365 project, Photography

Day 060 – I don’t want it to always be like this

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Day 60 – May 16th

Another year has rolled around again, and with my birthday almost here, I sit here and wonder where a whole 12 months has gone, and wonder what I did with my time… and how the hell it made 12 months vanish in a flash!

This time last year I was about to turn forty, it was the last couple of days of my thirties, and I guess I was feeling a little reflective. My thirties had been far better to me that I had ever imagined, especially when I consider where I was, and what was happening when I actually turned thirty. It wasn’t a great place, I jumped into a job that I hated and was dating a girl who was totally not suited to me. She was a party girl who gave no thought to the future, and was all about pleasing herself, I didn’t even get a present for my thirtieth birthday. Forget surprise trips to Vegas or New York like some of my friends seemed to be enjoying, I just had to be grateful she’d bothered to get me a card, seriously!

Anyway, without going into too much detail about that, roughly about 18 months later I met my wonderful wife, who has changed my life in so many wonderful ways, and given me two beautiful girls. So as I sit here looking back on what has been, I can’t be too regretful for the choices I’ve made, as they’ve brought me here to where I am today.

My only real regret is that we don’t make enough time for each other at the moment. Its all part and parcel of being parents, the girls are young, and they come before everything else. They are our world and we both put them above ourselves and each other. We had no idea what being a parent would actually be like beforehand, regardless of what people told us, so this overwhelming love for our children that has made absolutely everything else less of a priority has kind of created an unwritten understanding between me and the wife, in that I am no longer her number one any more, and vice versa… the girls come first. We happily accept this, and know that one day they will become independent young ladies, and we will be left with little option but to turn the focus back to ourselves again.

It would be nice, however, to make sure that me and the wife still have a bit of time together, as a couple, to enjoy each others company. To remember what makes the other one smile, and enjoy all the reasons we got together in the first place. We just need to show a little more patience first, our time will come!

Moving onto todays photo, this particular evening I had invited over an old school friend, back from when I was at infant and junior school, so it has been a good few years since we not only knew each other, but actually last saw each other, up until we’d started meeting just before Christmas. She had enquired about photography training courses on facebook, and I replied that I had been thinking of putting some together. If she was willing to be my guinea pig, then I’d happily share my knowledge for free. We both got something out of it, and it was great to catch up too, especially as she wasn’t living far away. She may well be reading this, and I hope she doesn’t mind me using this photo for the day, it was only taken to demonstrate a lighting technique, but I think it turned out well!

Canon 50D – Canon 24-70mm @ 31mm – F/3.5 – ISO400 – 1/160s – Canon 430EX speedlite off-camera w/radio trigger

365 project

Day 032 – Turn off the tv and get outside

Day 32 – Apr 18th

Just as the brexit dust has settled, people have started getting used to the idea a little more, and the very vocal online community of angry remainers have started to calmdown… the government tosses another political hand grenade over the fence, and called a general election for this summer.

Aside from the usual news reports and party political broadcasts, this can mean only one other thing… Facebook is about to become a political soapbox for a bunch of new found experts on the matter. It’s going to be pretty much unbearable for at least two months, and most likely even a month after its supposedly over! Everyone will be sharing their opinions, telling everyone else which way to vote and making them feel bad if they don’t. I would even consider coming off Facebook for a while, but I know thats not really going to happen, and why should I?! It’s my Facebook too, and its serves a purpose for what I need it for. There is an alternative of course, put the phone down (does no-one use a laptop any more?) and just go outside, which is exactly what I did today.

I’d already spent a portion of the afternoon walking round Lickey Hills, and as soon as we collected Olivia from nursery we were straight out in the back garden. Not having the tv on makes me happy, its good to be outside. I made sure Chloe came out too, I was fairly sure that even though she is still putting everything in her mouth, the grass at least would be safe from being chomped on!

365 project, Photography

Day 006 – Brighter days are coming

Day 6 – Mar 23rd

Here in the UK we are on the verge of spring arriving, and at the weekend the clocks go forward for British Summer Time, also known as Daylight Savings Time an idea thought up by a man called William Willet in 1907, it was finally passed by parliament in 1916. Pop trivia fact, William Willet is actually the great great grandfather of Coldplay’s Chris Martin!

