Category Archives: Babies
Now I am settling into my early 40s it is fair to say I am quite a different person than when I was in my early 30s. My life has not just simply changed direction, but in fact moved up to a whole new level. I am happier, more settled, more confident than I was back then, although it can’t be denied that I can still be a little grouchy at times as I am frequently more tired than I should be, usually the result of not getting to bed early enough.
In the last ten years I have started a photography business, met a wonderful woman and got married, bought a house and had two beautiful girls, I’d even picked up a couple of tattoos along the way! Life has been looking very rosy indeed. Sure I’d waited a little longer than some of my friends to get settled down, quite a few of them were married and had children long before me, although not all of them are still in that position today, which is sad, but it seems to have justified my waiting.
One of the final changes to happen was more recently, in the last year, after watching Ewan McGregors documentary of his motorbike journey around the world yet again, I was finally inspired to grab the opportunity to get myself a motorbike. Something that I had never really considered before, I guess I just never saw myself as that kind of person, someone who was brave enough or adventurous enough.
If there is one thing that is sure to happen when you turn 40 its that you can become quite reflective on life, at least this was the case for me. I was in a privileged position, I never ever imagined that I would be happily married, with children and my own house. I started to believe that if you really wanted something badly enough, it could happen, and the more I thought about a motorbike adventure, the more passionate I became about it.
My wife has been supportive in everything I have done, even if she wasn’t so sure of it initially. Likewise, when it came to telling her I wanted to ride a motorbike, it took a little convincing, initially she assumed it would be far more dangerous than cycling, although anyone who cycles to work on a regular basis will tell you how dangerous it is, how they risk their life daily and how many times they have been knocked off. Likewise, most cyclist accidents or deaths rarely make the news, and anyone getting knocked off a motorbike only really gets noticed because of the traffic chaos it causes.
Eventually she began to see that two wheels with an engine stood a better chance in traffic than two wheels with no engine, and so I went on to take my basic training, otherwise known as a CBT course, and got myself a 125cc motorbike with an L plate on.
The CBT lasts for two years, before it either needs renewing or you go for your full motorbike license and throw away the L plates, which I fully intended to do, or at least attempt to.
The test came and after failing the first one, I retook it and thankfully passed on the second attempt. The L plates were firmly in the bin, and a deposit had been put down on a big bike which I will be picking up soon.
After paying out for some expensive lessons prior to taking my test, one of the benefits that I wasn’t told I would get was that I was emailed a voucher for free entry into this weeks Motorcycle Live show at the NEC. I had already considered buying a ticket, and I am glad I didn’t now, as that would have been £20 wasted!
I went to the show with two of my friends who had been riding motorbikes for years, and felt like the absolute novice, which in fairness I was! It was a fun day with lots to see, and many opportunities to spend a great deal of cash, the only downside being that as I’d grabbed a lift there with my friends, I had to wait until they were done before I could get home to see my girls.
It does feel like the start of a very exciting new chapter though!
My final wedding of the year, and I was very pleased that it was actually a friend of mine getting married that I was fortunate to be able to capture.
The whole day was very relaxed, and the couple were very easy going. It turned out to be a fairly easy start for me as I wasn’t required to cover the usual hair and make up photos in the morning, which left me with a bit more time at home in the morning to get my things together and make sure the car was packed up properly, all my batteries were charged and the memory cards cleared and formatted.
The whole day, from ceremony to reception, was based in one location, the beautiful Highbury Hall in Birmingham. A grade II listed building which, for a while, became the residence of Joseph Chamberlain when he was a member of parliament for Birmingham.
I arrived at Highbury Hall with most of the tables, decorations and other things already set up, meaning I could get straight into photographing the details before I moved onto the final bridal preparations. This last bit was more of a “touch up” as the hair and make up had pretty much been done before the girls had arrived there. All that was left was for the brides dress to go on, and for me to make sure I captured it being done up.
The day went very smoothly, although it was somewhat of a challenge with the tricky autumn light, the small high windows and a distinct lack of not only natural light, but also any white ceilings to bounce any flash off inside the building.
