I came across the following quote on Pinterest yesterday, and felt like it was speaking to me:
“Accept what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be.”
I want to talk a bit about change today - which is what this quote is all about for me.

As much as I would like to think of myself as someone who embraces change, I’m surely not accepting change easily. I get used to things being a certain way and I get comfortable. In my head I always know that change means opportunity, growth, and new beginnings, and that I should be open towards it - approaching it with positivity. Still, I’m not quite there yet, and change can be hard for me.
At the moment I’m going through some personal changes in my life, and I feel like there are a few more changes to come over the next few months. It’s scary and it can be hard to accept. And I think that is the case no matter what kind of change you’re going through.
I do think the quote above speaks a lot of truth, yet I find it hard to really accept and live accordingly. I think mindfulness relates to this topic in many ways - trying to be present, and enjoying the moment. It’s such a great concept, but so hard to live by.
I believe a lot of it is also about whether we make a conscious choice to make a change, or whether we are being ‘forced’ into it. But either way, the challenge is to deal with it and accept it.
Apart from personal changes, I also want to change a few things around here. I feel that I need some time to think things through and will take a week or so off blogging. Maybe even a bit longer if I feel like it. Sometimes you need a break to deal with change ;)
You see, I’m definitely not there yet - I have a hard time accepting what is, and moving forward. Have you gone through change recently, or have made any deliberate changes (not matter whether personal or work related or anything else)? I honestly would love to hear your thoughts on it, and please do share any tips you have for dealing with change in a healthy way.

P.S. While I’m gone, I have a few suggestions for you to work on: are you using your camera in manual mode yet? If not, why not give it try? Play around with aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. I promise taking your camera off automatic will make a huge change to your photos.

P.P.S. My friend Emma is sharing a little bit about me and my work in one of her regular blog features. If you’re interested in being part of this feature as well, do drop her an email.

P.P.P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway. :)


Discussion: capturing the beauty of a moment?

Image via Instagram

The other day I read an article in a magazine about enjoying a moment just by yourself, for yourself. The article was encouraging us to see something beautiful with our own eyes more often, not through the viewfinder of a camera. It can be so easy to get sucked into the urge to document everything - an amazing moment you don’t want to forget or really want to share with your Instagram community. But how much do we really enjoy that moment when we always feel the need to capture everything?

I certainly feel this inner conflict of just wanting to be fully there without any distractions, and feeling the need and desire to document the beauty - all the time to be honest.
So when I went for a walk the other day I told myself not to take any photos - but I still ended up taking some. And while I was starting to feel ‘guilty’, I realised that actually it felt freeing to allow myself to capture the moment. I’m a photographer - it’s something I just can’t always resist. Sometimes it helps me to see the beauty of something even more and to really observe and engage with it.

So my take on this is to try to enjoy moments without a camera, without the need to share every single situation, but to allow myself to document a moment when I just can’t hold back that urge. Not to think about it too much, but go with what feels right in that specific moment and relax.

What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear, and open up a discussion - I’m sure it’s something that we all can relate to.


7 Tips for Great Food Photos without Fancy equipment + a Giveaway

A while ago I wrote about my experience at a professional food photography shoot, when Hanna asked for tips on how to take great food pictures without having a studio or owning tons of pretty props. So I want to share 6 tips with you today that I’ve found helpful myself for getting some professional and great looking food photos without any fancy equipment. This post goes hand in hand with another post on food photography I wrote a while ago.

1. Learn the basics. Start to learn as much as you can about photography - composition, light, framing, focusing, etc. You won’t be able to take great food photos without mastering the basics of photography.

2. Collect props. You might not have millions of plates, cutlery, towels, and other props - but I’m sure you do have some. Start with what you have and make good use of it. Whenever you see something that you think would work well, keep it. This doesn’t mean you have to buy stuff, sometimes you already own a prop that you just didn’t think you could use for a food photography shoot. Keep your eyes open, it could be anything from an old piece of fabric to a bowl you’ve kept jewellery in before.

3. Get inspired & learn from others. What do you like about certain food photos? Have a look on Pinterest, and create a board with your favourite food images. What attracts your eye? Is it the styling? Or the colours? Or the type of food? Do what they do.

4. Find what works for you. Find the best spot in your home to shoot in - it will probably be somewhere by a window, as there’s lots of light. The same goes for backdrops and anything else - find whatever works best for you, and keep doing it. E.g. get some wood and paint it white (or whatever colour you prefer), and use it as your ‘go-to’ backdrop.

5. Always shoot in good light conditions! Shoot during the day, and use natural light.

6. Be creative. Experiment. Play. This one is similar to tip number 2 - you might not think of a certain prop or backdrop in relation to food photography, but be as creative as you possibly can be. Here’s an example: I sometimes use a wardrobe door that I can easily take off, and place it on the floor as a backdrop - who would have thought a wardrobe door could come in handy for a food photography shoot?
It’s the same with styling - rearrange, play around with your props, have fun. When I shot the muffins in this post for example, I tried lots of different options - I used different coloured towels, put the muffins on a plate, … you never know what works (or doesn’t work) until you try.