So with spring almost here, and the days getting significantly longer, its really nice to start seeing some more sunlight at last in what has been a fairly wet, misty and windy end to the winter. The flower seeds I planted a number of weeks ago are all thriving and soon it will be warm enough to plant them out, much to the relief of the wife who is thoroughly sick of seeing them sat on the windowsill!

Todays photo was one I caught of my daughter as she sat near the wonderful light coming in from the front window. There is a real sweet spot near this window which has produced some fantastic light in the right conditions and made for some of my favourite photos!

Photography

All good things must come to an end

Easter holidays are now officially over, I really dont know where two weeks has gone, it only feels like a week! Sunday evening has landed again, and while I don’t think I will finish this post tonight, I have at least made a start.

Yes, two weeks have flown by in a blur, and I have had some lovely time with Olivia on the days it has just been me and her, some great family time on the few days that Clare had booked off work, and even a couple of days to myself where Clare was working and Olivia was in nursery. Its not compulsory that we send her to nursery while one of us is off work, but the fact is that regardless of whether she is there or not, we still have to pay for the day. So if we pay for it, we may as well use it, especially as she enjoys nursery anyway. It also gives us the chance to get jobs done around the house that we can’t whilst trying to entertain a toddler. I had a couple of things I wanted to tackle while I had the chance, one of which being the garage, which needed to be sorted out and tidied up. The other was the garden, as I haven’t had chance to do much with it since the winter has passed. Now the warmer spring months are here, the weeds are starting to go crazy, and I am refusing to let them take over, as it will only mean that if I do, the job ends up taking twice as long when I do finally get around to it.

Thankfully I crossed the garage off the list and made a good start on the garden, even managing to get some vegetables planted, as well as squeezing in time with the family. This last week has been extra busy as I have been trying to sort through all of the weekends wedding photos too, two weddings and over two thousand photos between them to go through! The days just haven’t been long enough, and when its like that they seem to go so much faster.

The weather was really starting to feel like spring on the second week, with the sunshine making a regular appearance and the temperature beginning to go up. We took the opportunity to put one of Olivia’s christmas presents together, it was a garden sand pit which we’d asked for with the intention of saving it for the better weather, not for making our daughter play out in the ice with blue fingers!

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The sand pit was a hit, but also playing out in the back garden was too, she loves being outside! One of my big concerns when we moved into this house was the steps up from the back door to the lawn, they are big steps and pose a serious threat if she falls down them, certainly a trip to A&E with something broken! Having a friend who is a builder means I at least know where to turn for help. There won’t be any mates rates or discounts, I’ll pay full price, but a lot of us use him because we know he does a good job, especially in a tradeter where its easy to get conned and ripped off! He has been round to look at the steps and work out a price to replace them, I just hope that when the quote comes back, its at the very least affordable. I’d love Olivia to be out more in the garden over the summer, especially without the fear of her hurting herself trying to get up and down the steps as she seems to love going up and down them repeatedly for no reason at all!

The one other thing we managed to do was get Olivia measured up for some new shoes.  At this age they grow out of them so quickly, they barely last eight weeks and often aren’t even showing signs of wear. Still, even with this obvious gap in the market for some stiff competition, we are left with little option but to pay for the extortionally priced shoes, that are a quarter of the size of mine, yet still more expensive! the girl is growing fast and needs new shoes. This time we actually treated her to two pairs, a normal pair, and a lighter, more breathable pair for warmer days. In theory, with two pairs, there will be less wear on each and it will be easy to resell them. For me, it seems a shame we can’t keep these cute little shoes, but really, thats just the hoarder in me coming out, we’d have absolutely no use for them, and they’d just end up taking up space somewhere, probably in the loft where we wouldn’t look at them again. At least if these end up on ebay we can recover some of the cost of her next pair! Clarks have literally dominated the market in childrens first shoes and there is little competition in this area, which is reflected in the ridiculous costs for something this small! Still, they do look quite cute though!

