Online Photography Course • Ace giveaway

The brilliant thing about social media is you find and follow like minded people. 

I love the supportive and sharing communities I am part of and one of them #blogphotochat has led to a super giveaway for a lucky reader! 

If you are a blogger and looking to take your blog photography to a new level this is the course for you, and if you are not a blogger but would love to improve your photos then hooray - you are in the right place too!

I follow photographers on Instagram and Twitter whose photos inspire me and photographers who I can openly ask for advice and share our passion for taking better photos. Emma is one of them.

emma davies photo

Emma Davies is a talented commercial and fine art flower photographer (I mean you can imagine just how much I adore her work!) based in Surrey and her photos are breathtaking.

emma davies photo

Emma runs a successful program of workshops and courses all of which I would love to go on, and is offering a place on the next online Blog Photography Course which commences on Monday 22th September for one of my lovely readers.

You will win a 28 day course which has been designed to cover every aspect of blog photography with 5 video tutorials each week and access to all sorts of loveliness with Emma.

blog photography course
emma davies photo

All you have to do is tell us why you would love to win the place. 

The competition will close at midnight on Friday 19th September and the winner will be announced on Saturday 20th September.

Good luck! 

And don't forget to join in #blogphotochat every Thursday night at 9pm UK time on Twitter. 

A tribute • Skye B

When it comes to blogging I am a firm believer if you haven't got anything to say, don't say anything at all. And for the last 2 weeks I have been trying to find the words, the right words, to convey my love and respect for the bravest people I know.

On the 29th August my cousin Sally's little boy Skye died peacefully at home. 

I have seen the piles and piles of letters and cards sent to Sally and Andrew, kind messages on their Loom to the Moon Facebook page and tributes on Twitter. But I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers, wonderfully thoughtful people who have been touched by his story and felt compelled to send me a message, an email, a text or a tweet. 

And it's only when you re read every single one again and again that you truly appreciate just how extraordinary Skye was. To at 5, have a voice that has made a mark.

A boy who has made a difference.

No parent should ever lose their child. It's a pain that you can visibly see rips someone's heart out. And it's a pain that you are helpless to heal. How do you learn to live without that child? In all the countless parenting books you read when you are pregnant, there is never a chapter on this horrendous experience. Life carries on, but for them life has stopped. No one can prepare you. No one could prepare any of us for the reality of the day when we lost him and the day we said goodbye.

Skye B, you will never be forgotten. You were mature beyond your years, with a wit that could outsmart children and grown ups alike. We always said, with your soft blonde curls, that you looked like a little angel, and it seems so dreadfully unfair that you are now an angel in the sky.

You have made people think differently about their lives, to be more grateful, more patient. Sally and Andrew put together an incredible order of service for his heartbreaking funeral and shared their own guide to parenting. Points to remember that we all take for granted so easily. 

The best thing you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories.

Sally and I had our boys within months of each other. It is hard to fathom that we won't have 4 boys having adventures. They shared clothes, milestones and both of us share that quest to capture those times with video and photos. And I am so grateful now, because my boys can remember all the happy ordinary family times we've had together.

skye hall
skye hall
skye hall
skye hall

Skye B you have given us so many treasured memories and we will all miss you forever.

He had a final message to all his supportive fans on Facebook. A message that I will strive to live by.

We all need to remember to make the most of what we've got. 

Make the most of every day. And hug your small or big ones a little bit tighter. Now go and find the dressing up, or whatever makes your children happy and make them smile like cheshire cats. 

Linking up with The Ordinary Moments

Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project August

From the age of 6 weeks old I have been visiting our family holiday home in Southbourne. It's the place in the world that I feel truly relaxed and I get hit with a tidal wave of nostalgia that knocks me into a happy place with the full force of childhood sentimentality.

The beach hut is full of photos of all the family and every year we have a week on the sand, come rain or shine. 

Southbourne, thank you for the memories this year. It's such a pleasure to see the boys reliving my childhood, that somethings never get old, feeding the squirrels, running on the bandstand, digging huge holes on the beach. Well this year it was a Red Arrow! 

