Sunday, 16 August 2020

Life in Lockdown

 I can't believe it has been almost a year since I wrote. My bad. Since last September when I touched base here, I have completed Year 2 of my Bachelors degree and, I am truly proud to say, earned myself 5 straight As, giving me another First to follow Year 1 with. Naturally, the last twelve months brought up challenges I wasn't quite prepared for. I hit a creative block at the beginning of November, & for a while I was seriously worried as to what direction I was going in with my photography. I've always considered myself a creative photographer, not one for working on things that don't resonate with me. I usually always create work for catharsis, and prefer to work slowly and meaningfully rather than to a commercial brief. 

Before the UK went into Lockdown, I managed to start work for one particular uni brief capturing images that I felt represented a moment of escape. It was a personal project I started back in 2012, when I started noticing that familiar places around the town I lived in started to look unfamiliar when viewed with a fresh set of eyes. The preconceived ideas I had about somewhere were cast aside just for a moment and I realised I could be absolutely anywhere on earth, my perception of the status quo was challenged. As the UK was plunged into Lockdown myself & the rest of my class were faced with yet another challenge - to curate and execute an exhibition for the work we were creating - while being in isolation at home.

Cue Zoom calls galore, a group WhatsApp chat that was going off the hook, and day after day of photo taking, sketchbook work, website creation, reading, writing, planning and numerous emotional and nervous breakdowns. We got there in the end though, and the fruits of our labour can be seen over at www.carryonregardless.org. Opening night on 27th May was a hit, and the show will remain live for a minimum of twelve months until May 2021.

For my part in the show, I decided to combine the images I was taking to show my escape to reality with those taken by friends, family and even strangers during the Lockdown period and create a large scale mosaic. When viewed from afar, it appears to be a somewhat pixellated image taken from a beach in some far off paradise, but when viewed up close it reveals its secret and the viewer can spend hours getting lost amongst the rich tapestry. I have since had a professional print made of the piece, measuring up at a huge 107cm by 71cm, and it is hanging proudly in the bathroom of my new home. Which is my other news! I am moving in with my boyfriend to a beautiful new home we have just spent ten months renovating alongside his parents. And a little secret about the paradise image for the mosaic 'cover' - it was an image I took whilst in Mexico with him back in February. Phew, what a year!

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Monday, 23 September 2019

September Reflection

I'm pretty sure I have no idea where the last year has gone and it's suddenly dawned on me that everyone in the world is now officially younger than me (I'm serious, I don't know "older" people anymore); but as September draws to a close & the start of a new academic year begins I decided to sit down & have a little time to reflect over the last twelve months of my professional development. 

On the 7th September, I had the honour of shooting the photographs and capturing the magic at the wedding of Scott & Sara, a fun-loving couple that I met back in twenty sixteen when they moved into the same building as me. 



The scene for the whole day was a venue quite local to me; Manor Barn in the Old Town Quarters of Bexhill in East Sussex. I'd only visited the site once previously; back in June to do a recce of the building and it's surrounds, but on a personal level I was really impressed with the venue on the whole & the level of service from the staff on site.

The day started out cloudy and the threat of rain during the main part of the day was high on the weather forecast, however, while driving to Sara's house that morning I could see the sun shining brightly behind the clouds and had a feeling we were going to be OK.




I was really lucky to work with Scott & Sara. The main reason being that they were so laid back and down to earth about the whole wedding day, even though it could have easily been planned & organised by a bridezilla when I considered how much care & attention to detail had gone in, from the hand made table centre-pieces to the hair & make up of the bride and her bridesmaids. It was in every sense of the word, a traditional wedding, but the couple's good sense of humour and relaxed attitudes made it possible for me to try out a range of new creative shots I hadn't had the skills or confidence to pull off before.






I used the Canon EOS 5D MK III for the duration of the day and alternated between a 24-55mm zoom, a 16-24mm wide angle & a 70-200mm telephoto lens. I had the added benefit of a Canon Speed-lite which came in very handy for some of the creative shots and particularly when the clouds came over. To achieve some of the shots shown above, I focused on shooting in aperture priority and played between a shallow or a wide depth of field. I ran all the final images through the edit suite in Adobe Light room and just made small adjustments to the contrast and vibrancy, ensuring the white balance was correct and cropping and straightening any photographs that needed it.

