Mini brand shoot day at Pomalo - 12 Oct 2023

Claire Williamson

Need some new branding photos for your business?

My mini brand shoot days are a great opportunity to get some fabulous new headshots and branding photos that you can use for your website, social media and marketing (without booking a full personal branding session).

I’m running my next mini brand shoot day at beautiful Pomalo this October – a stunning house and event location near Tunbridge Wells. It has both indoor and outdoor space to use, so lots of options for photos (see link below for details).

Each session is around 45 mins which allows time to create some headshots and other branding images with a few different backdrops, so you’ll get a variety of images to choose from.

There will also be a hair and make up artist on hand if you would like professional hair and/or make up before your session and I’ll also give you tips on what to wear.

Location details

Pomalo is located at Pembury Hall, near Pembury/Tunbridge Wells. It has a courtyard area, converted stables, art studio and gardens – all beautifully styled so there are lots of lovely backdrops to use. There is plenty of parking available and coffee on arrival. Find out more about Pomalo here.

Hair and make up

The very talented Deborah Hall, of Hall of Fame Styling will be on hand if you would like professional hair and/or make up before your session. I have worked with Deborah for a number of years now and can highly recommend her.

If you’d like to find out more about what it’s like to have your hair and make up done professionally and read some tips, please have a look at this article.

Timings and cost

The sessions are each around 45 mins – please contact me for available time slots left (please note 12th Oct is now FULLY BOOKED).

Please note that you’ll need to arrive about an hour beforehand if you’re having your hair and make up done (half an hour if just hair or just make up).

The cost is £150 and this includes 5 edited high res images (to be chosen from your gallery). Additional images can be purchased afterwards if you decide you would like more.

In addition, you’ll get consultation time beforehand to help you prepare and advice on what to wear.

How do I book?

Please contact me (preferably by email) to book a space or for more details – claire@littleolives.co.uk

Currently the mini brand shoot day on 12th Oct 2023 is FULLY BOOKED.

However, please contact me if you are interested and I can put you on a waiting list. I am also hoping to run another one shortly and you can be the first to hear when the next one is arranged!

Find out more about regular headshot and personal branding sessions here or have a look at the branding gallery to see images from other sessions.

“I recently booked a branding shoot with Claire, I wasn’t sure what to expect having never done one before. Claire was so helpful and shared lots of tips on how to get the most out of my shoot. She supported me through the whole process, from thinking about my branding colours, the images I needed, what I wanted to convey and my outfit choices. She booked a hair and make-up artist who helped me to feel at my best for the shoot. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and felt relaxed and at ease with Claire. She is a gifted photographer and has created the most beautiful photographs I feel so proud of. I feel she really understood what I wanted to convey and has captured my message perfectly. Thank you Claire” 

Samantha Goddard Rapid Transformational Therapy, Sevenoaks Kent



Hair and make up tips for your branding session

Claire Williamson

– So are you thinking about booking a branding shoot and wondering what is involved? Or maybe you’ve booked your session and are starting to prepare. There’s quite a few things to consider, such as choosing the right location and deciding on your outfit choices, but what about hair and make up? Should you book a professional hair and make up artist or is it fine to do your own?

I get asked about hair and make up a lot when helping to prepare clients for their shoot, so thought it would be useful to put together this article. The photos are from a recent branding shoot with Samantha Goddard who opted to book a hair and make up artist. Sam specialises in helping people with anxiety and eating issues using Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) and needed a new portfolio of images for her website and social media. We did her shoot at beautiful Pomalo last autumn (scroll to the end to see some of the images from her shoot).

I hope you find this article helpful, whether you are still considering a branding shoot or preparing for an upcoming session.

Should I book a professional hair and make up artist?

So is it worth booking a professional hair and make up artist (HMUA) for your branding shoot? Well this is completely up to you of course – some clients are confident doing their own hair and make up and that is absolutely fine.

However, having decided to invest in a photographer to create some lovely new content for your business, I think it’s definitely worth considering professional hair and make up as this can really help you feel confident and to look your best on the day. It can also take some of the stress out of getting ready as you can just turn up to your session and let someone else do all the work!

I work with a lovely HMUA, Deborah Hall from Hall of Fame Styling (pictured above and below). I’ve been working with her for a few years now and she meets us on location before the shoot which is really convenient for everyone. Some artists specialise in either hair or make up, but Deborah does both which works really well for a branding session.