7. Edit your photos. Please do! Edit your photos! You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.

It all comes back to basics and making the most of what you have. Be creative.
I hope these tips help. If you want to read more about my thoughts on food photography, check out this feature on Shutterhub.

Shutterhub are also giving away a free one year membership to their site which let’s you create your own portfolio, be part of their community, and showcase your work in exhibitions. To enter simply comment and let me know your biggest problem when it comes to food photography (or anything else you’re struggling with in photography, if photographing food isn’t your thing).
The giveaway closes on 16 April at 11.59pm GMT, I’ll randomly draw a winner.

AND, Shutterhub are also offering 50% off their one year membership, if you want to create your portfolio right now - just sign up by 20 April and enter the discount code HELENA50.
Thank you Shutterhub team for being so generous!

P.S. I used this muffin recipe and slightly adapted it.


The Photo Brunch Shoreditch / 03

Last Saturday I held my third Photo Brunch in Shoreditch - it was awesome again. I could repeat myself and tell you about how great it is to take photos with a group of like-minded people, but I already mentioned that here and here. So instead I’ll talk a bit about the weather and brunch - it was such a nice day (can you see how sunny it was in the pictures?). We had brunch at Dishoom again, since the food is so good and I really love the atmosphere there. Definitely go if you can - do book a table though, as it gets very busy.
I also really enjoyed teaching and seeing everyone pick up new skills. Seriously, everyone did so well - it was great to see Candi and Alistair, Imo, Yvonne, and Crystal starting to understand their cameras and getting their head around exposure. Even just seeing them having fun was fun!
I also met Crystal for the second time after having a one-on-one session with her a couple of weeks ago. It was lovely getting to know her a bit better!
And being in Shoreditch was a great experience as usual, I feel like I've never really noticed how many different areas there are within Shoreditch alone - we moved from lovely, quiet streets into the more arty and busy area around Brick Lane, and ended up somewhere that made you feel like you were back in old London a few decades ago.

By the way, I’m handing in my business plan today. I’m applying for funding for the Photo Brunch, so I can grow the business and offer more value to you in a few different ways. I’m excited to share more with you on this soon.

I’ve set up the next Photo Brunch for 18 May - it’s a Sunday because I want to take you to Notting Hill (and a Saturday around there would be way too busy to teach). You can book your place right here if you want to take your photography to the next level and get some pretty pictures. I hope you’ll join. :)

What have you been up to over the weekend?


London Fashion Weekend

I know this post comes a little late, but I still want to share with you some photos I took during London Fashion Weekend a while ago. It was my first time shooting a catwalk - definitely a great experience! Thanks to Gatherly for making this possible and setting up awesome collaborations between illustrators and some of the photographers there. The top image was taken by me, and illustrated by Joanna. I love the result! (You can find more photography/illustration collaborations right here).

Have you been to London Fashion Week or Weekend before, or shot a fashion show yourself?


4 Practical Mindfulness Tips for Photographers

As a follow-up from Tuesday's post, I thought it would be great to share some specific tips on how to apply mindfulness to your photography work. I truly believe that working mindfully creates stronger photos, and can help you to have more fun while taking photos.

Here’s how you can apply mindfulness to your photography:

1. Be all there when you’re taking photos. Completely focus on what you are photographing, what you are trying to say, and what your story is. Engage with your subject, and forget about everything else. Most of the time this happens naturally when you love what you’re taking photos of. Which takes me to my second point…

2. Take photos that you enjoy creating. Don’t worry about what you’re supposed to take photos of, or what you think others will like. Just go with your gut and trust your feelings. Have fun taking photos.

3. Take your time. Don’t rush taking your photos - no matter whether you’re just photographing some flowers, or are working on a story over a few days. Don’t let people walking past irritate you for example. Just do your thing and concentrate on it.

4. Take someone with you who’s just as passionate about photography as you are. It’s so much more fun going out and shooting with someone you can relate to, someone who you can talk to about photography, and even other topics you share an interest in. You’ll also feel more comfortable taking photos - that’s why the Photo Brunch is so great. You get to meet like-minded people, share your thoughts on photography, and explore London together - taking photos will feel more comfortable and natural, and you get to take your time.
There’s one spot left if you want to come along on 29 March.

What are your thoughts on mindfulness, especially when applying it to photography? Do you have any tips to add?


