Newborn photography East Sussex – Kirstie, Tony and baby Elliott

This pair of first-time parents were just bursting with pride at the newest addition to their little family, baby Elliott, who was so keen to meet his mum and dad that he turned up almost three weeks early.

And what an utter bundle of gorgeousness he was! At just eight days old, it was the perfect time to capture those little creases, folds and details which only last for the first few weeks.

My aim on a newborn photoshoot is to capture that magical atmosphere when a new baby has just recently arrived home – there’s nothing like it. Rather than having photographs in a studio with standard props, I always make sure the photographs include interactions between baby and their parents and other family. Their photographs can capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments when this precious new person has just entered the world.

It also means that we can incorporate personal items, like this stunning quilt which was sewn by Kirstie’s grandmother for her own birth. It’s such a beautiful thought that her would-be great grandson is now snuggling there. 

Thank you Kirstie and Tony for inviting me to capture your beautiful new arrival.

Party ideas for winter babies - Guest post from The Party Auntie

If you have a child who’s birthday falls in the winter, this month, the Party Auntie Carla Monson has some amazing birthday party inspiration.

Is your child a winter baby? If so, I can totally understand when party ideas may seem few and far between. It seems those summer babes get it so lucky! But, this simply isn't true and I'd like to share with you my top ideas for celebrating your child's winter birthday.

October

Scavenger Hunt

It's beautiful when the leaves start to change and English summertime draws to a close. With the weather staying warmer later into the year, an outdoor party could be a great idea. Make raincoats, lots of layers and welly boots essential on the invitation. A scavenger hunt at your nearest park, woods or field is bound to keep them moving. We recently hosted a bug hunt in October and it went splendidly!

Winter party ideas-6.jpg

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Did you know that 6th October is Mad Hatter's day? If your son or daughter's big day doesn't fall on the 6th, it doesn't matter. You can still celebrate Lewis Carroll's famous tea party at home. Don't forget the topsy-turvy cake, jam tarts fit for the queen and biscuits iced with "eat me".

Spooktacular Party

We all know what October is famous for - Halloween. If your kids go crazy for this big event, jump on the bandwagon and throw a scary fiesta!  

Alice in Wonderland themed party

November

Indoor Cowboys and Indians

Did you know it's Native American Heritage Month? (don't worry if you didn't, it's not very well advertised!) Could this be the perfect time to throw an indoor Cowboys and Indians party? Borrow or buy a beautiful indoor teepee and set about some educational Wild West inspired games.

Indoor Teddy Bear’s Picnic

On 16th November, it's "Have a party with your bear" day. Arrange chequered blankets on the living room floor, make winter lemonade for the kids (winter Pimms for you!) and warm scones in the oven. Ask your guests to bring their favourite teddy and tell the story of where he/she came from and what his/her name is.

Cupcake Party

Finally, on 26th November, the world celebrates "National Cake Day". I like the sound of this one, don't you? Here are some ideas to get your taste buds tingling. Contact your local cake workshop for a cupcake party. Throw a "Great British Bake Off" party complete with chef hats and personalised wooden spoons. Of course, if your party is late into the day, fireworks are a must.

 Thank you Bonney’s Cakery for use of your cake for this image :-)

Thank you Bonney’s Cakery for use of your cake for this image :-)

December

Slumber Party

Parents will love you if you throw a slumber party. By taking a bit of responsibility off their hands during one of the busiest times of the year, you'll likely get maximum attendance. Happy days for your son or daughter! Set up cute teepee tents for each guest and, if you’re feeling brave, let them organise their own snacks for a midnight feast. Don't forget to get your invites out at least two months in advance.

Christmas Craft Party

During this time of year, there will be 100s of crafty events on offer. These make for an ideal festive and fun party. If you don't want to host this at home, take the kids to make Christmas gifts at a local craft studio.

Christmas craft parties are great for winter babies

Themed Party

We love these winter soiree's: Frozen, Winter Wonderland, Snow White and Penguins. For older parties, show the movie in the living room with popcorn and nachos. For guests who won't sit still, book a character appearance who will also host games and sing.

Have you tried any of these for a winter party? Let us know in the comments below!

Look out for Part 2 coming next month, for those who’s next birthday is in 2019!

Exploring a winter wonderland

More about the Party Auntie

Party Auntie offers Bespoke Birthday Parties for Sussex Children. With access to unique locations including yurts, teepees and more, our aim is to absorb our partygoers in the joys of nature. We also offer winter parties with a focus on creativity and craft. If you'd like to find out more please come and visit www.partyauntie.com or follow us on Instagram @thepartyauntie.

Celebrating the seasons with under 5s – top reasons this Sussex family photographer wants you to get your family outside, whatever the weather

In a survey I ran recently, every parent I asked the question ‘Describe your ideal family day’ answered with an outdoor activity. But, as a parent to under 5s, it can feel like the only destination to keep active kids occupied on cooler (and wetter) autumn days will be the nearest soft play…along with every other family within a 20 mile radius.

