Now that the craziness of Christmas is over, you will probably be starting to think about 2019, and all that it will hold for you. Lots of people love to have a New Year Resolution list - I did this last year and it's amazing how having that sense of purpose at the start of the year can drive you to achieve great things!
So what will be your resolutions for this year? One of mine is to photograph my own family more - I spend a lot of time photographing other families but neglect to photograph my own family as much as I would like! I started this in December by taking my parents to a lovely location in Marlow and we had a lot of fun - and now I have some precious memories of them that I can treasure forever!
Maybe having a photo shoot with your family could be one of your New Years resolutions, and as an incentive I am launching my Spring Mini Family Photo Shoots in Marlow! These sessions are classed as 'mini sessions' as they are just 30 minutes long and you get five high resolution digital images with matching 10x8 prints - for just £149. These will take place in the Easter holidays, and I am only releasing a certain number of these mini shoots - so once they're gone, they're gone!
If you would like to book a 'mini session' please click on the following contact button.
I'm delighted to have First Aid trainer Claire Street from Marlow's Child Matters guest blog for me this month! I was thinking about the coming festive season, and how there are things that we as parents should be aware of and should think about during the festivities in terms of keeping our little ones safe. Claire has kindly written the following information to guide us safely through the season:
Tis the season to be jolly! Very jolly in fact. We all like to let our hair down at Christmas but with all that merry making it’s easy to forget that Christmas comes with it’s own festive hazards and children are especially vulnerable – over excited about presents and Santa! According to RoSPA more than 6,000 people end up in hospital on Christmas day. Don’t let that be your or your family and read our 10 tips to keep your little ones safe.
Tip 1 – Don’t buy poisonous berries
Did you know that mistletoe is poisonous as its berries contain toxic proteins that slow the heart rate and can cause hallucinations? The orange berries of the Christmas cherry can cause stomach pains too so keep them away from your little ones. You don’t want to be dealing with diarrhoea on Christmas day!
Tip 2 – Be aware of faulty fairy lights
Around 350 people a year are hurt by Christmas tree lights, according to RoSPA. Injuries include people falling while they’re putting them up, children swallowing the bulbs, and people getting electric shocks and burns from faulty lights.
The advice is to always to test your lights and don’t overload sockets. Don’t leave young children near your Christmas tree lights unsupervised and look for the safety marks eg. BS Kitemark when buying new lights. It goes without say to never insert or remove bulbs when they are switched on.
Take a look at this video on how quickly faulty lights can turn into a fire:
Tip 4 - Button battery beware!
The light-up fidget spinners, musical or light up decorations and fake tea lights often contain button batteries. If a button battery is swallowed and gets stuck in the throat or gullet, the electrical charge from a button battery creates caustic soda inside the body. This can burn a hole through the throat and can lead to serious internal bleeding and death. Keep them away from children!
What to do if your child swallows a button battery:
Get help fast! Don’t let them eat or drink and definitely don’t try to make them sick. Just keep calm and take them to hospital straight away, even if one gets stuck up their nose or in their ear. Don’t be afraid to call an ambulance, it could save their life. Dial 999, not 111. The sooner the batter can be removed, the less chance of permanent damage as lithium batteries can cause damage within 2 hours of being consumed.
Tip 6 – Stay out of the kitchen
Christmas dinner is probably the biggest meal most families cook all year and needs careful planning to avoid injuries. Hot fat, boiling water and sharp knives make the kitchen one of the most dangerous places so try to keep little ones out of the kitchen.
Tip 7 – Give visitors the gift of safety
Grandparents and relatives can unknowingly leave medicines in places where children can find them, such as handbags or counted out on bedside cabinets. How would they feel if they’d accidently caused the most common accidental poisoning in children, with everyday painkillers a frequent culprit. And hearing aids contain button batteries so they definitely need to be out of reach from kids. Help them to keep your children safe by giving them a safe plastic container like ‘Kiddylock’ (http://www.dreambaby.co.uk/kiddy-lock-cool-guard-child-safe-container.html) to pop everything in and keep high out of reach or in a locked cupboard.
