like this and then just go silent on you!

Anyway, thats my week caught up on and I should be in bed by now!

Adios!

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Photographing a new life is a privilege

Yet another week has flown by again, the weekend has pretty much been and gone, and I find myself here on a Sunday night wondering how I totally failed to get a mid-week blog typed up yet again. So what has been taking up all my time? Sometimes I just don’t even know. We did onlly have four days at work, as Monday was a bank holiday and with the weather being kind to us, we headed down to the local park to see the funfair. DSC03552

Olivia loved going on the rides, although she was still too small for the majority of them, but she was certainly all about the cars this weekend! The funfair is essentially a way for people to empty your pockets of cash for you in a very short space of time. I made sure that we only went with a small budget and weren’t tempted to blow large amounts of cash to win cheap teddy bears or a goldfish! I had committed myself, as a father, to win at least one bear for my daughter, I kind of see it as a fathers duty, its in the job description! I decided that the Hook-A-Duck would be my first game of choice, especially as “every go wins a prize”, although I didn’t expect each go to cost £3! It came as no shock that I hooked a duck pretty quickly, but my heart quickly sank when my gaze was directed, by the clearly disinterested woman behind the counter, away from the teddy bears on display towards the cheap plastic toys on the floor which was all my duck apparently qualified for! I was welcomed to take another go and trade in for a teddy bear, but could see that this could soon get expensive and I’d end up spending £6 or £9 on a bear that clearly cost them a small percentage of that. I’d rather go out and buy a nice looking bear than throw money at the cheap looking tat that was on offer, still, I’d come here with a purpose and found a fluffy unicorn doll amongst the cheap toys I’d been told to choose from. Not quite the teddy I’d hoped for, but close enough! The rides, on the other hand, were far better value, as each one was only £1 per person per go, and far from being over after 30 seconds, they all seemed to last quite a while and Olivia had a great time.

I’d heard about the pickpockets at events like this, and so we all held onto our phones, keys and money for dear life, although trying not to make it too obvious, but I did feel a sense of relief when we walked out of their and headed back to the car with everything that we’d taken with us! It was a nice afternoon, and lovely that one of my sisters had met us there with her boyfriend for a couple of hours. After the funfair, we went to visit my mom for a couple of hours, and stopped off at Clare’s parents on the way home, as requested, as they had bought her a ride on car that weekend, which she got to take for a little test drive and refused to get out of until she’d been pushed about in it for over half an hour!

It was a lovely way to spend a bank holiday, and I’d really been looking forward to it! It didn’t disappoint!

The rest of the week passed by in a blur and suddenly its Friday night again, and I have few things planned for the weekend, starting with my friend arriving on Saturday morning for me to photograph her newborn baby. The session goes quite well, and getting the baby off to sleep is a little tricky, as is keeping them that way whilst they are being posed. The whole thing is a very slow, relaxed process which a) keeps the baby asleep, and b) relaxes mom so that she isn’t worried about me handling her most valued possession in the world!

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Baby Chloé was a fantastic model, and so super cute that I almost didn’t want to give her back at the end! This was it though, my first successful shoot since the training, and while there was still a lot of improvements to be made, I felt much better than the previous attempt where baby Sebastian flatly refused to go to sleep!

After the shoot we had an afternoon to fill, and toyed with the idea of jumping in the car and heading out to the park, but both agreed that we really couldn’t be bothered. Instead, we took the opportunity of a bit of down time to just play in the garden and not have to worry about going anywhere, or putting coats on, or parking, or if it would rain. Just getting silly and playing in the garden.

I had a 10km run planned for Sunday morning, so didn’t want Saturday to be a particularly late night, although at the last minute got a pub call text from my friend who I hadn’t seen since he’d moved into his new flat. At this point I knew I wouldn’t be in bed early, but sometimes you just have to give in and spend a bit of time with your friends!

Sunday morning proved to be a challenge, not only was I still feeling bloated from the chip shop dinner we’d had the night before, but I had also woken up on the sofa at 6:30am, which wasn’t the greatest nights sleep I’d ever had. I was a bit puzzled by it, as the tv was off when I woke up, so its not like I had fallen asleep watching the tv or anything, I’d somehow just not quite made it to bed! So, tired, bloated, and slightly hungover, I headed out to meet my friend for our run, and I have to say that it really is quite a good hangover cure! 10km later and I felt much better, cleaner inside, and bright and awake!

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It’s decision time…

the eve of the general election, and I won’t lie, I’ve never really taken as much interest in it previously, as I am at the moment. 