I asked Deborah to provide some tips on how best to prepare if you are having your hair and make up done. She’s also given some tips for anyone doing their own…

How to prepare if having your hair and make up done professionally

Here are some tips from Deborah on how best to prepare if she will be doing your hair and make up on the day

  • Please wash and blow dry your hair the night before or on the day and avoid using any additional products, especially serums.
  • If you need to do a little taming with a straightener, that’s okay, just don’t overdo it. You want your hair to be as natural as possible.
  • If you need to tie your hair up or back beforehand, do this as loosely as possible, so as not to flatten your roots.
  • In terms of skin preparation, do your usual skin-care routine, but it’s a good idea to gently exfoliate your face the night before, and drink lots of water!

On the day itself…

Deborah says “Please arrive without any make-up on, as starting with a super clean face will save us time”

“Let me know how you usually wear your hair and make-up and feel free to show me pictures if that helps. Let me know if you have any worries or concerns as I’m sure I can answer these and help put you at ease”

Hair and make up products…

Deborah says “The make up products that I use are all premium brands that are cruelty-free. Your make up will be applied in a way that shows on camera but still looks really natural, so you will look and feel like yourself. This is especially important if you do not wear much make up on a daily basis.

I also use several different products and tools to help style, tame and finish your hair on the day itself.

I will be very happy to answer any questions you may have and provide my professional point of view and advice before we start”

Tips for doing your own make up for a shoot

Here are  some tips from Deborah if you are doing your own hair and make up

  • Always apply your make up using natural light e.g. near a large window (but avoid being in direct sunlight as this creates harsh shadows and uneven light).
  • Use a primer if possible to help achieve an even finish and Deborah recommends a light to medium foundation, blended well.
  • Avoid make up with any shimmers as these reflect light back towards the camera. This includes eyeshadows, bronzers and even some foundations. Avoid using a highlighter for the same reason.
  • Don’t overdo it with foundation and eyeshadow – less is more, particularly with more mature skin (although 25 years and over is classed as mature!)


Find out more

If you are intersted in booking a branding shoot then please don’t hesitiate to get in touch for a no-obligation chat to discuss your requirements. I would love to hear from you. You can find all the details on my headshot and branding session packages here

You can find out more about how to prepare for a branding shoot in this previous article How to prepare for your personal branding shoot – 5 Top Tips

Find out more about Sam Goddard and Rapid Transformational Therapy on her new website here

Finally huge thanks to Andrea at Pomalo – such a stunning location which was perfect for our shoot. Find out more about Pomalo here

Thank you for reading!


Branding shoot with Jess from the TN card

Claire Williamson

– So last autumn I did a personal branding shoot for the lovely Jess Gibson who runs the TN card. We had such a fun morning, it was brilliant working with Jess and I wanted to put together a blog post with some of my favourite images from the session. So here I am finally getting around to it!

The TN card is a reward scheme that supports local independent businesses in and around Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks. You can join as a business (TN partner) or as a member to enjoy exclusive deals when you shop local and this in turn helps the local community. I have used my card over and over in cafes, shops and restaurants and even to save money on theatre tickets. It’s well worth joining!

We discussed the images Jess wanted, outfit choices and potential locations over a consultation call before the shoot. Jess opted to do the shoot in Tunbridge Wells, mainly around Chapel Place where there are a number of independent shops and cafes that are TN partners. We met on a chilly morning in October and Jess chose a black dress and stunning camel coat which just looked fabulous and worked so well for the autumnal feel of the shoot.

We started in the Pantiles area and then worked our way down to Frampton’s cafe bar and kitchen on the corner, which was a great backdrop for some cafe shots (I love shooting through cafe windows!). We then headed up to Chapel Place – actually one of my favourites parts of Tunbridge Wells with it’s cobbled pavement and eclectic mix of cafes, bars and boutique shops.

Jess collected some shopping bags from some of the TN partner shops so that we could feature them in the shoot. Many thanks to Gray and Co, The Silver Sheep and Gabriella Jewellery for the loan of the bags. We took lots of shots of Jess ‘shopping’ around Chapel Place and then finished up with a coffee and a few photos outside Hudsons cafe.

It was great working with you Jess, what a lovely morning it was. Jess now has a range of images to use on her website, marketing and social media. I’ve enjoyed seeing her images popping up everywhere and they have been particularly integral to the launch of the new TN card app. You may also have seen them on banners advertising the TN card (and the new app) around Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells.

