Pamper and Pose, Studio G

All about Studio G – our new photography studio and party HQ

Like most photographers, I have always harboured a dream of one day owning my own photography studio. I don’t think I believed it would happen – at least not for a few years yet. When a friend told me about an empty studio to let I pretty much dismissed it out of hand. But he made me go and have a look at it, and from the second I stepped through the door I knew I had found a perfect home for Pamper and Pose.

Even then I didn’t think I had the confidence or the guts to give it a go. I did what every girl would do in those circumstances, I went to see my Mum. Always my biggest supporter, she brought me up to believe I can do anything I put my mind to. But she also keeps me grounded. I expected her and my stepdad, Keith, to tell me to keep plugging away, building up my business for a few more years before I took such a risk. They didn’t. They told me it sounded like a fantastic opportunity and I should go for it.

I went home to talk to my husband, Carl, convinced that he would tell me it was too much of a risk to take when we are just getting back onto an even keel after a rocky few years through a recession. He didn’t. He told me I would never be in a better position to go for it and he would support me if I decided to go for it.

Totally confused, I went for a coffee and a chat with a very sensible friend, Robert, who I knew would stop me getting carried away. He took the wind out of my sails by offering to back me and become my business partner. Finally, in my quest to find someone who would tell me I was being ridiculous, I talked it over with my photography and business mentors, Lee and Eifion, from Welshot Imaging. They were all for it and pledged to help me in any way they could.

After that, I had pretty much run out of reasons why I shouldn’t do it. If so many people had faith that I could make it work, then perhaps, just perhaps, I could. So, soon afterwards I signed the lease on what has now become Studio G.

Photo courtesy of Barry Mappley

Photo courtesy of Barry Mappley

The studio will allow me to expand the photographic work that I do, but it will primarily be the base for Pamper and Pose. It is the perfect place to hold a party if you don’t want any of the mess and the fuss at home. Plus, because we have a lot more space and equipment there is so much more we can do in terms of party themes, props, sets, lighting etc.

Studio G has a reception room with plenty of chairs, where refreshments can be laid out. We have introduced a party food package that includes everything you need, including a basic birthday cake (you are of course welcome to bring your own). All soft drinks, plus teas and coffees for the adults, are included in every party package.

Birthday parties at Pamper and Pose

Birthday parties at Pamper and Pose

Inside the modern studio area there is a comfortable seating area where guests can wait for their turn in front of the camera. There is a dedicated makeover station complete with large dressing room mirror and shelves filled with boxes of hats and props that can be used in shoots.

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We are working on developing a selection of themed parties that will appeal to both girls and boys, but in the meantime, if you have a theme in mind please get in touch and we will do our best to accommodate it. So far we have done Princesses; Hollywood glamour/red carpet; Rock Stars; Catwalk; Tea Party and Secret Garden.

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We’re confident that anyone would be happy to have a party at Studio G, so we welcome anyone who wants to come and have a look around and a chat before booking. Our kettle is always on.

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For more information or to book a party contact Lisa on 0161 300 6224, email parties@lisamariegee.co.uk or fill in our booking enquiries form.

 

From full time mum to full time photographer and businesswoman

first day-2016Today is a landmark day for me. My youngest child finally started school full time today. For the last eight years I have been a full time stay at home mum. I have loved (almost) every minute of it. But today I am on my own. Time to concentrate on me and time to prove that I can make it as a full time businesswoman. It is a very exciting time, but I won’t lie to you, it’s a little bit daunting too.

Of course, I am not suddenly making the leap from mum to businesswoman. I have been both things in tandem for quite some time now. There have been many twists and turns in the Pamper and Pose story to get me to where I am today. I always knew that I wanted to stay at home with my children. I was 36 when my daughter was born and I was ready to put my career on the back-burner. I knew I couldn’t do both and neither did I want to.

But staying at home means making huge financial sacrifices. I am not in the least bit materialistic, so as long as my children had what they needed I was happy. But my son was born in the middle of a horrible recession. My heroic husband, who runs his own blinds and curtains business, worked his fingers to the bone to provide for us (and still does), but I needed to do something to help. I did what many ‘housewives’ do – I joined a party plan company. I chose Virgin Vie because I had always loved playing with makeup. I was good at the makeovers, rubbish at the selling. But it gave me the confidence to go to night school and train as a makeup artist. Virgin Vie went bust and I started doing bridal makeovers and pamper parties.

Pamper and Pose was born, with me just doing the pampering side. But all the while I was rediscovering an old passion for photography, constantly chasing after my children with a camera in my hand. As friends began to ask me to photograph their children my confidence grew and I joined Welshot Photographic Academy to get some proper training.

Then, around a year ago, I was forced into a position where I had to either let Pamper and Pose go, or step up and take over the photography side myself. With the support of my friends I gave it a go and have not looked back. I know that portrait photography, particularly of children, is what makes my heart sing. I have worked hard over the last year, studying and practising at every opportunity.

So now, the day I go full time, is the perfect opportunity to announce the launch of Pamper and Pose’s sister business – Lisa Marie Gee Photography. My new portrait photography business will run alongside Pamper and Pose, but will allow me to be more creative and hopefully build a name for myself as a lifestyle portrait photographer in a way that wouldn’t be possible within Pamper and Pose.

I won’t be taking my eye off the Pamper and Pose ball in the slightest, I adore doing my photoshoot parties. It just means that this site will concentrate on parties and everything else will be on the new website. So please, if you like what I do, head over to www.lisamariegee.co.uk and have a look.

Exciting times. 🙂

 

Getting better by getting wetter.

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I never stop trying to be a better photographer. I think that’s vital for my business and vital for my self esteem. Of course, it helps that photography is my passion – to the point that most nights I dream about setting up photoshoots and editing the images.

I surround myself with talented and enthusiastic photographers through my membership of Welshot Photographic Academy. They keep me hungry to learn more and more. But one of the best ways to get better is to regularly jump outside of your comfort zone and to try something new. So when I saw that renowned photography trainer Gavin Hoey (www.gavtrain.com) was heading north to run workshops for Welshot I jumped at the chance.

I had watched online tutorials of Gavin’s signature Water Workshop and always thought it looked like a lot of fun, but never got around to having a go at home. It’s messy, time is short, it’s not my usual style, blah blah…… But who could miss out on the opportunity to learn from the man himself? (he lives in Sussex and rarely holds workshops up here).

So what can I say about the experience? Best. Workshop. Ever. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun with a camera and I definitely haven’t had as much fun playing with water since I was at primary school. And I am thrilled with the results of my labour, especially the image at the top of this post, which is a composite of three separate images edited together in Photoshop.

 It might not be anything like the sort of work I produce through the course of my business, but training like that gives you chance to practice and expand on core photographic skills such as focusing, off camera flash, depth of field and colour balance, whilst also stretching your post-processing skills in Photoshop to the limit.

I learned so much that day that is immediately transferable to my everyday work. And best of all, I went back the next day for a second workshop…….but that’s a story for another day. 🙂 Meanwhile, here are some more images from Saturday’s workshop. Some of them are going to end up on my already crowded walls.

It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument

eve arnold quote

eve arnold quote

The quote above, or the sentiment behind it, is one that is often trotted out by photographers, sometimes in irritation when someone has told us our camera take nice photos. It is a philosphy I have always believed in, and throughout my photography journey I have had it drilled in to me to learn my camera inside out and push it to its limits before you start to worry about what expensive gear everyone else is using.

And it is absolutely true. Although I have had a keen interest in photography since I was a small child, my DSLR journey began with an ancient, second-hand Minolta that I picked up for £30 in a charity shop. Up to that point I had been using a Canon compact (which actually cost a lot more than £30), but from the moment I picked up my Minolta it completely changed my outlook. I was hooked.

I loved that camera, it helped me rediscover the wonders of depth of field and bokeh, all sorts of stuff that I had learned when I studied photography at school, but pushed aside for the convenience of a point and shoot compact. I was photographing my children that rekindled a love of photography that got lost as I pursued a career in journalism and PR

My children seemed to grow and change on a daily basis and capturing that through my lens brought me great joy. But it soon became clear that my trusty old camera, with its 6MP sensor, was just not going to cut it if I wanted to start making large prints. I saved furiously and bought a new enthusiast-level Sony DSLR, which I have used for the last three years or so.

It was the best camera I could afford, being a stay at home mum of two. It didn’t have many whistles and bells, but that has never held me back. I have started and grown my little business using that camera and been proud of the images I have produced. I don’t think most people, looking at my recent work, would have known it was taken with an obsolete camera that is not even worth trading in now. After all, like Eve Arnold said, it’s the photographer, not the camera, that counts.

But there comes a time when that is no longer strictly true. Technology moves on quickly and I reached a point where my camera was limiting my creativity and my ability to work in the way I wanted. So a couple of weeks ago I spent an eye-watering amount of money (to me) on a brand new camera, complete with whistles and bells galore.

What has made the purchase all the more special is not the fact that it will allow me to take my photography and my business to new heights, although that is an exciting prospect. It is the fact that I bought the camera outright and every penny of the cost was earned by me from my photography. It stands not only as the tool of my trade, but as a symbol of the hard work I have put in to developing as a photographer (excuse the pun) and building a business from nothing.

