Category Archives: Portrait
Working in a school, like any other jobs, has its pit falls and its benefits. One of the massive benefits is obviously the six weeks off work during the summer, and each and every year everyone who works in a school treasures those six weeks like its the first time they’ve ever had that long off! Its not that you get used to having six weeks of every summer and don’t appreciate it, but you definitely get used to filling the days and making plans to start/finish those things you’ve put off until you’ve finally got all this time to do it in. So far we have finished three full weeks and my to-do list is not looking much different to how it was in July when we finished the school term!
I look back and can’t even remember some of the days, and I was hoping that this 365 project would provide a little insight as to where the time went, but sadly I keep falling behind and forget what I did with the time, and why I took that particular photo for the day.
211: Kicking off with day 211, and this is one I have struggled with as I can’t seem to find any picture on any of my cameras or memory cards. Almost like I had not only totally failed to take a picture this day, but was completely oblivious to the fact! That was until I discovered this one particular image on my phone, and remembered how Chloe is starting, not only to sit up so much, but also reach out to grab things, and shows a particular fondness for chewing on the remote control.
212: I always feel lucky when I am asked to photograph the weddings of friends, and today I was photographing the very laid back and relaxed wedding of two lovely people. THey had put a lot of thought into all the little details of the day and didn’t seem to be particularly nervous or anxious about any part of the day… that was until the bride walked down the aisle and her emotions almost got the better of her. It was a beautiful moment!
213: Summer really does seem to have landed, and rather than just having a nice couple of days and calling it summer, we actually seem to be having a run of nice weather, August has turned out okay. We had a day without any plans today, and after spending all day yesterday at a wedding and not being able to see the girls before they went to bed, I wanted to get out and go for a walk up Clent Hills as a family. Its free, its simple, and kids just love getting outdoors and running around. A bit of sun on the skin and fresh air in the lungs, you can’t beat it!
214: A simple day at home with the mother and stepdad coming over for a bbq and to spend some time with the girls, who love seeing their grandparents.
215: At six months old we decided to try Olivia in this hanging door frame bouncer that had been donated to us from a friend, it went down really well and she loved it. So after being in the loft ever since, it was time to bring it down and dust it down so that we could now get Chloe in it too, now that she has just turned 6 months old. She doesn’t seem to have quite the same strength in her legs at the moment, but it seems to have gone down just as well.
216: After waiting a number of weeks, I decided to dig out the birthday present I had been given by one of my sisters, a wine making kit. I’ve never tried anything like this before, and it sounds particularly simple, but I guess without preparing it properly I could just as easily be making vinegar, as wine! Oh well, only one way to find out!
217: I finally gave in to the wife’s relentless and repeated requests to take the girls to West Midlands Safari Park. I’m sure it was for her benefit more than the girls! Oh well, I hadn’t been in decades and it was a lovely way to spend a few hours, if not a bit pricey to get in. The free return ticket softened the blow, but not being allowed on any of the park rides without paying even more on top of the already inflated ticket price was a bit of an insult. Still, there were lots of animals to see, Olivia was loving it, and with the dangerous animal enclosures we got to see plenty of lions and tigers pretty close up as we drove through.
218: It was that time of year again, the perseids meteor shower graced our skies in the wee small hours. I went up Clent Hills quite late for a better view, and met a friend up there who’d never really witnessed it before. I got a nice star shot photo, but loved this one I’d taken of Olivia and so much that I went with that as my photo for the day.
219: One thing I was keen to do while I was off for six weeks was to head back over to Sheldon Country Park, as we have the advantage of a play area, the farm animals, a sausage and bacon sandwich at the cafe where I also had the pleasure of bumping into a work colleague, and then the walk up the playing fields to the end of the runway at Birmingham International Airport. We’d gone with the in-laws and Chloe and Olivia’s cousin too, and I’d worked the day out so that we would be there in time to see the magnificent Emirates Airbus A380 taking off.