I had to spend a portion of the day assessing the lighting situations and thinking on my feet, it certainly wasn’t a straight forward shoot in a technical sense. There were still many opportunities for some amazing photos both indoors and out, but I had to work with some difficult lighting, and had to get a little extra creative with the off-camera flash and remote trigger, including a few shots I hadn’t tried before!
You can find out more about the wedding itself from my good friend, and beautiful bride Suzie’s blog when she posts her more in-depth update about it very soon.
If there is one part of my day that is better than the rest, its the bit when I pull up at home and stick my head in the window to surprise everyone. It used to be that Olivia was excited to see me when I got home, although now she can barely tear herself away from Paw Patrol enough to get out of her seat, I sometimes wonder if shes already 13! Today I got home and found Clare holding Chloe up to the window, she was so excited to see me that I thought she was going to burst! What a lovely welcome home, I’ll take that!
We spent a bit of time in the garden shortly after I got in, its lovely to see the girls play together and watching Chloe’s walking develop.
Blimey! How quickly do the days fly by when you get a little bit distracted? I have fallen way behind with these updates now, as it has been a busy few days, and I need to get caught up. At home there are many distractions, a toddler and a baby can easily keep your hands full, and by the time we have a couple of hours to ourselves in the evening, I am usually too tired to type anything coherent! At work the term has finally ended and Easter has now been and gone, leaving a trail of chocolate behind, and the temptation to be a terrible parent and eat all the kids chocolate, making promises to replace it at a later date, or justifying it by saying that “they really don’t need that much chocolate” is tough. Well it is if you’re a chocoholic like me!
76: With just a couple of days left of the term, its still hectic at work and not much quieter at home. There are days when getting a photo every single day can be tricky and completing a 365 project can seem like a mission impossible, but this is the work horse I have already completed two of them on. I just need to get a bit more creative over the remaining 9 months.
77: I came home from work feeling relieved, the last day with the kids, as the following day was a staff training day. The wife was at home with the girls, and I was looking forward to seeing them all. I was soon aware that the wife was ushering Olivia into the living room to show off the easter bonnet that her nanny had made for her, and when I picked up the camera to take a quick photo, as I so often do, I didn’t expect what happened next. As I raised the camera and asked her to look at it, she suddenly, out of nowhere and without prompting gave us jazz hands and said “ta-daaaah!!”. Where on earth has she got ta-dah from?? It kept us laughing for a while!
78: Time to do something a little different, I’m feeling inspired! I had picked one of the chillies I’d grown last year, and after being sat on the window sill, it had begun to turn see through. I wanted to shoot it against a plain white background, with the flash behind it to emphasize this, and I think the effect worked. Which reminds me, I need to get this years chilli seeds planted pronto!!
79: The milk feeding process seems to have fallen into a bit of a routine now, and its making the day easier to plan and it means we can work out a system for bedtime. Although Chloe is still being sick a lot. How much is too much, and when do they stop being sick all the time? I didn’t get involved in the feeds much today as I’d been given a pass out for the release date of Batman vs Superman at the cinema where I was joining some friends to see the film following a five guys burger. A whole day of not cooking as we’d also been out for lunch with friends and tried Wagamamas for the first time too. How have we not been there before?
80: Saturday, and again we weren’t cooking as we were heading over to a friends for lunch. A very pleasant couple of hours, but we had to rush home as the wife had a friend heading over to spend couple of hours at our house. She’d brought with her some eggs for the girls, and Olivia had her own personalised chocolate egg.
81: Easter Sunday, and the only plan for the day is heading over to the in-laws for lunch to join with the brother in law and his family joining us too. Olivia loves playing with her cousins and needed no entertaining from us at all. She’d dressed up lovely for the day, and I was betting on her not looking like that when we got home! It wasn’t psrticularly easy getting a photo today as it was surprisingly windy when we stepped outside, but I persevered.
82: Bank holiday monday, and its off to the swimming baths with Olivia for a quick splash with some friends and their daughter. One thing I am conscious of, is making sure that after getting trigger happy on the camera with the first born, there wasn’t just 5 photos of baby number 2 because of the age old concept that you don’t put quite as much effort in for the second one. I want to make sure I capture all of Chloe growing up, just like I did with Olivia. She doesn’t seem very excited about the fact though.
