A sunny engagement and family portrait session in Clyne Gardens, Swansea

A sunny engagement and family portrait session in Clyne Gardens, Swansea

I’m so happy to be sharing this fun portrait session with you all!  I met with Charlotte and Adrian and their boys back in the Autumn for an engagement/family portrait session in Clyne Gardens, which was a perfect way for me to get to know them (and vice versa) before I take their wedding photos in the summer!

Charlotte had told me before their session that they loved the photos that I took of their friends, Lara and Steve, as they were relaxed and natural, rather than being too posed, but that they also wanted to have photos where they were all looking at the camera and smiling.

So, with that in mind, I gently guided them into some group poses and then encouraged the natural smiles and laughter to come out with some Beloved prompts.  We’re all really happy with the resulting portraits!

Charlotte and Adrian were keen to have some portraits taken of just them, to celebrate their engagement, which I was really pleased to hear.  I absolutely love taking some time during family portrait sessions to take some photos of just the parents.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these photos will mean a huge amount to the children in the future!

This was such a fun session, and with 2 lively, independent boys there was never a dull moment!  One of the things I love about Beloved and moment design is that it creates sessions that are fun, and relaxed, leading to much more natural expressions and a great experience for those being photographed (the photographee?!).

When you have children who don’t really like having their photo taken, especially if that involves being asked to stand still and smile for the camera, then the thought of having a portrait session can be really stressful.

But with the tricks of Beloved and moment design up my sleeve you really don’t have to worry!

Charlotte and Adrian walked away from their session still smiling and relaxed, and really happy with their photos that showed the boys looking at the camera, but still looking like them!  Not ‘on their best behaviour’, not ‘smiling for the camera’, but just smiling, full of fun and energy, how kids should be!

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My baby girl is two

My baby girl is two

Two.  My baby girl is two.

How did that happen?  Where did the time go?

All of sudden she’s turned into this big, chatty, curious, charming girl.

A tall bundle of smiles and shyness and questions, questions, questions.

I get asked 100 times a day “Mummy, what you doing?” and 101 times “why?”.

She’s my shadow, my echo, my wonderful companion.  When Rhys is as school and Daddy’s at work it’s just us.  And she is lovely company.  She is my helper at the supermarket.  She is learning all the time through play with stickers, and dolls, and building megablock houses after a tug on my hand and a shout of “lets play me!”

She is feisty and stubborn and extremely independent.  “Me do it” has been a favourite expression for months now.  Yet she is still cautious; checking in to make sure I’m nearby when we’re out anywhere.  Studying my expression to make sure any new visitors to the house are ok to talk to.

She is loving.  So, so loving.  And, like her brother, she gives big hugs and, after making sure her nose is clean, big kisses.  There’s nothing quite like hearing your children say “love do too, Mummy”.

My baby girl.  Not such a baby any more!

Are you on instagram?  Come find me if you are!  
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A Beloved family portrait session in Singleton Park, Swansea

A Beloved family portrait session in Singleton Park, Swansea

Most mornings when I’m chasing Rhys into school with Nerys in tow I pass these two gorgeous girls, and they always make me smile.  Well, look at those faces, those smiles are pretty infectious!

So I was really looking forward to their family portrait session in Singleton Park, knowing that we would all have a lot of fun!

There’s a branch of the Beloved community called ‘Playful heart’ which is just perfect for family sessions like this, as it’s aimed at embracing the simply joys of childhood, and just having fun.  Victoria and her family were completely open to this approach to their portrait session, and so we jumped straight in with some little games to get them laughing together.
We’ve all got a ‘camera smile’ that we tend to do when we’re asked to pose and smile for photos.  And those smiles can be nice, but that’s it.  They’re just ‘nice’.  They don’t seem to quite make it to the eyes.

But the smiles that Beloved brings out?  They’re so far beyond ‘nice’.  They’re natural, genuine, infectious.
Don’t you think?!  I dare you to look at these gorgeous smiling faces and not start smiling yourself!

I love that these two slowed down long enough for me to grab these shots, but that you can still see that sparkle in their eyes, just that hint of mischief in there!

At all my family portrait sessions here in Swansea I aim to capture a variety of images for you to chose from, so along with group photos I like to take individual portraits that show off each family member’s features and personality just that little bit more.

