Defining your Signature Style: a few photos

When I first moved from print to online journalism about, oooh, 15 years ago now, everyone was abuzz with the “immediacy of the web.”

Print is dead, they raved. (Okay, I might have raved a little bit as well…) Gone are the days of waiting to hear the news the day after it happens in the newspapers. We can read stuff now immediately on the shiny new internet.

Well, here I am today to show you the complete opposite; writing not about something that happened this very morning, but, erm, almost three months ago.

Hydrangea | Wolves in London

Yes, the not-so-shiny-new internet is still as fast as anything, but this old human dolt can still move as slow as can be.

Back at the start of November, I went on a photography and moodboarding weekend workshop, with Emily Quinton (of Makelight) and Gudy Herder (of Eclectic Trends).

The course was all about defining your signature style visually – through your photos and through moodboards.

It’s something I’ve thought about quite a lot when it comes to this blog. My photography is slowly starting to improve but I’d love to get to a point where you could look at a photo taken by me and think, “oh yes, that’s a Wolves in London photo”…

bowl and ribbon | Wolves in London

The first day of the course was focused on photography. We looked at three distinct photographic styles (minimalism, moody, and bright/colourful) and talked about how to take that sort of photo.

I was drawn most to minimalism: all white backgrounds, clean lines, simple arrangements and so forth. (I’ve got a few newly-discovered instagram accounts to share with you another time as well, for some gorgeous inspiration…)

vase | Wolves in London

So, off I went to practise and took a few nice minimalist(ish) photos and then, with the sun going behind the clouds, I took a few moody ones as well just for good measure.

Some of the pics I was more happy with are scattered through this post for your delectation.

Rosemary | Wolves in London

The following day was all about moodboarding with Gudy, which was really fascinating to me, since I didn’t – if I’m totally honest – even really understand what moodboarding was before. (Well, you know, it’s that thing they do in the Great Interior Design Challenge, of course, but I hadn’t thought of it in a wider context than that…)

Gudy showed us lots of examples of different types of moodboard, which I discovered needn’t just be the obvious such as pictures stuck to a background, but could also be collections of objects arranged on the floor, or even 3D moodboards including bits of furniture / paintings / vases of flowers and so on. I got loads of inspiration for things I might try and incorporate on the blog at some point in the future.

Then, in the afternoon, we made our own moodboard for our blog (or website, brand, whatever). For some reason, I completely neglected to photograph mine, but you can see it — along with everyone else’s — over on Gudy’s blog here: a workshop review.

Shells | Wolves in London

All-in-all, a really fun weekend, where, as is so often the case I find, one of the most enjoyable parts was meeting all the other people on the course and seeing the really creative things everyone else got up to.

If you fancy going yourself, Emily and Gudy are running another day next summer. You can find out more info as well as reading a (much more detailed) overview of the day on Emily’s blog here: Moodboarding and photography.

August break 2014: the last week

August break week 4 | Wolves in London
Prompts, top to bottom, left to right: memory, nature, lines, love, small, adornment, morning, something new, nature (again)

So, a whole month has passed, just like that. *Clicks fingers*

Much as I love participating in projects like the August break, or my monthly garden moodboards, I am often put off by the side effect of an increasing awareness of time passing.

You start out thinking, oh yes, a photo a day for August, how lovely! And before you know it, you’re writing about the very last photo, August 31st, and the month has gone, poof, disappeared in a puff of smoke, and you’re sure you barely had time to get out of bed and brush your teeth.

Perhaps it’s something about marching, inexorably, towards my 40s that makes me rather reluctant to notice the passing of the days / weeks / months, but prefer to just live in them.

Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this August break.

I’m fairly proud of a few of my photos. I’m slightly embarrassed I posted a couple of them (two proved to be slightly out of focus when I looked at them on my computer screen rather than my phone). I struggled to think of a decent interpretation for a few of the prompts. And I’m constantly surprised by which ones prove the most popular on instagram.

(Of all the photos I took, the one from the first week, of my feet on my bathroom floor was the most popular. A great photo? Erm, probably not. Just some very lovely tiles. All credit for which surely is due to Fired Earth for making nice tiles and not to me, photographer and feet owner. Ah well…)

And so on, into the first day of September and I am already missing a daily prompt to make me think, take a few minutes to decide on my interpretation and head out there, armed with my little phone, to try and get a snap of something.