Why? Because I am now a parent, and thinking of my child’s future and not just my own? Because as I approach 40 I’m suddenly paying more attention to the things that actually really matter finally? Because it’s about time I grew who and started to take this kind of thing seriously? All of the above? Who knows!! All I know is that this time around they are not making it any easier for us to decide. The two main big parties in the lead have very passionate followers, and each of them screaming for why people should in their wildest dreams consider voting for the other guy. All this misplaced loyalty is very admirable, but is it necessarily what’s best for the country? I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that the differences between the parties was much more black and white, and we’d instantly know which side to pick, but it isn’t and I don’t!

I did, however, enjoy the company of a knowledgable friend who also had no allegiances to any one particular party,  but did argue the different merits of each one, and gave me something to think about which I think may actually help in my decision tomorrow, or technically today as we’ve gone past midnight!

I don’t want to get too political on here, discussing each party and why I have picked the one that I have, the debates are already currently raging all over Facebook and it can all get a little bit “my dad is bigger than your dad!”, and I certainly don’t intend to attempt to sway anyone’s decision, my views are my own, as are yours! I just hope that whatever the outcome, we don’t start rolling our eyes and wishing we’d voted for the other guy in six months time!

So yeah, while I say I’m approaching 40, it’s still actually a little while off yet. My next birthday still allows me one last final year in my 30s, hardly a reason for a monumental celebration, but still an excuse to treat myself to a few drinks and an evening out for a meal with the wife. Ideally I’d love to be putting the BBQ on and inviting lots of friends and family over, but the current weather situation isn’t hugely encouraging. Traditionally, my birthday has always been a dry day as far back as I can remember, except for one year when there was a shower in the morning, but then it stopped and dried up! As it stands at the moment, the long term forecast for my actual birthday is suggesting a temperature of around 12°c and a couple of showers, not what I’d got in mind and certainly not what I’d hope for if planning a BBQ! In fact it’s fair to say that the current weather is pretty miserable, and the rain and high winds make for some fairly tough, if not a little scary, rides to and from work! Hopefully this will all settle down and we can start to enjoy a proper summer soon, it’s the one time cyclists actually look forward to where we can forget about the waterproof clothing, so much rain and spray that not only can we not see where we’re going, but even if we could the road had become one giant mirror and all the potholes have suddenly vanished! Riding blindly with no idea of where the potholes lie is essentially the cyclists version of Russian roulette!

Anyway, this post was only ever meant to be a short one, so here’s a photo of my beautiful daughter, enjoying colouring at her new table whilst playing with her dolly.

  

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One person can make a difference, and every person should try

Yeah, another week has gone by, and this whole bi-weekly thing on the blog has fallen by the wayside a bit. Still, I’m here and back on it for a recap of this week. On a big plus point, I am now done with editing the two easter weddings, so I have a little more free time on my hands. This alone has been a major contributor in not blogging much for the last couple of weeks.

Another plus point is that this is a bank holiday weekend, so after what has felt like a long week at work, we have three days at home with the family. People kept mentioning the bank holiday, but I kept forgetting about it, which is a good thing, as waiting for something can make it feel like its never going to arrive. I didn’t want to make too many plans, as I know how much the wife hates it when we try to cram too much in. There were a few things I had arranged to do, and it started on Saturday morning with our friends coming to visit. These were the friends I had been to see last weekend, trying to get photographs of their newborn baby. The shoot didn’t quite work out then as he wouldn’t go to sleep, and this weekend it was much of the same. A disappointment, but one of those things. I can only set so much up, and the baby is in charge after that. I will endeavour to get them some nice photos however, but it probably won’t be the posed shots I had been hoping for. It was still lovely to see them, and of course for the wife to meet the little one as well. Their daughter is almost the same age as Olivia, and it was nice to see them starting to learn to play together.

After they’d left and headed home I had to head out on my own to look after my friends little boy, J again. I haven’t seen him for a few weeks, as they’d recently been away on holiday, but now it was time to start getting a few more hours in. It can be said that I don’t make a huge amount of money out of doing this, its certainly not going to be taking us on holiday, but it does help out a bit, especially at the end of the month when things are starting to get a little tight, and its nice to be doing something good, knowing they appreciate the respite that my looking after him provides. His autism is no real challenge for me, as I am already used to similar behaviours from the pupils I have been working with for the last 18 months anyway. So it has been quite easy for me to just walk into this role and provide the help they need, and things have got off to a good start so far, which we’re all very happy about. Initially I was a little concerned that this could really tie up my weekends and get in the way, and I was wondering if I had perhaps agreed to it too quickly without realising I’d lose a chunk of time with Olivia each weekend. Thankfully they have been very understanding of this, and they also have things they want to do as a family, so we are keeping this very relaxed and flexible, which seems to be suiting everyone. If it becomes a problem, of course we will review it, but for now it seems to be working.

