A sunset love shoot, Sydney - Jen & Ben

Jen found me on Instagram... she wanted a shoot with her beau, Ben, as he's in the RAAF and is being deployed again soon. The timings coincided thankfully and we were able to meet up last Sunday, a beautiful chilly winter's day in Sydney.  Well, it was chilly for them, just pleasant for me - and Jen is Irish but she has obviously acclimatised!

We spent a lovely few hours wandering around Circular Quay, shooting, chatting, drinking... trying to avoid the numerous people playing bloody Pokemon (which meant we found Sydney's smallest beach) and successfully dodging the seagull poop.  Go us!

Jen & Ben, it was SO lovely to meet you both and hang out for the afternoon.  Keep in touch.  Here are some previews!  Enjoy your weekend away in the Blue Mountains - not at ALL envious!  xxx

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Ostuni Workshop 2014 - wedding photography workshop in Puglia, Italy at Masseria Montenapoleone

 

I have struggled to write this, words are not my strong point.  I edited the photos the day I got home, on the sofa in my pj's, but it's taken this long in between all my other work to try and put this experience into words!

To say the workshop was life changing may seem a bit dramatic, but for me it's true.  It made me realise how far I've come in 3 years... and how far I still have to go.  It confirmed to some extent what I already knew - that there are incredible wedding photographers out there who are doing what they love because they love it, not just to make money.  Photographers who are incredibly humble, open, honest and very happy to share their knowledge and passion to inspire others.  And it showed me yet again what an incredible industry this is to be a part of if you are with like minded people.

There were shoots, portfolio reviews, business and technical advice which was all fantastic but for me the highlight was hearing the personal stories... how people got into wedding photography and why, what motivates them, what influences their work.  It was fascinating.  Something Sean said about how he'd felt growing up that he wasn't very good at anything/any job, until he found (music first, then) photography - that really resonated with me.  And Thierry's story and the emotion is his images moved me to tears.

I have not cried or laughed (sometimes both at the same time) so much in months... I am so thankful to have spent a week in the company of such inspiring people - both 'teachers' and students alike - in such a beautiful part of the world.

For me this wasn't about getting photos for my portfolio but about learning, being inspired and having a much deserved break just for me.  A trip where I got to indulge a few my favourite pastimes: talking about photography/shooting, visiting beautiful places and eating & drinking with good company.  A lot of the time my camera was down and I was watching, listening, chatting, drinking or eating!  But I did take a FEW photos... camera, iPhone and Polaroid are all here, mixed in together.

As for our 'home'... I will return to Masseria Montenapoleone at the first chance I get.  If only to sample the amazing food, homemade Crema di Limoncello and rose wine again!  This place is quite simply paradise as you will see - almost half of this post is dedicated to it!  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  A huge thank you Giuliano, Doriana and the rest of the wonderful team for looking after us all like royalty.

Gianluca & Mary, the people who put this whole thing together - thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You are both wonderful and I cannot wait to see you again in London soon and give you both a big hug.

Gianluca, Pablo, Sean, Thierry and Alejandro - inspirational and brilliant teachers all of you.  Thank you for sharing so unselfishly.  Hundreds of things are still going through my head!  I will continue to try to forge my own path, strive to be different, get off THAT road (Thierry) and get out of THAT dance (Alejandro)!

Antonella & Andrea - the incredible models who went well above and beyond the call of duty to get the shots!  Thank you!

Lucy, my most excellent travelling partner, what a giggle we had... even when we got delirious trying to get back from the airport at 3am!  I loved sharing this trip with you and miss your face.  <3

And last but not least.... everyone else!  The Ostuni class of 2014.  I have made so many new friends and we had so many laughs.  I miss everyone and hope we will get to meet again one day.  Particularly the Wine Club!  So I only have one final thing to say.... CHEERS.

xxxx

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A wee trip to Scotland...

So I can no longer say I never win things.  Because thanks to Mr P pointing it out to me, I shared a photo from Scaramanga's Facebook page... and only went and bloody won a night at the beautiful Balbirnie House and £250 to spend at Scaramanga, one of our favourite shops.  I was GIDDY!

The break away forced me to stop working and it couldn't have come at a better time, mid wedding season!  So we headed up to Balbirnie via the posh M6 services at Tebay for a little picnic by the lake and arrived to find the most enormous, beautiful bedroom waiting for us along with a bottle of champagne and strawberries. We were then treated to a delicious 4 course dinner in the restaurant which we washed down with plenty of wine.  I was quite tipsy, I realised, for the first time in months.  I rarely drink at weekends as I usually have at least one  wedding and whilst I might have one or two after a wedding, that's usually about it.  So it was just lovely to be drunk and daft and have a giggle with Mr P on a weekend!   These are a few pics I took on my Fuji x100 and my iPhone. 