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After her few days off, Clare sadly had to return to work, leaving me with the little one once again. I was very grateful that the weather was at least on our side this year, and we weren’t restricted to sitting around the house. I had arranged to meet up with a friend and her little girl at the local park so they could play together, and while we were chatting found out that they were also taking her swimming at the weekend at a local pool. This was a perfect opportunity for me to get Olivia back into the pool again, which I’d been wanting to do for a number of weeks. I was always keen to take Olivia swimming regularly, but for various reasons it hasn’t ended up being very regular at all. Much like my running, of course, there is the extra incentive if you happen to be meeting someone there, it gets you off your backside and out of the house! After getting up early to watch the Chinese Grand Prix, we jumped in the car and made our way down to the pool, and it was definitely an hour well spent, she loved it! It has been a few months since we last went and the one thing that became immediately obvious when we were in there was how snug my swimming shorts had suddenly become! I have definitely fallen off the diet wagon over the easter holidays and those extra creme eggs have become a bit of an issue apparently, along with a couple of take aways and the odd beer here and there! It looks like it’s time to start getting strict again, time to get back on the myfitnesspal app. I just need to cut out the crap and make sure I keep my exercise up. I know myfitnesspal works, I’ve used it before and lost a whole lot of weight, I can do it again, I just need a bit of encouragement!

Personal, Photography

Counting down the days

I have an awful lot in my life to be grateful for, and most of it comes down to a chance meeting on a drunken night out when I met a beautiful girl who ended up being my wife. The rather flat and pale start I’d had to my 30s suddenly changed direction when I met Clare, we soon moved in together, I changed jobs, started a photography business, we got married, went on an amazing honeymoon and eventually bought a house together, and then the best bit…we became parents and welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. 

In looking back, I’ve come an awful long way in the last six years, and I couldn’t have done it on my own. Some days I feel like I can take on the world, but then there are still days when I just want to sit at home and shut the world out.

Today is definitely one of those days.

I’m feeling tired and grumpy, the weekend was quite busy, and although it was generally a good weekend, it still came with its problems. In reality these were small compared to how good the rest of the weekend was, but being in the mood I’m in today I find myself dwelling on these little things.

It’s at times like these when you need to stop and put things into perspective, measure up your woes against someone else’s bad day, and see how bad things really are. As much as this is a great place for letting off a little steam, I don’t want to stop and dwell on things too much, so I’ll move on with the rest of the weekend.

We started our weekend with a trip to see the mortgage advisor first thing on Saturday morning, to get our mortgage deal renewed after the initial two year deal was up, and as we knew what we wanted it was a fairly quick and efficient process. It left me enough time to get home and get myself ready to photograph a very low key wedding of one of the wife’s work colleagues. My first wedding of the year, and thankfully a very small affair with a very friendly couple, it allowed me to ease myself back into the wedding season again without too much pressure. Photographing a wedding, from the outside, probably looks like quite an easy job. Turn up for a couple of hours, take a few snaps and head home with a pocketful of cash! The reality is far from that, and while there are many,many articles on exactly this kind of debate online, I won’t go into it now. Needless to say, I’ve totally lost count of the amount of weddings I’ve done over the last seven years, but I still get nervous even now! There is so much pressure, and so much to remember, there are so many things that can go wrong, and people that have paid you hundreds of pounds do not want excuses if you let them down… they’ve paid you, they want results! I have already made the decision to steer my business in the direction of newborn photography, as weddings are hugely time intensive. I can often meet a couple twice before the big day to discuss the details and probably visit the venue, then I can be with them for easily a 12 hour day, and then after that I have to spend many evenings (don’t forget I already have a full time job!) sifting through and editing the photos, oh and if they want and album that’ll need designing and ordering too! If only wedding photography was just a days work! The fact that this weekends wedding was a low key affair was an absolute blessing! I was still glad to head home and relax after it though.

Once I was home, that allowed the wife to take the car and get the food shopping. We’re still trying to make the switch over to Aldi as we know we can save money, but we just can’t quite seem to get everything we need from there. This week we managed it, and our weekly shop was significantly less than we were used to from Asda, result! My sister and her boyfriend popped in briefly on their way to a meal, and although they didn’t stay too long and we still had plenty of time to start cooking dinner, frankly neither of us were in a cooking mood… and so Indian takeaway it was!

