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/


Family Skiing Holidays Belinda Grant Photography

Family Skiing Holidays - My Top Tips

Family Skiing Holidays – My Top Tips

I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced family skiing holidays since I was just 7 years old. With an annual trip to the Austrian Alps as a child, I soon caught the bug for all that skiing brings. Fresh air, snow, speed and later on the apres ski! With holidays from all across the European resorts and as far as Whistler in Canada, I’ve stayed in budget chalets, travelled on coaches for 24 hours and stayed in 5 star hotels. Holidaying with friends and family I’ve notched up quite a lot of experiences, good and bad,  along the way.

Black and white skiing Belinda Grant Photography

Now with 2 young children of my own, who I hope will also catch the skiing bug, I feel I’m well prepared each year for what a family skiing holiday brings. Here, I share my top 10 tips for making sure you  and your family enjoy plenty of hassle free family skiing holidays.

1. Do your prep work: Money, insurance and passports.

So you’ve booked your holiday…..yippee! But this isn’t like a summer holiday when you can just fling some sun cream and a bikini into a case and off you go. No. To get the most out of your holiday, there is plenty you can do before you go. Firstly, this is not a cheap holiday. Be prepared for lots of expenses whilst you’re out there and the prices are usually much higher than you’d expect. You might expect that you can get a caesar salad up the mountain at 2,500m at lunchtime and yes you can, but you’ll pay significantly more than you would in your local gastropub at home.

Everything is expensive so start creating that skiing fund as soon as possible. Ensure your bank cards will all work abroad. For this you may need to contact your bank and take your money with you. You may be charged a hefty fee for accessing funds whilst you’re out there.  Make sure all your passports are in date and that you have insurance which covers you all for winter sports. Please do check your passports are valid for the duration of your holiday. You don’t want to be ready to check-in and be left behind!

Essentials for your holiday

 

The insurance is particularly important as I discovered when my niece broke her leg on the mountain on the last ski run of the day and the blood wagon was called. Once she was whisked down the mountain, the ambulance that was waiting to take her to the Austrian krankenhaus (hospital!) insisted on seeing her insurance before they would put her in the ambulance. Since then, I always photocopy a copy of the insurance documents for everyone in the family so that a folded copy can be put in each family members ski jacket pocket.

2. Take a dictionary……you’ll thank me!

A really useful item to pop in your suitcase is a dictionary for the country you’re going to. Not only can you give your children a little bit of a French lesson whilst you’re away, as well as brush up on your own French, but it can be a life saver.

The first skiing holiday I took my children on, nearly put me off ever doing it again. We were all sharing a family room in a hotel in the beautiful Austrian Alps and both children had diarrohoea and vomiting for 5 days. Not only did I miss all but one afternoon of skiing, but the children were so unwell we had to take them to the nearest doctor. Well, thankfully, I was on holiday with my mother who ALWAYS takes a dictionary with her. So when I was in the waiting room at the GPs I had to brush up on what the German was for diarrhoea and vomiting! You should never assume that the universal language of English goes beyond anything other than discussing the weather and asking where the nearest loo is.

This wasn’t the only time I’ve needed medical help whilst on a family skiing holiday, the previous time was when my now husband had a chest infection and with no dictionary in my pocket, I ended up having to mime very badly (acting was never my strongest talent) in a French chemist in front of a very bemused group of elderly French!

3. Getting There.

There are plenty of ways to get your resort. I’ve gone by train, plane, and car and I can honestly say that there is no one way of getting there that is better or worse. You really have to consider what works best for your family and this may vary depending on the ages of your children. This is a time when you may indulge your children in using their screens. I’m not suggesting that they have their heads down and headphones on for the entire journey. I think you should show them where you’re going and give them a sense of the journey. But I’ve found that you can use the screen time to your advantage at various points of the journey. No one likes waiting 2 hours to take off or queuing for check-in, so just use the screens wisely and you’ll arrive at your destination less frazzled.

