Portrait of Flo Osborne

Coronavirus(Covid19) pandemic: Flo Osborne recognised by Prime Minister as Community Hero in Essex.

Coronavirus(Covid19) pandemic: Flo Osborne recognised by Prime Minister as Community Hero in Essex.

Let me introduce Flo Osborne. She is both remarkable and inspirational. During the Coronavirus(Covid19) pandemic, 89 year old Flo, has been baking hundreds of pies to support her local community in Harwich, Essex.

Flo Osborne. Harwich Community Hero Coronavirus(Covid19). Essex photographer Belinda Grant Photography
Flo Osborne – A Portrait by Belinda Grant Photography & Film.

 

With the support of her family, who provide Flo with her ingredients, she has been a valued contributor to the efforts of the North Essex Support Team (NEST). The team have been offering a hot meal service at local Community Centres in the Harwich area since the Coronavirus(Covid19) hit Essex.

Her community acts of kindness have seen Flo become a social media star. But not only that, she has recently been recognised by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, for her outstanding services to her community during the nations battle with Coronavirus(Covid19).  So he has written to her personally to thank her for her work and Flo has been made a ‘Points of Light’ honouree. Her award has been announced on the ‘Points of Light’ website. Flo joins Sir Captain Tom Moore amongst many outstanding volunteers across the UK who are making a change in their community https://www.pointsoflight.gov.uk/.

Just before the second Coronavirus(Covid19) lockdown, I spotted a Facebook post about Flo from Les Nicoll, who is the founder the North Essex Support Team (NEST) https://www.facebook.com/NESupportTeam. NEST is a volunteer group to help vulnerable families create a safe and comfortable home with Les having a  primary role making sure vulnerable groups are well looked after.

So having been unbelievably moved by the story about Flo supporting her community, I reached out to Les who was trying to raise awareness of Flo’s incredible community spirit. Flo was grabbing the attention of the media and Les invited me to create a film telling the story of Flo and her pies.

So during the few days prior to the second national Coronavirus(Covid19) lockdown, I spent a day with Flo at her sons restaurant, Samuel Pepys, in Harwich https://www.samuelpepysharwich.co.uk/.

 

 

Flo Osborne. Harwich Community Hero Coronavirus(Covid19).Essex Photographer Belinda Grant Photography

 

 

Samuel Pepys Restaurant Harwich, Essex.
Flo Osborne and her family at Samuel Pepys, their family restaurant.

Whilst spending time with Flo, I felt so privileged not just to watch her  baking one of her famous apple pies, but then we sat and chatted over a cup of tea whilst enjoying her apple pie, which was just hot out of the oven. Flo told me all about her life. From growing up in the north to now having great grand-children. It was such a joy to hear her story.

Every pie that Flo makes, she makes from scratch. She told me ‘there’s no secret’ to how delicious her pies are. She grew up watching her mother bake and now she just follows in her footsteps.

Flo is a wonderful lady. She is truly a local hero and a national treasure. Her incredible kindness to others comes naturally to her. She told me ‘she just likes to help people’.

I’ll never forget the time I spent with Flo and hope to take my family to have apple pie with her as soon as we’re able to visit her in Harwich. In these difficult times, acts of community kindness, such as Flo’s, are even more important.

These are the stories that need to be told and shared.

So here is my film, which I’ve gifted to Flo and her family. A lady with such a warm heart and who bakes the best apple pie I ever tasted!

If you’d like me to create a film for you, please contact me via the following link: https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/

or to see more about the films I create click link: https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/film/


How to face the Challenges of coming out of Lockdown for Family Photographers

How to face the Challenges of coming out of Lockdown for Family Photographers

With the ease of lockdown, and the summer beginning, family photographers like you, are now being able to re-open their books to clients. Which is a hugely positive step for photographers. But with the excitement comes new social distancing guidelines and questions about the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of re-launching your business in the new ‘normal’ world of family photography.

It’s a time when we all need to re-think our business models as the new  post pandemic business world emerges. So if you’re about to relaunch your family photography business, here are a few helpful suggestions to get you going.

Smart Marketing – Film.

No doubt you’ll be investing time thinking about how to market your business. Your website being your all important ‘shop window’ so you’ll need to make sure it stand out. How you market can mean the difference between gaining or loosing a client and great content can add huge value to your business. People connect with people. So having a behind the scenes film is a smart business move as it allows you to share your story and the value of your brand.

A film allows you to deliver the right message and build that all important connection with your audience. Film builds trust with your clients. Allowing you to connect with them on a personal level, making you and your business relatable and approachable. Film is also a great way to improve your SEO. Google loves films! Why? Because Google recognises how long visitors are on your site and signals to Google your website has great content.

The power of a Testimonial

I don’t know about you, but when I’m on a website I only skim read the testimonials. They have very little impact on me and I much prefer to see an image. If you really want to reach out to your ideal client a filmed testimonial is a very powerful way of endorsing what you do. If your audience can hear from a previous client about your business, this is much more likely to lead to people reaching out to you.  As we moved into lockdown all those weeks ago, I decided to create a film getting my children (my harshest critics!) to answer the question “Is you mum a good photographer?”. The reach was amazing and I’ve had lots of engagement on this film since!

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If making a film for your website just seems too daunting, then I’m here to help. I can create films for your website. Behind the scenes, interviews with clients and plenty more besides! For more details of how I can help you create a film for your business, just click this link https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/film/

Refresh your website

It’s so important to make sure you have a great website. And as I’ve been told many times ‘content is king’! So make sure your website is not only up to date with examples of your family photography work, but also that the content is relevant and boosts your SEO.

Informing your clients how you’re able to offer family photography shoots within the new social distancing guidelines is a great way to show your clients that you’re still open for business. And also that you’re working safely so that families can still go ahead with a family photo shoot.

If you feel it’s time to have your website overhauled it’s important to get the support from a web designer who understands the photography world and what is needed for a great website. I use Andy Smith-Dane from Aperture Design https://www.aperturedesign.co.uk/ . Andy is a great person to have on board with anything web related and offers design, hosting, training and maintenance.

Social Media

It’s always tempting to try to market yourself across all media platforms in the hope that you’ll reach a larger audience. But what I’ve learnt is that it’s much better to focus on one platform. How do you choose? Review the engagement you’ve had from each of your accounts during the last 3 months and the 3 months before that. What engagement have you had from each platform? How much business have you had from each platform? Which platform do you have a preference to use?

I know myself that my commercial work comes from Instagram whereas my family photography work has more engagement from Facebook. You’ll find your time is better spent if you focus on whichever platform gives you the most engagement so concentrate on using this to market yourself to which ever is best for you.

Get out there and Shoot!

When you do get that first booking, you may find you’ve lost your confidence. It’s a bit like having first time shoot nerves all over again! But there’s plenty you can do to ease yourself back into it. With the summer just appearing there are some great locations. And as I recently heard from a very successful photographer, it’s better to be out there shooting than your camera gathering dust on the shelf.

What you can do is ask a friend and their family to model for you. Offer them the images in return and this will take the pressure off you when you’re on the shoot and ask them to share the photos to their friends on social media.

This is a great way to build your confidence back up again and get some marketing too. Oh, and you also get to see a friend for a good catch up in the gorgeous outdoors!

Talk to other Photographers

As much as other family photographers can be seen as your competition, now is the time we all need support. Joining groups and sharing your experience of a re-launch of your business can be hugely beneficial. Sharing ideas and opening discussions about your concerns can really help. Don’t think you’re alone. There are plenty of family photographers out there wondering just how they’re business is going to survive after being put on hold for the last few months.

There has been a HUGE amount of support offered from photography trainers. Nina Mace https://www.ninamacephotography.com/ offers mentoring and workshops. She also has a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/ninamacegroupforprofessionals/ where she has several excellent videos which she put together during lockdown. Particularly helpful is ‘How to make your Photography Business Thrive’ which delves deep into how to get your business back up and running after lockdown https://www.facebook.com/groups/ninamacegroupforprofessionals/.

And whilst you’re possibly trying to balance all the commitments you may have at home with getting your business out there again, pop your headphones on and listen to a podcast or two with the brilliant Vicki Knights and Eddi Judd from Shoot Edit Chat Repeat.

They’re both super talented photographers, really fun and uplifting AND have an amazing rapport between them! They’ve interviewed some really inspirational photographers who discuss all that’s good and bad in the photography industry whilst Eddie and Vicki ask all those questions that are running around in your head! Tune in at: https://shooteditchatrepeat.com/episodes/

Support your local Community

Look around in your local community for other independent business owners like yourself who may be facing similar challenges. As small business owners, we all need to support each other and now is a great time to make those connections with the community around you.

I know that a local photographer to me has reached out to her local village high street and is now offering headshots to all the businesses in the town. A great idea to get yourself out there again and explore diversifying your business.

Be Kind to Yourself!

I understand that your business is probably not where you were expecting it to be in June 2020. Any business plan you may have made at the end of last year you may have shredded by now! And I don’t blame you. But now we have to put our ‘glass half full’ hats on and see this a great opportunity .

Yes there will be challenges and frustrations but you will come out the other side. So during this time of change be kind to yourself. Be realistic in what you can achieve each day. If you’re home schooling children, juggling households and finances, give yourself a break. Make sure you give yourself time away from your business and other commitments.

Do what makes you happy. Yoga, music, walking, a bottle of something lovely, or just being quiet for a while. The challenges will still be there but you’ve got an opportunity now to make this work. Re-write your business plan and let’s see where you are in June 2021!


A Bali Retreat; A Reunion with Myself.

A Bali Retreat; A Reunion with Myself.

When my work took me to Bali to film a Women’s Retreat, I was unaware of how life changing the experience would be beyond the film and photography job I’d been commissioned to do.

A lot can happen in 10 years. Like so many women, I’ve been through significant life experiences that made me the person I am today both physically and mentally. I was made redundant from a successful career in the NHS after nearly 15 years, I moved house 3 times in 4 years including a move out of London, became a wife and a mother of two.

The first event confronted me with a situation I hadn’t anticipated. I had wrongly made the naive assumption that the NHS wasn’t going to fall victim of the recession and  that my position was somehow protected. Yet I was faced with redundancy whilst on maternity leave along with all my fellow NHS general managers in the trust I was working for. Both my pride and self esteem were tested as well as my self belief of being a valuable and productive person.

The second, my move out of London, gave me the chance to fulfil my sense of need for life outside of the city I’d grown up in and spent most of my adult life. The third, becoming a wife and mother, brought me discoveries of unknown relationships and experiences which I’d had only dreamt of having one day. These  events were just normal I told myself. Not unusual for any woman to have experienced by the age of 48.

During the 10 years there was a shift in focus. Prior to becoming a wife and a mother, I had the luxury of being able to give to myself what I needed. My attention could be totally directed to myself. Whether it was at work, at home, how much sleep I had, who I saw or when I chose to spend time just being with myself. The decision was mine.

Marriage and motherhood brought with them a shift in my attention. I thrived. These were the roles in life I’d so longed for. Giving my attention not to me, but to those around me. A new baby, a husband who needed me as much as I needed him. I was sure that I would find happiness in giving my attention to what was around me. And I did. With 2 beautiful children and a loving husband, life was good. I felt needed and I was grateful for all that I had. I now had the roles I’d so hoped for in life: wife and mother.