If you are a local independent business, do consider joining the TN card as a partner and everyone should join as a member! As well as supporting local businesses, the TN card actively supports West Kent Mind, with a percentage of membership fees going to the charity. As a TN partner myself, I currently offer £25 off a family, headshot or branding session.

So if you are in need of some new headshots or branding photos to showcase your business, make the most of the TN card reward and get in touch. Autumn is the perfect time of year for some outdoor shots (or combine indoor and outdoor in a branding shoot). Find out more about business and branding sessions here and do contact me for an informal chat, I would love to hear from you.

Huge thanks again to the independent cafes and shops that featured in the shoot.


1950s styled family shoot

Claire Williamson

– So here we are in the midst of the third Covid lockdown in early 2021. I’m unable to do family shoots at the moment due to the pandemic, so thought I would catch up with writing some blog posts (something I don’t get around to often enough!) and I really wanted to write a blog about this very special family shoot from last autumn.

Melinda and her family are originally from California but work has brought them over to live in the UK. I actually met Melinda through a local mums in business networking group. She runs a very successful aromatherapy business and has authored two books on essential oils, a subject she is very passionate about.

This is the third year that I’ve done a shoot for this family and each year the theme has been different, so when Melinda contacted me about booking in another session, I was excited to hear what she had in mind. 1950s no less! Well why not? And so the preparations began.

Location and styling

The first thing was to set about finding a location which is perhaps the most challenging aspect to get right as the setting is so key to the final images. We also had the Covid pandemic to contend with of course, so had to factor that into any decision about where to do the shoot.

One option was to see if we could get permission to use an old vintage railway station but then we would have needed decent weather and as it was the end of October, this couldn’t be guaranteed. Melinda had also suggested the A21 American Diner in Kent so we contacted them and luckily they allowed us to hire out the whole restaurant for a couple of hours after closing.

Melinda then set about finding a hair stylist who could do 1950s hair and ordering suitable clothes for everyone. She also sourced props like old-fashioned Coke bottles, popcorn tubs and vintage suitcases.  So much effort was put into all the little details and they all looked absolutely stunning on the day!

Day of the shoot

On the day itself it absolutely poured with rain so we were very relieved that we were doing the shoot indoors! We had to wait for the last customers to leave the diner and the staff to clean down and tidy up before we could start.

By the time we got going it was twilight and not long until it was practically dark outside. The restaurant was also quite dimly lit, so flash was needed throughout the session. I used on-camera flash for ease as we were moving around a lot (and bounced it off the ceiling to soften the light).

The shoot itself was a lot of fun athough we had to work quickly as we only had the diner for a couple of hours. I must thank my lovely friend Karen Cain who came along on the day and was such a huge help with adjusting the lighting in the diner when needed, setting up props and mopping up after the odd coke bottle got spilt!

After the shoot

We were actually really lucky to have been able to go ahead with the shoot as on the following day (Halloween!) the Prime Minister announced a second lockdown which came into effect just a few days later. So the shoot was in the bag and considering the many challenges, I was really pleased with the end result.

Melinda had wanted this shoot to be special, as a couple of the girls will be off to university later this year. It was such a great project to work on and I’m sure they will all enjoy looking back on the photos as the children grow up and go their separate ways.

Thanks Melinda for this lovely testimonial that she wrote afterwards…

“I love working with Claire. My demands are far from standard and she is always up for the challenge.

I don’t have a lot of photos of myself growing up. I think there are maybe 3 photos from my first 2 years of life? And not that many more until I was maybe 5 or 6. Those were not good times for my family, so I understand why there aren’t a lot of photos capturing it. But I still long for it…

 My annual photo shoot is literally one of my most precious things. The kids know they can return to sass the following day, but on family photo day it’s all about me. And they graciously accept this and give it to me. I treasure it… Thank you Claire for giving me precious memories”

It really does mean the world to me to be able to capture these important memories and milestones and this was such a fabulous shoot to work on, certainly one I won’t forget.

Slideshow

You can see a few more images in this slideshow.

Thank you for reading and if you’re interested in a family session then please do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you! You’ll find all my contact details here.


Autumn at Kingdom in Penshurst

Claire Williamson

– So have you discovered Kingdom yet?

If you’re local to Penshurst or Tunbridge Wells then the chances are that you’ve heard about it, even if you haven’t been there yet.