I also had the extreme luxury of a second shooter for this wedding which is not something I have ever done before. I think it was a huge success to have a second person with a camera for a multitude of reasons; the main one being that they can come in at all the angles that I myself as a single shooter can't get to. It's the secondary shots that I'd love to take as well as my priority shots and am usually completely unable to that made the album I presented to this couple that much more appealing. It is also always incredibly comforting to know there is a back up camera on site in case of any dramas with the one I'm shooting on.

As I wrap up, I'll point you all over to my professional website; sophiederoephotography.com where you can find more images from this special day under the wedding gallery, and also check out some more of my work over the last year, including some personal projects and my first studio maternity shoot. As I enter into the second year of my bachelors degree I will attempt to keep the blog more up to date with continuing work, and I look forward to embarking on new challenges over the next few months. Stay tuned!

xoxo
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Saturday, 1 September 2018

The Amalfi Bride


On the morning on Saturday 18th August, I woke up almost shaking with nerves and excitement as I prepared to go to work on the biggest wedding I have shot to date. As 10,30 rolled around, I was collected from Sorrento train station by the Best Man and driven up into the mountains of Massa Lubrense where I met my bride Ciara, who was eagerely preparing for her big day, along with her bridesmaids at the villa she was sharing with her family.

Ciara had asked me to shoot her big day back in September last year after her and Reg got engaged, and I couldn't have been more honoured or excited. I couldn't believe how quickly the couple had managed to pull together a wedding in a foreign setting, and with such apparent ease that I started to feel slightly inferior that it had taken me nearly a week just to pack my bag for the trip. But this was the kind of bride who could pull this off; typically on arrival at the villa she was staying at for the week, she was cool, calm and all over everything - and a glass of prosecco in hand. 

My nerves quickly settled and I relaxed into the swing of shooting, switching between a standard zoom and telephoto for most of the day, and finally having some fun at the end of the evening with the wide angle. I stayed with Ciara as the cars arrived to collect the bridesmaids and the rest of the family, and hopped into the car with Ciara and her Dad for the serene drive back down the mountain into Sorrento, where Reg & Ciara tied the knot at the stunning Chiostro Di San Francesco. 





This chapel, known to us Anglos as simply 'The Cloisters' is open for the public to wander around at leisure, including during wedding ceremonies, and yet I may not have even realised it was there had I not been employed to shoot a wedding there that day. From the outside, you could almost miss it and walk straight past in pursuit of the view of the marina just beyond it. But on entering from the busy, bustling and touristy noise from the streets outside, I was met with a peace and tranquility that stood in stark contrast. It was calm, and quiet, and above all, beautiful. The true beauty for me stood not in the architecture itself, but in the single tree leaning delicately over the walkway through the chapel, displaying the symbiosis between man and nature. It was under this tree the vows were exchanged, in front of an audience of thirty guests and a handful of public spectators. 




The guests later departed for Castore, a contemporary and yet rustic reception venue in the mountains overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius far off in the distance, and yet seeming so close in the pristine weather conditions. The guests enjoyed a delicious four course meal while the sun set and cast everyone in a warm honey coloured light before it finally set beyond the horizon turning the sky pink, and then finally gave way to starlight under which everyone danced out on the terrace until midnight when the cars arrived, and it was time to depart back into Sorrento. 



My heartfelt congratulations to this truly lovely couple.
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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

A Week In The Life of Mama


It's been nineteen weeks and three days since this little angel came into the world and blessed our lives with more happiness than we thought we had room for. Leonardo adores his new baby brother and I am thankful to say has settled into life with an extra family member with surprising ease. Then because he was so young when I explained Jesse was in my tummy I guess to him it feels as though he has always been there as part of our family. I'm certainly struggling to remember a time when I was mama to one babe. How easy it must have all been back then..! (Kidding, I know any amount of babies is hard work. Lets just say with two it gets a bit like spinning plates.)

Here's how my typical week of mama life looks;

Monday

8am -Leonardo goes off to nursery 8am-6pm. It's a long day for him but it's so good for him to go and experience things he wouldn't do at home. Leo's nursery has it's own vegetable garden where the children can help grow their own veggies which they use in their cookery classes each week. The nursery has a lovely big garden and he can enjoy things like painting and other messy play that he can't do at home (..because you know, the mess)

11am -I use this time to make the most of having Jesse all to myself and we go to a baby music group run by local volunteers in the morning. It's a lovely group that I took Leo to when he was a baby and then he moved into the toddler group before he started attending nursery on a Monday after Jesse was born. The group focuses on classic children's nursery rhymes and songs in a sensory setting (think sign language, musical instruments, bubbles, finger puppets and singing). We love this group and the best part is it's absolutely free!