 

What I hadn’t anticipated, that whilst my attentions were focused on my family and their needs, was that I was loosing touch with myself. The accumulation of 10 years of focus on others had resulted in my emotional journey taking a back seat and I was setting goals for me to be happy on others. This were unrealistic. To rely on others for happiness was unrealistic.

I realised that I was relying on others to make me happy because I’d lost touch with who I was. I didn’t recognise myself. I could feel deep-seated emotions that I’d parked away and given no priority to were going to catch up with me. I felt hollow and lost. When I did try to give myself some time, either it would be interrupted by life or the distraction of chores. I had feelings of guilt that I hadn’t earned the time to myself. I sensed I was just existing in life.  Who was I now and where was the person I’d seemingly left behind 10 years ago?

black and white photo

As I was calling my self-worth into question I was also growing my photography business. This may resonate with  you, but I felt what I was showing to the world through my business and social media was not the person I felt I was inside. My business was doing well. I was networking, my client list was growing. Business was good. I put my best smile on and presented myself as the confident business woman I believed I should be. But my lack of self identity was apparent. At the age of 48, I had achieved but I realised I needed to reunite with myself and be introduced to the woman I had become. How I was going to do this? I wasn’t sure. I knew that I needed to open the door to meet myself again.

It was September 2019. I’d had one of those difficult days. Arguments with my husband and children brought on by PMT and suffering from a bad case of comparisonitis. The latter, although not officially recognised and is discussed with a hint of flippancy can be all consuming. Particularly if you run your own business in a creative industry such as photography. It can have serious affects on your ability to even look at a screen when all you’re faced with is messages of others business triumphs.

Ellie Cotton https://www.dandelionphotography.co.uk/ has written an interesting blog on this  following an inspirational talk from Lucy  Sheridan http://www.proofcoaching.com/ at Vicki Knights https://vickiknights.co.uk/ and Eddie Judds https://eddiejuddphotography.com/SHOOT EDIT CHAT REPEAT live podcast https://shooteditchatrepeat.com/.

Ellies blog: https://www.dandelionphotography.co.uk/blog/comparisonitis-7-tips-to-make-you-less-miserable?fbclid=IwAR0cFK2ICfUAb-f0_myegjbKeMYIuI0ylFFH4HB2X0yo_GN_nMEAZTO7DXQ

I realised that I was guilty of taking out my own frustrations and feelings of lack of self worth out on my family. My behaviour and mood just wasn’t who I thought I was. I’d changed and didn’t feel I knew myself. I was telling myself that I was ‘OK’ and all that was happening was normal. I should just ‘get on with it’. I had a realisation that I wasn’t the most authentic version of myself. How could I be myself, if I didn’t know who I was?

That evening a friend tagged me in a Facebook post. Lynette Allen from a Woman’s Blessing https://www.awomansblessing.com/, was looking for a photographer to create both films and photographs for her business. The job involved flying out to Bali to film her  ‘A Woman’s Blessing’ retreat. Here she would be guiding women through ceremony and meditation.  So I threw my hat in the ring as I felt this was such a different and interesting opportunity for my business. I watched the Facebook post comments flow.

With over a dozen offers to work with Lynette, I knew I needed to show her something different. So as well as sending her my film portfolio, I decided to open up. This was the first time I’d been tendering for work just via Facebook and with an 8 hour time difference! So in an e-mail I gave Lynette a little bit about me and my life. This clearly resonated with her and soon we were in regular contact via Whatsapp. I’d wake up in the morning to find she’d contacted me with all the exciting plans of me going to Bali to work with her.

Belinda Grant Leaving for Bali

Three weeks later and with my husbands blessing as he and his mother stepped in to my shoes at home, I was on a plane to Ubud in Bali.

At first, I felt huge emotions. My backpack seemed full of nerves, fears and anxiety. I was desperately home sick as soon as the plane left the ground and spent the first 2 hours of the flight in tears. Every mile of the 15,000 mile journey just felt too far from my children and husband. It was the first time I’d been so far from them.

I wondered if I’d taken on too much. I was on my way to Bali. I went with the idea of learning more about my photography and film work and welcomed the challenge it brought. Lynette had discussed with me that she felt it was important for me to participate in the retreat as much as possible to give me insight into her work and allow me to create photographs and films that would be truly reflective of the retreat.

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If I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting what happened during that week that followed as I touched down in Ubud. Who would I meet? What was the retreat going to be like? I’d never considered meditation or spirituality but having made a decision earlier in the year that the church just wasn’t for me, I was willing to open up my mind and heart to new ideas.

Early next morning, I met Lynette for the first time. She was beautiful and gentle, both inside and out. We had breakfast together at the amazing Clear Cafe, Ubud.

We chatted about the film and photography work I would create for her. I created a storyboard in my mind and made mental notes of how I was going to capture the week ahead. We had a connection and I listened intently as she talked passionately about her work with women across the world. Helping them to connect and nourish their own femininity and how she was growing a community of like-minded women. All the while we were talking, I felt the woman I used to be 10 years ago, calling out from inside me. Our conversation soon drifted and we found ourselves sharing and connecting on a much deeper level. I knew then that being part of Lynette’s retreat, both as a photographer and participant, was my first step to re-discovering myself and there was a reason I was here other than for work.

This was my re-union with myself. Stripped of all that defined me in the last 10 years, my family, friends, business and material things that I surround myself with, I felt more vulnerable and transparent than I had in a long time. I must confess, I cried a lot. My emotions were at times overwhelming. I realised that this re-union and the emotion that came with it were powerful and gave me clarity as I surrendered to the inner journey I was going through.

My hope was that I’d reach a place where I could understand what makes me happy. Not only that, but I wanted to learn what exactly makes me angry and give my emotions the time they needed for me to fully process them. I took the time to acknowledge my body was 10 years older and showed the scars of life. My body confidence was never that good but after having 2 children, it dropped significantly.  I’d not faced up to the changes my body had gone through.

This photo still makes me feel uncomfortable. This wasn’t part of the retreat, but I  felt I I needed to be brave and look at myself. So I set up my camera and got this image. It’s totally raw and unedited. I didn’t want to fake a smile, just wanted to look at who I really was physically. I  needed to understand that my physical self wasn’t something to be ashamed of. My body tells my story.

woman in black and white

During the 5 days that were to follow, I met the most incredible and diverse group of women. Our life journeys had all been so different. All filled with achievements and happiness but none without difficulty or pain. Between filming and photographing the retreat, I joined the women in daily cacao ceremonies and meditation at the retreat and the beautiful pyramids of Chi https://pyramidsofchi.com/ .Giving each other time, space and respect to share experiences and be silent when we needed to.Smudging in bBelinda Grant Photography

colour bali retreat

Colour bali meditationcolour bali ceremony belinda grant photography

Within a week, there’d been tears; lots of tears from all of us.  Opening up about so much, including the complexities of families, our sexuality and our mental health.  We also celebrated! Taking time to laugh and have space for personal reflection.

As much as I was home-sick for the entire 9 days I was away, the retreat in Bali with Lynette and the other women was life changing. I’d been using others around me as a shield from truly knowing myself. I’d buried myself in the depths of all that I was. Wife, mother, business owner, friend, kids taxi and and looking after the house. I hadn’t realised how tired I was. Tired of being so busy and worrying about those around me. My heart had been heavy with guilt of being the person I wanted to be.

In the midst of all this, I’d not really known who I’d become in the last 10 years because I’d never spent time with myself other than on a daily dog walk. I realised that you’re not born knowing yourself. As you go through life both your mental and physical being are shaped by the world around you and the choices you make. Things you can control and those which you cannot. You need to ‘get to know’ your personality, your core values, your body, your dreams, your likes and your dislikes. And re-unite with yourself as your journey through life.  As Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

I now  know that if I generate well-being for myself, it will certainly generate the same for those around me. This reunion with myself was undoubtedly a journey of bravery and gave a voice to my inner self. I was able to re-connect with the woman I’ve become in the last 10 years. Recognising my value and not allowing those around me to define me. I realised the need to be myself – not the idea of what I thought somebody else’s idea of me should be.  I’m able to be the authentic me and I know I may think differently to others and that’s OK. I’d re-united with myself after 10 years. I knew I didn’t need to apologise or feel guilty for the girl I used to be or the woman that I had become.

woman kneeling black and white I have a new found respect for myself as I accept all that I am at 48 years old.  I’m still learning to listen to my internal guidance and give myself the time to connect with myself. Self appreciation rather than self sacrifice. Nurturing myself, both inside and out.  The re-union with myself  introduced me to someone I actually really quite like! I’m not sure what my next step will be but I’m give thanks  for the woman I am today.

Lynette Allen and Belinda Grant

A Woman’s Blessing Retreat is full of openness, and expansion that will, at times, take you outside of your emotional comfort zone. But Lynette and her retreat offers a space for reflection. For re-union with yourself. The 5 day retreat culminates in a ceremony of celebration. Giving thanks ‘To the girl you used to be, to the woman you are now and to the woman you’re yet to become’. I hold this and all the beautiful women I met in Bali, deep in my heart.

Bali Girls Belinda Grant photography

If you’d like me to help you and your business with photography and film, please take a look at my film page https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/film/ or you can contact me for a chat https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/

Here are the films that I created from my time in Bali on ‘A Woman’s Blessing Retreat’ with Lynnette Allen and her testimonial of my work with her.

 

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Lynette Allen has also published a beautiful book of guidance which I can thoroughly recommend. You can get your copy at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Womans-Blessing-Nourishment-rise-feminine/dp/1093325348/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1O5JW6VRWAABB&keywords=a+womans+blessing+lynette+allen&qid=1583344628&sprefix=a+womans+blessing%2Caps%2C174&sr=8-1

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Why my husband is now my Business Manager.

Why my husband is now my Business Manager.

Running your own photography and film business you need to be so much more than just a photographer. Being a Business Manager just wasn’t on my list.

 

I started my business with the expectation that photography was what I’d be doing. Photo shoots, editing and talking to clients. Accountancy, administration and marketing just didn’t interest me.

Fellow photographers would tell me that they only spent 20% of their time on creating photographs and the other 80% on keeping the wheels of their business in motion.  I knew there would be other areas of the business that would need my attention and require different skills. However, I was shocked that the reality was the amount of time I actually needed to spend at my desk. Yes, I’ve fallen fowl of the 20:80 split. Yes, I am the photographer for Belinda Grant Photography but for only about 15% of my time. The other 85% of the time is taken up being the accountant, administration support, logistics manager, marketing manager and business manager.  Spending time with my finger on the shutter is where I want to be.

So when I was doing my business plan for 2020, I decided to make a change. My goal was to re-address the balance. I divided the needs of my business into categories.

I created job descriptions so I could see clearly what was required to maintain and grow Belinda Grant Photography in 2020. So I identified the following roles: Photographer, Accountant, Marketing Manager, Operations Manager and Business Manager. It was obvious that I was spreading myself far too thin and not giving enough time to any of these. Then for each of these I asked myself:

a) do I have the right skills for this?

b) how much time does this need?

c) is this a role I WANT to do?

d) would my time be better spent?

e) could someone do this for me?

f) how much would it cost to employ someone to do this?

