The wife had made plans to go out with friends for lunch today, that was fine, but it left me with the dilemma of what to do with the girls. Lunch time wasn’t great to be making plans, they both need to eat and Chloe will be needing a nap, on top of which, after Olivia’s late night Peppa pig fest last night, she was lacking in enthusiasm a little too.
After dropping the wife in town, we came back and Chloe went straight up to bed as she’d unsurprisingly nodded off in the car. Olivia was happy to lie on the sofa with her feet up and watch Toy Story while I pottered around doing things.
Then I had an idea, lets get some nice photos of the girls. It had been something I had been meaning to do for a while, and so out came the back drop and studio lights, and with the limited space in the living room maximised by moving some furniture around, I was able to have a little fun with them both once Chloe was awake. For not being two years old yet, she sat surprisingly well for a few photos, but I was more surprised by Olivia who could not get enough of being in front of the camera, she was loving it!
The confines of the room made it tricky to set the lights up properly, but we made the best of it and got some nice photos out of the afternoon!
The evening was then a chance to relax when me and both my sisters got together fora siblings night, with one of them cooking for us. She wasn’t very confident in the kitchen, but did a great job, we’re looking forward to having another night arranged soon.
We’re coming up to two thirds of the way through the Project 365, as today marks 236 days out of 365. Some days have been far easier than others with opportunities literally jumping out at me, and then there have been some days when it was getting very late I was extremely tired and wanting to go to bed but was instead scouring the house desperately for something to photograph, because I’d promised myself that I wasn’t going to miss a day.
People take up a Project 365 for many reasons, some like to document, some like to understand their camera better, some like to improve their photography, some just like taking photos. I could probably say that all of those statements apply to me, although the one I appreciate the most is documenting things. Its fascinating looking back on all that has happened and reading about what I was thinking about it at the time, as so much has happened since I started my very first Project 365 back on January 1st 2013. The single biggest change is that we became parents that year, and again just over two years later. These two little ladies have changed our lives and everything we know, and documenting their journey has been so much fun, but I didn’t want it to be the ONLY thing I was photographing, so my one mission on this particular 365 is to make sure I mix up the content a little, the girls are still a huge and integral part of it, but I need to push myself in other areas too.
Soon I will be creating a post on advice for starting your very own 365 project, who would be interested in reading it?
We hadn’t particularly considered that Saturday was going to be a busy day, but I soon realised that I had a number of things on my agenda, and the day was going to fill up quickly. While everyone was getting ready in the morning, before we’d even left the house, I managed to grab a photo of Chloe with the Autumn sun streaming through the window behind her. I loved the shot straightaway, and knew it was one I’d be looking back on for many years to come.
With everyone ready to go, the first task on the list was getting Olivia to her dance class and keeping Chloe entertained until it was over. That went fairly smoothly, and was followed by heading over to the brother & sister in laws house for a charity coffee morning, which quickly filled a good chunk of our day up by turning into more of a coffee afternoon. We hadn’t anticipated being there for so long, but with a large rather expensive firework to be set off, we felt we really should at least hang around until it had started to go dark, which thankfully was happening quite early due to the time of year.
The third thing on my list was getting down to Streetbike to rebook my motorbike test, which was looking difficult as we hadn’t left the coffee morning yet, although an opportunity came up when it was clear we needed to get Chloe home for a nap, there was no way she was sleeping anywhere other than her bed, and there was no way we were getting through the day without her sleeping for a while, so the two of us set off for the house and left Olivia there with her mother.
With nap time done, it was time to head back out to the coffee morning/afternoon taking a quick detour via Streetbike where I successfully got my new test date booked in!
The final thing on my list was our very own back garden bonfire, and so after the coffee morning/afternoon drew to a close we heading home, going via the supermarket to pick up some sparklers. Once home, I set about building a fire while the girls had dinner, I’d already prepared some wood while Chloe was asleep, so it was a pretty quick process. There was just enough time to light it, give the girls a few sparklers each and toast a few marshmallows before they had to head up to bed.
And so, with all four items ticked off my agenda, we realised there wasn’t a lot of time left to cook dinner for ourselves, and so we finished off a fun Saturday by treating ourselves to an Indian takeaway!
If anyone has been following my blog, they will know that on the odd occasion I will resort to taking a self portrait as part of my daily photo project, yeah some days you just don’t have a camera in your hand or come across anything that grabs you. I always said that I did not just want this to be one photo of my girls after another after another, there needs to be a little variety.
So today I was almost ready for bed when I realised that I had not yet taken a shot for the day, and had to grab something before I headed upstairs. Once I had decided that a self portrait was on the cards, the one thing I wanted to do was try something different with the lighting. I am a big fan of off-camera flash and have had quite a few opportunities to practise this over the years. I wanted something dark and a bit gritty, and think that I managed to pull this off quite well. The fact that I just happened to have a very random and unexpected bloodshot eye only added to the effect.
Sunday was the final day of a week off before I had to go back to work, and the one day we had made absolutely zero plans for. The weather was looking good outside and once we were up and breakfast was done, we spent a little while pondering over what to with ourselves.
I was a little bored with the prospect of going to the park again, but after going through the shower and getting dressed, Clare came up with the fantastic idea of heading out to a farm to go pumpkin picking!
