AirBnB - Team Photographer

It was a real pleasure recently to be asked to be part of the AirBnB photography team, which is a global list of photographers shooting directly for AirBnB. As you know, I’ve shot property for years, for holiday lets and the likes of Host & Stay and Properties Unique and various others. I know that a lot of those pictures end up on AirBnB eventually, but it was great to be reached out to by AirBnB directly, to be on their list of photographers covering the North East.

And it’s been good just to shoot in a slightly different way. They gave me a rather large wad of paper with criteria, because obviously AirBnB are trying to get a consistent approach across all of the world. So I had quite a tight brief to work to, which was slightly different from a technical perspective and to what I’d been shooting for all the other properties. The end result wasn’t too far away, but it was a technical thing that they needed it shot in a certain way. And that’s all fine, you know, we work to briefs all the time and slight variations on briefs is fine.

So yes, it took me a couple to get my head round it, the first few took a little bit longer than they would normally, just because of getting my head in the right place. But yeah, we delivered on those and I’ve shot a good fair few for them now. Being able to say that I’m part of the AirBnB photo team, as much as it’s not an award of anything like that by any stretch, it’s nice to be able to say, if somebody does ask about a property, that I can say that I am fully part of the recognised team of photographers that work directly for AirBnB.
If you’ve got a holiday let or you’re looking to make a bit of a side income from part of your property and AirBnB is something that you’re thinking about, more than happy to have a chat, or to send examples over of what the expectations are from AirBnB in reality.

As ever, the cabin in the woods pictures that come through from Airbnb, ‘this is what your property needs to look like,’ and you’ve got a sun room at the end of your garden, it’s quite difficult to visualise what you can do, but I can send plenty of examples of what we’ve had on AirBnB and have gone down really well and worked really well. So yeah, more than happy to have a chat about properties and anything property photography-related.

Clifford Chance - Arcus Project

Clifford Chance is a world-leading company with offices all over the world; Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Newcastle, you know the hub of everything is Newcastle, it certainly is in my world.

This is the second or third event I’ve shot for them now and this one being their Arcus event which is something they’ve done apparently for about 15 years and it’s showcasing artwork by LGBTQ+ artists and just bringing all of their LGBTQ+ staff members together, allowing conversations to be had and discussing things. Just a real bringing together and a real positive side about things that often get overlooked and not discussed in offices.

Clifford Chance have taken a very positive approach to making a difference to people’s lives within the business. So around the office this artwork is up there for a significant period of time. It’ll be up there for a couple of months. So this was the bring together, this art event moves around the world and this time it happened to be in Newcastle and to see both the artwork and also the conversations and the discussions with the Curator was a really interesting event and one that brought eyes onto a topic that doesn’t always get the focus it deserves.

Northumbria University - Qatari Delegation Shoot

𝗜𝘁’𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗡𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗿𝗶𝗮 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘆.
I have worked with them quite a few times this last six months and being able to see different elements of their work from the headshots of the engineering department through to this recent shoot with a delegation from the Qatari Embassy - which was showing the links that can be forged and built on by bringing students together and pairing it with the growth of nations. It is a really powerful resource and something that’s really good to see.

The pictures that were planned were some formal pictures to show the delegates along with the students, but also it was the relaxed smiles and the interaction between the university staff and the team. Just to promote the goodwill, joint working and positive outcomes from collaboration to benefit students and to push their education in positive ways and give them the best opportunity to be in the right place and have the right skills to really fly.

Sometimes the weather does not always help in these situations and this was a day of “significant rainfall.” I have never seen it bouncing off the ground as much for some time and that meant that some of the pictures were a little bit more inside than planned, it would have been great to get some pictures outside in the surroundings of the university but it’s not quite the same when there’s stair rods coming down and lots of umbrellas hiding faces.

But there were plenty of smiles under those umbrellas so we did get some images as they were walking, (me walking backwards with a camera in my hand getting soaking wet), but sometimes you have to do these things and I am sure it captures the “Welcome to Newcastle” message that the university was putting out to the delegation because they certainly will not be getting weather like that in Doha at the moment that’s for sure!

So here is a range of the images and it would be great to work with the university again soon, whether that be headshots or events or some other kind of brand material.

Biomed AGM - Event Shoot

𝗜𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗳𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗰 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗜𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝘁𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗕𝗶𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗦𝗰𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗔𝗚𝗠 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝗰𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗮 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗸𝘀 𝗮𝗴𝗼, 𝗶𝗻 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗮𝗹𝘆𝘀𝘁…

If you’re from Newcastle, St James Boulevard has had an increasing number of really interesting cutting edge buildings going in – Lumen, Helix, Catalyst, Biosphere and I’ve shot in most of them apart from the most iconic one. The Catalyst, which is near enough the first one that went in, with the gold and gloss black, a curved oval of a building but with gold cross sections across it. It’s absolutely stunning.

This is an international event so there were people dialling in on Zoom from all over the world. But it also happened to pair with some rail strikes. So it meant that even people in London and Birmingham, trying to get up was incredibly difficult. So it went from an event that was supposed to be in person around 200 people down to kind of 60 or 70. And that dynamic obviously changed the pictures a little bit because there was less people, you can’t show a massive full room of people when there wasn’t as many there. But that’s just part of the challenges that I face. And the joy of my job is to try and find new ways of doing these things.

It was also really interesting that there was a lecture there from a local professor who was a chemist, even though he’s working in the field of biomedical science. We had a quick chat (because obviously with my Master’s in chemistry) and it was interesting to see his periodic table tie, which I gave him a lot of credit for and he was completely confused why a random photographer was giving kudos on his tie, and then I explained and it was all good.
To hear him do a lecture on his specialism felt like being back in a lecture hall at university, it took me back to a way of learning that I haven’t done for many years. The event itself was a mix of onstage, some portraits, some events stuff going on around the coffee breaks and that sort of stuff. An event that has such a varied mix always makes me smile and allows me to get creative in different ways on the shoot.

So there are some pictures below. I’m looking forward to potentially shooting their next event. If you’ve got an interest in science and an interest in more specifically the medical side, it’s worth keeping an eye on them as an organisation because it’s fantastic the work that they do and the research that they’re providing on such an array of topics.

The Umbrella Project - at The Hub, Consett

As you know, I talk a lot about Celebrate Difference and the impact that it’s made on my life. So when they started to develop a project with the ADHD Foundation and bring in neurodivergence to a wider audience, being able to promote it in a slightly different way, I couldn’t not be part of it. 

So I had the pleasure of being part of the Mini Expo and having my ADHD Foundation umbrella that I sponsored, obviously to fit with all of my branding and that sort of stuff, displayed at The Hub and seeing everyone’s faces of the amazing things that were going on in the building was just great. I know it’s a badge that I wear and it’s a topic that I talk about, because it has had such an impact on my life and ADHD is very much in the media at the moment. I don’t particularly like the narrative that’s being played out at the moment, you know, how ‘everybody’s got it’ and ‘it’s just a thing that influencers are doing’. I don’t particularly like the narrative but I know for a fact that I’ve definitely got it and the systems and support that I’ve got in place are helping me and my business certainly wouldn’t be in the positive place that it is without that support and without that knowledge that I’ve got the back-up of some people that can really help to fill the holes in my knowledge or actively help me out when I get into a pickle on some of the things that I can’t instantly resolve. 

So the Umbrella Project is up at The Hub in Consett and it will be there for a while, it’s a fantastic installation and worth it if you’re in Consett anyway, just call in for a cuppa and be part of the umbrellas and the message that they give out. Here are some images of the umbrellas in situ and some from the expo itself of some people that have either been directly or indirectly involved with neurodivergence and more specifically, I think for most of us, ADHD. Go check it out!

Lara Mellor - Duality Project

You will have seen some bits on the website and on socials regarding my duality project and this is a project that brings together the two sides of any business owner with a business focus and also their passion and sometimes they are paired close together where people are doing their job and their passion merge into one, but the vast majority of times even if the business started a passion there is always another thing going on the outside of it. 

So for me as a photographer obviously photography was a massive hobby of mine before I started it as a business back in 2008, but alongside all of that since I have been 11 years old I have been a golfer and I would definitely say that golf was a major passion. I am never going to make a career out of it in that sense that’s for sure, but it is certainly a passion for me as you have probably seen from my socials. By bringing that into people’s businesses, to bring it to their markets, to bring it into their images and merging these things together it really does just showcase that peeking behind the curtain into the world of the business owner. Hence why these duality shots are really something that fits well with business owners and entrepreneurs. 

This is not trying to say that people’s secondary hobbies and activities are jumping off mountains or downhill mountain biking or Airsoft or any of the things that I have done in the first batch of pictures, it’s very much the thing that really means something else; is baking or is it gardening? There are loads of things that it could be, that just shows the other side of a person and give a little insight and something else to talk about when you first meet them. “Oh, I saw your picture and I’ve got an interest in that thing as well.” 

And in this case today it is a little bit different from gardening and baking; Lara is somebody that I have known for probably 10 years now via Nicola Jayne Little and various programmes that she has run. Lara is a Microsoft trainer, she used to do a lot of in-person training and then COVID hit and everything had to go online and, you know what, her business has absolutely flown since going online and it’s a massive success story of the COVID pandemic which you know we all look back on as a turgid and difficult time and especially for business. But Lara certainly made the most of it and has come out of it with a completely different looking business that is doing really well and it’s great to see some of her updates and where things have led to. 

Now the other side of Lara, or one of the other sides of Lara, you know everybody has lots of sides, but the main one we are talking about today is she is also a rower, and not the ones I see at Newburn on the Tyne, those thin long boats from the boat race, not one of those boats. Lara is a skip rower, which is – and this is a North East reference and I’m saying as if everyone will know –but more like a Grace Darling type of boat than a Cambridge against Oxford kind of boat and Lara has been in the world championships representing Great Britain at this sport that like all sports never gets the recognition across the mainstream that it should. 

