Miss Maestro

Never work with children and animals they say... yet when the dogs are highly trained working ladradors (and a slightly batty cocker spaniel) and the child is a musical genius, the job is never a hardship. 

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Meet Olivia and her team of gundogs. You may remember the amazing Labrador puppies I shot a few years ago (see blog “Cuteness Overload”). Well those belonged to Olivia’s family. She is one of the sweetest young ladies I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Witty, intelligent and a beautiful musician on both the piano and flute. 

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As a young musician, Ollie spends many hours practising her craft and has performed for large audiences in places such as Exeter Cathedral. To top it all, she is also a wonderful vocalist and is part of the choir too.  

When she isn’t being a musical maestro, Ollie had inherited her mother’s love for animals and can be found working with her gundogs. She has a beautiful connection with her floppy-eared cocker spaniel who is as cheeky and adorable as Ollie herself. 

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Olivia's shoot took place in the autumn where the colours were rich and the light was golden. It was shot on location and for me, was a dream shoot.  

I wish Ollie all the best with her musical adventures and look forward to seeing her again soon (maybe there will be some new puppies to play with too!).

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Until Next Time, Smile For The Camera,  

Love Carly x

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Going for Gold!

I am always intrigued by people. What motivates them, what drives them, what inspires them and how events of their lives can often shape the path of the journey they are on.

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When I was approached to produce a series of images for Libby to submit to a modelling agency, I thought I was about to hear a familiar story of a young girl drawn to the glamour of modelling, who may not really appreciate how hard the industry is to work in. But I was wrong!

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Who I met was a tenacious and gutsy teenager, who every day wakes up and goes to the pool and swims. She goes to school, she comes home and she swims. Libby is a girl with drive, with passion and with her eyes firmly set on an Olympic career in the pool.

But training and competitions do not come cheap. This young lady does not rest on her laurels. Whilst she has full support from her family, she recognises that all these things need funding and modelling is a way to fund this dream.

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Her images had to be shot in natural light, with no makeup and limited editing. And my word - she rocked this shoot. It was cold; she didn’t moan. We used multiple locations; she didn’t moan. We took it in to the studio; she didn’t moan.

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Young girls these days are all snapchat filters and pouty poses - often looking way beyond their years. It was therefore refreshing to meet a young woman who is going to head out into the world and be confident in her own skin, promote health, wellbeing and a positive “fit not skinny” body image to a following of girls who really need role models just like Libby in their life.

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I wish Libby absolute success with both her swimming and her modelling and look forward to watching her career develop over the years.

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Until Next Time, Smile For The Camera

Love Carly x

New Balls Please!

It is that scary time of year again and no I’m not talking about Halloween! I’m talking about that month, once a year, when men attempt to grow the most grotesquely formed moustaches in efforts to raise awareness for Movember - a charity that actively promotes awareness and support for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention to men.

What does this have to do with new balls, Wombles and my photography?

Well, let me introduce you to Flight Lieutenant Alun Pepper.

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Al, Peps, Uncle Bulgaria, Britain’s Manliest Man, Lincoln’s Most Sexiest Person - you name it, he has been called it! But what sets Al apart from the average guy? Well Al took on testicluar cancer and won. On average, approximately six men a day are diagnosed, yet still many ignore the signs or feel embarrassed to see a doctor. This is why Al feels so passionate about openly talking about his cancer and takes his talks to school, colleges and workplaces around the UK to raise awareness and reassure men that it is ok to “talk bollocks” about the UK’s 17th most common cancer.

Let’s go back to 2006 and picture a rather slovenly Peps on a sofa, waiting to be deployed. Like most men, Peps is not shy to admit hands crept south and he was shocked to discover a lump. As an avid cyclist and Lance Armstrong fan, Peps was familiar with Lance’s own battle and wasted no time to make an appointment with the doctor, which lead to an ultrasound. Within four weeks upon discovery, Peps was undergoing surgery to remove a stage one seminoma and received one dose of preventative chemotherapy.

By 2011, Peps had been given the all clear, made ambassador of the charity “Orchid” (a charity that supports men affected by male cancers). He was also crowned Britain’s Manliest Man after gaining a mass social media interest in his story and backing from his amazing colleagues at the Royal Air Force, who also bestowed him the most appropriate of inappropriate nicknames - Uncle Bulgaria. If you are not familiar with the reference, Uncle Bulgaria is a character from the children’s tv series from the 70’s called the Wombles and Peps’ friends pointed out that after his operation, he was indeed a Womble (One Ball…)

Today, Al is still working with the RAF (having worked with the Tornado and Lancaster to name a few) and is raising awareness through his talks. Testicular cancer is reported to have a 98% survival rate if caught early enough and this is why Peps is so keen to raise awareness over raising money. He feels if he can get the word out there, not only of the symptoms but also to reduce the stigma and embarrassment of seeking medical attention then some good can come out of his experience.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

Typical symptoms are a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles, or any change in shape or texture of the testicles and an immediate check up should be made with a doctor . The swelling or lump can be about the size of a pea but may be larger. Basically any change or irregularity should be checked such as:

  • an increase in the firmness of a testicle

  • a difference between one testicle and the other 

  • a dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles or scrotum, which may come and go 

  • a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum.

I was delighted when Al asked me to take some shots for his presentation. We captured his “smooth” side, his work side and took the shoot to the gym where he likes to work out and train for his passion of martial arts.

What Al and this interview have inspired me to do is raise more awareness through my photography; there will be more about this on my social media shortly! With a following of over 12,000 people across my channels, it feels like there is a platform that can be utilised for some good and if one person reading this blog gets health checked as a result then that can only be a good thing for sure.

So I’ll try not to wrinkle my nose at the gaudy sight of lip caterpillars this month, tag me in your efforts and let’s spread the word.

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly x


Too Cool For Skool!

Gone are the days when you would leave primary school with a heavily signed school shirt and a tearful farewell. It is all now about the prom, even when leaving primary school. 