Screen time

Flying: Flying is probably the most obvious and is often included in the holiday you’ve booked. I’ve found the best time to fly is to get the first flight out of the UK and also on the return. Why? Children never mind being woken up to go on an exciting journey. However, if your children are anything like mine, they crash out and get grumpy as the afternoon progresses and the last place you want to be is in an airport abroad at 5pm with a toddler having a tantrum. No amount of breadsticks or Haribos will help you as you’re struggling to find your taxi to transfer you to the resort. I find it hugely benefits the whole family if we get to the resort by lunch time. Everyone has a chance to settle in, even have a snooze and get ski equipment all picked up ready for next day.

Flying early will also help you avoid the crowds and delays that occur at airports during the busy season. There will be plenty of other people off on their family skiing holiday and I’ve experienced small airports, such as Geneva, which are rammed during the skiing season. It’s not a place you want to be with your family.

Us at Stansted waiting for the first flight to Geneva.

Airport. Belinda Grant Photography

Your other consideration with flying is how much ‘stuff’ you can take. If you’re brilliant at packing this won’t be a problem, but family skiing holidays bring added extras which can seriously increase your baggage. Read on to see my tips on what to pack!

Driving: For my most recent couple of skiing holidays, my husband and I decided to drive with our 2 young children to France. What I loved about this was that we could pack whatever would fit in the car and had no deadlines except for our tunnel time through the channel tunnel. Yes, it took 24 hours with an overnight stay, but we all arrived in the resort feeling relaxed and the European motorways you cannot even compare with those in the UK. They never seem to be congested. If you drive you can buy yourself a tag for the car that you register before you go (a bit like having an account for the Dartford tunnel) and as you reach the barrier at the tolls for the motorways, it register that you’re there and just bills your account. No rummaging between the crisp packets for your euros!

What you must remember if you drive is that you’ll need several things in your car including high viz jackets, breathalisers and snow chains. You can buy a Euro travel kit from Amazon:

AA Euro Travel Kit

For a full list of what you need for each country, as it can vary, go to the AA for a list.: https://www.theaa.com/european-breakdown-cover/driving-in-europe/driving-in-france

As for snow chains, if you think you’re going to drive for your family skiing holidays, it may be worth investing in some snow chains. You’ll need to check which ones will fit your car. Popping into your nearest Halfords is a good place to start: https://www.halfords.com/motoring/travel-accessories/snow-chains-socks or I found a really helpful website where you can hire snow chains and they can give great advice: https://www.snowchains.com/hire-snow-chains.

Train: My favourite! I remember my mother had a fear of flying when I was growing up. So getting to the Austrian Alps was a bit of an adventure. This was the eighties, and back then you could travel by train all the way from Paris to various ski resorts across Europe. I used to love this. I have amazing memories of these family trips when as a family of 5 we’d board the train, and with our toothbrushes and a picnic, find our compartment and get settled in for the journey. As each compartment slept 6 people we always wondered who would be joining us and when. I’d feel slightly sorry for them as I knew that joining a family would possible not be their preferred option.

Once aboard, my parents would relax and open a bottle of wine and get the holiday started! There’s was nothing for them to worry about so they could let their hair down safe in the knowledge that when they woke up we’d be seeing snow outside the train window. Having done this journey for several years with my family, I’ve plenty of stories to tell…..but that’s for another blog!

4. Medical Kit

medical kit for holidays

Yes, you are going to need to take some. Don’t get stuck in a foreign country without your own medicines that you’re family may need. Not least of all because medicines in Europe will have different names, dosages and instructions. Along with the usual thermometer and Nurofen, I always take antiseptic spray and a small bottle of Dettol. Useful in plenty of ways particularly if you find someone has a dodgy stomach whilst you’re on holiday. so what’s in my kit? Here’s my list:

Thermometer, plasters, antiseptic spray, antiseptic cream, Dettol, blister plasters, micropore tape, menolin patches, cold pack, hot pack, deep heat,  nail scissors, tweezers, Sudacrem, arnicer cream, Nurofen, paracetamol, Piriton, Calpol, Dioralyte, Strepsils, laxatives and Imodium.

Also remember that you’ll need sun screen and lip balm. I usually take a very high factor cream that will last the whole day with just a top up at lunch time. So we take a large family bottle to keep in the chalet and then we each have a small tube and a lib balm for the mountain. The sun is super strong on family skiing holidays and its all too easy to burn. There’s plenty of really good sun screens on the market so there’s no excuse.

