Bruges, Beer and a Beautiful Moment!

My first blog of 2018 is a conventional read…but it reflects a super couple of days with good friends.

Who would have thought that a conversation held a little over 12 months ago over a glass of prosecco whilst celebrating a friends’ 50th would result in a city break to Bruges? However that’s exactly what happened and recently, Gaynor, her partner Phil, me and Mr Edwards spent a great short break in this fairy-tale city.  Ably driven by Gaynor and Phil, we arrived at a Premier Inn in Maidstone on the banks of the River Medway for an overnight stop before proceeding to Ebbsfleet International the following morning to pick up the Eurostar to Brussels.

It’s a mode of transport we’ve never considered before, but thanks to concierge and tour operator extraordinaire, Phil, we found ourselves at the station, awaiting the arrival of our train with excitement. It’s a different experience to flying, and whilst there is the obligatory security checking, both human and baggage, it feels a much less intense process than that in an airport.  Eurostar is a very efficient method of travel, you stand in an allocated place on the platform so that once the train pulls in you are beside your carriage and there are just 8 minutes for all passengers to board before it’s on its way. The trains are clean, comfortable and spacious with lots of room for luggage, they are also incredibly fast, reaching speeds of up to 300kph (100kph through the Eurotunnel), but the smooth ride means it doesn’t feel like you are travelling at speed.

As rural France and then Belgium flashed past, we chatted and relaxed, arriving at Brussels in just 2 hours and then caught a second train out to Bruges itself. Our hotel was a short ten minute walk from the main station and as we turned a cobbled corner and we had our first view of Bruges, I felt sure I was going to enjoy our stay.

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Hotel Academie is a well-appointed 4* hotel in a quiet street, close to Lake Minnewater (the Lake of Love).  After a warm greeting and swift check-in process, we dropped our bags in our rooms and set off to look for the main square. Luckily for Perryn and me, Phil and Gaynor had visited the city before, and Phil’s innate sense of direction (which he employed the whole trip) meant we found the square very quickly, just as the sun was dropping. It is a beautiful place!  There are pretty coloured restaurants, beautiful buildings with ornate and elaborate facades and of course the Belfort Tower immortalised in the film ‘In Bruges’.  Dinner on Monday evening was in ‘One Minnewater’ where we all enjoyed a typical Flemish stew, rich and full of flavour along with a couple of drinks before retiring to bed.

Tuesday morning dawned and I was up and ready to go exploring before sunrise, dragging Perryn along with me, and we headed back to the square as the sun rose and the skies turned blue where I was able to get a couple of photos of it much less populated than the previous afternoon.  We returned to the hotel to meet the others, and with Phil as our guide, we set off on a tour of the city, twisting and turning down alleyways, wandering along canals (Bruges is known as the Venice of the North) past windmills, barges and a variety of buildings, many of which date back to medieval times.  Some 22500 steps later, we returned to the hotel to drop some things back in the rooms. It was at this point I was rather privileged in that Phil shared a very special secret with me (if you’ve seen my FB feed, you will likely know what it was), I am however very good at keeping secrets!  That evening, we returned to One Minnewater for another very welcome meal, the men decided to go for a drink in a bar close by and Gaynor and I took ourselves off with our cameras to see if we could make some photographs of Bruges by night, joining the men a short while later.

St Valentine’s day dawned with blue skies and sunshine and we made for a little restaurant ‘Less is More’ for breakfast, another warm welcome and a reasonably priced meal set us up for the day.  We wandered around the market, visited the Historium where Gaynor enjoyed a Virtual Reality experience, whilst the rest of us enjoyed watching Gaynor in her VR goggles, had coffee to warm us up and then took a horse and carriage trip around part of the city, the granny blankets were particularly welcome as the temperature was a chilly 2 degrees at most.

If you visit Bruges, I highly recommend a visit to Bistro Pro Deo, a cosy, intimate restaurant housed in a 16th century whitewashed building. As it was Valentine’s Day, there were just around 10 tables for two and we enjoyed a superb meal thanks to hosts Nathalie (FoH) and Kristoff (Chef). They say that music is a great conversation piece, and this was especially true of Bistro Pro Deo, also known as the Soul Kitchen, it turned out that the owners are into music, but particularly Northern Soul and Mr E was in his element!