This was tough.  I realised my business requires a lot of work.  And like lots of working parents, I need to be efficient with my time. I’d already taken the brilliant advice from a mentor to get help with cleaning the house. I have to say, that the 3 hours that I have a cleaner each week and knowing that the toilets all get a clean once a week has made a HUGE impact on the time I have for my photography business.

So knowing this, I thought that if I could get help from a Business Manager, I’d relieve myself of a large proportion of the headache that came with running my own business. So now what? With a job description written I came to one stumbling block. Who would I employ to help me? I knew the hours required for the role were few but would significantly lift the weight off my shoulders and free my up to do the other areas of the business.

Sony camera on shelf

Then one evening whilst I was having a glass of wine with my husband as we discussed how our days had been, I realised he may be perfect for the job.

My husband knows nothing about photography BUT what he has other valuable skills.  He keeps my business feet on the ground and he KNOWS me. Having always been my biggest fan and most honest critic I knew he could be the man for the job. As a photographer, I can love what I do almost too much. Sometimes finding it difficult to separate my business and emotional head.

Don’t get me wrong, as a garden designer, he’s very creative. But somehow he manages to stay completely objective about my business and doesn’t get involved in the photography. Yes, he can see when my work is good but he also has been by my side when I’ve been querying pricing structure or I’ve needed a boost with business development. He’s always been fully supportive and questions new ideas and opportunities. He know’s my strengths and weaknesses both personally and professionally and is always more than happy to help me make business decisions. So when I took a look at the Business Manager role I’d written up, he ticked all the boxes.

How does it work employing my husband as my Business Manager?

It’s going great. We have a plan for my business for the year, clear objectives for both our roles and I have dedicated time from him for my business. This is when he  is my Business Manager. We also both benefit from him having a defined role in Belinda Grant Photography so he can give me his objective input. The one thing that has been a benefit I wasn’t expecting, is that I now feel part of a team. We work together and I’ve really missed that sense of ‘team’ that you get when you’re working in a larger business. Working alone is one of the things I know many photographers struggle with.

Now I feel the business is stronger. I now work with my best friend and I cannot hide away from the demands of the business as my Business Manager is there keeping a close watch that I’m heading in the right direction! He’s available when I need to bounce ideas around and also to pick me up with I’ve lost my way. Yes, we’ll still have a catch up over a glass of wine at the end of the day.  We’re both new to this. You could say this is the probationary period and in 3 months we’ll review his role in my business.

I now consider myself to be in a business partnership.

 

Who pays for the business lunch is still to be negotiated!

 

Nick Segrott – Business Manager, Belinda Grant Photography & Film.

Black and White - Business Manager

If you’d like to know more about me and my business, check me out on Instagram and Facebook: Belinda Grant Photography & Film

If you’re needing a photographer or film for your family or business, drop me a line and we can have a chat: https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/


Black and white photo of Richard Wakefield

Behind the Scenes of Richard Wakefields Film Workshop

Always in pursuit of an opportunity to learn I had the exciting experience of attending Richard Wakefieldshttps://richard-wakefield.co.uk/ ‘Film + Edit Workshop’ last weekend. With a handful of others I watched and learnt as Richard created a promo film for the model Erin Williams. The location? The fabulous Loft Studio in Colchesterhttps://visittheloft.co.uk/ which I fell in love with earlier this year when I booked it for a shoot.

As film is such a passion of mine, I decided to create a film of the behind the scenes of Richards workshop to show case how I love creating films for businesses to boost their marketing potential. With competition for businesses at a real high, the importance of film on a business website has never been greater.

So here is my film that I’ve created showcasing Richard and Erin at work in the fabulous Loft studio in Colchester.

If you have a business that needs a marketing boost to make you stand out from your competitors now is the time to get a film made. As each clients needs are different, I offer a bespoke service depending on what you need for your business. So if you’re ready to push your business forward, I be happy to chat about how I can help you https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/.

I hope you enjoy it! x

Here are a few film grabs for you as well:

Film of Erin Williams


Berkshire photographer Belinda Grant

Being a Berkshire Photographer for a Day in The Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park.

Being a Berkshire Photographer for a Day in The Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park.

When  a friend asked to book me for her family photo shoot that she’d been promising herself for years she told me she’d been looking for a Berkshire photographer but kept coming back to me.  Although I’m based on the Essex/Suffolk border, I love to travel around the UK when I can for family photo shoots. Particularly when a really good friend promises me a weekend away and a few glasses of wine! And it’s always a huge compliment when a friend asks you take their family photos.

So with a plan of capturing the beautiful flowers of spring and using them as the back drop for the family photo shoot, my friend suggested we visited the Savill Gardens at Great Windsor Park http://www.windsorgreatpark.co.uk/savillgarden. A favourite place for her and her family to visit, with a fabulous cafe/restaurant for us all and plenty of space not only for the children to run around but also plenty of places to get some amazing family photographs.

 

Berkshire Photographer Belinda Grant

We booked our weekend for the beginning of April and we had the most amazing time. Not only did I give her the family photos at the Savill garden she so wanted, but I also gave her some documentary style photographs in her house which she loved. Not to mention the amazing dinner she cooked me as well as the far too drinkable red to go with it and the laughs we had!

Berkshire Photographer

Spring is an amazing time to get your family photo shoot. The greens are really fresh and the colours of the flowers never cease to amaze me. Plenty of blossom, daffodils, and jaw dropping magnolias which were all in abundance at the Savill garden.

Essex photographer

So although I may call myself an Essex photographer, this is really only because most of my clients are in Suffolk and Essex. But whether you’re looking for a Berkshire photographer or a photographer in any other county for that matter, I’m more than happy to jump in the car and see what a location has to offer.

Here are some of the fabulous photos we got at the Savill Garden….enjoy!

Berkshire photographer

Berkshire photographer

Berkshire photographer

Berkshire photographer

If you’re interested in getting your spring family photo shoot booked this year, then you can contact me at: https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/ 

or just take a look at my gallery! https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/gallery/

 

 


Essex photographer

Belinda Grant Photography Features in Essex Life Magazine

Belinda Grant Photography Features in Essex Life Magazine

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Sybilla Hart, a journalist for Essex Life magazine. https://www.essexlifemag.co.uk/home

Sybilla had contacted me to ask if she could write a feature on how I’ve grown a successful photography business for her business column. I was delighted to be asked and thrilled to see that the feature covered 2 pages of the April 2019 edition.

Here is a copy of the full article.

Essex Life Magazine

Family Moments.

With a challenging change of career path when her youngest was just a baby and her eldest a toddler, Belinda Grant has forged a career as a photographer and now filmmaker.

Words: Sybilla Hart. 

When I first met Belinda Grant at the school gates of our children’s primary school nearly four years ago, she made a comment that I will never forget. Having worked at the NHS for 15 years, Belinda had come to the conclusion that raising a family was even more unpredictable than the constant and changing demands of caring for the sick and infirm! After that moment, our friendship was formed.

Belinda took several photographs of our family which we will treasure forever – they were easily worthy of a Christmas card, if only I were organised enough to have them printed and sent out. Her photo of the six of us by the pool at the height of the summer has been the source of compliments from so many people ever since. Belinda managed to get everyone looking happy and straight at the camera – this is her stroke of genius.

Family Photographer Essex

As someone who merrily snaps away on her iPhone, I have always wondered what hoops professional photographers need to jump through in order to go pro. The answer is quite a few. Belinda took the decision to change the course of he career when her children were very young. ‘Returning as a manager in the NHS would have meant a full-time job with on-call out of hours work and high stress levels. I realised that this was my chance to have a job that would work around my family so I didn’t miss out on time with them.

Valiantly, Belinda completed an online photography diploma at the London Photography Institute when her youngest child was just a baby and her eldest only a toddler. This diploma gave her the understanding of the science behind the camera. With a qualification under her belt Belinda set about attending courses to develop her skills in running her own business, such as marketing strategies. Her husband Nick, a qualified garden designer, shared childcare duties in order to make this happen. With a website and an increased social media presence, Belinda soon started to receive bookings for family photo shoots, which she typically tends to conduct outdoors.

Family Photography Essex

Belinda laughs as she recalls her first booking and the coterie of props she took along with her. ‘I looked like Lara Croft, with bulging pockets full of kit, my rubber duck for the Labrador under my arm and a party blower for the toddler – never mind all the photography paraphernalia.’ Times have moved on from the days of carting around two lenses, camera and a Velcro camera belt. Now it’s just Belinda and her camera. ‘I don’t rely on the rubber duck any more!’ she laughs.

If the photographic shoot is not outside in the open, Belinda will take the photos in the family’s home. ‘I like to get to know the family really well, which helps me capture their unique personalities and relationships.’ A typical session will yield numerous photos and when Belinda comes across the outstanding shots it is clearly a defining moment. When a mother phones her and says the photos have made her cry, Belinda knows she’s done a good job. ‘Likewise it has been so validating when friends have booked me to photograph their children,’she adds. Belinda feels fortunate to have the support of family and friends around her, which she describes as ‘invaluable’.

When I ask her what is next on the horizon for her business, Belinda tells me that after a successful stint filming in the Quantock Hills for a BAFTA award-winning photographer, she is now expanding as a creator of films. The session in the West Country has led to other further commissions for film work in London and the South West. She has become an accomplished, successful photographer and creator of films, and who knows where she will be off to next? 

Which reminds me, I had better book Belinda in for my newborn photos, I wouldn’t want to miss out.

ABOUT BELINDA:

Belinda Grant lives on the beautiful Suffolk/Essex border just outside Sudbury with her husband Nick, a garden designer, and their two children. They share their country home with a dog, cat and several ducks and chickens. With her father from London and mother from Thorpe-le-Soken, Belinda grew up in London but has spent much of her life in Essex. Belinda set up Belinda Photography & Film three years ago, specialising in photography and creative film for families and businesses across East Anglia and the UK. When Belinda and her family aren’t working, they love skiing, visits to their beach hut in Frinton and the countryside around them as well as the occasional visit back to London!

You can contact Belinda at https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/

The article is in the April edition of Essex Life magazine so will be in the shops for the next few weeks.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you’d like to keep up to date with my work please feel free to like my page: https://www.facebook.com/belindagrantphotography/ or follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/belindagrantphotography/


Belinda Grant Photography Suffolk Photographer

How to make Your Business Thrive in the Quiet Times.

How to make Your Business Thrive in the Quiet Times.

There’s no ignoring the fact that when running your own business you may well experience times when business is quiet and you’re not getting the clients through your door. Outdoor photography is certainly one of those businesses. Now with a few years of running my own business under my belt, I’ve  learnt not only when to expect these times of year, but also to enjoy them and see them as an opportunity to achieve. So here are my  Top 10 Tips for how to identify and make the most of these periods in your business which should ensure that you’re just as busy even when the phone isn’t ringing and your inbox is empty.

Number 1: Identify the Quiet Times.