I remember in the eighties when we weren’t quite as educated about the dangers of the sun and to have a tan was glamorous (hooray for the spray tan!) and we met a lady skiing who had beautiful brown skin. At lunch time on the slopes, she’d bring out this small bottle  of orange carrot oil and massage it into her face. No sun protection at all. The following year, someone very close to me who I won’t mention (not me!) decided to do the same. To say that she burnt is an understatement. She was in severe pain and was unable to ski or be out in the sun for several days.  Sunburn is dangerous, looks shocking in photos and clashes with your ski wear! WEAR SUN SCREEN.

This may seem a lot and I hope that most of it doesn’t see the light of day, but I know that I’ve got what I need just in case.

5. Ski School

Please, please, please, get this booked well in advance of your arrival in the resort. During peak season, ski schools become really busy and may not have availability when you get there. I’ve made this mistake and my children, who were aged just 5 and 6, could only go in the afternoons last year. This meant that we were slow in the mornings to get going and they were skiing from 2-5pm every day. By 5pm they were exhausted and it was getting dark and cold. I’d pick up 2 very tired children that had no energy for enjoying any downtime in the chalet and only just managed to get some supper before nodding off.

Boy in red jacket skiing Belinda Grant Photography

Most ski schools now have an online booking system, so as soon as you’ve booked your holiday you, or your holiday operator, can make the booking. Check out the prices with the company you booked with as they may get a discount that you can take advantage of.  Also check where and when the ski school starts. Different ski schools start on different days and the meet up points can vary across the resort so make sure you don’t miss your class.

Toby excited about ski school and carrying his own kit!

ski school Belinda Grant Photography

Yes, adults do need to go to ski school too! Now I admit, I stopped ski school in my teens but that wasn’t until I had ticked off attending all the class levels and now it’s paid off. You may hate the idea of going ‘back to school’ as a grown up, but you’ll be very grateful that you did, particularly when you’re children start to literally overtake you on the slopes! You’ll find your family skiing holidays very limited if you’ve not put the ground work in. If we’re not prepared to go to ski school to learn properly, I don’t think we should be expecting our children to go. I spent many a miserable week in a class of German children who didn’t understand me but I knew that the rest of my family, including my parents, were also putting themselves through this. Or so they told me!

ski school

ski school

ski school

Over the years, I also noticed that when you’re socialising at home and the question ‘Can you Ski?’ comes up, this can be interpreted in so many ways and people will NEVER hold back on letting you know how great they are on the slopes! Despite this, sometimes when I actually get to see them click into their skis and watch them as they make their way down the first red run of the holiday, my expectations are not met and my heart sinks as I watch them just about get down the mountain with speed and no grace and narrowly missing several children’s ski classes snaking down the mountain. All the gear (and chat) no idea springs to mind!

And for those of you who don’t need to go to ski school, if you’re going to a new resort, it’s a great idea to get a ski guide for a day. They’ll help you find your way safely around the mountain so you can make the most of the resort and keep safe. They may even show you some off piste trails with staggering views that make it worth that extra expense.

6. What to pack.

Don’t forget your sunnies!

sunglasses Belinda Grant Photography

If you’re like me, I used to find it a nightmare packing for family skiing holidays. Aside from obviously needing ski clothes which I’ll list later, I used to worry about the ‘home clothes’. What I’ve taken with me has varied over the years, dependent on time of year and what type of accommodation I’ve been staying in. So when I’ve stayed in a  5 star hotel with my parents where there is a sit down dinner every evening, I’ve needed to take smarter clothes but when we’ve done self-catering with the children, I’ve managed to get away with my most comfy hoody and joggers.

What I do recommend though is that you take clothes that you’re comfortable in. Despite this being a skiing holiday, when you hope to spend most of your day in your ski clothes, you’ll still need a comfy pair of jeans (not just the pair you travelled in)  and your favourite jumper to go out for meals and for when you go into the town or just have  a day off the slopes. Forget your big chunky knits. They take up far too much space in your suitcase and in most resorts, they keep accommodation and restaurants toasty warm.