Related articles:

  • It’s all over for this year, but you can read all about it (and get ready to join in next year?) on Susannah Conway’s blog: the August Break 2014
  • And, of course, I’ll still be sharing pictures on instagram, so do follow me there if you fancy

August break 2014: week two

The photos continue…

August break photos | Wolves in London
Prompts, left to right, top to bottom: hands; guilty pleasure; drink; blue; look down; in my bag; look down (again); look down (and again!); handwriting

Phew, this has been a tough week.

The hubby was back at work on Monday after a five week hol between jobs. Of course, in that time, the sprog and the babe had become completely used to having him around all the time (as, for that matter, had I) so it’s been a shock to all our systems to be back to a one parent unit during the daytimes.

Having said, last week, that I was finding it a great joy taking a photo every day, this week it has definitely been more of a struggle to find even a spare minute to snap something. But I did, somehow, manage it on every day.

Here are my pics from the last week, for your delectation. (By the way, if you want to see any of them bigger, just click on the image and zoom in…)

{The August Break is a photography project of Susannah Conway’s, where you take a photo every day following prompts. See more about my participation in my post last week, or more about the whole thing on Susannah’s blog: August break 2014.}

Related articles:

August Break 2014: lots of photos

Well, 31 photos to be precise. These are the first nine…

August break week 1
Left to right, top to bottom, the prompts were: orange; pattern; selfie; lunch; today is…; three; reflection; pattern (again!); window

Last year, I took part in Susannah Conway’s August Break for the first time.

It’s a brilliant (and brilliantly simple) idea. For the month of August, you take a photo every day and publish it on your blog or share on Instagram (or Facebook or wherever…)

There are prompts to follow every day, if you choose, or you can just take whatever photo you like.

It’s called a “break” because the idea is you stop bothering with blogging your usual posts, but just take a lovely photo and share that instead.

Last year, it absolutely stressed me out beyond belief. It was the most exhausting month of blogging I’ve ever had since starting the blog.

Even though I didn’t follow the prompts or insist to myself that the photo I posted was one I had actually taken on that day, I found it utterly draining finding a decent photo to publish every day. (I wrote a bit more about it on August 31st last year, if you want to hear more specific moans!)

This year, I’ve got a phone with a decent camera so I’m over on Instagram instead of the blog and, let me tell you, I am loving it!

I’m doing it properly. Following all the prompts. Taking the photo on the actual day. And yet, somehow, I’m not finding it loads of extra effort. I’m just finding it a joy to take a picture each and every day.

I thought at the end of each week I’d round up my pics over here too, in case anyone who isn’t on Instagram is interested in seeing them.

If you want to join in too, you can find out all the info on Susannah’s blog: August Break 2014.

Check out everyone else’s photos over on Instagram by searching #augustbreak2014.

And you can follow me on instagram if you’d like to see the day-by-day shots as they occur: @wolvesinlondon.

Come and play too, it’s really fun!

Related articles:

  • I’m sure that a big part of the reason I’m finding this so much more fun this year is thanks to the bloggers’ photography course I took with Emily Quinton last year. You can read more about that here: Makelight workshop.

A photo a day: August 31st

AKA the last day!

So this is it, people, my very last photo of the day. My last contribution to the August break.

Me sleeping
Don’t disturb me, mother, I must sleep until the cows come in from the fields this evening. This work has wearied me to the very core…

This is me. Collapsed in bed, my hand resting on my weary brow. A subtle photographic representation of how absolutely bloody exhausted I am from posting a photo (or sometimes more than one) on the blog every single day for the entire month of August.

(Okay, I missed two days, so in reality it’s been 29 days and not the 31 it should have been.)

To be honest, I’m not sure I’d do this again.

I knew even at the very beginning, that far from being an August “break” for me, this would be much more work than normal. I’m not a great photographer, so it’s not just a question of “snap,” one great photo taken, I’ll stick that up onto the blog and be done in five minutes.

It’s more like, “snap,” look at picture on camera screen, is that nice? I’m not sure. Maybe I should take another one. Is that nice? I’m not sure. Have I got my settings wrong? Maybe the angle’s wrong. I’ll change the exposure. Hmmm, I’ll upload them to the computer. Right, let’s take a look through them. Hmmm, one of those six might be okay. I guess I’ll give them all a quick edit and see which ends up looking best. Oh, drat, this one’s wonky. Right, I’d better open up Pixlr and try and straighten that up. Hmmm, nope, that’s not the best photo. I’ll use another one.