Suffolk Family and Commercial Photographer Your business diary

Firstly, get yourself a WORK diary. I don’t mean just combine your family diary with your business appointments. I mean get a separate diary to track when the busy periods are in your business year.  You need to identify when the slow periods are. If you’re in touch with other people in your industry then find out if there are similar quiet times in their calendar. This will show  you whether this is ‘normal’ for your industry or if this is just your own business that seems to be slow.

Once you’ve identified these quiet times you’ll have a time frame knowing how long you have to work with before business picks up again. This could be a couple of weeks or a few months and will vary depending on which industry you’re in. For example, outdoor family photographers will have a quieter spell in the winter months as do landscapers. It will also enable you to plan your finances so that you can get through the sleepier times without worrying about your cash flow. Now it’s time to get to work on the ‘behind the scenes’ of your business.

Number 2: Do a Business Performance Review.

Belinda Grant Photography Sudbury Photographer. Review your business

A great way to start the quiet spell is to do a business  performance review of your last year in business. This may be the time that you swallow a few frogs! Get to grips with your finances, including the dreaded tax return and your CODB (Cost of Doing Business). Make note of the peaks and troughs in your businesses cash flow. Having already discovered when and how long your quiet times are, you can start to budget for these times as well as knowing that when business is good, you can afford to put a little bit more aside for rainy days and further training and business development. Before moving forwards you need to really gauge how your business is doing. Here are a few pointers to get you going with this:

  1. Celebrate the good bits and be proud of your achievements! What were your 3 big wins last year?
  2. Now what were the 3 things you found difficult in your business?
  3. Name 3 things that you’ve feared in business that have held you back.

Of course your business life will be affected by your personal life and this is where some of the frustration of running your own business can be found. Now is the time to be realistic about how the two have worked and collided in the past year. It’s very easy for your life to become off-balance if you don’t consider both.

  1. How did your business affect your personal life? (Good ways and bad!)
  2. What changes can you make to give you the balance you’d like?

But take your time, don’t hit this too hard. Just swallow one frog a day. Keep the balance between doing those things you love and those things that don’t taste quite so good. Otherwise, you’ll just want to throw the towel in!

Include in your review, not just the operational side but also look at yourself and how you’re performing in your business. Don’t be too harsh on yourself but equally, be honest. If you have a close friend who you know will be straight with you, ask them to give you some feedback. Even better, ask a client for some feedback. We all love a great testimonial, but if you have a client that would be happy to be approached for feedback then now is the time to ask. This can be a brave move for some, but very rewarding and beneficial to your business in the long run.

Number 3: Make a Plan.

Belinda Grant Photography Suffolk Photographer. Plan your business

Once you’ve reviewed your business, it’s now time to make a plan to get over the expected hurdles of the year to come. You’ve already identified what your wins were, your fears and how you’d like to balance your personal and business life. Now how can you build on these?

Take time to choose  just 3 things that you can do and that are achievable in the next year. Some may be a quick win and others may take longer. Make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Repeatable and Time Specific) and then HOW you will achieve the goal AND how you’ll measure your success! For Example: ‘To double the number of spring family photo shoot bookings in 2019’.

If a yearly plan just too daunting then try to break it down into chunks that suit your business. For example, outdoor family photographers work with the seasons. Just planning the next season is a great way to start. Again, taking bite sized pieces out of your plan can be much easier to deal with.

Number 4: Branding & Marketing.

Belinda Grant Photography Suffolk photographer. Brand and Market your business

Now branding and marketing is a biggie! When you’re coming out of your quieter time it’s great to be able to re-launch a fresh new brand and create your visual identity. So take the opportunity to spend some time on your brand if you haven’t reviewed it for a while or have fallen out of love with it.

It’s easy to recognise in other businesses what makes their brand recognisable to you and your brand needs to be just as prominent in your industry for your clients.  It’s easy to get complacent about our branding. Large companies often review their branding and make small changes that keep their audience engaged. Ask yourself the following questions:

1: Do I have an identifiable brand?

2: Who are my ideal clients?

3: What are the unique qualities my business has?

4: Does my brand represent who I am?

These are just a few starter questions to kick start your review of your branding and help you fall back in love with our brand.

Belinda Grant Photographer Essex photographer. Love your business

There are plenty of books and tutorials on-line to help you with your branding. I love Fiona Humberstones book ‘How to Style your Brand’ which guides you through everything you need to know to create a distinctive brand identity. She walks you through the process of creating your brand vision to moving your brand. Making branding not such a scary thing! https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Style-Your-Brand-Distinctive/dp/0956454534/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1548785958&sr=8-3&keywords=fiona+humberstone

Belinda Grant Photography Suffolk Photographer Branding. how to style your business

Once you have your reviewed your branding, take the time to do a marketing review. Why? Because good marketing leads to sales and that’s what you want. To attract new clients and make them want to be loyal to you and recommend you! There’s no better marketeer than a loyal customer and it’s free!

So ask yourself a few questions:

1: Has your target market changed?

2: Did you only achieve some of your goals last year?

3: Is your brand consistent across all platforms?

4: How did your marketing perform last year?

I know from bitter experience that marketing is one of the hardest elements to having a successful business and successful marketing has to evolve and change with changes in the client market.

Number 5: Get your ‘ducks in a row’ with your  SEO.

Belinda Grant Photography SEO guide. SEO for your business

This is another HUGE topic and I’m just going to skim the surface. Your website presence is crucial, particularly in industries such as photography.  You need to review and refresh your website regularly and make it work for your clients so they can find you, see you, connect with you and reach out to you.

There’s a lot of help out there with this so use this quiet time to get yourself familiar with SEO or find someone who can support you with this. YouTube can be an invaluable tool for guiding you through the jungle of SEO. It can take a long time for changes to make a difference to your Google ranking but be patient and your hard work will pay off.

If you aren’t using Google Analytics for your website then get signed up. It’s a great way to track the traffic and activity on your website and will give you an idea of when potential clients are showing interest in your site.

Plan, plan, plan! As the year progresses and you return to your busy period of the year, you’ll find the amount of time available to address SEO will drop off. So if you can make a plan in your work diary of scheduling blog posts, Facebook Ads, Instagram posts etc. when you’re in your busy period, you’ll not only be busy with clients but your website will also be busy. So whilst you’re quiet, write those blogs and plan when you’ll publish.

There are plenty of apps which allow you to schedule your posts. Not only deciding on which day, but also what TIME of day. This is when you’re sign up to Google Analytics becomes really helpful. Once you’ve got your ducks in a row, you can get on with business and let the wheels of your SEO just keep turning in the background like a well oiled machine!

Number 6: Social Media; Be Cautious and Canny.

Social media and your business

Don’t be fooled by social media into thinking that others in your industry are busier than you are. Remember that we only see what others want to show! Most business owners love to show that they are busy. Busy means that your service/product is attracting clients and high sales and ‘suggests’ you’re successful. Most business owners experience quiet periods and when this happens they try to drum up more business by suggesting that they ARE busy! As you get to know your industry more, you’ll realise you’re not alone when it comes to having quiet times. So be cautious with social media and if you’re having a bad day avoid it all together!

Social media is a powerful platform to show case your business plans for the coming year including what’s ‘new and improved’ . Getting to grips with Facebook Ads and all things Instagram can really help your presence on social media and direct your business to your ideal client. I can thoroughly recommend  Smarter Facebook Ads course by The Design Space https://thedesignspace.co/get-smarter/. which will guide you through the daunting process of running a Facebook Ad.

As a canny business person you can guide your ideal clients towards your website and target them with ‘call to actions’ and exciting developments and changes you’re making to your business. Use social media to get you and your website noticed.

Number 7: Time to Decorate!

Decorating the office Belinda Grant Photography. Re-vamp your business

You may think I’m going off at a complete tangent but believe me, this can be one of the best things you do in your quiet time. Making changes to your working environment, having a clear out and over hauling your work space can give you that positive boost you need to kick start your approach to your business. Last year when business was slow, I gave my office a total re-vamp. New paint, new shelves and a larger PC monitor. It was just the therapy I needed to give my business a new look for the new year. Instead of returning to the same old yukky magnolia on the walls with piles of paper around me, I turned my office into a place I love.

Makeover your business

Now I find myself being far more productive and positive towards my business. The office is a clearly defined work space where I keep little around me that is related to my other life of being a wife and mum. I promise you that this is a great time to get the paint brushes out.

Belinda Grant Photography Essex photographer. Your business environment

Number 8: Be a Caterpillar not a Bear.

It’s really easy to hide away like a hibernating bear in the quiet periods of your business in the hope that no one will notice and you’ll just muddle your way through it. As a business owner, you’ll know that your industry is probably highly competitive and there are plenty of people just waiting to jostle you out of the market. So don’t hide away when it’s quiet. If quiet times are the norm for your industry then no doubt there will be training and networking events going on.

Belinda Grant Photography Sudbury Photographer. Networking for your business

Just like a caterpillar who appears to be sleeping but is busy morphing into something beautiful, you can use this time productively.  Use the time to find out how you can make connections with others in your industry.  Getting your face out there and attending events is a great way to share ideas and even get referrals. You are the face of your business and the harsh reality is that if you’re not seen, people with soon forget about you and your business. Consider your business performance review. You may have identified an area that you could do with some training. Now is the time to get that training done and prepare to come out shining and ready for the busy season.

Number 9: Take a Break!

Barbados Belinda Grant Photography. Take a holiday from your business

Yes, you heard me! We all need a break from time to time and if you’re in your quiet period then now is a really good time to give yourself some time off just for you before the busy time starts. So if you’re not quite able to take  2 weeks to ly under a coconut tree, take some time off just for a couple of nights away. As I said, you need to have a good balance between your personal and business life and it’s all too easy to work long hours as your business is your passion. But you can only give to your business when your own personal needs have been met.

If you can get away that’s great, but even if you can’t, closing your office door and doing something you love will allow you to have that break you’ll be craving when your business is busier. Don’t feel guilty about having some time off, it’ll be worth it when you return to work feeling raring to go!

Number 10: Consider Branching Out.

Now I’m not suggesting that you change your business completely. This is more about considering whether you need to diversify. If you’ve been honest with yourself, you’ll have an understanding whether you can afford to have a quiet period in your business year. If yes, that’s great. But if you know that you really need to bring in the pennies during this quiet time as well, perhaps looking into another area of your industry is an option.

For example, it’s not uncommon for outdoor photographers to supplement their income with offering training/mentoring, commercial work, studio work or marketing and branding support. Outdoor photographers work can be as unpredictable as the weather! So with another branch to their businesses, they have another steady stream of business coming their way. The second branch of my business has become commercial work and film. I now offer head shots and filming to businesses, including photographers, across the UK which is a great supplement to my outdoor family photography work. Here is the fabulous Emily Fairweather https://www.emilyfairweatherphotography.co.uk/ who I photographed at her home during filming for her website .

Belinda Grant Photography Head shots Suffolk. Head shots for your business

There’s not only a financial benefit to this strategy. Having another branch to your business can bring more clients to your website and drive your SEO in the right direction. It also brings variety to your work which is never a bad thing! So consider what other areas of your industry you may be interested in and what you can offer to clients and/or others in your field. You may find it brings huge benefits to your existing business.

My Final Thoughts.

