Cliveden House – A Special Place for Escaping

Even after living in the UK for ten years, I’m still stunned by all of the big and little amazing places there are to be discovered.  Cliveden House is one of those BIG places!

I must admit, though I knew vaguely of the house’s illustrious history, (It was the location of the famous 1963 Profumo Affair.) I had no expectation when I went to visit Cliveden earlier this week.  But as I wound down the lane  through the National Trust parklands, I felt myself relax into the green peacefulness of the park and forest.  Then, I turned the bend and saw the fountain, followed by the long drive leading up to the house which was haloed by a dramatic sky.  My jaw dropped. This was someplace special.

Cliveden House makes a statement.  And it is more than amazing. It is astounding in it’s grandeur, beauty, location and history.  Everywhere I looked there were little details in the design and architecture of the place.  All the staff impressed me with their extraordinary attention to detail and service.  (Thank you Francesca and Carolina for sharing your stories and a tour.)  And the views….well, let’s just say that my photos don’t do it justice.

The best part: Cliveden is tucked away on the banks of the Thames, in an easy 15 minute drive from Windsor.  Though it is so close, it like it is located in its own romantic, bygone world…the perfect place for escaping.

Cliveden is a spa-hotel, but also offers lunch, dinner, afternoon tea and fabulous walks through surrounding National Trust Parkland.  Though I didn’t see them, I understand that you can even hire vintage launches for boating on the Thames.  I can’t wait to go back again soon….

There were stunning views and gorgeous food…

What  a place for wandering…

 Wonderful doors and little nooks…

 …and historical details everywhere.

How about a little tea and a chat? 

I didn’t want to leave…

West Wittering Beach

…the trick is choosing between the two.

Indian summer is here in full force and I find myself craving time at the beach….For the moment, this image will do.  Have a beautiful Wednesday.

Creating Great Child Portraits – When Simpler is Better

Often before each normal portrait session, I spend quite a bit of time planning the shoot: props, poses, locations…I usually have several in mind.   This takes time and energy, but usually ensures each session is a success.

Last weekend, I shot the cover of The Little Book of Windsor, a high-end family magazine serving the Windsor area.  Because we shooting for one image only, I didn’t worry about endless poses, different locations or a change of clothing.  I had a singular vision for the cover shot and worked exclusively to get that.  Doing this was amazingly freeing.

To my surprise, however, I ended up with many fabulous shots.  Though these won’t serve the magazine, I would want to keep them for an album or a frame.  They capture my daughter’s expressions, emotions and joyful attitude beautifully.  I share just a couple images here. Stop by my portrait blog to see all of the outtakes.

I can’t wait to plan a session this again.  Do let me know if it works for you!

Easy Orange Layer Cake

This is seriously the easiest, quickest, most delicious cake ever.  It gets rave reviews from anyone who has tried it.  The best bit:  it only takes about 15 minutes to make and all you need is a bowl, a measuring jug and a zester. Oh yes, and a wooden spoon.

Download the recipe card HERE.

Come on over to The Inspiration Studio to see how my three-year old turned this into cupcakes.

A Wedding Story

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to capture a beautiful wedding in the Cotswolds.  Kingscote Barn is a stunning location – even in the rain. I hope you enjoy the story.

The Hardest Thing about Working for Yourself…

As many of you know, I recently left my much more than full-time corporate job to run my own business as a photographer and blogger.  Yes this was a scary thing to do.  Especially in this economy.

You see, a lot rides on my ability and my future success.  I’m a single mom.  I live in a country far away from my family.  And I have a small person and two dogs who demand my time and daily meals.

But since I’ve made the decision to step out on my own, those scared moments are ever so brief.  Nope.  The most AMAZING thing is that the hardest thing is NOT the figuring out of the accounting, or the tax, or the marketing, or the pricing, or the insurance, or the finding of clients, or the finding of vendors, or the process of giving the best customer service.

No, the hardest thing about working for yourself is learning when to stop and do LESS.

It is easy to work hard.  And there is ever so much to be done.  My To Do list fills a white board and multiplies itself daily.  It is easy to work on the weekend and long into the night.  It is easy to skip workouts and postpone time with friends.

But I am slowly learning that the most important thing is to find time to breathe, to reflect, to be thankful and to do…nothing.

Because when I occasionally do nothing, I find that I am more creative, more patient, more inspired and more effective in the hours I spend on my business.  And that is much more fun!

How do you do LESS?? I’d love to know…

Photography is…

…the art of waiting.

…the development of different angles and alternative processing.

…watching the light.

Most of all, photography is allowing the moment to happen.

Unexpected Visitors and One Heck of a Celebration

I live in Windsor, next door to Heathrow Airport.  Yes, this does have its challenges. However, there are lots of positives too:  It’s easy to get nearly anywhere in the world.  And every once in a while, distant friends will pass through on their way to a meeting, or to some other holiday destination.  They’ll stop by for dinner, and perhaps the night, and share their stories with me….

This happened on Tuesday of this week.  My friend, Owen, came for dinner on his way back to California, after celebrating his 40th in consummate style at the Italian Grand Prix.  His birthday was the day of the race.  Not only did he have seats on the first turning of the track (location of the fabulous crash) but he also had pit lane passes and a personal introduction to the Red Bull Team.  This might not sound like much to non-race fans like me, but apparently this is like dying and going to heaven.  Especially if you are an automotive design engineer, like Owen.  (He works for Nissan and helps design and test all their new Hybrids. Cool, huh?!!)

Apparently, it was a weekend of Italian AMAZINGNESS. And apparently, I have a LOT to learn about racing.  However, I do know photography.  And though we didn’t have much time, (not even 24 hours!) I just had to take a few portraits for Owen in the moments before his taxi arrived.  Phoebe helped out in her own special way.

Happy 40th Owen! May the next four decades be just as adventuresome for you.  And do stop by the next time you are at Heathrow.

What’s your fantasy birthday celebration??


September Inspiration

…this morning Autumn was in the air here in Windsor.  Can you smell it too?

Red Converse – Just my Style

Aren’t little feet just the best?  The mama in me just loves them…barefoot or shoed, running or squished under a little bottom on the floor.  Yes, when shopping, I side trip to the shoe department to check out the latest teeny, tiny little boots and wish my daughter still fit them. Recently, I shot a gorgeous wedding in the Cotswolds.  Imagine my delight when I discovered the youngest groomsman in none other than red Cons.

Do you have a favorite shoe shot?? I’d love to see it!