Limos, Harleys, cute playsuits, fancy frocks and a bouncy castle were all the order of the day for the Year 6 leavers of Leigham Primary School who held their prom at Boringdon Golf Club in Plympton. 

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An excited gaggle of girls were first arrived in their eye-popping pink disco bus and were not shy to strut their stuff on the red carpet for the camera. And strut they did as they killed time before the boys arrived fashionably late in their beast of a stretch hummer!

The boys coolly exited their hummer and posed for a group shot before rather awkwardly making their way down the red carpet in the style of the latest Fortnite dance moves!

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The trail of guests arriving in unique ways did not stop at the boys as stunning cars and an escort of Harley Davidsons soon took centre stage. 

Once the red carpet had been worn out, the party could begin with the children enjoying a super disco complete with foam machine, a bouncy castle and my latest Photo Booth set up with funky props!

As the evening drew to a close, the sugar from the sweet cones took hold and a gorgeous sunset appeared beyond the bouncy castle for some stunning children at play portraits. Leaving school is all about retaining friendships and I know these guys will keep fond memories of the children they spent their primary years with. 

To book your child's portrait shoot, please contact me via the contact page for availability. For more details of my new package "The Paparazzi Party", check out the prices page and let your child become the star of their party. 

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera, 

Love Carly

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Puppy Power!

You can never turn down a job that involves wriggling bundles of cuteness, especially of the canine variety. 

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I was delighted to capture the litter of six Old Tyne British Bulldogs before they headed off to their forever homes. 

The different personalities soon came out as the puppies were let loose in a wooded play area for a leg stretch. Inquisitive, shy, adventurous and playful were some of the characters on display as the pups rolled and tumbled up and down the slopes. 

No puppy shoot is complete without the puppies in a basket shot; this time in a steel tub!

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I wish the pups well in their new homes. To book your canine, feline, equine or other exotic style animal shoot, please contact me via the contact page for more details and availability. 

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera, 

Love Carly x

Bellever good time in the woods!

Finally! The weather has been so kind and I was booked to undertake a gorgeous family shoot with a set of cousins (and their mums!) for a special wedding anniversary gift for their Grandmother and Grandfather. Granny was a keen photographer and was wanting some up to date pictures of her grandchildren.

Bellever Woods was a favourite childhood spot for the mums and it is one of my favourite places too due to the variety of settings it offers in a relatively small area. Bridges, rocks, rivers and the iconic five bar gate made great sets for this family shoot. 

As with all my shoots, there was a lot of laughter and none more than from the youngest member of the family, Ben, who didn't stop giggling all morning! Made for some great out take shots though and relaxed the rest of the crew. 

I love family shoots and the mix of personalities they offer so to book yours today by contacting me through the contact page. Now taking weekday bookings for selected dates throughout the Summer Holidays. 

And until next time, Smile for the Camera! 

Love Carly x

Cousin Capers in the Studio

Towards the end of last year, I took the step to create a small portable studio, primarily to cater for newborns and cake smashes but also for portraits when the weather was being all British and rainy!

When I was asked to take some images of five cousins for a surprise 70th birthday present for Gran, I hoped we could go outside but dark evenings and busy schedules meant the studio would for the first time be filled to capacity... and my posing catalogue would be tested to the max! 

It was a really fun session with the cousins: lots of banter, giggling and great opportunities to capture those more candid moments that sometimes make the shoot!

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To book your family photoshoot, either in the studio or now the days are longer in the wide-open, beautiful countryside we live in, contact me via the contact page and we can discuss availability!

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera!

Love Carly x

Freddie's Smashing First Birthday

He was my first newborn. I met Freddie when he was just 7 days old. He was swamped by a gorgeous Mickey Mouse teddy and he stole my heart. He is now the poster boy of my site with numerous revisits to the studio over the year and now he is one, we thought we would pull out all the stops for a smashing good time. 

Cake smashes are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with sets becoming more Americanised in style; elaborate, colourful and creative. With Freddie's, we went all out Mickey Mouse and here is how we did it...

The Set - Bright yellow seamless paper with bright banners and Mickey Mouse balloons in red and blue. The old faithful handcrafted wooden chairs and of course, as many Mickey "Mice" that we could muster up, including the original big boy from Freddie's newborn shoot. 

The Cake - Expertly created by Jodie Williamson, the cake was layered on the inside in the colours of Mickey - red, black and yellow and covering in a super tasty, white frosting complete with a topper of the finest Mickey Ears

The Outfit - Full kudos to Freddie's mum for finding the cutest Mickey outfit for Freddie to wear; you seriously can't take a bad photo of a baby looking this cute!

Once you have the set and the cake, you just add baby and shoot away!

All my cake smashes are now offered with an optional "Splash element" - a great way to clean baby up before taking them home! 

For Freddie's first birthday, his parents also selected to have a lifestyle shoot, of course asking to include a snuggle shot with the now infamous Mickey Mouse! 

To book your cake smash - for any age!!- please drop me an email via the website and we can discuss availability and theme. 

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera, 

Love Carly x

Developing Your Skills with Darren Harbar...

We all start somewhere and for very different reasons. Some of us love photography and fall into aviation; others love aviation and fall into photography and then there are those who from an early age, discover both and their passion has driven their career path and opened doors to opportunities that the majority can only dream about. Darren Harbar is one of those people. 

Graciously humble and endearingly likeable, I had the pleasure of meeting Darren for the first time at the Shuttleworth Collection where we discussed our collaboration for one of his themed photography courses, which took place in May at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Darren had bravely selected me to be his model for the day!

Darren had wanted to be a pilot but for him this route was not an option. Whilst keeping a hand in with the RAF, he started selling cameras which resulted in him becoming an international buyer for Dixons. Photographic publishing came a calling with Darren becoming the editor of Which Digital Camera? magazine and then as the test and technique editor on Practical Photography. Darren's work can be seen in numerous publications and his distinct style is easily recognisable. 