 

We left the restaurant, and at Phil’s request, took one last alongside the main canal. As Perryn and I walked down to view some pieces in a gallery window we realised that Gaynor and Phil were a little way behind us…and then suddenly, there they were beside us with huge smiles. Ever the romantic, Phil had done the deed, even getting down on one knee in the wet and had asked Gaynor to marry him…and she as you probably guessed, said yes…it really was a beautiful moment.  We grabbed a quick photo and headed back to the hotel for a glass of fizz to toast the happy couple.

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Our last day saw us enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Less is More (another recommended eatery) before we checked out and made our way back to Bruges station for the train to Brussels.  It was as easy a return journey as it had been outward and equally as quick, our top speed was approximately 284kph!!

My thoughts on Bruges?

It’s a compact, fairy-tale city, with an interesting history and warm and friendly locals. The beer is great, but ask for recommendations in terms of both dining and drinking, as it can be pricey, however there are also gems out there (One Minnewater & Bistro Pro Deo are recommended).  It’s relatively quiet in February, but you do need to wrap up (and not leave your hat in a bar as I did!) as it can be chilly, the locals say it gets a lot busier later in the year. Is a return visit on the cards? Definitely, there are museums, cathedrals and churches we didn’t see this time around.

Thanks to Gaynor and Phil for being great company, it’s fair to say we definitely made some memories!

Until next time…

Tracy xx

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Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us

As is now customary at this time of year, I like to take a look at back at all the photo fun I’ve had during the year, but more importantly, to take a moment to thank everyone who has been part of it too.

I find it almost impossible to keep the numbers down, so this year, to do the year justice, I’m sharing the images that will make it into my printed book for 2017 and I’m going to try and make a slideshow, so watch out for that! I’ve tried to keeping the words to a minimum this year, but here are my highlights

January – Rotterdam & the Peter Lindbergh exhibition with great friends

February – Rome for the 6 Nations with dear friends, even the wet weather won’t stop this photographer.  Welshot Lighting Weekend #1 with Nadine & Rocky.

April – Walter’s Wardrobe with Jen Brook, the WW team, Nicky, Jodie, Victoria & Kamila at Weston Park. A play date with Rachel, Ryan and Julene. Record Store Day 2017.

May – analogue photography for the very first time with Rachel of Little Vintage Photography, absolutely won’t be the last!

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June – the loveliest of weddings in Cyprus helping friends Claire and Jason capture their big day. Dad Edwards opened his beautiful garden once again to the gardening club. Leah & Rachel were sassy models at a Welshot Academy Evening in Chester. My first meeting with Dylan and the Dolbadarn Film Horse Team.

July – my second meeting with Dylan, Amie, Molly, Mark and Sophie!

 

August – The big Cat Sanctuary in Kent with Gaynor, definitely going to do this one again! Photo-fun with Sonia, Luisa, Rob, Sharon, Megan & Rachel; a visit to Bodnant Gardens and a fun afternoon with lovely Georgia.

September – a workshop with Fuji X photographer, Elke Vogelsang photographing dogs. Welshot Lighting Weekend #2 with Leah, Rachel & Ryan. A creative shoot with Rachel on Hope Mountain & The Good Life Experience Festival with Gaynor and Phil. Pembrokeshire – we only scratched the surface, a return visit on the cards.

October – Final Dolbadarn Film Horses event for this year. A cheeky weekend in Berlin with great friends Tim & Gail for another photo exhibition, Helmut Newton.

November – a workshop with Alex Bather and Tiffany. I got my hands on the Fuji GFX, amazing camera. Headshots and a lifestyle shoot on the loveliest of Autumn days with Amelia, Danielle, Emese and Georgia. The final full-day Welshot event of the year – Poldark with Shelby, Andrea, Sophie and Glenn. Costumes as always by the amazing Paula of Chester Costume House.

December – I had to capture the first snow of the season. My final photoshoot of the year at Cambrian Photography with Rachel.

I think (hope) I’ve given everyone an honourable mention, my thanks to each of you for your friendship and support throughout 2017.  I hope we can do it all again in 2018!

Until next time…

Tracy xx

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Animal Antics, Couture, Creative Photography, Dance, Equine, Fashion, Festival, Fuji, Fuji XT2, Holidays, Horses, Uncategorized, Urban Fashion | Leave a comment

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.