83: Trainers, shorts, running top and gps… check! All set to join my friend for a run around the reservoir. We used to go almost every weekend, but haven’t run for a few months. I have been keen to get back into it, but keep putting it off, as it never seems like the right time. The weather was glorious, sunshine and blue sky, and we did 6.1 miles before heading back to the car. Not long after getting home and enjoying a nice soak in a hot bath to relax my leg muscles, I watched the grey clouds head over and the downpour started. It suddenly wasn’t a day for a picnic blanket in the park any more!
The project continues, and as recent parenting would dictate, I am behind by a few days yet again. So now I am trying to catch up before bed whilst watching the very funny Celebrity Juice Live Special on tv after just watching Speed with Guy Martin: F1 Special in the run up to the start of the Formula 1 season, which starts with Free Practice on Friday ahead of the first race in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday morning. Its fair to say that I am more than just a little excited, although setting the alarm for 4am doesn’t appeal great, but the bacon sandwiches and cups of tea will make up for it!
Its not often I actually sit down and watch much tv, in fact most evenings I’d be just as happy to turn the tv off altogether. The evenings viewing is usually dictated by the wife, and we clearly have very different ideas about what makes good tv, but tonight has proved to be entertaining viewing for a change. The only frustrating aspect is that this has all been on terrestrial tv and the small fortune that I am paying Sky each month really doesn’t seem to have been great value for money this evening! Alas, such is life!
So where did we get to with the 365 project, well its hardly been ground breaking photography, but it is a documentary of recent events. Many people undertake 365 projects all the time, but there are no rules apart from taking a photo every day. Your project is your own and any rules around it are those you impose yourself. I want my project to be a mix of documentary photos, to be able to look back on the whole year and see my girls growing up, mixed in with some more tricky photos that will take a bit more thought and effort where I have to push myself a bit and try something new.
64: A day where not many photos end up getting taken, but it is bin night, so while I am out there I grab my camera and wide angle lens and grab this. I like the way the lens distortion creates the converging lines, and the black and white aspect removes the distracting orange glow from the street lights allowing your eyes to follow the road.
65: As our newest little lady turns five weeks old, she is becoming more alert and aware of what and who is around her. I think there is something really lovely about a photo with a real small depth of focus to bring attention to the eyes, and even more so when you remove the colour and therefore remove any distractions. Black and white really allows you to see what is going on in a photo, colour can take some of the focus away from a scene.
66: Saturday we were meeting our antenatal friends so that the little ones could enjoy a morning of soft play. It was nice to see them playing together and burning off a bit of energy, although it was a little dark and rather chaotic in there, so I didn’t take many photos. The session was over before we knew it so I suggested we head out for a walk in the park. Whilst most of the couples were busy afterwards, one of them came with us so our girls could play together and a lovely afternoon in the sunshine was had by all!
67: Another fine day, the weather was mild and pleasant. After taking Olivia swimming in the morning I had arranged to meet some friends at the local park with their little ones in the afternoon. I hate to waste good weather by staying indoors, especially when we haven’t been getting out enough lately. At the park it was a chance to take advantage of some natural light and get a nice shot of Olivia. In her first year I tried to get a photo most days, as they change so much in the first 12 months, but now I am trying to take less “snaps”, and more portraits that are worth framing.
68: The new bouncer chair that we bought for Chloe turned out to a bit of a disappointment, as she always looked uncomfortable in it and it never seemed to relax her. So I went into the loft and dug out Olivia’s old bouncer chair, and after dusting it down and putting the cover through the wash, it was as good as new. Chloe was instantly much happier in it!
69: A similar image to yesterday, but less of a snapshot. With my 85mm portrait lens still fixed on my camera, I want to get a nice portrait shot of Chloe while she is sat in the bouncer again and happy. The screaming, although still regular, is becoming less frequent, and we are starting to see the beginning of some smiles here and there. This makes it far easier to take nice photos of her, as I don’t really want to capture all the screaming red faces. We had so many early photos of Olivia, particularly in the first three months, she was a placid baby which made it easy, but with Chloe being upset so frequently .