220: How does three years fly by so fast? Back in July 2013 we met six other wonderful couples all expecting their first child, just like us, and became really good friends with them. Since then we meet up in smaller groups, or as dads for a few beers, or as moms for afternoon coffee, and at least twice a year we always try to get together as a whole group, one time is christmas where we have a meal together early December, and the other time is mid August to have joint birthday celebration for all the little ones. The first year we met at Pizza Express and I managed to get a headshot of each of the kids, the second year was a garden party and so I made the effort to get another headshot, this year the headshot was kinda compulsory for me. I am hoping to do it again next year too!
So its back on the myfitnesspal app again for me, and today was all going so well… cycling into work, followed by a 2 mile run on the treadmill as soon as I get to work, before I hit the shower. I even pack a sensible lunch, and all is going well… until that is, I get home and discover the daughters home made biscuits and weaken!
Its no secret, my 40th birthday is edging closer and closer and there is simply no hiding from it. I was really hoping that when it finally landed I could at least feel slightly better about things by being at least a few pounds lighter, but that has really not worked out very well so far. I was doing especially well with the half stone head start after my recent bout of gastroenteritis, but think I’ve probably put all that back on now. My failing is not in my lack of exercise, its clearly my weakness for food! Still, at least I am back into the running again now, and there is still hope, one slip up does not mean the war has been lost!
At least one thing I have been able to keep up successfully is the 365 project, and I have even managed to break through the 100 days barrier, which feels like quite a landmark event.
95: A birthday party to go to, and Olivia is ready in her pretty dress. She still needs her afternoon nap, and this particular party was right in the middle of nap time, so we had to push through, but she made it, and had a wonderful time dancing!
96: Practising with a little off camera flash, which I always think makes for a more pleasing portrait, and this little lady is changing daily. The endless screaming everytime she is awake has virtually disappeared now, unless of course she is either hungry or super tired, and she is making some lovely faces and cooing noises, but even better is her tracking and the way she actually watches you and turns to look at you.
97: A black and white abstract perspective shot, something a bit different. Sometimes you need to be stuck for a photo at the end of the day to force you to see something normal in a different way.
98: A little bit of warm weather and Olivia can’t wait to get into the garden, she loves being outdoors. Part of todays excitement was the watering can and the plant spray, any excuse to play with water. After repeatedly watering the weeds for me, she discovered the joy of spraying everything, including herself!
99: Nothing is cuter than a sleeping baby shot, and even though she is spending longer and longer awake, Chloe is still sleeping for huge portions of the day. I went for a slightly desaturated look in this shot, taking some, but not all of the colour out of it. She is growing at a rate of knots at the moment, and I don’t think this moses basket will be big enough for much longer. Best get that spare room sorted asap!
100: Yes! 100 days of not missing a shot, even if some of them have been a bit rubbish along the way. I love this close up shot of Chloe the focus was more on the hand, but it hasn’t made the eye look especially out of focus. When doing portraits, usually it is a priority to get the eyes, if nothing else, in focus. Typically it is one of the rules of photography, but once you have learnt the rules, you can start to break them.
101: The middle of April, and all we want is a bit of sunshine to break up the rainy days… so what on earth is happening when we throw open the curtains on Saturday morning to see snow everywhere? I spotted on the video monitor that Olivia was awake, and as soon as she was up and saw outside, she wanted to be out in the snow. So we got dressed and headed straight out and got some snowballs on the go! I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed when the whole lot had melted by midday! It was fun while it lasted!
Oops! I think this is the longest I have left it between updates. I certainly can’t be doing that again, it has made keeping track of things and finding all the photos quite tricky and time consuming! I had to make notes to remind myself and everything!
What a week and a half it has been! Obviously I have been off work as it has been the easter holidays, but it hasn’t all been straight forward. There were many chores to do, as well as people we wanted to see, and it hasn’t all been possible, even with two weeks off work. A house full of germs in the second week has really put the brakes on a lot of our plans.