It’s not as easy getting out in the autumn and winter as the quick slather of sun cream required in mid-summer, but I want to convince you that, even when the weather’s rubbish, some time outside in nature will really benefit you all (despite the mud). Read on to find out why…

1.      Nature is analogue (and great for natural family photos)

If you find yourself in a loop of checking your phone and trying to find a second to reply to an email, or find the little ones are tempted by screens even when you’ve set limits, getting outside in the fresh air and using your senses could help break this cycle.  

If you can dream - autumn family photo

With their internal magnets for all things messy, wet weather is no deterrent for young children who’ll love having a squidge about in the mud or splash in the puddles.

TOP TIP: make sure you and your children have suitable wet weather clothing so you can relax knowing everyone’s warm and comfy outside.

2.      There are emotional and psychological benefits

As our lives become more digitised, nature offers us essential regenerative time which cannot be gained elsewhere.

In a recent interview, ‘Sir David [Attenborough] said being in nature "offers us all precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life".’

What’s more, in her interview in the (all round incredible) podcast Hurry Slowly, Florence Williams describes the incredible benefits of being in nature, which can include breaking negative patterns of thought or even boosting creativity.

TOP TIP: Make mornings your friend! As the daylight shortens, make the most of the morning light as the afternoons get shorter.

A hiding place for natural treasures

3.      Even bite-sized bits make a difference

In his article on the importance of nature to human development and health, Professor Tim Beatley introduces the concept of the ‘Nature Pyramid’, the idea that we need varying levels of contact with nature.

Enjoying the mud

For example, he proposes that on a day to day basis we should ensure we have some contact with nature through a visit to a park or our garden. This builds through to having longer stretches of time immersed in nature, for example, through a weekend or longer holiday spent in the countryside.

Isn’t this reassuring to know? This means that even the smallest jaunts in nature, to go outside to hunt for autumn leaves, a half an hour braving the park on a rainy day or a bracing run on the beach is all helping with our wellbeing long term.

Adventure in the woods

TOP TIP: Even if the rest of the day has been spent on the sofa, getting out in the garden during a break in the rain to jump in puddles is a great way to get that nature ‘fix’.

4.      When you come inside, it’s all warm and cosy again…

Yes, it’s great being outside exploring nature, but, when it’s cold and wet, there IS nothing better than coming home to a warm house, and warming up over a cup of hot chocolate.

TOP TIP: Get your car and house mud-proof by having bags or sheeting set out before you leave ready for muddy boots and coats.

What are your family’s top tips for enjoying the outside as the weather draws in? Tell me in the comments below.

More about me – natural family photographer

I’m Sophia and I believe passionately in capturing families as they are, in all their messy brilliant glory. I capture the story as you and your kids enjoy seasonal adventures for two hour family photo sessions in Sussex, Kent and London. If you’d like to capture your day out with a photoshoot, or have any questions, contact me to find out more.

Celebrate World Photo Day - four ideas to improve the photos you take with your family

How many photos do you take in the average day? Whichever camera you’re using, there are always ways to make your photos more creative and interesting, and better preserve the memories you want to keep.

This Sunday, 19th August, is World Photo Day which is a great chance for everyone to celebrate the power of photography to have a positive impact on our lives.

Here are my top tips to improve your family photo game this weekend, and share a little joy in the process.

1. Move before you capture

How often do we swipe up on our phone’s screen and take a photo of our kids from exactly the position we happen to be standing? When you want to take a photo, think about whether moving before you capture the image could improve your photo.

The reason a photo from standing level looks factual but perhaps a little dull is that we’re used to seeing the world from this level.

Ask yourself: what level are your kids at? If they are down low, could you take a photo from their level to capture their perspective, or show their expression head on? Or from below to show a moment of triumph such as climbing to the top of the slide?

 By getting down to Ethel's level, we can better connect with her when we see the photo

By getting down to Ethel's level, we can better connect with her when we see the photo

2. Why does it matter that you take this photo?

Before you snap, think about the message you want to send, or the mood you want to remember, and how you can express this. Some ideas include:

  • If you’re capturing two children engrossed in play, could you create a lot of negative space (for example sky, greenery or a wall) around them to portray the sense of them being in their own little world?
  • Cropping in your photo to focus on the thing which is interesting, for example, showing just your child’s smile and hands showing off an artistic creation, rather than a usual portrait?
  • Trying to take a photo when your subject doesn’t realise, or they’ve forgotten you’re photographing. Can you capture a moment when they’re concentrating or in a moment of thought? This can make for a more authentic portrait.
 Create space around your subjects to tell a story

Create space around your subjects to tell a story

How often do we swipe up on our phone’s screen and take a photo of our kids from exactly the position we happen to be standing?

3. Can you get a catchlight?

You know why the eyes of magazine cover stars always look so bright? They always have a catchlight in them – that little spec of light which lightens up the eyes and makes them shine. To get this, you need to make sure there’s a light source (or at least a very pale surface such as a white wall) reflecting in your subject’s eyes before you take the photo.

