Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Are you a Clickin Mom?

If you're a mom and a photographer, striving to capture the fleeting moments of your children's childhood I must urge you to just have a look at this site if you're ready to grow and learn.

Clickin' Moms

Most Photography sites and magazines are aimed straight at men. The layout, the jargon the whole atmosphere is quite emotionless, technical and in-your-face bold. Now, us visual people realise when something as visual as a magazine or website design isn't aimed at us and doesn't make our spirit hum! Don't we? Photography is not just a science after all. Yet there are millions of photographers out there like you and I, who for many years have been left out of the loop.

Recently that has started to change and this is one of those sites that'll make you ooh and aah about the possiblities of photography, for hobbiests and professionals with their own beautiful feminine touch.

Clickin' Moms actually just has too much information. You will continually learn on the site, no matter what your level. Here's a little guide to let you know what's on there.

Where do we start?

The Blog: Interviews with a range of photographers, from hobbiests to professionals, with detailed tips and personal information written in female language. And with stunning examples of their work. You could start by subscribing to the newsletter and have highlights from the blog sent to your inbox.

Free Tutorials:  From the very basics to more complicated concepts are covered here. They're topics that really apply to us.
Topics like:
"8 Tips for Photographing unco-operative children"
"Ask the pros what gear do you want for Mothers day?"
"5 Tips to taking photos from the passenger seat"...

Browse through them and pick anything you want to know more about.

cmuniversity  These are paid on-line courses on a variety of subjects from technical stuff, to personal work, to fine art photography. I haven't done any of these courses, so I can't comment on them, but the range that they cover is sure to inspire you. Many courses offer different prices for full participation or not. I think there's really something there for everybody.

Forums: For this section one needs to subscribe to the website. If you go there now, you'll see the topics but not the information. This put me off at first, but I decided to give it a try and it's great! What I am able to do, is go to the food photography section, upload my food photo and get positive constructive feedback. And in return I can have a look at what others have been doing and give my advice and support. There are also forums that challenge you to extend yourself, by taking a photo a week or a daily challenge, with themes to get your photographic mind ticking. Some forums ask for criticism, while others are crit-free forums. You can post questions about techniques or equipment and you'll get good logical understandable feedback. Because you need to subscribe to the forums, only members get to comment and interact with you here and you get very supportive advice, from lovely fellow female photographers. At the moment they're running a free 30 day trial period, which I would really like to recommend to you, if you have some time and would like to grow photographically.

Magazine: For Christmas, I convinced my husband to buy me the magazine subscription, which is pricey if you live outside the USA, but when it pops through my door I get so excited! It's filled with beautiful images and photographic inspiration and advice for the PHOTOGRAP(HER) as they say, and I'm able to hold and keep all that info in print! It's MINE!

So next time you have some time to browse on the web, push Pinterest aside and have a peak into Clickin' Moms, you might just find yourself inspired!

Clickin' Moms

(PS I'm not being paid advertising fees here, if you decide to join Clickin Moms and use the link above to get there, I might get paid a few ridiculous cents, but you can just go directly to the site too. That's not why I posted this. I know of a couple of photographers out there who are dying to grow, but don't know what they're looking for or need. I hope you'll find what you need there. I honestly think Clickin Moms has helped me to see photography in a new way and I just love promoting feminine photography! It's time the world sees things through different eyes!)

Friday, 23 May 2014


It's drizzling outside. The beautiful bright happy light of the last couple of days has disappeared again and it's replaced, with soft gentle quiet light. Shhhhhh....
My book arrived!!! And I'm devouring it! Some bits I've been able to skim, but even the stuff I know is written about in such a clear yet sensitive way, that it's like learning it all anew. At the moment I'm reading about light, and how every type of light has something different to offer. There is no such thing as "bad" light. Coming from Johannesburg, where the light is generally so strong, this is a gentle reminder to me to keep looking for that literal silver lining, which she says you only really find on dark rainy days.
Photography is really all about capturing light. The light you choose sends the most subtle messages across to your viewer. Generally they don't even notice it. It's like an added secret language you use. You can have the most amazing image, but if the lighting is wrong it's all just wrong (and it can't be fixed in photoshop). 
This week I was photographing handbags for a small, newly fledged company that sells custom-designed handbags. We only did the straightforward shots on plain white background, but I knew that the way I chose to light the bags would be the essence that would tell you about the quality - subtle and not simple at all.
Other times light is not subtle. This image is ALL about light, you can feel it all around her, flooding the picture with warmth.

