Great Uncle Harry

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I’ve been really drawn to documenting rural life ever since I picked my first camera up. When I loaded my first roll of 35 mm film into my old Minolta on Boxing Day 1981, I looked out of my bedroom window and watched the sheep in the field behind our house. It was a Christmas card scene with powdery snow on the ground, and the outlines of the big oak tree were framed with a thin layer of white dust. I took my camera out as the afternoon light was fading, and took my first picture on my first camera. I know this photo is at Mum and Dad’s house somewhere, and writing this is making me want to find it!

And now in our commercial work, we’re enjoying working with companies who are based, and work in and with the countryside. This comes from a love of rural life that is an intrinsic part of both me and Suzi. We both have families who have or who are still farming. I’ve been wanting to take photos of my Great Uncle Harry on his farm for a while. I remember going to visit him and my Great Aunty Nora during school holidays. It always seemed such a treat to travel around the farm in their Land Rover, hanging on for dear life in the back as we were jostled over fields and bumpy farm tracks!

I took a trip over to his farm a couple of weeks to see Harry and my cousin Nicholas. We sat at the kitchen table with endless cups of tea, enjoyed a roast dinner cooked in the Aga, and looked at old photos whilst we chatted about farming life and family. I loved taking these photos, it was good to spend some time with Harry and Nicholas.

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SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
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SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming
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This is a little half pint bottle my uncle used to have for the milk the dairy farm produced. This was before the days of pasteurisation.

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SarahMasonPhotography_commercial photography yorkshire farming

This was the perfect day to ease me back into shooting again after taking off time to be with Olive and Suzi. I learnt so much, including the difference between straw and hay which I feel really embarrassed about! I heard family anecdotes I’d never heard before, and realised how much I want to document my own family’s life. I’m heading back soon to make a film with Harry and record some of those stories. It was good to spend a day with him.

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Our Photo Shoot

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Last week, Angela (a.k.a. Angela Fenwick Photography), sent us a link to a slideshow of our photo shoot we had with her a couple of weeks ago. We've loved her warm, emotive newborn shoots for a while. Although me and Suze are documenting life with Olive in our own photographs, having this shoot really cemented how we feel about family photography. These images are here for us now to look at, frame, print, thumb through, But in the future, they'll be Olive's to enjoy, and although strange to think about at the moment, then they'll become an heirloom to any family she may have too. These photos are so much more than the paper they'll be printed on. The thought of being on the other side of the camera made us feel pretty vulnerable in the run up to the shoot. Would we look too tired? Would we be really self conscious? I even worried about letting go of control on the shoot and just letting Angela do her amazing work. But do you know, when we were in it, these things didn't enter our thoughts. For those 2 hours we just had time for each other. Time might be flying by, but we're so grateful for that afternoon, and for the moments held in these images.

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This Wonderful Life, Captured.

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I took many a Saturday morning bus ride from the Yorkshire village I lived in to the nearest town back in the 80's. It was usually a trip to meet school friends to buy a new record from Woolworths, have a look round the shops, and then share an ice-cream float in Coffee and Cream. Occasionally there was the added excitement of popping in to SupaSnaps, its bright hoarding a beacon on the corner of two main roads. I'd take out the folded collection slip from my purse and hand it over eagerly to the person behind the counter. A moment later, a yellow photo wallet would be placed in my outstretched hands. I was always too excited to wait to look at them so used to fold back the cover to the wallet and hurriedly flick through the photos in the shop, the smell of developing fluid still clinging to each image. I can still feel that excitement to this day.

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Can you remember the photos with the advisory stickers placed in the corners, with an almost 'must try harder' tone to them? And the quickly taken photos at the beginning and end of the film? For me, they were usually of our cat Jaspa, or the Smash Hits posters on my wall. But this was part of the process wasn't it?

As you may have noticed, we've had a rebrand (thanks to Chris Sands, he's amazing). It felt the right time to do it as we felt our work had changed direction and our style definitely had more of a nostalgic feel. With this came a thought about what we offer as a tangible product after a family shoot, and both me and Suzi looked back to how we used to receive our photos. We wanted to recapture that special feeling, and the feeling of having an actual ‘thing’ to take home. It turns out, a lot of you miss that stuff too.

The fine art prints and the wallet we present them in are that ‘thing’. Importantly for us, the wallet itself was designed and made by people we know right here in Hebden Bridge, our Yorkshire hometown. Chris designed it after we'd looked at a selection of photo wallets. He'd picked up this amazing Kodak one on a trip to Australia, and that became our inspiration.

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We loved the attention to detail, the notes inside and the stitching. Suzi found a stack more on-line, and we spent many an evening pouring over them.

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We loved some of the tag lines the wallets had.

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And the box at the back to put in the date of the shoot and location, it becomes part of the story. After the design, we took it to the fab folk at The Egg Factory here in Hebden Bridge. Every wallet is hand screen printed by Amy, and then stitched with bright yellow thread, we really wanted to keep this detail.

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Inside the wallet, there's a pocket for 24 photos, we wanted to keep this number as a nod to a roll of film.

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These are printed on beautiful matte photo paper, the colour is so deep and rich. You've got to feel them, they're so tactile!

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And then there's a pocket for the contact sheets to show you all the photos we took on your shoot. We wanted them to look a little like the negatives you get in a wallet.

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There's a small pocket below that holds 2 cards, a gift to you and a referral card for a friend.

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We wanted you to enjoy having something to hand, something to pass around, and even smell the ink if that’s what moves you most!

To see more about our portrait shoots, here's a link to our portrait page.

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What will you do with your prints after the shoot, put them in an album? Frame a selection for the wall? Whatever you decide to do with your photos, we know you’ll enjoy them for years to come.

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There’s a little bit more about our photo wallets in our launch film below.

 

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