Tip 8 – Get the kids first aid trained in DRAB!
Seasonal hazards are even easier to avoid if children themselves are first aid trained. Young children from as little as four years old are very capable of reacting quickly to save a life and get help. BUT, only if they have the confidence and knowledge to do so. And it isn’t just about helping others, little ones can learn how to stay safe themselves.
So what should children know? The most important lesson for any age child to learn is simply when and how to shout for help if someone has an accident or is very poorly.
As adults we are more likely to know when someone is choking, struggling to breathe or unconscious. Even if we’ve never witnessed it ourselves, we’ve certainly watched TV dramas. But for children it’s going to be a complete surprise and something they’ve never ever seen before. So knowing how to stay calm, find out if a person is ok and how to call 999 is essential. And that’s where DRAB comes in. Tattooing these simple emergency action steps onto the big minds of little one’s could save someone’s life!
Tip 10 – Teach children the importance of keeping themselves safe
If your child is out and about and has an accident themselves, memorising their own address and telephone number is a sure way to get help faster. As parents you may be able to give lifesaving information on your child’s medical condition such as epilepsy and allergies. And it goes without saying that children should be aware of their own medical conditions themselves.
So give your little ones the knowledge to stay safe this season and book them on a Junior Child Matters First Aid training course for 2019, taught by paediatric nurses.
Visit www.child-matters.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org for course dates near you or we can run a group session in your own home or school.
Stats from Home Accident Surveillance System, 2002 & 2011/12 Fire Statistics Great Britain from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Child accident prevention trust
The options available are detailed below, but if you want to discuss anything with me then please just click on the contact section of this website and get in touch!
Option 1 - A voucher can be purchased in multiples of £25 to redeem against a photo shoot
£25, £50, £75 etc, you state the amount and your loved one can use this to redeem against a photo shoot (please note they will need to pay the remaining balance!).
Option 2 - £99 Newborn session fee/ £59 Lifestyle session fee
This pays for the session fee only for either a Newborn photo shoot or a Lifestyle photo shoot. Then the client redeeming the voucher can then purchase one of three Collections, which vary in price from £199 to £399.
Option 3 - £199 Mini photo shoot
The Mini sessions can be used for either a Newborn or Lifestyle session (the Lifestyle Sessions are studio photo shoots for children, or outdoor sessions for children and their immediate family) and last for 30 minutes and include 5 digital images.
Option 4 - £249 expressions photo shoot
This is a 30 minute session suitable for young children to capture their expressions and personality. As part of the package you get 16 square images in a mounted frame - great to mark a birthday.
Option 5 - £258 Fully paid photo shoot
This is for a full photo shoot for either a newborn or lifestyle shoot and includes the photo shoot, plus ten digital images plus matching 10x8 prints.
There are a limited number of Gift Vouchers being released so if you would like to order one please get in contact today by clicking on the following link: Contact
Please note - Gift vouchers must be redeemed within 6 months of 1st January 2019. Vouchers cannot be returned for any monetary value. We are not responsible if a Gift Voucher is lost, stolen, destroyed or used without permission and no replacement will be provided in these circumstances. The Gift voucher is non-transferrable. Kate McNeil Photography standard T&C’s still apply.
Christmas Mini - Terms and Conditions:
~ Up to two children per mini session.
~ Session fee is required to be paid at the time of booking to secure your time slot.
~ Sessions will be Mon-Fri during the day, unless agreed at the time of booking.
~ The session will be at Kate McNeil Photography's home location, 95 The Ridgeway. SL7 3LH
~ The sessions will be available from the 1st October 2018 to end of November 2018, limited slots available on a first come, first served basis.
~ The ten edited images are subject to the willingness of the child, if the child does not want to cooperate I am unable to offer refunds or re-shoots.