I was home with enough time left for us to squeeze in a quick food shop for the week, so we all jumped in the car and headed out to Aldi, as we are now fully converted from mainstream shopping to budget shopping. There are a couple of things Aldi don’t seem to sell and we can only get from Asda, but we are saving a small fortune from getting everything else from Aldi. Their own branded products have actually really impressed us, and we certainly don’t feel like we are losing out on quality just because we are spending less! We are trying to switch to as much of their own stuff as we can, we are certainly not brand name snobs, if it tastes good and we’re happy with it, then there seems little point in just throwing money away at brand names.

Sunday I woke up feeling a bit delicate, I had decided to give Aldi’s own version of Jack Daniels a try, as it was less than half the price that Jack Daniels sells for in Asda, and still less than the cheaper alternative of Jim Beam. The verdict? Suitably impressed! So much so that I put away over half a bottle of it while I was watching a film and didn’t even realise! Although I don’t think it was the drink that left me feeling rough on the Sunday morning, my poor stomach was gurgling and spinning like a washing machine, telling me it was the Chinese takeaway I had thoroughly overindulged in! I had ordered far too much food, and knew I had, and yet still decided to do as much damage to it as possible… but in the end it beat me! I had little choice but to cancel the Sunday morning run, and postpone it to the Monday morning, which thankfully my running partner was very understanding about. The only other plan we had for the day was to visit our friends who had just moved house, they were now much closer to us, and the new house was lovely, so much space, but they’d totally earned it after spending so long in their previous house which was tiny, even smaller than ours! We spent the whole afternoon there, and Olivia plays so well with their son, who is a year older. We were even fed before we headed home, its so nice to spend time with them and see things actually start to work out for them. Its good to see friends happy, and lovely to be a part of it. This was originally one friend who I had managed to keep from my days of bar work, many years ago. Now we are both married and all four of us get on really well. Its funny how some friendships last while others just seem to fade away! I have always been proud of the fact that I am one of those people who always strives to stay in touch with others, but the trick is knowing when to give up. Its a fact of life that some people are only destined to stay in your life for a short period of time. It can be a bit of a balancing act, as you can find yourself being spread a bit thinly around everyone if you do manage to keep in touch with a lot of people though. Still, the weather was good and we had a great afternoon. We even got to put Olivia’s hair in a little pony tail to keep it out of her eyes and off her neck, which is still a little dry and flaky at the moment.

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I did want to brush on another topic, and while I don’t like to get particularly political in my blog, normally I’d try to avoid it completely, there is no escaping the fact that the UK’s general election is fast approaching and I am still totally sitting on the fence about what I am going to do with my vote.

I certainly don’t want to just waste my vote, I believe it is very important to get out there and use it to make a difference, but I clearly still need to do a bit more research into each of the parties before I commit and make a decision. I don’t have any kind of loyalty to any one party, unlike some of my friends and family, although I am very aware of the strong feelings for and against some of the parties, from some of those around me. I am trying not to be influenced just on the opinions of my friends, but I haven’t seen enough from any one party to sway me in their favour. In fact, its no secret that politicians are generally a bunch of lying creeps that no-one trusts anyway, so even if I DID see something from them that interested me, there’s no saying that they’d keep their promise and see it through anyway, which makes me wonder why we even bother sometimes. Why don’t we just roll a dice and put an X next to the corresponding number?! I was actually reading an article recently about what was promised at the last general election, from the party who actually won, and how little of it was actually delivered. It was frightening, these people we trusted and voted in, yet totally failed to keep their word on not just one point, but numerous points!

How are you deciding on who to vote for? Informed decision? Misguided loyalty? Taking a punt on a gut feeling? Lack of options?

Follow me on Twitter @andrewvokes to keep updated about future posts.

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New challenges

Monday morning lands with a bang yet again, and another weekend is over in a flash! It has been a bit of a blur since Friday, and I haven’t seen nearly enough of the family, but there was lots to do and that’s how it goes sometimes! Thankfully not every weekend is like that, but this particular weekend saw me finally starting to move my photography business forward in a new direction. I decided, after a couple of slow years getting married myself, having a baby and making a home, that it was time to get the business back on track.