Southbourne
Southbourne
Southbourne
Southbourne
Southbourne
Southbourne

So here's my Me and Mine for August 2014, recreating the first time we took baby Ollie to our happy place.

Southbourne
Southbourne

Four pairs of long legs! 

Now it's time to head back to Weston and start packing! Moving day is less than 3 weeks away! Somerset here we come.

Southbourne

I've shown you me and mine, now show me you and yours! 

Head over to Lucy's blog and see what her sweet family have been up to. I've been pouring over Lucy's blog this month and her beautiful family portrait sessions they have had and definitely want to book one of our own. I love the snaps we have captured over the Summer but sometimes letting someone else take control of the camera shows you a whole dimension of your family you sometimes miss behind the lens. 

I can't wait to see all your family photos this month.

Loom to the Moon • Blue Skye Thinking

This Summer has been a Summer for family and blogging has firmly taken a back seat. 

I have hundreds of photos to share of our happy times but have run out of time each day to blog them! I have often been guilty of spending so much time recording the moment, rather than enjoying the moment, but was determined this year, to make the most of our holidays with family and adventures with friends before we move.

Of course we all want to share our fun times and there's a strange sense of achievement when you get a large number of "likes" for a photo but this Summer there's only one thing I want you to like. 

If you follow my blog on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook you may have seen me talking about Loom to the Moon, the vision of an incredible little boy.

Skye is 5 and slowly losing his courageous fight against a disease he developed following treatment for an aggressive brain tumour.

Exactly a year ago my sister and I spent a week at our family holiday home in Southbourne and on a sunny day as we sat on the deck of the beach hut we received a call we would never wish on anyone. That our cousin's little boy had cancer.

Sally and I have grown up like sisters and had our sons just months apart from each other. 4 healthy boys who have spent many happy times together and 2 that were due to start school. Except Skye never started school. His uniform was never collected and whilst we've watched with pride as Sammy conquered two milestones this Summer, learning to swim and riding a bicycle, my cousin has watched her darling boy deteriorate. 

We were so lucky that they were able to join us for a day at the beach hut this week, a precious day making memories that will need to last a lifetime.

skye hall
skye hall
skye hall
skye hall

I am often teased in our family for endlessly taking photos. And I always say "You can't get these times back you know!" This has never been more true of this photo of 5 out of the 6 cousins. It breaks my heart to think we won't get the chance again to capture these beautiful children together. And when Sammy kissed Skye goodbye and told him he loved him, I felt like someone had shattered my heart into a thousand pieces.

skye hall
skye hall
skye hall
skye hall
Skye Hall
skye hall
skye hall
skye hall
skye hall 21.jpg
skye hall

Skye encapsulates the word brave. He has exceeded all expectations by undergoing intensive radiotherapy without the need for a general anaesthetic, lying completely still during the frightening process, in a mask that covered his whole face and body like something out of a horror film, and displaying a determination to walk again after his surgical procedure.

skye hall
skye hall

And it feels terribly and painfully unfair that after everything he has been through, he won't share all the happy times we have ahead in the future.

I want everyone to know how proud I am of Skye, what a remarkable son he is to Andrew and Sally and what an inspirational big brother he is to Jesse.

Most recently they have tried a hyperbaric chamber treatment, to try and halt the progression of the disease, and it was in the chamber which felt like a rocket, that Skye suggested they try and Loom to the Moon.

If any of you reading this have spent the last few months cursing these tiny rubber bands, hoovering them up when your children weren't looking, or popping a few ropy lengths in the bin then I need to ask you a favour! Please send them to Blue Skye Thinking, 59 Hendred Way, Abingdon, OX14 2AW, to help Skye achieve his dream of the world's longest loom band.

Over the Summer Sammy and Ollie have achieved some major childhood milestones. Sammy hopped on a friend's bike the other night and suddenly rode around the garden! Both of the boys have learnt to swim, Sammy blowing us away with 3 lengths of a 15m pool, back to back. Ollie decided this week to abandon his armbands and at just 3, is now confidently swimming a width of a 4m pool. We've had play dates with friends, including Sammy's sweetheart Katy. They are both convinced they will get married one day and this innocence is adorable.