~ Turnaround for the digital images is no longer than 2 weeks.
Visit www.facebook.com/katemcneilphotography to see my recent photo shoots
I've now done a fair few trips with my two girls, both in the UK and abroad and I have to admit there are pro's and con's to all of the different types we have tried! From all inclusive hotels, a Mark Warner (child care provided!) holiday, through to self catering apartments in the UK and abroad and also villa's - they all have their equal share of advantages and disadvantages. I think what I'm trying to say is that travelling with babies/kids is never going to be completely stress free and there will always be things that could make a holiday more relaxing and easier!
In terms of what to take, I have googled countless times to give me ideas and now have excel spreadsheets for all the different holidays, but each time I go back to them the kids have grown up a bit more and so the list has changed (again!). But there are some things which I've listed below which I think are useful to have, some more age specific than others, but food for thought for you anyway. And for those of you who can travel outside of the school holidays, I'd say do it now before you get tied into half terms and summer holidays, where the prices jump up dramatically!!!
I think the key here is to keep it simple and take toys that could have multi uses, some ideas:
Stacking cups - great in the pools, bath and on the beach to make sandcastles
Folkmanis Squigz - these are brilliant rubber toys that stick together and are so much fun, can be used as entertainment on the plane or in the bath/pool.
Lottie Dolls - plastic dolls that can be used in the pools and on the beach. If you're not a Barbie fan these dolls are just gorgeous as they are just little girls (in terms of their features) but with big ideas, so you can get fossil hunter Lottie, astro adventurer Lottie, boarder Lottie, brownie Lottie and the list goes on.
Pass the Pig - Probably more suitable for thoses age 3-4+ but we played this all week on holiday this summer!! Small to travel with and very simple.
Stickers - for little one's these are a must - my daughter covered all her arms and legs in stickers on one flight but she was so happy and kept amused I let her be! There are loads of great sticker and activity books on the market.
Some other ideas that you have recommended to me:
1. Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair - this pushchair collapses small enough to be taken on the flight as hand luggage - amazing!!
2. Travel wash and Vanish bar of soap
3. Mosquito repellent and antihistamines
I hope you have found this useful - feel free to add any more ideas into the comments box below, as I'm sure we can all help each other with good ideas to help our trips go as smoothly as possible! Happy Holidays!
1. Beaconscot, Beaconsfield
Today (Thursday), I visited Beaconscot with my daughter and my friend with her 4 year old and 4 month old, picnic in hand and ready to enjoy the day! I have to say that it did not disappoint! We were able to park (for free) opposite the entrance, arriving at 11.30am there were no queues and we were able to go straight in. The size of Beaconscot is ideal for toddlers, it's flat and has a little path to follow in order that you can see all the areas. They have recently added to the buildings and there is now the Hoover building, a Butcher, Baker and Candle Stick Maker, a church with a little Christening service taking place and other miniature shops. There's a lovely simple play area and picnic area, which is all beautifully maintained and the detail of care is really noticeable, a great day out!
2. Greys Court, Henley
We also visited Greys Court this week, which as a National Trust member was free, and although my Satnav took me to completely the wrong place, once we got our bearings it was a lovely trip out. We took a picnic once again and headed straight to the play area, which is near the track and next to the house. My daughter played with her friends in this woodland play area, climbing on the large climbing frame and slide, and spending ages making camps out of twigs and branches! After the picnic we had a look around the little shop, which has some beautiful pieces, along with a great book which I'm planning on buying called '101 Things For Kids To Do Outside' by Dawn Isaac
3. Baking cakes and selling them to neighbours
Baking can be one of those things which you start with all good intentions and then then flour puffs in the air, the egg falls on the floor and you're missing an ingredient - but maybe that's just me! I think that family baking time can be so much fun, it just takes some organising, sometimes just weighing out the ingredients beforehand and then kids the add it to the bowl and mix can make it all a bit less stressful - at the end of the day, all they want to do is lick the bowl!! A friend of mine recently did this with her daughters and then set up a mini cake sale in their front garden, which looked like so much fun and is on our list of things to do!