When I’m packing, I usually double things up. So I take 2 of most things with a few exceptions. I’ve found this is a good start to seeing how much you’ll need. My children usually spend the whole week in their ski clothes either on the slopes and then when they get back to the chalet, running around in their thermals. So here’s what’s in my family case:

Each person:

  • Ski clothes – Ski jacket, ski trousers, hat, goggles, sunglasses, snood and 2 of the following:  ski socks, underlayers, middle layers,  gloves, balaclava.
  • Home clothes: – pair of jeans, 2 tops, 2 jumpers, 3 pairs of socks, 10 pairs of pants. Yes 10…if your’re children has an accident.
  • Shoes – Apres ski boots, Crocs and the shoes/boots you normally wear with your jeans at the weekend.

Here’s Hannah aged just 2 fully kitted out for the slopes – such attitude!

 

Extras for all the family you may not have thought of:

  • Small back pack which I use as my hand luggage and then I wear whilst I’m skiing. I find this much better than stuffing my jacket pockets with all that the family may need up the mountain. My children also each have a small back pack that they use as hand luggage. I tell them that they can put any toys in it they’d like to take and they have to carry them on the journey.

family skiing holidays belinda Grant photography

  • Multipack of pocket tissues. Everyone gets a runny nose up the mountain.
  • Haribos – just buy one of the party bags which has lots of smaller packets. The children will need these for their snack up the mountain when they’re in ski school.
  • Pack of playing cards and a couple of your favourite DVDs. It’s a great time to watch that box set you’ve been meaning to!
  • Chargers and European adaptors. Make sure you’ve got them for your phones and tablets etc
  • Take your passwords!! On occasion I’ve had to re-sign into a web page or e-mail account (although I’m not meant to be working on holiday) so make sure you’ve packed them so you don’t get caught out.
  • For young children, paper, pens and their favourite book is really helpful when they need occupying without a screen.
  • Camera…..of course! I take my Sony Alpha 6300 with 30mm 1.4 Sigma lens and ND filter for photography and filming. We also take our Apeman (like a GoPro) to get footage on the slopes.
  • Swimming clothes and towels if you’re lucky enough to get to a pool.
  • Stickers. These are to stick onto hired ski equipment so you can identify your own kit.
  • Salt and pepper if you’re self catering.
  • Washing powder
  • several bars of your favourite chocolate for up the mountain.
  • Make sure you make a note of all your individual weights. You’ll need this info when you’re hiring your skis.

 

If you’re on your first family skiing holiday, you may want to borrow your ski clothes from a friend. Ski clothes can be very expensive. If you think that you only wear them for 1 or 2 weeks in the year and your children will grow each year, the cost can really mount up. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have a friend who has children of ages near to yours and you can either swap the clothes or take them off their hands each year. That way, they get something back for them and you get nearly new ski wear at a fraction of the price. If you are considering buying new ski clothes for your family and you have both boys and girls, try to find colours that will suit them all so they can be handed down.

Family skiing

7. Meals

The food available is usually pretty good if somewhat expensive. Expect prices to be similar to eating out in the UK so you can end up spending a lot more than your normal weekly shopping budget.

If you’re self catering, you’ll need to find a supermarket. Most resorts will have a Spar or similar, which will have what you need but it will be pricey. When you’re nearing your arrival to your resort, it’s a good idea to look out for the nearest hypermarket. They are much cheaper than the supermarkets in the ski resorts and have a better selection so if you’re driving, it’s worth stopping off to get a few essentials before you get to your accommodation. During the day you’ll be needing lunch and snack stops. Again, this can be expensive. If you’ve had a good breakfast, you can get away with just a sandwich for lunch which not all mountain restaurants will have. What we’ve done is either make sandwiches in the chalet and pop them in the back pack, or just had a big bowl of chips for lunch. After a couple of days around the mountain, you’ll get to know where the more affordable places are to eat.

Hannah aged 2 tucking into spaghetti!

spaghetti face Belinda Grant Photography

You’ll use a lot of energy skiing so not only will you be tired at the end of the day but the whole family will be hungry. For ease, we’ve tended to eat pasta or just something easy. I know one mum who chooses to drive for her family skiing holidays, always packs a slow cooker in the car so before the family all whizz up the mountain, she puts everything in the slow cooker and its ready when they get back…genius!! The benefits of self-catering are that you can eat when you want and what you want which is great with a family. I know it means I have to cook, but I’d rather cook than have a scratchy 5 year old asking me when the next meal is in a hotel.