If they’re not in a position where this is possible, take a photo from a profile perspective (if you don’t have flash available) or of something else until they’re in the right position.

 Get a profile image if there's no catchlight

Get a profile image if there's no catchlight

4. Bring your own perspective

The fab thing about photography is that, with very few tools, you have the chance to show the world how you see things – your own unique perspective. When I’m out and about, I like to think of my camera as like a little scrapbook where I can hold onto cool little details I notice, which could be something as simple as a combination of colours, an interesting story unfolding or a dappled bit of light.

Think about the sorts of things you’d like to capture to make your own personal scrapbook too and tag your photos #worldphotoday to join in on the action. 

Five family photo moments for little ones that you won't want to miss this summer

Summer is such a brilliant time to try new things and, for little ones, it's full of sensory experiences. 

If, like me, you love taking every chance you can to get outside with the family, get creative with seasonal photos, and don't mind getting a little messy, here are the top five cheap (or free) experiences your little ones will love which will look fab on camera too. Whether you're using your phone or any other sort of camera, try these top tips this season. 

1. Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Summer photography is full of opportunities to show emotion as your little ones explore the textures around them, and the beach is a great place to capture this.

Through their eyes...

Zoom in to see things from their perspective - the first feeling of warm sand and freezing waves on your feet.

Through your eyes...

Zoomed out photos can help capture the overall mood and story of the moment. Before you take the photo, pause and check the composition, are you expressing the beauty of what you see?

When I see this photo of my daughter from a recent trip to the beach I'm immediately transported back to the feeling of that afternoon when we stumbled across a stunning abandoned beach that she couldn't wait to explore.

Beach explorer

I thought very carefully about the position of the horizon and the sparse clouds, which I think makes her look like an explorer in an undiscovered landscape. 

2. Cooling off with an ice cream (or frozen yoghurt for babies)

There's something so essentially summery about the pastel shades of ice cream, and they're a chance to get some happy expressions. Get in close to the ice cream (whether you're using a phone or camera) or crop the photo in an unusual way to focus on this happy feeling and the texture of those irresistible drips.

Dripping ice cream

3. walks in the countryside

There are so many beautiful locations in Kent and Sussex to enjoy the summertime countryside. Get down low to take your photo to show the 'wide angle' view of a family walk like here at Knole Park, Sevenoaks.

Walk at Knole

4. exploring meadows

Always hunt for the best textures in your photos - in winter it's jumpers and knits and in summer it's got to be flowers like dandelion clocks and whispy grasses. At this time of year, different flowers and seeds are constantly coming in and out of season, and so you can even visit the same spot and find a completely different scene from one week to the next.

Why not incorporate a bug-hunting expedition too!

Dandelions

5. Trying their gardening skills...

Little ones love getting messy, and this is a great opportunity for summery shots... like little E here who decided the woodland floor just had to be explored!

Getting messy

Activities like growing vegetables from seed are also a great chance for a series of photos, from the process of planting the seeds, to their gradual growth, watering, harvesting and - the best bit - eating. Get creative with your shots and think about how you tell the story through your children's eyes - can you angle your camera over their shoulder as they busily work, or shoot upwards through the plants? This summer, we're growing strawberries and tomatoes and can't wait to enjoy the results.

What are your favourite photo moments on summertime family adventures? Share your best in the comments below.

Amanda and Scott's family engagement celebration in Hove, East Sussex

It was such a joy to revisit Amanda and Scott's photos from their intimate engagement celebration at Hangleton Manor, Hove, East Sussex, earlier this month. 

This lovely pair came across from LA for a family engagement celebration in Hove with Scott's side of the family. Their wedding's in California in spring 2019 (I know!), and I was so excited when they got in contact to ask me to capture their family celebration, especially because some of their beloved relatives won't be able to make the wedding.

 Scott and Amanda

Scott and Amanda

 Take a look at this ring

Take a look at this ring

 Joyful moment

Joyful moment

 Beloved Grandmas

Beloved Grandmas

 

 

 

Celebrating the spring with natural family photo sessions in Tunbridge Wells, Kent - or, why I never put away the camera until you're literally leaving

o you remember being told 'Patience is a virtue' when you were little? It was usually at that time when you were so excited about something that you felt you could burst: opening your birthday presents, that delicious dessert just about to reach the table or hurridly pulling off your shoes without even undoing the laces to experience anti-gravity on the trampoline.

I make it my mission to capture this momentum in action, because we'll too soon forget. Those tiny candid expressions which make up the unique personalities of these little folks. 

It was an experiment, and I was a little nervous. It was my turn to use my patience to find ways to help everyone relax, feel at home, and to begin to show their true selves. It was such a huge privilege to spend time with each and every one of you.

Here are just a few of my favourite moments.

It was so great to spend time with this amazing bunch, and I have loved every minute of working on their images. 

And, to finish, a confession - I absolutely love a 'putting on the coat' shot (yes, a niche to corner I guess...). There's just something so caring and sweet about a parent putting on their child's coat. A lesson to never stop shooting till people are literally walking out the door. 

Putting the coat on - one of my favourites