Mandy Charlton - Photographer,Writer,Blogger

Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places, Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger, Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Friday, June 23, 2017

10 Travel Experiences To Get Excited About

Top 10 travel experiences I'm looking forward to, mandy Charlton, travel blogger, writer, photographer, European travel, cruising

This week, it's been a strange one but overwhelmingly I've tried to focus on the exciting things I have coming up in my life so, currently - 

*3 days until I fly to Madrid
*4 weeks and 4 days until I fly to Nice
*393 days until I depart on a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords

I very much booked all of them on a whim, Madrid because I love Spain and had already been to Barcelona, Nice because Abigail wanted to go there and speak French, and Norway, well that really was on a whim, again Abigail said book it and so I did.

I think I'm probably most excited about the Norwegian Fjords because I know very little about Norway, when we go there'll be 17 hours of daylight every day (thank goodness for an interior cabin), the temps will probably be in the mid to high teens and, yeah, I'm going to have to take a waterproof, Norway didn't get so green and verdant without all of that rain it gets!

I think it's probable for me, as someone who has bipolar to get through the bad days, the sad days, the up and down crap days by focusing on the promise of travel, I love my job and the work that I do and I know I have trips just around the corner, this year I've averaged 1 trip a month and I hope that will continue.  Hopefully by Christmas I'll have the cruise paid for and the best part about cruising is that you don't need a lot of spending money because literally everything is paid for on board, my last cruise with NCL, I think I only spent a couple of hundred pounds for the whole of the trip and that was only because I was bringing home Christmas gifts!

So, whilst I'm focusing on the good stuff, here's my current 10 ten travel experiences I'm looking forward to

  • Getting the train from Nice to Ventimiglia, we're crossing the border to Italy just for lunch one day upon the recommendation of my lovely friend PJ!
  • Going swimming in the pool at the Parc Del Campo in Madrid, it's where the locals go to cool down on those hot summer days, the park is also home to an amusement park and a zoo, it's a big old park!!
  • Going on a cruise through the Fjords as the sun is setting, the whole trip is pretty much a photographers dream and getting to share that with Abigail is going to make it even more special
  • visiting the Oceanographic museum in Monaco, okay so I'm a hug fan of aquariums, you probably already know that if you are a regular reader, this one really does look quite special though.
  • introducing my daughter to my Cotes d'Azur, the place I fell in love with a couple of years, I want to share Cannes with Abigail so it's a special place for both of us.
  • Finding out more about the Norwegian culture, I know very little of Norway, only that it's somewhere I hadn't considered visiting until Abigail mentioned it.
  • Getting on the fast train to visit Toledo from Madrid, a unesco world heritage site, the whole city is steeped in history and I can't wait to explore it.
  • Setting sail on a cruise ship from Southampton, waving goodbye with flags as we leave the port just like on Titanic except with significantly less promise of death.
  • Finally visiting Villefranche-Sur-Mer just like Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant in "An Affair to Remember"
  • Watching the sunset over the Cote d'Azur, it really is such an amazing place for sunsets, I've never experienced a sunset like the one I saw when I was on the Norwegian Epic departing Cannes
So it really is going to be an exciting year and that's not even the half of it, none of those travel experiences are with Looby and I hope that I'm going to get to take a couple of trips with her too, she's rather more freeform than Abigail so last minute things always seem to happen when Looby and I plan to go away and of course, we are planning a year of big adventures but more about that in September.

I hope you'll stick around and enjoy the images and articles I share, whilst I'm only ever three steps away from complete insanity, I remind myself often that I'm only ever 2 steps away from my next travel adventure.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I'm going to have it all and here's why!

Laws of attraction, dream, believe, achieve, mandy Charlton, photographer, writer, blogger,

So after some time floundering around in the chasm that is my own mental health I've picked myself up, brushed myself off and I'm raring to go again with a whole new energy, sometimes I think we need these small dips to examine our own inner self, a period of introspection to really calm the mind and figure out a strategy of what we're going to do to make it to the next level.

Here's the thing, I love what I do, and I want to keep doing it for as long as I possibly can but I know to do that I need to find the following - 

*More paid blog work and writing gigs
*More clients for Mandy Charlton Photography

This is especially true through the summer as I have plans, big plans, I know that there's an abundance and it's on it's way to me, I believe so much in the laws of attraction, just take this example, last week Abigail and I were passing the travel agents when she remarked, we never did book that cruise I replied that since the 2018 summer dates had been released I didn't have the spare cash available to put down large deposits!