Set amongst 13 acres of woodlands high up overlooking Penshurst, Kingdom looks like an ancient treehouse. It has become a unique destination for walkers, cyclists, runners and friends/family alike to meet, relax and enjoy some fresh air and nature in a beautiful outdoor setting.

It seems to have become more and more popular and being in Penshurst, we find ourselves popping up there all the time. A couple of weeks ago I decided to take my camera with me to capture it looking at its best with all the autumn colours. Hopefully the photos give you an insight into all that Kingdom has to offer.

Cafe/restaurant and wedding/events venue

Kingdom is home to a café/restaurant which is usually open 7 days a week and is a great place to meet for morning coffee or lunch/brunch.  The whole ‘treehouse’ can also be hired out as a unique venue for weddings, parties and other special events. I photographed a 50th birthday there earlier this year. You can see some of the images in another blog post here.

Health and fitness

Kingdom also has all your exercise and wellness needs taken care of. It houses a yoga studio (run by Verity of Verity Megan Yoga), has a purpose built outdoor exercise area (you can find out more about classes with MZ9 Fitness here) and is even the setting for a weekly Park Run on a Saturday morning!

There is a track through the surrounding woodlands that makes a lovely walk but is also used as a running track (do as many laps as you like!).

The Hidden Hut

There is even a shop hidden underneath the ‘treehouse’ selling beautiful homewares and gifts, known as the The Hidden Hut (usually open Fridays-Sundays).

Personally, I like to head up there for brunch on a Sunday or a mid-week coffee with friends. We might have a walk afterwards and the children can play in the ancient ‘Seven Sisters’ chestnut tree or enjoy the swings in the woodland.

Kingdom during lockdown

We are currently mid-way through the second lockdown of 2020. With our options for places to go and things to do being so limited, it’s wonderful to have somewhere like Kingdom just on the doorstep.

Adapting to the lockdown measures, they are currently doing take away hot drinks and ‘click and collect’ meals. They’ve also opened up a food market selling fresh local groceries and other artisan products in place of the restaurant which has temporarily had to close.

So whether you’re after a walk, somewhere to exercise or simply a ‘socially distanced’ meet up with a friend, then you should definitely give Kingdom a visit.

And if you’re reading this past 2020, here’s hoping this pandemic is behind us and we can all enjoy the full benefits that Kingdom has to offer. I can’t wait for that!


Find out more

Find out more about Kingdom on their website here.

Find out more about family shoots with Little Olives Photography here


Apres ski themed 50th birthday party at Kingdom in Penshurst photographed by Claire Williamson of Little Olives Photography

Apres ski themed birthday party at Kingdom

Claire Williamson

– As I sit here writing this, we have just entered the second lockdown of 2020 and with all the restrictions that entails, it’s actually quite hard to conceive of friends and family gathered together for a party at this moment in time.

Deborah and Gary were so lucky to be able to go ahead with this fabulous party back in February at Kingdom in Penshurst. It all looked quite magical on the night and I was delighted to have been a part of it.

They both love skiing and so Deborah came up with the idea of an après-ski themed party to celebrate Gary’s 50th. Kingdom in Penshurst is just like a tree-house amongst the woods and was the perfect venue for it.

The party ideas were brought to life by the very talented Estelle and Aphrodite of Dilly + Diti. They styled the venue so beautifully and on a chilly February evening, it really did feel like being in the Swiss Alps!

There was an Alpine inspired dinner, including a wonderful fondue, cake by the amazing Claudia of Purple Flour and the evening was finished off with music downstairs and lots of dancing to the incredible Abalicious, an Abba tribute band.

The party was a surprise for Gary so we all had to keep it hush hush in the run up to the big day. Deborah invited friends from far and wide and I think Gary was absolutely blown away by it all. Happy Birthday again Gary and thank you Debs for inviting me along to capture it all.

I have really missed the weddings, parties and events this year. Here’s hoping we can celebrate again with friends in the not too distant future.

If you would like me to document your party or special occasion then do get in touch. I would love to hear from you! You’ll find all my contact details here.


How to prepare for your personal branding shoot - 5 Top Tips

Claire Williamson

So if you have booked a personal branding session (or are thinking of booking one) then you may be wondering what is involved and how to prepare for it.

It’s certainly worth putting some thought into the session beforehand as this will help you get the most out of our time on the day.

Your shoot includes a pre-session phone consultation with me, when we can take time to discuss your business and your brand, the key shots that you are after, what location might work best and what you might wear.

These tips should also help you prepare and ensure that all goes smoothly on the day!

