Instagram.

I love it. It’s my online happy place. A community of squares of loveliness and amazing people from all walks of life sharing a little bit of beauty and inspiration every day.

Yet while we worry about who our kids are meeting online and the potential dangers of that cyber world, I find I am meeting more and more like minded folk through this little app.  And not only that, some of these instapals are becoming friends IRL (that’s In Real Life in cool kid speak FYI!!) Take the lovely Janice of @gatheredthreads. I’ve met Janice several times and a lovelier person you couldn’t actually dream up! She is so inspiring with her floral posts and wreath making and her photos are a highlight of my day.

And then there’s Kirsty, @songofanest on Instagram. She is a beautiful and gentle soul and inspires me to slow down and find small moments of beauty in the everyday.

Which leads on to Kirsty’s other awesome online project, Shared Threads (@shared_threads), a project designed to help girls affected by poverty in third world countries whose lives are seriously limited because they have no way of dealing with their period. Kirsty and her merry band of makers have begun making cloth sanitary products to send to some of these girls, allowing them to continue their schooling every week and be an active part of their communities. It – not surprisingly – wasn’t an issue I was even slightly aware of and it certainly isn’t one that we tend to talk about. But Kirsty’s passion for it drew me right in and I knew I wanted to be involved somehow.

That opportunity arrived a few months ago when Kirsty asked if I would come along and photograph a fundraising wreath making workshop she and Janice were holding in Belfast. Eh, yes please! Flowers and creative people and my camera? That’s like a drool-worthy crazy photo combo right there! And so I arrived, camera in hand to meet Kirsty and see magic happen.

In her recent blog post about the event she said of the Shared Threads community: “A truly beautiful community of women is forming around the ‘Shared Threads’ project. Women who love to make, women who love to sew and women who can’t do either but who come and iron and cut out squares and work their socks off. There is a feeling of togetherness, of purpose, of women helping women.” And I can totally endorse that! I watched as women arrived with friends and on their own, bringing cakes and supplies and creative hearts. I watched as Janice made absolutel gorgeousness out of baskets of wild flowers, and as women followed and giggled about their own attempts. And I watched as young and old, friends and strangers chatted and laughed over tea and cake. It was like a giant birthday party for grown up girls where everyone of us was the birthday girl! But the most amazing thing was that all the while these women were helping girls they will likely never meet have a better life and more opportunities. Amazing!!

 

Please do go and check out the links here, especially the Shared Threads link. Kirsty’s blog, Song of a Nest, and Janice’s, Gathered Threads are both drool worthy so don’t miss out on those either! If you’re on Instagram, check out more amazing feeds from @bendyweed@janmary, @dekkobird and @petitjoujou who attended the workshop. Oh, and me, @jblifedocumented! It would be so lovely to meet even more of you creative souls over there!

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I like to think I’m pretty good with kids. I’ve photographed plenty, have 2 of my own and I’m a trained teacher. But none of this matters when the baby doesn’t like your face! All you can do is try not to look too hard in their direction and not take it personally, in the hope all will settle down and you can get some shots without teary eyes. So this is the mode I adopted with beautiful Benjamin during our at home session. I was advised not to take it to heart as he does the same thing with his own grandpa on a daily basis! Also, look at that face. You couldn’t help but smile in spite of the tears.

Babies at this age are so much fun to photograph. Mum and dad are long past the days of being unsure of their new little one and the smiles, gurgles and spit bubbles are coming along nicely. It’s a pretty perfect time and one of my favourites to photograph. It’s just…well…joyful! Also, elastic band wrists and dimple elbows are immense!!

Summer sessions are booking up fast, so if you’d like to document a little of family life as it is right now, jump on that contact button up there while there’s still some availability. I promise, you won’t regret it!

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I am finally getting around to blogging some of my favourite family sessions from the second half of last year. I really don’t know where the time goes!

This first session I want to share was one of the most fun sessions I had all of last year! It all started with an email from a lovely grandmother (who looks far to young to have all these grandkids!) who wanted to get some lifestyle photography while all her family were in one place. And before I knew it, I was knee deep in kids, dogs and chickens and laughing non-stop! These are the best sessions, where you’re made to feel like part of the action, called by the kids to come and see what they’re doing and getting mums and dads a couple of minutes to get possibly the only photo of just the two of them since their wedding day.

I’m taking bookings now for June, July and August, so if you’d like to get some awesome memories up on your wall please get in touch – I would LOVE to hear from you! Spaces are tight so don’ t leave it too late and miss out on grabbing one.

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It was tough.

It was 374 days long.

That’s longer than a year!

But it was quite pretty. And frosty. And snowy. So we’ll let it go.

But it if lasts that long again next year, I’m writing a letter of complaint to the Spectator!

Also, there were these eejits!!

And that super blue blood moon as a final flourish somewhere around day 368!

Here’s to February, which thankfully has but 28 days clear.

It better not snow!!

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There’s something special about photographing people in places they love. They sort of lose themselves in the moment and it’s a bit magical watching it all unfold.

This is my friend’s daughter in the place she would probably live if her folks allowed her! Horses are her everything, so capturing her before a competition was an amazing experience. I’ve had next to no experience with horses, but watching her work with them and seeing the trust between them was just incredible and put me completely at ease. I’m looking forward to brighter, dryer days when I can capture her riding and jumping.

If you’re thinking that this is the year you really need to update your family photos, or you would like to capture a place or activity that is special to you, I would love to hear from you. You can use that little contact button or find me on Facebook or Instagram.

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