The First in the Forest

2018 kicked off with big plans but they didn’t quite go as I’d expected… some personal changes meant I had a bit less energy for the business so I took fewer bookings than I’d planned.

But from the ones I did take, I’ve managed to raise enough funding to plant five trees with Trees for Life as part of our new collaboration!

I’m very excited about this – giving back to our wonderful planet is something that means a lot to me and has been a big part of my business plan for many years.

I can’t wait to send the donation later this month to help restore the Caledonian Forest and I couldn’t do it without you!

Thank you! x

 

It’s Okay Not to be Okay xx

Do you ever get to a stage where everything just suddenly crumbles? Someone says one little thing or something happens and you realise you’ve only just been holding everything together? You’d even managed to convince yourself that all was well and the worries that trouble your mind weren’t really there anymore.

This happens to me a lot. And since today is World Mental Health Day, I figured it was worth talking about. Thankfully the taboo times of ignoring our mental health are starting to fade away but a lot of us still struggle to talk about it for fear of being misunderstood.

Weakness. That’s the brush everyone feels tarred with when we talk about how we feel. No-one wants to appear “weak”.

Yet some of the strongest people I know are the ones who have a daily fight to remind themselves that they are worth something. 

Life can be pretty exhausting when your own mind constantly tells you that you need to be more. And not feeling able to talk about it can leave you feeling invisible.

So today, and everyday, reach out to people you care about. Tell them that you are there. Not everyone understands how it feels but everyone can take the time to try. You’d be surprised at how many people are trying to be “okay”. Remind them that it’s okay not to be okay. x

 

 

Why I Love This Shot – Sunset on Zamami

It was only a matter of time until my other half made my “Why I Love This Shot” series. It seems fitting that it would be from our recent travels to Japan on our honeymoon. I spent ages in the waves experimenting with shutter speeds and playing with angles – all while trying to avoid the saltwater spray as the tide came in. We’d been snorkeling for the day on a different beach and had decided to walk around to catch the sunset at the other side of the island. A moment which is now a favourite memory. x

6 things you probably shouldn’t say to your photographer…

It’s finally happened. I’ve officially been in the photography business long enough now to hear many of the stereotypical comments and “chat” that I’d suggest are perhaps not the best placed choice of conversation topic… I’ve been amused, baffled and even slightly frustrated with some of these, so just for fun, I thought I’d share some with you…

1. Your camera takes really great photos!

I know, I know. I’m starting with the comment that seems so obvious that surely no-one actually says it? I mean, that’s what I thought. I’d heard of it, seen many a meme about it, but I had never experienced it.

Until last year.

Those wonderful words were uttered in a kind, genuine way where I fully believe the person wasn’t trying to be offensive but I was left stuck for a reply all the same. I mean, imagine someone said that about a baker and their oven, or an artist and their paintbrush?

A camera is merely an instrument. A vehicle which enables us to capture an image as we see it or imagine it. Having professional equipment makes a bit of a difference yes, but only if you know how to use it. You could put me in front of the best stove on the planet and I’d still burn something – Michelin Star I am not!

The camera doesn’t make the photograph anymore than a laptop makes a novel. It takes time, practice and a certain degree of skill to get to a professional level. Implying that it’s all in the gear is a little bit cheeky however unintentional. Best avoided if you want to keep your photographer on-side (and remember, we have access to Photoshop…ha!)

2. My camera is better than yours!

This happens at almost every event I shoot. Whether it’s a corporate get-together, a christening or a wedding, I inevitably find myself sought out by someone who wants to compare gear. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have folk who are interested in photography and want to talk about it (provided I can still do my work for whoever has hired me!) – I could chat about certain types of photography all night but I keep finding myself in a situation with someone who takes that enthusiasm over the line in to competition.

Sometimes it’s the old Canon vs Nikon schtick and that’s fine for a bit of banter but let’s keep it in good humour. I’ve also had people feel the need to tell me that they own the more recent model of my camera and I’m never sure what to say other than a polite “that’s nice!” or “that’s a great piece of kit!”.

I rarely feel the need to compare gear with people. It’s just not in my nature to try to one-up someone over camera equipment and I find myself floundering for words when the subject comes up while I’m working.

