Our Retreat


If you’ve been wondering what happens on our Capturing Childhood weekends, this blog post is for you! We are just planning our shoots for our next retreat in October, and we realised we haven’t shared the photos from the last one back in March. So here’s a little about our experience, what we chatted about with our group, and we’re sharing some of the amazing photos they took over the weekend too.

When you first start out with something fresh, like a new course, it feels like a very vulnerable place, wondering if anyone will want to come. Our retreat weekends have been steadily growing, and this is how we wanted it to be. We’ve had a mixture of attendees, from parents wanting to take better photos of their children, to portrait photographers just about to set up their business and feeling they need guidance, and help building their portfolio. There are places left on our next weekend, on the 5th and 6th of October. It will be the fourth of these weekends that we’ve run, and we’re looking forward to welcoming new weekenders to the barn on the hill, a perfect location to learn, shoot, and just be.

We thought we’d take you through some of the things we talk about and share. These weekends are ever evolving, and we like that too, that the course grows, shifts, and changes a little every time.

In March, we were joined by 6 participants, all at different stages in their creative journey. Everyone brought so much to the group, and we’re forever grateful for these conversations about our creativity and practice.

We always start our weekend off with pastries, tea, and introductory chats.

And then everyone finds their spots on the comfy sofas. In the morning, we talk about techniques, breaking a shoot into chapters, and how to see and use light.


When we’ve chatted for a while in the morning, we like to stretch, and get out there for our first shoot of the weekend. Martha was our first model. We had just talked about how light can give shots a signature feel, so I wanted everyone to experiment with different light, and see which they like best. We also chatted about getting down on to the children’s level so we’re let into their world. What I love the very most about photography, is everyone’s different interpretations, that there are so many different ways of viewing character.

After lunch, we really start getting into personal style, and feeling confident in our voice as photographers, that we always have something new to say in our photos. How bringing our thoughts back to us, back home, can help with the stories we’re trying to tell in our images. What does a shot make you feel when you press the shutter? And how when we’re taking shots in this way, the viewer feels part of that story too. Olive and Suzi stepped into the limelight for our next practical, and when I started getting excited about the light we had in the room, I crept into a few photos too.


On Day 2 we talk a lot more about personal style through our own experiences with this. What we do when we’re planning a shoot and how personal projects can feed into work. Day 2 leads us into a family shoot in the afternoon, where we put everything together that we’ve learnt over the weekend. The day before, I took everyone out to the location so they had a good idea of where it was going to take place, and maybe spot some areas they’d like to experiment with shooting. I lead the shoot so everyone can see what happens on our sessions. How I lightly direct if there’s need for this, and learning when to step back so those natural interactions happen.


I’ve never been great at saying goodbyes, as I always want an event, party, workshop to carry on! It felt very special these two days spent together in the barn on the hill. If you’d like to join us for our next Capturing Childhood weekend retreat, the dates are 5th & 6th October. The location is close to Hebden Bridge in Cragg Vale. Both Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge train stations are nearby. Payment plans are now available, just let us know if this is the option you’d like to go for by emailing us at info@sarahmasonphotography.co.uk.

Wherever you are on your portrait photography journey, we’d love to get you a step (or two or more) closer to shooting in the way you want to, the way that makes your heart sing. We hope to see you soon.

Stories Of The Everyday - Home

Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire

Home is where the heart is, home from home, there’s no place like home. For the July Stories of the Everyday theme, we brought things back HOME. The place, the people, the pets, the light, the details and objects that make it the heart of who we are. The places that make us feel secure, the places where we’re loved, and love.

“Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.” – Cecelia Ahern. I love that. It’s been a joy putting this blog together, looking through photos and their captions. Hope you enjoy the collection too.

And just to let you know, the August theme is all about COMMUNITY. It could be your street, village, town, city. Maybe it’s a group you belong to, or a community you are part of online. Whatever makes you feel part of something, sharing ideas and thoughts with like minded people. Looking forward to seeing what we all come up with. Just tag your photos #storiesoftheeveryday_community. Have a great rest of the month. x

“My children always held their discos in this room. Now it’s only the best room. It holds such memories, I’ll miss it when it’s sold, the house is too big for one person these days.” Carole, who featured in my Home in Maindee project which explored some of the homes of some people who chose to live in Maindee, Newport. As well as why some were choosing to leave.

One from this morning. I know everyone is hot but I love it ☀️🌞☀️🌞☀️ [image description: flowers sit on a windowsill behind a sink, with morning sunlight streaming in casting a shadow on the wooden countertop ]

‘One of our must-haves when choosing a boat was a decent galley! I enjoy cooking and wanted space to nurture this in the children if they chose to join me. We eat loads of fresh fruit and veggies so storage space was essential too. Goosander well and truly ticked the box. Six enormous drawers and masses of side storage too. We forfeited the traditional saloon table but the girls can sit up at the kitchen bench while I cook. The space is big enough to share with their crafts and we chat away while we all work.’