Photo Credit: Darren Harbar

Photo Credit: Darren Harbar

You cannot help but warm to Darren with his laid back and engaging manner - key qualities for any tutor. Everyone who entered the beautifully situated "classroom" in the suite overlooking the runway at Duxford was welcomed and immediately put at ease. There was no air of superiority which can no doubt be the reason why his candidates achieve high quality results on the courses - questions were asked and nothing was too much trouble. In fact, a testament to his success comes from the repeat bookings with some "students" returning for the second or third time. 

What sets the courses aside from others I have attended myself is the accessibility of the content. No jargon, no assuming, no rush. Each topic was covered carefully and each linked nicely to the next (the added attraction of a Dakota on a few of the slides did not go unnoticed by this Dak Darling either!) The location also lends itself to offering something no other location can: museum exhibits, airside access and of course the beautiful range of historic aircraft. 

Once the classroom aspect had concluded, we were let loose in the museum to practise our skills. (Darren kindly let me join in for the whole day which was a lovely bonus.) I hate low light scenarios because,  as my brother will tell you, I have an aversion to digital noise and grain. When you can't use a flash (and ISO "becomes your friend") inevitably noise will occur.  We had exclusive access to the Lightning - allowing us to go beyond the ropes to get up close and personal. 

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As I wandered around looking for details to shoot, I took time to observe the people on the course. Deep in concentration and keen to get it right, it was clear they were all wanting to perfect their skills and each person took the opportunity for some 1 to 1 time with Darren,  asking questions before setting off again to try out the advice he had given.

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I should point out that not everyone had high end equipment or indeed digital SLR cameras - the course is tailored for all abilities and all camera types. Clearly there is an aviation aspect to the course so it was inevitable that most people had equipment suited for shooting fast moving objects at distance but there was one chap who had a compact point and shoot who took home as much experience as anyone else - learning on the day was all relative to prior knowledge and ability. 

Photo Credit: Darren Harbar

Photo Credit: Darren Harbar

Following a lunch at The Workshop, we went airside. This is the first time I can honestly say I have been near aircraft in three inch heels and fur coat! It was time to pose. We started with the Spitfire who clearly outshone me with her graceful lines and historic prowess. Darren talked about using the Spitfire as a backdrop and how to get the best from any model by building rapport and talking them through your vision as a photographer. I didn't stop laughing for the next hour as 11 camera were trained on me. I now have some empathy for movie stars on the red carpet; it is tiring work. We worked through a number of angles and poses - each member of the group directing at some point from sultry and serious to cheeky and fun. 

Photo credit for above to course attendees: Steve Granger, James Benson and Will Russell

It was then time for me to grab my camera as we crossed over the airfield for our slot with the Chipmunk in the air. Everyone was introduced to the art of panning and prop blur - the skills that every aviation photographer desires to obtain. The Chipmunk made several sweeping passes and we were also treated to a pass from a resident Spitfire and Dragon Rapide. 

Back in the classroom to end the day the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone had enjoyed their day, learnt new skills and were excited to take those skills to their next event - for most it would be the Duxford Air Festival. 

What did I get from the day? Well I learnt about a few buttons on my lens that I had never played with before, I reaffirmed that you don't have to shoot on fully manual (it is ok to let the camera to do some of the work in AV and TV modes) and I've acquired new friendships with some amazing people. 

If you are someone who sits at home looking at your images and thinks "I wish it was... sharper, brighter, composed more artistically" then I strongly recommend you check out Darren's website www.darrenharbar.co.uk and find out where and when you can attend one of his courses. Each one offers a different opportunity from Spitfires, Mustangs, models and re-enactors. No matter how long you have been taking photos, you will no doubt gain more experience (and plenty of laughs) through one of Darren's photography days. 

I'd like to thank everyone who attended who made my day so much fun and for all the wonderful photos that you've sent to me to enjoy and to Darren for inviting me along and hopefully I'll get to work for him again soon. 

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera, 

Love Carly x

Because I Was Inverted....

Well as far as birthdays go, this year's was a week long celebration and probably the most epic to date. Not since my mum bought me Daws Moranna (my hugely successful show horse) for my 18th birthday have I had so much excitement to mark the anniversary of my birth. 

It all started last September when a dear friend of mine, James Wheeler, contacted me to say he had recommended me to model for a photography day in Duxford for Darren Harbar. The style would be vintage and he thought it would be right up my street. I'm going to blog separately about this experience as I feel some of you reading this may be interested in the course as it covered a wide variety of skills and techniques that budding and experienced photographers alike could benefit from. Anyway, why I mention this here is because the photography day would put me in Duxford for my birthday,  which leads nicely on to the next thing to happen in February 2018....

It was the middle of the night and I wasn't sleeping well. The sleep demons were starving me of any rest and I had a millions plans and thoughts whizzing through my brain. I had just started raising money for my half marathon and wing walk adventure when my phone pinged. The person messaging wasn't being anti social by messaging in the night for they were in a different time zone across the Atlantic in America. It was my friend, Mark Streit. He had seen my post on Instagram about my charity page and as he also had personal experience with a loved one having had Lymphoma, he was messaging to say he had made a lovely donation to the account. 

With my insomnia at its peak, I took the opportunity to chat with Mark for some time: about life,  about illness, about aircraft. Mark happened to mentioned he had visited the UK and had been to Duxford where he had photographed a "Texan" called the Wacky Wabbit... yes we did the potato/potato joke when I reminded Mark we call it the Harvard over here. Mark shared his picture from his visit to Duxford onto my Facebook wall where I tagged in Andrew Goodall, the pilot of the Wacky Wabbit.  Conversations continued resulting in Andrew offering me a flight the same weekend as the modelling gig and of course, my birthday!

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Now those of you who know me well,  know I often turn down offers of flight because I have a little fear. Having never flown in anything smaller than a Dash 8 and never without a G&T, small aircraft always felt risky to me. But you will also know that after my mum's cancer diagnosis, I promised to take more chances in life and thought, "lets do this!" 

So the day arrived... Let's start by meeting the team:

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When I arrived at the airfield, the team were busy cleaning the Wabbit, polishing her to a glowing sheen. Well when I say the team, I mean Donny, Tim and Sue as Andy was busy filming it all for his first live feed! 