So thats the project up to day 69, more to follow soon. What have you been photographing recently?
Well the 365 project continues, but there is one thing that must come to an end, and that’s my relentless eating and consequent weight gain. Its fair to say it has been a somewhat distracting couple of months, which all started in the run up to christmas. For me, the festive period is a time to relax, ease up on the exercise, and generally eat and drink pretty much what I like, with the intention of burning it off when spring arrives. Unfortunately soon after the new year I was ill for a couple of weeks and in no real shape to be running or cycling, so I put all the exercise on hold. Then, pretty much as soon as I’d recovered it was the run up to the due date for baby number 2!
In the aftermath of a newborn, especially with a toddler running around distracting you, there are frequently evenings where you just cannot be bothered to cook. We totally caved in and took advantage of the Just Eat app on our phones, takeaway heaven! It was all good, but boy am I paying for it now!
So the time has come to dust off my trusty myfitnesspal app, and admit that something needs to change rapidly before I find myself heading off to the shops to depressingly refit my entire wardrobe with all new clothes in the next size up! I need to be banning all the snacks, and other calorie laden treats, especially and specifically the biscuits, crisps, beer and chocolate!
Its fair to say I have surprising will power when I need it, and can stick at pretty much anything when I put my mind to it… except healthy eating it would appear. I have a real weakness for snacks, especially when I have just walked in from cycling my bike home from work and feel an instant craving for the sugary goodness that lines the biscuit tin! Giving in to it in a moment of weakness is all too easy, especially when you keep all that crap in your cupboards!
I have to remember that I have both my daughters christening and my 40th birthday to look forward to this year (still trying not to think about the 40th!) and I do not want to look back on those and be thinking about how fat I look in the photos! Time to get my ass in gear!
Anyway, more about that another time, on with the 365…
48: There have been some beautiful viewings of the moon recently, the skies have been clear and the air has been cold. Winter is a great time of year for star gazing, and there is a whole genre of photography dedicated to it. I’d love to take more photos of the stars, but I am not sure what kind of market there would be for those. I captured this shot of the moon with my 70-200mm lens on a cropped sensor camera, but still had to crop into the photo to get this.
49: One thing we haven’t been short of recently is flowers around the house. One thing we have been short of is vases to put them all in!I lose track of when the different bunches arrived, but this particular one doesn’t seem to be doing so well, I was wondering if the cold was affecting it as it was so close to the window? I still thought it would make a good shot anyway.
50: Clearly the wife has been food shopping and I need to rethink snack time, maybe a nice healthy apple would be a better alternative to biscuits!
Days 46 & 47 of the 365
46: The final day at home before returning to work since the arrival of Chloe, and Olivia is playing the role of big sister very well, she seems to enjoy having a little sister around, even if she does pull a few funny faces while doing it. Its lovely to see all the curls that she has going on, especially as we had been swimming in the morning and leaving the hair to dry only seems to add more curls!
47: Day one of returning to work all done, and just glad to be home again with my ladies. After a very grumpy Sunday, Chloe seems to have had a much better day, although we have made the decision to try Infacol to see if any hint of colic is causing her to be so upset. It was nice to see her so relaxed today, as last night was pretty difficult for us, and as easy as we’ve had things so far, the relentless crying is draining on your sanity!
More to come soon!
The next instalment of 365 photos, days 41 to 45, for your viewing pleasure.
41: Its a shot I love taking and have taken many times, including a shot of Olivia when she was newborn, its one I’d kick myself for if I forgot to take. It is the black and white close up shot of Chloe holding her mothers finger, having the adult finger helps to establish the contrast in size. One day soon those tiny little fingers won’t look so tiny any more, we’ll wonder where the time has gone and wish we’d done something to help us remember it!
42: The never ending corridor. Well, it does end, eventually. This was taken when I was visiting my friend, on the link bridge between the new hospital and the old hospital, which I didn’t even realise was still standing. I knew this was my shot as soon as I turned the corner, and thankfully it stayed empty long enough for me to get the shot without me looking a bit weird!