‘I’m increasingly interested in capturing people in their surroundings, giving context to their behaviour, showing relationships to people and objects, telling a bigger story ... my daughter was resting in strong light and it would have made a good portrait, but that didn’t tell any of the story, so I pulled back. She was wilting in the hot weather and had taken herself off for a nap, her body sprawled across the mattress too hot to curl up ... the mattress on the floor next to her bed in her small room, where her sister has been sleeping for a few weeks as we decorate the other bedroom, it’s been an unexpectedly long project fitting it in around life, so the girls have become accustomed to being roomies and the fun of permanent sleepovers ... it’s good to have a memory of this time, but I think it may become a regular fixture at weekends and in holidays as they are now complaining about their imminent separation as the new room approaches completion!’

Counting down the days to the start of the summer break when we can loosen our routines and having to be in certain places or time. These two are getting their practice in with their bedtime antics. If only it was that easy for them to get away with it.

This little lady is bold enough to sneak through my legs as soon as I open the door. You see she loves the dog’s food, the dog loves the pig’s food, and well the pigs will eat anything. It’s one wild and crazy life up here on our hill.

‘Home for us is Somerset, one of the flattest landscapes. In winter, it can be quite bleak and definitely very soggy, when its not flooded and under a few feet of water! But much of the time it is beautiful, a little rough around the edges, raggedy hedgerows battered by the wind and rain, with beautiful views for miles across both farmland and moors. We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by some truly beautiful countryside and walks.
This image was taken in the nearby lane, where the verges are now filled with heads of dry cow parsley, dried from the heat of the sun and just about to spread their seeds to the wind for another year. Behind stands an old wall, historically kept preserved, which has stood for hundreds of years.
Our other 'Home' is further down the country in Cornwall, almost as far as you can travel actually. While we do not have a physical home there, our hearts tell us that this is 'home' whenever we arrive, one of our happy places, a place where we can simply relax and return to a simpler life for a brief moment. My heart sings when I catch my first glimpse of the rugged coastline, just as it did as a child, and the coast walks that take simply your breathe away around each corner. Somewhere to stop and breathe.

Our concept of home is usually defined by the house we live in, surrounded by the possessions we have gained throughout life, the interiors we choose, the photos and memories, the books we collect. Yet it can also be the place which calls out to our hearts every so often, irrespective of possessions.’

‘I love the evening light we get in our flat whilst we cook tea (and take photos!). Thinking about joining in with #storiesoftheeveryday_home has encouraged me to look a bit more closely and celebrate the beauty in the simple things like this. I have a few little clusters of @juriannematter's BYGGE houses dotted around - sometimes three houses on their own, sometimes more - but this little village is my favourite, probably because it has the sunniest spot!’

‘Current Workspace’.

‘A favourite corner. It’s taken years for this climbing hydrangea to fill the shady corner outside my kitchen, and I’m happy to say it was worth the wait 🌿’

‘Winter on Film
(expired Fuji Superia 400)
This is his first art project from Nursery, I'm sure he had lots of help but my heart bursts with pride everytime I look at this wee clay bird and the imprints of his little fingers. A treasure forever.’

‘Our wee three | dreich outside, CBeebies inside’

‘Couple of weeks ago we celebrated first birthday of my little girl. I can’t believe she is one! I mean where the time has gone? Her big sister still gives her cuddles and kisses and I love to observe the way they interact with each other. They fight over cup of milk, they fight over mummy cuddle, they chase each other around the house as Hania is walking already! And they kiss each other goodnight which makes me so happy every night.
On my list to do is to write a first letter and put it safely in our adventure book. Do you write letters to your children?’

‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Stay healthy!’

‘Morning light in my childhood home.’

‘Celebrating the 1st July with a special birthday.
89 today- that’s our neighbour Brierley and not the tractor 🚜. I asked him what the secret to eternal youth was and he told me, so, here it is: Pilates; spending a lot of time giving things ‘a coat of looking at’, and making sure all his drains are clear.’

‘Sunday morning.’

‘I often wonder what it’s like to be their sister. They’ve got a good thing going💞
Side note: in this relationship Maya almost always loves passionately and Coco allows herself to be loved.
What’s the case in your family? Do you have one child who is more affectionate?’