If you’ve chosen to stay in a hotel then you can relax a little more about food. The down side though is that food and drinks are not always available when you want them. What is really nice though is if you can a few supplies in your room. My parents used to always have a bottle of Cinzano keeping cool on their balcony and a bag of pretzels in their room. As a family we’d sit in their room for a family drink and some nibbles before going to the hotel dining room. It was a lovely time of day when we could relax and just be a family.

Also, to go back to when my children were ill, when they needed just some plain food it was really difficult to get this in a hotel. I found my best option was to visit the supermarket for what I needed. If I was to ask for some plain boiled potatoes (in my best German!) the hotel would happily provide it but it would come with melted butter and parsley all over it. Not what I wanted to give to a toddler getting over a bad stomach.

As I’ve said, eating out is expensive. But you are on holiday so you should have a break from the cooking! Even if it’s just a pizza and a glass of wine, if someone else has got it ready, I’m happy. Check the opening times of the restaurants. Don’t assume that they’ll all be serving food from 6pm. We’ve been caught out when we’ve taken our young children out for a meal only to discover that the restaurants didn’t open til 7pm by which time my children would be needing bed. Also, if you’re going to a resort in peak season, the restaurants will be busy. So make sure you book so you’re not disappointed when you get there.

It can be difficult on a family ski holiday to make everyone happy at 6pm. Particularly when you’ve got children of various ages. Youngsters just want to eat and get to bed, the adults want a pre-dinner drink and the teenagers just want to eat and run to the nearest drinking hole! It can be hard to find one place that suits all. But don’t sweat about it. My advice is to make sure the youngest are happy and then the others will fall in place. In a resort we visit in France, we’ve found a restaurant called ‘Le Pub’! which was brilliant. Despite its naff name, we loved what they had to offer. The children could all get their pizza and the adults got their cocktails and prosecco. So by the time the children were fed and ready for bed, we would make our way back to the chalet to put the children to bed and have a grown up supper. Perfect.

8. Ski Equipment and Ski Pass

 

children with ski pole Belinda Grant Photography

Usually your tour operator can help you with this. Giving you advice and slight discounts from the prices in the resort. If not, again like the ski school, you can usually book this on-line making it much easier when you arrive in the resort.

Ski boots. Belinda Grant Photography

However, you must try your ski boots on when you collect them. They all fit really differently a bit like trying on a pair of shoes in a shoe shop. Remember you’ll need to give the staff in the ski hire shop your weight.  Yes, I know its not nice but you can whisper it to them! Seriously, this is important. The fitters will alter your the bindings on your skis according to your weight to make sure that if you fall, and you will, that your boot is released from the ski to avoid injury including a broken leg.

On a happier note, if your children are old enough, teach them, or get the ski hire shop how to carry their own skis. Otherwise you end up like a mule carrying their kit around and they get used to it very quickly. Part of family skiing holidays is learning to carry your own equipment.

ski hire. Belinda Grant Photography

When you’ve got your equipment, make sure you make a note of the number to identify them. Just take a picture with your phone. What we also do, is put bright stickers on the kit, a different one for each member of the family so it’s obvious who the kit belongs to. I’ve had several incidents of returning to my skis after lunch at a mountain restaurant only to find that my skis have been taken because someone has mistaken them for their own. Apart from this being a pain, its also dangerous as the bindings are set just right for you and your ski boots. Also, unless you have adequate insurance, you’ll be buying the ski hire shop a new pair. In my experience, they’re not very understanding when this happens and are quick to get you to pay.

Helmets. The most important piece of kit. These have now become compulsory in some resorts and certainly advisable every where. It’s almost unthinkable that we never wore them whilst I was growing up. They were only for the professionals. Like not wearing any sun screen, it’s really only vanity that stops anyone being sensible enough to wear a helmet. The ski hire shop will have plenty but if you know that you’re going to have further family skiing holidays in the future, then its a great thing to invest in. Not only are they much more comfortable, but there are some pretty slick looking ones out there. I’d rather look slick in my helmet than have a head injury.

ski helmet belinda grant photography

Ski passes. This is fairly straight forward. Although you might want to take a few minutes with a ski map just to check the area of the resort that you plan to ski. Some resorts, such as Flaine, are part of a larger skiing area. You can choose which area you have a pass for. So if you know that you’re only going to ski in a smaller area, then just buy this one for the week. Just remember that buying individual days ski passes and increasing your options can cost you more. Your ski operator can also help you out with these along with your ski school and equipment so that when you arrive in your resort they are ready for you to collect.