I was quite surprised and pleased to see that I had got a “pub call” text from my friend Dave after we’d finished our takeaway. After him and his wife split up, he needed somewhere to stay and so he obviously had little other option than his parents for a few weeks, which is the other side of town, and so it seemed our walks to the pub had apparently come to an end at that point. He is, however, looking into renting somewhere close by, so he can still be near his son and close to work. He was made a special journey over to see me and so we were able to catch up for a few hours. It was good to see him, especially as I am not getting out as much these days, so the odd trip to the local once or twice a month was very appreciated and often as far as I’d go, unless of course there was a significant birthday or something to celebrate.

The funny thing is that as Clare’s parents had taken the flat off us when we bought a house and moved out so they could let it out, and it seems almost like fate that the current tenants are in the process of buying a house and the consequently the flat will now be available at a perfect time for when Dave needs somewhere in the area to rent! He thinks it a great idea that he will end up living in our flat! Its perfect for him as its a good size and still cheap, and in a perfect location too! Probably about the best result from his unfortunate situation. Living so close to one of my oldest friends was a real bonus, and it will be nice that we’ll still end up living within a short distance of each other!

Sunday morning was my usual time for running, but my running partner text me to call in sick, and as much as I was actually looking forward to a run, I didn’t have the motivation to drag myself out on my own, knowing I had plenty of other things to do today. It was the one day of the year I could have a total geek out… The Photography Show at the NEC! This was not a place for wives and children, not unless you want them constantly checking their watches and tutting and mumbling about all the other things they could be doing and how nice the weather was outside and how I couldn’t afford anything there anyway etc… so I went alone, and I was happy to do so! With my plans for moving away from weddings and into newborn photography, I needed a bit of kit, and found a few bargains there to get me started. As I already have my first paying customer planned, I can start to recover some of the costs already! Once the kit has paid for itself, I can fully justify the purchase and then its all profit! With the both of us wondering how we are going to afford baby no.2 whenever that happens, this could be a way to really help that problem! The only downside is that unlike a wedding, this requires a few props and such to make it work, and so requires an initial outlay. The plus side, is that props is actually all I will need as I already have all the cameras, lenses and kit that I’ll need from the weddings. However, this doesn’t stop me wandering around the NEC drooling at a few expensive items along the way. Eventually things will need upgrading, and until then a bit of window shopping never hurt anyone. Plus its a useful way to find out what the labs are bringing out, in terms of albums, and mounted prints and various other things that I can use to sell to try and make a bit more money along the way.

I knew when it was time to call it a day though, and so I headed home around lunchtime and the weather had actually turned really nice. It was sunny, and one could almost call it warm! So I decided that even though the wife had plans for lunch, as long as she hadn’t actually started cooking, I was going to suggest we abandon the idea and head out for something to eat. Like a pro poker player, she saw my idea and raised it… we were heading to cannon hill park where we could a) be outdoors and b) grab a sandwich and a cup of tea at the same time! Winner!

It was a lovely afternoon, and although the parking was nothing short of a nightmare, the park didn’t actually feel that busy. We stopped off at the Garden Tea Room and enjoyed a toasted cheese sandwich and a cup of tea while little madam attempted to demolish a Choc Dip.
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We finished the afternoon off by visiting my mom and her other half, which I like to do every couple of weeks as they can’t get over to us very easily any more. I’d like to go more often, but its not always possible sadly, so I always try and make the effort when I can.

So the weekend draws to a close yet again, it has been a busy one, but we have got lots done. The only problem with being busy is that you don’t notice how fast the weekend is actually going! So we decided to slow Sunday evening a bit with a few glasses of wine (for her) and a few beers (for me) while we put our feet up and watch a film, instead of the usual rubbish thats on tv! I have recently taken out a months free trial of NOW TV which is only slightly more expensive than Netflix, but has a far superior selection of films, and is making me seriously reconsider whether I want or need to keep my Netflix account! I’d already dropped LOVEfilm in favour of Netflix previously, but I am becoming seriously frustrated with the lack of decent films to watch on it! We opted for the Hangover 3 as neither of us were sure whether we’d actually seen it, and even when we started watching it and realised that we had, neither of us could remember what actually happened in it anyway, so we left it on and kept watching! A good chuckle and they’ve totally left the door open for a 4th film!