*Four hours pass by*

You get the drift.

Go away. I won’t get up until it’s September.

It’s not just the time it’s taken that’s proved tricky though.

When I first started this blog, I made a little manifesto to myself that I wanted to make sure every post had a purpose; delivered a specific bit of information that could be useful to someone reading that article. A tutorial of my own would be the ideal post in this scenario, but at the other end of the scale, if I was making some jam, for example, then I wanted to make sure I included a link to the jam recipe, not just photos of the jam I had made.

So, I felt a little uneasy about simply posting a photograph without any chat. Don’t get me wrong, there are trillions of blogs out there that I love where photographs are posted chat-free, or with minimum chat. The difference is, all of those bloggers take amazing photos.

Though my photos have massively improved since I started my blog, I’m still not one of those bloggers who takes amazing photos. So I feel that every photo should be accompanied by some interesting writing as well. And so now, rather than simply posting a photo a day, I’d talked myself into writing a blog post and posting a photo a day. (There were exceptions, of course, but I look back at those posts and really don’t like them…)

So, there you have it, my assessment of the past month: tiring overall and a bit out of step with what I really intend to do most of the time on this blog. On the plus side, a huge reason I did the August Break was to stop myself from agonising for so long over all the photos I include and also because I was hoping my photography would improve by taking part. I think that it possibly has.

But for the rest of the year, we’re going to back to what I’m happier doing. Bucket loads of waffle, interspersed with the odd picture here and there.

Related articles:

  • I’m so pleased to be saying this for the last time: you can take a look at my photos for every day this month in my August break category.

Things I’ve learnt: photography

The short version of this post would be: not enough.

If you’ve seen any of my other blog posts (if not, why not? Go and take a look now…) you’ll have seen I am far from the most proficient photographer. I was asking my other half what he thought of my blog photos just last night and he said “I love the fact you can tell they’re not marketing shots…” Which, a little passive-aggressive questioning later, led to him confessing that, as I feared, my photos all look a bit amateur.

I got my lovely Canon DSLR about a year ago now and I’m still mastering all of its functions. I’m definitely better but I still spend huge chunks of time getting frustrated that I can see a lovely photo in front of me, but when I shoot it the scene turns a different colour, or looks washed out, or I failed to notice a huge wire trailing across the foreground.

I took a short camera course back in Hong Kong which helped me master the basics, but I’m really keen to do another one soon, ideally in macro photography, so I can take better product and food photos to share with you lovely readers. The London School of Photography has a really appealing selection.

So, once I have actually learnt something useful about photography I promise I’ll come back and share it with you. In the meantime, I thought I’d just show you some of my best shots from my Hong Kong photo course. These are the ones I’m quite proud of. I show some promise, right?!

Hong Kong island, copyright Wolves in London
Sun rise over Hong Kong island. I had to get up bloody early to get this shot…
Flower in Hong Kong harbour, copyright Wolves in London
Oooh, look at me, learning macro photography…
Hong Kong at night, copyright Wolves in London
This photo won’t be winning any awards for originality, but it’s a pretty cool time lapse night shot
Hong Kong fountain, copyright Wolves in London
Another time lapse shot, this of the fountain in Hong Kong park
Flower, copyright Wolves in London
This is a pretty cheesy photo, suitable for a really naff Valentine’s card, but it was my course teacher letting me play with his macro lens
Mudskipper goby, copyright Wolves in London
I love this little mudskipper goby, photographed at the Hong Kong wetland centre. I was practically lying in the mud trying to get this photo and was covered in bites for weeks afterwards…

By the way, to see what I aspire to, check out the gorgeous photos on the blog of my real life friends at Nimble Fingers & Steady Eyebrows and my in-no-way-real-life-friend-but-someone-I-think-looks-super-cool-from-reading-her-blog-all-the-time Delia Creates.

And if you too are a frustrated budding photographer like me, check out my Photography board on Pinterest for loads of hints and tips from people who know what they’re doing.

Things I’ve learnt is an occasional series, where I talk about stuff I’ve picked up while trying to set up a new business of printed fabrics. I’m hoping that the information in these posts might be informative / interesting / amusing to anyone else setting up their own business. If you’ve any suggestions for other topics for this series, or any thoughts on what I’ve written about, please do post a comment at the end of the piece…