She soon found Essington Farm which wasn’t too far away and so after packing a small lunch for the girls, we headed out and jumped on the motorway. After locating the farm and taking a walk it wasn’t long before before we found some suitable pumpkins, dumped them in the car and decided to take advantage of their fantastic farm shop, which was packed with all sorts of goodies, and we could have easily spent a small fortune in there!
With only two days left until Halloween it was straight onto the task of scooping out and carving the two that we brought home, although there was no convincing Olivia to have anything scary on hers, nope, we had to do a cat… and not even a scary witches cat either! Pfftt! Kids!
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.
In a small inconvenience we had to hand over the car to our mechanic today for its annual service, it meant not being able to go far, but it needed doing. It brought with it two problems, firstly that we had originally arranged to meet friends, but this was the only day my mechanic could do, so we had to work around it, and secondly that my once mobile mechanic now has a garage that he works from which is 5 miles away. We have garages that are closer, but I have an inherent distrust of most mechanics and garages, even the BBC launched a Watchdog investigation on how corrupt they are. My mechanic is a friend of a friend who has been working on a lot of my friends cars for many years, he doesn’t do work if it doesn’t need doing as he has more than enough people waiting to use his services. His prices are always highly competitive as well, in fact often cheaper than local garages. Mechanics like this one are like four leaf clovers, if you find one, you hold onto them! I took the opportunity to throw the bike in the back of the car and cycle home once I’d dropped the car off, it is free and I haven’t been to the gym for a few days, so it was a good excuse to get some exercise!
We’d altered our plans with friends slightly so that instead of going to meet them for a day out, they came to us for lunch instead, it made things much easier. Just before they arrived we got a call from the mechanic… more work needed doing than just the regular service, some of which we knew about and was on the to-do list, so at least having it done today meant it was out of the way and we didnt have to worry about it any more, but it did mean that there was a good chance we wouldn’t get the car back today as a result.
We had a nice afternoon with our friends and the kids enjoyed playing together, and in a twist of good luck our mechanic called to say our car would be back with us in the afternoon. So with biscuit decorating finished and the house empty once our guests had gone, it was back on the bike to pick the car up, although with significantly lighter pockets than before!
If there’s one thing little missy loves, it’s a bottle of warm milk before before bed, is asignificant featured her bedtime routine, but the simple fact is that she is not far from her second birthday, and I don’t think we’re going to be seeing these bottles for much longer.
It’s not that we are desperate to take them off her, but they have to reach a natural end at some point and I think we’re getting close. She’s still having a bottle in the morning before breakfast, and I think that’ll be the first to go as we can easily replace that with breakfast itself, although the bedtime one may take a little longer as we scratch our heads trying to remember how we handled this situation with Olivia.
I grabbed this quick photo as I thought she looked so peaceful and calm in front of the TV drinking her milk, although when I reviewed the picture later on, it didn’t seem particularly special, it was just another photo and needed a little something doing to it. Some photos look nice in black and white, others just seem to leap off the screen when you remove the colour from the scene. This, for me, felt like one of the latter.
How often do you make our photos black and white?
A 365 project can be a tricky thing, some days you don’t feel as inspired as others. One of the hardest things is trying to find inspiration in a routine. The daily work schedule leaves little time for spontaneity, and having two small children at home who want attention as soon as I walk in the door, need to eat at the same time each day, go to bed at the same time each day and often need a bath at the same time most days, it doesn’t leave a lot of room to go out and get creative. I do the best I can with the little time I have, and sometimes I do wish I just had a little more time to commit to this project. Shots of the girls can feel like a bit of a cop out sometimes, whilst I love capturing them daily, it doesn’t feel like I am pushing my creativity to its full potential. On saying that though, it has definitely helped me create some amazing shots of the girls, especially when there is always a camera around and they are used to having one pointed at them without the usual “stand there… smile… no, look at me!” commands that often comes with photographing young children who would rather do anything else other than stand still!
Day 212 – Oct 15th
The busy weekend continues, and we begin Sunday with a visit to see some friends ahead of the arrival of their second baby. I say “we” in a fairly loose sense, as me and the girls had left the wife at home on her own to recover from not just a night on the prosecco with her friends, but also not crawling in until the early hours!
It was nice to see our friends, they are part of our antenatal group of friends, and so their daughter and Olivia are the same age and enjoy playing together. It will be really nice if they continued to stay friends as they grew up, although of course they will end up going to different schools, and may not see each other that often, but as an antenatal group, even four and a half years on, we are all still good friends and seem to be doing a pretty good job of keeping in touch with each other.
Olivia had been invited to a birthday party by one of her nursery friends, which was due to start straight after lunch, so after getting home from seeing our friends there was just time to grab our towel and swimming clothes things before we headed out again, as this was a swimming party. I’d not heard of one before, but this is now the second time we have been to one. Its at a sports centre that I have driven past countless times, but never knew existed. The swim is lovely as its an hour in a mood lit hydrotherapy pool, meaning the water is lovely and warm, then after getting changed we have an hour in the party room where the kids play and tuck into party food. The party happened to completely clash with Chloe’s nap time, and so she stayed behind at home for a snooze, meaning it was just me and Olivia. We weren’t entirely sure of the party etiquette regarding smaller siblings when it comes to parties anyway. I am sure no-one would have minded too much, but you don’t want to take liberties.
As a child, it seems like a pretty fun day, and as a parent it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Sunday either.
How did you spend yours?