2pm - The afternoon normally sees me out on a long walk with Jesse in the stroller, my favourite route is up through the park and back home along the seafront. Earphones in, Frank Sinatra on and a sleeping baby - bliss.


Tuesday

8am - Leonardo has been attending nursery on a Tuesday 8am-6pm since he was eleven months old and I had to return to work. Luckily my mum was able to help out on the other day I worked as I didn't feel ready to let him go more than that at the time. Now I know he loves it and gets a lot out of it I'm happy for him to go two full days a week. It is really helping his development and socialization and will build up his stamina ready for school five days a week in a few years time.

10.30am - Jesse & I have been attending a baby sensory class run in a local village hall. We did a ten week course which has just come to an end but in the early weeks after Jesse was born I found this class was a truly lovely way to bond with my son. One hour, just for us where I could focus solely on him and his needs and forget about the madness of having a life to run. The classes, run by Becky at Baby Sensory have a different theme every week and again focus on lots of sign language and other sensory stimuli such as bubbles, lights, and things to touch and feel. Our favourite class was the ocean theme where Becky made an underwater world filled with sparkly sea coral, dolphins and bubbles :) 

1pm - Jesse & I also now go swimming every Tuesday as it's very hard to take two babies swimming at the same time! So far Jesse has loved it and kicks his arms and legs the second his body hits the water. Of all the activities I do with my children, swimming has always been my favourite. The smile it brings to my face is such a wonderful feeling. True happiness comes from being in the water with my baby. We attend classes with Ducklings which were run at Risebridge over at Goudhurst. As a qualified Water Babies Teacher I had wanted to take him to classes run by my own but unfortunately couldn't catch a suitable time slot until September term. I was very impressed by the Ducklings classes however and we have enjoyed these sessions in the interim while we wait for a class at St Marys with Water Babies.

Wednesday

5am - Well, most days in the summer start at around 5am. I actually prefer winter and not just for the reason that my days start at a more reasonable hour (7 if I'm very lucky...).

11.30am - Leo usually has a nap around mid morning for an hour and while he's down I pack up a lunch and once he's up I bust out my double stroller and we head down to the seafront. It's only a five minute walk from my front door to the beach and our favourite thing to do is sit on the beach eating our lunch before heading off to the old town to see what we can get up to. I have recently purchased an annual membership to the Blue Reef Aquarium which means we can nip in there any time we like without paying and if Leo gets fed up after ten minutes at least I don't feel as though I've wasted any money! The membership card also includes The Smugglers Adventure at St Clements Caves on the West Hill so sometimes we might go there and have our lunch on the hill afterwards over looking the sea. Down the old town, we sometimes pop in to Discovery Play Ground, which although a little more on the pricey side I have to say is unique and I've not yet found anywhere like it. An indoor two storey discovery center suitable for any age up to around eight or nine I guess - they have it all! A HUGE rice pit with diggers and scales, a builders yard of blocks, Leo's favourite - a floor to ceiling air machine that sucks up coloured chiffon scarves and sends them through a winding see-through tunnel before blowing them out the top...the place is just lovely. Chalkboards, a wooden play house,a sensory garden for younger ones...this place is one of our faves.
As we have to walk right past it on our way home, we usually always stop at Di Polas for Italian style gelato before we head home. I love these days spent with both my boys.



Thursday

1-3pm - Thursdays tends to be the day all the mum friends I know go to Tumble Gym. Tumble Gym at Sumerfields Gymnastics Club runs pretty much every day of the week at various times, and yet Thursday must be the day that works best for a lot of the mums I know as even though we never arrange it I always bump into them here. It's nice that when you have babies and then toddlers at similar ages that you all tend to run in the same circles so even if I don't have the numbers of other mums I usually always see the same ones at the different groups. Tumble Gym (or Tumble Jim's as Leo calls it) is like soft play only better. First of all, it's cheaper. At around £3.50 a session I think it is the children get up to two hours to use gymnastic equipment, mini trampolines and a foam pit, as well as balance bars and standard soft play equipment too. Afternoon sorted, and there's a cafe upstairs although with two on the bounce now I have to be honest and say I've never made it up there.