4. Odds Farm
Of course! We used to have an annual pass to Odds Farm when my eldest daughter was under 2 and it was just brilliant! We would go up to the Farm every week sometimes just for an hour in the afternoon, or take a picnic and spend the whole day up there, we definitely got our moneys worth!! The lovely thing with Odds Farm is that it is constantly improving and the profits are obviously being reinvested in the Farm and it just gets better every year. Although it does get busy in the holidays it is worth a visit.
5. Fruit picking at Copas Farm, Cookham
A few weeks ago I helped at my daughters Rainbow's group and we went to Copas Farm in Cookham to pick some seasonal fruit. We were all given a plastic container and shown to the enormous strawberry field and told to help ourselves! It was so enjoyable just walking up and down the rows and rows of strawberries - and eating a really ripe strawberry warmed in the hot sun was just amazing! We also went to the cherry trees and also saw the huge rhubarb as well. This would be such a fun trip out for kids (and adults) any age! There is a big barn by the farm shop where you can get out of the sun and have a cool drink and enjoy the views, it really is fabulous!
6. Marlow Library
We are very lucky in Marlow to have such an active library - there are always things going on there from a story time, to bounce and rhyme through to knitting clubs and more! This summer, as with every summer, they put on a reading challenge - this is for children age 4 upwards, but obviously it's always encouraged for parents to read with their children from when they are babies. Click on the Marlow Library link above which will direct you to the details, but it's a fun one to do and will encourage all the little readers.
8. A boat trip from Marlow to Henley
We haven't done the boat trip yet, although I've lived in Marlow for more than 25 years (woops!) but this looks like lots of fun! Once you get to Henley there is the River and Rowing Museum which has a really sweet Wind in the Willows exhibition, and upstairs there is a little home area for the kids to play in. We've been a few times and the kids have always enjoyed it and they usually have different themed events going on throughout the year.
10. Theatre trip - 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt', Lyric Theatre
Theatre trips can be such a lot of fun and we have some great local venues such as the Wycombe Swan and Norden Farm in Maidenhead. If you're brave enough to go further afield there is a new show happening at the Lyric Theatre called 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' which looks ideal for a first taste of the theatre experience and is only 55 minutes long.
I hope this list gives you some ideas and inspiration - at the end of the day I would say to keep it simple - picnics and parks are always a winner, and my girls are always so happy with a bowl of water and cups and bowls - or a large box they can colour and create into whatever invention they wish! I hope you all have a great time, whatever you end up doing!
This past week I have had the privilege of attending a week long residential in Uppermore Barn in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. As a newborn photographer I feel it is my duty to ensure that I am up to date in my training and so this was a great opportunity to refresh my skills in many areas including lighting, editing, business & marketing, posing, wrapping and safety. We had a number of photo shoots with both newborns and some young children, all of which were amazingly well behaved, even with 13 photographers all snapping around them!
As part of the course we also did 5 hours of Continued Professional Development in First Aid and was tailored to photographers. First Aid is such an important thing for us all to do, and I can recommend two great training providers in Marlow - Child Matters and Mini First Aid.
Overall this was a great week away and I have learnt a lot and can't wait to put these new skills into practice!
Outdoor photo shoots are fun! They are very relaxed and last around an hour, but sometimes up to two if we need to feed the troops and have some pit stops along the way! I’ve scouted out some locations in Marlow, but I’m always open to suggestions and interested to know about new places in the local area that I haven’t come across before.
What to wear – it’s always nice for the children to feel relaxed at the session and I encourage them to run around, hide in and on trees and bushes and climb logs, so do bear this in mind when dressing them! It’s a good idea to bring a spare outfit for those ‘just in case’ moments – for you, along with the children.
The rule of thumb is the magic three colours, if all of the party can wear one or two out of three colours then it makes the images easy on the eye when there is some coordination.