1. Brand analysis

It’s really worth doing some research beforehand and thinking about your brand, what it means and what messages you would like to convey.

Have a think about…

  • Who your ideal client is, can you describe them?
  • What makes your business unique?
  • Your personality and how you want to come across to your clients
  • Your brand colours and the overall look and feel that you would like to create for your website and marketing

We can use all this information to help create a portfolio of images to showcase your brand.

2. Create a Pinterest board

If you’re familiar with Pinterest then this is a great way to create a visual ‘mood board’ of the sorts of images you would like to take away from your branding session.

Search Pinterest for images that appeal to you and align well with your brand. You can then create a board which can be shared with others. This should also help prompt ideas for location and what to wear.

3. Choose a suitable location

Your personal branding session is bespoke to you so we can choose the most suitable location, depending on you and your business. I can travel to you if you work from home or have a studio that you would like to incorporate for example.

Otherwise we can choose another setting that will help to reflect your brand. It could be somewhere rural or more urban. There are lots of options for a great backdrop in Sevenoaks or Tunbridge Wells for example. We may even be able to use a local café if we call ahead for permission.

Again, we can discuss location options during your phone consultation and I’m more than happy to suggest places that may be suitable.

4. Create a shot list

So by this stage you should be ready to create a shot list which is really useful for keeping everyone on track during the day (the time can go very quickly!).

Have a think about where and how you will be using the images. Do you need any wide banner-style images for your website for example? Or perhaps you need a new profile image for LinkedIn or some new images for sharing on Instagram.

Make sure you prioritise the list so that we start with the most important shots.  An example shot list might include:

  • head and shoulders image
  • medium headshot, waist upwards
  • sitting at desk, working on laptop
  • relaxed shot on the sofa
  • working in the studio
  • close up of hands while working
  • lifestyle shots of your workplace.

5. Plan what to wear, and your hair and make-up

It’s really worth having a think about what you will wear as this can make a big difference to the overall look and feel of your images.

Everyone has their own style so wear what you feel suits you. It’s also really important to feel comfortable with what you are wearing on the day.

I usually suggest bringing a couple of options for your upper half so that you can change your look during the session. This will give you more variety in your images overall.

Here are a few top tips:

  • It’s best to avoid very bold stripes and patterns (subtle patterns are fine)
  • Avoid wearing all white or all black if you can, as these colours are tricky to photograph well.
  • Off-white/cream, neutral or other seasonal colours are all fine.
  • Bring along a few accessories such as a scarf, necklace or earrings.
  • Try to bring one piece of clothing (or even a scarf) with some colour in as that can really add to the images and helps contrast with a plain background.
  • If you have a particular ‘brand’ colour then think about incorporating this into your clothing as well.

It’s worth thinking about the season too whether spring/summer or autumn/winter as different colour palettes work well in different seasons.

In terms of hair and make up, some clients are happy doing their own hair and make up which is absolutely fine. I would recommend wearing your usual make up on the day.

If you would like your hair and make up done professionally then I can recommend a local make up artist, Deborah from Hall of Fame Styling who has done make up for many of my previous clients.

Many thanks to Hattons of Tunbridge Wells for permission to use their cafe for some of the photos above.

Any questions?

I hope this article was useful but if you have any more questions or are thinking about booking a branding shoot then do get in touch, I would love to hear from you! You’ll find all my contact details here.


There But Not There - The story of the Penshurst silhouettes

Claire Williamson

The silhouettes have once again appeared in Penshurst Church. This moving installation, known as ‘There But Not There’ was created by Martin Barraud, local artist and photographer from Penshurst and first installed in the Church in November 2016. The aim was to “take the names off the wall and bring them back into the village psyche” and to encourage visitors to the church and the Remembrance Day service as attendance had been falling over recent years. We had no idea then, that the idea would eventually evolve into a national project and a new charity with the silhouettes appearing in churches not only nationwide but across the world.

We have visited the installation each year and every time I find it so moving. The children come along and ask lots of questions about the silhouettes, why they are there and what happened during the war. It helps them understand the significance of this part of our history. There are now 52 figures in Penshurst Church, representing 51 men that were lost from our village alone, with another figure that has no name (representing the 526,675 soldiers who have no known grave). Each figure has a name block, with brothers and cousins sitting together.

This year (Nov 2018) the installation has even more significance as we approach Remembrance weekend which signifies 100 years since the signing of the Armistice agreement and the end of the First World War.