I was so pleased when, towards the end of the session, Mark asked if I could take a quick few shots of just him and Victoria while the girls were busy examining the flowers in the botanical gardens.

These photos will mean so much to the girls when they’re older.  Seeing Mark and Victoria together, seeing the happiness and love between them, seeing THEM, will mean so much.

I say it every time, but please, please make the effort to exist in photos for your children!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this session, please do leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!

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10 benefits of pregnancy massage

10 benefits of pregnancy massage

Mums-to-be – how are you feeling right now?  

I’m guessing your answer will be something along the lines of, “excited, happy, full of love, but also sick, exhausted, nervous, sore, and emotional”

Pregnancy takes a LOT out of you, and if you’re working or looking after a toddler or older child then it can really leave you desperate for a sit down, or a sleep, or just a little bit of time for yourself to relax.

So to look after yourself and stop from getting completely run down, you can pack yourself off to bed early, lock yourself in the bathroom for a lovely soak in a bubble bath, or you can treat yourself to a wonderful pregnancy massage.

Here are my top ten reasons why you should chose to go for that massage, right now! 

10 benefits of pregnancy massage Swansea 

1) It will leave you feeling much more relaxed, less anxious and generally much better about everything.  This is because it reduces the levels of stress hormones that are floating round your body.  Having a massage has been found to have the same effect on people as hugging – both activities release oxytocin into the bloodstream which reduces stress and makes you feel calmer.

2) Being pregnant can put a real strain on you, both physically and emotionally, and taking the time out to just rest and enjoy a massage can help you reset and feel more like ‘you’ again.

3) Speaking of the physical strain pregnancy puts on you, having a massage can relieve a whole load of pregnancy discomforts like leg cramps, swollen ankles and back ache.

4) And on the theme of back ache, massage can really help if you’re experiencing sciatic pain, which is very common as the baby grows.

5) Massage in general is great as it can help to increase blood circulation, and this is especially good for mums-to-be because it means more oxygen and nutrients make their way to your baby.

6) Having regular massages throughout your pregnancy could potentially help you have an easier birth experience.  The theory behind this is that massage relaxes you, and more relaxed mothers tend to have a lower risk of interventions during labour and birth.

7) Your hormones may well be all over the shop during pregnancy, and massage can help to stabilize them by stimulating the endocrine system, which in turn will help you feel better all round.

8) Massage improves muscle tone and flexibility which can help you to maintain good posture throughout your pregnancy, and help you to adjust your alignment as your baby grows and gets heavier.

9) It can ease the load on your heart and help to keep your blood pressure down.

10) Last, but definitely not least, it can help you sleep better, as you’ll leave feeling more relaxed and more comfortable.

Personally, if I were pregnant right now I would book a massage for reason 10 alone!  How about you?!

10 benefits of pregnancy massage Swansea 

You Baby Me Mummy
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Swansea small business series – Cheryl Bendle, Oasis alternative therapies

Swansea small business series – Cheryl Bendle, Oasis alternative therapies

To celebrate the introduction of my ‘You, actually’ solo portrait sessions (which are perfect for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to have gorgeous photos of themselves for their websites and social media pages) I’m starting a new blog series all about other small business owners in Swansea and South Wales.

I love supporting local businesses and especially love the personal touch you get from small businesses and one-man-shows, there’s just a different vibe than the one you get from big businesses, don’t you think?

So to kick off this series, I am very happy to introduce Cheryl Bendle who runs Oasis alternative therapies on Brunswick street in Swansea.  

I’ve know Cheryl for about six months now, and she is genuinely one of the nicest, friendliest people I know.  She always has a smile on her face and is just brilliant at making other people smile along with her!

When I asked her to introduce herself she told me “I’m a little bit quirky, overly enthusiastic about everything and I love the colour turquoise”.

Yep, sounds about right to me!  I love how her photos captured her personality so perfectly, there’s nothing shy and retiring about Cheryl!

She’s been a massage therapist for over 9 years now, and has been running her Relaxation Retreat in Swansea since July 2014.  Her boutique therapy centre is in the middle of town and is a gorgeous little oasis of calm, all decked out in her signature turquoise of course!