Skye has a sweetheart and it's been heartbreaking thinking of all the things he won't have the chance to do in the future. So my cousin gave him a wedding, with his little beloved Ellie! I think these were the photos that stung the most. Seeing the stark difference in such a short time.

skye hall

If you haven't already please pop onto the Facebook page and like it and follow Blue Skye Thinking on Twitter.

You can also donate to Skye at his Just Giving page HERE

Now go and hug someone you love, life is precious.

Free Floral Phone Wallpapers • Summer Collection

There's nothing I love photographing more than beautiful petals and I want to share some of my favourite images I have taken over the Summer for you to enjoy as a phone wallpaper.

Take your pick or download them all! There is a light and bright version of each.

Free floral phone wallpapers

Click on any of the images to download your free wallpaper and I'd love you to tweet me, tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you use them, I adored seeing the photos of people's phones and the Spring Collection set

I also have a special vintage rose wallpaper exclusively for my subscribers. It will be going out on Friday in the next issue of Captured so sign up to receive yours.

Have a happy week full of floral love everyone. I have the orange Dahlia on my phone at the moment!

A Birthday Abroad • The Importance of Family

We have spent the last 2 and a bit weeks in the Spanish hills in a little place outside Altea. 2 weeks of sunshine, swimming pools, sea shores and family.

It has been hectic and I wouldn't have it any other way. Last week my sister Natalie, my brother in law Andrew and niece Yasmin joined us from the UK and the next day my brother Patrick and sister in law Carlotta flew from New York to London to Alicante!

9 sets of shoes at the door of my in laws house, 9 plates at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and 9 sets of booming voices laughing and chatting into the early hours. Well make that 6, we tried to get the kids in bed for 7!

I loved it. I love the noise, the games in the pool, the meals, the stories. It reminds me of family Christmas' where you sometimes had to be the loudest to be heard. In a week Sammy learnt to swim, Yasmin learnt to say Uncle (she's had Auntie down for sometime) and Ollie warmed to his little cousin instead of protecting his toys from her chubby hands!

I loved sitting on the patio, not realising it's gone midnight, knowing the children are all safe asleep upstairs and breathing in that hot humid air that just sets in your memory bank as the smell and taste of Summer holidays. Like the moment you step off the plane and are hit with a wall of heat.

And it was the week I turned 33. And the memories of my 30th came rushing back. I was sent upstairs (just like 3 years ago) and could hear cackling and giggling and a balloon popping as they decorated the house ready for the morning. I had no idea Natalie and Carlotta were still awake at 2am baking cupcakes - now if that isn't love I don't know what is!

birthday decorations

I woke up to the most beautiful breakfast, complete with petals in the strawberries, mismatched bottles and cups full of flowers from around the grounds and gallons full of confetti. The Pretty Little Party Shop kindly sent some wonderful decorations, party napkins, cups, straws, all sorts! I adore the fringe garland and have saved it to tie to a huge balloon another time!

Birthday decorations

Spoilt. Rotten.

Birthday decorations
confetti balloons
birthday cupcakes
birthday breakfast
birthday girl
photo booth diy
birthday breakfast
birthday decorations
birthday
confetti cupcakes
confetti cupcakes
sisters
confetti balloons

After a FaceTime with my Mum back in the UK and a very happy present opening, we all got ready to head to the Fonts D'Algar about 10 minutes from the house. I have always been jealous of our family who have visited the Fonts and desperately wanted to see them for myself.

fonts d'Algar
fonts d'algar

It was stunning. Bright pink flowers lines the sides of the meandering river, with little brooks flowing with crystal clear waters around each corner. Lagoons which transported you to the Brooke Shields film The Blue Lagoon and crossings in the shallow water which made my brother burst into lines from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. 

fonts d'algar
fonts d'algar
siblings
fonts d'algar

The water was chilly, but invigorating and armed with one of my birthday presents, an underwater cover for my iPhone, we braved the waters and headed to the waterfall.

waterfalls

Just stunning and it makes you scream with laughter for no reason! You want to hold your arms in the air and lean back but the water is so tremendously powerful it tips you like a feather falling back into the water!