‘There But Not There’ has now evolved into a national charity, ‘Remembered’ that is raising funds for a number of veteran charities through the sale of table-top sized Tommies (see below for link if you would like to purchase one of these).

As we approach Remembrance weekend, life sized Tommies have been appearing all over the country, from St Pancras Station in London to The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. Silhouette installations have also appeared in churches up and down the country, and can even be found just now in St Margaret’s Church next to Westminster Abbey. Perhaps even more incredible is that the project has gone beyond our shores to the United States, Canada and Australia.

The project aims to ‘Commemorate, Educate and Heal’. The Tommies are made by ex-service veterans employed by the Royal British Legion Industries, and so far the There But Not There project has raised over £2 million for veteran charities.

To think this all began in our little village is quite an incredible story and as a photographer I feel compelled to try and photograph the silhouettes each time we visit (not always that easy!). So I thought I’d put this article together with some of the photos I’ve taken, to help tell the story of how the silhouettes first came about.

Martin Barraud, Penshurst artist and creator of the silhouette installations

This week is Armistice Centenary week in the village and there are a number of events to mark a hundred years since the end of WW1.

On Friday 9th is the event ‘Voices – a centenary war scrapbook’ – you can bring and tell your own family stories, letters and poems from WW1. There will also be drama featured as well as conversation with the artist himself, Martin Barraud about the ‘There But Not There’ project and how it all began.

On Sunday 11th at 6pm there will be a special Candlelit Armistice Evensong at the Church. This is to be followed at 7pm by the lighting of the Penshurst Beacon outside the village hall and then a special village centenary event ‘Penshurst Remembers’ in the village hall itself. Tickets are available for this at the village shop. All other events are free to attend.

There will also be a WW1 exhibition in the village hall all weekend and the silhouette installation will be in the Church until 6pm on 15th Nov.

It’s going to be a busy weekend in Penshurst but if you do nothing else, please make sure you visit the ‘There But Not There’ installation in the Church. I promise you will be moved by it and your children will take a lot from it as well.

If you would like to find out more about the There But Not There project or purchase a Tommy from the Remembrance Collection, please visit https://rbli.co.uk


Tips for photographing your children in the snow

Claire Williamson

We’ve just had the biggest snowfall here since about 2010. Many of the schools are closed and children up and down the country are making the most of it, out enjoying themselves sledging and building snowmen. It’s the perfect opportunity to get some lovely photos of your children and you may not get the chance again for a few more years, so whatever you do, make sure you get out there with your camera to capture some of those memories.

Taking decent photos in the snow is not all that easy though. The camera is faced with a very bright, white scene and tries to compensate, often leading to quite dull and underexposed images. Also the scene is very cold and as a result, images can look quite ‘blue’. However, there are a few things you can do which will see a vast improvement in your images. Read on to find out more…

Which camera and lens is best?

If you have a ‘proper’ camera, like a DSLR then it’s really worth getting it out as you will get much better quality images than when using your phone. However, if all you have to hand is a phone camera, then use than too. You can still have a play and try some of the suggestions below. It’s always better to have some images, than none at all so just use what you have!

If you have a choice of lenses and are not sure which one to go for, then I find a mid-range zoom lens is ideal as you can capture lots of different scenarios – including close-ups and wider scenes, without needing to change lenses (which is tricky if you have very cold hands!). I have a 24-105mm f4 lens which I often use when I’m out and about. You can also get some fantastic images using a prime lens (with a fixed focal length) such as a 35mm or 50mm lens. Although these have a fixed focal length (no zoom), they usually have a very wide aperture which is great in low light.

Image above taken on a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom lens

Image above taken on a 50mm f1.4 prime lens (at f3.2)

What time of day is it best to take photos in the snow?

The light changes throughout the day and even in winter, the light is better for taking photos in the morning and evening, rather than the middle of the day. In the morning and evening, the light is softer and the angle lower, making scenes look prettier, especially when there is a covering of snow on the ground. In the middle of the day when the sun is high, the light is flatter and less interesting. So get out as early as you can and avoid around 12-2pm ideally.

On snowy days you might have sunshine or it could be quite overcast. If the sun is out then all the better, as this will give warmth to your images and can even be used quite creatively. You can either shoot with the sun behind you (which works well if the sun is very low, late in the day, as you can use the sunlight to light your children’s faces). Alternatively, you can try shooting into the sun (with the sun behind your subject) which can give a lovely glow behind your children’s heads. If the sun is low behind the subject then this can look really dramatic (see images below).