The following morning we went to Scaramanga to spend our vouchers (and then some) - it didn't take long... we'd been scouring the website for weeks beforehand.  We had a bit of a tour and Carl showed us some of the amazing things they now sell and upcycle.  Old Indian wedding chests and beautiful old furniture.

Carl wanted 'presentation' photos so we had to oblige!

Carl wanted 'presentation' photos so we had to oblige!

After bidding farewell to the lovely Carl and Eilidh we headed off with our car smelling like a tannery. It was VERY wet that morning and we spotted a lovely farm shop so we stopped off to sniff the bread and replenished our liquids a little, given the slight hangovers.  Then the sun came back out and we got to do our little coastal tour of Fife, finishing up back in Anstruther to have tea at the Anstruther Fish Bar which was very highly recommended to us - and did not disappoint.  I had local Pittenweem prawns and fresh calamari and Mr P opted for a traditional fish suppper.  DELICIOUS.

Another lovely evening was spent at Balbirnie along with a few cocktails and the next day we headed for home over the Forth Bridge, via Falkirk for morning coffee with The Kelpies and then stopped off for an organic all singing all dancing burger at the other Tebay services.  :)

We both absolutely loved Fife and we want to go back with the dog very soon. He'd absoutely love it.  :)  Thank you to Balbirnie House for making our stay so pleasant but most of all thanks to Scaramanga!  xx

A week in paradise... Skopelos, Greece

Skopelos.  What a place.  For those who have seen Mamma Mia, this is where it was was filmed.  But don't let that put you off.  : ) Our intention was to flop, and flop we did.  After a very busy summer it was perfect.  Hubbo and I stayed at the most perfect villa with the most perfect view AND the most perfect hosts who were just next door (not that you would ever know). Karen & Tony we cannot thank you enough... your kindness, generosity and friendship was the icing on an already perfect cake.  Nothing was too much trouble... lifts from/to the ferry, the welcome pack of everything we could need and more (beer and wine!), right through to Karen's homemade hummus... seriously.  Above. And. Beyond.  There were tears when they waved us off on our early morning ferry.

We explored Glossa a little (amazing views from every taverna/street), we spent a few hours in Skopelos Town but mostly we did very little at Villa Yiali.  So there are many photos of the villa, THAT view and the many sunsets.  We ate lamb, chicken, squid, prawns, Skopelos cheese pie, feta, delicious local tomatoes, huge local green chillies... we drank the local wine, many bottles of Mythos and hubbo drank Tsipouro... awful smelling stuff like Ouzo that made him burst into fits of hysterical laughter for no apparent reason and dance on walls at sunset. Needless to say he brought a bottle home.   We also adopted one of the local cats who came to visit every night... we named him Dirk.

I certainly left a bit of my heart there and I intend to go back and get it some day.  If you're planning to get married there... CALL ME.  : )

Here is a taster - a mix of phone pics, Fuji x100 and 5d mkIII.  Well I wasn't carrying that bad boy around those windy streets and up the killer steps!

 

"One can't paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt" ~ GEORGIA O'KEEFE

Back in September I was lucky enough to go to New York to shoot the wedding of one of my best friends.  It also meant I got to catch up and stay with my good friend Sue in Brooklyn, who I met via Flickr 5 years ago.  We actually met face-to-face one snowy day in 2009 in Manhattan, visited the Botanic Gardens and then met my husband in Harlem for chicken & waffles at Amy Ruth's.  It was a very random but totally brilliant day!  Since then Sue's been over here many times and back in 2010 we got to experience our first ever Thanksgiving (with Sue's family upstate) and our first Black Friday sale.  THAT was an experience I will never forget...  sat in the car at 4am in the pitch black, outside Target, still full of Thanksgiving dinner.  Madness.  Gave us mid-holiday jet lag. Anyway I had a day free before and after the wedding so we headed to Coney Island where I'd always wanted to go (sadly the Luna Park was closed) but it was just as I imagined.  We also went back there on my last night for dinner at Nathan's and then a stroll along the boardwalk to watch all the Coney Islanders dancing and listen to the DJ set that happens regularly down there.  Such an amazing atmosphere.... people from ALL walks of life, young and old, just dancing.  Utterly brilliant.  You can see more photos of DJ Ray and all the fantastic characters that go down to the boardwalk to dance on Sue's photography page -  http://www.facebook.com/NegrasPhotography.

The day after the wedding we hit the Top of the Rock as Sue had never done it and I never tire of the views.  Sue had to head home and finish packing as she was moving apartment so I wandered a little but I was drugged up on Advil and had a horrible cold and chest infection, I felt dreadful and eventually I hopped in a cab to Pershing Square to meet the wedding gang for a big farewell lunch before heading back to Brooklyn.  Mind you, seeing the Naked Cowboy did perk me up somewhat...

All in all another wonderful trip despite being ill and missing hubbo.... Nic & Sean's NYC wedding was amazing, I loved my precious time with Sue and as ever, NYC has left me wanting more...