Jess & Molly | Best Friends Shoot

 

Remember Jess? When I took her portraits a couple of months ago, she mentioned really wanting some photos with her best friend, Molly. We finally got around to doing them last week, and it was so much fun because a) these girls are hilarious and up for anything, and b) they’re GREAT models.

Jess has a soft, ultra-feminine style, and Molly has a more edgy look. I called this our woodland fairy shoot.  Molly insisted she wasn’t fairy-like, but Jess and I assured her she’s a rock and roll fairy (which, let’s be honest, is an awesome kind to be).

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I won’t be ashamed of my story.

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Nearly five years ago, when Simon and I first moved back to England, we lived with his parents. It was supposed to be for a month, but it turned into five, as it took longer – a lot longer – than we’d expected for us to find proper jobs.

After a couple of months, when our savings account was empty and we were tired of watching daytime tv, we decided we needed to get jobs of any kind, just to give ourselves a reason to get out of bed every morning. Simon started working with a guy we knew who ran a landscaping business, and I got a job in Starbucks.

Sometimes, when people I knew came into the shop, I ducked into the kitchen. And I didn’t write much during those months. I certainly didn’t write about being a barista. And I want to kick myself about it now. Because why was I so ashamed?

In the four years since my Starbucks stint, I have been a communications officer for a non-profit, a stay-at-home mom, a freelance copywriter, and a self-employed photographer. Right now, I am sitting in a coffee shop writing this blog post. Last weekend, I was in France shooting a wedding. If you’d told that girl steaming milk in a green apron that she’d be shooting a wedding in France in four years, she would have laughed at you.

I wish I’d written more about those days in Starbucks, because they were part of my story. And although they didn’t feel very significant at the time, they do now. When I think about it, it only makes me feel grateful and happy that so much has happened in such a short number of years. That I’m in the process of being brave and living out a dream.

Maybe if I’d known what was coming, I could have enjoyed that season more.

Maybe.

But I want to make a promise here and now that I won’t be ashamed of where I am anymore. I want to do so much more than I’m doing now. To live out my dreams and make an impact and bring beauty and love to the world. It’d be easy to look at my work and my life now and, instead of seeing all the beauty that’s in it right this very moment, only see where it falls short.

Well, I won’t. I won’t be ashamed anymore. I’m living a life of Love, and Love writes a beautiful story.

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Easy, Healthy Chocolate

Before I start this, can I just talk about how hard it is to do food photography when you have two small children?

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Most of my attempts looked like this…with someone’s tiny limb in the frame. I know of food bloggers with small children, so I say hats off to you ladies.

Now…let’s get down to the business of CHOCOLATE.

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If you’re like me, you need something sweet after dinner. Problem is, we live way too close to the corner shop, and there is always some massive Cadbury bar on sale for £1. It is a dangerous situation. So, when I need a chocolate fix and I don’t want to throw all my healthy eating down the drain, I make up these little beauties.

You guys, they are easy. And healthy. Simon says they’re so healthy you get more healthy the more of them you eat, but I wouldn’t take it that far.

Here’s what you need:

Equal parts coconut oil, cocoa powder, and honey (raw is best, but normal will do). 

That’s it.

I use about 1/4 cup of each and that makes as many as you see in the photo.

Method

Heat the three ingredients on low, low, low heat in a saucepan. You’re not cooking it, you’re just combining it. So heat them while stirring until smooth, and then pour equal amounts into the cups of a silicon muffin pan. They’re pretty rich, so you don’t want to make them too big. Trust me.

Here’s the fun part – toppings! You can add just about anything you want, to your own taste. I’ve done coarse sea salt and chilli flakes, raisins and walnuts, dried coconut, rosemary and sea salt…the possibilities are endless!

Stick in the freezer, and they’ll be set in about an hour. Pop them out and enjoy! And if you want to eat all six, you know, that’s okay….they’ll probably make you skinny.

*If you don’t have a silicon muffin pan, you could pour the mixture out onto parchment paper on a baking pan, and then break it apart when it solidifies.