Will it make me a better photographer? I hope so, but only because I am going to put a huge amount if effort into learning how to use all the fancy new functions that haven’t been available to me before now. But it won’t make me see any better. And that, at the end of the day, is what really makes the difference between a good photographer and a not so good one.

Here are a few of the early images I have taken with my new camera.

Why you need to be in photographs for your children

I was recently jolted into the realisation that there were pretty much no photographs in existence of me and my children. It took another portrait photographer, Sue Bryce, to make me see the shame in this. I had tuned in to a tutorial she was giving on marketing your photography business. The last thing I expected was to have the mirror turned on myself. “Are you in photographs with your children?” she asked the audience, and from the reaction she got, I know I was not the only person to be stopped in their tracks.

“If anything happened to you, have your children got photographs of themselves with you to treasure,” challenged Sue. I realised, shamefully, that no, I hadn’t. Like many women, I am not comfortable having my photograph taken and usually try to avoid it. “Ah well, I’m always the one behind the camera,” I joke. How convenient. But also, actually, how selfish!

My dad died when I was 19 years old and there are very few photographs of me and him together. There are a few from my 18th birthday party, where we are on the same photo, but the best photograph I have of the two of us is from when I was 15 years old. I treasure that photograph. You never know what is around the corner and I was mortified to think that my two children, still so young at four and seven, would not have any good photographs of us if the worst should ever happen.

I tried to set the lights up at home and take some photographs myself. It’s really not easy to organise group portraits including small children using a self-timer. I only managed to get one decent image from that session.

So what did I do? I took a deep breath and put my trust in a professional. I agreed that Gabrielle, Flynn and I would be models for a family portraiture day for Welshot Photographic Academy. And do you know what? It was actually a lot of fun once I relaxed into it.

I have photographs of my children all over the walls at home, but now they have been joined by these two very special images by Welshot member and ace photographer Derek Buick.

From here on in I am going to do my best to get over myself and never again turn down an opportunity to be in photographs with my children. My weight and ageing issues are my own, I know that my children don’t look at me and see an overweight, middle-aged woman. They look at me and just see their Mummy.

I have photographed some fantastic families of all shapes and sizes, and all that I see when I edit them is a permanent record of a happy family unit. Yet very regularly when I photograph children I invite mum to get into a photograph and all too often the response is: “Oh no! I hate having my photo taken.” I would ask you, like Sue Bryce asked, to stop and consider whether you will leave photographs behind for your children. I’m not saying you need to be in one of my photographs, although that would be nice, but please, just be in photographs. You owe it to your children.

Now booking for pre-prom photoshoots

 

Prom is one of the most important events in a teenager’s life. They didn’t have them when I was at school, which was a shame. These days parents can be expected to spend a small fortune on outfits, makeovers, hair styling, nails and fancy transport. If you’re spending all that money then you all need something more than memories to remember it.

Pamper and Pose is offering pre-prom photoshoots in your own home before setting off for prom. I will bring and set up professional photography studio equipment for a fun photoshoot in the hour before you leave. If you have posh transport booked to take you to prom I will photograph you setting off too. Packages start at just £100, including a selection of prints, but why not share the cost with a group of friends and all have a photoshoot together? Record the friendships that have meant so much throughout school, before you all go on to new and exciting futures.

For more information, or to book your shoot, call Lisa on 0161 300 6224 or fill in the online contact form. Reserve your date quickly before someone else does, as I can only offer one or two slots per prom date.

Whoever said never to work with children or animals?

I work with children every week. I wouldn’t have much of a business without them, so I’m sure I don’t need to say that I absolutely love working with children. It’s easily my favourite type of photography. But I don’t often get the chance to work with animals. This past weekend I got that chance with a trip to Chester Zoo.

I’ve said before that I continually try to push my photography and learn all the time, so I couldn’t resist the chance to spend an afternoon with some of my Welshot Photographic Academy friends on a Mini Module. And I only felt the tiniest bit guilty that I didn’t take my children with me.

Rather than just wander aimlessly around the zoo taking photographs, we were given a challenge to create a set of 10 images that didn’t look as though they were taken in a zoo, ie no bars, cages, fences, brick walls etc. It is actually more difficult than you might think, and I wished I had had a longer zoom lens. It certainly kept me on my toes. Shooting at distances throws up challenges that my usual close up shooting in a studio with flash does not. I had to use fast shutter speeds to avoid camera shake, because using a tripod in a crowded zoo is not really practical.