The more that these types of hobbies are put out there and the more that it is accepted that everybody has got that something else, for me that’s just fantastic and I think that everybody does need that something else, every one needs a space away from the day to day and the mundane.
Not saying every day is mundane but what I am trying to say the escapism that’s offered by a sport or activity like this is really powerful. 

So yes, if you need IT training get in touch with Lara. If you need to scratch your itch of rowing, again I would talk to Lara. If you are a business owner and you want to see the other side of your business or let your clients kind of peek behind the curtain, let’s have a chat and let’s see what creative thing we can do to showcase both sides of your business.

Seeing the Northern Lights - Tromsø, Norway

I mention a lot about time passing and us ADHD’ers do struggle with time passing, but it is quite a while now since I was up in the Arctic Circle for the first time… 

I’ve been to the Arctic Circle twice and they were just fantastic experiences both times. First time was Tromsø in 2011 for my 30th and it was the first time I’d been in -25˚C temperatures, because I think -27 or -28 up there and we went to see the Northern Lights and it was always something that’s been on my list. The Northern Lights is this mystical thing that a lot of people manage to go up the North East coast and see a little green squiggle on the horizon and get excited. Which is justifiable, it’s a fantastic thing to see. But I don’t think I quite expected what I actually saw when we sent up to Tromsø. 

Tromsø’s a tiny little village, at the time you could get there with Hurtigruten Cruises and we flew from Stansted I think. But it wasn’t a well-known place. I think it was just around the time that Joanna Lumley did a TV programme about it, so there was a bit of a hype about it. 

First night we got there, the guys were like, ‘Go in and get yourselves settled.’ It was a little bit late, it was actually dark but I don’t know what time it was. It’s dark quite a lot of the time, so I can’t remember exactly what time we got there. We stuck our heads out and it was cloudy and there was nothing really, so it was a bit of a kind of a, ‘Oh right, okay. Oh, that cloud’s gone a bit green, is that it? Is that all we’re going to see?’ 

Fun day out the next day, just around town and the museum and all that and seeing random things from that neck of the woods. And then the next night, the guy says, “So, are you going up to the lake?” ‘Why, what do you mean?’ It turns out that there’s a frozen lake on top of the hill and that’s where everybody goes to see the Northern Lights. And there’s actually a cross-country ski track and all of this but the guy in the hostel got us a taxi up to the top of there. We kind of stepped out of the way of the cross-country skiers and sat down for a bit in a padded seat and just kind of waited. 

We had no idea what was going to happen. I mean literally 20 minutes in, we were like, ‘Well, nothing’s really happening here.’ And then your eyes adjust a bit and the horizon line just started to go a little bit green, it was like, ‘Well, is this it? Is this starting? I don’t know.’ And then all of a sudden, on this horizon line across the mountains started to go a little bit green, I was like, ‘Oh okay, okay,’ and then this I still feel as though I could hear it, even though obviously there wasn’t any sound. This whoosh of light, this green light, came over the top of us and it was literally above our heads, dancing around. And it was there for 25 minutes or so and it was just like, ‘That’s it, that’s done, holiday done,’ you know? ‘I don’t need to go on the big expensive trip the next day,’ obviously I wanted to, but there was the thing of, ‘We’ve seen it.’ And that 25 minutes was absolutely breathtaking and yeah, that had me buzzing till the next day. 

The next day we ended up on a really big organised trip, out into the wilds in a bus and it was quite weird. I think from memory, the bus driver didn’t have any lights or he didn’t have his lights on, because it was that light with that much snow on the ground, because it was -20 or so that he didn’t need the lights on, it was literally bright enough in front of him to be driving along. Anyway, we got there, we pulled up and the guy was like, ‘Yeah, it’s been going for about an hour and it’ll probably be going for the next seven hours.’ And it did, we got out the bus, the eyes adjusted a bit and I’ve never seen anything like it, it was absolutely breathtaking. We stood there, in a field with the mountains and stuff in the distance and it started to go purple, you could see all the purple lines. This was with the naked eye, I mean the camera obviously did it a bit more justice, but this was a naked eye and then all of a sudden, it’s getting brighter and brighter and brighter and it got to the point, a couple of hours in, where there was literally a white streak going across the top of our heads, so it was that intense, it had gone from green to white and it was just absolutely breathtaking. 

And I remember we went in for food, into the little huts that they had for us there and I left my camera outside, tripod, full gear, came back out and there was sort of a centimetre of ice on the front of my lens, which was somewhat difficult to get rid of, to get some more pictures, but it was just absolutely fantastic and you can see by the town itself, it’s just an amazing place and certainly one on the list, along with – I know I bang on about Peru and Morocco and various other places I’ve been – but Tromsø was one of those ones that it was… at the time, it was obscure, it’s a little bit more mainstream these days, but to be able to see the Northern Lights going over your head like that is just something else, it’s absolutely brilliant and certainly something that I think everybody should be able to witness and see. 

Project Groundwater - Promotional images

Being back in the North East for 10 years now, I still remember my time away and being able to call the North East home means a lot and to be back living in it is fantastic, so when a conglomeration of local agencies come together and ask me to do some photos for their joint project that they are doing was a bit of a no-brainer. Project Groundwater is a project that links Newcastle City Council, Gateshead City Council, Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water, along with the Coal Board, to address some key issues, specifically in the North East, but again to raise awareness in general of the impact of the coalmining industry on groundwater deposits in the area.

To just be part of something as impactful to communities as this, where in my past having worked directly in communities on similar multi-agency approaches, it’s just really good for me. I mean, the photos I have taken so far for it have ranged from headshots for the team through to on-site water coming out of the ground, to meetings and the outreach team actually working with the community, along with actually the launch event recently which was full of all the local dignitaries to find out more about the project.
Just being involved in this has been fantastic and being able to capture the different elements of it in one project, but in various shoots has really been an enjoyable experience. In the medium to long-term, there are more elements of this project lined up so I am looking forward to working with the teams in more detail going forward once the website is live and once the key library of images and things are all set up. It’s going to be great to see the journey that the team goes on.



I have talked a
number of times about making sure that you get out what you put into your
networking. Networking is one of those things that if you commit the time to it
and put the effort outside of the meetings where you see people, will pay
dividends. I know photographers traditionally have been happy in their own
world and not really getting it out there into the business networking that
happens all over the country and the world. I have always been out there a
little bit more than others just because of my background really. I am used to
standing in a room and talking to people from my years in community development
and project management with the Council. It’s no problem for me at all to go
and stand in a room and talk to people but I know it’s a significant challenge
for others. This is not me saying that you should be out there more, it is
about being appropriate for yourself and making sure that you get the best out
of the things that you do do.

If you have
started my course or if you have seen my course I get people to look at what
networking people do and networking is often seen as a specific thing with coffee
and a bacon sandwich kind of thing, talking to people, lots of suits and lots
of handing out of business cards.  This
is certainly something that I don’t do anymore, I did it for long enough and
yes I got work out of it and yes it raised my brand awareness, certainly within
the North East and there probably still are threads that run through that I do still
get work on the back of some of those discussions from five or seven years ago.
But for me now, it is about seeing the threads and where they really feed
through to your business from an initial discussion through to clients

Now obviously
there is an argument that social media has replaced networking in a lot of ways
and that you should be spending all of your time on social media because you
have a wider network and you get to different people to those who are in the
room. For me I very much see it as the room is only part of the journey.  If you are in a room full of people and you
are talking to somebody who does something completely out of context it doesn’t
mean that their clients don’t something that they are going to need you or
friends and colleagues that they know, next time they are in a network, and if
they are a serial networker and they are all over the place, what you are
looking for are those advocates to be able to sell your business. They go, “Oh
I was speaking to this photographer the other day…” And that connection
between people really does make a difference. If you can harness that and push
that and if you back that up with social media posts and reminding people on
social media then there is no doubt that you are going to be remembered. Being
remembered is that first stage of people booking you. The seven touch points to
making a sale and networking might be one, an email that you follow up [‘cheers
good to see you’, kind of thing] the second time you meet them and then a bit
after they see your post on social media and you then start talking on social
media.  All those little things add up
and being out there and being active, rather than waiting for work to come is
utilising your network to the best that they could be.

So my networking
these days is quite tight, only because of family life logistics. There are
certain networks and networking opportunities that I am excluded from just
because I can not be there. I can’t be at everything, and I can’t be at certain
things. But as I mentioned before, Fore Business that has been my main one for a
lot of years which is a golf network and it has made me a significant amount of
money and certainly returns-wise it has made me significant returns on
investment, something like 20 times return on investment which for any
networking is significant.  Do I suggest
that you all go and join Fore Business? No, not at all. It is about utilising
that network and really ironing out the opportunities that you’ve got within
it.  So for me I have had a significant
amount of work locally out of the three local groups that are up here in the
North East, but also because I built my reputation and my name out there with
the networking online I am now picking up work from people down in Bedford and
I have got some amazing quotes to do for somebody in South Wales. These
opportunities would never come to me otherwise because the chances of these
individuals finding me and finding my website all the way up in Newcastle when actually
it’s sometimes easier for them to find someone local they wouldn’t do that. So
it is about me having built my relationships with these guys over the last –
well probably since Covid. So quite a few years now.

But it’s about
building and nurturing that network and seeing what you can do. There are opportunities
within the networking that you do, do you go and do your coffee and bacon
sandwiches networking?  Are you part of
an online Zoom community? There are various networks that could work for that.
It is just finding that niche within your network that you can stand out in.

So do you need to be the only one in the room? A
lot of networking is designed to have one for every sector, to facilitate
diversity in the workflow and you’re going to get more referrals if there are
not two photographers in the room for example or seven financial advisors. For
me personally, I have always been surrounded by photographers. I have always
had a good relationship with photographers. I have always seen them as a crutch
to fall back on if something happens or the best scenario, which is what I have
with quite a few photographers these days, certainly in the North East, is to
work in collaboration rather than competition. I track all my referrals as I
have said before so I know where all of my work comes from. A significant part
of that is referrals and a significant part of the referrals is from other
photographers. To have those advocates of my business within my own sector is
great.  If another photographer is going,
“Look I’m really sorry but I can’t do that date, have a chat with Gavin,” that
is great isn’t it? For clients, even if you have worked with them for a long
time that’s a really good methodology going forward if you can’t do the
work.  That said, I am really, really
aware that there is a worry about people stealing work, you know, “If I refer
to you are you going to nick this client off me?” That’s very much a trust
thing and you know your own self what is the right thing to do. There is always
a small chance that the client likes the other photographer’s work better and
stays with them, but I think that the positives out of getting the work covered
for the client and being super nice about it all outweighs the negative or
potential of you losing the client in the long term.  In 15 years, there has been one incident
where I sent a photographer along and the client went with them for the next
job and that’s one out of however many thousands of clients that I have had
since then.   Am I bitter about it? No it
is what it is and actually the client got some great images and the
photographer did a really, really good job for them and I am obviously still good
mates with the photographer as well. So it is one of those things that I think
we are all in this together as creatives and seeing everybody as competition
doesn’t necessarily benefit at all really. The competitiveness is a negative in
my world. I think that we can all work together, we all do shoots slightly
differently and clients want different things so it is about finding the
clients that fit with our stuff rather than trying to hoover up every single client
in the world.

Prudhoe Business Magazine

This last week was very nostalgic and an eye-opening shoot
with Alan Sawyers from AS Design based in Prudhoe. I was born and raised in Prudhoe
and have spent 15 years away and I have gone back to nearly nearly Prudhoe.

My Dad still lives there and so I am there nearly every day,
but the shoot that I did with Alan for the brand new Prudhoe Business Magazine
really hit home with how things have changed but also how it doesn’t.  It also highlighted how working together, as
I always bang on about, is the right way to go forward in business and to see
some of the business owners, some I have actually known for years, from
different contexts and new ones. They all had that hunger to work together in
the local community and drive the area forward as a whole and there was no real
ulterior motive to try and be, “I have to make money out of my local area.” It
wasn’t that, it was just to be supportive, to be there as a group of
businesses. To see that on a local level was fantastic and in my background in
community development work I saw a lot of this in Hexham back in the early
2010s and it was great seeing businesses coming together. But at the time, my
business was not as fully established as it is now and I have that on an online
basis – Mint Business Club provides a lot of that, we are all in it together
and all the support, but obviously that’s online so the geographical thing, the
‘tie it together around Front Street’ thing, is something that really kind of
resonated with me.

Some of the businesses we went in to see, I’ve known Pete Surridge
for years again through Mint Business actually, and to just be in his office
and the old library where I remember getting books out as a school kid and
getting my dinner outside there as a Nineties kid, that was strange and then
we called into Horizon NLG Learning in the old Finnegans Building – though it
wasn’t Finnegans then it was Hammeright and now it’s something different and
just seeing that transition was great. Being welcomed to the building by
someone I went to school with and I felt really bad that I didn’t instantly
recognise them because I am usually quite good with faces, but you know it’s 24
years since I left Prudhoe High School so yeah obviously everybody changes in
those sort of time scales so it didn’t instantly hit me who it was. But it was
fantastic to say hello and not that we got the chance to catch up really but I
am sure that will happen.

We went to see Gordon Stuart who is a local councillor and
for me, that was like coming a bit full circle. When I was in Hexham, Gordon was
working to support the communities all across the Tyne Valley and now he covers
a massive chunk of the town I was born in as a councillor and to hear his
passion and his knowledge of the local area and hear him say, “Oh have you
talked to this business or this business?” and just knowing everybody on the
street, that was really good to see and it was good to kind of bring me back to
a time when I knew he did that in the local communities around the Tyne Valley
but now he’s doing it as somebody who has influence and stature and is able to
make a direct change to people’s lives in the local council – it’s been great.

This is where the tinges of nostalgia kind of sneak in. I
saw many places, like the snooker hall that I went into as a 16 or 17-year-old every week to go play snooker, there was no other place we could get into
and yes I have been to Prudhoe so regularly. Every week I drive through but to
be on the streets, yes it was with my camera which was obviously a little bit
of a novelty cos I haven’t done that much photography in the town centre and
seeing the town centre from a slightly different perspective looking at the top
of the [???] Centre
which is still the library to me, looking down Front Street, it’s just great to
be part of. The shoots that we did are going to look great in the magazine and
I am really looking forward to being able to put one on my Dad’s table and go,
“There you go – have a look at that.” He has a bit of a thing about Prudhoe and
it’s all my pictures in there, it really does resonate.

Are you part of your local business community?
Is there something around you that really you can engage with and try and make
a difference in how local businesses are working, and how we can all work
together as much as it’s always good to get work coming in from here,
there and everywhere, it’s also very good to get work that you can do on a
local level?  I mean this was two minutes
down the road from my house and it was great to be working that locally.

New kit

Is it time for a new camera? I
have always been of the approach that any new equipment has to be a justifiable
expense. I don’t particularly like spending money unless these are tangible
outputs on the back of it. I have been more so this year and I think I have got
a little tighter on spend and I have really made sure that anything that comes
in the door is justified rather than it just being a flippant purchase.  I have bought a couple of lenses recently; one
to see me through a gap and it’s a lens I have coveted for a while and it gives
me a slightly different approach at events. It’s a 135 F1.8 lens that replaces the
kind of 135 F2 that I have had for years that I just lost that bit of faith in.
My other lens is probably more than seven or eight years old, actually it’s
probably 10 years old and I think it was just starting to hit its age limit and
so it was on opportunity to replace that and to be able to shoot in a slightly
different way at events than I have been because a lot of events recently have
been with my 70-200 just because of the flexibility. The 70-200 has been a staple
in my bag for many years and since it got damaged before Christmas, it’s been a
hard couple of months kind of functioning without it, without Mr Reliable in
the bag. So I have replaced that lens as well so now I have two new lenses and
they arguably a similar focal length and do arguably a similar job, but for me it’s
about the functionality of them both and the usefulness in certain scenarios
and I think they are both absolutely fantastic at what they do. 

This isn’t a review by any
stretch on either of the lenses but it’s safe to say that the progression in
equipment from my 70-200 2.8 mark I that I got when I first started out, which
was around 2008/2009, I drove down to Milton Keynes from York to pick it up
because I needed to see it in my hands before I bought it and I never regretted
that decision for the money I paid. It’s served me for more than 15 years so
it’s a fantastic bit of kit but to be fair it was old anyway even at that point.  Technology-wise, it was slightly dated so I
borrowed a friends Mark III which is the latest EF Version and it was night and
day; the focusing, the number of hits out of a set of images was significantly
higher and that was kind of a hard thing to see really because I resisted
because mine was alright, mine was doing its job and it didn’t hold me back on
shoots, it wasn’t having a negative impact on images or anything like that but
then you realise it does and the extra quality you get out of a new one and it’s
just blown me away.

The same with the Sigma, already
in certain low light situations I have just gone, “Wow this is amazing!” Shooting
135 at 1.8 the depth of field is just crazy and those evening shoots where the
light is just going down and you don’t want to crank the ISO up too much, the
lens just makes a massive difference and I am really looking forward to
stretching both of those over the next few months and learning the idiosyncrasies
of each of those lenses.

That leads me on to camera
replacements; my Cannon 5D Mark 4 is actually probably older than I think it is,
it may be six years old. It’s done miles, it’s done a number of thousand actuations
and seeing as this is an SLR, the shutter in that has a risk of going at any
point after that period. It’s served me very, very well. It’s certainly pushed
my career on over that time scale and 18 months ago it was moved to the back-up
position in my bag when I got the Cannon R5 and the Cannon R5 is a completely
different beast, different lens mount, different features, massively different
tech involved inside of it and massively different ergonomically, so things
like the articulating screen always makes the Mark 4 just feel very old because
I have literally just got the screen on the back and now every time I need to
use my back-up as a second body so I don’t need to stop and switch lenses when I
am on a job, if I have the two of them on my hip I always feel like I am stepping
back in time using my Mark 4, even thought it’s not actually that old in the
grand scheme of things. 

So, it’s led me to go, “Right I
might need to spend some of my well-earned pennies on a new bit of kit.” So
plenty of procrastination, plenty of going round in circles and it’s never a
really easy decision and I know that recently a good handful of business owners
have reached out and gone, “We are going to buy a camera for the office, what
do I get?” And I have sent loads of different recommendations and they have
said, “No which one do I want?” But it’s the variables in each of the
scenarios and each of the bits of kit very much depends on exactly what you
want to do and I don’t know exactly what you want to do, I know what you have
just told me but that isn’t necessarily the right answer, so that’s why I tend
to give a varied list of different options. I think I’ve sort of made it kind
of difficult myself for looking at a camera I have the R6, the Mark6 Mark II has
just come out – do I go a smaller body, an ABSA body so I have a bit of extra
reach, and seeing as it’s just a bit of back-up it’s not something we use on a
regular basis so do I go for the R8 or R10? I mean I even looked at the new R50
that’s just come out, it was a lot smaller, a kind of travel camera that I
really like the look of but I think there are too many limiting factors with
it, I think Cannon have done a bit of a booboo on that one for form factor and
various other things that don’t quite fit for me.

So I think realistically,
financially the difference between the R6 and the R6 Mark II is about a grand
at the moment and I think that gap doesn’t necessarily justify the feature
difference so I think I am going to end up like a lot of other camera photographers
at the moment with an R6 and it will probably be before the end of the
financial year, so I have a couple of weeks to get that sorted. It’s that
realisation that the equipment’s got to do what you want it to do now not what
it has done for you or what it could do for you.  The last thing you want is to not be able to
do the thing that you want to do because of a limitation in kit, it is just
money, it is just a bit off your top line, you know?

That doesn’t mean you should be
flippant with choices or decisions. It’s dead easy to spend money as we all
know. There’s the, “Oh that will be cool, that’s cool!” when you start out,
certainly in the photography business, when it starts out as a hobby it’s very
much that you start to hoard things that you might need down the line and
that’s fine, but when you have got to pay your mortgage out of the business you
kind of, your head shifts a little bit and you have got to make the right
decisions for the business not just because, “Ooh that looks nice and shiny.”

So yeah, I think this is as much to say, don’t
be scared of spending money, but also make sure you can justify your decisions
fully to yourself, certainly as a solo business owner, I do have a team, but obviously
I am head of it and the decisions I make financially are all on my head and for
me personally and that means that I don’t need permission to go spend money but
actually I need to look at myself in the mirror and go have I just wasted my
children’s inheritance as Theo Paphitis used to drop in about, you know spend
my children’s inheritance on a bit of kit that might get used once or twice rather
than something that you use on a daily basis. If it’s a daily basis maybe it’s justified,
if you are only going to use it once a year is that money best spent there or
best spent somewhere else?

BEELINE - George Bromley’s epic challenge

Anybody that’s been following me for a while knows that I’ve spent a lot of time recently being fascinated by the mindset of individuals that take on that challenge.  We all have that thing that floats around at the back of our heads, that goes, ‘Oh, I’d like to do that – oh I think I should do that.’  And it’s the ones that go, ‘It’s happening.  It’s definitely happening.  It doesn’t matter what the obstacles are, I’m going to do it.’ 

So, I’ve been to talks recently by Kenton Cool, by Stephen Venables – who have done fantastic things on Everest and Antarctica and various other places.  I’ve also been to talks with the fantastic Steve Judge, who came across an amazing injury to be a Paralympic champion – a paralympic gold medallist even.  And obviously shooting with the amazing Ash Dykes and these are all that heard me talk about Ash enough but, well maybe never enough, he’s a fantastic individual.  Louis Alexander, again, 17 marathons in 17 days.  It’s just amazing and all of them, all of them I spoke to, because I managed to speak to all of them, a kind of 1-1, a little bit of a chat around the other things that were going on. 

And there’s something behind the eyes, there’s a mindset or a shift that is different to the rest of us, you know?  Or at least it’s not necessarily different to the rest of us, but it’s more active than the rest of us, that one little bit, where we would find the odd bits of stuff of, ‘Urrrr, that might be tricky,’ or ‘That might be difficult,’ their mindsets, their little shift, their little spark, is very different and it’s that that really fascinates me.  Of how you can go, ‘Yeah, it doesn’t matter that this has happened,’ it takes away all of the negative thoughts that creep into things, into plans and processes and what could happen. 

So, fast forward to I think it was either Louis or Ash who commented on a post on Instagram or it might have been LinkedIn.  And it was about a fantastic gentleman called George Bromley, who has taken a break from his military career to do something that nobody’s ever done before and to just crack on – and his challenge was to do a beeline from Lands End to John O’Groats and in a straight line, as best as possible.  And I spotted this while I was away on holiday myself in the Lake District, so I was surrounded by mountains, I was surrounded by walkers and to read the little snippets, because at that stage it was early on, it was actually just as he’d started and to hear the stories, was just like, ‘Wow, this is somebody with that spark,’ and although the military career, he’d not got a history of long-distance travel or anything like that.  So I reached out and lo and behold, he happened to be going sort of close to me at some point later in the journey, depending on timewise, because obviously, time was an issue – you never know how long it’s going to take to do these things. 

So I reached out and the plan was to call as he landed at Kirkcudbright in Scotland, after being on the Isle of Man, I could take some pictures and just meet this guy with an amazing mindset.  And so we did!  As ever, the diary doesn’t always fit with these things and I happened to really busy on the day that he landed, so it ended up being two days later when I managed to meet him and he was already well up into the Ayrshire woodland by the time I got to him.  But as you can see from the picture, as you can see from the story, he’s a fantastic gentleman, and completing that journey through adversity was just amazing.  George will tell you in more detail and please have a look at the Beeline website to get some more details on the actual journey and what happened.  It’s a fantastic story and I can’t claim to be any part of it, I just happened to nick his time for half an hour while he was walking, but at least I feel like I can at least capture some pictures and capture that as a memory and keep cycling it round on my system because I think stories like that need to keep going.  And certainly, if this strikes you, with the charities that he’s working with, there’s plenty of opportunity to still donate to the charities and make a lot of difference to people that are really struggling with many things at the moment.  As you can see from the list, it’s a diverse mix of charities, so it’s a fantastic opportunity.

Everglow Media- Sisk Shoot

I was on the road to York and Leeds a couple of weeks ago, working for a big infrastructure company, doing some massive works to the rail network and surrounding local infrastructure. The reason I was down there was actually golf and I love tying things back to golf, as you know, got to justify all this time on the golf course for getting work from it, hasn’t it?! 

So this one is again through the Fore Business Network. A very nice gentleman called Chris Andrews who I’ve known, probably since I joined actually. We talked very early on in lockdown, there were a few Zooms that we ended up on together and had a chat and we’ve always got on well. We’ve not actually played golf together ironically, as yet, because he’s all the way down in Bedford, but we’ve always kept in touch and if stuff comes up, we always try and see what we can do. 

I don’t know if Chris knows I do a lot of sort of property and construction-type projects, so when a job came up from his perspective, all the way up in Leeds and York, more than a half a country away, he got in touch because it’s only a couple of hours from me. And it was great kind of being able to join the dots and do a project together. On that same day as well, he was shooting for the same company, doing video down south and I was up doing photos at these two locations. And that kind of joining up of a conversation that we’ve had since lockdown has been great and it’s always appreciated. I know that we can’t be everywhere in the UK. As you know, financially it isn’t always viable for some projects, it certainly wouldn’t be financially viable for Chris to come all the way up from Bedford to Leeds and York to shoot this one with the overnight stays and all that sort of goings-on. It was much more cost-effective for him to get me to do it and I would certainly reciprocate that in London and that neck of the woods, if it isn’t feasible for me to do it. I have a team around the UK in different locations that I call on to help me out. Whether that’s working together or directly together on a project or remotely and working for me. 

So yes, my golf networking does work. I’m not trying to convince myself of that one; I know my numbers, I’ve got all the percentages down of where all my work comes from. I know how much I made from golf this year. Yes Sean, I’ll tell you at some point, because I know you like your numbers of how many times my membership I’ve managed to pull in over the year. But yeah, I think again it comes round to my data and the way my head works that it’s nice to be able to put a number to an exercise, so I can put down if I want to the number of hours I spent on a golf course over the last year versus how many jobs have come in and how much money has come in. As long as the numbers justify themselves in my head that it’s a worthwhile spend of my time, because time is expensive, I’m going to obviously continue and I think you get out what you put in. 

So, since then I’ve driven down to Bradford to go and see James Hall and again, the ever-present Michael Stewart. Oh and Nigel Bowers as well! These are people I’ve known for a significant amount of time and to be able to be back in the sphere of Yorkshire and play a bit of golf in Yorkshire is always a good thing. So yes, golf will be continuing and I will be doing regular updates, because I know you all love all these golf updates or are getting sick of all these golf updates – take your pick! It’s not going to stop me from doing them! Yes, Fore Business, it’s a no-brainer, there you go. 

Revitalise Networking - Scotland’s finest

It was great being able to be part of the Revitalise Network January meeting ( Yes, I’m late blogging about it!). I’ve known Lee for probably four years now and he’s, as he joked in the call, ‘The Geordie living up in the wilds of Irvine, in Ayrshire.’ And it was great to experience his network, which I’ve had a very slight touch on over the years, when he’s come down to Newcastle for different events and not quite had the chance to do anything in person, just on a logistic sense. So to be able to jump on a Zoom call and to be part of the whole experience of networking with everybody, it’s that different crowd thing, you know? We all get into our little bubbles that we’re happy with. I mean, for me, obviously, I’m quite strict as you know, on making sure that I know all of the networking facets that I do, all justify themselves, whether that be financially or personally for me or for the potential of interesting shoots and grow my portfolio. 

I know this isn’t something that everybody does for getting your brand out there, getting your name out there, it does, obviously, help, but I like to see sometimes tangible KPIs on the back of it. That said, that’s probably the reason why I don’t do as much networking as I did in the past. I was a serial networker for a lot of years. Nowadays, it’s a case of topping up those connections and making sure everybody knows I’m still around, without being around as much, just because that’s not always easy when business is busy and family life and things get in the way; so the early morning networking’s still a little bit of a challenge, with school drop-offs and that sort of stuff. 

So going back to Revitalise, obviously it was heavily dominated north of the border, which I was fully aware of. Lee’s based up in Scotland and the vast majority of members are in-person members, so they’re local to Scotland. But, it was great and it was a really good bunch and some really good chats. I’ve already got three one-to-ones booked in on the back of it and I feel that everybody was in it for the right reasons. It wasn’t in any way sales-y and pushy and all of those things that you sometimes associate with networking, it’s far from that. It was just a good opportunity to have a good chat with people in vastly different sectors. 

The likes of Gary Friel, who’s a musician, was a fantastic chat. Gary Sutherland, who’s in employment law. I met Gary many years ago now, on the golf course up in Edinburgh, I’ve finally remembered. And follow-ups, I’ve got a one-to-one potentially booked with Ladey Adey, who produces books, as a publicist. So it’s just those connections, you never know who you’re going to meet, you never know who you’re going to see. Or Jay Crump, who is a sports therapist and helps Revitalise at the moment and he has some great connections in the sports sector from his past, where obviously, we always say, sport is something that I really want to bring back into my business. 

All these are great. So as a session, it was absolutely brilliant. Now, will I be part of it every month? I don’t know yet, but what I am going to do and I probably haven’t told him yet, is I am going to join for the month on his 30 for 30 deal, which just gives me a chance to meet more of the members and just kind of test the water with things, because you never know. And it’s very much that thing of you do never know and you don’t know who’s in the room or who could potentially use your services. I always say that I cover a lot of Yorkshire, I’m in Yorkshire quite a lot and that’s two hours south. If I go two hours north, I can get up to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Yes, it’s not as far as Aberdeen and Inverness but there are still quite a lot of people between me and two hours away, so there’s no harm in growing a network if everybody is doing some interesting stuff and seeing what’s going on. So, if you’re looking, if you’re based in Scotland, you should definitely, definitely check it out. If you’re looking for something a bit further afield and you’d like to target Scotland as an area to expand your business into, have a chat with Lee it’s definitely worth investigating as a network.


For me and my
business, networking has been a key element since I first started, well over 15
years ago now.  I’ve always been good at
talking to people, whether that be people I know or people that I’ve just
met.  I can engage in conversation and I
can chat and relate to people quite well. 
This comes back from my background in community development work, where
I’d often be stood in a room, having to talk to so many different people about
so many different things and I was used to talking in depth about both myself
and the reason I was there, but also about the problems and potential
solutions.  This interaction with people
has always been strong.

Bringing that into
my business, when I launched my business initially, like everyone, it very much
started with me putting some pictures out there and somebody going, ‘I’d like
that.’  So, I’ll do some headshots and
somebody asked me about headshots.  And all
of my work was coming through word of mouth. 
Now, that was great for me to start off with because there was already a semi-open door when I turned up to meet a client because they’d been
referred to me by somebody else – whether that was somebody I know or a
previous client perhaps.  That ease into
the relationship just made things a little bit easier. 

So, fast-forward to
now, it’s still a very much important part of my business and it will be going
forward, is to keep building relationships, honing relationships, and
maintaining those relationships over a longer period of time.  Just because you speak to somebody today
doesn’t mean they’re going to book you tomorrow.  It doesn’t mean they’re going to book you in
six months, it doesn’t mean they’re going to book you in a year.  But you know what?  They might book you.  But what they also might do is turn into
what we all want from these things, which is for somebody to be your advocate.  When you turn up to sell yourself, whether
that’s to sell your services or to chat to people, you’re in transmit, you’re
in sales mode, even if you don’t feel it. 
I don’t often feel like I’m a salesman, but actually, in any room, I go into,
I am technically selling because I’m talking about myself and my business. 

In a room of people,
if you don’t know anybody, you’re your only business advocate.  You’re the only person talking about
you.  What I’ve found is that over those
years, if you can find those key people that absolutely get you, if you can get
somebody else – even one more person to talk about your business with the
passion that you always give it, then there are two people.  So if you’re in a big conference where there are two people and somebody says the word ‘photography,’ you’re talking
about it, obviously but then somebody else is talking about it, even if it’s
not their business, they know enough about you and your business because of
that relationship that you’ve built.  “Go
and speak to Gavin about photos!”  That’s
obviously on a micro-scale, but that’s the same thought process that you should
have at any networking that you walk into.

Networking is a
strange word.  Businesses and companies
talk about networking quite a lot.  There are a lot of organisations that push networking, to get people together in a
room.  And there’s also the flip side
where a lot of people don’t particularly like talking to big groups of people
or in groups of people.  Now as I said
earlier, I’m okay with talking in groups of people, but not everybody is.  But even suggesting that networking needs
to be a significant part of your business, can put people off.  If you’re getting work by other means,
whether that’s the website, or it’s YouTube videos that you do, or all the
plethora of other sources of places where you can get work, other marketing
opportunities, then that’s great.  But
for me, long-term as I say, it’s a good 10, 15 years deep now.  If you can keep those relationships going,
there’s a chance every month you can get something, “Oh such and such has just
passed me your details,” or “Oh, could we have a chat because so and so’s just
passed me your details?”  That sort of
stuff is really key to the business and really key to getting established as a
name and a brand in a local area.

As you know, I’m
based in the North East of England and it’s often referred to as a very small
place.  There are a lot of connections
and there are a lot of people who know each other and networking is a strong
thing around the North East.  In any week
there’ll be 50 events that you could turn up to, easily 50 events, more than
that, 100 events that you could just turn up to, have a chat with some people, and potentially lead you to some work. 
So, as you read this, you’re thinking that my suggestion is that you get
out there and get every bit of networking that is possible.  No chance! 
I’m very much a statistician when it comes to justifying time.  I’ve done all the networking in the past,
I’ve given everything a go, and I’ve tried all of them.  Maybe I’ve tried them all so you don’t have

Because often when
you’re starting your business or when you’re just getting established and you
see people at these events and there are 100 or 200 people in the room, all the
potential clients are stood there.  But
are they really your potential clients? 
If you were stood in that room that everybody else is stood in, would
you really be able to sell to all those people? 
Would work come flying at you? 
Maybe, but maybe not.  And I think
there is a perception that because you’re out networking and being seen, that’s going to bring work just because they see your face and they know a name
or they know a brand or a business. 
That’s never going to be the way. 
 They’ll know a little bit about
you.  Maybe what you do as in your
business name, Gavin Forster Photography suggests what I do for a living.  I’m not a florist.  But to be in everything? 

There’s easy,
with breakfast networking, mid-afternoon, and evening networking, it could be at
three different sessions in a day.  Now
that’s a big day.  And yes, we can’t
quantify fully every lead that comes in and we can’t always tie it back to a
single moment where I walked into that room and £1,000 came from that client
because of the chat at that point.  The first time I met them was at this point, that’s where this journey to a job came
from.  That’s very tricky and some
businesses can do that.  I find it a
little bit hard to go that deep. 

But what I am now
good at is being able to source it into specific pots.  So I know I get a lot of my business through
networking on the golf course and I know exactly how much money has been
brought in from me being on the golf course. 
And that knowledge alone backs up that thing I said before about, “I’ve
got to be everywhere.”  You don’t need to
be everywhere, you need to be at the things that work.  So financially, my golf networking brings me
in a significant chunk of my yearly income. 
So I keep doing it.  There are
some other networking that I used to do a bit ad hoc or I would go along to and
when I look back on it, how many new clients, how many new discussions or how
many interesting shoots have I got on the back of it?  And if I had to write a zero next to that,
then what’s it for?  It was for me to
feel better that I’d been out there and been seen and got a couple of social media
shots.  Okay, that might lead to
something, you know, you push your LinkedIn because of the back of the content
you created at that event.  Maybe that’s
worth it.  But you’ve always got to go
through the justification process of any room that you walk in for any length
of time.  Because time is money and
ultimately, we’re all in this for business and business means money.  And if it’s not making money, it’s not a
business.  So we could all be
professional networkers and be at everything. 
But if we’re not doing the day job, then we’re not making any money.  And if we’re not making money, it’s not a

So how do you make
that justification?  So I do have it in
kind of three avenues.  And they are
first, money.  Secondly, direct clients
from that route.  Tertiary clients, obviously
secondary connections, so somebody in there will refer you onto their network
and the work comes in then.  And there’s
also the other one which is either the more creative side or the more
interesting side.  When you walk in a
room, if you can get work in a room and you’re in there going, “Great, there are 10 people in this room that want new headshots for LinkedIn and I get three of
those booked in in the next week, how fantastic is that?” Now, the chances of
that happening are obviously sort of slim, but it might happen, so it’s worth
taking that into account, and worth keeping a track of any really good
conversations that you had at networking. 

So then the
tertiary one is that little bit less tangible. 
So, you met Alice at a networking event and all of a sudden her business
partner Dave passes you on to one of their clients who wants some new website
images.  That’s a really good connection
that happened to spring from the networking that you had.  But you had to have made enough of an impact
on Alice for that information to get to Dave to then get to the new
client.  That’s quite a chain and being
able to do that off one meeting can happen but it’s difficult.  What those sorts of relationships are built on
is time and keeping in touch, being nice to everybody and keeping things going, and
building a relationship over years. 

You know, I have
work coming in from people that I haven’t spoken to in five years but they
still remember me because of the good work I did or the relationship that we
built. You’ve always got to assume that somewhere down the line people could
come back.  And if you’re nice to
everybody and keep building those relationships over time,  as soon as anybody else mentions photography
in this case, that’s the hook they remember. 
“Ah, Gavin!”  So that’s how you’ve
got to build it up, you’ve got to spend the time, you’ve got to do the
commitment, you’ve got to keep those relationships going and for me, yes, it
starts with some networking, but it’s the networking that works for you.

So what type of
networking could you do?  Now like most
things in life, there are companies set up to facilitate their working.  You know, there’s in the North East, for
example, you’ve got the likes of The Mussel Club and Next Generation Networking
and Network B2B and various others.  In
every town and city in the world, there’ll be people setting up business clubs
and regular networking for their members. 
And the reason is that if you’re signed into a group of people, usually
there’s a financial incentive for everybody to be there because they all want
to be there to make money and you have to pay for the cups of tea and bacon
sandwiches.  So, there’s a commitment and
it’s usually a 12-month commitment.  So
you’re in a room together, even if it’s once a month or once a week or twice a
week, you’re in the room with those people for a regular thing.  You might not pick all the information out of
people’s businesses in the first six months, and you might not pick them out for a
year, maybe two years, until you find out everything that is useful to you
about somebody else’s business and that’s what these networking groups are
really, really good for – building relationships.  Even if it’s only a little snippet every
time, after a year, you really know a business more than you did if you only
met them once at networking.  So, it’s
about building and supporting each other and helping people. 

Obviously, the
extreme of that is things like BNI, which are a real structured networking,
where you’re pushed and you have to make referrals and you have to push other
people’s businesses, which speed-wise facilitates that relationship building in
a different way because you have to know everything about everybody’s
business because you need referrals every week.  And that is financially successful for a lot
of people.   I mean for me and my life,
that early morning networking every week just isn’t possible.  I’ve got a little one to get to school and
those sorts of commitments make it incredibly difficult to do structured
networking in that way.  But I don’t rule
it out for people to have a look at because it can fast-track the relationship-building
element and work comes in obviously on the back of it. 

Then there’s free
networking.  A lot of business
development managers end up at free networking, that is usually at the likes of
a business hub or a larger business that want to bring smaller businesses in.  There’s always an ulterior motive at the back
of it.  But I mean, as I say, the big
networking that’s organised, there are financial incentives obviously, because
they want to keep the money coming in, to keep the businesses going.  But on the flip side, with smaller networking, there
can be plenty of free networking out there. 
But they’re usually set up to facilitate something else.  So if it’s a Financial Advisors’ networking,
there’s a few of those around and actually it’s about getting more clients in
their wider network, again over a long period of time, you’re not going to just
turn up to networking and go, “Yes, I’ll sign my stuff over to you straight
away,” but then you’re meeting them every month, so it softens things up. 

So it’s figuring
out which one works for you.  And there are no right or wrong answers in networking, I think everybody should be networking
to some point out there in person just to get their face out there and known in
their local area.  But I totally
appreciate it’s not everybody’s wheelhouse and the confidence of walking into a
room and going, “Hello, hello, let’s talk to you,” kind of thing is often
difficult.  But I think at least on a
monthly basis, I think it’s very good for a business to last a long term, to
have a little bit of that, not necessarily all of it, but a little bit of it.


I’m not quite sure how this came around. In my head it’s still around 2018 and that Covid thing didn’t really happen but here we are in the depths of a financial crisis and another year gone. It’s all fun and happy, isn’t it?!

I say that in jest obviously - it’s been a fantastic year for me and the business. I’ve shot more this year than I’ve ever done and shot some more interesting things on a weekly basis than I ever thought possible. So my year in numbers (drum roll)

📸 Shoots - 166

🌁 Images - 92,155

🚗 Miles - 11,879

I do love a bit of data and working through stats but it doesn’t always reflect fully what a year looks like just on the bare bones and the bare numbers. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had a challenging year, we’ve all had things going off in our family lives that make things a little bit more tricky, and as much as the financial crisis has hit some significantly more than others, most of us are getting hit with a fair whack at the moment and to take that into account in the year and to still do as many shoots and work with so many companies who are still pushing things forward has been fantastic and seeing the insight into how businesses are adapting and changing to the new economic climate.

I’m very proud of myself to be standing here today and the start of a new with eyes bright and a bit of excitement about what might lie ahead and what sort of things I can push through for things to do this year. Here’s a bit of a flurry through of some of the shoots done and things I’ve been involved with and companies I’ve worked for - it’s been a real journey and a real experience.

How was your 2022? What were your highlights? Let’s not dwell on the negative of the financial crisis but come on, give me your top three things that really jump out as successes this year!

Headshots time of year

Are you at the point in the year where you feel new headshots would be good for the business? All of us have pictures on various platforms that are a little bit out of date. I remember back in a previous life at a certain local authority and I remember seeing photographs and headshots of some of the councillors and represented members and to say they were 10 years out of date… it was more like 15 to 20! I met the people that were in the photo and didn’t recognise them, even though I’d already seen them on a thumbnail. That always sticks with me that on the likes of LinkedIn where you’re seeing only a small picture – it’s a recurring reminder of what somebody looks like. If your website or social platforms are a little bit out of date, you want people to know who you are. We’re all getting older, I know we don’t like to admit these things but if you haven’t seen somebody for 10 years and they look at you and go, “Oh!” It’s the shut door thing – as soon as you leave, the way peoples’ brains work, nothing changes after the person leaves the door and it’s the same with faces. I know faces from 10 years ago. If I saw them today I’d go, “Oh yeah, that’s such and such!” Because it takes that couple of seconds for your brain to latch into that.
Now that’s not saying that we should be updating pictures every day, month or haircut but I think two years is a good number that things change – whether that’s colour palette-wise or that’s style-wise or glasses even! A lot of people change their glasses regularly and certainly as a glasses wearer, people will often notice and say, “Have you got new glasses?” And I’ll say, “No, it’s just I’ve not seen you – I’ve had them for six months!”
I’m obviously a victim of this myself – my profile picture is probably 18 months old and it’s not really a profile picture in all honesty. I need to get Karl round to sort that out for me and get another one done. I think companies that do them regularly – as much as the staff don’t always fully embrace the fun of a photoshoot – as you can understand, most of the time it’s a bit of ‘arms up backs’ to get people to have their pictures done en masse – if you think about your website, most websites will be redone every two to three years so in my head photos should be done around the same time. The photos that you get done at one point aren’t necessarily the right photos that fit when it’s redone again.
Go now, have a look on your LinkedIn, Facebook and website – does that face really reflect who you are today or does it reflect who you were three, five or 10 years ago?

Commonwealth Games

When most of you say holiday the thing that jumps to mind is a couple of weeks on an all-inclusive beach somewhere relaxing.  This is not something that me and my family have ever done for the past 20 years or so that me and my wife have been together.  We’ve never done a beach holiday.  It’s always been a cultural experience in some form or other and I don’t think we could do it any other way.  I think even the thought of a beach holiday kind of sends shivers through my attention span.

So this year was maybe one of the more extreme ones that we’ve done in the sense that everybody went, “Eh?!” as soon as told them what we did and obviously we didn’t go trekking in Uzbekistan (which we did look at!).  We went to Birmingham for 10 days and everybody pulls the same face until you tell them it was for the Commonwealth Games and the confused faces turn to wow faces.  The Commonwealth Games, or any major sporting activity like that, really does hit people so it’s great to see people’s reactions when you tell them you’ve been to a event like that, watching 10 or so different sports in a day.

It’s not everybody’s idea of a holiday in that logistics were tough with Park & Rides and the horrendous road system around Birmingham.  Apologies to anyone living in Birmingham - I don’t envy your driving around and daily activities, that’s for sure.  But for us, we saw so many great sports and really saw that push from people that are experts in their field but there are going to be things that we will never do like diving!  Yes, we were watching the springboard stuff and the one, three and five-metre boards and we saw a couple of people - the eventual gold medallist even come off the 10-metre board and that was just something that I know for a fact I’ll never do but to see it and watch it and really appreciate it - it’s great on the telly but it’s not the same as being there in a crowd of 4,000 or 5,000 people.  It was just amazing and that’s just doing it once as a cool thing to say you’ve done.  That isn’t what these guys are doing - these are doing it day in and day out and are elite level athletes in their chosen fields, competing with if not the best in the world then at least the best in the Commonwealth.  To just be part of that and see smiley faces - we were sat next to the Samoan Athletics team on one of the days in the stadium and just seeing their faces when their runners came across the line!  Samoans are famed for their running, as my friend Logovi’i Mulipola will testify to that as a rugby player.  He’s not a middle-distance runner as some of these guys were doing but just to see the smiles on their faces was fantastic and just great to be a part of.

I think we’ll certainly need to do a different type of holiday sometime later in the year just to kind of balance it out a little bit but I’d certainly do it again in a heartbeat.  We’re already planning our next trip away that involves a sporting activity.  It was also good to see one of my fellow Fore Business colleagues, Phil Boyle, there as well and to meet Prof. Barry Carpenter with the ADHD connections.  It is an amazingly small world.  Even though it was in Birmingham it was great to see people that I knew.

Wanders at Warkworth

So driving up to Warkworth over the weekend, I had to shoot a wedding. I know I don’t necessarily talk about weddings on here these days, but I do if friends or family or people I know do come to me with wedding requests, I’m more than happy to shoot weddings. I used to shoot around 20-25 weddings a year. These days, it’s more like five or six. And that’s really good because for life and for family things, it’s great for me to have my weekends back, to be able to spend time with my little one.

But one of the things that kind of driving up made me go, ‘Ah yeah…’ It’s kind of one of them legacy past history things that kind of is in the back of your head and you don’t realise it. There’s a significant number of geese on the fields on the way up the A1. And most people won’t have spotted it, most people won’t realise they’re there or know what they are – they don’t realise how migratory geese are as a species.

And it takes me back. The only reason that I know is that, as a kid, my Dad was an active birdwatcher and he still is now. So it was inevitable whenever we were out and about anywhere, that things would be pointed out to me, ‘Oh look, there’s a such and such, oh look, there’s a such and such.’ And that kind of view and the eyes of always trying to see the little things in your peripheral vision, I can’t help it now and my wife and child both get confused as to how I can be driving down a road and I could spot a buzzard stood on top of a lamppost five- or six-hundred yards away and they wouldn’t even see anything wrong with it just being a post but I’ll spot the buzzard straight away. Or we’re driving through the Derwent Valley and there are some red kites up in the sky. I’ll be the first one out of a crowd of people to spot them. Again, just because every weekend as a kid, there was something pointed out to me, or we did go and do a bit of like formal twitching. And that skill’s never kind of left me.

And I’m not sure if it’s a thing with my peripheral vision. I think I do seem to be able to pick things up a lot more peripheral than most. I mean, maybe it’s an ADHD thing, I don’t know. But, seeing these birds and seeing some grey likes and white and pink-fronted geese come in – the noise and everything. So it could be the noise, it could be the sounds, it could be the visual of seeing them? That really makes me smile because it takes me back to my childhood and it’s another one of those skills that I just assume everybody spots things and sees the world in the way that I do. And it’s blatantly clear that that’s not the case! We’re all so different and nobody can even contemplate what’s going through somebody else’s head in a lot of situations.

So, how many of those little sub-conscious things that you do, that if somebody was to say something, you’d be surprised, ‘Oh well, is not everything like that?’

Or is it just me??

ADHD Awareness Month

All of a sudden we’re finishing October and the leaves are very much changing on the trees and dropping quite regularly. But, I’ve realised that it is ADHD Awareness month and World mental health day (10/10) all in October!

And with all of the things that I’ve had going on in the last couple of years, after my diagnosis I realised I’ve only talked about it very briefly. I mean I talk enough in person to people about it and I’ve supported quite a few people through their diagnosis of ADHD now, but every time I post something publicly, I get people asking questions or at least wanting to know more.

Do any of these traits ring a bell with you?
( Info from the amazing ADHD Foundation website - )

Starting something and not finishing it and then feeling bad because of this

  • Working much harder to achieve because not sure of how hard you need to work … burn out cycles
  • Chatty, enthusiastic, overly engaged ( and then not!)
  • Losing your day drifting off down a rabbit hole of interest- seen sometimes as ‘daydreaming’.
  • Distracted by other people’s conversations around you and drifting off when talking to someone – unless the topic is of high interest and then fully engaged.
  • Impulsive ( enthusiastic) decision making – saying yes before saying no and then regretting it because of too many yes’s
  • Not being able to sit still/stay quiet for long/fidgety/toe-tapping/doodling/hair twirling
  • Sleep disturbance, busy brain, and rumination and feelings of disappointment when it hasn’t gone right ( again). Feeling anxious.
  • Losing possessions even though you are sure you put them in one place, disorganised.
  • Loads of information/knowledge… but a brain that has an inconsistent filing system 
  • Poorer concepts of time passing
  • Other people’s perceptions of you – thinking that you are less capable than you really are or overly direct or rude because of interrupting ( I often find it hard to stay quiet for long!).
  • Compensating to camouflage by working even harder to cover up mistakes /driving anxiety and obsessional actions to do so- putting the pressure on yourself
  • Prevarication ends up with you doing the things you like doing and avoiding the tedious things we still all have to do as much as possible even though we know they often won’t take us long in reality.

  • I know that talking’s certainly helped me to get aligned with this world of ADHD. I don’t know if I’d say I’m on top of it, I don’t think I would, I don’t think I’ll ever be, but at least being aware of it and being able to react in certain situations in a different way, is very, very useful. And from many years ago, when I was leaving University, my ethos has always been to help rather than hinder. And I’ve tried to help people throughout my career, whether that was in the communities of Leeds, or more recently to help businesses where I can, both with photos but also with advice and thoughts and another pair of ears and eyes. Which again, it’s not going to work for everything. I don’t think that much of myself, but I think I’ve been pretty good at being able to help people just as a sounding board.

    So, it’s exactly two years since I was pushed in the direction that it may be ADHD, this is why I was struggling a little bit with certain anxieties and the way things were being processed by my brain. So again when I look and go, ‘Yeah, thank you so much Nicola Jayne Little for the journey you started me on and it’s made a massive difference to my life.’ (have a look at And I hope that my retelling stories and tagging some people in will do the same again and will encourage people to talk. You don’t have to talk to me, but it’d be good to talk to someone. If your head isn’t kind of where you assume everybody else’s is, it’s worth having a chat. I’m not saying everybody’s got ADHD by any stretch, but if you’re like me and you’re struggling, I can certainly say that mine was a life-changer. So seeing as it’s the month, make sure you go and talk.

    SweetSpot student property

    For the last month it’s been great working with the SweetSpot team who are based down in London but have properties in Newcastle, Nottingham, Liverpool and various other places around the UK.  So obviously I’ve been working on the Newcastle properties of late.  There’s 10 blocks of eight properties just on the outskirts of Newcastle city centre that are providing amazing student accommodation that is just completely worlds away from the student accommodation that I stayed in back in 1999.  That’s no reflection on the University of York by any stretch because that was a fantastic time for me and the facilities were great at the time but to see how that’s moved on to where they are now, it’s just worlds apart.  Granted, it’s 23 years ago that I started at university - to see this change in the property for students is really good and it’s been great being able to capture the properties and see the slight variations and the facilities that are on offer - not to mention the camaraderie I’m sure with the students once they get in there.  

    So from a technical perspective, it’s obviously been an interesting one.  These are refurbished properties - these weren’t styled in this way at all and the rooms weren’t set out in the same way previously so there are a lot of little variations within each room such as bay windows in some and not in others.  So from a lighting perspective and from a set-up perspective, to get the photos to be comparable throughout the property and also each of the properties, it’s always that little bit of a hunt to find the right angle in a room as you walk in and to really showcase it and show it off to its best to be able to get these full SweetSpot and get as many students in there as is needed.

    The next stage is for me, after doing Lilico House I’m off to Westgate Road to do a few down there and we’ll see what the future brings.  SweetSpot are a growing company and has lots of properties lined up so you never know, I might be coming here in a year’s time saying I’ve done however many for the last year for SweetSpot and that would be great.  Maintaining clients in the longer term is always something I strive for and repeat business with clients because of the good relationship I have with people has always been something I’ve strived for.  And I continue that now, 12 years or so down the line into my business.

    On a more technical level, a quick
    shout-out to my kit!   All of these properties have been shot on a Canon R5 with Sigma 14-24 lens paired with a Three Legged Thing Winston 2.0 tripod and a Pixapro AD100 and associated trigger.  All my property shots are shot in “flambient”, as they say, which is a mix of flash and ambient light just to give a more natural feel to the images by being able to pull in those windows a little bit so we haven’t got a big high contrast image where it’s nice and bright in the room but the outside is just a blown-out white window.  It’s something I’ve done for a lot of years now and it’s certainly a technique that works well for me.  

    Saying No


    So I seem to be doing a lot of reflective posts lately and this is about saying no and how saying no is a massive strength and something that I don’t think any of us give ourselves credit for.  That could be by being able to utilise experiences that we’ve had; whether that be financially, emotionally, physically, to react to situations that we have been in before. I think we all like to think that, ‘We wouldn’t do that again!’  But I think it’s quite often the case that you do. Because, there are two of you; the devil and the angel on your shoulders. One’s going, ‘Yep, yep, yeah, this is great, this is great, this is great,’ and the other one’s going, ‘Naahh.’ And it depends on the day, it depends on how much you listen to one or listen to the other. ‘Ooooh, they’re not going to be like that again,’ ‘Ooooh, they’re going to pay you on time, this time.’ And by kind of listening to one or the other, you can put yourself in a hole, one way or the other. You’re kind of repeating the thing and six months later you’ve got a lot of stress and hassle on the back of a decision made.  Or the other side, you say no to something and then you’ve kind of got that little bit of regret of, ‘Well, maybe I should have done that.’

    I suppose being able to say no to things has come a lot easier now. I know what I do now.  I’m not chasing for, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll do anything, I’ll do anything, I’ll do anything,’ and there’s plenty of things that I won’t do shoots-wise. Because either it doesn’t click with me, I don’t feel as though my skills are that well suited to it, but also clients come into it. So, if I’m working for a client and it’s been a bit of a difficult one; maybe they didn’t quite get what they wanted or they were incredibly pedantic about certain things that were really outside of control. I think being able to bring that into it and kind of going, ‘Is this opportunity that’s presented to me actually an opportunity or is it a potential for extra stress and hassle?’ That’s over and above any kind of daily decision you make that could potentially cause stress and hassle.

    But, it’s about making the decisions informed decisions. Over the last two years since Covid, I’m in a lot better position mentally to be able to say no – politely, obviously and how I decide to reply in totality may dictate whether I’m going to work with that client again in the future or potentially could work in the future. If it’s one-off jobs, that I’m never going to see again, it’s a lot easier to say no to. If it’s a potential for an ongoing relationship, ‘That could be great, it could be this, it could be that.’ You’ve got to look at that differently. But I think the skill of being able to go, ‘No. No, but this,’ or, ‘No, how about this?’ or you know, ‘Could we do this instead?’ kind of thing and then kind of being in a position of strength to be able to do that, but in the knowledge that the skillset and financials will allow.

    I think I’ve often been the advocate of just saying yes to lots of things and how many of them do I regret? I don’t know, there’s not many. There is a handful obviously, like everybody in their business, there will be the odd things that you go, ‘Argghhhh, I shouldn’t have done that!’ But they are life lessons and they are things that push you forward. I mean there’s are some of the bigger ones that really cause scars, they’re a bit harder to kind of look back on and go, ‘If only I’d… ’ I’m not one for looking back in that sense and kind of over-analysing what’s gone on. I tend to over-analyse going forward. The potential of what could happen, you know? ‘Ooooh, what’s the seven million connotations on the back of a decision?’ And in that way I think my thoughts are always quite lined up when a so-called opportunity presents itself to be able to analyse it, over-analyse it and at least come out the other side of it, knowing that the decision I made was brought to with knowledge and not just a reactionary, ‘Yes, yeah of course, yeah, yeah, I’ll do that, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll do that.’ And then you end up with the stress and hassle that goes with it.