When you set up a business on your own, family and friends are always very supportive and one of the first questions they’ll ask you is “How’s your business going?”. I know that in the past I used to dread this question as there’s an expectation that as a photographer they’ll think I’m busy shooting every day and rushed off my feet. This was a particularly difficult question to avoid during the slow periods when my camera would stay on the shelf only to be picked up to photograph my own family.

When you have an understanding of how important it is to have these quieter periods in your business, you can deal with peoples expectations better. Now I know how much work needs to be done ‘behind the scenes’ of my photography business I can be honest with those around me. I can explain to them how most outdoor photographers can expect to have a quieter period but that it doesn’t mean that  I’m not busy.

Your business is like an iceberg. Only 10% is visible to the world and this is what your clients see.  The other 90% is the behind the scenes work and effort that you put into it, to enable your business to stay afloat and move with the ever changing currents. When you use these quieter times in your business effectively you’ll be working to keep that top 10%  prominent in your industry.

So when you hit these quieter times in your business year, it’s not time to take your foot of the pedal; just change gear! You’ll be amazed how valuable this time can be.

Belinda Grant Photography Suffolk Photographer. Personalise your business

If you’d like to hear more about my strategies for managing my business, or just want to run a few ideas past me, just drop me a line! https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/

 


Siblings - its a Marmite thing

Siblings – its a Marmite thing

Having a sibling is a wonderful thing. As a child they’re like the Marmite in your life. One minute you’re fighting like cat and dog and wishing the other one wasn’t even on the planet and then the next you’re in stitches of uncontrollable laughter about a joke that only you both know and you couldn’t be closer.  This relationship in children is probably the most honest and diverse there is.

Black and white outdoor family photograph by Belinda Grant Photography

With a high rate of conflict and plenty of fun times, with a healthy balance of both, the net-positive brings the benefits of developing a good relationship later in life. During the bad times and the fights, siblings draw on the good times as an incentive to work things out. Their sort of ‘bank account’ of experiences together. Drawing on the smiles, the laughter and the moments of true connection, siblings are able to find a way to resolve their differences.

So when I get to photograph siblings on a family photo shoot there are always times when I watch whilst siblings fight and parents step in to try to speed up the conflict resolution. But invariably this can lead to more tension and less than natural photographs! This is why I only book one family photo shoot per day. This gives me and the family the time for moments that are difficult between siblings to naturally be resolved with either a little help from the parent or myself. I really love to grab my camera at some of these moments as this is when the relationship is at its most honest and I get some great shots.

Belinda Grant Photography family photographer Windsor

Family Photographer Egham Belinda Grant Photography

Family Photographer Egham Belinda Grant Photographer

Sometimes, just finding an activity that they both love playing or combining a few ideas from them can lead to some magical play. So if you have one child wanting to play shops and the other wanting to be an astronaut, why not combine the two? And then you have a shopping trip to the moon in a rocket!!

Once they’ve found their happy place, this is when I grab my moment. Capturing unique and true connections between siblings.

Suffolk family Photographer Belinda Grant Photography

Essex Family Photographer Belinda Grant Photography

Conflict is part of every human relationship and children are learning to manage their emotions and how they interact with each other. Expect them to fight. Each individual has their own needs and it’s about how to bring all of their unique personalities together. Teaching them healthy conflict resolution and finding the “win-win” in the team that they are is what is needed.

Don’t expect them to grow to love Marmite but nurture the growth of the best gift you gave them; each other.

Suffolk Family Photographer Belinda Grant Photography

April 10th is National Sibling Day and also during the school Easter holidays! So now’s a good moment to book a photo shoot for your family with me and let me capture that Marmite relationship!! You can contact me by clicking this link: https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/

If you’d like to some more of my sibling images, just take a look at my gallery by clicking here: https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/gallery/

You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram, just search for Belinda Grant Photography. x


Belinda Grant Photographer

My Dog saved my Business.

My Dog saved my Business.

Becoming just a Statistic.

Just 2 months into my business and I heard this from a  successful family photographer: “80% of new photographers don’t make it past their first year in business” and by the end of my first year I was ready to give up. Not because I didn’t have work, but I certainly didn’t have enough to justify the expense and time that my business was taking.  And I’d come to realise the enormity of what it means to run your own business. Not to take photographs, that is just the tip of the iceberg, but what goes on behind the scenes. The marketing, branding, social media networking, running your website etc etc.. The list is endless!

Meanwhile, in my family life, my husband and I had decided we couldn’t wait any longer to get a dog. That was when Pippa, a gorgeous 2 year old Cocker Spaniel needing a new home as her owner was terminally ill, came into our lives. The hope was that she would complete the family and give us a reason to go on long walks in our fabulous Suffolk countryside. But what I realise now is that without her, Belinda Grant Photography wouldn’t be where it is now.

 

Cocker Spaniel in the Snow

Giving me Time

We all know that fresh air and exercise is good for us and when we first got a dog I felt that the dog walk was a luxury that I needed just to get away from the housework. Now I realise that as much as Pippa needs it, so do I. It’s the most productive 40 minutes of my day. Whilst walking, I run through so much of my business. Ideas for blogs (including this one!), family shoots and marketing and making a plan for my business. This is when I have most of my eureka moments!! I come back from the walk feeling motivated and have nurtured this to help my business grow and be a success.

So as much as I would rather not go out when it’s chucking down with rain, I make myself and Pippa go for at least 20 minutes every day. It’s our team meeting with no interruptions! We also use our walk to find some amazing locations for outdoor family photo shoots around Suffolk and Essex and Pippa is amazing at sniffing out a good bench!

Family Photographer in Suffolk

She’s been known to do a bit of modelling too!!

Cocker spaniel in the snow in Suffolk

Outdoor Family Photographer Belinda Grant

My Timekeeper

I have to put my hands up to say that I’m rubbish at taking breaks from my screen. I try and even have a timer by my desk but I’m still guilty of saying “just 5 more minutes” which turns into half an hour.  I found I was staying at my desk just to try to build my business but getting deeper into a negative rut. https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/screen-time-can-bring-on-a-migraine-my-experience/

Pippa seems to have an internal clock when it comes to her naps. She’s taken up ownership of the sofa next to my desk whilst I’m working and after a 30 minute nap I feel this wet nose beside me with her tail wagging furiously and she won’t leave me alone until I’ve moved away from my screen, giving me that much needed break so that I’m more productive when I go back to it.

My spaniel the time keeper

My Therapist

Whether I just haven’t woken up in the best frame of mind, my computer just keeps saying ‘NO‘ and things just aren’t going my way, Pippa is always there to say ” It’s OK. You’re doing great. Keep going!”  Having a dog is the therapy that I need and she’s on-call 24/7 whenever I need her. Don’t get me wrong, a dog is a big commitment, but so is running your own business. I wouldn’t like to call Pippa an ‘investment’ but I know she’s invaluable to my business. As much as she needed a rescue home, I also needed rescuing from giving up on my business. We really are a team and I wouldn’t be without her……..I can feel a wet nose next to me…….time to take a break!

 

Belinda Grant Photographer


Spring Family Photo Shoot in Essex with Belinda Grant Photography

Which Season is Your Favourite?

Which Season is Your Favourite?

January is a great time of year to make plans including when to have your family photo shoot. Most family photographers including myself have just opened their books to clients for the coming seasons so if you have a particular season in mind then this is a great time to make a booking.

So which season is your favourite?

Spring. A great time if you love the fresh greens of the new leaves, spring bulbs, apple blossom and fields of bluebells. And if we get spring showers? Just pop on your favourite pair of wellies and get splashing in those puddles!

Suffolk Spring photo shoot Belinda Grant Photography

Summer:  Early summer brings us wisteria, fields of glorious buttercups and daisies whilst later in the season there are plenty of opportunities for a family photo shoot in fields of golden corn, barley and amazing blue borage as well as other amazing flowers. Not forgetting sunsets and days at the beach to capture those childhood memories of sand castles and sand between their toes.

Summer photo shoot in Suffolk with Belinda Grant Photography

Summer photography with Belinda Grant photography

Golden hour with Suffolk Photographer Belinda Grant

Suffolk Childrens Photographer Belinda Grant Photography

Your Suffolk Summer Photographer Belinda Grant Photography

Essex Family Photographer Belinda Grant

Summer family photo shoot in Essex with Belinda Grant Photography

Capturing the moment with Belinda Grant Photography

Summer sunsets in Essex with Belinda Grant Photography

Outdoor Photography with Essex Photographer Belinda Grant

Autumn is an amazing time for incredible sunsets and the glorious warm colours of the leaves as they fall. All things warm and glowing go with Autumn and there’s nothing children love more than kicking a few leaves around or collecting the apples. This is the season for perfect warm hues of gold right the way through to the deep browns and rich reds that you may love for your family photos.

Outdoor Autumn Family Photography in Suffolk

Autumn Apples Belinda Grant Photography

Autumn Family Photo Shoot in Essex with Belinda Grant Photography

Autumn leaves in Suffolk Belinda Grant Photography

Essex Family Photographer Belinda Grant Photography

autumn family photography Belinda Grant Photography

Belinda Grant suffolk family photographer

Autumn golden hour in Essex with Belinda Grant Photography

We musn’t forget winter. You may think that winter isn’t the best season for a family photo shoot unless it snows. Well of course if we’re lucky enough to get the snow then it’s a great time to make some memories with snowball fights and fluffy hats but don’t dismiss winter as its a great season for a family photo shoot. The winter light is naturally diffused on a grey day giving lovely soft light to your family photos. And not forgetting that who doesn’t love a family photo for a Christmas present. I’m really lucky to be able to work with a Christmas tree farm which gives me the perfect backdrop for some gorgeous seasonal photos.

Winter also offers some amazing flowers. Snowdrops in particular. There are plenty of incredible locations where you can have family photos amongst a carpet of snowdrops.

Christmas mini shoot Suffolk Belinda Grant Photography

Christmas mini shoots Belinda Grant

Christmas Photography by Belinda Grant

Snow Photography in Essex by Belinda Grant Photography

 

Winter Family Photography in Essex by Belinda Grant Photography

Golden Hour family Photography with Belinda Grant Photography

Family Photo Shoot in the snowdrops by Belinda Grant Photography

So which season will you choose for your family photo shoot this Year?

Once you’ve decide then just drop me an e-mail to secure your family photo shoot in your favourite season https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/


Christmas Gift Ideas for Suffolk Families

Christmas Gift Ideas for Suffolk Families

It’s that time of year again and I don’t know about you but I’ve decided to upgrade my Christmas presents. Not to increase the budget, but to give a gift that will be remembered until at least next Christmas! So I’ve put together just a handful of gift ideas for Suffolk families that will keep giving throughout the year.

I’ve selected places and gifts that are within easy reach of Sudbury for Suffolk families and those in Essex too! So grab a pen and paper and take a look, I’m sure you’ll find something that you’ll love!

Number one: A Belinda Grant Photography Family Photo Shoot.