My favourite image of the day turned out to be a fairly unconventional one. I spotted a baby elephant fast asleep with his back to us and I just couldn’t resist the sight of his cute little bottom. It must be the Mummy in me. 😉

New mini films added to all photoshoot pamper party packages

Recently I have been trying out a few mini slideshow films on some of my clients. It started out with me making the video below as a promotional film for my Pamper and Pose photoshoot pamper parties.

I got such a good reaction to it on Facebook and Twitter that I decided to make a couple for pamper party clients. They loved them! So I have decided to include these little videos as a standard part of all my photoshoot pamper party packages from now on. They are low resolution files that can be emailed, shared on social networking sites or saved to disc. They are a perfect memento of your party to share with friends and family. And high definition DVDs, viewable on big screen TVs will also be available at a modest additional charge.

Here’s one I made earlier for a recent party girl, Bethan:

Click here for full details of all my pamper party packages, with prices starting at just £120.

Here Come The Boys (for a change)

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It’s usually all about the girls at Pamper and Pose. For some reason boys don’t seem to want photoshoot pamper parties. I do actually photograph boys from time to time when I do family portrait photoshoots, but the majority of the time it’s all about the girls.

So it was quite exciting last week to get the chance to do a photoshoot with two male models……and a shiny red Ferrari. It’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut when you are doing similar sorts of photography all the time, but my  membership of Welshot Photographic Academy keeps my on my photographic toes and makes sure I am always learning new genres, techniques and skills that can be transferred to my business.

Welshot Academy Evenings are also the highlight of my month, mixing with other photographers of all abilities who are all equally keen to share information and help each other out. This weekend I am off to Chester Zoo with Welshot, so watch out next week for some animal photos. My favourite style of photography, as has been said many times, is candid shots of children at play, so I am hoping some of those skills will transfer well to photographing animals. We’ll see. Log in next week to see the results, but in the meantime, here are a few more of my photographs of those men and that sports car.

2013 – That Was The Year That Was

It’s that time of year when people like to look backwards over the year and process what it meant, what was achieved and take stock as we move into the start of a New Year. I’m no different, so here’s a little look back at 2013, Pamper and Pose style:

2013 was a landmark year, both for Pamper and Pose and for myself personally. Looking back I think that for the first half of the year I drifted along, working mostly as a makeup artist and lacking much in the way of drive or vision. Now, I think that I was feeling frustrated. What I wanted to do was to develop (excuse the pun) the photography side of my business, but I lacked confidence and self-belief, having been badly put down by photographers I knew.

And then something happened. Call it fate, serendipity, or the universe lending me a helping hand, depending on what you believe. What happened was that Welshot Photographic Academy came into my life. I heard that my friend Laura Norrey was modelling for them and before I knew it, one summer evening, I was walking with her into the lions’ den, aka a room full of photographers. I was so nervous that I managed to drop my camera and broke a flash trigger I had borrowed.

But I took a selection of photographs I was proud of that night. The people were welcoming and I learned so much that I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited to get my camera out again. This is one of the photographs I took of Laura that night and for obvious reasons it is one of my favourite images of 2013:

That weekend, itching to create, I set up my studio lights and took a whole load of photographs of my family:

I joined Welshot, couldn’t wait for the next Academy Evening. Under the gentle, parental encouragement of owners Lee Iggulden and Eifion Williams I have spread my photographic wings and tried my hand at low light architectural, street, macro and commercial photography. None of that has any obvious direct link to Pamper and Pose, but the key thing is the way Welshot has boosted my confidence and given me the drive, no, a need, to constantly be learning more. And I do, all the time, from the Welshot team and from the many members I now count as friends.

It gave me the confidence to strike out on my own when I had always worked in partnership before. I redesigned and rebuilt this website, introducing these two little chaps, a creation I made to amuse my children, but which ended up as the mascots for Pamper and Pose.

Photographing children remains my first love and is central to what I do at Pamper and Pose. In the last couple of months I have done makeover photoshoot parties all over Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire. I absolutely love the fun we have. And last month I finally plucked up the courage to hold a family photoshoot day. It was a great success and I photographed six lovely families that day. I plan to do more of them, and soon.

When I look back at how far I’ve come during 2013 I am very excited to find out how much I can learn and how much I can achieve in 2014. I would like to put on public record my thanks and appreciation to those who supported, encouraged and believed in me this year. So, to my family, especially my husband and my Mum; to my lovely friends, especially Julie Crowley of Clear Mind, who coaches and supports me; and to my new Welshot family I will raise a glass and toast you at midnight.

A very Happy New Year to everyone who reads this, and to everyone who has worked with me, used my services or in any way supported me this year. You have all helped to make Pamper and Pose the fun business that it is. I can’t wait to see where 2014 will take us.