The weather

Of course you’re hoping for the perfect conditions for all of your family skiing holidays. You expect colder weather in the January and February and then it becomes warmer towards the end of March and April when spring is more than on its way.

Gargellen Austria Belinda Grant Photography

However, be warned and be prepared. The skiing conditions can be just as variable as a British summer. I’ve being skiing in February in glorious sunshine and perfect powder snow and then 5 days of non-stop snow in April meaning we were skiing knee deep in fresh powder snow with very limited visibility.

Skiing in the Snow

 

So my advise is just to be prepared to be flexible. Not only with the number of layers that you’ll need but also with where and when you can ski in the resort. With high temperatures meaning your day can be short as the snow becomes slushy and runs become closed and colder snowy days with poor visibility leading to possible avalanches, closed runs and icy snow. This is when it’s really great to be with a ski instructor. They truly know the mountain and can help you make the most of even the worst conditions. Mind you, poor skiing conditions have always given me a great excuse to start the apres ski early!

10. Stick with what you Love

 

Love skiing Belinda Grant Photography

Over the years I’ve skied in lots of resorts, mainly in Europe but also in Canada. My parents have been returning to the same resort for 40 years and even book the same room before they leave each time! During my teens and early twenties I was keen to see what other resorts had to offer and started experiencing lots of different resorts with varied skiing.

Each time I’ve been to a new resort, besides the excitement of finding out how it would differ from previous destinations, there’s the challenge of having discover some essentials for your family skiing holiday. This includes not only the basics of where your accommodation is in relations to the supermarket and lifts, but also where the ski school office, where they meet in the mornings, where the ski hire shop is etc, etc. The list is quite extensive.

Skiing with competent skiers and grown up children who can ski makes finding these differences out fairly easy but isn’t without its hiccups. What I’ve found since I’ve had my own children, is that once you’ve found a resort that works for you and you’re familiar with, there are huge benefits to returning. Family skiing holidays are fast paced and you need to be organised. Knowing where and when ski school starts, where the bank is, what time the lift pass office opens can all give you peace of mind and make the holiday just that bit easier.

Aside from this, it’s lovely to return to your favourite mountain restaurant or knowing where you can get the best vin chaud and hot chocolate! There’s something hugely reassuring when you know the runs in a resort and can plan your ski day knowing how long it may take you to get down the mountain for the end of your childrens ski school day. It also can bring some reassurance when the visibility is poor if you know your way around the ski trails. There’s nothing worse than being in the freezing fog and wind at the top of a ski lift and having to get the ski map out. I’ve had many a mountain domestic dispute, a bit like following a map into the west country, on which route to take to get us down without getting lost.

ski map Belinda Grant Photography

Another wonderful thing about returning to a resort is that if you’re a competent skier, you can start to venture a little more off piste. Although I recommend that you have a private instructor for your first venture into unpisted territory as it can be dangerous going off the recommended ski runs.

off piste skiing

A finally note:

Just relax! Yes family skiing holidays are hard work and expensive. From the prep work back at home to trying to squeeze all your stuff back into your suitcase on the last day of the holiday but it’s the best holiday you’ll ever have and it’s something that you can take at your own pace.

family relaxing on holiday

I’ve skied with expert skiers who start at 8am and only stop for a quick bite at lunch time and then they’re off til 4pm. And I’ve skied with the more relaxed friend who’s idea of skiing is skiing from one hut to another to sit in the sun with a drink in their hand! From babies to grandparents, if you’ve found the right resort, family skiing holidays have something for everyone.

With these top 10 tips for successful family skiing holidays I think I’ve only really touched the surface of sharing my experiences with you. Over the forty years of skiing I’ve done, I’ve got 40 years of stories to tell but some are only to be shared over a vin chaud up the mountain!!

If you’d like to share any tips for family skiing holidays, just drop me an e-mail, I’d love to hear from you. https://www.belindagrantphotography.co.uk/blog/

Family Skiing Holidays Belinda Grant Photography


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