Friday

9am - Help arrives! I've been so lucky that my mum has been able to give up her Fridays every week since Leo came along two and half years ago. Leo always knows that "Nanny comes at 9". This is always a bit of a miscellaneous day. Sometimes I get mum to take the boys out so I can catch up on some housework, or life admin I didn't manage to get done during the week. Sometimes we go out together to some of the more tricky places for me to get to with two babies, for example we have been to Bewel Water and Knole Park; both places that require a little extra packing and planning as they are a bit of a drive away for me. Sometimes I might nip out to do things I would otherwise find impossible with two children. It's all the extra baggage and car seats that makes everyday things so damn hard when you're a mum! My lovely mum usually stays and cooks us all a nice meal before helping me to bath the boys and get them both ready for bed at seven before she goes home.



Saturday

12pm - Leonardo has his swimming lesson with Water Babies at noon. He has been swimming since he was sixteen weeks old and has now completed eight chapters of Water Babies. That's eighty lessons, although I'm holding my hands up to the fact that he has probably only been to about 75% of those. I try so hard to get in the water with him on a weekly basis, but last year he went through a wobble and my pregnancy with Jesse took it's toll on me in the first trimester and we ended up skipping an entire term and staying back a chapter. I think the break did him the world of good though and he loves his time in the water with me and his teacher Sam now. We have swum at three different pools with three different teachers and I have also found that this has kept the journey interesting and meant I have met SO many other parents within different groups. Every teacher has their own style and I want Leo to be versatile in his approach to life and not get upset when things inevitably have to change.

2pm - Leo goes off for a sleepover at his Daddy's house and I get the afternoon to chill out with Jesse and do a bit of tidying. 

7pm - I forgot how portable babies are and I sometimes go out and see friends with Jesse in the car seat as it's so easy to jump in a taxi and head out for a few hours, even if it's just for a take away and wine with one of the girls. Sometimes one of the girls will come to me and we can just sit and chill and drink wine and chat without worrying about waking Leo up. Jesse is always either wide awake, or so asleep the apocalypse couldn't wake him up so either way it's all good :)

Sunday

9am - Once i have woken myself up with one or two coffees theres nothing I love more on a Sunday than sitting, feeding Jesse and reading a book while listening to the radio or my favourite playlist on Spotify. This is perfection, and something I do every week. It's becoming my sacred routine. 

3pm - Leo comes steamrolling in after his night away from home happy to see me and ready for his dinner, bath and bed before the week starts over again :)



Thanks for reading, I have a question though - has anyone else noticed how there is always one brass popper at the bottom of their baby grows? What is that all about?

xo


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Friday, 3 November 2017

An Autumnal Affair

As September came to a close, anyone that may have been planning to tie the knot in the great outdoors probably quite rightfully got a bit concerned about what the weather was going to do. I can testify that no matter what time of year one might book their wedding day to occur, they simply will not be able to control what happens in this regard. However, one thing I can also testify to is that generally, it doesn't make one bit of difference, as it is essentially the happiest day of your life with or without the sunshine.

However, the day before this particular September wedding I spoke to Sarah, one of the brides on the phone to confirm our arrangements for the following afternoon and being the easy going, laid back and genuinely down-right likable person she is, the last thing she was particularly worried about was the weather. In fact, this turned out to be a very good thing, as despite having received a fair bit of rain the day before, the day itself brought a beautiful sunshine you can only expect to get in late September; one that brightens and refreshes where rain has fallen without casting too many harsh shadows, then sets low and slow over the sky from the mid afternoon before finally melting into the horizon just before seven in the evening.



Sarah & Sabine held their marriage ceremony in the picturesque garden of the Old Rectory in Hastings Old Town, and this particular sunshine on the late September afternoon paid complement to everything it touched growing, living and celebrating in that garden. Being the type of woman to take a more practical and less fussy approach to things, Sarah instructed me that the shots I took should be candid, unstaged, informal and generally just capture their guests "having a good time and enjoying themselves". This was an easy task, given how clear it was to see how much the thirty five-or-so guests actually were enjoying themselves. The afternoon was intimate and relaxed, people laughed and embraced each other after long periods of absence, but it was also emotional and raw, with very real tears of love as vows were exchanged and life long commitments were made. 



The ladies have requested that photos of their guests remain private, but to see a selection of shots from the location and ceremony please visit my full photography site here. I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this truly special occasion.
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Monday, 17 April 2017

Birchbox

I completely appreciate how late to the party I am when it comes to Birchbox. However, I can thank my darling friend Ciara for getting me on board with it after I visited her up North for the first time last week and she explained the concept and shared some of her products with me. I then arrived home a few days later to discover Ciara had gifted me with my very first Birchbox and a three month subscription :)

Here is my April box, for anyone else who doesn't subscribe or has less of a clue about what is going on than I do:


To start off, one of the major plus points about ordering from Birchbox is that the products come in an attractive box, and there is a different design each month. Apparently some similar companies send products without this little add-on, so it's a nice touch. Ciara has so many Birchbox boxes that she has glued them together to make a little set of storage drawers for her bathroom. I love that.