A must for all Suffolk and Essex families! I offer gift certificates which are available now starting at just £100. These can be gifted towards a full family photo shoot with me and you can decide how much you would like to give to the family. The family just need to book their shoot with me on a day that works for them and use the gift certificate to secure their booking and as a deposit towards one of my fabulous collections. http://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/

suffolkfamilyphotographer

Number 2: Gifts for the Home

Every Suffolk family likes their home to look gorgeous at Christmas. Well now is the time to pay a visit to Evans in Long Melford. Here you’ll find wonderful decorations and inspirational ideas of how to make your family home a special place this Christmas. From beautiful baubles, scented candles and unique interiors for your home, you’ll also find a stylish selection of gifts for men and women. A true gem of a shop in Long Melford. I’ll be dropping hints to my husband about this one!!

https://www.evansgiftsandinteriors.com/

Suffolk photographer

Suffolk photographer

Suffolk Photographer

Number 3: Something for the Grown-ups

One of my best finds! Tuffon Hall Vineyard is a family run business that has been producing incredible award winning wines since 2014.  This is the place I go to if I want a truly special wine and have never been disappointed. You can buy on line or from a select group of local retailers. Every Suffolk family should have a bottle from Tuffon Hall vineyard on their table this Christmas. https://tuffonhall.co.uk/

Suffolk photographer

Number 4: A gift for all seasons.

I know that all families are really busy. Not only at Christmas, but family time spent together is very precious. Kentwell Hall is a year-round attraction with loads to do for all the family. You can enjoy a full day here with events running throughout the year, visits to the house or just take a walk around the incredible grounds to see the snowdrops in the winter and the daffodils in the spring followed by a visit to the cafe for hot food and drinks. Kentwell offers a family seasonal pass which is invaluable to families in the area. Keep an eye out on their website for events during the year. There’s something for everyone. http://www.kentwell.co.uk/

Number 5: Lets get creative!

Set in Greenstead Green the Essex Pottery Studio offfers families a wonderful day out. Situated alongside a post office, petting farm and cafe with outdoor seating I can highly recommend an afternoon with Amanda and her team. The children will love it and the grown-ups can join in too with workshops and classes also available during the year. Our family are regular visitors and its a great way to spend some creative time together without creating mess at home. We always pop into the cafe afterwards for a cuppa and a piece of cake! https://www.essexpotterystudio.co.uk/

Essex Family Photographer

Number 6: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner or just a Cocktail!

If you need a gift for someone who loves good food and drink in a brilliantly decorated restaurant run by a super friendly team, then The Swan at Long Melford is a great gift for anyone. Offering fabulous seasonal food by a highly skilled chef this restaurant has 2 rosettes and is a great place for any special occasion or just to treat someone to a wonderful meal out. If you’d like to treat them even more, the Swan is also a boutique hotel. I can highly recommend the brunch menu! https://www.longmelfordswan.co.uk/

 

swan long melford

 

Number 7: For those that like a bit of pampering.

I’m sure we’re all in need of this gift, particularly in the winter months and after the craziness of Christmas. Weavers House Spa offers a luxurious experience in a relaxing and calm environment with a team ready to provide you with treatments and pampering and a fluffy white robe. I have to say that with a birthday in January, this is always top of my wish list. https://theswanatlavenham.co.uk/spa/

 

Belinda Grant suffolk family photographer


Suffolk school photographer

School Photography-with no white backdrop

School Photography-with no white backdrop

As a parent I understand the importance of capturing as many moments of their childhood as you can during their school years. I know that some of my first memories are of my time spent at a local nursery and I can just about remember the room that we used to paint and draw in and the room we used to have a sleep in after lunch! But I do wish that I had some photos of my time at that nursery. The place where the foundations of my learning and life experience began as well as some less formal photos. And now as a mother of two, I’m going through the annual event of school photographs. Not only am I disappointed by how little atmosphere they capture but one of the first things parents say to me once they’ve got the pictures back of their children, is that they’re disappointed by how bland they are and that they don’t show their child’s personality.

School photographer

That oh so familiar white backdrop!

Yes, my parents did get a couple of the ‘official’ shots that both my nursery and schools had done. I think more out of duty and an ‘official’ record of my time there. You’ll know  what I’m talking about if your child’s school offers to organise photographs. The photographer sets up a rather uninteresting backdrop in one of a few shades of grey to white then with lights shining into the children’s faces, they pose them and get them to put on their best smile.  The results? Some rather awkward poses, with fixed smiles and a photograph that barely shows the unique personality of your child and certainly doesn’t include any of their surroundings. The photograph could’ve been taken anywhere!

Using the School to set the Scene

So I wanted to offer something different as a photographer to the nurseries and schools in my area. Working closely with the wonderful team at The Barn School in Essex https://www.thebarnnurseryschool.com/, I started to develop a unique way of capturing the school years for the children.  No paper backdrops and creating connections with each and every one of the children so that I could capture their amazing personalities.

Suffolk school photographer Belinda Grant Photography

Essex school photographer Belinda Grant photography

Yes, I make sure that I have a photo of each child with the nursery or school as a backdrop but also I take the time to be around the children to capture them ‘in the moment’. Just being themselves. This produces some of my favourite school photos.

Essex pre-school photographer Belinda Grant PhotographySuffolk pre school photographer Belinda Grant PhotographySuffolk family photographer Belinda Grant PhotographyEssex family photographer Belinda Grant Photographybury st edmunds family photographer Belinda Grant PhotographySuffolk childrens photographer Belinda Grant photographyEssex childrens photographer Belinda Grant photographycolchester family photographer belinda grant photographyPre-school photographer belinda grant photographyChidrens photographer belinda grant photography

Making it Different

Children change massively year on year especially in the school years. So to avoid offering the parents the same style of photograph each year, I make sure that I come up with a different style of photograph each year. For example, this year when I visited a nursery school to discuss how we would get the photographs of the children, I spotted an amazing field of buttercups right next door to the school. Even though I wasn’t due to take the photos for a couple of weeks, I couldn’t miss the opportunity of using the buttercups for the shoot. So with a bit of juggling with the diary, we managed to bring the shoot forwards and got some amazing shots.

Cambridge School photographer Belinda Grant PhotographySuffolk family photographer belinda grant photographyessex family photographer belinda grant photographycolchester school photographer belinda grant photographysuffolk childrens photographer belinda grant photographySuffolk family photographer belinda grant photography

I also provide head shots for staff at nurseries and schools. These can provide a fabulous display so that both children and parents can recognise all members of staff. And if you’re in need of new photographs or a promotional video for your website then I am happy to discuss your needs and we can work together to give you the photographs you need.

professional headshots belinda grant photography

Just to show you the response I’ve had, here is a testimonial of how happy a nursery manager was with how I worked with them:

Belinda captured the inner spirit and sheer beauty of each and every little soul – the photos speak for themselves. What the pictures don’t tell you is that her manner with the children was truly beautiful. The children felt at ease in her presence so the magic flowed.

A huge thank you to all the gorgeous children in these pictures. You never fail to bring a smile to my face!

School Photographer Belinda Grant Photography

To see more of my school images, go to my website and check out the nursery and schools page.

So if you’re a parent and fed up with the same old posed shots or a school manager looking to offer truly beautiful and unique photographs of your children then I’d love to hear from you:

Contact me:

Here is a short video of the wonderful children and staff at The Barn Nursery School:


Autumn family photoshoot in Suffolk

Autumn photography for your family

Autumn photography for your family

October is here and the long hot days of summer seem like they were an age ago. As much as summer may be an obvious time to take family photographs with its long sunny days, brilliant blue skies and days at the beach, autumn photography brings something special to your family photographs like no other season.

autumn photography belinda grant photography family photographer suffolk

What might seem to be a season of the misty, dreary days with little or no colour is actually one of the best times to book your family photographer. What this season brings with it is warm colours, glowing light and glorious backdrops that at first glance may seem that they are just the tail-ends of summer but once you get some soft light, you have something truly magical that only autumn photography brings.

Autumn photography Belinda Grant Photography

So though you may be putting your camera away after your summer holiday, now is the time to go outside with your family and find that soft glowing light and take some photographs. One of the great things about family autumn photography is not only the glow and the warm colours, but that it’s not too cold so children are more than happy to be outside playing in the leaves and collecting conkers and returning home for a hot chocolate!

autumn photography belinda grant suffolk family photographer

 

So grab your camera before you give it a rest after the summer and then hunt for it for the run up to Christmas and head out. Or better still, get in touch for your autumn family photo shoot.

https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/

So here are a few photos I took of my children in a field just 5 minutes from our house. The field appeared to be full of just dark brown grass that was dying off for the winter. But as the sun went down, the autumn magic started to happen.

autumn photography suffolk family photographerautumn photography suffolk family photographerautumn photography suffolk family photographerautumn photography suffolk family photographerautumn photography suffolk family photographerautumn photography suffolk family photographerautumn photography suffolk family photographerautumn photography Belinda Grant suffolk family photographerautumn photography suffolk family photographer

autumn photography suffolk family photographer


One Wall and a Window - Suffolk Family Photography

One Wall and a Window – Suffolk Family Photography

As a family photographer I know how difficult it can be to get naturally expressive photos of your children. It’s one of the skills us family photographers have to develop and it doesn’t always come easy. But what I have learnt is that the photos of the children that are the most expressive  are the ones that make the parents smile and often cry with joy.

So forget about the big cheesy smile and the posing and the heartache of trying to get them to look straight into the camera. Instead, give them something to do and just let the magic happen and I promise you some expressive photos! As a family photographer this is what I love to do.

Suffolk family photographer expressive photos

So with this in mind and hoping to get my children to let me take some photos of them before they started the new school year, we spent a crazy afternoon in my newly painted office with the dressing up box. No fancy lighting and only a space of 2m x 2m with just one wall and a window.

Here is my glamorous assistant to show you the space!

Suffolk family photographer expressive photos

I used my Nikon D800E and Sigma 35mm 1.4, we had one of the best afternoons of the holiday. What was really wonderful to see was that both my children, who usually can’t bear it when I get my camera out, totally embraced what we were doing and I was loving watching their personalities shine.

So did I get some expressive photos? Well press play on the video below and and you can see for yourself. What I do know is that these photos make me smile, cry and feel totally overwhelmed with happiness that my children are still at an age when they can be totally free and expressive in what they do.

 

Suffolk family photographer expressive photos

Suffolk family photographer expressive photos belinda grant photography

Suffolk family photographer expressive photos

Suffolk family photographer expressive photos

Suffolk family photographer expressive photos

So sometimes you just need to take all the faff away from trying to get an amazing photograph and just go with it. I promise you, they’ll be the photos that you’ll love the most.

How to get expressive photos of your children?

  • Don’t force it. Relax and the magic will happen.

Capture their expressions of today as they’ll be lost tomorrow.

So here is a video of my favourite shots from that afternoon with my children –

 

‘One wall and a window’.

I offer family photo shoots both indoors and outdoors across Suffolk, Cambridge, Essex, London, the south of England and beyond!

Click HERE to contact me.

https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/ 


belinda grant photography egg timer

Screen time and Migraine - my experience as a photographer

Screen time and Migraine – my experience as a photographer

When I started my photography business I was naive to the balance between actually being with clients and the time needed looking at my screen. I had always thought that other photographers were exaggerating when they told me that I would spend only 20% of my time taking photographs and an unbelievable 80% at a computer screen. They were right. I’ve now had my eyes opened and realised the enormity of the work that goes on behind the scenes of a photography business that requires looking at a screen.

