Five Reasons To Book A Maternity Shoot

Today's post has me a little nervous. Because, while I wholeheartedly believe what I'm about to say, it means me putting more images on this blog of yours truly. Not something I relish. I tend to prefer to beautiful interiors images, pretty views or more recently photos of my sweet little babe. But that's also kind of the point behind this post. That while you may be like me in your dislike for appearing in photographs, it's actually a really lovely and special thing to do from time to time. Getting pregnant wasn't quite as straight forward as I may have anticipated (you can read more about our journey here) and so it felt right to record this special moment. That while I felt even bigger than usual, it was a precious miracle that was cooking away in my belly and that deserved to be celebrated.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

I'd seen Siobhan Calder on Instagram (here and here) and loved her images so it felt like a natural fit to ask her to take my portraits. Siobhan has a magical way with light which is so different to my usual predilection for bright, white (often overexposed) shots. I knew that she'd capture this quiet moment for us beautifully and we'd be left with images to treasure forever. I wasn't wrong. Usually my first thought upon seeing myself in photos is to zone in straight away on my appearance. Don't we all do that? It can be the most amazing photo and all we see is our flaws. But these photos were different. Instead of seeing flaws and feeling uncomfortable, my initial thought was just how happy I looked and even now looking at them takes me back to that moment of excitement waiting for our little Tallie to arrive. It felt like the most effortless shoot, too. Siobhan and I chatted over cups of tea and she snapped away all the while. There were no cheesy forced grins or awkward poses. I didn't fancy doing any full on belly shots and that was fine because she captured me. The bump is there, just not taking centre stage. She knew where the light was and played to that (on one of the greyest days in January!) and it all felt so easy. A surprisingly fun morning for a camera shy person like me. And now that Tallie is here and B and I are already often found looking at pictures from when she first arrived, I also find myself going back to these photos too. From when she was still safely nestled in my belly. I was full of cold, but felt that strange mixture of calm and excited a month before my due date.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

So, if you're pregnant and sitting on the face debating whether to have some maternity photographs taken here are five good reasons to do it...

IT'S A PRECIOUS MOMENT

Pregnancy is one of those amazing moments in life that makes you go 'wow'. It's probably why perfect strangers see fit to reach out and touch your bump, or stop to chat asking all the usual 'when's it due?' questions. Bringing life into the world really is a miracle. And pregnancy doesn't happen everyday, or more often that a few times in a woman's lifetime, so it's precious. I don't know if I'll be pregnant again and so recording this treasured moment was something that felt really right for us. 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

PREGNANCY IS BEAUTIFUL

Ok so depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy you might be contending with morning sickness, swelling, nausea or feeling super achey. And this might make appearing in photos feel less that appealing. But you still look gorgeous. Trust me, you do. I loved my big bump as for the first time in ages I didn't feel self conscious about my tummy! Looking back at photos of yourself from pregnancy you'll see your lovely bump and remember your little one growing inside you - you honestly won't see your swollen ankles or anything else you might otherwise be hung up on. 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

THE MEMORIES WILL ENDURE

There's something magical about photographs that means that they capture more than just a moment in time. They capture so much more - the smells, the emotions, the sounds... As I said earlier, my own maternity photos remind me of the grey day in January, when I was full of cold and downing copious amounts of warmed honey and lemon. The house was as still as can be, with lights on and candles flickering. Anticipation filled each room as we waited and prepared and imagined what life might soon look like. If feels so special to be able to look at images and have all this conjured up time and again.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

IT'S FUN

Pregnancy can feel a bit like a slog especially towards the end. So taking time out just for you to sit, rest and generally reflect on it all is really lovely. And if you decide to have photos taken with your partner and any other children it'll be a happy moment for you all to enjoy together as you anticipate your new arrival. I found the morning with Siobhan so calming and enjoyable - which totally surprised me as ordinarily I feel so tense having my photo taken. It was just her and me as B was at work and it just felt like hanging out with a lovely friend, I was barely aware of her snapping away.

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE IT

Obviously Tallie is still to young right now but I imagine that as she grows she'll be keen to see photos of her as a baby and photos of her as a bump. I think it'll be such a special thing to enjoy looking at together as I tell her stories of how I felt, what labour was like, how we first felt to be parents. I love hearing stories from my own childhood and it makes me happy to think of passing similar memories onto Tallie. Of course, these portraits don't need to just capture you. They could be images of corners of your home, sweet gifts you've been given or particularly treasured items. For us, these other photos included ones of our sitting room, some sweet crochet booties and a precious print with a bible verse on. (You can see the print more here). So not only will Tallie be able to see my bump and me, but she'll get a little peek at what her first home looked like too. (I wonder if it'll seem as weird and outdated as when I look back at our first home and its furnishing way back in the 80s and 90s?!) 

