The Portrait Diaries: Day 26

Sometime a photo takes you by surprise. This is one of those. We’d just changed set ups during a dance photoshoot so this was an inbetween shot while I tested the light and these ladies got themselves ready and into position. They were all very talented and inspirational dancers with incredible flexibility that I could only dream of!

Shortly after this, I got the shot we’d set out for, to capture them leaning back with their legs straight up in the air. I will share some more soon but for now just wanted to focus on the fact that though this isn’t the shot I was briefed to get, that’s the whole point. In the inbetween moments, magic happens and you can’t set a brief for that. That’s what I’m there to capture as a photographer. Not only those staged moments, but more importantly the magic inbetween.

I really love the expression on her face and the way the light is radiating around her. I also really like the contrast of the girl to the left looking down whilst the girl in the center is looking up. It’s as if they’re praying. Can a photo be spiritual? I think it can.

What do you think?

Lauren xxx

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{The Portrait Diaries} Day 25: More than just a leather jacket

For me this is an oldie but a goodie. I came across this photo again recently while cleaning up my hard drive. A few years back my cousin had asked if I would photograph her son Max in the leather jacket his late and much loved Uncle Andy had given him, as he was starting to outgrow it.

So armed with his favourite bear for company we set out to get some great shots of Max looking super cool in his leather jacket. This is my favourite, I think because of the way he’s holding on to that bear so tightly, as if they were his memories and love for his Uncle Andy. That jacket is so much more than just a jacket. It represents the love and kindess Andy showed to Max growing up. It’s so special and important to be able to capture and keep these moments in time. I know his Uncle Andy would both love this photo and be incrediby proud of Max, he’d probably buy him a new leather jacket too.

Lauren xxx

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{The Portrait Diaries} Day 16: When in Rome…

Day 16:

So I lied a little.This post has nothing to do with Rome and everything to do with Texas!

As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” so in Texas what should we do? Well, ‘The Texas Two-step’ to be specific. This particular style of dancing is like a mix of classic, ballroom & country dancing and it’s sooo much fun!!

Okay, so I’m going to be completely honest with you… two stepping didn’t come all that naturally to me.  However, I can successfully step on two other people’s feet if that counts? No, I didn’t think so!

The experience won me over none the less and here’s why:

I love doing things I’ve never done before, especially the things that make me feel a little bit scared and excited at the same time. Those times that you’re a little bit terrified but don’t want to stop because you’re having too much fun!

There’s no better time to try such things than when you’re already surrounded by the unfamiliar. So when my fiance & I found ourselves in Austin, Texas, I was so excited that my dear friend & amazing host Rebecca wanted to take us two-stepping! I used to indulge in a little country line dancing when I was younger, but walking into the venue ‘Broken Spoke‘ I knew it was the real deal when I saw men in cowboy hats and heard their Southern drawl.  We had some giggles attempting to join in but it was just as much fun to watch and take in the atmosphere of the dance hall.

Traditionally it is a man-woman dance but these days it can be man-woman, man-man or woman-woman dancing. People swap partners, mingling & dancing with who ever is free to dance.

The basic etiquette is that if you don’t really know what you are doing you stick to the outside. That’s where you would’ve found me then!  If you’re a pro or really going for it you will generally be in the middle.   Traditionally, the men set the pace and stride of the dance, gracefully leading their partner through the steps.

While as we didn’t know the steps we were a little less graceful, but today’s photograph is of the ever so gracious Rebecca who knew her way round the dance floor like it was the back of her hand. Her lovely dance partner I did not catch the name of but suffice to say he was a total gent! It is Rebecca we have to thank for an amazing experience in Texas that left us wanting to come back for more.

If you ever get the chance to do some country dancing, definitely give it a go!  Even better if it’s in Texas! Maybe watch everyone else until you get some of the moves down but don’t be scared, live a little and hit that dance floor.

Texas we heart you! Yee Haw!

Lauren xxx

“It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. It is the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance. It is the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give. And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”  Bette Midler 


{The Portrait Diaries} Day 9: Rules were made to be broken

Day 9

I took this photo today. I was just testing the light before I set up the “proper” shot so I wasn’t thinking about composition,  angle or giving my subject any direction. He was mid sentence . My first reaction. I looked at my screen and laughed. I knew he wasn’t ready but that wasn’t important to the image, or was it?

When I uploaded the photos to my computer I decided I actually really like this photo. And so I have an experiment that I’d like you to try out. Are you ready?

Everything you know about photography. Forget it. Even just for a day, even just for a minute.

Next time you pick up your camera don’t consider what a “proper” portrait is supposed to be. Abandon the rules. Forget what you’ve heard someone else suggest as the perfect or even ideal settings for any given situation.  Even just for a day stop considering the rule of thirds and how to expose perfectly or compose your image to look pleasing to everyone else. See what happens. Even better show me what happens. E-mail it to me at lauren@laurenbythesea.com or post it on my Facebook page.

If you can do that, if you can forget what you are supposed to be doing, you might just create something a bit different, something a bit raw, something a bit special.

Because rules were made to be broken.

{The Portrait Diaries} Day 8: Who’s your muse?

Day 8

Wow. I’m actually quite surprised at where this portrait experiment has taken me so far.

I’m quite a thinker anyway, an over-thinker some might say, yet only 8 days into this challenge it feels like I wasn’t thinking at all before.

