A Sense Of Place

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I will always remember that feeling of being in the car, sat in the back next to my sister Katy. The Ford Escort Dad was driving struggled up the hill a little out of Oxenhope, onto the moor beyond, and my belly would flip when we left the last of the houses behind. We’d drive on tarmac sandwiched between brown earth, sometimes peppered with a purple haze when the heather was in bloom. The twists in the road hugged the moor. There was the corner that became treacherous in winter with the snow drifting, the corner where the radio would cut out, and then the corner that I waited for with anticipation. The corner that revealed a view over Calderdale that gave me my first rushes of a sense of place.

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I grew up in Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales, all chocolate box picturesque scenes, bright limestone and rolling hills. My cousins grew up in Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, only 30 miles away, but in an entirely different landscape. Those steep valley sides, chimney stacks and big skies seemed so far removed from where I was. This landscape felt exciting, so different to the one I was part of. We were lucky enough to have lots of family get togethers growing up, so us cousins saw quite a lot of each other. Many of these gatherings would happen at my Aunty and Uncle’s over in Hebden Bridge. The first view of Stoodley Pike piercing the sky, was always my marker. At 37 metres tall, the monument can be seen for miles, and it was always my first indication we were nearing a place, and people I loved. Now the wind turbines have joined the view too.

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It seemed to go so much deeper than just on our way to see family though. This landscape had somehow claimed me. All those years ago I knew I wanted to live in Hebden Bridge ‘when I grew up’. And after a couple of stints in London, a few years in Liverpool and a bit of travelling, I made it!

The other morning, I drove up onto the moor road to photograph that corner, and some of the views along the way.

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We sometimes went swimming in the stream that forges its way down this valley. Sitting in innertubes, our bodies lathered in suncream, we shared many a picnic here. It’s a place I love to come to now and have a dip.

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The blistering summer heat often caused those mirages. The wobbly vapour lines rising from hot tarmac, and Dad woud pull down the sun visor above the steering wheel to shield his eyes.

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We always called this the mini monument and my sister would often confuse it with Stoodley that towered over the valley. It sits close to the village of Peckett Well. The last one before you drop down into Hebden Bridge. This memorial commemorates the residents of the Wadsworth area who were killed or missing in World War I and II.

This is the pub before you drop down through the trees into Hebden Bridge. I can’t remember which one of my relatives drove into the car park thinking it was the turn off to my Aunty and Uncle’s house, but I do remember the laughs when the story was retold.

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And this view is so pertinent now. Through the cow parsley, over the fields and across a valley to Heptonstall, the village we live in now that’s perched just above Hebden Bridge.

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Some of the mills have now given way to flats. I guess maybe they were derelict when we were passing by in the Ford Escort.

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There have been a couple of places since then. I’m inspired by how landscape can affect us. I’ve spoken before about when Suzi took me to Suffolk for the first time to meet her parents. The flat lands made me feel so restless and uneasy. I think that’s one of the reasons I took the North Coast 500 trip around the tip of Scotland. I wanted to test myself, to see how I was in these remote landscapes. The landscape that both excites and scares me. It sometimes feels that there is a re-wild reset button inside me and I’m dancing around the edges.

Me and Suzi have talked about where we’d like to live in the future if we leave Hebden Bridge. We both would love to be by the sea. Maybe when we’re older and Olive has left home, we might live in a little house that overlooks the ocean. I’m sure my Hebden Bridge sense of place feeling won’t mind sharing with a big sea view!

We’d love to hear about your places too, and this month’s Stories of the Everyday theme is all about these places that are part of us. The June hashtag is #storiesoftheeveryday_place. We’ll share a collection of photos and words in a blog post at the end of June.

Stories Of The Everyday - Frames

Sarah Mason Photography Family Photography Yorkshire

From some of the conversations we’ve had this month, people are really enjoying having a theme to work to. It can help to focus your mind when you’re out and about with your camera to have a topic in mind. So February’s theme was FRAMES. For us, in our photos, we’re always trying to create a feeling of depth, something to lead a viewer into an image. We’re all taking images in 2D of a 3D scene which can sometimes look flat, but using various compositional elements can really help to create that depth. So we thought it would be great to experiment with one of these elements - FRAMES! 