Donny, Tim and Sue look after the old girl when Andy is out of the country, making sure she is well cared for and maintained. They do this all voluntarily and with journeys of up to an hour from home, this is a real labour of love for them. When speaking to them, their passion for the aircraft and aviation in general is evident. Tim,in particular, has wonderful knowledge of all the aircraft at Duxford and those at Shuttleworth and Sue has previous experience with working with other aircraft such as the Shackleton. 

Andy is an enigmatic soul who's passion for the history of the aircraft feeds his desire to have things just so, even down to having kit as close to that used back in the day. He has a military background linked to freefall display teams and his ambition to one day fly the iconic Spitfire drives his motivation to continue furthering his experiences as a pilot. 

The banter between the team was rife and they immediately made me feel at home. It was great to get to have close access to the aircraft to take images you just don't get at airshows, even when on static display. 

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Andrew and the team form part of a large group of people who commit time to the Harvard and admin many groups dedicated to the aircraft and her history. On this day, Andrew had friends arriving from Portugal. The father of the family was a former Portuguese Air Force pilot and had flown Harvards in operation. He told some wonderful stories about his time in service and I hope to write a follow up article dedicated to his experiences in coming months. His sons and he enjoyed a flight in the Wacky Wabbit and it gave me a nice chance to capture some shots with her in flight. 

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With all this activity going on, I didn't even have time to think about my own forthcoming flight and it struck me as I laid my camera down for the last time that I wasn't feeling any nerves.. it was most odd. Perhaps the banter from Donny was keeping them at bay! Tim helped me climb up in to the Wabbit and helped me strap in.. still no nerves. He fitted my headset and ran through comms... still no nerves and then it dawned me. I was comforted by the solid sturdiness of the Harvard. It was like a trojan horse, certainly feeling like it had a leg in each corner. 

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Andrew was brilliant, knowing I was new to small aircraft flying and a definite beginner to aerobatics, he eased the Wabbit into the air and talked me through everything that was happening. As we soared above the lush greenery of Duxford, still the fear had not taken a grip; in fact I was smiling, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. It was like no feeling ever, a sense of freedom as we glided into the clouds. 

Nigel Wood once told me that the day I flew in a small aircraft would be the day I'd appreciate the love for flying and as always, Mr Wood was right. It was incredible, looking down and seeing the world from a different view. I mentioned my horse earlier for good reason. I have two; Moranna,  who is a stocky riding horse and Crystal,  who is more petite riding hack. I expected the flight in the Harvard to be like riding Crystal, perched on top of something quite fragile and feeling like there was nothing but air around me. However it wasn't. A flight in the Harvard was like riding Moranna, safe, all encompassing and absolutely unshakeable. The strong body of the aircraft never once felt frail or rattly. This for me was the most unexpected observation I made whilst in the air. 

Photo Credit:  Donny Edwards

Photo Credit:  Donny Edwards

Flying upright didn't last for long and soon I had the words in my ear I was kind of dreading, "We are going in for a barrel roll, " Andy said. My response of ok may not have been convincing but in for penny and all that! Sweeping over the wings and looking up through the canopy at the patchwork fields below was simply breathtaking. I really was doing this and I really was enjoying it. So much so that I became brave and we managed to grab some signal to live feed the next one on Instagram (I hope if you saw it, you were entertained!)

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I think I may need to apologise to Andrew and anyone who saw the video of the next manoeuvre, the loop, for the ear-piercing screech that escaped my lips as we went up and over. But they were weren't screams of being scared, it was pure exhilaration and delight at the force of the G. (I've been informed that we maxed at 3.5G,  which may not be much to some,  but for my little tummy it was quite enough for it to cope with!)

Before I knew it, the clouds began to creep in and we headed back to Duxford with a sweeping hangar pass. The deceleration for landing was a little strange to experience. Cruising at approximately 90mph felt very slow by comparison and Andrew gently placed the Wabbit back on the grass runway. My first flight was over and I was so pleased I had experienced it. I can no longer claim to be scared of flying! 

The day was far from over though. Next up I got to meet someone who I have known for sometime on social media and who is always so supportive of everyone's adventures; Ms Claire Bassett. Claire had won a competition on Instagram to fly in the Harvard and for her it was an experience that would have a much deeper connection. Claire had wanted to fly in a Harvard since being a small girl when she used to run to the bottom of her garden with her Grandfather as the Harvards flew overhead. He would tell her about their engines from the noise they made and they would engage fo hours in conversation about these beauties of the sky.  These precious memories gave birth to Claire's love for aviation and today really would be a dream come true for her. A bigger smile could not have spread across her face and the competition win really could not have happened to a lovelier lady. 

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Soon it was time to put the old girl to bed in her hangar. She boosts bed companions such as the Catalina, the Spitfire and the awe inspiring Thunderbolt. 

The Wabbit operates for pleasure flights from various locations around the country. If you think it is massively unaffordable to experience her charm,  you may be surprised to know a 20 minute flight costs from £399. Check out the details on www.t6harvard.com . The website is also worth a visit if you have an interest in the history of the aircraft known as "The Pilot Maker."

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I'd like to thank Andrew, Tim, Donny and Sue for hosting me for the day and making the end of my 36th year a memorable one. 

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera!

Love Carly x

 

A Year of Challenges and Adventure..... and did someone say airshow season is here?

As the clock struck midnight and the party swung into 2018, my friend asked me "What's your New Year resolution?" and it got me thinking....

Those of you reading this who follow my lifestyle and aviation account on Instagram (@vintagedakota1) will know that I decided to start new things in 2018 rather than doing the tradition of giving things up. 2018 is going to be the year of positivity and challenge. Here's bit of an update of how things have gone so far and what I'm doing in May; my adventure month! 

In January, I started running again, having not really run much since the Edinburgh Marathon in 2011. I had forgotten how much I loved being outside and pushing my body to go faster and to be stronger. It was this month that I signed up for the Eden Half Marathon and declared I would run for charity: Lymphoma Action after my mum was diagnosed in 2017. (I also stupidly agreed to wing walk for the same charity if we raised £1250, which of course you amazing people made possible! Thank you!)