I did look at a new venture last year, something completely different that a friend had recommended to me, but in the end I felt like a square peg trying to squeeze myself into a round hole. It wasn’t for me, and even though I was told I could “fit it around my current commitments” it just seemed to be eating away at all my spare time. I didn’t have the passion for it either, not like the hunger I had for my photography. Building my own business and my own personal brand has been something I know I can feel truly proud of, and to actually go out and see my work on a friends wall is fantastic! So this year I have decided to relight the fire and reinvest in a new website (www.andyvokes.com in case you were wondering), and have also invested in some new equipment and some training to move things forward. I have a lot more to think about this year, and a lot of work ahead of me, but one of the things I have come to realise in the last 12 months is that if I want this business to success I should actually be treating it like a business… rather than just treating it like a hobby and hoping for some magic to happen!

Thats the thing with photographers, we’re artists, not business people, and its that lack of business skills that can often let us down. I have relied too much on just trying to take better and better photos to get me through, and as important as that is for a reputation, it is not necessarily a business building skill. One of the simplest things someone running a business can do, is to create a simple plan and stick to it! Some of the greatest businesses often just have a very simple goal, and they stick to it. I need to start setting myself some proper goals and targets for 2015 and ensure I make a plan to achieve them, and try my best to stick to it!

This weekend was actually taken up by the first part of my plan, and that is to get some training under my belt. When Joey Photographer gets fed up of his office job and wants to make some money at the weekend, he’ll probably head to Argos, buy an SLR and go shoot a friends wedding for free. He may well do an awful job of it, but it seems like the default environment for anyone with a camera to head for, there’s always someone getting married and who wouldn’t want their photos done for free, or next to nothing at the very least?! In an already oversaturated market, this just makes things harder for the guys who are charging a normal price and trying to make a living from it.This is why I have decided to set my targets towards newborn photography. I need to expand my horizon a bit and start doing something different. Being a wedding photographer is great fun, and I have been to some amazing weddings where I’ve even ended up feeling a bit emotional myself, but the competition in trying to book couples is so fierce now, that it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming.

But back to the weekend though, and Friday evening, where we both sat down in front of the tv with drinks and snacks to watch a film, and our Friday evening choice of hollywood blockbuster was A Million Ways To Die In The West, which I’d put off watching for a while as I thought it looked rubbish and was going to be a great big disappointment, but actually really enjoyed, although clearly the wife didn’t find it quite as funny, as she was asleep before we were even half way through. Pretty much a typical Friday night in the Vokes household then! With an early start needed on Saturday for the big drive down to Bournemouth for my training, it was going to be an early night for me too!

Saturday didn’t start as planned with me sneaking out before the wife and daughter woke up, oh no, Olivia decided it was the right day to wake up early, which slowed down my getting ready as I had to look after her while the wife got showered and dressed. There used to be a time when all that was done while Olivia had her morning nap, although now Olivia has since done away with that and only naps once during the afternoon now!

Eventually I was on my way, and had a good day, and here are a couple of shots from the shoot. We had a wonderfully calm and happy baby, who was so good!

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It did all look way too easy and the real challenge is going to be in replicating the shoots, although I have a few expectant ladies signed up for a free shoot when they have had their babies. It takes the pressure off slightly when they’re getting something for nothing! At least I came away from the training session with a dvd to remind me of some of the stuff that was talked about. After an epic 6 hour round trip I could finally put my feet up with a pizza and a few beers!

Sunday morning didn’t allow me much of a lie in to recover, as I was soon up and off to try and capture some shots of our friends little newborn boy, he was super cute, but totally refused to go to sleep making things a bit tricky. I had my kit all set up and ready to go, but really needed him to be asleep to get the poses. At some point, when a baby doesn’t sleep, you have to eventually accept defeat, as the baby is in control of the session, you can’t force a baby to do something they don’t want to! So we called it a day and are going to try again instead this weekend! It meant I was out longer than I intended on Sunday, and consequently couldn’t wait to get home to see the wife and daughter, who were out in the garden playing with bubbles. It was such a nice sight to come back to! Missing a bit of family time is a sad consequence of trying to run a business on top of a full time job, but sometimes you have to make these sacrifices to get somewhere! Thankfully I don’t miss out too much, as I am well aware that time missed now is time I just can’t get back later! That’s a lesson that can only be learned the hard way, but that story is for another day!

 

So if you haven’t already, go check out my new website and give me some feedback… what are your thoughts/impressions? What would you change? What is it missing? All your feedback/comments/bitching/snide remarks/sarcasm is always appreciated!

Don’t forget you can get updated about new blog posts on twitter @andrewvokes or on facebook www.facebook.com/lifeinthemiddlelane

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