 

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Jess | Portraits

Jess babysits my boys a lot, and they both love her. She brings crafts for them to do and puts on superhero capes and buys them milk and biscuits at the little cafe in our park. She’s also incredibly beautiful and sweet and funny, and we had such a great time taking these photos in the rapeseed fields in the Bedfordshire countryside.

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Saana | Maternity Photos

Saana is tall and blond and every bit as Scandinavian as she looks. She was a little hesitant about taking these photos, because she was 39 weeks pregnant, and feeling a little bit over that glowy, ethereal earth-mother stage. But I’m here to tell you that she still looked fabulous. Saana was carrying her baby so beautifully, and I knew that – although she may not feel like it now – in a few months or years, she’d be glad she had some photos to document this sweet time before she became a mother of two. (Plus, the rapeseed fields are in bloom right now and the yellow is incredible, so I just needed to get out there.)

I’m glad we took these when we did – Saana gave birth to a beautiful baby girl just a week later.

I was going to post these tomorrow, but today is Saana’s birthday. She’s celebrating by eating cake and snuggling her 5-day-old daughter. I want to celebrate her by showing you how beautiful she is…

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Fear is a Thief

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Every once in a while, I just get paralyzed. Or paralysed. (I’ve been in America for a month, and I can’t decide how I want to spell things right now.)

And that brings me to how I’ve been in America for a month. And how, a few weeks ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, talking to my friend Amaris about photography.

“I have a confession to make,” I said. “I haven’t taken a picture in a while. Because I took a break when I had Koa and the longer it went on, the more afraid I got that I’d forgotten, that I couldn’t do it anymore, that I’d lost what little ground I’d gained.”

“I hate to break this to you,” she said. “But there is no way around this other than to pick up your camera.”

Amaris was right. (She often is.) When I’m paralysed (I’m gonna go with the ‘s’ for a minute.) by the need for perfection – by the fear that what I create won’t be exactly what I want to create – I end up not creating anything.

That’s why I got my camera out when I got back to my parents’ house from the coffee shop that day. I took some pictures of Koa in the grass. I took some pictures of my mom’s grapevine, and of the horses, and of the shade tree in the backyard.

Fear is a thief, and it will steal your potential to become the artist you were created to be.

Perfectionism will kill your art.

 

 

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A memo to us when we are good

Can I make a confession? (Of course I can.)

There is a photographer I know on the internet – facebook, Twitter, Instagram – and every time I post any photo I’ve taken, I am painfully and acutely aware that she is there. That she can see. And I wish this wasn’t true, but it is: I am painfully and acutely aware when she says, by saying nothing at all, that I am not good enough.

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And it makes me mad. But do you know what makes me madder? The fact that I care. That I measure my worth over and over again by the standards of someone I barely even know. That I give one person that much power over me, over how I feel about this dream that I am following.

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And I have heard other seasoned photographers making fun of people just starting out. People like me. And I have wanted to hang up my camera, because no one wants to be the butt of someone else’s joke.

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But here is the thing: we have all got to start somewhere. And those guys? They were once nervously posting photos on their facebook pages, on some hidden blog somewhere. Desperate to be good. Desperate for someone better to say, “You can do this. I’ll help you.”

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So, here are my two requests of you:

One:

If you are a seasoned professional, and you see someone just starting out, reach out to them. Try to remember what it was like when you were new, and you were desperate, and all you wanted in the world was for someone to encourage you. And go with that. Be that person.

Two:

If you are new and you are scared, I want us to make a deal: let’s tune out the naysayers. Let’s ignore the mocking voices, and not obsess over the names that are and are not there in the list of facebook likes. Let’s follow these dreams because they are rooted deep down inside our hearts. Let’s surround ourselves with people who believe in us, who encourage us, who are not intimidated by the prospect that we might one day become good, too.

Let’s just start, and then keep going, and when we are good, let’s remember this day. And then let’s find someone with a dream too big for their shaky little hands, and let’s tell them:

“You can do this. I’ll help you.”

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