43: As has proved a common feature over the last two weeks, another day spent at home waiting for people to visit. Today it was some of the wife’s work friends turning up for tea and biscuits. I had two choices, either sit feeling slightly awkward amongst a room full of nattering women and listen to their ramblings, or simply stay out of the way and find something else to do. I obviously chose the latter, and hid myself away upstairs. As they’d stayed a little longer than I had anticipated, I didn’t have much time to head out and take any photos, but found this shot of some flowers on the windowsill looking lovely in the sunlight.
44: When the day is drawing to an end and you know you have barely touched your camera, its already dark outside and most people are in bed, what do you do? Stop looking for a model and BE the model! Nothing wrong with a silly selfie once in a while.
45: I’ve been a Canon shooter for years now, but my wonderful 5D is getting on a bit, and as these things don’t last forever I had to look at a new camera, the Fuji X-T1, which has the added advantage of being smaller and lighter, and also works with my lights and radio triggers. I took this shot with the new camera and placed the flash on the fireplace at the side of the room.
I can’t wait for spring to roll around so we can get outside a little more and get a few outdoor photos. The 365 project is fun, but shooting outdoors opens up a whole new world of possibilities!
Its over, our final weekend of being a three person family is done! Next weekend there will be four of us! What a week it is going to be!
The weekend wasn’t marked in any special way, with the wife being as pregnant and large as she is, with just a few days left to go, she’s easily exhausted and currently not inspired to do much.
We did make it over to see my mother and visit the wifes parents too, I also made sure I found time to take my daughter swimming as I am not sure when we’ll next get chance. She has found a new confidence in the water, so I am trying to take her as often as I can at the moment, but the logistics of working around a toddler and a newborn hasn’t yet kicked in. Life is about to get a little bit manic, and we soon won’t be able to give her the 100% attention she has been used to. We are going to have to make sure we do all we can to not make her feel left out.
One thing the wife has been filling her time with is a bit of baking at home, and I came home from work on Thursday to be greeted by the smell of freshly baked cupcakes. This usually means that sadly they are either being taken to work, and hence I don’t get a look in, or the cakes are for a church sale and yet again I don’t get a look in, or the wife has friends coming round and I don’t get a look in. With the wife being on maternity leave, no-one due to visit, and no church fete anytime soon I was pleased to find out that she had baked them to pass the time and I could tuck in! Result!
I love Friday, I always get home an hour earlier than the rest of the week. Apart from seeing my daughter for an hour longer, the other big bonus is getting home in daylight and being able to grab a few photos outside. I figured I haven’t taken a portrait shot of my daughter in a few weeks (I always wanted to get regular shots for the first few years) and so here was my chance to head outside for a few minutes and get a few photos. She has really got the idea of posing for the camera now, which makes the job a little easier.
Saturday found me handing more money over to my daughter. She is too young to grasp the concept of pocket money, or what to do with it, but she knows that coins are supposed to go in her money box, regardless of who they belonged to before she got her hands on them! I am often finding change has gone missing from the side of my bed, but I don’t mind. Its nice to know that she is getting into the habit of saving it in her money box though, who knows how much she’ll have when the time comes to spend it?!
Sunday was one of those days where I didn’t get much chance to get the camera out, but figured that as she is growing up so fast I’d want to remember the last few days of her being in a cotbed, as the wife reads her a bedtime story. I know that it is only a matter of weeks, or a couple of months at best now before she ends up in a proper bed and we hand the cotbed over to the new baby. It will be the final transition of our little baby becoming a big girl, which is why I have taken so many photos along the way (far too many, I know!). They are only little for a such a short while, and looking back there are so few photos of me growing up, which really saddens me, but in hindsight has made me treasure each and every photo that I do have. There is still a valid argument for quality over quantity, and more photos doesn’t mean better memories. Its easy to get carried away in this digital age though, and end up with hard drives full of thousands of photos that never get looked at, which is why I have taken to printing our favourites over the last few months, ready to put in albums. We’ve already had some fun looking through the prints that have arrived, at things we’d forgotten about.