Which colours to go for?
Spring/Summer sessions when the colours around are generally bright green, go for colours either side of this on the colour wheel (see below), so blues/greys, green and yellows (and even some pink can look amazing!).
Autumn - As the summer fades and the natural landscape colours progress to shades of brown, opt for 2 or 3 of the vibrant colours of mustard yellow, forest green, maroon purple, navy blue, and grey. The deep tones on the outer part of the colour wheel really work in autumn.
Think about the colour schemes in your home - you want to make sure your clothes go with the theme of the room where the picture will be hanging. You don't need to spend a fortune on outfits either, H&M have some lovely thick mustard yellow knits plus some maroon thick cardi's, match these with some navy tights and skirt and that's one outfit sorted! A yellow mac and wellies always looks lovely too!
Finally, think 'classic' - no doubt these images will hang on your wall or be presented proudly on your mantle piece for a long time, so try to keep away from clothing that may be deemed as a fad/trend and stick to more classic pieces, and clothing that you feel comfortable in!
If you're stuck for ideas Pinterest can be a great help, along with large clothing outlets which generally match outfits online or in-store. If you're unsure about anything then don't panic, just give me a call and we can chat your ideas through.
Outdoor photo shoots can be booked from April through to around November (weather dependant) and ideally I will do the session either two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset - it's not essential but this is generally deemed to be the best light of the day, plus the kids think it's very exciting to be going back out again after dinner again for the summer sessions!
Following the session, I will edit the images in line with my style and will then send you a password protected online gallery for you to view your images and make your selection.
I look forward to seeing you on your outdoor photo shoot and capturing memories that last a life time!
There are so many newborn photographers, and anyone and everyone can now become one...or so it seems! Google search is full to the brim of photographers, claiming to be the 'regions leading specialists' and other such statements. So, as a parent, what should you be looking for and what should you be avoiding? - it all seems to be a bit confusing!
As a mum of two precious girls my very first thought when I decided to specialise in newborn photography was how I would feel as a customer looking for someone to take pictures and handle my own precious babies - and for me personally, safety was high on the priority list. So, in order to become trained and qualified in my field of expertise I researched where I could get the best training from in order that I could give my clients the peace of mind that I wasn't just learning on the job or that their baby was being used as a guinea pig! It might surprise you to know that newborn photography is not currently regulated, literally anyone can pick up a camera and profess to be a newborn photographer - so photographers like me, who take safety seriously, have to take it upon ourselves to be trained and educated on how to ensure the beautiful images we create, are done safely.
So, in 2016 I enrolled on the first Newborn Photography School set up by the Guild of Photographers and successfully finished this and then went on to gain the Guild's Qualified status in Newborn and Baby Photography. This was a huge achievement for me, as this meant that I could give my clients some verification that I am trained and qualified to a high standard in this field of photography.
We covered many aspects on the course, from wrapping a baby, posing, lighting, using props, shushing (yes, we were taught how to make the babies nice and sleepy!), along with all the safety aspects from handling through to creating a composite image (two images 'sewn' together in Photoshop, so as to ensure the baby is kept safe at all times). But once the course was over, the leader of the course, Claire Elliott (who is a leading, award winning newborn photographer) became my mentor - critiquing my work and advising on ways to improve. This still goes on today and she is my go-to person in all areas of my photography, from advice to critiquing - she calls herself my Fairy 'Tog' Mother and she really is!
Being a newborn and baby photographer requires a unique set of skills and there is a worldwide organisation that exists to support photographers like me, who want to have access to safety training and resources that we can use to provide clients like you with a better service. I’m delighted to have joined BANPAS (Baby &Newborn Photography Association) and you will be able to find me on their directory of photographers. They also have a fabulous facebook page for pregnant and new parents here. I’d be delighted to chat to you about how I can create a beautiful gallery of images for your newborn and very happy to chat to you about how I do that safely. Please contact me for booking and availability information.