84: On the Wednesday I was out in the morning, looking after my friends son before heading home to see our friend who was visiting with her son, and heading out with them and the kids to the park.
85: With Olivia in nursery we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy lunch with the in-laws and visited the new Miller & Carter restaurant up the road from us. It was a new experience as we’d never been to a Miller & Carter before, and it did not disappoint! We were lucky that Chloe slept through the entire thing so we could eat lunch uninterrupted, although the crying is starting to be replaced with smiles more lately anyway. Straight after lunch we shot off to nursery to see Olivia’s easter bonnet parade.
86: Off the the Birmingham Childrens Hospital today for Chloe to have her harness looked at. It has been on for two weeks now, although it feels more like two months! Olivia came with us, all dressed up in bright colours, and behaved so well even though we had to wait a while. The Childrens hospital is quite a sad place sometimes, to see parents in tears, standing in corridors consoling each other is just heart breaking. As lovely as the staff are, I’ll be glad when the harness is off and we don’t have to go there again.
87: Saturday was a much more cheerful day. After a very early start to head into town and visit the Apple Store about the battery issue on my phone, we were off the the Birmingham Nature Centre to meet some friends for a spot of lunch and a wander round the park with the little ones looking at the various animals. Thankfully it stayed dry, and the kids had a lovely time.
88: What better way to start a Sunday than with a trip to the swimming pool to meet friends. Olivia got to swim and play with her friend Amber before we headed off to the cafe for a drink and a biscuit.
89: Monday we couldn’t go far as we were waiting for the men to turn up and put up the scaffolding outside our house, ready for the window to be replaced in a few days time. Olivia decided to set up camp with her lunch and watch the men, make sure they do a proper job!
90: The germs decide to settle into the Vokes household and bother all of us. Olivia had a bad nights sleep with what we suspected might be whooping cough, so we kept her off nursery for the day. A trip to the doctors ruled out whooping cough, although it was an hour and ten minutes of waiting in the surgery waiting room beyond our appointment time to find it out. So we milked the appointment while we were there, getting both Olivia and Chloe checked out in one go, with Chloe needing two separate checks. Getting 3 for 1 value almost made the wait worthwhile. As we didn’t go far, I decided to take Olivia out for a little walk, where I snapped todays shot with my phone. The blossom is starting to come out early on all the trees running down the roads around where we live. Beautiful while it lasts, but in a couple of weeks it will all be gone and the trees will be empty again for another year!
91: A slow start to the day, and all three of my ladies in bed snuggling. Not much room for me though! Olivia had another unsettled nights sleep, so we only got as far as visiting a friend for the afternoon.
92: After looking after my friends son in the morning, it was home to tidy up and prepare dinner as we had a friend joining us for food that evening. I took a snap of Chloe as she is starting to smile so much lately, it really is lovely to see. We’re also getting a few babbling noises as well, she seems to be changing so much.
93: The weather forecast was wet, but our plans were fixed… we were off to the zoo to meet friends. I think the weather made the parking easier and kept the queues down, but thankfully it was only showers so we got around to see all the animals and even when it did pour, the kids enjoyed it!
94: Another morning looking after my friends son, and a walk around the Lickey Hills. It is so beautiful here when the sun comes out, and I always wish I’d remember to take the family when I am there!
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!
So I’ve made a decision to keep the 365 and regular blog posts separate, this will hopefully make it easier and quicker to upload and update the blog with photos. We’ll see how it goes.
34: The baby photos continue… they have to really don’t they?! This little lady will continue to change so much over the first year. I took so many of Olivia when she was newborn, that I didn’t want there to be a huge contrast in the number of photos of each of them.
35: I did some newborn photography training a few months ago, and knew that I had to put it to some good use now that I had the perfect opportunity, and so set up my studio lights and back drop and after taking photos of my friends little girl, I had to make the most of a willing model where I didn’t feel the pressure of a nervous parent watching over me, and was suitably pleased with the result.