When you arrive at the Relaxation Retreat Cheryl greets you with a great big smile and a lovely warm welcome, but don’t let the laughs deceive you, she takes her work very seriously!  In fact she goes so far as to describe herself as a “massage-a-holic”!
You can read all about the fab treatments she offers over on her website – www.oasisalternative.co.uk – but to give you a taste, here are some of the things she offers:

  • Swedish massage
  • Reflexology
  • Hot stones massage

Cheryl also specialises in treatments that are safe (and a real treat!) during pregnancy, like mum-to-be reflexology and mum-to-be massage.

She has this to say about treatments for pregnant women:

“Mum-to-be massages are one of my favourites and one of the most popular treatments they choose. It’s such a special time to be a part of and the mums are always so receptive to massage as they get a chance to unwind and have some natural pain relief from their increasingly achy muscles, backs and swollen hands and feet. And a relaxed and happy mum is always great environment for the baby too.

When clients are pregnant there are so many things they can’t do throughout the 9 months that they normally would, being able to have a massage gives them a sense of normality and comfort at least.

Massage is suitable from the second trimester of pregnancy and is enjoyed regularly throughout the whole pregnancy. Clients should always check their therapist is “Pregnancy Massage” qualified to ensure safety throughout treatments.”

Stay tuned for future posts about the amazing benefits of massage and reflexology during pregnancy.  There are so many benefits, I really wish I’d taken some time out for myself when I was pregnant (especially the second time around) to have a few treatments.

So, back to the girl behind Oasis alternative therapies.
To get to know her a bit more I asked her a few quick-fire questions, and here are her responses:

Big night out or cosy night in? Cosy night in… a bar with Prosecco!

Favourite quote? “When it rains, look for rainbows, when its dark, look for stars”

Tea or coffee? Coffee… lots of.

All time favourite film? Gladiator

Cake or biscuits? Cake… lots of.

Favourite thing about Swansea? My family & friends, my business and all my memories.

In the mood for a spot of pampering after reading this?  Here are all of Cheryl’s contact details!

Website:  http://www.oasisalternative.co.uk/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/OasisTherapies

Twitter: twitter.com/oasisswansea

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Personal project – our family photo – January 2016

Personal project – our family photo – January 2016

Confession time.

I started a personal photography project in January of last year.  I decided that, rather than do another project 365 or 10 on 10 project, I would take some kind of family portrait every month.

It seemed so easy.  Just one photo a month of all 4 of us.  But I think I managed 3 months before life got in the way, and I just sort of stopped.  I stopped making the effort.  I stopped taking the time to get the tripod set up and all 4 of us together and in the mood to take photos.  I just stopped.

And it makes me so, so sad.

I am huge believer in the importance of existing in photos.  Not just for ourselves, but for our children and our children’s children.  I believe in it so much I’ve written an ebook made up of tips for getting in front of the camera with our loved ones!

But having tried, and failed, to get in a photo with my family just once a month I really understand how hard it can be.  This is something I really hope to address, both personally and here on my blog and in my newsletter.

I want to work out WHY it was so hard to take that damn photo every month, and come up with strategies and solutions to ensure that I take the time to do it on a regular basis, and I want to share that information with you so that you can exist in more photos too.

And so I start afresh.

This year I will, once again, plan to take a family portrait every month.  I’m thinking of adding some fun variations some months, like a headshot of each one of us, or a photo of our favourite drink that month, but these will be in addition to the portrait of all 4 of us together.

Each month I’ll post our family portrait with some kind of update on who’s been doing what that month, which I think will be really great for us to look back on at the end of the year, and also might help you get to know me a little better!

To help keep me on track I’m going to be linking up my family portrait post each month to the ‘me and mine’ linky, where loads of amazing bloggers link up their own family portraits every month.  I think that might be my first tip for making the effort to get in front of the camera more – hold yourself accountable somehow!

So, here we go.  Here is my family portrait for January 2016!

Picture 

This photo sort of sums up what January was like for us.  We all piled on our bed to take the photo, just after Rhys and Nerys had their evening bath.  But in general it’s been a pyjamas-on, lounge-around kind of month, all thanks to a lovely flu-type virus that’s worked it’s way round (and round and round) the house.

