Nesting

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Baby's room is all ready, but this week has been all about clearing out drawers, making jam, and taking piles of stuff up into the loft.

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We've been feathering the nest quite a bit over the last few weeks, but we hit it head on last Saturday.

As soon as I woke up, I had a compulsion to get onto my knees and into the cupboard under the sink. This space seems to represent the pinnacle of the activity we know as the 'big clean'. The space that calls to us 'go on if you dare!' That dark cavern where cleaning products grow like stalagmites and only see the light of day when we reach in for a pan scrub and hurriedly close the door behind us!

Next came an ironing spree, Suzi washed all of baby's clothes, bibs and muslins, and I fixed the hinges inside a squeaky cupboard. The next battle has not been resolved, but I feel another energy surge coming on. I'm going to tackle the Tupperware. Don't get me started on the missing lids, they're lying on a beach somewhere with all our 'lost' socks.

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We've given in to the nesting instinct and  enjoying this time we're having together over the last couple of weeks. Of course little one is not going to notice all these changes we've been making, but it's important for us to get as much done as possible. I just think the kitchen extension will have to wait a little while!

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You Can't Please Everyone.

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I often think back to an incident that happened quite a few years ago now. I had been asked by a wedding venue in the area to take photos for their new brochure. The shoot had gone well, and I was really pleased with the photos, so I went to the venue for a meeting to show the wedding coordinator my images. As I was waiting, one of the volunteers at the venue came up to me. He had seen the shoot unfold and was curious about my images. He asked if he could have a quick look at the photos before the coordinator arrived, so I took my laptop out of my bag and started to scroll through the images I'd taken. At first there was no response as I clicked through images of the couple, the details of the bride's dress, and the flowers. And then came a long 'Mmmmm', I knew it wasn't a satisfied retort, that long drawn out consonant was low in tone. 'Well you missed the focus on that' came the next line. The photo was one of the bride in the foreground and the groom in the background, I'd used a shallow depth of field to get this effect deliberately. 'Oh, you cut their heads off' came the next grumble, it was a photo of the couple holding hands, and I'd decided to focus on that. It carried on for a few more minutes, 'I wouldn't have taken it like that', 'why did you take it just of their shoes?'. It really knocked me for six. I started to feel really uncomfortable, my stomach churned, palms were a little sweaty, and then the coordinator walked in. Convinced I had absolutely missed the mark, I was really nervous showing her the photos. At the end of the viewing came the reassuring response 'these are exactly what we've been looking for'.

I know taste is such a personal thing, and I'm sure everyone has had similar experiences in their lives. In that moment I was really worried, but I am for ever grateful to this man at the venue. I've talked about this incident in our photography retreats as we chat about finding our voice as photographers. It's such a vivid moment for me still. I'm grateful to him as it absolutely made me realise that I couldn't please everyone with my images, and if I tried to do this, it would dilute any style I was trying to build. In that same week when I was showing the venue their photos, I was getting passport photos ready for a family and taking photos of some guttering for a couple who were having a dispute with their builder. I was trying to do so many things, to please everyone, and actually to the detriment of where and who I wanted to be.

I'm writing this now as I had an exchange at the weekend that took me right back to that nervy time of me showing the venue those wedding photos. We opened our doors for Hebden Bridge Open Studios. It was great to see so many new faces and to get a chance to talk about our work. Late on Sunday afternoon, just before we closed, a man walked in with a slightly quizzical look. He reminded me so much of the volunteer at the venue I actually felt my stomach lurch a little. He looked round in silence and then just stopped in front of one photo. 'This is my favourite'.

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Out of all the frames on our wall, I was really surprised, and I had a word with myself for being judgmental. 'I love the feeling, the light, the memory it evokes, there's something almost ethereal about it'. I quickly scribbled his words down after our exchange. I've been wanting to push myself a little further to take more images like this. Like most photographers, artists, makers, I guess our work is always evolving, developing. I almost never want to feel too comfortable, there's always an itch to scratch. I guess if our heart is truly in our work, people will come on this journey with us as they can feel something too. I just know that taking photos like this really excites me, and I think back to myself in that wedding venue all those years ago and I want to be true to that voice.

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Finding The Light

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A couple of years ago, I took the photo above and I posted it on Instagram and Facebook. And then an intriguing comment appeared, "Ooh, that looks just like a Vermeer". At this point, please forgive my ignorance. What's a Vermeer, I thought. One quick Google later, I knew. I didn't think I'd heard his name before, but I had back in school days, I just hadn't retained it. What I did remember, in those dusty recesses of my mind, was looking at those beautiful paintings in over-sized books in the school library. 

It was the start of a new year, and I'd been itching to take photos a little differently. This moment was a turning point for me, I knew I loved this image, but couldn't quite put my finger on it. I loved the tones, the simplicity of it. I've always been drawn to the dark, but a dark that's shattered by a pop of light, whether from a window, a gap in the trees, or a sunny spot on a staircase. Especially with shoots in a family home, I naturally look for this type of light. It's the light that really makes me tick. Suzi always knows when I've found it as I'll take a sharp intake of breath! Looking at more Vermeer paintings online, I was so taken with the light, the contrasts and shadows and how he managed to capture the beauty in the everyday in such a striking way.

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography

There are a few theories that Vermeer used a camera obscura that may have helped him to create depth and composition and intensify the contrast between light and shadows. To me he is the ultimate lightseeker. The way he used light went hand hand in hand with his style.

Since then, I've been seeking a more painterly quality in my photos and using light a little differently to how I was before that photo of a mother and her new baby. 

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
SarahMaYorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
SarahMasonPhoto_020.jpgYorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
SarahMasonPhotography_033.jpgYorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
SarahMasonPhoto_002.jpgYorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography

We've been discussing how we use light on our retreats too, we love passing on what we've learnt. It always seems to be the subject that people get most excited about. If you'd like to join us on our next retreats, just let us know, or take a look at the retreats page on our website here.

And keep a look out for those gorgeous pools of light spilling through curtains in the morning, illuminating your favourite walk through the trees, or highlighting the stairs. There's magic in the everyday.

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