3. Well, anyone can take a good photo on their smartphone these days.

Now this one I have to agree with – in a Disney’s Ratatouille style “Anyone can cook!” that is. Anyone can take a good photo on their smartphone but not everyone. As I mentioned above, a camera is merely an instrument and if you know how to use it properly you can take incredible images on smartphones. Many are doing it consistently and making a living and a name for themselves from it.

But not everyone.

And while professional photography went through a phase of struggling against the all accessible smartphone and even the entry-level DSLR, it seems to be picking back up again as people recognise the training and dedication it takes to acquire such a skill. Yes, there are natural born photographers who intuitively know how to compose and capture a jaw-dropping image with little practice but they are the exception, not the rule.

As Henri Cartier-Bresson says “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst.” Photography takes skill and practice regardless of the equipment.

4. I don’t get why people bother with photos… I never take any.

Yeah, this one left me stumbling.

It seems an odd way to endear yourself to someone, basically telling them you think their work is pointless. And it seems particularly strange when this is the first (and now the only!) conversation you’ll be having with them.

“Hey, nice to meet you. I think your work is a waste of time.” Not a great start, is it?

I know what you’re thinking – “Surely no-one has ever said that to you?”

Believe me they have. Right smack bang while I was in the middle of working an event. Someone came up to me to tell me all about how he doesn’t understand the point of taking photos. I didn’t know what to say other than reminding him that the people who had hired me obviously thought images to remember the event were important.

Photography isn’t for everyone and that’s absolutely fine. Of course it is. Art is subjective and photography is an art form.

I’ve long been a fan of documenting my life in photos and sharing them with people. It’s a way of life for me. I see the world in photographs and I find it difficult to switch off from that. But I understand that not everyone sees the world that way.

However, it’s an opinion probably best kept to yourself instead of using it as drunken small chat with the event ‘tog. I politely entertained the notion. Many wouldn’t!

5. Can you photoshop this so I’m slimmer/have different hair/look “better”?

Eeeek! I find this one of the most awkward things that is said to me. It’s usually done in jest but sometimes there’s a real request there.

I am a “less is more” kind of photoshopper. My photography style is about natural moments and doesn’t lend itself well to airbrushing and liquifying my subjects. In actual fact, I work hard to encourage people to see the real beauty in themselves and the moment instead of focusing purely on things that we’ve been taught to see as “flaws”.

I’d much rather empower people to see their beauty than to feel the need to be artificially slimmed or smoothed thanks to unrealistic beauty standards the media has ingrained in us.

However, I completely understand that people are rarely 100% happy with how they look and are concerned that the images might amplify parts of themselves that they wish were different. The majority of us look at an image and instantly search for the part we’re insecure about.

If you’re in that situation, please feel free to have a quiet word and let me know. It’s my job to make you feel comfortable during your shoot and not left wishing that the images were altered afterwards.

6. Don’t worry, I’ll just Photoshop it when you send me the image…

Whether it’s adding a person (as was the suggestion in the case I’m referring to), removing a person, adding filters or even cropping – you’re unlikely to have permission to do this and will have signed (and of course read…) a contract that informs you that this is the case. It seems pernickety but it’s for good reason. Photographers rely on people seeing our work, loving it, and wanting us to work for them. If our work no longer looks like our own then we lose the ability to make a living. Like anyone else, we’re just trying to pay our bills.

So please don’t edit our work and talk about it like it’s no big deal. It matters!

So there you have it! A list of some of the odd things people have said to me since I started out as a photographer. I’m super lucky to have only had the occasional guest at an event who has said something strange or a misplaced, but well meaning, comment from an interested party. I know photographers who have heard much worse.

I’d love to hear the sorts of things people say to you at your work…

Why I Love This Shot – Into the Water

“Why I love this shot”  with a little bit of a difference for you today.

This is my border collie Abby venturing out into the waves. I love this image for so many reasons. The abstract style from my lensbaby spark. The light and bokeh. The blur and liquid feel. The fact it reminds me of how brave my once very fearful collie became before she left us. Her love of water wasn’t something she was born with but instead, something she realised as her confidence grew over the years. Images like this make me smile.

BLOGtober is BACK!

As all of you of course know, I blogged pretty much everyday of the month in October 2016 and it was pretty good fun and also helped me get ready for some projects and new collaborations.

So you’ll be delighted to hear it’s BACK for 2017 and I’ll be blogging across my three sites Mei Photography, Jo Foo Wildlife Photography and WildlifebyJo.

Keep an eye on my social media feeds to read about what I’ve been up to and what I have planned for the next wee while. I’d love to hear from you too and if any of you are blogging in October then let me know and I’ll check out what you’ve got to say!

Happy reading! x

Why I Love this Shot – Little Photographer

Today’s Why I Love this Shot is a wee celebration of a girl who’s very special to me. This lass is celebrating her 5th birthday today and it’s been so amazing to watch her grow and get to know her.

This shot is taken from an afternoon of imaginative play with this creative wee girl where my cameras were the centre of her attention. They had their own personalities and parts to play in our story that day and she was determined to learn how they worked. This was her at 3 years old.

Creative. Determined. Inspiring.

Sounds about right.

Happy birthday lovely girl! Here’s to many more creative times together! xx

Why I Love This Shot – Birthday Girl

Time for another Why I Love This Shot!

This one is a favourite from a bespoke shoot almost a year ago. A birthday tea party for a lovely little girl who I’ve been lucky to photograph many times now.  She’s a natural!

The light in this shot just makes me happy. It’s by no means technically perfect but the glistening gold of the tea party details and the gold of her hair just make it for me. I love the high contrast and the sparkly feel! x

Love & Laughter – A Scottish Castle Wedding x

As you possibly already know, I don’t often shoot weddings. They are a specialty I’ve only just started to graze the surface of and my busy travelling schedule means I tend to cover just one or two each year.

On occasion, however, I find myself in the wonderful position of being asked to capture the moments of this special day for some important people in my life.  When my good friends Nicola & Dave got in touch to ask me if I’d be their photographer, I didn’t hesitate. I was delighted to be asked.

Wedderburn Castle was the stunning backdrop for a brilliant couple of days with their nearest and dearest. Both grand and welcoming, it was the perfect balance for their celebrations.

Scotland is well known for it’s “four seasons in one day” weather and true to form there was glorious, baking sunshine one minute and lashing rain the next. Our carefully planned locations for the photos morphed in to running outside whenever we got a break in the rain. Despite the weather, these two rocked their shoot and were game for getting out there – which meant we managed to capture images in the beautiful castle grounds.

Nicola’s gorgeous wedding dress was by Whistles and with a little help from Fabricated Bridal, the dress was absolutely perfect. Nicola is always beautiful, but on her wedding day she was particularly exceptional. Dave took the opportunity to get himself smartly kilted up by Slanj and proudly wore the blue Clark tartan alongside his Dad.

Team Bride were treated to some lovely pampering with their hair and make-up styled by Laura Mallace Mobile Hairstyling and KJ Shields Make Up Artist. It was one of the most relaxed wedding mornings I’ve been part of, lots of Ed Sheeran playing, party snacks a-plenty, the guys chilling out until the last minute, gorgeous gifts for everyone… As with all weddings, there were some last minute changes, and unexpected turns but it was all taken in their stride. Just the way you want it to be!

A lot of attention to detail from this Bride & Groom really made the day stand out as their own. From the Whisky map of Islay to personalised photo-place-cards; hilarious guestbook prompts to cheese, cheese and more cheese at the evening buffet – these little touches delighted the guests and stood out as moments to remember. Lorraine Graham Flowers added the finishing touches with beautiful summery bouquets, buttonholes and features for the ceremony and reception.

The ceremony was conducted by Humanist Celebrant, Penny Earle – Dave & Nicola had made the effort to tailor it so it was unique to them and much to everyone’s delight, they spent the whole ceremony smiling and laughing.

And then there was the dancing. The Sleekit Beasties provided the perfect mix of ceilidh and pop to keep everyone entertained and the dance-floor full. I don’t usually stay for the full night but since I was a guest as well as the photographer, I kept shooting until my cards were almost full! And then it was time for some rum and the Orcadian Strip the Willow!

Huge Congratulations Nicola & Dave! It was such an honour to be part of your celebrations and I’m so glad I got to capture so many happy moments for you to treasure. Here’s to many more years of love & laughter together! xx