There are always flowers…

…for those who want to see them. So said the artist Henri Matisse. Or, to quote that other great thinker, Ferris Bueller; “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you might miss it.”

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Today for me was a day to literally stop and smell the roses. The weather has been glorious today and on a trip to Alnwick Garden, after my son had finished jumping in all the fountains, I had a lovely time just pottering around taking photos of flowers.

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Thankfully the place is chock full of pokestops so Beck didn’t mind being dragged round the ornamental garden, which was in full bloom.

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I go here quite a lot at different times of year and there’s always something new to see.

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One thing I love doing is bee spotting, slightly less glamorous than bird spotting I’ll grant you. I just love how fluffy they are when you see them up close

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I’ve started printmaking recently and I think as I spot natural shapes and lines they will give me a lot of inspiration for designs.

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It was literally a riot of colour today, and a great place to enjoy the sunshine.

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I’ve done several weddings in this venue and it really is a photographer’s paradise with all the quirky features and stunning backdrops.

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The Simple Life

northumberland2This weekend has been a time for simple pleasures, and beautiful photo opportunities. I absolutely love the Northumberland coast and with the recent good weather I got a little bit over excited and decided that summer was here and it was time to go camping.

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Thankfully the weather was kind and a stop off at Belsay Hall was a great start to the trip.

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Nothing better than a picnic in the sunshine. Especially when the daffodils are out.

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Next stop was Seahouses where I was too busy spending a small fortune on the 2p machines in the arcades to take many photos. Saturday was spent at Holy Island which is one of my favourite places in the UK.

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I just love the atmosphere of the place, and all the quirky little details like the upside down boats used as sheds.

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The colours and textures are a photographer’s dream. We had a great time here, helping my little boy fly a kite on a walk along to the castle was the highlight for me. I’ve never heard him laugh so much, it’s amazing what joy you can get out of a £1.50 plastic kite!

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Our walk around the Priory was at rather a brisk pace because of the impending tides but I still had time to spot a few nice textures on the jog back to the car!

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A Portrait of the Artist

What makes a photo a portrait? I recently visited the Laing Art Gallery for the chance to see Anthony Van Dyk’s last self portrait, which is now on tour across the country. The exhibition also features a selection of portraits by other modern visionaries and their own take on the idea of self portraits. In a world of snapchat and selfie sticks, it sometimes seems like photography it’s losing it’s status in the art world, particularly with portraits.

Of course, as a photographer I am bound to defend the cause! I believe that a successful portrait is more than just a flattering image. A real portrait shows something about the character of the subject and tells a story in itself. And speaking of stories, my portrait of the writer Daniel James will be featuring in his first novel which is being published in November this year.

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This series of portraits were taken at Ouseburn at Newcastle, a great location for vibrant graffiti, loads of different textures and industrial architectural features. Can’t beat a bit of urban decay!

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I chose a vintage film effect when editing these photos to fit in with the theme of the novel, and to bring out the vibrancy of the backdrop. I love the Pop Art feel of these photos, which reflect the main character of the book. The novel, entitled ‘The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas’, blends fact and fiction to tell the story of a journalist searching for the truth about a reclusive artist.

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The style of photography I aimed for with this project was a sort of hyper reality, mirroring the almost mythical feel of the book. There’s a sense of intrigue and mystery about the portraits, and some feel almost like film stills.

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The last photo from Leazes Park has a Lynchian feel to it, something that really fits in with the style of the novel – although I don’t want to give any spoilers here! The book will be published by Dead Ink in November this year, more details can be found at @thebleedmag or in the following article from the Northern Echo:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15228922.Writer___s_first_novel_about_art_world_mystery/

If you are interested in a photo shoot of your own you can contact me at helentaylorphotos@gmail.com or via my Facebook page

Winter Wonderland

Looking back at 2016 I have had a really interesting and varied year when it comes to photography, all rounded off with a wonderful wedding assignment at Beamish Hall. Carys and Marc booked me for their celebrations which took place between Christmas and New Year. They chose a full package which started with bridal preparations and guests arriving at the venue. This gives the opportunity for lovely spontaneous shots which you wouldn’t normally get with more traditional wedding photography.

I love photos like this because they really capture the excitement of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ and show all the details that go together to make up the big day. Beamish Hall is a stunning venue and there were some fabulous photo opportunities as Carys made her way from the bridal suite to the ceremony itself.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy doing wedding photography so much, it’s a real privilege to be with people on their big day and capture all of the happiness and emotions that it entails.

After the ceremony the couple had their reception in the Winter Garden of Beamish Hall which really did look magical with the Christmas decor and lighting. I always make sure that as well as photos of the couples and guests, I document all of the little details in the surroundings to give an overall flavour of the day.

My absolute favourite photo of the day is this stunning silhouette. I wasn’t planning on taking a photo like this, but when I noticed the couple standing in front of the lit up screen while making their ‘Thank you’ speeches I suddenly had a brainwave and went for the silhouette shot. It’s simple but also dramatic and unusual. I’ve never seen a wedding photo like this before and I’ll definitely be incorporating this technique into my wedding repertoire from now on!

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If you’d like to find out more about my wedding photography packages you can contact me via this website, at helentaylorphotos@gmail.com , or through my facebook page.