Guest Post - Mindfulness Tips

I’m very happy to have Katie here today to share some insights on mindfulness with us. 
I might have mentioned before that I’m trying to simplify my life, be more present, and appreciate the small things in life. At the moment I’ve got lots of stuff going on, both personal and work related, so Katie’s mindfulness tips come just at the right time. I hope that you can relate as well - please do share in the comments below if there’s something in particular that resonated with you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Katie:

This year, one of my goals is to become more mindful. To help me to focus my thoughts and take more notice of my life as it happens. It’s so easy to dwell on the past or on the unknown future when we should take more time just to acknowledge and enjoy our lives as they happen.

To help me on my journey, I started doing a mindfulness programme, as just sitting about thinking ‘I should really stop overthinking things’ isn’t very helpful. The mindfulness programme I'm following is a book and audiobook that feature a series of guided meditations. Each day you're given a number of tasks to help you tune in to your body and your environment, and that help you to see or think a bit more clearly. Most exercises focus on breathing, but there are also other tasks that focus on movement, and others that are about changing the way you see your regular activities.

I’m only halfway through an eight week programme, but have already been feeling the benefits.
When I started, my husband made fun of me a little for being a hippie “off to meditate” but as we’re in the middle of house buying, using mindfulness to help manage stress has been really important for me, and even when we’ve had setbacks, I’ve been feeling pretty calm and generally maintained positive thinking.

I’m obviously still learning every day as I do this, and I can't say that I'm now completely zen and one with the world, but so far the things that stand out to me are:

-Every time you do mindfulness exercise, it will be different - and it’ll get harder before it gets easier. When I started, it was fresh and new and exciting, but after time, there were definitely some days where I had to force myself to do it because I just wasn't in the mood. But those days were when the practice made the most difference. So do make yourself do it.

- Mindful walking is amazing! I usually walk around with my iPod on, but every few days I have started leaving the music at the office and focus instead on sounds - all sounds - of birds, of cars, of people walking, and taking time to smell the air and feel the wind. It’s so refreshing - even 10-15 minutes makes me feel more awake and present. When I come back from a mindful walk during lunch, I actually feel as though I'm starting a brand new day.

- If you’re having trouble focusing on your breathing, choose two words to focus on as you do it. Say one (in your mind) as you breathe in and one as you breathe out. This was really helpful to me when I first started, as it gave my head something to concentrate on and helped to stop my mind from wandering again and again.

It can be hard to find the time to actually do some mindfulness exercises every day. But it makes such a huge difference, so I’d say it’s definitely worth making the time. And now I find that I’m actually excited to do it.

Have you ever taken up a mindfulness programme? How did you find it? What do you do to integrate it into your life?


3 Questions you should ask yourself and your clients

I mentioned last week that I love working with clients who realise the importance of branding and the value photos can add to it. Today I want to go into a bit more detail with that, and share with you some questions that I believe are important to answer before working with a client. They are also a good starting point when you are just getting into business yourself, or if you want to grow your blog.
I’m writing the following as if I’m talking directly to you, but it works the same way if you were to ask your client.

Who are you aiming at with your work? The photos should communicate with the target audience in a way that speaks to them, so that they can empathise with whatever it is you want to say.
There are lots of points to consider, and ways to figure out who exactly a client might be. Personally, I love creating (secret) Pinterest boards to really understand who a client is, what they love, where they live, what they do, what they think about, how they spend their free time, what worldview they have, etc. In order not to generalise too much, create various boards keeping just one person mind for each of them - the clients can all be part of a similar group, but they are unique people with different lives.
If you’re working with a creative or visual client, consider giving this a try.

What are you trying to say? What is the point of the photos you’re taking? This relates to what I mentioned in this post - what is the story you want to tell?
Think about your values: what is really important to you about your product/service? E.g. I love natural stuff. Anything from organic food to photos. This is why I want to keep a natural feel to my blog and photos - and it’s why I mostly only shoot using natural light. Apart from that it influences the way I write (trying to keep a personal and relaxed voice), and how I interact with clients. And everything else I do.

Why do you do what you do? Why do you need certain photos? Do you want your potential clients to take a certain action? Do you want to sell something? Or do you just want to create some pretty pictures to illustrate your writing?
When I work with Appear Here I usually document different places in London, capturing the feel and uniqueness of each area. E.g. I photographed the area around Baker St, capturing fancy houses, pretty Regent’s Park, and a lot of Sherlock Holmes stuff. The reason for this was to attract potential clients wanting to open up a pop-up shop in the area - who themselves either aim at tourists, or have a wealthy/upper-class target market.
I hope this example gives you an idea of what the ‘why’ is supposed to answer, and why it’s so important to think about.

In general, it all seems to comes back to the feel and mood you want to create with your photos, and what that will say about your brand.
I really enjoyed writing this post - I love going ‘deep’ with business type questions, and figuring out how and why something is done in a certain way. So, I do hope that these three questions have been helpful and got you thinking, or will help you find the right direction next time you’re working with a client.