    I don’t mind losing out on work if it’s price. I can never know fully, even after asking what a client’s real budget is. They might give you an indication, but it’s not always easy to pin people down to a number. Because even if you give them a number and somebody else gives one £300 cheaper, they’re going to look at it, you know? And I’m not in a world to race to the bottom, I need to justify the time I spend on things, the amount of money I can associate with those things. So, I can’t do a day’s work for a tenner. And if that client has only got a tenner, it doesn’t matter what I say, or what I do, they’ve only got a tenner. They might say to me, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll pay you a couple of hundred quid,’ but actually, if they’ve only got a tenner, they’re not going to tell you. That’s what you’re competing against and I think that standing firm on price and saying, ‘No, no, that’s where I’m at. It needs to be that to cover my time,’ then that’s a strong position to be in. It’s a positive position to be in and one strength that a lot of business owners don’t always acknowledge.

    I think we all do it, I think that we all have opportunities every week, where we quote for things, or we maybe look at it and go, ‘Ooooh maybe not quite… if it was this much money then maybe.’  So you might quote high for things that need that bit extra work, if you do get it then great, you can kind of get your head round it, but if not, you know what? It’s alright.  So, how often do you say it though? I think I’m getting better at saying it’s a diary clash or something. That’s always been my challenge; even if I mentally deliver on the job, I certainly will physically be there and I think it’s often for me to throw extra things in that I can just about do all the things in time, but because of the tight deadlines, it’s on that line of, ‘Arrrgh’ and I think I need to get better at allowing time to dictate things a little bit more and not upsetting people which is obviously my ultimate goal.

    I think the strength in saying no is really important so dare I ask?  Do you feel you’ve said no enough this year? Because in the past, I would have said yes to everything because a lot of people say no to a lot of things that they maybe should say yes to.  But I think it’s the opposite. It’s getting deeper under that opportunity because I think the opportunity is always seen in a positive light. ‘Oooh, this is an opportunity for this.’ And I always say now, it’s not an opportunity if there’s a massive, big bag of potential chaos associated with it, irrespective of the money, irrespective of the name of the client.  Ultimately, if it’s good fun but undue stress and hassle on you, it’s not bad to say no to it and go, ‘Yeah, that’s all right.’


    The last few weeks have been a really interesting journey with lots of fantastic shoots and work with some fantastic clients. And some of the opportunities that have come my way have been really exciting and have got me some pictures that I go, “Wow, I’m quite happy with that!” But there’s a difference between being happy with something and being proud of yourself for doing it. And this came up in conversation a few times with a number of different people recently. And this question of feeling proud – are you proud of your achievements, are you proud of your work? And it’s been quite an interesting journey for me. I’ve done this for 10 years now. I have a back catalogue covering all manner of different facets of the industry and my business is going very well. I should be very proud of that from an outsider’s perspective and a perceived thing – I should be proud of what I’ve achieved. But me personally? And inside? It’s just where’s the next thing? It’s the next job, the next big client, the next big, interesting shoot, the next big thing coming. I’ve never looked at things with a sense of pride. 

    And this links back to some of the blogs I’ve done recently, regarding shoots for me as obviously I love shooting for clients and in the last calendar year, I’ve shot in the region of 155 shoots across a wide range of clients. And of all of those shoots, obviously, I’m really happy to have helped all those businesses to get their pictures and I do like seeing my pictures out there being used for what they should do. But do I feel proud of that? I don’t know – pride’s a really funny thing in my world. 

    So that swings it round to this – shoots for me, shoots for clients. I think any healthy business has to have two key sides to it. Firstly, for it to be a business and not just a hobby, there needs to be a significant amount of business and financial gain from doing what you do. So on the Venn diagram below, because I have to put it in because I use it to reference for a lot of people, there’s a Venn diagram, one side of it says money and one side of it say creative. Often in photography terms, people sit on the creative side and make a bit of money and that’s great. What I’ve caught myself doing over the last year is being more on the money side of things. And that’s obviously good for the business and that, but then I’ve maybe been maybe lacking the creative shoots for me. So when I look back at those 155 shoots, there’s actually only one that was for me. 

    It wasn’t for a client, obviously, they’ve used them and all of that, but the real driver behind it was that I’d set myself the challenge as this shoot was four years in the making. It’s the one with Ash Dykes, I’m sure you’ve read the extremely long blog about it. And I said this calendar year, that I was going to do more shoots for myself. That’s not to say I’m doing less business, far from it, but I wanted a few more shoots that I can go, “I gave absolutely everything to that, the story behind it, absolutely bought into it,” and really walk away going, “Yeah! I’m proud of myself for doing that.” For whatever reason, whatever the shoot entailed. And to kind of just put that out there was quite strong for me and quite impactful to be able to look at it and go, “Yeah, that’s what I wanna do.” 

    So I have already shot Louis Alexander earlier in the year, which was 17 marathons in 17 days. It was the story behind the young lad doing it, which was, he’s just an amazing guy and he’s busy rowing the Channel at the moment, which is again, just amazing, to raise money for charity. Then next in line, so number two, Captain George Bromley, extensive military career, is raising money for a number of military charities by doing a beeline from Lands End to John O’Groats. And I’ve driven a couple of hours up the road to catch him on the road, get some pictures and then drive home. And who were those pictures for? They were for me. Because I think the story and what he’s doing are fantastic. If a handful of my pictures can support him, raising money, then what am I here for? 

    It’s breaking that barrier – some jobs are for money, some jobs are for creative, some jobs are that tiny little slither in the middle, which is getting paid for really, really cool shoots and obviously we want a lot more of those every year. But these shoots are very much in the creative aspect and over on that side of the Venn diagram. Do you think about your shoots like this, or is it just an idiosyncrasy of myself?


    Again, this last week I’ve seen a lot of talk of mindfulness
    and taking time out of your day just to relax and do some meditation or really
    push some headspace.

    Now for me I often struggle due to the ADHD.  My head is here, there and everywhere at the
    best of times so it is something that I’ve always thought was a good thing and
    something I wish I could do more of.  But
    there feels as thought there’s that little bit more push or pressure even more
    recently to have it included.  So that
    got me thinking – is it actually the word that is making me stumble with this
    one?  I often get fixated on words and
    how the connotations of that word actually end up restricting or changing how
    my outlook is or how I see things.  I think
    ‘mindfulness’ might be one of those.  I
    see it as sat on a yoga mat or what you see on social media mindfulness – all the
    words that come with mindfulness all jump in my head as soon as I see the
    word.  Now for me, I’m slightly different
    to that and I find that if I walk my dad’s dog and I have music on my new noise
    cancelling headphones which are amazing, that is enough to completely take me
    away from anything else.  I can really
    walk away from that.  Once I take my headphones
    off and I’ve left the dog, I feel better and I feel relaxed and feel a lot
    better.  Now is that mindfulness or is
    that just listening to music while you walk the dog?  Again, it’s back to this word thing that I
    associate certain things with mindfulness and whether that’s right or wrong, is
    it a case of finding what is mindful for you?

    I don’t know, is this me waffling on about words again?  I don’t know, possibly!  It’s an interesting concept though.  These little breaks a few times a week now
    when I walk my dad’s dog with music blasting have really made a difference and it
    keeps me calmer, starts the day well as I’m doing these around 6.30 in the
    morning.  It starts the day differently
    and it’s been productive and I’ll see how it continues to be productive.  

    Health balances

    I may or may not have mentioned this before but with some changes at home, I’ve gained some more hours in my week.

    I know, “What is this magic you talk of extra hours in your week?!” I hear you cry!  For however many years, I’ve done a lot of the school drop-offs and pick-ups at my child’s school due to how the timings work out.  So on a morning, I’m usually nine o’clock drop-off which many parents on here will know does give some restrictions on certain days where you can’t be working somewhere as early as you’d like to be. Roll forward to September and the little one starts at my wife’s school so my wife will take her along every day which has freed me up a good 10 or so hours a week which is significant from a time perspective and a health perspective.  It’s become clear that I’ve been that busy that often my fitness and wellbeing haven’t quite been as good as they could be and I think we’re probably all guilty of that in some way or other.

    So these extra hours are obviously going to be a big push to do certain things in the business and do things differently and create new opportunities and grow the business BUT there’s also the opportunity to breathe a bit and to look at some extra things that I will have the time to do for myself health-wise that just make everything else that little bit better.  I’m no spring chicken these days.  I was speaking to Omar the other day on a Zoom and jokingly said something like, “Oh I’m a lot older than you,” and he said, “Yeah, there’s like 16 years between us.”

    I don’t particularly feel old in any way at all but all of a sudden I’m like, “Oh yeah, I’m 41 and time is passing and I need to get a bit of a health kick going.”

    So things are going to change in September and I don’t want to fall into the trap of just doing extra social media posts or just doing little things for the business.  We’re told it will be beneficial for the business and bring more money in which gives more potential free time further down the line, and all that, but every week I need to be doing something for myself and that’s where I need to figure out my plan at this point.

    What tips have you got for getting more out of your week from a health perspective?  For the rest of my life, I know how tricky it is to fit it into normal life, hence I am where I am.  So I’m hoping that these 10 hours will at least give me an opportunity to push some of these things.  

    Come on what tips have you got for getting the best out of your week? 

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