My 2016 in photos

It’s that time of year again when I look back through all the photos I took last year, and remember what I got up to as well! 2016 was an interesting year to say the least, and these were my photographic highlights…

January

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An unexpected snow day in January became the perfect opportunity to go to the park and make some giant bubbles. I love how peaceful everything looks with a clean white layer of snow on it, as long as I don’t have to drive in it! As always my son was a brilliant model, it must be like second nature having a camera pointed at him by now!

February

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Speaking of modelling! I was lucky enough to get my own studio lighting kit this year and I’ve had great fun getting to grips with it. I was familiar with how it would all work, having studied studio photography at Newcastle College, so it was just a case of getting my camera to sync up with the lighting. It’s brought a whole new dimension to my work and I can now offer a portable studio service so clients can have professional photos done in their own home, which is particularly helpful if you have a new little baby! My son has been a great help with letting me get some practice in, here he is rocking his cardy like a mini Tom Hardy!

March

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I am not known for my sense of direction. In March me and my son attempted the Stick Man Trail at Hamsterley Forest, a kid friendly 1.5km route which I somehow managed to turn into a 14km trek after a series of major wrong turns. Good job I had my camera on me though and managed to capture some pretty eerie images of the deserted landscape. And still made it back to the car park before it was locked up!

April

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In April I was lucky enough to be taking the photos at Amy and James’s wedding, this one is from their reception at the Black Horse at Beamish. They were a dream to work with and it’s hard to pick a favourite photo but this one really stands out for me. The venue was great too and had loads of nice features that made interesting backdrops for wedding photos.

May

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A lovely day out at Beamish Museum with my son. So glad I took my camera as it was such a gorgeous sunny day and everything seemed to be popping with colour. I sometimes forget how lucky we are to have this on our doorstep.

June

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I spotted this beautiful poppy on a family trip to Bridlington in June. I love how it’s so glossy it almost looks ceramic. I’m sure I slowed down all the family walks by meandering along and being distracted by photo opportunities though!

July

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In July I was taking wedding photos for Chanelle and James, this one is from Consett Park. It was a fantastic day with a bit of everything – the majestic beauty of St Ives Church at Leadgate, a lovely sunny photo shoot at Consett Park, and then an amazing reception at Consett AFC. The couple were great to work with and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

August

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In August I was putting the final touches on my Portrait Exhibition ‘Human After All’ which was scheduled for the following month at Stanley Civic Hall. Anna is one of my favourite people to take photos of, I have so many I could probably hold an exhibition entirely of Anna portraits! I really like this one in particular though because of her thoughtful expression and the dream-like effect of the corn field. The portrait exhibition was a big hit and I got some really good feedback about featuring real people with natural poses and genuine expressions.

September

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And now for something completely different! In September we visited the Wolsingham Show, I’d never been to a country show before so it was really interesting. There were so many things to take photos of, and the way the competition entries were displayed were like works of art in themselves.

October

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October was my son’s first half term from school and we had a little trip to Yorkshire to recharge our batteries. I let Beck take most of the photos this time and he really seems to enjoy it. It’s cute looking at the photos later and seeing what has caught his eye and how he sees the world, especially from his height too!

November

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In November we were preparing for our first stall at Tynemouth Market. I took the opportunity to put up for sale some of the photos and prints from my previous three exhibitions and got some great feedback from customers as well. We shared our stall with Jon from Art by Jon Adcock who was selling some of his amazing canvases.

December

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I finished 2016 on a high with the wedding of Carys and Marc. It was a magical day at Beamish Hall, the couple were stunning and the venue looked amazing as it was decked out with wintry decorations. I love this unusual silhouette shot of the couple, they look so happy and at ease on their big day.

If you’d like to find out more about any of my photography packages you can contact me via this website or through my facebook page.

PACT House

Today I took the opportunity to volunteer at PACT House, a local community project based in Stanley. PACT House is based in the old Lloyds Bank building at the bottom of Stanley Front Street and has been completely transformed by a team of volunteers who began work nearly a year ago today. The aim of PACT House is “to improve the health, wellbeing and aspirations for the whole community in Stanley, alleviate poverty, advance education and bring the whole of the community together.”

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Wednesday is Community Meal day – where donations of food from local people, shops and organisations, are transformed into delicious hot meals which are free for all. However, those who are able to donate for their meal provide money for the service to continue. It’s a great way of bringing the community together in creating, serving and eating some really nice food, and also making sure that food doesn’t go to waste unnecessarily.

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Today I was helping out Paula who is the main co-ordinator of all the volunteers and all-round culinary genius. It was great fun being confronted with a completely random selection of food and then watching Paula figure out four or five different main courses she could create with them on a large scale. It was kind of like being in a real life Masterchef challenge! I must say Paula is one of the nicest and most positive people I have ever met and clearly cares a lot about the local community. Not only that but she can run a kitchen full of volunteers without batting an eyelid! She really was an inspiration.

PACT House is also an internet cafe during the day and provides a venue for community groups to meet, as well as being a safe haven for young people wanting to meet up. It was genuinely heartwarming to see all the people who went through the House today and see everybody pitching in and helping out. I would recommend volunteering there to anybody as it’s a great way to get involved in the community, and a really good laugh too with some really canny people.

Another great idea from PACT House is extending their Community Meal to Christmas Day, they will be open from 1.00pm for Christmas Dinner followed by a Christmas Film and then quiz. If you’d like to find out more about the variety of projects carried out by the volunteers at PACT House you can visit their facebook page at: www.facebook.com/pacthousestanley