 

 

365 project, Personal, Photography

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The first day of the Christmas holidays, spent at home with my little girl. It was always going to be a day of not going very far, when unlike her normal waking up time of around 7am, today she doesn’t wake up until 11am! This is unheard of, but merely reflects the kind of night we had again, getting up on more than one occasion, to find her yet again covered in snot and with a temperature touching on almost 40Âșc. She doesn’t seem too bad during the day, then just deteriorates during the night, a total mystery! So after her massive lie in, I get her dressed and managed to give her a bottle of milk that she should have had around 9am before her morning nap, which todays actually turns out to be lunch, as less than three hours after she got up, and she is ready for what should have been her morning nap! The poor little thing is still under the weather and clearly exhausted, not only from being up at night herself, but also because of all the germs she is fighting off. Consequently, this nap proves to be an epic one and two and a half hours later I have no choice but to wake her up! In total she has only seen a total of about two hours and forty five minutes of daylight for today by this point as the sun has already set by the time her second nap is over! Still, if she needs to rest, then she needs to rest! Its a fine balance of letting her get enough rest to get over the germs, and making sure she’s awake long enough throughout the day to still be tired enough to sleep at bedtime. Every night I say a silent prayer to myself that tonight, just this once, she might sleep through again, like she used to! It feels like it has been forever since that last happened. Each night, it comes as no surprise that we get woken up again. The only consideration then is working out what has woken her, how we can settle her, how long it will take to settle her, at what point can we get her back into her cot (we’re trying to get her back in before we’ve actually got her back to sleep now!) and how much sleep we have left after that until the alarm goes off… oh yes, and of course the thought of whether or not tomorrow night might just be a bit different.

365 project, Personal, Photography

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I have been sat with the computer in front of me most of the evening and still managed to leave it to the last minute to type anything on here!

Teething has reached a climax now and our poor little lady has had a full night of misery. We took in in turns to get up to her and spend time with her. There was no quick fix, and there wasn’t much we could do that seemed to help her. She was in a lot of discomfort with her big back teeth coming through, and all we could do was keep her cool, make sure she had enough water to drink and give her cuddles to reassure her. Eventually Clare had to miss a day of work as she was feeling tough anyway, so it seemed to make sense at this point to leave her to look after Olivia as I needed to at least get a few hours shut eye if I was going to be going into work. I’d already been up for a while with her and done my bit, but it soon became clear that sleep was going to be a bit of a luxury and we were trying to keep Olivia comfortable and relaxed rather than getting her back to sleep. When I left for work Olivia went back down for a nap, and Clare took the opportunity to catch up on a bit of sleep herself. By all accounts they spent most of the rest of the day cuddled up on the sofa in front of the tv, which at least meant that Olivia wasn’t crying any more. I kept checking in with text messages throughout the day, and was at least pleased to hear that Olivia had started to find a little more energy in the afternoon, even though she’d barely eaten a scrap of food all day! Leaving work isn’t a quick affair for me when I am cycling, as I have to get changed into my cycling gear, make sure my backpack is packed properly, and then unlock my bike and lock the gates behind me before I can head off on my journey. Tonight I was ready to go, changed and loitering by the door ready to bolt as soon as it was time to leave, I wasn’t hanging around. By the time I got back I could see that dinner was already in the oven, and so I took over looking after Olivia while Clare carried on with serving dinner up. I think she was just a bit glad, by this point, to be able to hand a whingy baby over to someone else, and distract herself with some cooking!

I’m not going to drag this blog out tonight, there is plenty I can type and I’d love to write more, but its getting late and I am already tired after last nights episode with Olivia, especially considering that I can’t rule out more of the same tonight! Todays photo is a similar shot to yesterday, I had left the flash on, and the lightsphere, and my trusty 50mm lens on that creates that beautiful out of focus are behind Olivia. I couldn’t resist, especially with her crazy hair, which always makes me smile. Clare always wanted a baby with curly hair, and we got one! Some of our friends have babies that are now over a year old and still almost bald. Thankfully there appears to be a fairly strong gene on my side of the family that keeps my hair curly, and seems to have passed down on to Olivia. I know that she’ll still hate her hair as she grows up, she’ll curse not being able to do anything with it if its all straight and a bit limp, but then if it ends up being curly and wild she’ll still curse it equally as much, and she’ll convince herself that she can’t do a thing with it and that just attempting to straighten it will be a long slow process. In the meantime, while she doesn’t complain about hair, mommy and daddy love her curls!