Five Reasons to Book a Maternity Shoot | Gathered Cheer blog | Photos by Siobhan Calder

So, have you had maternity photos? Would you like to? Let me know in the comments below, or find me on Instagram! 

If you're looking for a photographer I'd so happily recommend Siobhan. Go see her amazing work here.

-x-

All photos shot by Siobhan Calder


Styling the Seasons + Makelight | November Winner!

Hello, last day of November. How did you get here so fast? I know I sound like a broken record, but honestly this year is just flying past. If November is anything to go by, 2016 will be here in a blink. I'm determined to savour each moment though - whether that means breathing in the cold crisp air as I wander around London, or giving myself permission to light every.single.candle in our home on nights in. (Hygge, yes?) As you may recall, this month's Styling the Seasons, was a super special one, as Katy and Charlotte joined forces with the lovely Emily Quinton at Makelight. The prompt for November was to style up a seasonal flat lay. And, since I assist Emily in her gorgeous Makelight studio, I was delighted to join Katy, Charlotte and Emily in picking a winner - not that it was an easy decision to make! There were so many amazing flat lays on instagram (take a peek at the full #STSxMakelight feed here), and also on some lovely blogs (see the pinterest board of all these here).

In the end though, we needed to pick one winner - and that winner is Katie from The Vintage House That Could. We all agreed that Katie's flatlay, incorporating sweet copper fairy lights, velvet and delicate dried flowers was so beautiful and perfectly fitting for November. 

Here's a peek at Katie's seasonal flat lay...

The Vintage House That Could / Styling the Seasons x Makelight winner November | Gathered Cheer blog

And some more of Katie's images from her blog...

The Vintage House That Could
The Vintage House That Could
The Vintage House That Could
The Vintage House That Could

Well done Katie! (By the way, you can follow Katie over on Instagram here).

Thank you so much to everyone who joined in this month :) Roll on December's Styling the Seasons and some much-loved sparkle! 

x

All photos styled and photographed by Katie at The Vintage House That Could


The Smug Shelfie Breakfast

Hi friends, hope you had a super weekend. I wanted to share some pretty pictures from a fun morning I had a few weeks back, which have been slightly delayed as things have been a tad hectic lately! When the lovely Amy {from Rumour PR and the blog Daisy Fay Interiors} and Tiff {from Curate & Display} invited me to join a lovely breakfast and styling session at Smug, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Now, you might remember me waxing lyrical about this beautiful Islington store a little while back when Smug turned five, so having the chance to go back was a delight. Smug's founder Lizzie Evans has curated a stunning selection of must-have items, from homewares to stationery. Needless to say, giving a group of bloggers pastries, coffee and then letting them run wild styling their own 'shelfie' was a recipe for a lot of fun!

The plan was that we each had a shelf to style up however we wanted, using any of the covetable items for sale at Smug, hence the 'shelfie' references - much cooler than a 'selfie', in my opinion. A big shout out must also go to HipHop & Bloom, who provided the most gorgeous floral arrangements for us to use in our shelfies. Just look at how pretty they were...

I was totally in awe of the other blogging ladies as they confidently set to work {see below for links to their blogs}, I was also a tad overwhelmed by the sheer amount of pretty we could pick from. It's one thing styling up a shelf at home when resources are finite, but in a shop brimming with beautiful items there's no such problem! In the end I kept things super simple, choosing a fresh and light colour scheme and only a few items.

I've long coveted Ali Miller ceramics, so I knew I had to make this stunning teapot, teacup and saucer the main part of the shot. The soft blush tones were further enhanced with the cheering Seventy Tree chopping board {which is now also firmly on my wishlist!} A sprig of eucalyptus finished this simply styled shelfie. It felt 'me' in so much as I am often drawn to these soft hues, and love things that feel calm and minimal.

Here are the other shelfies that were styled oh-so beautifully:

Courage & Dash

Oh and I couldn't resist striking a pose with the blooms - they were so pretty! Big thanks to Charlotte from Lotts & Lots for snapping this...

Thank you so much to Tiff, Amy and Lizzie for a fabulous morning!

