If you ask any photographer how they started, more often than not they will tell you they ‘practised on friends’ until they developed their portfolio and started charging clients for their services. It’s a nice safe place to hone your craft. They are your friends! They forgive you for out of focus photos that are badly lit, and for making them pose in awkward late 80s ‘cheese’ poses straight out of a JCPennys Studio (because that was MY only experience of a photographer growing up). They are the best test subjects!!
I’ve been admiring and day-dreaming about the ‘Milk Bath’ photography images I have seen all over Instagram/Facebook for months now! I’ve never been one to exactly be on top of trends but this one caught my eye and I’ve been itching to have a go at it!
Now…all I needed was a willing vict…er….pregnant woman! Cue my ‘willing friend’.
The gorgeous Paula is expecting her second child next month and everyone and anyone who knows Paula and her family are over the moon for them! Unfortunately, I was out of country when big brother arrived 7 years ago so I didn’t have the chance to photograph that first bump but I’m here for this one!
I’ve been asking every pregnant lady I know for the last year or so if they would be willing to try this and have had no takers.
Paula and her family live in a beautiful converted steading and have the privilege to own 2 stunning, giant baths to work with! I asked if she would do it and her free spirited self agreed!! Well, it was more of a ‘I don’t mind, sure, whatever you want Melissa’…yes! Willing victim!
All these images are naturally lit by a dormer window and a floor-level window (clever steading conversions) across the room from the bath. I was literally shaking with excitement at the natural light in this bathroom.
In general it was all quite straight forward - cut some flower heads, run a bath and dump a bunch of milk in. Get your human incubator cozy and start clicking.
I wanted the images bright, light and romantic. It’s a departure from my usual darker, matted images but I’ve had loads of fun and luckily my gracious friend likes the images and is happy for me to share them with everyone!
So here’s to ‘Willing Friends’…a photographers best tool! Long may they endure us!!
Say a big hello to Maddie! The 14-year-old Sable German Shepard. The phrase ‘Man’s best friend’, in reference to the four legged furry creatures known as DOG, is well known one. It’s a saying thrown around lightly to refer to how dogs can be almost human like in their companionship to us. Truth be told though, for some people, it’s not a throw away phrase, it’s 100% true. For some of us our dogs are our best friends, companions and at times, our life savers.
Maddie’s best friend is the upright two-legged creature posing with her, he’s called Kenny. Kenny and Maddie have been friends a long, long time. So long that Maddie is now 14 years old and enjoying what is likely the ‘grey’ years of her life.
I don’t need a lot of back story here to know that for Kenny, Maddie is most certainly his best friend. You can see in these images their bond, friendship and connection. You can see that Kenny has spent a lot of time talking to Maddie. You can also see the adoration in Maddie’s eyes. Kenny is most definitely her ‘human’. And likewise, I’m sure Maddie has conveyed all her thoughts to Kenny…mostly….’more steak please’ but I’m sure there’s deeper meaning there.
I couldn’t have been more honoured to take some keep sake photos for Kenny and his family. I hope these images remind Kenny for a very long time his friend and the special years they had together.
Sable German Shepard
Maddie the German Shepard
A Real Family Portrait
I may have mentioned a time or two that I’m a city girl. Love the city! Grew up in one and spent most of my adult life living in cities. We now live in the country. It’s beautiful, the big skies and fresh air. The rolling hills and the farm land. I’ve spent the last 3 years befriending and getting to know many of our local farmers. What amazing people. What an amazing life. It’s still so new and fascinating for me the commitment to their lifestyle. And they love it! It’s their passion and hobby and would have it no other way. I have huge admiration for our farming families.
Every minute of their day is precious. Every minute accounted for. Getting dressed up and taking time out to have a photo taken is not often high on the list of priorities for a lot of the farming community (well…to be honest I’m speaking of the male variety here. Most Mothers would love updated photos of the family every year).
