Family Photography Workshop With Sharp Shots Photography Club

It was a few years ago when I first met the lovely Lillian Spibey from Sharp Shots Photography Club whist she was running Sharp Shots Photography Club workshop at Priory Farm in Surrey. Lilian in fact runs the UK’s largest kids and teens photography company and has taught over 2000 students aged between 7-15. The courses run after school and on site at numerous locations across the south East of England.

Izzy chose this course as her birthday gift as her passion for photography had just started to take hold and she enjoyed every single minute of it!

She came away with a firm vision of where she wanted her new found skills to take her and has been putting them into practice ever since.

Im sure that Izzy’s love of photography has been passed down by me as since I started my blog a little over three years ago now photography is the biggest and most loved part of it.

When I first started all I was armed with was my IPhone and no clue of how to take a photo at all. Over the years I have upgraded to my beloved Olympus Pen, followed countless photographers on Instagram and just gone with what I think would make a good picture.

I really feel that from the start of my blogging journey my photography has improved but I had got to the point when some professional intervention was needed as there were things I just couldn’t get the knack of no matter how hard I tried.

So when I was approached by Lilian to come along to a workshop she was putting on for bloggers and their children I was over the moon.

We headed off early to meet everyone in London where Lilian greeted us with her calm and welcoming manner which put us all at ease and eager to get some tips from the experts.

Sharp Shots Photography Club aims to provide you with life long photography skills teaching you how to use your digital camera along with composition skills to allow you to take the best photo you can.

We all sat around in a large group where I was very happy to see the lovely Emily from Family Four Fun who had also come along. Each person introduced themselves and told us what they were hoping to gain from the day which was lovely as their were such a wide variety of aims with a lot of them involving the need to know the basics which is where we started.

I know for me this was of upmost importance as I have to admit since getting my camera over two years ago I have been pretty scared to use anything other than auto and I was really eager to move away from this. Izzy was just excited to explore her surrounding and get snap happy around the park.

Lilian started with the theory side of things and we got the chance to see how other photographers put different techniques to use in their style of photography and the mechanics behind how the camera actually works which was extremelly interesting. Her background and passion for what she does makes her the perfect teacher and things that I have found daunting before were made so much simpler through her explanations.

We learnt to master the basics such as shutter speed, how to focus, depth of field and how to get the most out of your pictures by putting yourself in different positions to get that perfect angle.

For me it was all about getting something different from my photography. I feel I always opt for a close up as this is what I feel most comfortable with and it was great to be able to try out different shutter speeds to gain some fantastic images with the passing traffic and pretty ribbons.

Cameras are amazing pieces of equipment that can give you such a different perspective on the same scene and I am so pleased that I have now been armed with the knowledge to try different things out.

I think though what I gained most from this workshop is how differently children take to new things. I was certainly very tentative about changing my style and was apprehensive about taking a step away from what I am used to; where as Izzy embraced it all with our any apprehension and gained some wonderful images because of just that.

Below I have left a section of her favourite shoots from the day, ones that I am extremely proud of.

Going over my own photos I’ve been pretty critical, but have learnt from the kids to be more gun hoe with my approach and will certainly be trying out my new found knowledge a lot more in the future. Here are a few of my favs from the day.

We both came away from the day with our heads bursting with new ideas and even more passion for photography! Izzy can’t wait to sign up to another course this summer and I am hoping on getting on another one too!

Festive Fun At The London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is always top of the list of the places my youngest two want to visit. The museum gives the children the chance to explore the history of the London transport system in a fun and hands-on way and is the only museum I have ever visited that I have to literally drag them out of kicking and screaming!

This weekend we had a very early start to experience their festive fun event before it opened to the public.

We walked into the museum and were hit with the sound of Christmas tunes that lead us to the beautiful Santa’s grotto tucked behind a huge London bus.

Snow covered branches were delicately drapped with pretty fairy lights and the little snow covered path lead you into the scandinavian inspired grotto full of sheepskin throws, cosy cushions and plenty of toys play with.

Inside the grotto we enjoyed a story time session with one of Santa’s super friendly elves whilst outside there was a crafting session taking place where we tried our hand at making some origami tree decorations they weren’t as easy as they looked!

After doing a little exploring of the museum and learning some interesting facts about bus tickets from the very knowledgeable staff we had worked up a bit of an appetite and made our way to have a scrumptious hot chocolate and some absolutey delicious waffles they I was extremely impressed with.

It was time to get our craft on again, this time by creating a candle light holder that Frankie really went to town with the decor on!

The highlight of the morning though was just about to happen when Santa made his way into the museum to greet the children.

He had a good chat with each and every child and asked my terrors if they thought they were on the ‘good list’. I admired the confidence in their answers but a few sideways looks were thrown my way in fear of me interrupting!

After all the christmassy excitement we spent a good while enjoying the museum and as usual had a pretty hard time getting the boys to leave, especially as we passed through the gift shop that was hugely tempting…even for me.

From beautiful train sets to london buses in many different guises to pretty snow globes and the most amazing tree decorations there is something for everyone and is a far cry from your usual museum gift shop.

The whole morning was the perfect mix of festive cheer, good food and automotive fun. I loved that it wasn’t your usual structured visit to Santa and instead he was wandering around and the children were free to go and say hi whenenver they were ready.

If you are still looking for somewhere for a Santa visit this year then this comes highly recommended from us.

*We were asked along to this event for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Anthony Gormley, Sea Shells And Bus Painting

Art, the sea and delectable food are one of life’s perfect combinations and for me Margate is a home to all of these.

In August the imposing cast iron sculpture from Anthony Gormley was erected on the chalk in front of the Turner Contemporary and I have been desperate to see it for myself for months.

It is one of one hundred sculptures from his ANOTHER TIME series and was as breathtaking as I imagined.

‘I wish to celebrate the still and silent nature of sculpture, ANOTHER TIME is necessarily isolated, and is an attempt to bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time’

As I looked out to sea I thought of the words that Anthony Gormley had used to describe land work whilst listening to Oscar’s opinion on the piece.

What really stood out to me was the compassion he was showing for the man being alone. He looked on asking why he was standing alone and as we left kept looking back and worrying that he was being left alone and lonely.

It really was a sight to behold and something I’m really pleased to have shared with Oscar.

Sadly the Tuner Contemporary didn’t have a lot work on display as they were preparing to showcase the world of Tracey Emin…I think I need a trip back to see this.

We still managed to make use of the gallery though by grabbing a late breakfast and taking in the view form the beautifully light and airy cafe, and have a through the beautiful neon installation to the side of the gallery.

For the middle of October we were lucky enough to have picked a very mild day to visit and spent a good while chasing the waves, jumping over rock pools and collecting shells.

The foodie inside me was out in force and on our last visit we had passed The Bus Cafe along the sea front and I was determined to see what they had to offer on this visit.

Oscar was thrilled to climb onboard and take to the top deck to find a table.

The converted bus is run by a super friendly couple that were extremely friendly and very welcoming of little ones which is always a huge bonus for us.

The menu comprised of a selection of wraps and salads that you can mix and match to your own taste.

Fillings were plentiful and jammed packed with flavour.

Not only did Oscar enjoy the novelty of eating his lunch on a bus, he was also handed a special pen so they he could create his own masterpiece on the side of it.

He was more than about this happy to say the least!

The months of having this little one to myself during the day are passing by way to quickly and I have plans for plenty more days like this before I have to let him move onto his school life journey.

He is way more ready for this than I am!

Father Christmas At The London Transport Museum

For as long as I can remember a trip to Covent Garden at Christmas has been a must.

I love the beautiful lights, the majestic tree, browsing the many shops and having a cheeky glass of mulled wine.

I do however hang my head in shame at the fact I’ve never taken the children to the London Transpost Museum.

So when we were asked to come along and visit Fathet Christmas there I was more than happy to take the children to see the main man himself whilst checking out what the museum has to offer.

We arrived a little early so got the chance to have a look round the museum out for a while whilst finding clues on the Elf Trail sheet we were given.

The children immediately scampered off to climb aboard real life buses and trains, pretend to drive a tube train in a fantastic simulator and really got into character by donning some fabulous outfits.

To be honest they had to be prized away when it was time to head over to Father Christmas as the museum is such a hive of activity.

We were greeted with a beaming smile from a train driver whos hat was festively wrapped with fairy lights and was standing amongst Christmas trees and a snow covered floor.

There was a matter of minutes to wait before we were shown through but we still managed to have a quick play with the huge train set that was there to occupy busy fingers and a big box of festive hats were delved into to really get into the festive spirit! 

Father Christmas was sat in his throne with this sleigh stacked with presents resting next to him.

He gave the children a very warm welcome and even managed to coax number five out from under my coat for five minutes!

The children couldn’t wait to unwrap there pressies that were fittingly wrapped in lovely London transport style paper.

The boys were both over the moon with their trains and number three couldn’t wait to get her snap watch on!

The fun didn’t end there for us as we headed over to the ‘All Aboard Family Playzone’  the children played for well over an hour in a fantastic area filled with a small soft play area for tiny ones, small scale buses and taxi to climb in and drive and train sets that the boys were very taken with.

The last pit stop for us was the shop on the way out.

I’m never a fan of shops attached to museums as the selections are normally limited, lack thought and are over priced.

I was however more than plesently surprised with the shop here – even if you weren’t visiting the museum I would highly recommend a peruse of this gift shop as it was stacked with so many different, well priced gifts that I could have got so many great buys that I know would have been very welcome under our tree!

 My favourite items though had to be the beautiful and very different Christmas decorations that I would have loved to have purchased if my husband’s beady eyes hadn’t have been on me!

Having a trip to Father Christmas here offers you much more than just that as the museum itself has so much to offer.

If you have little ones that love transport and would love a Father Christmas trip based round that then this is the perfect place to go.

He is only there for a limited time so get booking your place now before he head back home on the northern Line North Pole Express.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

  

For me my school years were fine, but not something I would say that I would love to relive.  My husband on the other hand has massively fond memories of this time in his life and had hundreds of stories that he loves to share with us, we’ll some are not appropriate for the children’s ears!!

We don’t live far from his old school but don’t very often take the children for a visit.  Today the sun was shining and the kids wanted to have a run around so we took the short trip to Oxted, my husband’s old stomping ground.

Oxted is still a very traditional town and the majority of shops still close on a Sunday which makes for a lovely peaceful stroll along the High Street.  We had a pit stop for a coffee and were plesently suprised that there was a special bus service on so we got a fantastic opportunity to see some beautiful old buses.

   
       

After our bus spotting we walked through the underpass that is covered in a very pretty mosaic, and out past the Tudor style cinema that my husband has probably had many a date in that I really don’t need to know about!!

  
 

Our final port of call was the park for a run around the playground and an ice cream in the sun.

   
     

A lovely afternoon of reminiscing and story telling.  I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday.