A Photography Studio Review
My Lost Childhood
I didn't grow up in a very wealthy family, in fact it was quite the opposite! I was born in South Africa where there is not a lot of work, and absolutely no benefits. Our family often struggled financially and we didn't get to experience a lot of life's luxuries growing up. But that was okay. My parents were very creative, and always found ways to make our childhood magical! We had home made McDonalds (we collected the packaging from times we did actually eat out and my mom cooked delicious burgers to package up!) we played outside in the bushes, on the beach and in nature every day. My sister and I would play fantasy make-believe games all the time and we generally spent a lot of time together as a family. We were also very blessed with friends who took great care of us and enabled me to join a dance school and tour the country competing in dance competitions.
My mom always loved photography and would photograph our various family outings and adventures. We have photos of us on caravan holidays at the beach, playing in the beautiful wildlife parks and nature reserves. Her photos were well thought out, she took time to get the framing, lighting and even the position of the subjects (usually my sister and I!) right before committing the precious memory to film (those were the days!)
I had an amazing and very blessed childhood, with the photographs to prove it! But I didn't always remember that. We moved to England a little before my 9th birthday, in hopes of having a better life (or at least that's what I understood to be the reason!) which was incredibly exciting for me and my little sister. But living here in the UK had it's own struggles and we soon found ourselves separated from our father and living far away from him with our mother. The photo albums were split into two and shared between the, now two, families.
We looked at our albums often, and with that we were able to remember the great times we had with each other, in particular with my mom and sister, as that is who was in most of the photographs. There were no photographs of my dad. The photographs with my dad in them lived miles away with him, and were never seen by my sister and I until one day, my dad's partner showed us his special box, filled with beautiful memories of my sister and I and the times we shared together as a family.
I was overcome with emotion. Guilt, regret, loss and just sadness that a part of my childhood had been missing for so long. I hardly remembered my childhood with my dad, until I saw the photos and started to remember that he was in fact there for everything. I started to remember that some of the memories I had, had been tainted by the fact that my dad had been completely erased from them. It was never intentional, but we poured over our photographs often, and that is what kept those memories alive and real to us. But my dad was not in those albums, and so we began to forget that he was even there, and that a lot of wonderful moments had been forgotten about.
Still, to this day, I wish I could pour over the other half of the photo album, so I can cling to a complete memory of my happy and blessed childhood. But most of those photos remain lost, in storage, somewhere far away from me.
The Importance Of Getting In The Photo
Our first family photo captured by Two Front Teeth Photography
So many times I have heard, particularly from mum's, that they do not really get in the family photographs. Rather, they prefer to take the photos or just have their children photographed. While I SO understand that having your picture taken is awkward, or you may not like how you look (particularly after having children!), I also know what it is like to look over a family photo album with a family member missing.
I have heard heartbreaking stories of family tragedy, where people have regretted not getting in photos with their family, or their family have been left with nothing to remember their loved ones by. While this is a very dramatic example, I think it is probably the most significant!
But just general, every day photos with your family. In ten years time when your children are grown up and looking through your photo collection, will you be there? What memories will your children have of their childhood? If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for the ones you love.
A Photography Studio Review
As a photographer myself, along with my own experiences, I would always be a total advocate of hiring a professional every now and then if you have the means to do so! Even though I am perfectly capable of taking great photos of our family, I am always on the look out for other great photographers who would be able to capture the essence of our family and find other perspectives that I wouldn't be able to do myself. For example, catching those candid, unplanned moments that show much more real emotion and tell a much better story than a pre thought out, posed shot.
A stunning example is the featured photograph above, captured by Natalie at Blink Of An Eye Photography of myself and Baby Duck, having a little moment together! And the story and meaning for myself behind it makes it even more special than just a great photograph. Baby Duck had just started showing affection by giving kisses, something I have been waiting for, for over a year! I also viewed the photos just before Mother's Day, so this capture really felt like the perfect Mother's Day gift, and is a moment that will now feel special FOREVER. Thank you Natalie! ♥
We won this photoshoot with Baby Duck in a competition on Facebook, along with the beautiful little custom made pinafore that she is wearing! If this wasn't exciting enough, Natalie kindly offered a discount on the price to purchase the photos in exchange for an honest review of our experience at the Blink Photography Studios! So here it is, my honest thoughts on our experience.