‘Feeling nostalgic... these hammock days on our front porch have been so good for all of us. A space for alone time, or time together. A space to breathe, or to connect. A space for one, or for all four. A space to watch, and to learn.... wherever we live next there will surely be a hammock too... ♥️’

‘Last of the birthday snaps I promise 😂💖. It’s clearly a tough job being 7, but someone’s got to do it 😍. I’m loving having this tiny gal around now it’s the summer hols, you don’t realise how much you miss out on when they’re at school full time do you?!’

‘L a s t v a n m o r n i n g ...note the lazy breakfast of biscuits in hand! 🍪 vibes ✌️’

‘Heart melted 😍 ⁠⠀
Just snapped this quick shot while she was playing the other day.⁠⠀
Please give Lyla a ♥️ if you see this post!⁠’

‘I am a terrible grump in hot weather with no water to cool down in. So to make amends I picked rose petals, chamomile and lavender from the garden with my girls, and we made a floral bath. 🍃🍃’

‘Sometimes the way he stands at these windows I think its due to him being the ruler of the roost. I have realised its fear, as he looks down four stories.’

‘She's nearly one. She is a one I'll tell you that. Either clung to one of my appendages or off climbing some precipice in a split second she isn't clung to said appendages.’

‘And with the endless washing of clothes comes endless showers too 🛀’

‘Inspired by Jo's @twowildheartsthreeloves post, I asked my youngest if he loves mandalas and would love to create one ... He said "oh yes" and started immediately with all that our garden and kitchen offered 😁😍’

‘Summer on the allotment.

It’s all getting into its stride now down at the plot. After a little Rose fettling and squash admiring I even managed to snatch 40 winks in the chair today!

Our allotment is a real solace and the perfect place for downtime from our respective creative businesses, though it invariably ends up being equally creative, just in a different way. More can be seen on my IG stories, I always worry that (perhaps over)sharing our enjoyment of the plot during the season may actually confuse as to what it is we actually do, but then it’s all become so intertwined that I’ve given up caring, much like my incredibly rampant sweet peas this year!’

Quite frankly I don’t think my mum have a good taste. (Sorry mum, but that’s true.) But her cooking is excellent, she taught me how to use a single knife to chop vegetables in tens of different ways and has always put meal on our family table with care. Her choice of tableware wasn’t my fav at all, yet the way she serves different meals combined with different bowls was something I liked and stayed within me deeply. I wonder why I have chosen to be a potter and what kind of potter I’d like to be. I have never thought of my mum’s influence for my career choice, but there is something that rooted from her caring approach. Maybe my eyes were eager to look for a better choice of pottery to fill the gap I used to see. To enjoy meals in a best possible way. My pottery is for everyday use. I focus on the practicality within the form, pay attention to the details of curves, lines and edge, and at the same time I try creating simple beauty in utility.

’I often get asked why I don’t make Japanese pottery. To be honest, it has never occurred to me making chawan or yunomi whilst I’m working in UK, as it won’t be practical in my opinion. How many people would actually use chop sticks daily to eat rice from a chawan or drink Japanese tea in a yumoni? Don’t get me wrong, I have no offence to any potters who like to pursue Japanese pottery anywhere, or people embrace Japanese pottery in their life. But my point is that I want people to use my work daily so it seems natural for me to make something they can adopt naturally. I didn’t want my work to be up on the shelf to look at. You may see my work have Japanese philosophy of handmade and aesthetic, certainly an influence of food culture from my background, but my practice is focused on people who receive them. I try to imagine how they use them as I make and my own experience on how I would use them at home in UK. At the end of the day, my pottery can only be complete when people use it. You make my mission accomplished. Not me.
[image description: 1 ‘sekihan’ (red bean rice) served on a porcelain chawan with cobalt decoration. 2 my mother preparing dinner in her kitchen surrounded by all sorts of stuff.]’

‘I rarely take Emi to her swim class as it’s a Daddy Daughter activity and I love that they have that, however tonight we swapped and oh my goodness she was so flipping AMAZING! I got a lump in my throat as the teacher told me how impressed she was. To top it off she got her first Octopus badge, which she then just HAD to sleep with. Oh Emi, you make me so proud ❤️ x’

‘The hallway seems to be the go-to place for everything in our house right now. Scooting, eating, singing and most definitely dancing! Wishing you a wonderful weekend 💃🏼’

‘A cheeky little triptych of a cheeky little boy. My poor pictures haven’t been straight in 6 months since this guy started climbing on the sofa 😭’

‘100 mornings captured from April 2nd to July 10th...my middle son’s 13th birthday...I wasn’t sure I would manage to photograph something different each day but I more or less have whether it’s family, pets, our home, the garden or anything else that caught my eye first thing, especially that lovely morning light. I’m going to create a photo book with these images that we can look back on in a few years...’

‘Lots of complaints about the sunshine, (not from me) I have difficulty keeping Vit D in my body so I need to lap it up. Yesterday it felt like autumn which I don't mind in actual autumn dark all day and the same today. I am.way less productive in grey skies.’