Image above taken in full sun (sun behind me) just before sunset

Image above taken shooting towards the sun (again it was nearly sunset)

On cloudy days, try and work out where the sun is coming from (you can hold up your hand to try and work out the direction of the sun), then try and make sure you use that light and get your children facing it. This little bit of light, even on a cloudy day, will help brighten your subject and you’ll have a better exposure as a result.

How should I set up my camera?

Again if you have a DSLR or other camera with adjustable settings, you can make some simple adjustments to improve your images in camera. As mentioned above, cameras tend to underexpose snowy scenes as they ‘see’ a lot of brightness and try to compensate by giving a darker exposure. You can change this in manual mode but if you don’t want to play around in manual, try using ‘exposure compensation’ and setting your camera’s exposure, say one stop higher than it would otherwise have been. This will give you a slightly brighter (and therefore better quality) image.

Also because snowy scenes are quite ‘cold’, your images may render a little ‘blue’ so you can compensate for this by changing the camera’s white balance. I often use the ‘shady’ setting which has the effect of warming your images up. You could also try the ‘cloudy’ setting or manually change the white balance in K (to around 6400K).

You may still need to make some adjustments with some basic editing afterwards to get just the image you were after. All of the images shown have been edited (in Lightroom) but I always try to get them as close to what I am after in camera, to save on editing time afterwards.

Both images above taken with white balance set to ‘shade’ to give a warmer image

Suggestions for variety and composition

So you have your camera all set up and your children are wrapped in layers from head to toe, and you are ready to head out. But what kinds of images should you be trying to take? I always try to take a wide variety of images, including close-ups and distance shots. It’s amazing what you get if you try lots of different things. Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Take some lovely individual close ups of each of your children. Snowy backgrounds make for some really beautiful portraits. If you know how to adjust your settings then go for a really wide aperture (low f stop) to make your subject stand out from the background.

2. Take a few group shots as well – it’s lovely to get a group of children together when they are having fun in the snow. Get them to huddle up close, as this creates a better composition.

3. Stand back and take some photos from a distance so that you get the whole snowy scene together with your children having fun.

4. Try and get some action shots – sledging, running, throwing snowballs, whatever. It’s great to get some movement. You’ll need a fast shutter speed or put your camera into ‘sports mode’ if that setting is available. Shots of your children running towards you or walking away always make lovely images as well.

Save, share and print!

Finally, don’t forget to save your images and make sure they are backed up, even if you are just using your phone. Always try and print some too as that is one form of technology that won’t fail. If your hard drive fails or memory stick gets lost, you will always have your prints as memories.
I hope you manage to get out there with your camera in the next few days and take some fantastic images. Do share them too, I can’t wait to see some of them!

Thank you!

Finally I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to my friends and neighbours whose children I have been borrowing to photograph ever since the first snow fell. Thank you for letting me share the images in this post 🙂


The other side of the lens...

Claire Williamson

So I had been thinking about booking a shoot with another photographer for a while, partly to experience being the other side of the lens for a change and also to get some proper photos of the girls and me together so that I’d have them to look back on (I’m not in that many family photos as you can probably imagine as I’m usually the one holding the camera!). So when I saw that Kay Young was offering mini sessions over half term, I Jumped at the chance and booked a session. I have trained with Kay before and love her work, she does portraits and weddings and has a beautiful fine art style.

I​ actually really enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from it. As I’m usually in the photographer’s shoes, it was enlightening to experience the shoot from the client’s point of view. I thought I would write a bit about my experience here and hopefully this might also help prepare some of you for a forthcoming shoot, if you are thinking of booking a session soon…

Preparation

So the mini session was booked for an afternoon during October half term. In the back of my mind I had been thinking about what we might wear, however on the morning of the shoot itself, I felt completely indecisive and ended up throwing quite a selection of outfits in the bag as I just couldn’t decide. Also having little time left to do the girl’s hair (three girls, it takes a while!), I threw hairbrushes and a selection of hair accessories into the bag too, hoping for the best.

This might all sound like a lot of fuss over nothing, but I know Kay’s gorgeous style and I wanted to make sure we all looked our best. After all, I want to look back and enjoy the photos for many years to come. Another reason for booking a professional photographer is that you make more effort with clothing than you would when you’re usually out and about which of course makes for the images being that bit more special.