36: On the Thursday, we had made arrangements to go out for lunch with the in-laws to our favourite carvery. The closest carvery is on our doorstep, but it is worth the extra drive to get our favourite. Afterwards we spend the afternoon relaxing with tea and a cake, one could have been forgiven for thinking it was a Sunday!
37: Friday, technically the last day of my paternity leave, as the following week was half term and essentially a free week at home for me. After we went for a walk around the local woods and park, I took the opportunity to head into work to show off Chloe to some of my colleagues, before treating myself to a few Friday night beers.
38: With my lights and back drop still out, I wanted to get some nice photos of Olivia too, as I didn’t want it all to just be about Chloe. The wife and me are quite mindful that Olivia isn’t feeling left out as it is so easy to overlook the needs of the bigger child when there is a newborn in the house.
39: Whilst waiting for friends to arrive after lunch, Olivia decided to get out her new toy train set, which we chose together on a recent trip to Toys R Us to spend a christmas voucher. Some thought it wasn’t a very girly toy, but I am keen to try not to stereotype her too much. The wife loves putting her in pink and giving her dolls, which is all fine, but I want her to know there are other things to explore and she is free to choose. If kicking balls and playing with cars is her thing, then so be it!
40: The weather is all over the place at the moment, we’ve had wet days, windy days, cold days, mild days. Today was bright and sunny, and felt quite mild while the sun was out, but as soon as it went behind a cloud it suddenly felt arctic! While the sun was beating down, I noticed how much the crocuses in our garden were thriving, I loved their colours in the sunlight, and this clump made a lovely shot looking directly from above.
“What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream?”
Managed to get a photo nice and early today, but only just managed to get it uploaded. Have spent the day at the house putting the kitchen cupboards together and still haven’t finished, looks like a lot of my sunday will be spent doing the same. I am looking forward to stopping for dinner and watching the Canadian Grand Prix, and am currently sat catching up on todays qualifying. Off out in a little while to pick the in-laws up from the airport.
“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”
A grey, cold morning turned into a lovely afternoon and the sun stayed out for some photos with a lovely couple ahead of their wedding in just over a week. A trip to Priory Park to use the abbey ruins was hindered by the ruins being fenced off for restoration, but that didn’t stop us getting some gorgeous photos. Can’t wait for the big day, its going to be lovely if the weather stays like this!
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”
An early start today to accept the delivery of our new bathroom and a chance to tidy the garage ready for the delivery of the new kitchen next week.
Then I went to pick up my good friend Alan who has made the bold decision to put his job on hold, pack his suitcase and camera and head out to Australia to spend the next two years travelling the world. The wife and me took Alan for a lovely lunch before I dropped her home and took Alan to the airport. The traffic was horrific and when we finally got there I had to drop him off and go. Long goodbyes are difficult, and alan had already been through that when he waved his girlfriend off a few weeks ago, although now he is on his way to see her again! As I wasn’t hanging around at the airport I headed off for my regular Tuesday night Jujitsu training session. Right now Alan is in the air, and i’m feeling a bit sad about it, so I think I will go and pour a drink, raise to my good friend and wish him safe travels. This photo for today is the only one this year that was not taken by me, thanks to the wife’s photography skills!
Have a blast Alan, this drinks for you, see you soon!
“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”
A busy start to day ends up with a quiet evening at home. Another engineer round at the new house to give us a quote on a heating system. Then off out to see an old school friend who has been tattooing pretty much since we left school, kinda got me thinking about a new tattoo… hmm! Then I went over to see my another friend who I took out for bit of a talk of photography, she’s doing great with baby shots and studio flash lights, but not such much outdoors with natural light. So I grabbed a couple of quick shots of her to demonstrate different features of lenses and settings. Quite liked this one.