So what is the current new baby news? Well its Monday night now and on Wednesday morning we’re up early to head into hospital to find out what time our slot is for the operation to have the baby airlifted out. It has been nice to know when the baby will actually be here, it takes away the uncertainty a bit and makes it easier to plan for. I’m feeling excited and nervous all at the same time, and I don’t think the reality of what is about to happen really kicks in until you are holding that baby in your arms. Then sh** gets real!
We’ve done pretty much all we can to plan and prepare for this, and there are still a few bits to do around the house, but nothing that can’t wait a few more days. I guess I should be getting my man bag ready to take into hospital with a few essentials in, but being men we don’t need much, my camera and some lunch will probably do it. There won’t be a huge amount of waiting around to contend with, and once the baby is here, the parents will turn up, with our daughter in tow. So forget all that talk of books, magazines and ipods, those days of having free time and not knowing that to do with it are long gone! Now we are more concerned with where the time has gone, than what to do with it!
With the arrival of your first baby comes a wave of chaos, the great unknown, self doubt being exaggerated by a lack of sleep and rational thought. Your world turns upside down in mere minutes and is never to be the same again.
Then somehow you seem to find a bit of confidence along the way, you start getting your shiz together and life starts to gain a little bit of order… only a little bit mind, you have created a mini monster that is somehow under the impression that they are somehow running the show, no matter how much you attempt to convince them otherwise! A Saturday morning lie in is still nothing but a mere fantasy at the moment, and getting out of the house till doesn’t seem to have got any quicker, in fact probably quite the opposite!
Regardless, there does seem to be a certain element of order and routine to life… and then suddenly number two arrives!
Now anyone who knows us or has been reading this will know that our new number two isn’t actually here yet. If all goes according to plan then we are about a week out, and trying to prepare ourselves for it. What changes can we expect from not just having a newborn in the house again, but having a newborn AND two year old in the house? How will they interact? How will they get on? What if the new one is the exact opposite and never sleeps or always cries, or both? What if our first becomes insanely jealous and turns into a mini terrorist? What if we find we didn’t actually have good parenting skills the first time around and we just got lucky, and we’re actually rubbish parents who’ve successfully managed to wing it so far? I guess time will tell.
The preparation is almost complete now, after initially becoming a little complacent and not realising how little time we had left before we began to get anything ready. We have bottles and milk ready, the car seat and pram is also ready. We have clothes and nappies ready and waiting, and also some appropriately coloured clothing ready that we are keeping well hidden. We’ve kept the sex hidden for all this time, and if anyone found out before my mother, I can imagine that I suddenly wouldn’t be very popular any more.
It is nice to know that we can still use so much stuff again for a second time, as a lot of it doesn’t seem to get much use the first time around, and it is so easy to part with a small fortune if you are not prepared, simply haven’t done your research, or are so happy to part with your cash that you will literally buy anything and everything that you are told to, by every supplier who tries to convince you that their equipment is simply “must have, if you truly love your child”! When we were preparing for our first we really had to give ourselves a bit of a reality check now and again to make sure we were both in agreement of what we did or didn’t need. Some things seemed instantly appealing, but pausing for a moment and thinking ” do we REALLY need that?” or “when are we actually likely to use that?” meant we didn’t end up buying a ton of junk that we a) didn’t need and b) didn’t have room for. I think the majority of people like us realise that it’s nice to have new things along the way for your new little one, but there is no point breaking the bank, or putting yourself into debt for flashy stuff you simply do not need. So using some of things we bought for our first child again makes them seem even better value for money and even justified some of the stuff we purchased new. I was speaking to a friend only recently who spent more on just the pushchair/travel system alone than we spent on absolutely everything we bought for our daughter, including bedroom furniture and clothing. It comes as no surprise that in hindsight they are now regretting it considering how little use it got, but it is still so easily done. In fact when we were looking into buying ours I nearly fell over when I saw some of the price tags, and could not see a reason that justified the extra cost of some of them, other than a brand name!
In reality, having a new baby doesn’t need you to remortgage the house or take up drug dealing to finance it, it can be done in a modest budget. We didn’t spend a fortune, and could certainly have done it even cheaper than we did.
What do you regret throwing money at when you shopped for your baby?