I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures of people over landscapes and scenery but posting these portraits has really started me thinking on a deeper level about what kind of portraits I delight over. I keep coming back to my portraits of musicians. Why did this not stand out to me before? I’m not sure, maybe as I’m not a musician myself it wasn’t that obvious. But the beauty of a portrait of a musician is seeing their passion coming alive right in front of your eyes. Musicians take it to another place , they go somewhere else, they connect to whoever or whatever their muse might be and it makes them shine.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”- Howard Thurman

I’ve always had close friends who are musicians and I never really believed that to be intentional but now I’m starting to wonder whether it is a subconscious thing. I like the idea that we naturally surround ourselves with people that inspire us. It should be that way anyway. I feel really lucky and I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the people who I have had the chance to know and the opportunities I have had to capture people in the process of expressing themselves. In doing so they help me to express myself too.

To those people I thank you, from the bottom of my heart,  for doing what you do. Please keep doing it!

Lauren xxx

{The Portrait Diaries} Day 5: Read Between the Lines

Day 5.

From one musician to another. I’m not obsessed I promise (well only with photographing people doing what they love) I really wanted to pick this portrait for today’s post because I was browsing through the whole shoot a few days ago and this is the one that always jumps out at me. It’s from a shoot about 6 months ago with amazingly talented harpist Alexander Thomas. (@alexthomasmusic) This is probably my absolute favourite image from the shoot and you can see more here.

Although his face is sort of obstructed you can still see the emotion on his face through the harpstrings and it is seeing that and feeling that connection at the time I was taking the photo which is what makes me love photographing musicians. Alex hadn’t expected to necessarily play his harp on the shoot but just be photographed with it. A while into the shoot I asked him to play a little and wow, the sounds literally travelled on the wind and echoed all around us. I’ve never heard anything quite like it. It was heavenly and incredibly inspiring . So I suppose I’m realising that’s one of the biggest factors for me in my favourite portraits. What the person is doing or what you ask them to do can make or break an image. 5 days in and I’m already learning, I like it!

I’d love to hear what makes a great portrait for you. Get in touch or comment below.

Lauren xx

{The Portrait Diaries} Day 4: Making beautiful music

Today’s portrait is of guitarist Max Giegerich. He is in an awesome band called Welcome to Marathon. I may feature some of his lovely bandmates at some point.

I slightly over exposed this shot but I took several more photos with different exposures and ended up liking this look. It made me think about atmosphere in an image . I think it adds sort of a spiritual aspect to the photo.  Maybe because the background is blown out, you can’t tell where he is so it makes it purely about the subject. Just one man and his guitar making beautiful music.

Check back tomorrow for the next portrait in my portrait challenge.

Lauren xx

Old Kent Barn Bridal Shoot

The last few months have flown by! Is it really April already? Well I have so much to share so I’ll get started.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of assisting fab wedding photographer Samantha Jones on a styled bridal shoot at Old Kent Barn. My word that place is beautiful! Definitely take a look if you are getting married and looking for a venue.

Despite waking up the morning of the shoot with a nasty cold I didn’t want to miss out on assisting Sam so pushed through the day, watching Sam in her element, helping out with lighting and Sam also allowed me to grab some shots of my own. How could I resist? It’s fascinating to see how other photographers work and I enjoyed working with Sam, our models Harriet and Charlotte and fabulous make up artist Lauren Hards. The stunning bouquets that we did not want to give back were provided by Floral Dreamz and Victoria’s Flowers and the gorgeous dresses were borrowed from Jodis in Canterbury.

I’d love to know what you think.

Have a great week,

Lauren xx

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Working with other creatives

For a while I’ve been meaning to write about a shoot I did recently that featured the biggest musical instrument I’ve ever seen- a giant harp!

I’ve always wished I could play an instrument. When I first got really serious about photography about 4 years ago I was lucky to have many talented friends who were musicians & it played a big part in my path to becoming a portrait photographer. There’s nothing better than watching people doing something they love, it really is inspirational. Getting to photograph it is something really special. An honour.

I feel the same way about watching performers. Whenever I go to the theatre I am overcome with emotion & my eyes always well up when the cast take their curtain call. I guess it’s a kind of empathy, I feel so pleased for them that they are doing something they love & using their God-given talent.

Of course I could take lessons if I was that adamant about learning to play an instrument but I don’t really feel it’s for me right now. I do believe that every one of us has it within them to be great at something. Everyone has the ability to create… so while I focus on the photographs I’ll leave the talented Alexander Thomas to create the music.

I first met Alex Thomas back in 2008 when we both lived in Brighton & Alex was studying for his Masters in Music. We did a shoot on Brighton beach & then worked together again when I shot a music video Alex featured in back in May.

So here, with him in his element & me in mine, is a selection of images from our shoot. Hope you enjoy them and I’d love to know what you think.

Until next time, Lauren xx

laurenbythesea: the blog

Hi lovely people and welcome to the laurenbythesea blog which has been a long time coming! I’ve been meaning to do this for so long not only to record the journey that photography is taking me on but to share inspiration and beauty with those around me.  I would really like to build this blog into something wonderful, inspiring and insightful so I hope you’ll stick around a while or come back soon if you have to dash off.

While the website is still in progess (i’m a perfectionist) you can go to my facebook page if you’d like to see my most recent work. I try to post a photo a day there just to show what I’ve been up to.

I’m keen to get blogging though and I couldn’t wait any longer as I want to keep you up to date with my adventures and that includes the gradual improvement of this website. This blog will mainly feature photography related posts. I’ll be doing some how-to features , before and afters to show what happens in the editing stages, and some inspirational posts too so i can share what and who inspires me. If there’s anything you’d like to see a post on make sure to get in touch as I’d love for this blog to be as interactive as possible, so get involved. You can email me at lauren@laurenbythesea.com

I recently made the landing page below to greet new visitors on facebook, show them what I’m about and hopefully encourage them to ‘like’ my page and stay in touch. So if you know anyone you think would like my work, point them in this direction.

Thanks and until next time,

Lauren x