Poorliness aside, this is what January was all about:

  • Rhys starting swimming lessons, which he is rather excited about and really enjoying.
  • Nerys moving from her cot bed to a proper, big-girl single bed, which she is VERY excited about.  There were loud shouts of “my bed” when she first saw it.
  • Speaking of shouts, Nerys has come on immensely with her speech.  Her vocabulary is expanding by the day and I am loving having little conversations with her, and laughing at some of the things she comes out with.  One of her expressions is “all day, all week”, which we think she might have heard on Peppa Pig and it’s fast becoming some kind of family catchphrase.
  • I’ve been really enjoying starting to find my feet with instagram.  I’ve had an account for a few years now, but have only in the last few weeks started to feel more at home and post more and I have to say I’m loving it at the moment!

So that’s January.  Done!

Here’s hoping that February brings far fewer bugs and many more trips to the park and the beach and much more time with family and friends!

The Me and Mine Project
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A newborn and family portrait session in Llantwit Major, South Wales

A newborn and family portrait session in Llantwit Major, South Wales

The last time I was in Llantwit Major was about 3 years ago, when I went to do a lifestyle newborn portrait session.

It poured with rain the whole time, but you wouldn’t know it from the beautiful photos we captured!  The family arranged for the photos to be taken at a lovely wooden lodge at Rosedew farm in Llantwit Major, because their house was in the middle of being renovated (so wasn’t quite picture perfect!).

Well, three years later I was delighted to be asked back for another fun, lifestyle portrait session with their newest addition!

Baby Rhodri kept me smiling the whole time I was there, because he was so much like his big brother!  They look so similar, but the main thing that made me smile was how, no matter how hard we tried, he did want to give in and go to sleep!

He was having far too much fun watching his big brother play I think!

He teased us for awhile.  Played along while he was swaddled oh-so-gently.  Kept his eyes shut while he was placed on the blanket and I got a few quick shots and then bam!  Wide awake!

But seriously, who could be upset about that when those gorgeous blue eyes are gazing at you?!

I love that we were able to get such a great mix of portraits of the gorgeous baby Rhodri and the wonderfully lively bundle of energy that is Dewi!

Lifestyle sessions like this are really laid back and so much fun, I mean, look at those smiling faces!

At-home family portrait sessions like this are just perfect if you have a busy toddler (who most likely wouldn’t want to sit nicely for photos in a studio), as they’re in their own environment, with all their things.  This leads to a relaxed, happy child and authentic, joyful images!

Having portraits taken at home is also great for newborn photos, whether you’re a first time mum (when the thought of having to organise yourself enough to leave the house for a photo session is just way too much!) or a second/third/fourth time mum (when the thought of having to entice older children into being good at a studio is just waaaay too much!).

Interested in an at-home family session of your own?  They’re great this time of year to capture some wonderful moments away from the cold and wet out there in South Wales!  Get in touch today to discuss booking a session!

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Three ways to freshen up your small business’s web presence

Three ways to freshen up your small business’s web presence

The new year is always a time for clearing out for me.

Decluttering and starting to clean up the house after all the decorations are taken down and the dust is suddenly very visible.  People everywhere are making changes, freshening up their homes, and their lives.

So now feels like a great time to take a look at a few things you can do if you have a small business (or have a web presence in any way, as a blogger or entrepreneur) to freshen everything up

Here are three things to consider sorting out to get the year off to a good start:

1)  Your ‘about’ page.  

I rewrote my about page a few months ago, and I’m pretty happy that it still feels ‘right’ for me!  But if you read your ‘about’ page and don’t feel it suits your brand, or it feels a bit bland, or you don’t actually have one yet (gasp!) then these resources might help you.

  • If you want someone to hold your hand a bit more with fab prompts and fill-in-the-blank ideas then Alexandra Franzen is your girl.  You’re bound to be drawn to at least one of her 5 ways to write your ‘about’ page!

2) Your mini bios.

These could be the bios that you use for your twitter or instagram accounts, or the bio that sits on your website side bar, like a micro ‘about me’ page!

This is something I do want to work on – I’d like to get a bit more personality into my website mini bio!

I’ll be referring to this article from Design your own lovely blog, which has quite a few examples for inspiration.

3) Your profile photo.

Well obviously I was going to mention this!