Today, I got a message that you could book any cruise through Princess Cruises before the end of today for just £1 per person, so what did we do, we booked for next July to go to the Norwegian Fjords and I cannot wait.

Now you may believe that this is coincidental and certainly Jung would have us believe that it's sinchronisity but let's ignore him for a moment and instead let's go with Einstein who believed very heavily in the laws of attraction, it's all about the concept of Dream, Believe, Achieve and I really do, I sit every morning saying my affirmations and this stuff really works, I'm foolish though because I get into a routine and then all of a sudden I stop believing, I get anxious or worried and that leads to negative thoughts and instead of thinking of an abundance I worry about there being times of great scarcity and then that leads to more thoughts of less and, well it's self fulfilling.  Well can I just say this now, no more, I've seen the proof and I've been using the Laws of Attraction since 2008, remember in 2007 I set up a business just to prove to others that I wasn't "mental" and my business is 10 years old tomorrow and it's successful, I'm successful, I'm good at what I do and I don't think anyone can do things the way that I do them, the same could be said of you of course, yes you, right there, reading this, we're all unique and we all possess talents that no one else has, you too need to dream, believe and achieve.

On my noticeboard above my desk I've written a cheque to myself from the universe as well as my abundance list, things which I have ordered from the universe which will be arriving imminently, I figure if I put these 2 things right in front of me then I'll see them every time I sit at my desk, which, is quite often!!

So, although you may think that this crazy lady has truly lost the plot just watch this space and I'll report back on my progress by the end of July, I know what I'm going to achieve and I can't wait to tell you about it when I've manifested it!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Overwhelm, being surrounded by beautiful people at a time where I can't help myself, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Blogger, Writer, mental health, work, life business, the secret

So, on Sunday I finally caught up to date with all of my outstanding blog posts for brands I've been working with, it's been ages since I've been in this position and I can't begin to tell you what a relief that is.  Just after I'd written my last article I became the most anxious I've been since I had a breakdown in January/February, the feeling of overwhelm and the knot that gathers in your solar plexus felt so hard I thought I would explode, as I sat at my desk and cried I posted to my Facebook friends what was going on, it's rare I reach out or get dramatic on Facebook but for once I just needed to let go and right in that moment, Facebook was the quickest, safest option.  And you know what?  Something wonderful happened?

My Facebook friends are a pretty amazing bunch, all open minded, accepting, caring, lovely people, it takes years to curate a collection of like minded people, we may not all share the same political affiliations but when it comes to purely caring, we're there, a great hive mind, a supportive coalition of the best kind of people.

To be honest, work, life, single parenting, perpetually juggling a million balls and trying to catch each one so it doesn't shatter is hard, and that's without throwing any kind of mental health situation into the picture!

Whilst I can't sort everything out, I have at least spoken to a couple of people who are going to help me with the marketing side of my business, Facebook you see, well they're my personal nemesis, just when I think I have my advertising sorted out with them, they change the goal posts, my successful strategy suddenly stopped working for no apparent reason but you know what?  It's time to get back on track.

I've run a pretty successful business for the last 10 years and I still intend to run one in 10 years from now, my quest to be a weekday digital nomad still stands, I want to travel the world nourishing my soul whilst still running a business which provides for my family and I, I will always photograph kids and their families because my first love is Mandy Charlton Photography and I will always write because I have to, I'm compelled to sit and let the words pour from my inner thoughts, whether of course people want to read that, well that's another thing entirely but I remember the first days of my blog over 11 and a half years ago I didn't care that only 4 or 5 people read my blog, it's quite by accident that over 30,000 ever read my blog in it's most active, salacious and juicy period last year, it's dropped a lot since then but I can still manage 20k on a good month and I guess you, the readers who've stayed with me are the ones who care about my story, not just the juicy dating parts, either that or it's just a random collection of people who accidentally end up here and stay for a while reading the crazy animal lady's scrambled thoughts.

Yesterday I decided was a brand new day, filled with thoughts of positivity, as I sat at my desk knowing that I'd said my affirmations to the universe before I'd even checked one email I decided that it was going to be a truly great Monday, and you know what?  It really was, I achieved so much, I relaxed a lot and gave big sighs of relief knowing that I've got this and everything is going to be okay because I have a team on my side, good people thinking positive thoughts always and I'll do the same for them in their times of need, in fact you know what, I already do, as the affirmation goes "I wish good fortune and happiness for everyone I meet". "I'm ready for my abundance, it really is my time"

Sunday, June 18, 2017

We need to talk about Scotland!