So the new academic year has begun and after taking a break from work in August, I was really looking forward to getting back to work. I’d barely got to my computer except to reply to e-mails during the holiday and been really enjoying time away from my desk. So the first day the children were at school I dived straight into my ‘to do list’ which would include plenty of time looking at my screen.

After the first day of ‘screen gazing’ I went to bed not knowing that I was to wake at 4am with the most excruciating pain behind my left eye, feeling sick and having a severe dislike of noise and light as well as an inability to sleep. I was all too familiar with these symptoms as I’m one of 6 million people in the UK suffering from migraine. I knew that the next few days would be hell. I can only describe it as being like the worst hangover you could ever imagine and all I want to do is curl up in a silent dark corner and sleep, however sleep is impossible and despite taking as much pain relief as I’m allowed in 24 hours, for various physiological reasons, the pain just doesn’t go away. Even walking and talking become difficult with every footstep and syllable causing stabbing vibrations through my already throbbing head.

migraine pain relief

So my involvement with family life had to be put on hold and my husband was great at stepping in whilst I tried to take things at a much slower pace. The children hardly understood that I can’t be disturbed and I tried not to alarm them when they came home from school and I’d had to go to bed. In the meantime, I was feeling like I was behind with my work and had enquiries to follow up but had a total inability to deal with any clients. You never know how long a migraine will last. Even a week on, I still have the pain just rumbling in the back of my eyes but I know that I just want to get on with things. So this got me thinking about how I and other people running their own businesses, including photographers, can avoid all the negative impact that screen time can have on us. So here are my strategies for dealing with headaches, migraines etc.

My working environment.

Natural light for working space

Now I know that not all of us have the space at home that we need to set up an office, however having previously worked in cluttered dark spaces, I’ve  realised the benefits of de-cluttering and having as much natural light as possible. Keeping your space clear of distractions and having calming neutral colours around you can really help as well as working in a space that has plenty of natural light.

Just me and my PC.

belinda grant photography

In our house anything with a screen is referred to as a ‘gadget’. This includes mobile phones, the tv, tablets and desktop screens. I’ve found that I am much less prone to distraction and am able to keep calm and relaxed if I leave all other gadgets other than my PC out of the room when I’m working. I can always get up and go and check if the phone rings and I know that if it’s important, they will leave a message.

30 minutes max.

belinda grant photography egg timer

When I took the children to Specsavers in the holidays, I thought I would ask about how much time was OK for them to be on a ‘gadget’. This is particularly important for my 7 year old, who loves screen time far too much and as any parent will know, he won’t listen to me about the dangers of going ‘googly eyed’ so I thought hearing it from the optician might sink in a bit more. So now we have a limit of no more than 30 minutes of screen time. To stop me from ignoring this, I now keep an egg timer on my desk and after 30 minutes I make myself go and do something else for at least 15 minutes to give my eyes a rest and I NEVER eat lunch at my desk….this was a really bad habit of mine!

coffee break

Talking of eye tests, now I’m past my 40th birthday (by several years!) I’ve found that my eyesight is noticeably changing. When I do my nursery shoots photographing up to 70 children in a day, after looking through my cameras viewfinder for several hours, I really struggle to re-adjust my focus and its only the next day that my sight has recovered. So I’ve now got myself into a routine of having check ups every 6 months and making sure I wear my glasses. Actually I don’t mind wearing glasses as they come in some amazing colours and can look really great!

Belinda Grant Photography. Glasses

Screen brightness.

As photographers we’re all aware that how an image appears on a screen is not the same as when it’s printed for the client. Computers are back lit, making them appear brighter than a print and they also need calibrating. I know that several photographers, including myself, calibrate the brightness of their screen to compensate for this difference. Unfortunately this means that we’re working with brighter screens than we should putting further strain on our eyes. This has been a difficult problem to solve but it really helps if I don’t sit at my computer for longer than 30 minutes.

Burning the midnight oil.

Belinda Grant Photography

Now I know that trying to balance work and home life is a real struggle particularly in the holidays when, like many photographers who are parents, the only time we get to catch up on work is when the children have gone to bed. I’ve read many a post and comment on Facebook this summer where photographers are saying that they are editing images well into the night and early hours of the morning. I’m guilty of this too. My husband will be fast asleep and although I feel like I’m enjoying some quiet time at my desk at midnight, the truth is that my brain isn’t switching off and my eyes are still working far too hard after a long day.

I’ve introduced a new rule for myself. As there’s usually a good drama on at 9pm, this is my deadline for closing down my PC and beginning to wind down. It’s working so far, as long as there’s something I want to watch on the telly! I’m also trying to not take any gadgets up to bed. I’m guilty of checking my social media and e-mails just before I go to sleep which is a really bad habit. I’ve realised how addicted I’d become to phone. Not only was I checking it at night, but also first thing in the morning. Now, when I put the dog in its bed in the kitchen at night, I also put my phone to bed; I even switch it OFF! Yes, I’ve discovered that my phone has an OFF option and I’m going to use it!  I still feel slights pangs of curiosity as I go up the stairs as to what’s on social media but I know that I’ll have a better nights sleep. What I also hadn’t realised was that my children were seeing me on my phone from about 7 am. So now I wait until the school run is over and my work day begins.

Don’t get me wrong, these strategies are all focused on how I manage my relationship and time management with my PC and I know that the world we live is not only hugely competitive, 24/7 and the screen is the backbone to the functioning of so many industries but I also know that if I ignore the ways I can manage that 80% of my business, I will undoubtedly have many more migraine attacks and miss many more days being able to do the job I love and more importantly being a mum and wife. So if I can give some advice to anyone who runs their own business that require so much screen time it would be:

  • to get an egg timer!
  • book an eye test
  • de-clutter
  • work with natural light
  • set a work start/finish time
  • focus on your PC, no other gadget
  • Find out how to switch your phone OFF!

Now I’ve come out of my dark corner and enjoying walking with Pippa again!

Belinda Grant Photography


black and white family photography

Black and white Photography in Essex and Suffolk.

Black and white Photography in Essex and Suffolk.

As an Essex family photographer, I love black and white photography. There’s no doubt that colour is wonderful and most of my family photo shoots this summer families have gone all out to have pops of colour against the blue summer skies which have been amazing. But there is something special about black and white photography. It’s more captivating and draws the viewers focus on the subject and emotion of the image. So when I returned home with a full SD card after a fabulous day at Frinton beach this summer, I was drawn to the emotion and depth I could create in a black and white photograph, producing some of my favourite images this summer. So grab a cuppa and read why I love black and white photography so much.

black and white photography

Working with summer skin tones.

As much as we’d all like to have beautifully tanned skin in the summer, the harsh reality is that we are all various shades of white, pink, red and brown in the summer. What does this do to a photograph? Well, as much as I love to capture the reality of family life, no one likes sun burnt skin in their pictures not to mention tan lines and the occasional red mosquito bite for good measure! What black and white photography allows is for this variation in skin tone and gives a wonderful consistency in skin tones as well as drawing out beautiful freckles and wonderful expressions. Emphasising lines and wrinkles can bring so much depth and emotion to an image, particularly for the older members of your family. The image below works much better in black and white. Why? The lines of the beach hut are emphasised, there is contrast, texture and various shades of black and white. Your eye is drawn to the boys and their expressions!

black and white photography

 

 

 

Shadows, Contrast, texture, movement and light.

Natural light can be wonderful to work with as a family photographer offering softness and subtlety or drama and contrast. During photo shoots around Essex and Suffolk I’m always looking for how I can work with natural light to bring emotion and a sense of personality to a photo. Black and white photography can emphasise this without the distraction of colour. A black and white family photograph will work with a wonderful palette through from black to white defining texture and pattern in a shot and a family photographer can draw on variations in the light such as flat light and harsh light to show creativity to an image. Here you can see the texture of the sand and the feathers with the shadows on the sand.

With movement you also get shadow which gives really great depth in black and white photography. So movement created by water can be captured much better in black and white giving a true sense of what is going on in the photograph even without seeing the full person.

Black and white photography is timeless.

There is no doubt that a black and white photograph doesn’t age at the rate of a colour photograph. If you are wanting a truly timeless family photograph then black and white can be a wonderful alternative to colour. Do all photographs work in black and white? The answer to this is no. This is when the skill of a family photographer is seen. With skill and experience I know what will work and what won’t. What I’m looking for is texture, contrast, shape and of course use of natural light.

black and white photography

Quite often if I’m happy with an image in colour but I know it’s missing that ‘something’ that I’m trying to capture, then I will work with it in black and white. This is when it gets exciting! Despite a lack of colour, the image can become strong, artistic and emotive. Creating new depths to the image and giving it a timelessness that would only be seen in black and white photography.

So why don’t I just work in black and white photography?

A good question! In Essex and Suffolk, I’m surrounded by beautiful countryside. The seasons and ever changing cloud patterns produces some colour that can take your breath away. Not only that, but a world without colour would be a very serious place and we all need a bit of colour in our lives to brighten up those dreary days. So instead of committing to either colour or black and white photography, when you’re working with your family photographer, it’s a good idea to chat about what impact you’d like your photos to have and let your photographer guide you as to what will work. Trust them, they’re the professional. Take a look at the image below. It works really well in both black and white AND colour. Both give a different feel. It’s just personal which one you prefer.

black and white photography

So some tips for black and white photography.

  • Look for texture, shape, contrast and the lines in the image.
  • Use the light to your advantage. Whether its harsh, flat or diffuse. All can work in black and white photography.
  • Draw on the emotion of the image you’re trying to achieve.
  • Don’t be put off by lots of colour! Different colours give a larger range of colour right through from black to white
  • Don’t bin an image because the colours don’t work. Try it as a black and white photograph first and see what happens. You may be amazed by how it comes to life and how it makes you feel.

So just to give you an idea of how black and white photography can give you that timeless, emotive family photograph that you’re looking for. Take a look at some of my favourites from my visit to Frinton beach!

black and white photographyblack and white photographyblack and white photography


Suffolk family photography

A Family Photographer for Life, not just your Wedding Day. Suffolk Family Photography - Belinda Grant

A Family Photographer for Life, not just your Wedding Day. Suffolk Family Photography – Belinda Grant

I have a confession. As a family photographer my wedding day wasn’t the best day of my life, but it was the start of an amazing catalogue of ‘best days’ including the birth of 2 children, several house moves and some fabulous family moments that will stay with me forever. So here’s another confession: I only have 2 wedding photos in frames. This isn’t because I don’t love my wedding photos, but since my family has grown and we’ve started on this journey together, I have started to fill my walls with family photography of  other ‘best days’ and special moments and now understand the true value of a family photographer.

What I’ve come to realise, is that your wedding day is just the start. And I’m totally devoted to capturing as many moments with my camera as I can as I know that as our family grows, it won’t be my wedding photos that we will be sitting and enjoying, but the photos of my children playing with bubbles in the garden, birthdays and  enjoying the snow in the garden or us all just enjoying our home and life together. There is a fundamental snag with this, which is that there are very few pictures with us all in. So yes, I have some wonderful pictures of my children for me to enjoy now, but my children aren’t really bothered about these and I know that in the future, when they understand the true value of family photography, they’ll be looking for photos of us all together. Sudbury Family photography


Since my wedding day when my husband and I were together in front of the camera for nearly 18 hours, we have very few of us together or with our children as a family. Yes, the selfie stick comes out (if I remember to pack it!) but its a bit of a faff to set up and get everyone in the frame so we usually resort to me behind the camera taking pictures of my husband and the children.