I really love the profile picture that I use at the moment.  It’s here on my website, over on my blog (This Glorious Life) and on all my social media accounts!  But, it was taken a few years ago now, so I think it might be time to get back in front of the camera!

If you need a headshot and/or some portraits of just you for your web presence then I really do recommend you invest in having some done professionally.  I wrote a blog post about three reasons why you should have professional portraits taken for your small business a few months ago, which you should go and read!

Get in touch with me if you think my style will work with your business and personality and you’d like to discuss booking a ‘you, actually’ session with me.

So, there we are, three things you can do to freshen up your website and social media accounts for the new year.  I bet you’re feeling like a new you already!

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A family portrait session in Singleton Park, Swansea

A family portrait session in Singleton Park, Swansea

When you book a photo session in Swansea with me, one of the first things I’ll do is send you a questionnaire to fill out.

It’s a wonderful way for me to start getting to know you, and to learn about the personalities of everyone who’ll be part of your session.  It sparks conversations via email that help us plan your perfect photo shoot.  And I absolutely love it because it means, by the time we meet properly to take your photos, I already feel like we know each other and that we’re on our way to being friends!

That’s definitely how I felt at this session with Louise and her lovely family.  Before the session Louise was able to tell me a bit about her girls, and how they might not be too keen on sitting still to have their photo taken, which is fine with me!

I love sessions where the children just do their thing!  It lets them relax enough to reveal their personalities which results in gorgeous, authentic portraits.
The best part about this session though?  Getting the whole family in front of the camera together, which wasn’t part of Louise’s original plan.  She initially told me she only really wanted photos of the girls, but by the end of the session we had a chat and I (quite passionately I think!) told her how important I think it is for us parents to exist in photos for our children.  Those family portraits will be a real gift to the girls in the future.

Louise had some lovely words to say about their session and the family photos we ended up taking:

I honestly loved the whole experience. Madeline felt like an old friend by the end of the session. She took time to get to know my family and to make us all comfortable. So much so, she got me to get in front of the camera too, something which I had initially been against. I absolutely cherish the family images from that day as they reflect the wonderful experience we all had”


Interested in discussing a family session?  Get in touch here; I’d love to get to know you and your family!

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Happy new year!

Do you have a word or focus for this year?  I’ve seen lots of bloggers and business owners sharing posts over the last week or two, about the word they’ve chosen as their inspiration for 2016.

At this time of year the focus is often on self-improvement – getting more organised, getting fit, achieving a better balance of work and home life.  So I nearly went for a word like ‘balance’ or ‘focus’ for my year, hoping it would help me clear my head and perhaps feel on top of things a bit more!

But then I thought about it some more.  

I thought about the kind of life I want to live, and the kind of life I want for my family.  And, yes, life would be lovely if we were more organised and if I were more focused on the activity at hand.  But what would truly make life better, is more joy!

I want to clear out all the things from my life that make me feel cross, or sad, or just bleugh.  I am taking Marie Kondo’s message to heart and seeking to just keep things that spark joy!

Sometimes I think we can feel that it’s superficial, or selfish maybe, to seek joy.  To make joy a huge priority in our lives.  As if there are far more pressing issues to be considered.  And yes, there are many things going on in the world that are horrifying and heartbreaking.

But standing up in the face of that, and choosing joy?  Choosing not to be defeated by the world.  Choosing to be furiously happy instead?

Surely that’s a good way to live your life.

I had a look back at some of the portrait sessions that I had the absolute pleasure of shooting here in Swansea last year, and was so happy to find that the number one emotion I got from them was joy.

I saw happy, laughing faces shining from my screen.

I saw love, and I saw joy.

One of the reasons I love having my portrait sessions on location around Swansea (rather than in a studio) is that I think it’s much easier for people to relax and really enjoy themselves when they’re in a place they love, like the beaches of Swansea bay and Gower, or a beautiful green space like Singleton Park or Clyne gardens!

When you’re in a place you love, with people you love, you can’t help but be happy!

If you’d like to have a brilliantly happy photo session of your own this year, please do give me a shout, I would so love to share some joy with you!

Not ready to book a session yet?  How about letting a little joy into your inbox for the time being via my newsletter!

My word for 2016 – joy!
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