So today I thought I'd just remind you to look out for light. Even on the gloomy days, see how it lingers delicately on the edge of your coffee cup? See how it gently traces over your child's face as they sit at the window? 
When you're choosing an image to photograph, draw, paint, don't forget to ask yourself what is the light saying? If I looked at it from a different angle, how would the light change? Look at the shape of the silhouette, or the highlighted edges... switch off the flash of your camera and see what happens.
See! Enjoy! Play!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

stuck in a rut? bake a cake!

I've ordered my book on Food Photography! I am impatiently waiting for it to arrive in the post. Yes the post - living in Germany means that I cannot just run out to my local book store and buy a book in English, I have to order it. Luckily this one is coming from the UK and not the USA, so I should have it by the end of the week. Hold thumbs!

In the meantime, there's not much learning happening here. In fact I'm a bit stuck. Stuck in a rut. So what do I do? I rope in the girls to help me bake a cake, because us girls love cake! Normally this only happens for special occasions like birthdays, but today I need a boost and my birthday is just much too far away.

First I get the ingredients ready. The girls help and I torture them with simple baking sums like: we need one and a quarter cups - how many quarter cups do we put in? They learn something and they get to help me choose the pretty bowls and carry everything through to the dining room where...

...I've set up my expensive lights. Then I beg, "Please girls!!! Watch the cables, no bouncing, no dancing!" This is really hard for them, because we LOVE cake! We really really love cake! Isn't it exciting? (bouncy bounce) Especially when it's a sweet, soft, fluffy cake, with rich butter icing that you just don't get here!

The tall one gets to read the instructions, littley gets to pour and they take turns to beat and stir. (This time I didn't even have to play referee. This cake is made with a heap of love) I try to get the camera settings right and get some shots in, in record timing... and before we know it, it's done.

The girls get to lick the bowl and our house is filled with the divine happy smell of a vanilla sponge cake baking in the oven. Cake baked. Memories made. And I have some lovely shots too! Happy Ne'!

This time I will type out the recipe for you... see below.

 The Recipe

This was a Victorian Berry Sponge Cake, but the berry sugar is just too obscure around here, so I converted it to a Simple Vanilla Sponge Cake.  It doesn't rise very high, so if you want to be fancy you can bake 2 layers and put icing between them. Or just keep it low key - bake in one shallow tin, smear icing all over and dig in. 

(PS I am not a foodie, no baking expert or perfectionist. This recipe worked for me, I hope it works for you. It's simple and yummy!)


4 eggs
3/4 cups castor sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 Tablespoon cornflour (maizena)
1 and a 1/2 teaspoons melted butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 cup warm water

Heat oven to 180 degrees
Grease  2 x 20cm round tins (or one bigger one in any shape you want - we use a heart-shaped tin) and line with baking paper.

Beat the eggs until creamy and gradually add the castor sugar. Keep beating until the mixture becomes really thick. (they say this can take up to 10 minutes - oops, I was too impatient for that...)

Sift the flour and cornflour and fold it into the eggy mixture.

Next stir in the warm water, butter and vanilla.

Pour into your tins and bake for 20- 25 minutes.
Allow to cool before icing.


125g butter 
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
(and a little splash of coffee)

Beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat some more, until it's  smooth and yummy.

Ice the cake and eat it!
(remember: it is good to share...)