Now eight years on and I wish I’d known then what I know now. Every family needs a photographer, like me, who specialises in family photography to document their life. Despite family photography being a flooded market with us all offering clients different styles and approaches to photography, I still meet clients who’ve never had a family photo shoot and their children are all grown up and ready to fly the nest. They have plenty of selfies and digital images stashed away, but none to enjoy on the walls of their home. Yet their wedding pictures from 25 years previous remain unnoticed by their children. I feel a huge sense of sadness and frustration that they’ve missed out on capturing moments along the way and not got in touch with a family photographer like me sooner.

So why book a family photographer?

The value of having a family photographer in your life.

Suffolk family photographer

So those of us who have booked a wedding photographer know it’s a big investment. But, this is a record of only one day. Yes, being a wedding photographer is a skilled job and requires patience, technical ability and lots of energy! So why don’t we place the same value on capturing the family we build AFTER our wedding day? Those of us who work in family photography are equally as skilled and committed to helping you capture moments in your life, both special and what seems to be the everyday but is equally as poignant. Family photographers are patient people who are experienced in bringing out the best in every person on the shoot. They take their time to get to know you and your family. And if you consider that a family photo shoot is usually significantly less of a pull on your pocket than the cost of your wedding photos, then let the family photographer help you to build the story behind your family. 

Capture the NOW.

Every family needs to capture what’s happening NOW. We all know that children grow up fast and older relatives pass away. Families change and, as cliché as it may sound, you will never get those moments back again. First year at school, special birthdays, going to your families favourite park or beach or just enjoying your own home which itself, doesn’t stay the same forever. You may have extended family or friends that you don’t see very often and photos can save those moments and help you to stay connected.

Suffolk family photographer

Missing Person

If you’re usually the one pressing the shutter then this is you. Most families have one person who seems to be the delegated family photographer so they’re always missing from the picture. This means that the record of your family is incomplete and as a parent, you’re very important to your children. When they have their own families, they’ll want to show their children photos of you. They’re not bothered whether you’re clothes are mucky, you’ve got no make-up on or you’re just having a ‘bad hair day’. They just want you, as you are, in the picture. This is how they remember you.

Suffolk family photographer

Yes, we are ‘The Professionals’!

I know that most people have great cameras on their phones and yes, I take a lot of pictures on mine almost every day. Would I ever print these? Probably not, and I certainly wouldn’t frame them. Most of these shots end up either in the big cloud, or on social media to share with friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, I love scrolling through these pictures and they make me smile but I don’t consider them worthy of a space on my wall. Smartphones will never replace the timeless quality or the emotion behind a gorgeous family photo taking by a professional.

Apologies for the bluntness, but professional family photographers bring with them several skills that you just don’t have. Firstly, they have expertise and creativity. Not only is professional photography about understanding light and how to use it (which is much more complicated that you might think!), being highly skilled in editing, having high-end equipment and knowing how to use it. It’s also about anticipating the unexpected, having vision, knowing what makes an exceptional family photograph and above all, understanding you, the client. Professional family photographers are 100% invested in helping you; they do it because they love it! Yes, you might have a friend with a good camera, but if they were that good, they’d be doing it as a profession and it takes a lot more than just good kit to make an emotive and timeless photograph. ‘All the gear, no idea’ springs to mind!!

Suffolk family photographer

The myth: family photographers are expensive.

So many people consider that booking a family photographer is expensive and a luxury. Professionals don’t over charge you. If their price tag seems steep, it’s because they’re worth paying for. When you go out to a restaurant, you know that you are paying a premium price. You’re paying for all behind the scenes preparation and overheads that the restaurant has and you know that you are getting a professional service and a high quality product.

Family photographers have to justify the cost of running their business. Like many businesses, family photography is costly. It requires investment of both money and time and when you see a photographer just clicking away, that is merely the tip of the iceberg! Ongoing training, insurance, editing time, packaging, ongoing website costs etc, etc. So not only are you getting a highly skilled professional to help you create the storyboard of your families life, but you are also getting to work with someone who takes their business and the service they provide seriously. I feel completely at ease charging my clients what I do. As I know that every client gets a full and bespoke experience with me and I build a very special relationship with them as I become part of their families journey. A meal in a restaurant you experience once, a photograph you can enjoy forever. For my pricing go to: https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/pricing/

I’ll book a photo shoot another day.

Bury St Edmunds family photographer

Don’t put it off! As I’ve said, you need to be capturing the now. Life can change in a heartbeat. I heard a sad story recently. A friend who’s also a family photographer recently told me that a client had contacted her to see if she still had copies of the photos she had taken for her several years ago. The reason being, was that one of the youngest members of her family had tragically died and she had been going through her photos and didn’t feel she had enough. Feeling her sadness, the photographer gave her all the photos she had. These are the times when the value of photography can only be fully understood.

Last year, I experienced every PC users nightmare……I lost ALL my photos! Somehow, all my own memories had been erased in a single moment. At the time, I felt sick, sweaty and went very pale as I realised that all record of my families journey was gone forever. As I sat at my desk, I was hoping that someone would be able to bring me out of the nightmare and I was prepared to pay whatever it took to get the photos back. That was the moment I fully understood the value of family photography. The photographs are unique to your life and your family.

So will I be booking a family photographer?

Absolutely. I definitely won’t be putting this off. It’s at the top of my ‘to do’ list and the ironing can wait…..it’ll always be there but the moment won’t be. There are no repeats.


The Swan - Suffolk Film and Photography

It’s not often that I go out for lunch. Well, not without my family which usually involves a nearby pizza restaurant and so, yet again, my taste buds are subjected to cheese and tomato (staple flavours with my six and four year old) and a persistent sense of a bomb about to detonate as like most children, mine like to ‘eat and run’. So when a couple of friends that I met when my little boy was born suggested we go out for lunch without children or husbands I instantly reached for my diary. Date agreed, we then had the dilemma of where to spend our precious first outing so with a strategy of maximising our time together and minimising our travel for school pick up, we agreed on visiting the village Long Melford in Suffolk.

Long Melford https://www.longmelford.co.uk is a large village and was one of the great Cloth Towns of medieval Suffolk. There’s one long high street with the beautiful Holy Trinity Church and Melford Hall https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/melford-hall run by the National Trust at one end and then walking down the high street you can browse antique shops, boutiques, galleries and choose from a great selection of tea shops, pubs and restaurants. So where to eat? A suggestion was made that we try The Swanhttps://www.longmelfordswan.co.uk, a Michelin listed boutique, two rosette restaurant with rooms. Having visited The Swan several years ago, I was really interested to experience lunch there again.

Once I’d ticked off my daily list of the school run, two loads of washing walking the dog and scrubbing felt-tip pen off the kitchen wall I arrived in Long Melford flustered and chaotic. I put my blinkers on as I made my way up the high street past the gorgeous boutiques and galleries to meet my friends hoping not to be the last one to arrive. Upon opening the door of The Swan, I felt like I’d opened the door to somewhere special. The atmosphere was warm, inviting and distinctly relaxing. There were fresh flowers on the bar, several small groups of people enjoying the brunch menu and a couple perched on wooden bar stools by the large front windows sipping glasses of wine and watching the world go by.

The interior style of The Swan has changed considerably since my last visit. It has been cleverly put together to give a contemporary but relaxed feel. The dining area has been accommodated brilliantly into two areas which both have a unique and quirky feel. You have the choice of the light and airy room at the rear with wallpaper designed by Clarke and Clarke featuring small brown monkeys playfully leaping through the jungle and a fabulous statement Moroccan ceiling light throwing out mesmerizing patterns or the more traditional timber beamed dining space with soft velvet brass studded chairs, golden hues and featuring a rich gold lined black floor lamp.

Having been shown to our table by a lovely member of staff, we had a good look at the menu. Our first impressions were that this was not a cheap place to eat but as we read the menu it was clear that it had been put together by a chef who has carefully selected and thought about his diners experience. Dishes included local pigeon with cocoa foie gras, venison Wellington with truffle purée and Orkney scallop with pickled clams, bacon and a chestnut crumb. There were also the more familiar dishes of catch of the day and Jersey rock oysters. And if you had a penchant for all things sweet, there was white chocolate mouse with popcorn, elderberry soufflé with a champagne granita and a selection of home made ice-creams and artisan cheeses.

The drinks selection is extensive and having arrived on the day that they were launching their new cocktail menu, I needed no further excuse to return in the evening with my husband once we rather rapidly dropped the children off at a school disco. In the evenings, the atmosphere remains of a relaxing and cosy place to be. The fire was lit, glasses were clinking and there was the gentle hum of conversation. Being a fan of all things passion fruit, I felt I had to try the passion star Martini. A delicious combination of passion fruit puree, vodka and vanilla syrup with a cheeky shot of prosecco on the side. I wasn’t disappointed. The Swan shows an incredible eye for detail and a way of making your time with them special. Along with the cocktails were canapés of beetroot cured mackerel with a horseradish emulsion and beef carpaccio with smoked aubergine.

So would I recommend The Swan?

Absolutely. For fine dining, cocktails with homemade rosehip syrup and Long Melford sloe gin or just to enjoy a latte on their beautiful turquoise velvet sofa. The staff are welcoming and friendly providing a relaxing place to spend your precious child-free time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind going to pizza restaurants with my children but I’m really pleased to have returned to The Swanhttps://www.longmelfordswan.co.uk which thankfully is a grown-up place where I can enjoy flavours beyond those of cheese and tomato pizza.

Just to give you a sneaky peek at The Swan, take a look at this video:


Suffolk family photographer

Life with us as a Suffolk Family Photographer

As a Suffolk family photographer, I’m always looking for new ways to capture the true soul of each unique family that I work with. During a family photo shoot there are so many different and wonderful moments that I find myself happily pressing my shutter every few seconds!

Recently, a mum told me that she loved taking video footage of her children but it was certainly a long way off from being a professionally composed and edited piece of film! She told me she was frustrated that she had such wonderful professional shots from me but she would love a video of similar high quality with the whole family in (usually she’s the one behind the video camera!) and asked me if I would be able to make a film for them in their home.

Well you can imagine how excited I was! I explained to her that making a video of the family would be no more intrusive than doing a photoshoot. The capabilitites of DSLR cameras these days is incredible and with my creative experience from doing a still family photo shoot, I knew I could give to her and her family a wonderful piece of film. Not only would I be spending another photo shoot with this gorgeous family, but I’d be able to capture the ‘flow’ of their family life. Capturing how the childrens little hands moved, the special way that they dance and use the space around the house, the wonderful way in which they interact with eachother and of course their gorgeous little voices bringing words to life in their own special way.

So just to give you a  sneaky peak of a family video shoot, I’ve made a short film of MY family. Having these films is so special and a joy to give to the families that I work with.

So if you’d like to book a family photo shoot or a film of your family life then click here and we can have a chat!

https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/contact/