The best birthday present was seeing Sammy jump off a board about 10ft in the air. What a boy! And my sister was brave enough too!

fonts d'algar
fonts d'algar
fonts d'algar
fonts d'algar
fonts d'algar
fonts d'algar
fonts d'algar

We totally missed lunchtime and headed home hours later than planned with exhausted children, one of them full of pride for his big jump, and lazed around the pool, with the boys making "experiments" before heading into the old town for tapas.

boys
siblings
tapas

As it turns out tapas and tired children don't mix! We bustled them into the car after dinner and home to bed, before a quick cocktail and collapsed into our own beds! How the girls were still awake I don't know!

That's all I wanted. To be with my family. To share an experience.

We had a lovely week with my in laws who flew in as my family all flew home and I made the most of sunny days in awe of Sammy swimming underwater like a fish and Ollie suddenly gaining the confidence to abandon the rubber ring and use armbands. It may not sound like much of an achievement but already I can see he could be swimming without them in a couple of months.

I have something important to post about now we are home, which many of you may already have heard about. Something that you can help me with. But I want to make sure I can share it with as many people as possible. So instead of hoping the wifi didn't crash out, and the boys gave me time to sit at the laptop (which was tricky as we need to watch them in the pool obviously) I want to you ear mark the beginning of next week as your week of good deeds. And if you get a minute read this. #LoomtotheMoon.

Because at the end of a day, it's your family you love the most with all your heart and I felt very loved last week. Time to pay it forward. 

#capturingcolour • Pink

A week of perfect pinks was right up my street! I couldn't wait for a week of pink and it seems all of you couldn't either! 

We had an amazing amount of happy snappers join in in last week with #capturingcolour on Instagram filling my feeds with beautiful soft baby pinks, bright cerise and everything in between.

This was my week of pink.

Pink.jpg
capturing colour pink
capturing colour pink

And these just leapt out at me! This week I loved...

capturing colour

L to R: @onetinyleap@seasidelucy@hattydaze, @fashionyfab, @sonyacisco, @saraho249, @emmiekhall, @locavintage and @lucy_inthe_papersky.

So with Summer holidays and children off school we have something different for August. A RAINBOW month of colour and an opportunity to get your littler ones involved.

Share your colourful photos with the hashtag #capturingcolour and let your children get behind the lens and show us what they capture with #kidscapturingcolour. Let's paint the internet bright with every hue of the rainbow.

#capturingcolour is a weekly Instagram hashtag hosted by My Two MumsMaybush StudioSorry About The MessReal Housewife of Suffolk and Shutterflies head over to their blogs to see what they have captured this week. 

Show us your rainbow brights for the month of August! 

Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project July

Back in April we thought we had found our dream house. But we hadn't. It was a temporary lust and we are so happy fate took over.

July has been the month of certainty. Certainty that we have exchanged and secured our dream forever house, assurance that Sammy has a school place to start in September and Ollie a new pre school and total confidence that we are buying the right house.

We have said goodbye to Sammy's beloved school this month. We watched him proudly hand out his little end of term treats and our hearts ached listening to all his pals saying their goodbyes and wishing him luck at his new school.

end of term

He had a final scoot around the playground like king of the school, had some photos with his chums, hugged goodbye his favourite Year 6 friend who had become his mentor, adorned in her signed t-shirt, (Who else remembers that ritual?!) and we headed for dinner on the beach!

capture by lucy
school days
school days
capture by lucy

We've had one last viewing on the new house this month, taking my in laws to visit for the first time and it was wonderful seeing them love and appreciate the house as much as we do. At one point as we were walking around the garden my mother in law hugged me and giddily said "Oh I am so excited for you all!" And that's how we feel every time we have been there.

This final few weeks as we wait to hear a completion date feels like torture and it may mean Sammy and I have to spend a couple of weeks in a B&B so that he can start school with all the new Year 1 children. But it will all be worth it in the end.

Having a blog is a wonderful way to journal our move and I thought a little video before we get the house officially, would be a nice little tradition to start. I think I will take one on moving in day too.

Turn the volume down - for some reason every time I upload it the audio is dreadful! I've almost lost the will to live!

Music Credit: Philip Philips - Home

capture by lucy

Now I've shown you me and mine, it's your turn to show me you and yours. Link up your family snap from July with all of us. Can you believe this project has been running for 18 months! I love seeing how we are all changing. Older, wiser and one of us has lost a tooth ;)

Pop over to Katie's blog to see her happy family, tanned and refreshed from their Summer holidays. There's a milestone in their house too, a super cute one is walking! 

dear beautiful

Ideas with Chalk Paint • Featuring Laura Ashley

The boys are getting so excited about moving to our new house and giddy about growing our own vegetables in the vegetable patch through the gate from the “secret garden”. I love that they have already commandeered this affectionate name for the part of the garden that meanders behind the tool shed. 

vegetable patch

It’s a magical childhood memory in the making, that made us fall in love with the house the moment we viewed it. The boys understand where vegetables come from, they appreciate you need to eat healthy food to keep you big and strong and I know come rain or shine, we will be donning our wellingtons and heading to our little garden allotment to see what we can eat for dinner that week.

To keep their excitement alive whilst we painfully wait for the contracts to complete in September, I thought of an easy craft idea that requires imagination and fun using the new Laura Ashley Chalk Paint we were sent. A play tray!

chalk paint idea

We painted a plastic tomato plant tray which you can find at any DIY or hardware store with a layer of chalk paint and left it to dry. The paint is easy to apply, “not too drippy” in Sammy’s words and gives an even coverage of a rich black colour and smooth texture. 

chalk paint craft
chalk paint craft
chalk paint craft
chalk paint craft
knitted vegetables

We then added chalk drawn trees for the knitted apples, leaves to add to the lettuce ‘ready to pick’ and labelled our pickings with some spoon garden tags made from wooden spoons painted with a layer of chalk paint! An easy and simple idea for little ones to join in with.

chalk paint craft
chalk paint craft
knitted vegetables

We love that we can just wipe it clean and start all over again, with brown chalk mud! That was Ollie’s favourite bit.

chalk paint craft
chalk paint craft

As soon as we move in we are going to add our labels to all the lovely real fruits and vegetables just waiting for my mini gardeners to tend to and enjoy.

You could also turn your play tray into an easy DIY car or train track too!

laura ashley chalk paint

This post first appeared on the Laura Ashley blog along with some other fab craft ideas with chalk paint. Check them out here.

Araminta Flowers Part 2

Earlier in the year I had a dream photography assignment for a new florist Araminta Flowers based in Basingstoke.

The aim of the photo shoot was to give Marian a bank of content for her new website (which I will link you to as soon as it's live) and images she can share on her social media and for marketing and events.

We had a wonderful day and I was lucky enough to be invited back for another day's shoot this week to capture her wedding bouquets and everlasting arrangements and posies.

purple wedding flowers
Orange wedding flowers
Wedding table centrepiece
Burgundy wedding flowers
Autumn wedding flower ideas
pink wedding flowers

I love that Araminta offers brides and arrangement lovers a mix of real and faux flowers. I made my Mum's wedding flowers a few years ago and we used a beautiful selection of silk flowers. 

Silk flower wedding bouquet
silk flower wedding bouquet
Pink wedding flowers

Of course the Dahlias's and blowsy real roses stole my heart and we were so lucky with the hazy Summer sunny weather, that we could shoot everything under a tree in Marian's garden.

Wedding centrepiece
Pink wedding flowers

I have never been surrounded by so many incredible flowers, buckets of wild flowers Marian had sourced from a flower farm locally and rainbow colours everywhere I looked.

wild flowers
floral photographer
Wedding flower ladder
Silver wedding bouquet
Tea cup flowers
Pink wedding flowers

A blissful days work with a firm new friend!