In February, I tried veganism. This came about after watching an interesting interview with an animal rights activist. He delivered his argument in such a non-aggressive, articulate way, he had me convinced. I enjoyed the changes to begin with but I think it is such a massive lifestyle change, it became problematic with the boys. I now try and remain vegan for at least two days of the week but I do love meat and cheese a bit too much to totally give up. 

In March, I walked or rather stepped 10k a day minimum. This challenge I loved! I continue to do this daily, although it is especially hard on days where I have been desk bound editing or marking papers. But the running has helped here too and together it has meant that for any journey under a mile, I have ditched the car and I now walk. Sometimes I can be seen running to the local shops with my backpack like some mini marine commando! 

April was interesting. I interacted positively with at least one person a day, passing on a compliment or acknowledging something good they had done. This came about following an article I read on Twitter by the charity MIND regarding the need to raise awareness for mental health and to diminish the stigma that being mentally ill is a weakness. If you haven't read it, there is the story of the college student in America who was suicidal and on his way home with all his college books. He was about to take his own life. He dropped the books and a fellow student scooped them up and carried them home with him. They became great friends. On graduation, the student publicly thanked his friend for saving his life. His actions made the difference and we can all potentially have that impact on someone's life. After a heartbreak a few years ago when my world went a bit upside down, there were two people in particular who kept me strong. They probably didn't even know at the time of the difference their care meant but it did. If anyone reading this relates to these emotions and feelings, please open up. There will always be someone who will lend an ear to listen and a shoulder to support. In this big old world, we are not alone. Samaritans are currently running a campaign called #smalltalksaveslives. They offer a 24/7 365 day helpline for free on: 116 123.

I found it interesting how we are not great at accepting compliments and are often suspicious of other's kindness. It's given me food for thought and made me look at myself a bit deeper. 

And now it's nearly May... May is bit more of an adventure than a challenge and has been a few months in the planning. I kept it quiet because there were lots of factors that needed to come into play and I think now, bar the weather, we are all set to go! 

So it started in late 2017 when my friend, James Wheeler, contacted me. He mentioned he had been talking to aviation photographer, Darren Harbar and had suggested me as model for Darren's Best of British photography course in May at Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Darren leads a series of courses there throughout the year and is well known for his published work in various magazines. When Darren contacted me, it was no brainer! I get to dress up in my favourite style of dress (1940's) with some beautiful aircraft on one of the most historic airfields. I met with Darren at Old Warden recently and was honoured to be shown around the Shuttleworth Collection. If you have yet to visit, I urge you to do so. The hangars are full of beautifully maintained aircraft and vehicles from yesteryear. Oh and the smell... the smell of the hangars is just dreamy. The grounds at Old Warden are also so beautiful; the bridges were a personal favourite of mine. Well worth a wander!

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So on Friday 11th May, I will be on the other side of the lens, which does take me out of my comfort zone. I may be the selfie queen but there is a difference when you can't see what is being taken. Eeeek!

The adventure does not stop there though.. and this is where the weather best be kind. One night, I received a very generous charity donation from the other side of the pond from my friend Mark (@photog130 on Instagram) for my run and wing walk fundraiser (Justgiving page linked here) .  We were discussing Lymphoma as we both had a personal connection to the illness. We then got onto the subject of Duxford and Mark showed me a picture of the Wacky Rabbit, the lovely Harvard (Texan T6 as Mark says; potato/potato!)that Mark had taken when he visited the UK.  I happened to tag Andrew Goodall in the image that Mark had posted and from there things began to snowball. The Wacky Rabbit is based at Duxford and Andrew kindly offered to show me around her when I'm there for the photography day. It also happens to be my birthday weekend (yeah for cake!) and when Andrew found out, he arranged for me to go on an aerobatic, that's right people,  an aerobatic flight in her with him.... Ok,  so who is laughing now because we all know I'm an eternal earth sign with bit of a fear of flying (unless it is taking me to the Caribbean with a gin and movie!). I did have to take time to think but having been reminded by my dear friend, Nigel Wood,  that I need to step out of my comfort zone this year, I have gratefully accepted! Double eeeeek! It is being pitched as good practise for the wing walk (which I am having nightmares about but that's a different story altogether!) As the months have gone on, I am actually really excited about the weekend at Duxford and am kind of wishing the days away. 

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I will of course give a full blog of my experience but in the meantime, if anyone else would also like to book a flight in the "Wabbit" the packages on offer can be found on the website here and details of Darren's photography courses can be found here

So that's May... next weekend sees the first airshow for me at Abingdon where I can't wait to catch up with Jason, Mark, Nigel, Claire and of course Poppy (she now has her own IG account: @thedanishpoppstry - well worth a follow, literally the most gorgeous dog ever!) so loads of images to follow.

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly x

*All charities, businesses and products mentioned and linked in this blog have been done so on my own accord and for no personal financial gain. 

All plans coming to fruition... seeing my work in print!

Hi... I'm Carly.. 

I know! I felt the need to reintroduce myself as it feels like a long time ago when I last sat at this desk and wrote a blog. It's been busy over the winter with plans being put into place for an awesome few months over the Spring and Summer. 

Just after New Year, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Ryan Tomlinson from the Coningsby Heritage Centre regarding some of the typhoon images I had posted on Twitter. Ryan is one of the incredible volunteers at the centre based just inside the main gates at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. I sent Ryan the desired images and a selection of others he had spotted on my Instagram stream from inside the hangars at The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF). In exchange for using the images for his displays, Ryan kindly offered to host me for an afternoon in April when I would visit Lincolnshire for the week. Weeks passed and it was my time to drive North (and then East) to see my images in print. Here's my review of the centre:

"At first it struck me as odd that the centre should be inside the main gates of RAF Coningsby,  especially when there was already a visitors centre over the way at BBMF and security status was on an all time high. However, with other heritage centres in the locality operating on similar models,  it makes the experience more exciting for visitors who would not normally have access to the base. Once passing through security (apparently I look younger now than when I first visited in 2015 so had to have my photo retaken - flattery gets them everywhere!) the first thing I noticed were the gate guardians standing proud on either corner. The Phantom looked quite menacing as I made the first turn towards the centre. 

On the short drive, Ryan explained that the centre was now officially open and would host up to 10 guests on a given Sunday,  in addition to school and college visits during the week. The collection of historic artefacts was increasing with each visit as families of former servicemen were bringing notes, books and pictures to add to the collection. 

As I entered the centre, it was clear a lot of hard work and energy had gone into making the displays look professional and in keeping with Royal Air Force branding. Open space and a seated area welcomed me with the walls adorned with images of aircraft from both days gone by and current front line jets. 

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Beyond there is an auditorium where guests will be taken through the complete history of Coningsby. I was fortunate to have this delivered by Andy Copley, whose knowledge of not only the base but also the local area added real interest to the presentation. I was amazed to learn that Coningsby had been home to such a wide variety of aircraft; the Vulcan Bomber being the biggest surprise amongst the collection. During the presentation, I was fascinated by the use of old and new maps that showed how the base had developed over the years: runways extended, building torn down, hangars built up - an ever changing and adapting environment responding to the fast pace of aircraft advancement. 

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Further back came an area that I imagine will continue to develop over time - the display area. A wonderful glass-encased model of RAF Coningsby takes centre stage (dominating the floor space),  surrounded by a wonderfully informative timeline peppered with images from past and present (Eagle-eyed visitors will recognised the names of some of the contributing photographers!) Models of aircraft are displayed in the corners and a Browning cannon rests proudly on the fire guard. 

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Moving into the next section of the building was a great treat for me. Firstly,  you are met with a selection of artefacts that on the surface look like remains of an archaeological dig. I was therefore quite shocked when Ryan told me I was centimetres from the remains of the Lancaster Bomber engine fire. It was fascinating to see up close and to appreciate how that fire could have ended with extremely dire consequences. I don't want to use the word lucky so flippantly but when you think where this could have happened... well it doesn't really bear thinking about at all. 

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As an educator, I was thrilled to hear that the centre would offer its facilities for school and college tours, not only for the historic aspects but also because of the superb STEM classroom they have in development. Living in Devon, we are rather starved of both aviation history and engineering (more focusing on the Naval aspects of our heritage) so I know my own son would have relished at the chance to spend an hour or two here. 

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The next part of the tour is still in the planning stage so I was honoured to be taken to a bunker which was designed to be used during a chemical attack. As many of you know, my love of aviation was borne from my love of history and oh gosh, I just geeked right out here. The doors opened to relative darkness but beyond was an untouched world. The smell, the debris, the artefacts left in situ were overwhelming. I had not felt this engrossed since my visit to Bletchley Park. From the bags of powder to dowse oneself in, to the hanging pegs, the old telephones and the bunks, this Cold War section of the tour will be the jewel in the Centre's crown when she is fully set up and operational. The conditions inside were cramped and dank and a far cry from the Mess that is situated across the way. "

I would like to thank Ryan and Andy for their time. I would strongly recommend everyone applies for a tour when in the area. You can do this by contacting the centre via Facebook or Twitter. It was really great to see my images in print and I'm proud to be able to contribute to such wonderful collection of history. The centre is run for non profit and all the hosts are volunteers, giving up their own time to impart their knowledge and wisdom. Well done guys, keep up the good work!

Little Miss Sophia and a Mickey Mouse watch!

The thing I love about being a photographer is capturing the moments. The wedding kiss, the cake smash, new births and bumps on the grow: a Typhoon with full burners on... all these moments are awesome in their own way. 

When I grew up, christenings were a right of passage: a family tradition that seems to be fading over time. I was therefore honoured and excited to photograph Sophia's christening at the Church of Ascension , a 1950's Church of England church in Plymouth. Grand in design, the church soon became filled with love and warmth from immediate family members and friends.

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Sophia looked super cute in her silk gown of the brightest white and was an absolute angel throughout the whole service, even when she had the Holy water poured over her locks. 

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The Reverend (Tim) added humour and energy to the proceeding and I have chuckled during editing process to note his Mickey Mouse watch - something I didn't actually notice on the day! 

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From a photography perspective, ceremonies are often tricky to capture due to low light conditions and the inability to use the flash. What you do get however is the opportunity to catch people in a relaxed and natural stance and I simply adore the reportage style shots this environment enables. Also, when your subject oozes charm and sports the cutest cheeks, it's hard not to be charmed by the images produced. It has been lovely to be able to edit in both colour and monochrome and I've kept my vintage matte style for the reportage shots whilst keeping the posed group shots brighter and cleaner.

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I can't quite believe January is over. Two big shoots delivered and two more different events to add to the ever-growing portfolio.

Next month sees me heading back to the studio for more babies and maybe some more furry creatures! 

To book your sitting, either in the studio or on location, please contact me via the contact page

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly x

Aviation and Glamour - Combat Stress Masquerade Ball

Back in the summer, I responded to an online request for a photographer to capture images at a charity event. As soon as I saw the charity involved, Combat Stress, I knew I had to offer my services. 

Jodi Johnson organised a 320 guest ball to raise money for Combat Stress, a charity she values after experiencing a loss of a colleague whilst serving for the Royal Air Force. She held her event at Boringdon Golf Club, who did a great job to host such a large event. The evening's musical entertainment was provided by The Sound, the South West's premium wedding and event band. 

Initially, I took on the event on my own and as the summer progressed and my partner company, Devon Rose Photography, owned by my brother Marcus,  began to find its feet, it became an obvious choice to offer both services to fully cover the event. 

Whilst Marcus manned the pop up studio capturing everyone in their finery, I roamed the room to capture the more candid moments of the evening. 