 
Birchbox offers five products (some sample sized and some full sized) for £10 a month plus £2.95 p&p per month. Each month has a theme and a note from the editor, followed by a full list of product descriptions and how to use them along side the RRP for the full sized item.


First up, a sample size of Baija Paris Creme Moana nourishing lotion. Use just a little and it provides immediate relief from dry skin on the body. Aside from the tube design, the other benefits of this product include the non oily finish on skin and the soft floral smell. It also contains coconut oil, and I for one am a huge fan of anything that contains coconut oil.


Next two; a sample size of Polaar Ice Pure scrub. Although neither the instructions nor the bottle actually specify if this is a body or a face scrub the instructions do mention to avoid the eye contour area, so I'm guessing it can be used on the face. This product smells amazing. It contains tiny exfoliating particles and an ingredient called Arctic Cotton which is apparently known for it's moisturizing properties; always nice when you are exfoliating to avoid feeling like you've scrubbed your skin raw.

The sample size Elemis Hydra-Boost Day Cream I am mega excited about. Being that I have recently aged beyond my twenties and I am obsessed with aging beyond my twenties, I have actually purchased my weight in anything containing Hyaluronic Acid, a proven anti-aging ingredient. This product contains Hyaluronic acid, and as a sucker for well known brands I'm big into this product. Smells amazing, feels amazing. I should invest in a thesaurus but you get the idea.


Two full sized products! First a bronzer/highlighter duo, by Manna Kadar Cosmetics which can be used as such or as an eye shadow combo. I fully intend to do both, just as soon as I've brushed up on my "How to do bronzer/highlighter" you tube tutorials and can be sure I know what the hell I am doing. 

The ModelCo Eye Define Crayon Liner is pretty much everything I could ask for in an eyeliner. The pencil is one that you wind up so no sharpening required and it glides onto skin rather than pulling or dragging against the skin. It is also water resistant - perfect.


So that's the April Birchbox summed up, if you like what you see you can sign up here. Now I already can't wait for the next one to arrive. I have the best friends xoxo
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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Christmas Tree Pot Pourri

Christmas is well and truly over now! And with the start of the New Year I am sure everybody has plans for things they would like to do in the next twelve months.

This normally starts I guess, prior to January 6th, with taking down all the Christmas decorations and saying goodbye to the tree for another year. 2016 was the first time I have ever bought a real Christmas tree, from an actual Christmas tree farm. At the start of last year, I decided to throw away my old and weathered artificial tree and pledged to only buy real ones in future. And that I did - she was a 7ft Fraser Fir and she smelled amazing!

I loved the rich citrus smell so much that yesterday when taking down all the decorations and having a clear out, I decided to "jar" the smell and keep it for the remaining winter months to remind me of how beautiful the tree looked in our 10ft bay window.



To start, I snipped off some of the upper branches of the tree that are still dark green and had all their needles firmly in tact.
Using my fingers I removed the needles - this was a sticky messy job but they way I saw it a lot of the scent comes from the branch itself so if bits flaked off with the needles that was a good thing.

Using the pile of needles I had collected, bits of branch included, I put them all in a large mixing bowl and added in the following items;
Whole Star Anise
Ground Nutmeg
Ground Cinnamon (only a little)
Whole Cloves (I used a lot)

I gave the needles a stir to mix everything thoroughly together and then portioned them out into glass jars. The jars I have used were just old used candles after they had burnt out. To remove remaining wax from these types of jars you just need to heat the wax with a lighter until soft then scrape it out and wash in hot soapy water.





I saved some whole sections of branch back and some whole star anise to decorate the top of these jars. 

I also reused a candle given to me for my birthday from The White Company called 'Winter' which I liked as I thought this smell is certainly winter to me. As I use matching candle lids as well, I could put the lid on this one to maintain the scent for longer.





My goal for 2017 is to try and be more frugal. I want to recycle/up-cycle or create more things in this way. What about using these as part of your wedding decor or center pieces if you are on a budget, having a winter wedding, or just love making things yourself?

Happy New Year!
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