Sian and Michael – family lifestyle and documentary portraits in Singleton Park, Swansea

Sian and Michael – family lifestyle and documentary portraits in Singleton Park, Swansea

Anyone who has a child will tell you that they very rarely perform when you want them to.

How many children have sat through their 2 year review and refused to say a word, or even attempt the jigsaw puzzle that the health visitor brought along?  Something about the expectation on them to do something makes our chatterboxes go silent and our jigsaw whizzes completely uncooperative.

So it’s not entirely surprising that normally happy, smiley babies suddenly turn serious when you want them to smile most of all – during a photo session.

When I met Siân and Michael in Singleton Park for their family photo session a few weeks ago, this is exactly what happened with their gorgeous son Jacob.   At the beginning of their session he was incredibly serious.

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What I love so much about lifestyle and documentary sessions though is that if this happens it’s absolutely fine!

We’re not in a studio, trying to get them to sit still and smile nicely for the camera.  We have plenty of time to relax and have fun, and after a while those smiles start coming naturally.

In Jacob’s case, a few kisses from Michael and a little bit of flying through the air was all that was needed to bring him out of his shell a bit!

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baby lifestyle documentary photography swansea singleton park 004

With a session that takes a more documentary approach even the things that would normally mean a break in the session become part of it too.  When Jacob got hungry during his session in Singleton Park I was really happy because it meant I got to document that moment for Siân.

There are hardly any photos of me feeding either of my children (I bottle fed one and breastfed the other) and that makes me really quite sad.  So I jump at the chance to document these moments for other parents.  At the time it all feels so ordinary and just part of the daily routine with a baby, but as they get older and move away from milk feeds you realise how special that time was.  So please, do get some photos of it while you can!

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With his tummy filled Jacob was ready for a bit more fun so we strolled round to another part of the park for some bubbles and some fun singing row, row, row your boat.

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baby lifestyle documentary photography swansea singleton park 002

Siân and Michael wanted some family photos as well as some of just Jacob, so we took a few minutes for them to sit and play all together while I snapped away.  The beauty of a lifestyle and documentary session is that you can get the best of both worlds.  You get this moment in your parenthood journey documented, in a way that is authentically you, and you also get the individual and group photos that you would want from a more traditional portrait session.

swansea baby family lifestyle documentary photography singleton park 002

As Siân and Michael’s session went on it started to get a little bit chilly in Singleton Park, which actually worked out well because it meant Jacob could put on his unbelievably cute teddy bear suit.  I’ve always been a sucker for hats and hoods with ears on for little ones and this outfit just made my heart melt a little bit.  It was so soft too, Jacob really was like a little teddy bear in it!

swansea baby family lifestyle documentary photography singleton park

After a few last cuddles Jacob let us know that he was getting hungry again and so we said our goodbyes and I headed off home where I couldn’t wait to get the photos off my camera and on to my computer and start editing.

When I followed up with Siân after sending her their photos I was absolutely thrilled to hear that they loved the photos, so much so that they’re now up on the walls in their home.  Exactly where they should be!

 


Whether you’re expecting your first child or have just completed your family with a new puppy, a Parenthood session is the perfect way to document where your life is right now.

If you’d like to have a chat about arranging a session please do get in touch, I can’t wait to hear from you!


 

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The long walk home

The long walk home

Last week Nerys asked if we could walk home when I picked her up from school at lunchtime, instead of going in the car.

So on Friday I walked to meet her.  It took me just over twenty minutes to get from home to the school.

It then took us over two hours to walk home again.

We got off to a slow start because she came out of school clutching a biscuit she had decorated in school as part of their children in need activities.  So we had to stop for a minute or two while she tucked in, because she couldn’t push her baby’s buggy and eat at the same time.

swansea child eating spotty decorated biscuit

After a few minutes though we did get moving.  And for a little while we actually went quite fast as Nerys rushed to try and put some distance between us and a dog walker coming along the path behind us.

swansea child pushing toy buggy

That burst of speed walking though meant that we had to stop soon after to refuel with a few Pom Bear crisps.

Sketty swansea family documentary photography 3

It took a while but we eventually made it to the little park on Park View Terrace in Sketty.  It’s a tiny park really, but perfectly located just behind the shops in Sketty to I can let Nerys play for a bit then head to the shops for a few bits and pieces before heading on home.

child climbing in park in sketty swansea

child playing in park in sketty swansea

swansea family documentary photography sketty 2

Some days we follow this routine and I manage to hurry Nerys out of the park relatively quickly.

Friday though was a day of negotiations.

One more go on the see saw.  Five more pushes on the swing.  One last balance.

Sketty swansea family documentary photography 4

By the time I eventually got her out the gate she told me she needed the toilet.

So our walk home included a detour via the botanical gardens in Singleton park to find a toilet.

child pushing toy buggy singleton park swansea

Of course while we were there we had to pop into the temperate house to see the fish.  Well it would be rude not to wouldn’t it!

By the time we got home that day we had just about enough time to sit down and have something for lunch before we had to head back out to pick Rhys up from school.

We took the car for that trip.

Some days I rush through, hurrying home from school so I can get on with lunch and jobs and household chores.  Other days though I love to slow down.  To go at Nerys’ pace.  To savour these little moments with her.

These everyday activities like this walk home from school, these little stories of our lives, are so normal, so routine that we don’t always stop and appreciate them for what they are.

But these are the moments that I will miss so much when they’re gone.

These are the little stories of my life that I want to record, to hold on to, to be able to look back on in years to come when my children are grown up and creating their own stories.

This for me is what documentary photography is all about.  

Documenting our lives.  Because they are beautiful in all their ordinariness.  I would love to help you document your life too.


Whatever stage of your parenthood journey you’re at, there’s a story to tell.  Get in touch to have a chat, and to book your parenthood session.


 

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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!

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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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