The gallery is now live at https://www.devonrosewedding.co.uk/client-galleries/ . Enter by using the password, CombatStress (case sensitive). Image downloads can be purchased direct from the gallery and a percentage of all sales will be donated back to Jodi and her fundraising efforts. 

If you were unable to attend the evening but feel as passionate about the charity as we do, you can also donate direct to Jodi's Virgin Money Giving page by clicking here.

We wish Jodi all the best with her climb of Mount Kilimanjaro and congratulate her for her successful evening. 

 

New Year, looking backwards but going forwards!

I am so excited to be able to share some of the Christmas images I took in my pop up studio in the latter stages of 2017 and be able to share with you some exciting things happening in my world in 2018. 

In November, Marcus (my very talented brother) and I undertook our first wedding as Devon Rose Photography. This is my brother's wedding photography business and I come in as his second photographer. The blog from the day can be found on the blog page of our website www.devonrosewedding.co.uk by clicking here.

From October onwards, things got busy when I opened up my pop up studio. I had some lovely guests including a rather lovely Cocker Spaniel called Jasper. It was nice to know my work was being given as gifts and that would be a lasting memory to hang on someone's wall or upon a mantlepiece for all to see.

I also made time to get back to my love of the National Trust and took advantage of the amazing display put on of lights at Saltram Park. There Enchanted Garden was a Christmas delight and the hot chocolate was a little bit special too!  

So here we go, into 2018 with a diary that's filling quickly. I don't make resolutions,; I make lists and this year I am looking forward to completing some of the plans I have. This includes linking an online gallery of my aviation work to this website so i can sell downloads and prints direct through my ShootProof account,  using Loxley Colour as my professional printing partner. We have weddings booked throughout the year, with limited dates in May and November left. I have something quite special planned in May which involves some historic connection and I plan to keep evolving and developing as a photographic artist so if you have any projects, I'll happily discuss your requirements. 

January sees me taking on a Christening and Marcus and I are donating our time to cover an event for Combat Stress, a very important charity that helps former servicemen and women deal with issues like trauma, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. More information on their work can be found here.

So there is a lot to be looking forward to. Thank you for all your continue support over this last year. 

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly x

Blooming Lovely...

Even after having two children of my own, the amazing transformation a female body endures during pregnancy still leaves me speechless. It's beautiful, it's natural, it's miraculous.

I was overjoyed to invite Louise into the new studio to shoot her blooming lovely bump. It was gorgeous to fill the studio with all things feminine for the ethereal theme adopted for the first half of the shoot. Soft flowing fabrics, pretty pink flowers and Louise, who was just glowing. 

Carrying her second child, Louise looked goddess-like in front of the dramatic black backdrop and was a natural in front of the camera. To enter someone else's domain and bare almost all could be quite nerve wracking and I was so pleased Louise felt comfortable; we had a lot of fun - chatting all the way through the shoot. 

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During the second half of the shoot, we went for a more modern lifestyle approach. Less posed and much more relaxed in sense of style, I adore the shots taken over a faux cup of tea! Louise knew the sex of her baby and we were able to include some really cute booties knitted by Lousie's future mother in law. I love having personal items included in the shoot, especially when they have such sentimental meaning. 

I wish Louise a safe and healthy delivery in January and look forward to hearing what name she finally settles on! 

Things to consider when planning to shoot or book a maturity shoot

  • Maternity shoots are best shot at about 30 weeks so if you are thinking of booking a shoot, make sure you plan well ahead to ensure your chosen photographer is available.
  • Keep in mind the theme and look you would like; speak to your photographer/client about styling the shoot.
  • If looking for silhouettes, ensure your hair has some texture to it, like soft curls or a messy top bun. 
  • Bring your scan picture or other items to be included in the shoot.
  • If the weather is fair, take it outside - I personally can't wait to do a maternity shoot on location.
  • Make sure the studio is warm enough to be undressed in.
  • Ensure your pregnant mum-to-be takes rests between shoots and have some water on hand for her to keep hydrated.
  • Think about angles and poses carefully. Mums - this is the only chance you will get where you will want a photo with your belly popping out as much as possible! Embrace the bump! 

Drop me an email via the contact page to discuss how you book your very own shoot.

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera!

Love Carly x

When life gives you....... Riley in the Rain...

You have the date booked, you know the exact location you are going to use, your client is ready and prepped... and it rains...and rains... and rains....

But someone once said to me, "When life gives you lemons..." so we embraced the rain, invested in some funky umbrellas and off we went. 

Meet Riley, who had just been to a birthday party at a soft play zone (any parent reading this will now be shuddering in terror - the noise, the smell!) and who was very excited to meet the "camera lady" -  so much so that he had spent his entire holiday practising his smile! 

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The shoot was a very special one. It was a shoot to show the love of a mother and an aunt for a little boy who arrived in their lives at a time when their hearts were broken from the loss of their own father. It was clearly evident throughout how important this young man was to the sisters but equally how important they were to each other. The smiles were infectious and we all soon forgot about the rain. 

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Young Riley was indeed the star of the shoot. He loved the camera and we played a nice game of peek a boo from behind the lens in-between takes. The real highlight was the trashing of the umbrellas - Riley loved throwing them around and watching them get taken by the wind. It really was a shoot to remember; not for how bad the weather was but for the warmth and bond of a loving family.

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly x

Smashing time had by all! - A cake smash set up

I love cake... I really love cake... so there was nothing more exciting than mixing cake with my other passion of photography. 

As you know, I've set my business up to be flexible. No hard sales, no harsh studio lighting; just elegant, natural images taken in a relaxed environment. However, when you have the prospect of a few pounds of frosting being thrown about, you need to think about set up. 

For those of you who follow me as photographers, you will know how the set can make or break a shoot (well that and the weather!). I thought long and hard about how this would work in the comfort of my little cake smasher's home.

Key is in the consultation. Fran's mum and I had a good idea what colours we were going for and a few outfits were selected prior to the day. This gave me a good feel for the shoot. This was not going to be a colour pop; it was going to have a vintage twang!

I sourced a good washable floor cover in wood effect and selected a cream backdrop.  I added wooden chairs and a rather gorgeous Charlie Bear was provided by the client. Popping in a few balloons, I finished dressing the set with two strings of twinkly fairy lights and presto! We were good to go. 

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We started with some birthday celebrations shots. Fran had already turned one and I liked that we could include her new favourite toys in the warm up shoot. Getting any child used to unfamiliar person (who also happens to be handling a weird magic object that captures images) is critical in a shoot. After a while of Tomfoolery in the window and with the rocking horse, we were ready to get on set. 

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Now anyone who works with children will know, things sometimes do not go to plan... especially with an upwardly mobile toddler. But you know what... just go with it! Sometimes the best images come from those moments when everyone is relaxed (and refusing to smash up a perfectly decent cake!)

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In total, we shot for just under an hour. Everyone (except the family cat who was noticeably absent!) ended up covered in frosting but hey - we all tasted great! We ended the shoot by handing the icing over to Fran who may have discovered the secret to eternal youth, well thats what I like to believe as I end this blog to tuck into a delicious slice of (unsmashed) cake! 

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TOP TIPS FOR CAKE SMASH

  • The more icing the better! I would avoid very bright colours like red or deep blue if you are planning to allow the child to run about - they may stain. 
  • Make the cake yummy!
  • The cake cannot be too dense - it won't crumble very well. 
  • Pick and theme and stick to it. Be daring with Marvel, classy with vintage, pretty in pink or a sailor in blue. 
  • Have lots (and I mean lots) of damp cloths and wet wipes available. 
  • Do not attempt to do this on your own. Get Mum and Dad involved and if space allows, an assistant to keep an eye on the set. 
  • Natural light is awesome where possible. 
  • Be careful with aperture - do you want the cake and the child in focus together? Keep an eye on those settings.
  • Get down to their level. See the world from the child's eye.
  • Don't forget to clean your hands before grabbing for the camera!
  • Have fun!
  • Laugh lots!

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly 

So....... that was Summer!

Three months since I last blogged and what a whirlwind of a time I have had. 

The summer has been an exciting mix of work and entertainment. Airshows from as far north as Ayr to as far south as Torbay and all the way to the east for Duxford. Portrait shoots for dogs and children; on beaches and in the rain. Six confirmed weddings for 2018 and more on the cards. Motor cars, carousels and Revivals. I've watched the Typhoon display whilst wearing my bikini and shot Mustangs at sunset in my pyjamas. It's been non stop.

So let's look at some of the highlights starting with the dogs... Meet Morag and Angus, two wonderful friendly spaniels who I met for a beach shoot in Scotland. 

Next we had Bella, a very sweet natured and well mannered Westie. Bella was a delight to shoot in natural light in familiar surroundings. 

The airshows took up a lot of my time, both in terms of travelling and processing. Images were requested by many of the display teams, including the Couteau Delta, The Red Devils and the Great War Display Team. The Royal Air Tattoo was a mixed bag this year, mainly due to the weather but the late addition to my travels of the Scottish Airshow did not disappoint with gorgeous light, seaside location and the added bonus of hot and fiery pyrotechnics. It was nice to get a close look at the landing of the RAF Falcons; I always think the parachute display teams always add a bit of something different to proceedings. Here are some of their shots. 

The absolute highlight of the year has to be the three glorious days I spent at the Goodwood Revival. Vintage fashion, motorcars and aircraft; it was dreamy. A step back in time to the good old days when gentlemen were dapper, ladies were classy and everything had a sense of quality and longevity. It was greet to meet the wonderful Ted Higgins and to be shown around the paddocks. The knowledge and passion he shares not only for the cars he cares but also for the era (and the aircraft) is intoxicating. One of the nicest, most genuine people I've met on my adventures, he took the time out of his schedule to allow me to take some great behind the scenes shots.... and a sneaky once of lifetime chance at shooting the new Aston Martin Rolex boxed on top of the bonnet of a vintage Aston Martin, no less! Gaining the shot was all a bit cloak and dagger but those who know me know how tenacious I can be when I set my mind to something! The weekend also saw me shooting the stunning Miss Helen  - P51 Mustang - at sunset, from our campsite, whilst wearing my pyjamas.. Another once in the lifetime experience!

I'll be sharing some more of the images from the Revival on my Instagram @carlyhodgesphotography over the coming weeks with the air display section being released on @vintagedakota1. Here are a few teasers. 

So what is next for Carly Hodges Photography? Well,  six weddings are booked and more enquiries on a daily basis for the company Devon Rose Photography (www.devonrosewedding.co.uk), a cake smash, a couple's shoot and the release of the fun and slightly soggy images I took at the weekend,  where the lovely family did not let the rain stop play and we rocked out on Plymouth Hoe with some rather fabulous brightly-coloured umbrellas! I can't wait to share those images with you but as they are for a special occasion, I will have to keep you in suspense for a little longer. 

Until next time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly x

Networking is the key....

When starting out in business, you need to crack the market and with photography, recommendations and networking seem to be key. This was one of the main reasons I took the advice I was given early on and upgraded my website to its current format; a glossy landing site for potential clients and a perfect showcase for my work. 

Networking also appears to be crucial so I decided to look at the other services I may need to employ for my shoots and start to build relationships. This is where my latest photoshoot comes in... 

When scouting the local pages for services needed, I came across a young lady who was newly qualified as a make up artist (MUA). Perfect, I thought! I dropped her a line to see if she would like some images for her pages and she did. 

I met with Sophie Bromfield last Monday and shadowed her as she worked on her model. It was great to see someone entering into business and using the same ethics: hardworking and high quality. There was no expense spared on her brands and equipment and you could clearly see she was passionate about make up and giving people a confidence lift through her work. 

I have taken Sophie's details and look forward to being able to recommend her to future clients. 

A special thank you should be given to Jade for modelling for us. 

Another great experience with its own unique challenges. If anyone else has a business and would like some commercial images - please contact me via the contacts page and we can discuss your requirements. 

Until Next Time, Smile for the Camera

Love Carly x