The studio is set in beautiful gardens right next to a manor house in the outskirts of Tewkesbury. We found it pretty easy to find, coming from Cheltenham and Natalie did send some details direction ahead of time which was very helpful!
We were very warmly welcomed with drinks in the studio and felt very comfortable getting Baby Duck ready in the sitting area within the studio, where there were some rather comfy sofas. The studio was flowing with different props, outfits and backdrops and the walls covered with stunning portraits of children and families that had been in the studio. It is a very warm and inviting environment, with the shelves full of props and beautiful things feeling a bit like every child's dream room (or is that just mine?!).
Although Natalie did send through an email with lots of information about what to expect at the photoshoot, and a suggestion to bring props/toys and outfit changes, I will admit I totally forgot and didn't come prepared at all! Thankfully, we were able to borrow some cute outfit bits and use some of the props available already at the studio to create some variety in the photos and to make sure we got a really great selection in the end. Looking back though, I would've loved to have some of Baby Duck's special toys with her and some of our favourite outfits! So you really do need to take the advice in the very thoughtful email and bring some stuff with you to make the most of your photographs and to add that extra personal touch and to capture some really special memories.
So, it just so happened that Baby Duck was going through a bit of a phase at the time of the photoshoot. It was a clingy phase and a bit of a grumpy phase! So leading up to our shoot I was really nervous that she just would not cooperate and end up wasting our time and the poor photographers time! I was especially worried about stressing the poor photographer out with my grumpy, uncooperative toddler.
I would like to say that she was good as gold and an expert model. But she was not. It was as I'd feared. She really just didn't want to be there (in fact she frequently made a dash for the door!) and simply did not want to sit still and pose for a photo. We managed to bribe her a little with snacks and toys and by making a little game out of some of the shots (chasing mummy across the studio and in front of the camera for example). And Natalie was very reassuring throughout, letting us know that she was getting some good shots!
Natalie did not seem stressed at all, and was very calm and patient with Baby Duck. Although I was stressing like a crazy, I was reassured that it was okay. This is what toddlers are like and Natalie was wonderful at coming up with creative ideas to entice her and keep her calm in front of the camera. In the end, I found it was best just to stay with Baby Duck in front of the camera. She clearly felt better with mummy there and so we were able to try a few more ideas with myself there with her.
I left not quite knowing what to expect at our viewing, which was booked for two weeks later. I don't think I expected much as in my mind, Baby Duck was just a whirlwind of energy and emotion which didn't stop long enough to pose for a good photograph. But at the viewing I was blown away by some of the moments that were caught on camera. Those split second moment of calm, the little looks she made to myself, daddy or the camera and so much of her personality was right up there on the big screen. There was my baby climbing up onto a bench, throwing pom-pom balls and building little towers out of wooden bricks. There she was chatting to a teddy, making funny faces at mummy and daddy, and my most favourite moment of all, planting a big fat kiss right on my lips! It was just for a second, but Natalie caught it. And I am forever grateful.
There was a wonderful selection of classic black and white, vibrant colour, and some arty, textured photos to choose from. Our favourites where probably the black and white images as they felt timeless and classic and we are probably going to choose those to display on our living room wall! Daddy Duck wasn't a fan of the arty photos, but there was enough of a varied selection for him to choose some that he really loved as well.
We found the prices a little daunting when it came to choosing what to purchase after the shoot, but I think we did expect that. I also am very aware that the price is absolutely fair considering the work that goes into them, and they are absolutely worth the price! So if you are thinking of having a professional photo shoot with Blink of an Eye, or any photography studio for that matter, you do need to be prepared to spend a hefty sum! But the investment is really worth it if you want something that looks professional, well executed and captures something that you will treasure forever. Just be prepared!
We received our printed photograph and USB drive in beautiful packaging which really adds to the luxury feel of the whole experience and shows that they really do put love and care into what they do for you, the customer. Along with our digital photos that we purchased we also received a beautiful slideshow complete with music of all the images from the shoot. We absolutely loved our time with Blink of an Eye studios, even through the total whirlwind that is a toddler. Thank you Natalie ♥
This review was not a paid endorsement, but we were offered a significant discount to our purchase in exchange for an honest review of our experience.