Many, many years ago, I spent time in Ireland with family friends on their farm. One of my most vivid memories of that holiday was being persuaded by the kids to ride a pony which ended in a bruise from my hip almost to my big toe! As a consequence, although I’ve always been entranced by their beauty and strength, it also left me slightly wary of horses of any shape or size. Time however is a great healer and I did eventually find the motivation to get back in the saddle and pony trek once or twice over the ensuing years.  So when Luisa asked if I wanted to join her on an event a few months ago with Dolbadarn Film Horses, I decided to give it a go (see my previous blog here for more details of that event) and I loved it!

This weekend saw me attend my third DFH event and I’m delighted to say it did not disappoint! Dylan and his team, this time comprising Dylan himself (dressed as a bishop? knight? you decide!), Molly and a new addition to the team, Jasmine, made sure of that.

This time was particularly nice as I had great company, my friend Gail came with me armed with her Olympus and the words of husband Tim ringing in her ears (have a great time and take lots of photographs!!). The day as always started at the Dolbadarn Hotel in Llanberis, run by Dylan’s family,  with tea & coffee (and biscuits) on arrival and time to say hello to friends (Sharon, Ann, Jackie, George and Sue) and make new ones (Amanda, Steve, Steve and Sheila) whilst the team was getting ready.

MUA Niamh Swindells joined us again and worked her magic on Molly and Jas and ensured the girls looked their fabulous best in the morning session and again in the afternoon, to the point where Sharon, Amanda, Jackie, Gail and I seriously thought about jumping in her chair too! Needless to say Dylan needed no improvement!

I said it last time, and I’m going to say it again, the mutual trust, respect and love between horse and handler is just wonderful, it gives me goosebumps, and I think it is absolutely fair to say that the bond between them is a two way street and is very special and I hope you see that in the images we made.

So, before I share some of my favourite images from the day, it’s only fair to have a short roll of honour:

  • Dylan – can wear practically anything and still look cool (well almost!) and adores the legand that is Diablo (actually, he adores all his horses and loves his team).
  • Molly – always elegant and in tune with her equine companions (Valmorim and Harley)
  • Jasmine – the newest member of the team who brings a new dimension to the team’s already impressive skillset (especially her aerial/silk skills) and who clearly has an affinity with Odysseus

Missing in action, but absolutely expected at future events:- Amie, who had to take care of her poorly canine Taran and of course, Marc (Darcy) Howland who was away working – it’s fair to say that the regular attendees missed you both enormously and look forward to seeing you some time soon.

Two more special mentions must go to Luisa Jones of Just Jones Photography (who must now have a costume store to rival the RSC!)  who arranged the days, and Dylan’s family at the Dolbadarn Hotel in Llanberis who made us all feel incredibly welcome.

Anyways, enough chat, here are some of my favourite images from another brilliant day…

I have lots more images to work through, so don’t forget to take a look at my FB page Tracy Edwards Photography if you want to see more!

Until next time…

Tracy xx

P.S. As for the title of this blog, it’s an unknown Arabian proverb, but I’m sure my equine friends can relate x

 

 

 

 

respect, trust, kindness and a lot of love between the riders and their horses,
respect, trust, kindness and a lot of love between the riders and their horses,

 

 

Posted in Animal Antics, Creative Photography, Equine, Everything Else!, Fuji, Fuji XT2, Horses | 2 Comments

A Recipe For Making Magic

A blog with a difference!

  • Take five good friends who share a passion for photography
  • Add two models (and great friends, up for most things within reason), one very experienced, one brave enough to be photographed for the first time
  • Combine well with an extensive wardrobe of skirts, dresses, petticoats and jackets (and tulle, lots of tulle!)
  • Add a pinch of flower-power and a couple of handfuls of glitter
  • Stir in lots of laughter, mutual support, great locations and a changeable weather forecast, swords and a smoke machine
  • Don’t forget to fold in copious cups of tea, lunch and cup-cakes

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  • Finally, season with some post-processing mastery courtesy of Sharon Prenton Jones

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Do you believe in faeries? I do now!

Thanks to Sharon (particularly for the faery images), Robert, Rachel, Megan, Sonia and Luisa for sharing in a wonderfully relaxed and creative photo-adventure, I can’t wait to create some more magic in the future.

Until next time

Tracy xx

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Let a horse whisper in your ear and breathe on your heart…you will never regret it.

I was recently transported back to my childhood when I found myself in the little town of Llanberis. As a child the majority of holidays and weekends were spent not far from the town and as the sun beat down on one of the warmest days of the year, memories of family (particularly my Nan), friends and lots of adventures came flooding back. However, as lovely as reminiscing is, I was here for a very different purpose on a Saturday morning.

I met Luisa earlier this year and learned that her photographic passion was horses and all things equine. We linked up through Facebook, so when Luisa put some feelers out about a possible opportunity to photograph horses, I jumped at the chance. That it happened to be in a location dear to my heart was an added bonus.

Arriving at the location, I was met by Luisa grabbing her breakfast from the back of her car, as she shared a few details about the day with me, I caught sight of two familiar faces and found myself enveloped in a group hug with Sharon and Sonia, I knew then it would definitely be a fun day.  A few minutes later and it felt like home from home as I discovered Nuala, Ann, Gary and Cathy were also in attendance. It’s always good to catch up with photo friends!

Dylan Jones runs Dolbadarn Film Horses, and provides horses for TV and big screen productions including Merlin, Game of Thrones and War Horse to name a few, and hosted the day from his family’s hotel. He joined us all for a short briefing session (resplendent in a very well-fitting costume!) and explained how the day would run, gave us a little health and safety reminder and shared the history of some of the horses we were to meet throughout the day. Of course, Diablo’s story touched everyone’s heart (he lost his sight in both eyes at a relatively young age), but I found it particularly poignant as we have our own little one-eyed warrior, our springer cross, Tom, at home.  During this time, MUA Niamh was working her magic on Amie and Molly, two of Dylan’s team of riders and she did a great job, I also had time to make new friends including Millie and her mum, Sasha, and Millie’s friend Milly (hope you followed that!). Millie’s website is well worth a look, I think she has a great future with the camera.

Having hitched a lift with Sasha and the girls down to the lake, we all waited patiently for the horses and riders to arrive and familiarised ourselves with the location.  It’s fair to say the mounting excitement was palpable and as the clip clop of hooves grew louder everyone reached for their cameras in anticipation.

Now I have always loved horses, although I’ve been a little wary (having been thrown from a horse many years ago), however I was not prepared for the wave of emotion that hit me when these majestic creatures and their riders lined up in front of us all. I felt a little embarrassed that my eyes were watering a little, but realised that I was in good company as Sharon clearly felt the same.

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For the next couple of hours, Marc and Odysseus, Dylan and Casquito, Amie on the legend that is Diablo and Molly with Harley worked tirelessly with the all of the photographers to make image after image, be it wandering through shrubbery or creating a splash in the pools much to the delight of on-lookers.

 

After a light lunch back at the hotel, we made our way up the lane to one of the fields where Amie and Titan (the naughtiest horse of the day!) helped us capture romantic horse and rider images, until Titan decided he’d had enough and made a bid for freedom, only to be thwarted by the closed gate. Ably retrieved by Molly, we tried a little longer, but Titan made it clear he’d done his bit, so Amie asked Molly to bring Toscano up in his place, what a stunning creature he was!

 

After Toscano, we wandered down to the menage to await the arrival of Beauty. With a wild mane and a glint in his eye, this majestic creature tore up the ring, rearing on command when asked to do so by Amie, to the sound of camera shutters clicking furiously.

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By now it was close to 3.30pm and we made our way back across the fields to wait for the final session of the day, but with the exception of Luisa, I don’t think any of us quite knew what to expect. First up came Marc and Amie, dressed in medieval style costume on Rabanete, a gentle horse who was happy to be loved by everyone.  Then Dylan appeared on a most beautiful grey, Valmorim. I think Val knew he was gorgeous, he was a very noble animal and strutted and pounded the ground with his hooves making it shake as he passed by the photographers.  Supported by a couple of fire artists to add to the ambience, Dylan and Marc demonstrated with ease how disciplined, calm and fearless the horses were when faced with fire and smoke.

 

 

The finale was quite simply breath-taking, so much so that I only took a handful of photos as was quite transfixed.  Dylan on Val proceeded to charge through a line of flames and it felt as though we were all on a film set. Val’s hooves thundered and he snorted and tossed his head proudly as he emerged through the flames as well as the smoke once the fire had died down. It was understandable that at this point, everyone put their cameras down and applauded the team for what had been the most wonderful day.

 

Throughout the day it was clear that both riders and horses alike were having fun. There was respect, trust, kindness and a lot of love between the riders and their horses, but particularly Diablo and Amie.

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All of the team were kind, accommodating and patient with the raft of photographers who attended the event and they worked hard to ensure we came away with lots of great images.

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I’ll close this blog by thanking everyone involved in making this event happen, riders, horses and photographers alike, but particularly Luisa and Dylan and I’m just putting it out there, I would love the opportunity to work with you all again in the future!

Until next time

Tracy xx

P.S. If you are a regular reader of my blogs you’ll know I like to share the love, head on over to the websites below, you’ll be glad you did x

http://www.filmhorses.co.uk/pages/default.asp

https://somethingfromthehart.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/GlamByNiamh/

http://www.justjones.photography/

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A weekend away…Rotterdam rocks!

Almost twelve months ago, my friend Tim and I decided we wanted to do a photo-shoot based on an iconic image by photographer Peter Lindbergh, you know the one, the five supermodels on the cover of Vogue magazine.  If you follow us both on social media you will know that we achieved that goal thanks to Georgia, Jaime, Rachel, Abbie and Ellie.  However, during the time it took us to bring it to fruition, Mr Lindbergh launched his exhibition which led Tim to suggest we should have a trip away to see it for ourselves. So that’s exactly what we did.

Arriving in Amsterdam and after a slightly eventful transfer to Rotterdam, we arrived at Hotel One in the centre of the city and checked in.  Dropping the bags in our rooms, we dashed out to find something to eat.  It appears that chefs go home around 11.00pm in Rotterdam, but thankfully we found a Chinese restaurant willing to serve us and a short while later, we all tumbled into bed.

I love waking up in a new city, there’s always a sense of excitement as to what will be discovered.  We all descended to the hotel lounge and tucked into a continental breakfast, mulling over the US presidential inauguration and what it may mean, one thing is for sure, the world is likely to experience some change over the next four years.

Bright blue skies, sunshine and sub-zero temperatures met us as we stepped out of the hotel as we made our way to the main event and of course, there were photo opportunities everywhere, however we arrived at the Kunsthal Art Gallery at 10.00am and headed inside.  Almost two and a half hours later, we had a cuppa in the café and reflected on what we all felt was, without doubt one of the best exhibitions we have visited full of iconic images and so worth the effort (Even Mr E agreed – so it must have been good).

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Our next destination were the rather surreal cube houses (Kubuswoningen), near to the market hall.  Designed by architect Piet Blom, these three storey homes are indeed cubes, tilted at 45 degrees – I have no idea how people live in them, or deal with the constant stream of curious visitors.  The horse-shoe shaped market hall is a very new building which was opened in 2014. It is a combination of office and residential premises on the outside and houses a very impressive food market within.  It would also be remiss of me not to mention the artwork which covers the inside of the hall, some 11,000 square metres it is a cornucopia of fruit, flowers and vegetables – it’s affectionately known as the Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam.

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Food in Rotterdam is a very cosmopolitan affair, with no obvious style which makes it typically Dutch, although croquettes seem to be very popular, we did find a very typical dish later during our stay, but more on that later.

Fast forward a couple of hours during which there was browsing of shops (very similar to back home) and of course more picture-taking, where I stumbled across a new model – not sure what he was advertising!

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Following a quick drink and a warm up back at the hotel it was soon time for dinner.  We realised our hotel was surrounded by oriental and Asian restaurants and decided on Vietnamese, on the basis that none of us had ever tried it before.  Of course, faced with the challenge of interpreting a menu presented in Dutch and Vietnamese there were a few problems and much changing of minds, particularly for one of our party.  Suffice to say the memory of dish 116 will stay with us for a very long time – Gail even has her own hash-tag now #116!. The food was however quite delicious when it came, fresh taste, lots of flavour, definitely recommended.  It was still early when we finished and we found a tiny little bar where Binky the Boston Terrier was helping(?) his owner, just 7 months old, he was having a grand time chasing a chew and shoes – just look at his little face.

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We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning and even though we decided on an early check-out, we were still hitting the streets at 10.00am. It was obvious that we had gotten our bearings on Saturday and we quickly found ourselves back at the harbour, where to everyone’s astonishment, the water had frozen. As we wandered along the front, the ice was moving and almost singing to us – I caught it on my phone (have a look on FB) and it sounded very odd indeed. It does however support my earlier observation that the temperature was sub-zero for the duration of our visit and I was glad I’d packed my vest!

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Peering into one of the maritime museum sheds, the door suddenly opened and we were invited in to watch a local blacksmith at work, whilst he did most of his explanation in Dutch I think we got the gist.

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A little further on we came upon the Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusbrug) also known as ‘The Swan’ due to its’ graceful lines. Spanning the river Maas, it consists of four traffic lanes, two tramways, two cycle-ways and two pavements. I feel duty-bound to point out it was not Flint bridge as one of my friends Gill suggested via Fb following my uploading a photo and I thought it had a distinct look of New York about it (Do you recognise the couple in one of these?)

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A late lunch beckoned and we finally managed to get a table in ‘Syjf’, a recommended eatery. It was here we discovered a real Dutch speciality, ‘bitterballs’ and Lee could not stop herself from ordering some for us to try.  They were in fact similar to croquettes, deep fried and containing meat and cheese, very tasty, but what a name for a dish!

So, what did I like about Rotterdam? Everything!

It’s a clean, modern, compact city, easy to get around on foot, has lots of museums and culture, good food, even better beer and wine, but for me it was the people, a warm, engaging bunch, always ready have a chat.

Of course the highlight was the Peter Lindbergh exhibition at Kunsthal, and I’d seriously consider another trip back should another interesting exhibition arise.

Thanks to Gail who was an excellent tour operator, Tim, Eifion, Lee and of course, the current Mr E who exercised considerable restraint and only bought a single CD from a record shop – it was all in all a perfect short break with good friends.

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Until next time.

Tracy xx

 

 

 

 

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Imagination is more important than knowledge…

Every time I sit down to write a blog, I am still amazed at the number of times I’ve been able to get out and about with my camera.  The world continues to turn, the day job is still busy, we’re travelling through autumn at a rate of knots with Christmas looming and the ironing mountain at Edwards Towers still needs to be done, but despite all of this, I still find time to enjoy my photography.

One of the things I love about photography is the way that it brings like-minded people together. As I’m writing this blog I’m also looking back at a variety of photo shoots I’ve undertaken and the people that I’ve met along the way. Never is this more true than the days and weeks which follow a photographic event or workshop. Models, make-up artists, dress designers, stylists and other photographers all play a part in my creative journey, yet our paths may never cross again and I am always left feeling thankful that we met. Even if some of them only grace my world for a short period of time, it feels as if they’ve all left tiny footprints in my life.

This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending two photographic events, very different in nature, but each one as rewarding as the other albeit in a different way.

If you’ve never heard of Walter’s Wardrobe I would urge you to go and track it down on social media. The brainchild of a remarkable young woman who has enjoyed a pretty stellar modelling career in the creative photography world working with people such as Brooke Shaden, Ben Von Wong, Lovegrove and McGillicuddy to name a few, Jen Brook has now turned her hand to organising highly professional, creative and exciting portfolio building photographic events. Drawing on her own experience, using her extensive network of contacts and I suspect a pretty persuasive manner, Jen has been able to run events in the most amazing locations including Allerton Castle, Wentworth Woodhouse and most recently, a private home in Yorkshire.

As Mr E and I drove along the M62 corridor on Friday morning the rain and fog made for a very challenging journey, however as we neared the White Rose county the weather picked up and the colours of autumn glowed along our route.

Reaching our destination I was very happy to recognise familiar faces, including Jane, this time with her husband accompanying her; a very dear friend and ace photographer (she is not only because her work is top notch, but because she made me look and feel amazing when I had a photoshoot for my 50th birthday last year) Jo Rutherford (check her out and look for her Alter-Ego Portrait series), along with her mate Donna (who was quickly added to the creative team) as well as Maureen and Lesley from another aspect of my photographic world. Greeted by Jen and her dad John, after a quick cuppa we were treated to a tour of the house to help us get our bearings, and start to formulate some ideas for the day ahead.

Jo and I agreed we would work together, and we were joined by the third member of our group, Deborah Selwood (another creative worth seeking out on social media if you get a chance).

First up we had the pleasure of working with the lovely (if slightly crazy but delightful) Charlotte in a dreamy ethereal pink dress created by designer Sharon Bowen-Dryden (as were all the dresses) with millinery by HF Couture (all millinery save the pom-poms). Working in the Turkish steam room was a real challenge, natural light was very limited albeit there was enough for beautiful portraits, and so we resorted to using flash, having to be very careful where we positioned the lights as they bounced off the reflective tiles all around the room.  Charlotte could so easily have been lost amidst the highly patterned decor, but with a little imagination, we were able to make sure she and the dress were the stars of the show.

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I was testing out my latest photo purchase, the Fuji 90 mm F2 lens, having convinced myself following a talk from Wayne Johns at Digital Splash, that it needed a place in my camera bag. It is fair to say that for portraiture, this lens is up there with the best of them, and is razor sharp. By way of a specific test, I cropped in on one of my photos and this is the result.  Make up for this look was by Sophie Battersby.

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I know I’m going to enjoy using this lens in the future. As our first session drew to a close, we were given the obligatory ten (or should that be Jen?) minute warning and set about returning the room to how we found it.

Every now and again I am reminded how vertically challenged I am (at my fullest height, I might just muster 5’ 5”), never was this more true when Siobhan introduced herself to us. She is a very statuesque 6 feet tall and she commanded the gold room with grace and elegance (well mostly!).  This room was beautiful, the ceiling which I forgot to take a photograph of was exquisite and the light through the long casement windows was just perfect.  No flash for me this time it was natural light all the way. I was intrigued by Siobhan’s unusual headpiece which was designed by Jen who makes pom-poms like a pro, but with Livvy Morewood’s flawless make-up, the result was a very couture look which I love.  Highlight of the session was my friend Jo being taught how to model by Siobhan, the very short video taken on my phone can be found on the Walter’s Wardrobe Facebook page. I don’t think the modelling community is under threat!

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We broke for a short lunch break and a well-earned cup of tea and I popped outside to enjoy a breath of fresh air admiring the garden and grounds which looked like a painting in the hazy autumn sunshine.

Our next location was the grand staircase leading into the main hallway and we were greeted by lovely Bethany a titian-haired model in a voluminous mint green dress. By this time we were starting to lose the natural light, my little Manfrotto Lumimuse light came in very handy indeed.

Once we’d finished with the stairs, we moved into a cosy sitting room filled with paintings and comfortable seats. I like the image of Bethany on the sofa reading, but my favourite portrait with the garden clearly visible through the window.

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Our final session was in the most wonderful library, surrounded by volumes, some of which were clearly hundreds of years old, the atmosphere was unlike any other room in the house. Elle-Beth patiently accommodated my request to once again ascend the library steps in order for me to channel my inner Tim Walker and make the image below.

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Now there’s one person I have so far failed to mention, cinematographer Devin Schiro is a great friend of Jen’s and had flown in from LA to capture this event and film for her. Devin is a talented filmmaker and his work can be found all over the Internet and is well worth a look.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he creates from this event.

He is also a talented piano player, as we were creating our images the sound of the piano washed over us adding to the magic of the location.  He was also kind enough to allow me to use him as a prop for one of my images, and as lovely as both the back of his head and his left ear are, I’m happy to confirm this is not his best side – his smile can light up a room.

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And suddenly it was 5.30pm and time to draw the day to a close, goodbyes were said and friendships formed and the wardrobe door closed for me for this year.

I cannot recommend these events highly enough, they are on a different scale to anything I have done before, well worth the investment and they make me stretch my creative streak. These days are full of inspiration, participation and collaboration and I am delighted with the images I made inside the wardrobe this weekend, I can’t wait to see what’s behind the doors for next year!

In contrast, my second event of the weekend was held at Cambrian Photography in Colwyn Bay and was a talk by fashion photographer Wayne Johns.  I recently heard Wayne speak at the Digital Splash event in Liverpool and was very happy to sit through his talk again, I found myself as enthralled as I had been the first time and managed to take even more notes and jot down some ideas for future shoots.

Wayne’s talk was followed by a practical session in the studio, and he took us through the lighting set up we would be using, it is true sometimes that less is more, the simplest set-ups often yield the most pleasing results.  The added advantage is I can try this for myself at home.  Model Romanie was a real trooper, fending off a nasty cold and was the epitome of a 1950s pin-up queen.  Once again it was a chance to test out the Fuji 90mm lens, and partnered with my XT2, it’s a match made in heaven.

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So there you have it, my most recent adventures.  I do have a few other photo-shoots I may blog about in coming days, time permitting, so be sure to watch this space!

Until next time

Tracy xx

P.S. in case you were wondering, there’s always a quote…

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein

P.P.S.

Walter’s wardrobe Credits:

Models: Siobhan Priest/Charlotte Atkinson/Bethany Bennett/Elle Beth

MUAs: Olivia Morewood/Sophie Battersby

Designer: Sharon Bowen-Dryden

Millinery and stylist: HF Coutoure/Jen Brook

Assistant: Donna Graham

Production: Walter’s Wardrobe Events

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