Thanks to everyone who joined in. Here are a selection of the frames you experimented with. As we run this monthly challenge on Instagram, we’ve credited and linked images to Instagram accounts. We have just launched our monthly theme for March too. Find out more about it after having a gander at the frame shots…

We’ve loved looking through these and see what you’ve been experimenting with. So, we’ve just announced our March theme and it’s GROWTH. It’s always good to see different people’s interpretations with themes like this. From early spring bulbs and buds, little ones, personal growth, baby bumps, teething (we’re in the thick of this at the moment!), whatever you’d like. Just tag your photos with #storiesoftheeveryday_growth and we’ll share all the photos in a blog at the end of March. Happy growing!!

A Year In Pictures

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Me and Suzi love this time of year. We've spent time with family and friends over the festivities, we've allowed ourselves time to curl up on the sofa to begin to read the pile of books we've been gathering over the last few months. And now, we go into planning mode for the year ahead, both for the business, and what adventures we'd like to share together over the next twelve months.

Firstly, we'd like to say a great big  T H A N K  Y O U  for all your support, the follows, the bookings, we are so grateful and we've loved spending time with you all. 2017 was the first year of not doing weddings, and we felt like we were heading a little into the unknown, but it was the right time for us to do this to nurture our family photography, and let our training and commercial work grow and develop. So, here's our year in pictures - thank you so much for sharing it with us. Here's to a wonderful 2018!

The start of 2017  was all about logs on the fire, planning the year ahead, and crisp morning walks. We had some cute shoots too.

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In FEBRUARY, we headed up to Scotland to see if we could track down a starling murmuration, something we'd both wanted to see for such a long time. The sky didn't disappont.

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We made a short film about those beautiful birds too...

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The first signs of SPRING started to slowly reveal themselves.

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My Scottish trip plans came to fruition in MARCH, and I left the Hebden Bridge cobbles for the wilds of the Highlands. I travelled around the tip of the top of the country on the North Coast 500 route.

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And then back into the flow of things for some fun SPRING family sessions.

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In JUNE, we headed over to Dublin for 10 days. We were delighted to be commissioned by Tesco Ireland to create the stills for their new 'Family Makes Things Better' campaign. The ferry trip over was pretty blustery as you can see below. This little film looks like we were working with Guinness - who knows, maybe one day! 

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In the SUMMER, my Mum and Dad started packing as they were about to move house. I found lots of treasures from my teenage years, and decided to record each room in a series of self portraits. It hit me harder than I thought it would. You can read more about it here in a blog about my childhood home and the memories I have there.

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After Mum and Dad had just moved out of my childhood home, I became really drawn to doing more family shoots in the family home. I started to see echoes of my own childhood in these photos too,  and I really think this is what I'd been searching for. 

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Through Hanna (below), we both found a new love for wild swimming, and had a few late afternoon strolls to Gaddings Dam for a dip.

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OCTOBER came, we ran our first photography retreat and loved it! We'd been running 1-2-1 training courses for a number of years, so the retreats were a natural progression. We have more dates in for this year. To kick off the programme, we're starting with Capturing Childhood in March. You can check out our retreat page here for more info or to book....

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The days started to draw in, and with the change in seasons, along came the low light and those beautiful tones.

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This is one of my cherished personal moments from a family party when the oldest member of my family, my great aunt Eileen, met the youngest member, baby Daniel.

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And as we slowed down for the festivities, we started to think about what we'd like to bring into 2018...

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We'd love to spend more time with loved ones, and more time in the trees. We'd love to spend time with you, capturing your big beautiful hearts in our photos. We'd love to capture those precious moments, big and small, and create a little snapshot of all our lives today for our families in the future. We want to keep looking for the light and to soak up the sun. 2017 was the year we felt we could really hear our voices, felt truly comfortable in our style, so thanks to everyone who continues on this journey with us, and for all your support. It really does mean the world to us. We'll leave you with a picture one of our friends' daughters drew for us this year. As usual, in most of our photos, there's Suzi on the left, and me, a little bit smaller on the right. Here's to you, and here's to a marvellous 2018. 

Sarah & Suzi xx

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