‘It’s all in the #details for me as a photographer, I love to get up close and capture meaningful, detailed moments that time may make me forget. His little hands holding that train and the concentration as he gets up close in his playtime ❤️ I dread the day my children outgrow their play with toys like these, I love watching them and listening, and sometimes joining in, #mumlife 😂😍’

‘Because sometimes you just want to snuggle up on the sofa and relax ❣️’

‘Home mid July..’

Finding Your Voice


Finding Your Voice, it’s a term that gets thrown around within creative disciplines a lot isn’t it. And photography is no exception, in fact we have a day workshop called just this. We ran another one this week, and it’s made me think about a few things, as a few recurring conversations happen every time we run them.

You’ve probably heard a lot about finding your why, a buzz term at the moment, but one we keep coming back to. We like a good Ted Talk like the next person, and you may have already seen the Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, if you want to watch it again, here’s the link. I got goosebumps when I first watched this with a marketing mentor a few years ago. And it’s something we share with our retreaters and workshoppers too. “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” He repeats it, and I can often hear his voice saying it.

On our workshops, we’ve had so many conversations about Instagram, curating our feeds, and the mythical beast that is the algorithm. I know I’ve posted photos that I think fit the criteria, seen the little red hearts beating before my eyes, my dopamine fix sated, for now, until I crave that next hit. And then a feeling of hollowness. Because I didn’t really FEEL that photo in the first place. I’m trying to quiet that voice that says, in a bit of a high pitched Yorkshire accent, ‘Ooooo, that’ll look nice on the grid’.

Why are we taking the photos we are taking? Who are they for? Surely, ultimately they’re for us. Only when we feel something in our images, will our viewers feel it too.

If something catches your eye, don’t overthink it. Take it. Show it. If we’re drawn to a pile of toys lit by the sunlight in the corner of the room, or a peg on the washing line glistening with rain, take it, and try and stop that niggle that might start questioning if it’s ‘right’ or not. We felt something just before we pressed the shutter. If it makes you feel something - BINGO! Surely that’s all that matters, and not creating something we think people want to see. People want to see you.

Let’s ditch perfection.

We’ve had a few people messaging us this week saying that they feel in a creative slump. Sometimes it’s a push to pick up your camera, it’s as if all our muscles in our body are conspiring against us to create, due to fear of failure. But these times of resistance are the times I encourage you to pick it up the most, if you feel you can. The camera can sometimes become a conduit to what you want to say with your images, and a rope ladder to bring you out. When I feel most stuck, I look at an object, say a bowl of fruit, and think about how I can take 10 different photos of it. Setting the scene with a wide shot to show it in the environment, and then a close up of a detail, maybe the stalk on an apple. I’lll try different light and perspectives, maybe holding one in my hand, and if I’m feeling energetic enough, maybe set the camera up on a tripod, set it onto a long exposure, and put myself in the frame walking behind the bowl to create motion blur. When I set myself to do something like this, it nearly always shakes me out of a slump, and gets me thinking about all those things I want to do, and maybe spark a few more ideas too.

We wondered if you’d like to do a week long project, making a commitment to pick the camera up at the same time each day for the next 7 days, that hopefully is manageable? As our monthly Stories Of The Everyday theme is HOME, we thought we could base it around that. When you have a theme, or limit yourself in this way to a time or word, (or even a combination of the two), it can lead to stronger images. If you’d like to join in please hashtag your images on Instagram with #storiesoftheeveryday_home if you want to show them. And I guess we’re all trying to bring it back home, to find what is right there inside, the gems that make our work, and our viewpoints unique.

It feels quite pertinent that Instagram are trialling hiding likes on posts in some countries. We’d love to hear from you if you’re in one of those countries, has it influenced what you’re showing or want to show in the future? I think it’d be great to roll it out here too.

So, are you in? Will you join us for the next 7 days? Just pick a time of day when you think it’ll be most convenient to capture a photo that symbolises home (maybe set an alarm on your phone). We hope it’s a gentle way of just picking your camera up each day to create, and if you feel those niggles, we’re here to encourage you to push through it, and take those photos that make you feel something. Let’s get creating!

We’re going to be running another Finding Your Voice retreat day in October. If you’re interested in joining us, please send us an email to express your interest and you’ll be the first to hear about the next date - info@sarahmasonphotography.co.uk.

For now, we hope you have a lovely weekend, and have fun creating!


If you're in the mood for a bit more reading, I wrote a post last year about not being able to please everyone. If you’ve got a cup of tea on the go, and you want to put your feet up for a few more minutes, here’s the link.

Search stories:


Latest Instagram posts:


Filter stories by category: