Monday, 25 May 2015

Living Arrows 21/52: Best Friends

This week for Living Arrows I wanted to share this photo from our walk through the woods. Over the weekend the boys left for their dads in Lincolnshire where they will be away from me for the entire half term. It is a sad time for me saying goodbye to my two little buddies. The house is far too quiet but I know they are having a fantastic time. Unfortunately, with all the running around we did in preparation for their holiday, I forgot to take photos for the weekly portrait project. So, as I have so many pictures from last weekend, I thought I would share this photo which shows how close the boys are becoming. They are best friends and really dislike being apart. As we were walking through the woods, Alfie had a little fall and hurt his foot on a rock. Thomas immediately helped him up and held his hand to help him get along the path, out of the woods. 
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Living Arrows

Sunday, 24 May 2015

My sunday photo

kingsand, cawsand, cornwal
Cawsand, Cornwall

Saturday, 23 May 2015

How to get uncooperative children to pose for photos

Yesterday I posted 'How to get children into photography' and so far I have been overwhelmed with the amazing comments I have received, but there was one from San who blogs over at 2 little faces who caught my attention. She wanted to know how to get children to pose as her little one tends to avoid the camera. As a fellow blogger, I feel the pressure to post quality photos of my children when I am writing about them. I am sure we are not the only ones who have days when the children run away whenever the camera comes out. We take time to plan our blog posts and the photos to accompany them, and we get excited about being able to show our ideas to our readers. However, on the day you want to take your photos when the weather is perfect, the location picturesque, and the children are looking smart, the unimaginable happens, your children just don't want to play. They are more interested in rolling down hills, getting their smart clothes and groomed hair completely filthy. Or perhaps they would rather hide underneath the dining table if you are taking indoor shots. Whatever the case may be, I have eventually learned to just relax and go with the flow. Here are a few of my methods I use to get my children to pose nicely for photos: 

☆ Put down the camera

Sounds strange when we are talking about taking photos but seriously put it to one side. If you are inside or outside, try having fun for a few minutes. Run around and play with the children, then once everyone is relaxed and into the activity, pick up the camera and snap away. 

☆ Engage with them

If you feel like they are bored and uninterested in posing for your photo, sit and engage with them while snapping away. Tell a joke to get that perfect smile, talk to them to improve their expression, and ask them any random questions to get more genuine photos rather than posey shots. Below I told Alfie a secret and told him to whisper it into his brothers ear. I just love Thomas' cheeky expression after hearing the joke Alfie told him.

☆Stay calm 

The more frustrated you get, the less likely your children are going to want to pose nicely for you. Children are going to be silly, they are energetic little things and of course they are not going to want to stay in one place for too long. You have to expect this so just breathe, be patient and smile. 

☆Posing is Overrated

When it comes to photographing children, I feel the best photos are those when you catch them unaware. Forcing your child to pose a certain way can sometimes create flattering images but trying to direct them can prove impossible. 

Above is a photo I took where I asked the children to stand nicely next to the red telephone boxes. This was one of the best shots I could get, they just wanted to mess about. I gave up and realised that when you try to get kids to pose, they just look stiff, uncomfortable and awkward. They just hate having their fun delayed to stand for a photo. 


I know that many people will disagree with this method and I try not to bribe my children into cooperating with me, but from time to time it has been a useful tool when I am really desperate. It's kind of like a payment for their hard work. I will promise to buy them an ice-cream if we are on days out or will allow them to stay up for an extra fifteen minutes before bedtime. 

☆Ask them to play copycat

This is perfect for those children who are able to understand what you're asking. Strike a simple pose, then ask your child if they can do the same thing. Try a few funny poses first to make them think they are playing a really fun game. Then move on to other poses, asking them again if they can copy you. As long as you keep telling them what an amazing copycat they are, they should continue to copy you until you get your perfect shot. 