Friday, 9 May 2014

a handful of memories

I've had an intense couple of weeks of traveling from Germany through Austria to Italy to Germany to the Hague (Netherlands) to Germany to Bruges (Belgium) and now I'm back. Kids are back at school. The house is quiet. Empty. I scratch through my camera bag and find a handful of memories: torn maps, used tickets, a pretty packet from Assisi and stripey shells that we picked up in Belgium. And there lies the heap of washing, staring at me again.

I must say I'm finding it very hard to reconcile everything I just experienced with the reality of what is here and now. I set the May challenge before I left (I apologise that the posts didn't appear on time as they were meant to - I obviously still have some techno learning to do). Anyway, so the idea was that I'd get back and jump into learning new stuff to keep myself on the go and inspired, but at the moment I just feel saturated with everything I learned while traveling. I need to pause and process it all somehow.

Don't you find that learning while traveling is so simple? At home you have to actively look for new things to learn, but while traveling it happens automatically as you absorb everything around you. You collect impressions of what you see and your mind stretches, admiring the beauty, attempting to understand different people and grasp concepts of history and time. I've come to terms with the fact that I will not remember every fact about everything I see and I don't even try and look them all up, but I do stay aware of what I am instinctively curious about and I just concentrate on those things, while allowing the rest just to wash over me.

Now I am going to have to order myself a book, or do an on-line course. Something to stop this mind from going into a stagnant rut - something, but first the washing...

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The May Challenge

The other day my husband phoned me from work , with a mathematical problem he had to solve. After the appropriate flattery, he was able to get me to help.  I put down the phone, feeling quite chuffed that I was able to help him and turned to remind myself what I was busy doing... then I saw the pile of washing waiting patiently for me. (sigh.)

I have to remind myself, I am in the very fortunate position, that for the couple of years that we are living in Germany, I have been able to put my photography business aside and take some time to learn, learn & learn some more. Things I'd normally not have time to explore on the internet, I now do. I have to, otherwise the thought of that pile of washing would drive me absolutely dilly!

Learning new skills is keeping my brain humming. It's exciting! Last year I did a course in Surface Pattern Design, which was a totally new field for me. And I loved it and loved that feeling of learning constructively again. Then I learned how to design and write my own blog. I'm using a new system to set up a new website. There's the iPad and on top of all this I've had daily lessons from how to drive on the wrong side of the road, to how schooling works here and how to convince people that I am actually intelligent despite the days when my German just comes out all wrong and I sound like a tongue-tied baboon.

As children, our brains are constantly learning, and they're soft and squishy like sponges, but I wonder just how stiff they get as we get into the rut of the same old, same old. They say that staying young is related to staying curious. There's a lovely lady in our family, who is now well in her nineties and I have this vivid memory of her in her eighties, climbing into my car to see exactly how these child seats are attached to the car and how they work. At 80 she was not going to ever use this knowledge herself, but she's ever curious and never afraid to ask, "but how?" I do believe that's what's kept her young for so long.

To learn new things we need to be open to new things. And open to asking questions, no matter how stupid they may seem. (I need to work on that!- What have you always wondered about, but have felt too silly to ask?) What's great, is that your best buddy knows stuff that you don't! We don't have to go back to University to learn stuff. There's so much knowledge on our doorsteps, we just need to chat, and talk to each other to learn and grow, daily.

It's all exercise for our brains and it keeps us young and creative. (Now I feel better for the lack of other exercise I've been doing).  What new things have you been up to, lately? What did you learn today? How many new things did you learn this week? And yes, the littlest of little things do count!

The May challenge is to see and acknowledge how much new stuff you actually are learning all the time (give yourself some credit!) and then see whether you can add to that? Challenge yourself to try some new things! It can be as small trying a new restaurant, or going somewhere local that you've always said - we should go there sometime - or maybe it's a course you've been dying to do. Stretch yourself, stretch your experience. What things have you often thought of doing, but haven't had the time or the guts? Maybe it's time to make time? Time to dive into it? Time to set yourself a challenge?

Tell me about it in the comments below.