So I’m now much more aware of the time it takes to get ready and my advice would be – think about what you are going to wear in advance and leave enough time on the day to get everyone prepared! Many of the families that I photograph typically have much younger children than my own so you may also need to allow time for last minute potty trips/nappy changes/packing essential comfort toys as required. Not forgetting preparing a few drinks and snacks just in case, as hungry children do not make good subjects of course!

Arrival for the shoot

When we arrived at Kay’s house, she immediately put everyone at ease. We chatted for a bit about photography (obviously, could chat all day about that) and she helped with our final outfit selection. A quick hairbrush and we were on our way…

The shoot itself

I find the girls quite hard to photograph myself these days (much harder than other people’s children) as they are really not interested. I am always trying to take their photo and the novelty for them has long worn off. So I was hoping they would respond better to someone they didn’t know photographing them. And fortunately they did…. but not for long! Kay has a lot of experience photographing children of all ages and she is amazingly quick. The girls had probably had enough after about half an hour and started to play up. Fortunately, Kay had already got plenty of shots in the bag by then so we could relax (and possibly a little bit of bribery on my part might have been involved!).

I loved watching her work and was intrigued to find that she was using an 85mm 1.2 lens for most of the shoot, coupled with a 135mm f2 lens. I don’t have a 135mm lens (yet) but I love my 85mm lens (I have the 1.8 version) and find I’m finding myself using it more and more. All these are prime lenses so have a fixed focal length but they are generally smaller and lighter than zoom lenses and if you find one that you love then you can get away without using zooms at all.

Here are a few of my favourite images from the session…

When the girls had had enough, we moved to another location close-by for a few last photos. Kay had some tricks up her sleeve, like glitter which the girls had fun with towards the end of the shoot, creating images like this…

Headshots

Kay also offered to take some headshots for me which I was thrilled about as I needed some updated headshots for my website and social media. This was a good experience again as I do a lot of professional headshots myself so it’s good to experience being the other side of the camera. I must admit to feeling a little self-conscious and struggling with whether to smile and how much to smile! I know we all feel like this when our photo is being taken (especially if it’s a photo of just yourself), so as the photographer, I try to put people at ease by chatting to them and even trying to make them laugh and giggle. You might not want to be smiling in all your photos, but it’s good to get a variety and laughter always makes for a very natural expression. You can find out more details about my headshot sessions here.

After the shoot

After the shoot we went back to Kay’s house for a bit (the image below was taken outside her front door) to gather our things. She showed me some examples of her fine art prints and we discussed when the images would be ready and what was included in the mini session package. After a bit more photography chat we said our thank yous and headed off home.

Delivery of prints and images

I must admit to being very excited about receiving the images. The last time I booked a professional shoot was when the girls were very little and before I got into photography myself. I’m so happy that I still have that excitement and becoming a photographer hasn’t changed this.

Kay sent me through the images on a gallery to choose from. As you can imagine, I was delighted with them all and I ended up buying most of the digitals, allowing me to share them and make my own prints. She also included one fine art print in the package which I’ll have framed and put up on the wall.

I’ve just ordered some art blocks using the black and white images of the girls which will go up in our hallway and a large multi-aperture frame which I will now be offering to all the families that have photo sessions with me (details to follow once the samples arrive).

Top tips

So if you are thinking about booking a photo session or have one coming up, my top tips would be….

  • Put some thought into what you are going to wear beforehand as clothing can make all the difference to the final images.

  • Allow plenty of time to get ready for the shoot on the day (especially if you have girls!) including choosing outfits and doing hair.

  • Pack plenty of snacks and water to keep the children going just in case they get hungry or for a comfort break during the session.

  • Relax and enjoy the session itself and let the photographer direct you. If you want any particular shots, then just say. It’s always useful for the photographer to know if the children have a favourite game, for example or if you’ve always wanted a shot of the family over that garden gate.

  • Order lots of prints from your session and frame them straight away. Wall art prints are also a lovely option to display your images. Don’t delay printing as you might not get around to it!

  • Finally enjoy looking at your images and sharing with friends and family. You will always have them to look back on and treasure for many years to come.

I am really pleased that I booked this session as I have some gorgeous images of all of us to treasure and keep. I hope this post is helpful and if you are thinking about booking a family or children’s session then do please get in touch for more details. I am planning some mini sessions similar to this one in the spring. Do keep an eye out for more info or get in touch if you would like me to email you with the details and dates.