Real Life vs Insta Life • Spring - A Clifton Photo walk

When I started typing this post up I thought that perhaps I've given them the wrong titles, and that maybe "Behind the Scenes" would be better. Because the hint of sarcasm in the vs could lead you to believe that the photos you see lean more towards the fabricated than the fleeting moments that are captured at any given time. But there is always a story behind the finished story. For me styling photos is such a pleasure, creating a mini scene amongst chaos or not, (sometimes the house can look quite together, but only sometimes!) is my way of relaxing and I cherish the times I have when I can get lost in a little world of props and flowers, using my favourite old baking tray and snap away. 

I look at the people I follow on Instagram and there are some accounts who have made a full time businesses from their snapshot photos, sharing their every days, their travels and adventures all snapped in beautiful light and all with a post edit glow that makes each one stand alone. There's a sense of love and dedication in every single little square, that that photo has been chosen for you to enjoy and that's exactly how I feel. That each one is the next page in my visual storybook, I share what we are doing that day, or where we might have been that week, perhaps it might be some flowers or something I've snapped that sums up how I feel from a while ago, but each one means as much as the last.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the Instagrammers I follow Julia last month who has grown an eye popping following of loyal and engaged fans who adore her flat lays, her florals and her eye. It felt like I was in the presence of greatness, with someone who was humble but had found her home in this creative space. Confident in her style, but free with her advice. We chatted about using the best camera you have available, that it's not cheating to use a dslr instead of the camera you can whip out of your pocket and I don't know why, but when I read that she has re-cropped and reposted an image deleting the ones that didn't sit right with her a day or so after, it made me realise that taking absolute ownership of your Instagram gallery with the same fierce pride and love as your blog is a good thing. 

So many of us will be styling our photos without even realising. That almost on auto pilot you will move a touch to the left to crop out something less pretty in the background. Hands up if you've ever got out a piece of white card and set up a mini scene on it?! Yep! Me too :)

I end up in contorted stances, on my hands and knees, even on the floor, to take photos at different angles! I know my eye is always drawn to the detail in a situation, and the photos I share where there's just a hint of a scene rather than the whole story are always the ones that get my lovely followers double tapping. 

It's become second nature to lug around my Canon, I sling it over my shoulder without a second thought and no one bats an eyelid when I snap away at family gatherings. I shoved it into my hospital bag as I raced to be with Natalie when she was in labour with Logan and I will always treasure those precious first photos I snapped when he was cocooned in his white blanket in a hazy newborn snooze as the sun came up. It was so special to be my sister's second pair of eyes and whilst she was struggling to stay awake I could take some photos for them which we all have on our window ledges. 

In fact when we took the boys for a run on the beach last week I lost count of the number of other parents who had a bigger camera around their necks. I love that there's this generation of us who have fallen in love with photography, friends of mine have cameras on their birthday and christmas lists, and there are so many moments I have stored on my laptop, that I print out at a later date. 

So here's a few of my behind the scenes from the last month or so, nothing that constitutes rocket science just conscious cropping and some tidying! And of course you don't have to have a DSLR or point and shoot - just don't feel you have to be shy if you do! 

I've shared all of them on Instagram and they've all come from my DSLR. It's not for everyone to upload photos to a Dropbox file and then share them from their phone but it works for me. I do share photos from my phone but mostly I use the camera I love the most. And I am not alone feeling like this which makes me breathe a huge sigh of relief!

I headed to Bristol last Wednesday to spend a couple of hours on the Clifton photo walk organised by Lori and Laura and I looked around at all the different cameras and felt like one of the gang. Phones, point and shoots and DSLRs all capturing different scenes and stories. 

I looked around at this group of passionate writers, photographers, vloggers, parents and friends and thought wow. What company to be in. People who have taken a leap and followed their hearts, turning hobbies into businesses, contributing to making blogging a profession to be admired and valued. Lori who lives and breathes her Mama meets cool tagline, exuding the most genuine and uplifting spirit every time I see her, Fritha who must have barely taken a day's traditional maternity leave, a superwoman whose real life has become blog life and who treasures her family unit. We talked about how you can't blog without the support of those around you, not just our "Instagram husbands" who have to painfully put up with endless requests to take photos but who are there, at midnight when you are still staring at a laptop, who forgive you when your head spins off and you shout at the top of your voice and who are there to celebrate and share all the wonderful things that blogging brings you. And Natasha who I can talk honestly about work opportunities and worries without any sense of competition, like we've known each other since school. Her confidence and determination inspires me to the point that I wish I could just get in the car and drive to her house to sit on her sofa for a long cup of tea and not stop talking for 4 hours.

One of the things Natasha said to me last Wednesday, really struck a chord. About doing less, but doing it better. And I guess that's what I am going to concentrate on. My love is for photography. Visual stories that capture my attention, that I want to share with you. My heart is in my photos, the colours, the compositions, the people and places that fill the frames. 

It's easy to feel left behind with blogging. It's easy to say to yourself you can't do everything and be everything to all people but it's harder to believe it. Consciously not let yourself get weighed down with the pressure to keep up. It feels like the world has just discovered Snapchat right at the time when I feel that I have really found my home on Instagram! I signed up to a video course in January as I am determined to go out of my comfort zone this year and understand how to edit all the video clips I take that get left unloved in an album. Not necessarily to share them right now, but to find my way of creating mini movies for the boys for the future. 

Being an all or nothing type of person has it's downsides. I am either full force or stilted like a rabbit in the head lights. And that can make you just not try. But at the same time the upside is that you practise at what you love the most, and hopefully you see yourself improving. A couple of weeks ago I felt like I had a huge opportunity, shooting images for a new Summer catalogue on a beach in Devon with a team from Moshulu. I got to the beach about an hour before we were due to meet and wandered along the sand covered in a blanket of pebbles and took a deep breath. There was no where to hide on the beach. No shelter, just a vast expanse of space, with the sea air whipping against my face. It felt like a big moment, my first fashion catalogue shoot with no one else to be other than myself. Just me and my camera.

I feel like I am on a never ending journey with my photography, I look back at photos I took last year and can see my style evolving and feel so proud of how far I have come. There's so much blood sweat and literal tears that have gone into the images that get uploaded to my blog. 

So I was over the moon to see the Finalist's announced for the MAD Blog Awards 2016, celebrating parent bloggers from the UK. My heart leapt when I saw my name under the Photography category! Recognition from your peers is a huge deal. These are the awards that without a doubt made a difference to my whole working life. Thank you so much to anyone who nominated me. The other 4 finalists are more than worthy winners and I can't wait to see them all at the awards ceremony in September. 

If you haven't voted yet you can head over here and cast your vote!