-x-

Styling the Seasons - October

Hello, and a very happy Wednesday to you all. Well, in contrast to yesterday's glorious blue sky, London today is grey and chilly. Autumn has most certainly arrived. To mark the occasion I am delighted to finally join in the 'Styling the Seasons' fun which for the past month has filled my instagram feed with the most beautiful images of autumnal delight. The idea was conjured up by the lovely Katy from Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte from Lotts and Lots. The challenge is to style a surface in your home, reflecting what the months means to you. The hashtag {#stylingtheseasons} has been literally brimming with pretty. What's also been super heartening is that it proves just how everyone's interpretation of the seasons, of the spaces in their home and how to style them is unique and personal. There is no wrong answer. With all that in mind, here is my styled surface. The fireplace in our dining room. It isn't a working fireplace {I don't think}, so it serves to put pretty things on., which suits me fine. Having only recently moved here, and since this home actually belongs to my parents I've been taking teeny steps to make it feel more 'us'. Another exciting thing is that along with B and me, my brother also lives here - so it really is a family home. In fact, this plays into this month's styling, as we've all merged our stuff and I'm using it all around the house to make us all feel at home.

Now, I know I've got a zillion things to learn to take brighter photos {and this is one of the darkest rooms in the house!} but seeing these definitely makes me want to give it a fresh lick of white paint to scrub out the marks and brighten the beige. {Adds to never ending home project list} The photograph above the fireplace belongs to my bro, as does the clock and trio of owls. The candle holder {by Hay}, the hendricks bottle and mini cactus are mine. I like how all our different bits and bobs work together well, to create quite a minimal space which mixes old and new.

To avoid things being too brown and bleak, I've added in the touch of copper in the candlestick, the white cactus pot and the bright dried billy buttons. I think this serves to lift the scene a bit. In the coming months, I hope to keep changing up this surface, no doubt always incorporating light, whether from candles or fairy lights. Perfect for the coming winter.

Are you joining in the fun with Styling the Seasons? Let me know, as I'd love to see what you do!

-x-

Makelight: Inspiration

Hello friends and a very happy Monday. Sadly it's rather grey and rainy today, so I'm delighted to share with you a bit of pretty, to hopefully cheer things up a little. As you may know, I've taken two of Emily Quinton's Makelight photography classes {I wrote about them here and here} and I loved them. Emily is an incredible teacher, arming her students with knowledge and confidence to take the photos we all dream of taking. I've certainly felt a whole lot more confident and equipped since taking these classes. But along with getting to know Emily and learning from her, it's also been a joy to be part of the wider Makelight community of students. Coming together in our own Facebook group to ask questions, share blog posts and generally be inspired has been so wonderful. Always positive and encouraging, it's hard to put into words how valuable this community has been for me. Many of the students I met doing the courses have since become really good friends and it's always lovely to see what they are up to, how their photography is developing and seeing what's inspiring them.

So, when Emily set us all a challenge to take a photograph around a given word I was delighted. The given word was 'inspiration'. After an initial mind blank, inspiration indeed did strike, and here is my photo -

I chose to compose this image as a way of representing my current state of mind: excited, bright and full of positivity. I have lots of fun plans afoot, not least a brand new blog, on a brand new platform, with a brand new name and logo. It's all jolly exciting, I hope you'll agree! So for this photo, I played around with colours that felt 'me', a quotation that summed up how I'm feeling, and styled it out with some of my most used pieces of equipment - my pen {of course, as a writer this had to be included} and a pair of scissors to represent the craft and making elements that I'm hoping to bring into my work more often. I also added a few little decorative touches, in the form of a cute little sticker {from Hema}, some 'hello' tape {from Quill} and of course some of my favourite washi tape.

Just this morning Emily posted the full collection of 'inspiration' images from all her students, including me and it's great! I find it so fascinating to see how others interpret the same word, as it speaks to them and their journey. To see their images, and of course Emily's too, head here to see the full post. And stay tuned for next month's new word!

Talking of the lovely Emily, I also want to give a quick shout out about her upcoming workshop 'Defining Your Style'. Hosted with the hugely talented Gudy Herder, this workshop looks all kinds of awesome. If you want to kick your photography skills up a notch, and see how to build inspiring moodboards to define your style then have a little look here to find out more and book onto the course. Incidentally, and please forgive me for bombarding you with links, but I wrote up a lovely Q&A with Gudy for the current issue of Heart Home Magazine. Head over there to read all about her work with ceramics and see photos of her most beautiful studio space.

-x-