The above photo took fifteen minutes to get right. I had to eventually play the copycat game by laying on the grass to show them how I wanted them to pose. 

☆Be prepared to change your plans

If you had a plan of how you wanted your photos to look but it turns out you just not going to be able to achieve the right image, try something different. Do not get stressed over it. For example, I had planned a mothers day blog post so wanted the children to pose with a bunch of flowers against a white wall. However, when I passed them the huge bunch, they complained that they disliked flowers and refused to hold them. It was frustrating because I knew they were just being awkward, they pick wild flowers all the time. So instead of getting angry, I decided to take a break for an hour to think about something fun we could do instead. 

We decided to take photos with the cards the children made for me instead which they were very proud to show off. 

☆Let them do their thing

The last tip I want to share is to simply photograph them doing everyday things such as painting, watching Tv, playing with their toys or sleeping. Try shooting a photo without them staring into the camera while shouting 'cheese'. I love the natural shots the best where you can tell the children are unaware of the camera. They show the beauty of childhood and capture the most perfect expressions on their faces. 

I hope these tips were helpful if you have been struggling lately to get your children to cooperate for photos. What are your favourite tricks to get the perfect shot?


Friday, 22 May 2015

How to get children into photography

To tie in with my link up Through My Child's Eyes, I wanted to share some tips on how to get children interested in photography and how to make it fun and interesting for them. 

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Photography can be a fun activity to do together as a family. For me, teaching the boys how to use a camera can be so much fun but can also at times be extremely stressful. I think the boys first started wanting their own camera when I first started blogging which meant I had to start taking pictures of literally every moment of our lives. Children love to mimic their parents and will pick up your interests and hobbies so it was obvious that they were going to want to try photography too. If you too have children that are starting to show an interest in photography then I have written a few tips below on how you can really get them excited about taking pictures. 

☆Allow them to have their own camera

The best way, that I have found, to get children excited about photography is to buy them a cheap, basic camera that they can call their own. I wouldn't recommend handing over your posh, beloved camera as it may have a short life expectancy in the hands of a young child especially, if like my children, they are prone to trip over their own feet while out walking on pavements. There are a number of amazing children's cameras on the market that have bumpers round the outside. As they get older and more responsible, you may feel they are ready for an upgrade. My eight year old has use of my old fujifilm  finepix pictured above which he tends to use for snapping away at his lego and his family. He is very responsible with the camera and he is definitely showing an understanding of the valve of certain things, which makes me more comfortable to allow him to take the camera on our days out.  Having their very own camera to hand will make such a huge difference in increasing their interest in photography. 

☆Start with the basics

A fun thing to do before they start using their camera, is to teach them about the joys of picture taking. Cut a rectangular "view finder" out of a cereal box and let the children run around framing the landscape until you feel they are ready to start taking some real photographs.
Once your child has their own camera to use, you will need to teach them the basics. Start off simple, if you rush and go crazy trying to teach them all the photography technical speak, like describing shutter speeds for example, they will be in danger of losing interest. 

☆Have Fun

When your child becomes more comfortable with their camera, start planning some fun outings or projects. It can be something as simple as taking photos of fascinating objects they have found or a walk around the local park. Or it can be as structured as a scavenger hunt with a list of objects to shoot. Don't make it feel like homework, make photography an enjoyable activity that everyone can get involved in. You can even make photography a game by asking your child if they want to go and see how many animals they can capture. The person (I let my children win) with the most beautiful animal gets to display their favourite photo on the fridge or placed into a frame. 

☆Show and Tell

My children really love it when I upload their photos to my laptop so they can show me what they have captured. I  have started to show them some simple edits to improve their photos and what filters to use to make your photos really stand out. To make it fun, I will use filters that will over exaggerate the effect, such as using space themes, night vision or the darkest black and white. They will shout at me to change it, kick me off the computer, and sit for ages picking the filters that they love. This is my method to teach them that photography isn't just point and shoot, there is so much more you can do to make the perfect picture. They have learnt so much from me letting them having free rain on the photo editing apps, they definitely enjoy it more if I'm not shouting over their shoulders, telling them what to do. 

If photography is your passion, it will probably become your children's too. You will know when it is time to teach your child how to use a camera and what level of prodding they can take before they lose interest in the camera you so kindly brought for them. I hope the above ideas help you to spark their interest and that you can have lots of fun, sharing your passion with your children. 

Remember if your child does love photography, I am hosting a link up called Through My Child's Eyes where you can show off your child's recent captures. 

Mums' Days

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Through My Child's Eyes #10

Hello and welcome back to Through my child's eyes, the link up for mini photographers and artists. I am very sorry that I took such a long break from hosting this link up but I have decided to bring it back and give it another shot. 
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This week, I wanted to show you two photos Thomas took while out walking along the waterfront in Plymouth. It was a miserable day with wind, fog, and heavy rain. However, we made the most of it and quite enjoyed our walk after eating a massive lunch in the cafe. Thomas wanted to steal my camera when we got to these benches and asked Alfie to say 'cheese'. Alfie decided it would be funny to pull his creepy face to annoy Tom which worked, he stormed over to the pigeons and took their photo instead. Quite funny to watch really. 

The Linky 

  • Please add my badge to your posts 
  • Link up your children's artwork or photos, with or without words is fine
  • It will run from Thursday 12am till Saturday
  • Can be old or new and as many as you like
  • When you add your link, please make sure they lead to your posts and not your blog's homepage. It may be difficult for me to find. 
  • Share your link up on twitter using #throughmychildeyes and tag me @gemma_stevens so I know to retweet and comment on your post. 
  • Try and comment on other posts in the link up. 
  • Feel free to link your Instagram photos too
  • Enjoy working together

I look forward to seeing the photos and artwork your children have created recently. Please help me make #throughmychildseyes a success by sharing the link up across your social media and by adding my badge to your posts.

Through my child's eyes


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Five Simple Things To Do When You Wake Up Feeling Down

I often feel like crap. Being a single mother, a working mother, and someone who tries to also call herself a blogger is tough. I am exhausted all the time and no amount of caffeine can fix that but below are a few things I like to do when I am having a bad day. They are simple things that can make a huge difference to my mood and I thought I would share them with you.

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Image: Tumblr

1. Freshen up

Have a really hot, long shower or bath. Use your best soaps, bath bombs and shampoos while surrounding your self with candle light. Try to make your bathroom as relaxing as possible and just sit there in peace for a while. Or sometimes I like to listen to my favourite albums and have a sing song, just to lift my spirits slightly. When you are done, hopefully you will feel refreshed and ready to move on from the sadness that you were feeling. 

2. Take a walk or run outside

Sometimes, getting a bit of fresh air can be the best thing to bring you out of your bad mood and to clear your mind. Try a solo walk or run to the local park, it really helps to make you feel amazing with all those endorphins whizzing around your body. 

3. Make Time for things that make you feel good

Firstly I would put on your favourite outfit, that one that makes you feel amazing, slim, and always gets you compliments. Style your hair and put on your best makeup even if you are not going anywhere, it really perks you up and may encourage you to get out and about to have some fun. During the day, make time for your favourite activity such as listening to your favourite album, crafting, reading, jogging or put on your favourite Tv programme/movie. The act of doing something you love can help to distract you away from all the things that have made you feel rubbish that day.

4. Clean

I hate cleaning but I love that feeling I get when I have finished and the house looks amazing. I  also strangely love the smell of polish and bleach so it definitely cheers me up when the house is clean. My mind is less clouded and I can finally concentrate on doing something I enjoy like a sipping a glass of wine while watching Netflix.