I had always loved the idea of ‘Day in the life’ photo sessions. Where you spend the day with a family catching the ‘real’ stuff. Not the polished, everyone dressed nice and smiling stuff (note: I do love those sessions as well). But something about the rawness of a family appealed to me. I mean I’ve spent the last 10 years capturing my kids like that. Those are my favourite photos of them. The goofy, early morning, messy hair ones. So why wasn’t I doing it for others? I was just unsure how to get the idea out there.
A local lady contacted me to organise a photoshoot. Her Dad was turning 70 and they thought it would be a good time to document the kids with their Grandad. She did say straight away that her Mum and Dad were not camera people but they agreed on the photoshoot. As we chatted she talked about the farm where she grew up and could we do the photos there. I thought ‘here is my chance’. I put forward to her my idea. Could I come spend the day with everyone at the farm? Everyone can dress as they like, coveralls and welly boots? Yes, please! I’ll come and be a fly on the wall with Grandad and the grandkids. Show me a day on the farm. She agreed and thought it was a great idea. Her Dad would be more relaxed and I could capture the kids doing what they do when they visit Granny and Grandad! I loved it. It was a great day. The kids loved showing off what they do. The animals, the 4 wheelers. Grandad was in his element with his tractors and his Land Rovers. You could see the pride in his eyes as the kids did their chores and tended to the beasts. It was a great day and I can’t thank the people of Lost Farm and Home Farm enough for welcoming me into their home during lambing season! It’s a busy time of year!
The album is complete now and they forever have a book of their family and their farms as they are now. In this time. It’s a real look at their lives. A real family portrait.
The quiet warriors.
Inspiration comes when you least expect it and when it hits, it hits hard sometimes. I had been watching a television series about the tough competition in professional ballet and the opening credits were a video montage of dancers expressing themselves with coloured powders against a black backdrop. Not a new idea, I’d seen it before, it’s been done. And then done again. But something in that moment stuck. I watched those opening credits repeatedly. Coming back to it sometimes months later. I wanted to produce something that beautiful and inspiring. That was years ago and it’s never left me.
Then, whilst photographing a family, one of the young girls was having fun tumbling, doing back walk overs or anything else her flexible self could manage. I had done gymnastics as a young girl (I loved it until I shot up 2 inches in one summer and was like a new-born giraffe, but less graceful) so knew she was a gymnast. She was a gorgeous little pixie of a girl with a quiet confidence. I was inspired by her poise, grace and quiet confidence.
As it happens she attends the same school as my sons. Some days I would see her and she’d give me a little smile and wave of recognition. Always with her head held high, quietly walking out of school like all the other kids. But I knew on some weekends she was out performing in front of judges and crowds. I knew that she was training most days of the week. Maybe giving up time with friends and not being able to just lounge around like other kids. I’m sure she doesn’t realise that she’s not like most kids her age in that regard. Dedication and hard work are sometimes learned but I can see it is a natural state for this young woman. I was inspired by her. I wanted to photograph her in a way that would showcase all the strengths she possessed, the determination, the quiet warrior that she housed. I knew she’d be perfect for the ‘Powder Session’ I’d been conceptualizing in my mind.
After months of stewing on it I decided to take the leap and approached her Mum and herself and we got the plans in place. Luckily she had a fellow gymnast who was willing and free and suddenly I had two warrior girls happy to help me see through a concept!
I couldn’t have been more excited for this. A personal project is always inspiring; it takes away the pressure to ‘produce’ and you are truly only pleasing yourself and your own creative intuition.
The girls were Rebecca and Layla and Wow! were they amazing! They took direction like pros and were happy to improvise when giving the choice. They stood in a big hall under lights and performed! It was incredible to watch. I could see why Layla and Rebecca were friends and team mates. They shared the same traits I admired initially in Rebecca and it was quick for me to see she had her own way but no less talented.
Exuding confidence, strength, poise, talent and grace they rocked this session!
I wanted to capture all those traits and show that within all young girls is a warrior…sometimes quiet, sometimes loud but always there.
They represent what I want all people to see in these images. That strong is beautiful. That beauty doesn’t mean lack of substance and that sometimes just being yourself is being a warrior in your own world.
Conceptualised, Stylised and ‘Nail’ed it!
I’ve been desperate to work in a cheesy ‘pun’ into a blog for ages…finally!
I was so very, very excited to be asked to photograph a styled shoot for Elizabeth at Elegant Nails and Beauty in Huntly! Liz was very keen to show off her amazing Nail-Art talent and enter a national Nail Competition with Professional Beauty Magazine.
The theme for this competition was Mythical Creatures and wow did she and Co-Owner Julie impress! They conceptualised each theme down to hair pieces, clothing and jewellery!
Liz and Julie had their nails pre-prepared, spending countless hours building and creating this ‘Art’ with acrylic and nail paint. Honing each nail to perfection using CND products and Crystal Parade.
I arrived at their place of business first thing and already it was alive with activity! Demi MacGillvary arrived to fashion the models hair. She and the girls worked together to create and continuous theme for the Medusaand Pegasuslook. I couldn’t believe how quickly she achieved these looks! So much hair spray and back combing for the Pegasus and soft, seductive curls for the Medusa!
Then Rebecca Jayne Anderson, who models as Medusa and is also a make-up artist, nail technician and beauty therapist at Elegant Nails started working her magic with the make-up. Time and time again I am in awe at the transformation of a face with make-up and brushes (and fish net stockings in this case).
Once the models were ready we began the shoot. The set up was a simple beauty ring and reflectors. Together we worked through different poses to best show off the nails and keep in theme of each set-up. It was a fantastic day of creativity, inspiration and collaboration! Whilst the models aren’t technically ‘pros’ they handled themselves very well, taking direction and patiently working through our ideas!
Again, Liz and I collaborated through the editing process to create the exact look she was trying to achieve and stay within the strict contest rules for the competition!
I loved every step of this process and found it satisfying as an artist to use the medium I love best to create not just a photo…but art! Here’s a few more photos from the day. Enjoy!
Nail Art Photo Session
Nail Art Photo Shoot
Nail Art Photo Shoot
Let’s have an honest moment please. I did not enjoy being pregnant. I felt exhausted, bloated like a flotation device that’s been over inflated and just generally blah. So, I am all about celebrating those Mama’s who are body confident and totally rock pregnancy! I wish I could have but alas, nope! I got a lot of: ‘ohh…are you feeling ok, poor you’ comments rather than the ‘oh you’re glowing’ kind.
The gorgeous Lynsey walked into my studio and I just knew it was going to be a good day! She was confident, beautiful and most importantly…relaxed and up for anything!
Lynsey and I were also treated to the talented Tiffany Dawson of Tiffany Dawson Make-Up Artistry! Tiffany put a shout out online looking to do some maternity work for make-up and Lynsey was quite happy to be pampered. Tiffany created a natural, soft look that complimented Lynsey’s skin tones and the overall look we were trying to create.
With Lynsey’s ‘face’ ready to go we started! Lysney was brilliant as I pulled out a lace over lay dress and a floral head piece. I’m sure not attire she’d wear every day but she gave me her trust and we had fun! We also created more traditional imagery in Lynsey’s own clothing of a stripy top and jeans. As well as some natural looks without studio lighting for a softer, feminine look in her own burgundy maternity dress. I was happy as a pig-in-poo and really appreciated Lynsey’s patience whilst we tried different lighting, clothing changes and different concepts.
To quote Lynsey: “I really wasn't sure how these would look but they've came out so good!! I am totally amazed at the results, the ones I thought I'd least like, I love the most!!”
Are you pregnant and unsure about a maternity session? Are you worried you’ll be confined to one style or look? Or perhaps you’re concerned you’re not at your best whilst pregnant (much like myself). To end as honestly as I began, I wish I had done a professional photography session whilst pregnant. I do have a few snaps but I have no doubt a pro would have made me feel and look beautiful.
If you’d like to talk through what a maternity session could mean for you, please get in touch! I’m happy to walk through the process and how it will go on the day. I’m sure I can even get Tiffany to come do her awesomeness!
Why I'm never in my family photographs!Read More