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

 

 

Meet the models… Part one

I’ve had some really good feedback for my current portrait exhibition at Civic Hall Stanley, but I think my favourite reaction so far has been a conversation I overheard by chance. A group of girls who were looking at the display commented that it’s nice to see real people being used in portraits, rather than photoshopped models. I was really happy to hear that because it’s exactly that approach I’ve been aiming for with my portrait photography – I want to capture the real personality of my subject, often in a spontaneous and relaxed way.

I used this photo of my brother Liam in the exhibition because I think it shows him and the local scenery where I live in an interesting way.

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We took several different shots around the area and I love the level of detail in the natural textures and also the muted colour pallette.

These are the kind of images you can expect from one of my location photo shoots, but if you check out my Portrait Gallery you can see that there’s a lot of variety in my work. If you’re interested in a photo shoot then please contact me at helentaylorphotos@gmail.com or have a look at my Price Guide for more info.

A Game of Two Halves

I’ve recently had the pleasure of being the photographer at the wedding of Chanelle and James, a local couple who found out about my work via Facebook. I first met Chanelle and James back in February for a consultation and engagement shoot.

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Part of my wedding photography package is to scope out the venues in advance so there are no surprises on the big day, and also to give the couple a chance to get used to posing for the camera.

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Chanelle chose a package which covered the whole wedding day, meaning we could start with candid shots of the bridal preparations. Photos like this can be really touching and show what a big day it is for everybody involved.

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The wedding ceremony took place at St Ives church in Leadgate. This church is over 150 years old and is known locally as ‘The Miner’s Cathedral’. I really like this shot of James waiting outside the church, waiting for the guests to arrive.

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Another of my favourite images is this one of the mother of the groom. I think unposed spontaneos shots give a great flavour of the day, as well as providing genuine expressions of how people are feeling.

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As you can see, it’s quite clear why this church has such a good reputation in the local area, it was simply stunning inside. I faced a few technical challenges here as the vicar had requested that no flash could be used inside the venue. However, I was really happy with the results I achieved on both the wide angle shots and the close ups after researching what adjustments I would need to make.

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After the ceremony the couple took a quick trip to Consett Park with me in order to get some more posed shots together. I always think it’s good to get these types of shots as a souvenir of the day, but I also try to carry these out as efficiently as possible so that the bride and groom can maximise the time they have with their guests. There’s nothing worse than being a wedding guest when the photographer takes them away from the action for hours on end!

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There were loads of cool backdrops available at Consett Park and the weather was fabulous so I was really happy with the shots we got here.

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Chanelle and James had their evening reception at Consett AFC, which I would highly recommend as a venue. Although there are quite a lot of football-related props around I wanted to incorporate them without making them the main focus of the shots.

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Possibly my favourite point of the day was taking the large group shot of the whole wedding party. It was a really great backdrop and made for a fun and quirky way to get everyboy in the frame.

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The couple were really happy when they received their photos and Chanelle has since contacted me to say:

Thank you for making my day that little bit more special. The photos are amazing, thank you so much.

If you would like to find out more about my wedding photography packages please contact me via my website www.helentaylorphotos.com or via my Facebook page.

 

A Decade of Running

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This year’s Great North Run will mark my tenth year of running, after signing up for my first one in 2006. With no proper experience of running at the time, I signed up just for the crack, and soon found out that training was a lot harder than I had expected. Since then I’ve run literally thousands of miles, taken part in more races than I can remember, gained a hefty haul of medals and blisters, and chafed parts of my body I never knew could be chafed.

After initially signing up on a whim, I’ve now reached the stage where running is more than just exercise to me. It’s given me a sense of will power, discipline, and self worth that has powered me through the highs and lows of the past ten years. I’m not the fastest, I don’t have the best technique, but I don’t stop.

Get going. Get up and walk if you have to, but finish the damned race. – Ron Hill

Last year I completed a charity challenge to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society and completed two half marathons in the space of 8 days. I’m not in Eddie Izzard territory, but it’s not bad going for a working mam! This year I’ll be extending my charity challenge, for Parkinsons UK this time, by taking part in 5 events in 5 weeks, a challenge I’m giving the snappy title of “Fast and Furious 5”.

Impossible is not a declaration, it’s a dare. – Muhammad Ali

The events will be:

Great North Run – Sunday 11th September

Back to where it all started, I’ll be aiming to beat my first ever time which I set a decade ago and running in the same race as Mo Farah!

Sedgefield Serpentine Trail Race – Sunday 18th September 2016

A multi-terrain 10k race. I’ve never attempted this course before so it should be interesting!

Redcar Half Marathon – Sunday 25th September 2016

A flat road race which is good for getting personal bests. Well I’ll give it a bash!

Kielder Marathon – Sunday 2nd October 2016

The main event! My brother Liam will be taking on this 26.2 mile off-road course with me, and it should be an awesome challenge.

Hellhole 10k Race – Sunday 9th October 2016

And to finish, another multi-terrain 10k race but this time with my running club Derwentside AC. It’ll be great to complete my challenge in my home town.