5. Be Alone

If you're not already, you should consider becoming your own best friend. Life is easier if you learn to enjoy your own company in my opinion. I have always loved having some alone time just to relax, be able to think and enjoy an activity that maybe my friends and family do not enjoy. I often take myself out on a date to the theatre, a coffee shop or just a quick shopping trip. Its nice not to have to worry about the other person not enjoying themselves and being able to do what I want to do. 

If these simple tips do not work for you, it's ok to have an off day, we all have them. Just remember there is always tomorrow and do not be afraid to ask your loved ones for a hug.



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Our Day Out At The Plymouth Pirate Weekend

On Saturday we decided to head to Plymouth's annual pirate weekend which was located along Sutton harbour. The boys saw this as the perfect opportunity to dress up which is their most favourite thing to do as you may know if you have been following our previous posts. 
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When we arrived, we were overwhelmed with the amount of people who showed up to the event. There was so many families dressed up in their pirate gear and everyone was in good spirits, probably because we were blessed with gorgeous weather, a rarity when there is an event on. Looking at the photos I took, I feel quite disappointed in myself that I didn't snap at all the amazing things that were set up along the harbour and the amazing costumes people were wearing. I only took photos of the children so I am sorry about that. 

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The first amazing photo I was so happy to get was a photo with the local cosplay star, Jonty Depp. As you can see above, he is a spitting image of Jack Sparrow. It was quite the achievement for me to get this photo because he was so popular amongst the crowd. Everywhere he went he had quite the following of people begging for a photo with him. He was amazing though as he was so good with the children, especially mine who needed a little nudge to go and stand with him. 

pirate, plymouth, barbican, weekend,

After hanging out with Jonty, we had to rush off to my surprise for the children. I had booked them on to the Pirate adventure cruise with Plymouth Boat Trips. These photos show how excited they were.

plymouth, pirate, weekend,

On the boat, they had decorated the deck with pirate flags, skeletons and the crew were all dressed up in their pirate costumes. We were handed treasure maps and a quiz sheet for the journey out to sea. Our task was to search the boat for clues to find where the treasure is hidden. The clues were all in the bar area and the children had to take the first letter of each answer which would eventually spell out the location of the treasure on the map. 

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We didn't get all the letters correct but we could figure out that the answer was The sea fort which is pictured below. The boat stopped just outside and a member of the crew came out to hand everyone a gold coin from their find which we could exchange for a free drink at the bar. The children decided they would rather keep the coin as we had a drink in our bag even though I think they lost it eventually as we left the boat. 

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pirate, plymouth, boat, cruise, sea, ship, harbour, sutton, weekend

After the fun and games we set sail for a cruise around the Plymouth sound which follows the Cornish and Devon coast line. We spotted many other sail boats out in the water and searched for our families houses as we past the village of Cawsand. 

pirate, brothers, blogger, plymouth

Although the Pirate adventure cruise was so much fun, we were very glad to step off the boat. It was freezing and the waves were quite choppy as we headed back to Plymouth. I definitely recommend taking a trip out with Plymouth boat cruises though. The views are amazing. 

Our next stop was to start getting some of the various competitions entered around the harbour. One was to take a selfie with Philip the prawn which was quite difficult to find. After asking the tourist centre, we eventually found him near one of the antique shops. We tried our best but unfortunately we didn't win this one which we are pretty gutted about. The prize was to win three tickets to be zoo keepers for the day at Dartmoor Zoo. Thomas and I have always said we will be zoo keepers one day so we would have loved to win. Next year we will try harder. 

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The other competition which we failed at was the fancy dress competition. We were slightly overwhelmed with the amount of people crowded in one spot trying to get their outfits judged, but with me having anxiety, I just couldn't cope with the pushing and shoving. There were some amazing costumes there and I definitely think the best family won, especially as they had brought their pet cat along too and dressed him up as a pirate.  

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Overall, the Pirates day was amazing and we had so much fun. The children wanted to return for the second day on Sunday but in the morning we were just too tired from all the walking about we did. We are so excited for next year and I think I may even dress up with the children. 


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