Not so very long ago, Looby, Harriet and I went on holiday to Sundrum Castle near Ayr in Scotland, the way I survive the busyness of my business is by having travel experiences to look forward to, it's the thing that very much keeps me going.  So, half term Monday in heavy rain off we all went, Holly Bobbins too of course looking forward to her very own dog friendly holiday.  I was armed with my Fuji XT1, the 35mm f1.4 lens and the 28mm f2.0, I was also armed with a brand new blue leather camera bag from Mapp of London and also a Samsung S8+ from Three complete with tons of data, essential for staying in a wifi-less caravan in the middle of nowhere but I'll get to the phone in a moment.

Now I should say that depending on which camera's and lenses you are using you can comfortably get 2 cameras in the bag, I have a padded insert in mine which I also find super useful for putting in the bottom of my Osprey bag for when I'm working, the Mapp bag is actually big enough to take along to weddings, mostly because I'm lucky enough to have Stacey who carries the bulk of my equipment so I can just keep batteries, memory cards and spare lenses in this one.  It's a beautiful, well made bag and Emma who runs the company is so devoted to making the best products possible,  a photographer herself she knows that there's a line between functional and pretty and that as a woman although you want something stylish, you essentially want something that actually does the job!

So, back to Scotland, a bargain break in a luxury dog friendly caravan courtesy of Hoseasons and I have to say after staying in both a basic caravan at the Berwick holiday park through Haven and this luxury one, I wouldn't go back to the basic one without the central heating, the lovely van we stayed in was just so spacious but even then, we said if Abigail had come to it would have felt crowded.  The thing is though, we didn't really spend a lot of time in our caravan, it was a place to sleep, and a place to cook breakfast in the mornings and the rest of the time for 4 glorious days we travelled and explored, from the South West of Scotland to the banks of Loch Lomond, there's nothing better in the world than being able to enjoy a holiday with your best friend, your daughter and your dog!!

Oh and before we get to the main part with all of the glorious images, well there's something I need to admit to - 

I'm an Apple fan girl, I have been since 2008 when after purchasing a iPod, I later went out and bought my first iPhone and my first MacBook.  I have at times been tempted in the Samsung way so when Three offered to loan me an S8+ for a month I said I would give it a go and let me tell you, it's a shiny, shiny phone, it looks good, it feels great but I love my Apple products and I just found it too different in lots of weird ways so I gave up soon after trying it out, what I did love though was the Three coverage, one day on the banks of Loch Lomond, in a sleepy village called Balmaha we sat at the Oak Tree Inn having lunch and me trying to catch up on business, checking emails etc, my usual carrier O2 couldn't connect to anything, Harriet's Vodafone also had no signal but Three, wow, we actually got 4G in the Highlands, surrounded by mountains it took me by surprise and I'm so thankful for that.  Three actually do a Sim which gets you unlimited data, 500 minutes of calls and 3000 texts for just £25 and I'm not sure how they provide service in the mountainous regions of Scotland but I shall be sending for my free sim and using it the next time I go to the Highlands!  Well done Three!

So back to the part you really all came for, my glorious break, mostly rainy apart from our day spent travelling around Loch Lomond but we didn't care, in fact we didn't give a fig because we were warriors, we were the best of friends and nothing could dampen our spirits not even the pouring rain, oh and if you're wondering, the bag coped admirably with the rain but then wanting to save the beautiful leather I swapped to my hiking Osprey bag as that was what we did for some of the holiday at least, we climbed over hills and vales and admired the views as we got to the top whilst Harriet and Looby cursed me for wanting to climb yet another mountain path, I can't help it, no matter where I go, I always want to find the highest accessible point because everything looks more splendid when you are up high!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Biggest 10th Birthday Competition/Offer Ever!!

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography, 10th birthday competition and offer, newcastle upon tyne

My business, Mandy Charlton Photography, will be 10 years old on the 22nd of June and I'm still a little in shock to have made it to this point, a business I started on a whim just to prove people that I wasn't a write off not only succeeded but has prospered and grown and I hope that I'm sitting here in another 10 years still loving what I do as much as I do today.

Now it wouldn't be a birthday without some kind of celebration, feel free of course to send cards and presents to the usual address (hehe, I'm kidding of course). No, in this instance it's me who's giving away some unbeatable offers just for the next week.

To celebrate 10 years in business on June 22nd I have a huge offer and competition.
*Until 22nd June you can purchase a voucher for a standard session (with online gallery for 30 days and 15% off for the first week your gallery is live) and I'm even including a complimentary 12x8 print (upon placing an order) worth £18, total combined price £93 for only £35, valid until June 2018
simply purchase  this link and I'll email a voucher back

*One family will have their session upgraded to an all inclusive session worth £250
*purchase any session including a standard session or an all inclusive mini session before the end of June and 1 family will have their session fee refunded
*Finally, like my FB and the post  this comment is linked to and comment "Happy 10th Birthday Mandy Charlton Photography" and one person will win a voucher as above
I have a full list of availability at here if you want to book a standard session just find space for 2 mini sessions
Sharing on Facebook isn't required but a little love is always appreciated!

Newcastle Photographer, Mandy Charlton, portrait photography, 10th birthday competition and offer, newcastle upon tyne

So there you have it, an easy way to win a session and also to save yourself some money in the offing, mini sessions, of course, offer the greatest value with a 30-minute session on location and all of the images via a digital download, some families have gone away with over 30 images and the session is £100, I'll let you do the math on how much per digital image that is, you know, I sell single digital images for £50 in my gallery and I think they're each worth that when you think just how large you can print them and how many family members can print them.

The standard sessions, of course, are brilliant for people who love their prints so if you're already getting the first 12x8 included, it seems a great offer to me!

Whichever offer you choose or even if you just enter the competition to win a session I hope that you will raise a glass with me and celebrate 10 epic years of business!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Let's hear it for the dad's

Mandy Charlton Photography, mini sessions in saltwell park, let's hear it for the dads

It may have escaped your attention but it's Fathers Day on Sunday and if you still haven't found the perfect gift well let me be the one to help.  I find that men are the hardest people to buy for, most dads, well you ask them what they want and they say either very little or just tell you not to buy anything for them.
Last minute fathers day gifts, hallmark,, lonely planet, mandy charlton photography, photographer, blogger writer, let's hear it for the dads

Let me start by mentioning the lovely people at Hallmark who pretty much furnished my children, my friends and their friends with Fathers Day cards, they sent a truly splendid selection as well of their very cute Superhero Itty Bitty's which are now furnishing my desk, it's pretty well known that I love Superman but The Flash is my favourite because he's the only Superhero faster than Superman and he can phase and he can travel in time!!  That's my chosen superpower if ever I get the choice!! 

Last minute fathers day gifts, hallmark,, lonely planet, mandy charlton photography, photographer, blogger writer, let's hear it for the dads

Other than Superheroes something that a lot of men like (if the dating profiles I read are anything to go by ;) ) is travel and what popped up in my email box this morning?  Yes the lovely folks at Lonely Planet are having a 45% off sale until Sunday, I've already spent way too much (I have about 20 and another 4 on the way) I reckon there's lots of dad pleasers in there and I think it's something he wouldn't necessarily expect to receive so do go check out the Lonely Planet 45% off Sale
Last minute fathers day gifts, hallmark,, lonely planet, mandy charlton photography, photographer, blogger writer, let's hear it for the dads

Now I wouldn't a photographer if I didn't suggest that maybe, just maybe, you could purchase a gift certificate for fathers day, hey, it's the gift that keeps on giving and you get to be in the photos too, and you know you should always buy gifts you'd love to receive yourself so if you want to make everyone happy, why not buy an all inclusive mini session voucher for just £100  and then bag yourself some gorgeous photos with the people you love.

Last minute fathers day gifts, hallmark,, lonely planet, mandy charlton photography, photographer, blogger writer, let's hear it for the dads

Now I've had a skirt around the internet and come back to my old friend and they have all kinds of experiences and breaks you could purchase for the man of the moment, sounds like a plan to me, why not go the whole hog and book yourself a sunshiny mini break to somewhere exotic or, well you know, Scotland is lovely at this time of year!!

Last minute fathers day gifts, hallmark,, lonely planet, mandy charlton photography, photographer, blogger writer, let's hear it for the dads

Last minute fathers day gifts, hallmark,, lonely planet, mandy charlton photography, photographer, blogger writer, let's hear it for the dads

Hopefully, my little last minute gift guide has helped you to come up with some interesting and unusual ideas to keep the dads in your life happy.  You know, dads are amazing, Abigail and Looby's dad is brilliant, he single-handedly has Abigail living with him 24-7 (barring the times she's at my house) and it can't be easy being a man parenting a teenage girl, I have total respect for him for that, we all make compromises for our kids and I have no doubt in my mind that he's doing a brilliant job, Abigail is a shining example of that so even though we're no longer together I truly want to say, let's hear it for the dads, the single ones, the married ones, the one's who co-parent, the ones who don't get to see their children enough, we make such a massive fuss of Mother's Day and yet Father's Day always seems a much more muted affair, it could, of course, be that we don't celebrate it in my house but I think dad's, on the whole, are just as brilliant as mum's and so they deserve their own special day in the sun being pampered and showered with recognition for the great jobs they do.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Fear of Not Being Good Enough

Why I'm not shooting big weddings anymore, the fear of not being good enough, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, wedding photographer, Newcastle upon Tyne

I could have also entitled this "Why I'm not taking on any more long weddings" you see, I have a huge problem which has troubled me for years, pre-wedding anxiety gives me nightmares, I worry so much about weddings for weeks before them and yet when I arrive my anxiety subsides and I have the most wonderful times with my clients, their friends and family, and then I get home and the anxiety starts again, have I done a good enough job, did I shoot enough, did I shoot too much and that's before I've even edited them.  Once I release the galleries I am a nervous wreck worrying that I'm not good enough and everyone will hate my beautiful interpretation of their special day, I have the same anxiety when I realise portrait galleries but it's not overwhelming.  It's why I almost gave up weddings completely in 2011/2012, in fact, I'd got down to my last 2 weddings and I think they were shorter ones and I realised how much I loved shooting them.  Magical things happen at weddings, you cannot shoot a wedding without feeling so much love and joy in your heart that it gives you hope about true love and soulmates over and over and over again.

I've realised now though that I can't go on like this, part of my self-care is to minimise anxiety and I don't get the same fears when I'm shooting 2-4 hours, I realise the same pressure is there but for some (and maybe unknown) reason, it just doesn't effect me in the same way.
Why I'm not shooting big weddings anymore, the fear of not being good enough, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, wedding photographer, Newcastle upon Tyne

I think it's possibly not fair to take any anxiety into a relationship with clients and it's certainly not fair to do it to myself.  One of the reasons I nearly stopped was because I thought that if ever anyone hated my work it would actually end me and I mean that seriously.  Of course, I'm so much stronger and better now than I've ever been but I still have those feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope, more with the fear of rejection than actual rejection, I suppose it's the same way I feel about my personal life.  I live with the constant fear of rejection, it's something I actively try and work on and with regards to photography at least, I never really have to look too far to see other work out there that other people get seriously overenthusiastic about and I think "blimey, my work is so much better than that".
Why I'm not shooting big weddings anymore, the fear of not being good enough, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, wedding photographer, Newcastle upon Tyne

When I won "Inspirational Woman in Photography 2017" I wanted to truly use the award to continue to be honest, to be frank and to inspire others so I have 1 more full all day wedding this year and I am so looking forward to it because it's completely untraditional and that works, I also still have a few shorter ones and they will all be fabulous because I kind of love sweeping in and capturing the most important parts, some swishy fabulous portraits as only I can and then quietly sweeping out again. 
Why I'm not shooting big weddings anymore, the fear of not being good enough, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, wedding photographer, Newcastle upon Tyne

So here and now, for the future of my business I want to continue to shoot 2-4 hours of wedding coverage, I'd actually like to shoot a little more of it all year around but I won't be taking any 8, 10 or 12 hour bookings because there's someone out there who will do the same great job who isn't having anxiety nightmares before and after.
Why I'm not shooting big weddings anymore, the fear of not being good enough, mandy charlton, photographer, writer, blogger, wedding photographer, Newcastle upon Tyne

I put 110% into each wedding I shoot, the portraits I shoot are technically demanding, everything is shot manually including the off-camera flash and I'm constantly doing sums about how much zoom of the flash, how many tenths of a second, shutter speeds, iso's, it's no wonder I'm exhausted afterwards, I hope no one ever doubts how much I love their weddings or how much I always give the very best I can, I've just about made it into my 11th year of wedding photography and I'd like to still be shooting some in another 10 years and hopefully my plan to only shoot smaller wedding packages will work, it's why I'm putting it out there into the universe I guess because I love what I do and I want to keep on doing it for as long as I can.
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