As I do a lot of running I don’t feel it’s fair to ask people to sponsor me unless I’m doing something out of the ordinary. For this challenge I will be raising money and awareness for Parkinsons UK, a cause which has personal significance for me. It would be great if you would like to support the excellent work this charity does and visit my justgiving page at www.justgiving.com/fastandfuriousfive

Because of Parkinsons UK nobody has to face Parkinsons alone, you can find out more about their work at www.parkinsons.org.uk

Discovery at Tynemouth

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If there’s one thing I like more than a good day out it’s a free day out. One of the perks of my day job is having a discount card that gets me into all the English Heritage sites in the country for free – and my word has that card taken a hammering. Our most recent English Heritage trip was to Tynemouth Priory and even though I’ve been past it loads of times this was the first time I’ve actually had a proper look round inside.

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The priory and castle were, or course, stunning, but what intrigued me more were the wartime defences that still remain there.

 

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There’s some really interesting stuff online which goes into the history of the Tynemouth coastal gun batteries. It’s amazing to think that area has been a fortified throughout the ages from the 13th century onwards, and the remaining artillery dates from the first and second world war.

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In short, there’s nothing more impressive than a massive gun when you’re four years old.

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More info on the military history of the area can be found here, I found it quite an interesting read….

https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/wwwfileroot/legacy/regen/locallist/tyne_and_wear_defence_sites.pdf

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I love this kind of architecture, and I also think it would make a great backdrop for a photo shoot. I’m working on a portrait exhibition currently, so if you’re interested in having a unique and quirky photo of yourself then get in touch! You can see more of my work at www.helentaylorphotos.com or visit my facebook page.

Chilled out country wedding

I was recently asked to take photos at the wedding of Amy and James who got married at Gateshead Register Office, followed by a reception at The Black Horse at Beamish. Here is Amy arriving at the ceremony with her Dad in an amazing converted camper van.

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Before taking photos during the ceremony I made sure I had a word with the registrar to make sure I knew about any restrictions or guidelines on photography. I think it’s important to capture all of the key moments during the ceremony and it also allows the guests to enjoy the moment, without having the pressure of taking photos themselves.

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I really like this photo of Amy and James taking their first walk as a married couple, their expressions are genuine and it’s obvious how happy they are. I’m becoming quite the expert at jogging slightly ahead of people to capture shots like this, you have to be fit to be a wedding photographer!

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After a quick trip in the camper van the couple continued their special day at The Black Horse at Beamish. The skies had been cloudy all day, but luckily the sun started to emerge when we reached the venue, which made my outdoor shots a lot easier!

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I always research venues in advance so that I can identify any quirky and unusual features which would make great backgrounds for portraits. In this case I had visited The Black Horse the weekend before and this meant that my experience on the big day was a lot more streamlined. The couple were away from their guests for a minimal amount of time, but we still managed to get a great selection of shots.

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The photo above shows the vintage car garage I had found the previous week, and as I expected, it made a really striking backdrop for the couple’s portrait. I really like how the lines lead off into the distance, and the colour scheme matches that of the main venue.

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This is my favourite photo of the day as it really sums up what a happy couple Amy and James are. They were aiming for a chilled out, free-flowing celebration of their marriage, and I think I’ve reflected this in their wedding photos.

If you would like to find out more about my wedding photography please contact me via my website www.helentaylorphotos.com or through my Facebook page.

 

Dress Rehearsal

I’ve recently received a last minute booking for some wedding photography, and luckily for me the venue is quite close to where I live. Amy and James will be getting married at Gateshead Register Office and then having their reception at the Black Horse at Beamish – a lovely rural pub with unspoilt views and lots of quaint features.

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Part of my wedding photography service is making sure I research the venues in advance to familiarise myself with the surroundings and hunt out any quirky or unique photo opportunities. So today I set off with my son to have a look round the Black Horse.

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My little helper stood in as a model so I could have an idea of where the best spots would be for the couple to pose. It wasn’t the best weather today, but when you’ve got your superhero umbrella you can brave pretty much anything!

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He was of course thrilled when we spotted this vintage car garage behind the car park, and I really liked the colour scheme and the leading lines of the windows.

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As well as being relatively remote, with nothing to spoil the rural backdrop, The Black Horse has some lovely details that will work out great for wedding photography, such as these beautiful metal stair railings.

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I’m also hoping to incorporate the outdoor bar area and these arches, weather permitting!

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Having a scouting mission was helpful in not only identifying opportunities, but also to rule certain things out. I find it so much easier to prepare in advance like this, although I’m still open to requests and suggestions on the big day.

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It’s quite a challenge to look for backdrops that would suit group shots, and couple shots, when there aren’t actually any people there, but I think this little balcony and staircase could make a great background for a family group.

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As always, I can’t resist a good door, and I do love the textural quality of stone and brickwork as well.

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The Black Horse also has a lovely little garden area which I think will be great for spontaneous group shots, and gives a bit more variety.

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If you’re interested in finding out about my wedding photography packages please contact me via my website www.helentaylorphotos.com

And if you like the look of The Black Horse you can visit their website at www.blackhorsebeamish.co.uk

York┬▓

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This time last year the Stanley┬▓ exhibition was on display at Civic Hall Stanley, and to celebrate that I’ve come up with a little selection of double exposures of York. It’s been a while since I used the Holga but it still has all it’s lo-fi charm. Here are two versions of Clifford’s Tower – which was surprisingly steep both inside and out!

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I’m currently planning my next exhibition which will take place in September at Civic Hall Stanley, and this time I’ll be turning my attention to portraits rather than landscape photography. If you would like to take part you can find out more information in my previous blog.

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Here’s a view of the iconic skyline from the top of Clifford’s Tower, and below one of the planes at the Yorkshire Air Museum – which is also a cracking day out, especially if you have a 4 year old in tow!

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