Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sugar Wars and 10 reasons to be thankful today

sunset in gran canaria

I don't know about you dear reader but it seems that the times we feel the lowest in our lives are the times we stop and remind ourselves to be thankful for the things we do have, it's so easy to fall into a sad slump when life isn't at it's optimum peak and then the more sad you become the more things in general seem to get you down.

I think I'm just as guilty of this as the next person, certainly some days are more of a struggle than others and you know what the worst part is?  Since I gave up sugar if I even dare to have a little I end up with the worst sugar hangovers, eating cake or drinking wine has now become like a bi-polar curve, it's actually scary just how similar they are although in a more microcosmic way.  I get very animated, have lots of energy, feel high as a kite and then when the sugar wears off it leaves me feeling so low and it even makes me cry. I'm not entirely sure how I am to cope with this in the future, I can completely cut out the puddings, I really will only miss that on a rare occasion just like when I've recently had the pudding on a rare occasion but I do like a night out on a very rare occasion and I like a glass of wine once a month but the swing of the sugar and no sugar has just wrecked the last couple of days of my life.

It's no wonder isn't it that children have sugar meltdowns after parties, Christmas, Easter, Birthdays...

I'm actually not sure what the answer is and I don't want to become some anti-sugar stalwart, I mean when I gave up smoking I didn't go around shouting "It's evil" at anyone choosing to still partake, it's not really the kind of person I am and I wouldn't ever criticise peoples personal choices, heaven forbid.  I do know that I've lost more than a stone of weight since my birthday...just saying!

Anyway, lets get back to my point of today, I think for myself as much as anyone else that I need to write a list of the things I am thankful for.

  1. Easter holidays, there are only 3 more school days left and then 2 weeks of no alarm or stupid getty ups.
  2. A sleepy Beagle who doesn't like early mornings.
  3. children who say hilarious things like Abigail yesterday "mum you know you would be much better off being fat and happy than thin and miserable and then you could have cake" Thanks Abigail, I'll bear it in mind.
  4. 13-17th April, holidays in a caravan in Berwick with my girls, I'm literally counting the minutes.
  5. Spring, more light in the day makes me happy and the rebirth of flowers always makes me smile.
  6. Baby animals, it's that time for chicks and bunnies and lambs, guaranteed to make my heart happy.
  7. My business will officially celebrate it's 8th birthday in June, 8 years of the freedom to do the things I love so much.
  8. The fact that I am 4 dress sizes smaller than I was in April 2013, proud of my achievements.
  9. I have the best friends who are all amazing and some of them I've never even met....yet!
  10. My creative mind, you can always guarantee if I'm not currently thinking of a new project there'll be something just around the corner.
and so if you're not feeling as happy as you could be today, why not take a few minutes to write a list of the things you are currently thankful for, even writing this list made me feel so much better!


Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter weekend family and kids photo shoots in North East England

It's the start of a brand new week dear reader and there are only 4 days of alarm calls this week, can we all just say a big hurrah for that right now, Holly the beagle stayed in bed this morning, thinking better of alarm going off an hour early in her opinion. I think the clocks going forward an hour was badly timed for the last 4 days of term time.  In saying that, you might be one of those lucky people who's already broken up for the Easter holidays, well I hope you're enjoying your leisurely coffee and toast while you're reading this.

So for the next week starting today we'll be giving out free chocolate eggs to all of the attending kids at photo shoots and there's still time to book for a photo shoot this weekend.

Here's our availability - 

Good Friday - Stacey is available all over the NE as we have nothing in our diary so if you would like an hours photo shoot get in touch or if you would like a 30 minute session at Jesmond Dene, Saltwell Park, Tynemouth Longsands or Heaton Park get in touch and book one

On Easter Saturday I will be down in Jesmond Dene and I have some availability from noon onwards but could also skip along to Heaton Park if you would prefer?

On Easter Monday Stacey will be down at Tynemouth Longsands and she has availability from noon onwards or if you would like an early one she has a half hour slot at 10am, get in touch to book one

30 minute sessions are only £25 and include a web gallery for 30 days, 15% off for the first week your gallery is live and a complimentary 7x5 print.  60 minute sessions are £40 and come with a complimentary 12x8 print.

I'm also available on Wednesday this week, and all of next week and then I am back at Jesmond Dene on Saturday 11th April.

So, if you see a session you would like you can book via email, Facebook or my website


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Where we are right now, a progress in the life of me update

I don't know about you but I started 2015 with a heavy sigh, sad that 2014 hadn't been my favourite year in life but in the back of my mind I had a feeling of great expectation that 2015 would prove to be a much more smiley year.

It really has been so far, I've had some gorgeous family moments, some happy times at work and some adventures thrown in for good measure.

I think now I get out of bed with a spring in my step and a little woofy face at my feet, having a puppy who loves cuddles on the other side of the bed is way better than a cold empty flat space next to you.  My daily wake up now involves a beagle head or toes usually right next to my cheek and I'm lucky that Holly isn't a massive fan of mornings like me (totally perfect match we are) but once she's up and about she's dragging me off to the park for a few miles of wandering, walking and sometimes me chasing her trying to get her to come back after encounters with spaniels, she really does have a spaniel fixation!

This year I have given up sugar (barring a couple of nights out but you can't be a saint all of the time) and I'm a dress size smaller and a stone lighter than I was on my birthday (1st Feb).  I've also managed to make my business pretty autonomous and get Sundays off thanks to the ace photography skills of my associate Stacey.

I've explored places near and far and all mostly because of Holly, well you have to walk interesting places when you're doing 12,000-15,000 steps a day!  Oh yeah, I should mention the steps, I went from walking 8,000 steps a day to nearly double that and have lost inches, I wish I'd measured how many!

All in all we've come to nearly April and I'm happy and pretty content with my lot in life, there's more to be done of course, there always is, I want to lose somewhere in the region of another stone though my target is only 8lb away and I want to continue to become fitter and healthier.

I want to continue to build my already successful business into something entirely awesome, I have a great team in the shape of Stacey and Sue who does the admin and I'm pretty sure we can conquer the North East (in a photography sense) by the end of this year.

I'm going on holiday in 15 days, more walking and stomping and rambling and ambling, all through the Northumbrian countryside, I can't wait!

So here we are, Holly will be 10 months old this week, that's 5 months she'll have been with me, it's unbelievable to think it's been so long and at the same time it feels like she's been a family member forever, she keeps me on my toes on a daily basis but together we have the best adventures and I'm so thankful she came into my family.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I photographed a kids session on an iPhone 6... with a selfie stick!

It's a bit of a bonkers world isn't it dear reader and I may have been accused of being a slightly eccentric member of this population we have called humanity but that's ok, nothing wrong with being different!!

I guess I'd always been intrigued by the differences in cameras and there's been vast improvements in the quality of the images the humble iPhone is capable of putting out.

I was so flattered at the number of people who offered to entrust their children to have a portrait session with an iPhone and in the end I couldn't thank Samantha of North East Family Fun enough for letting me borrow her children.

The first and most noticeable difference and you might be able to see it on this photo above is the lack of depth of field, the iPhone 6 camera boasts an f2.2 lens but in reality if you were shooting with the same aperture lens on a professional camera you would notice depth of field straight away and without question.

To demonstrate, this below photo was shot with the Fuji X-Pro1 and the 35mm f1.4 lens at around f1.8

For the most part though the average parent probably won't care about that, they just want a pocket camera to capture the moments of their childrens lives and I'm very much the same, I always have my phone with me and I'm always snapping Instagrams through my day.

I'm going to compile some tips and tricks for parents over the next few days so you can make the most of your pocket camera or phone and I think we may even get together for an hour in the park, if you would be interested in a quick course of how to get more from your camera do let me know and we can get that set up.

I'm going to cover this more in future blog posts but I do love the selfie stick, not for selfies though, I just love it for being able to take the camera on your phone places where it previously couldn't go and places where it's significantly more difficult to get your professional camera (without extra equipment).

again, these 2 portraits I love albeit without the kind of depth of field I love but I'd print them, I'd have them on my walls or in a photo book.

Now then, something else I need to mention is the burst mode on the iPhone 6 camera, to take 10 frames per second with no real buffer is quite astonishing and the results are pretty good, well they are sometimes, again it's not going to equal what you can do with a professional camera but I love the movement in this one, it's one of those moments of childhood and this little one really was jumping up and down very quickly.  If I'd just captured this of my child when we were just out playing I would be delighted.

Again, all of these shots were iPhone in burst mode and I would be a happy parent to have captured these precious moments of childhood and you know, that is what it's about, I think as a photographer and a mum that you should have a portrait session every year, take the kids to places they love and have natural photos but as a parent you should be capturing those moments every day, not portraits, not smiley looking at the camera photos but the actual moments of their lives just doing things.

and so onto my beloved Xpro 1 and yes you can see the difference and I certainly don't intend to throw away my professional cameras...

The Xpro1 is capable of 6 frames a second and honestly that's quite enough for me and the average 3 year old, I also love the colours that my camera gives me, it's a beautiful wonderful thing I don't appreciate enough.

For the most part as a parent though I'll be so happy to carry around an iPhone 6 in my pocket for any moments that come up and I'll print them and I'll put them in frames mixed in with professional photographs, they all make up the rich canvas of life after all.

One thing I would say is that I hate editing photos on an iPhone, it's the screen which makes everything look better on an iPhone and then you see the images on a calibrated Mac and it's just yeuch.  I edited all of these images using Lightroom and Photoshop and I don't intend to stop that any time soon though I would say that the VSCO Cam app for iPhone/iPad is pretty good and I've also heard great things about Snapseed although I wasn't a huge fan, they tend to be the apps recommended by professional photographers though.

So go out there today into the spring sunshine and capture the moments of your childrens lives, it doesn't matter what kind of camera you have, just capture those precious moments because I can tell you as the mum of a pre-teen and 2 stroppy teens, they pass within the blink of an eye.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Did someone mention winning a photo shoot worth £320?

So here's where we are - 

It's Easter very very soon and so our shooting schedule is 

Friday 3rd April - Saltwell Park
Saturday 4th April - Jesmond Dene
Monday 6th April - Tynemouth Longsands

On all 3 days we're available from 10-2 and some appointments are already filled so do check if the one you want is available.  To book any of the sessions you can either email, visit my website or facebook page

It's £25 for a photo shoot for 30 mins for an average sized family or if you need longer or a large family portrait it's £40 for 60 mins, both come with a complimentary print, web gallery for 30 days and 15% off for the first 7 days your gallery is live.


If you book a photo shoot over the weekend 1 family are going to win their next photo shoot completely free, come back any time from 6 months to a year  for your next photo shoot and you'll not only get the cost of the 30 min session covered but also all of the images on a disk which is collectively worth £320.  

and that's not all, if you want to know about the free chocolate, well you'll just have to sign up to this weeks newsletter to find out because it's a subscriber only offer, now you wouldn't want to deprive your children of chocolate eggs at Easter would you?

Final news of the day, thanks so much to everyone who elected to enter their children for the iPhone photo shoot (you barking mad people you) I've now chosen the wonderful and lovely Samantha from North East Family Fun and I'm meeting up with her and her lovely children tonight in Heaton Park for our experiment, I cannot wait to share those photos with you, at this stage I don't think the iPhone is going to perform very well but we'll see!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

It's not about things, it's definitely not about things....

Come on, repeat it with me, it's about experiences, it's not about things...

Well except that I've had one of those rare moments where it actually was about a thing, you see it's been 2 years of love I've had with my iPhone 5 but our time had come and much as I loved it I upgraded - 

I know, I sound like a materialist or a capitalist but honestly I think apart from cameras my phone is the centre of my business with this one thing I can run my business from anywhere in the world.  One of the things is that the camera on my iPhone boasts a camera with a 10fps burst, that's incredible, I tried it today and took 28 photos quicker than I blinked!  Now just to compare this, my wonderful Fuji XPro1 shoots at 6fps and that is plenty for the average 3 year old who's running around wildly and no I'm not likely to start shooting portrait sessions on an iPhone but hell yeah I'm going to try it just to compare how it is.

For me there's always been something slightly disingenuous about the Instagrams that I post, i.e. it feels a bit wrong to upload professional photographs to Instagram because it clearly misses the point of it being in the moment and from the hip which I think is what an Instagram is all about but at the same time the average camera phone is not going to please the eye of the average professional photographer so I'd like to give this a go in some good light with a small person and shoot half an half and give them a proper comparison.

If you have got this far then well done, you'll be rewarded soon I promise... here goes, If you have a little one possibly about 4 or 5 and you would like a completely complimentary photo shoot with the understanding that half of it is going to be shot on my regular professional camera that I've used on every session since last March and the other half is going to be shot on an iPhone 6 then leave a comment on this blog post and we'll fix it up, if more than 1 person comments I'll do a draw.  You'll get all of the edited images and I'll edit them both in the same way as I normally do!

Please note that you have to be available in the evening as that's when the best light of the day is, think an hour before sunset sometime over the next week and if that's not a clash with bedtime then I'd love to hear from you.

I can't actually believe I am doing this but hey, it'll be an interesting experiment for sure!


Friday, March 20, 2015

5 Places to go and things to do on a dog friendly holiday to Berwick-upon-Tweed

I've been thinking dear reader, dangerous I know but it's only a few weeks until the girls and I go for our 4 night holiday to the Berwick Holiday Park, I'm excited about this because it's the first holiday with Holly the Beagle, this of course means that as I'm the only parent and someone has to stay with Holly at all times that we wont be doing any of the usual holiday park type shenanigans as Holly isn't allowed in any of the indoor areas, it's probably just as well that I intend to do all of the cooking, to be fair, I think it might be a tricky place to do sugar free if I didn't.

So I've been scouting around the internet for some dog friendly activities/pubs/coffee houses, I have a Pinterest board of dog friendly I save things to so if you're looking for somewhere dog friendly in the North of England do go and check it out.

Here's the places I've found so far that I fancy checking out - 

The Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks and Main Guard is owned by English Heritage and pretty much they're mostly dog friendly, it's interesting, historical, the kids will probably complain but you can't have a holiday without a little heritage in my opinion.

The Berwick Castle and Ramparts  are also dog friendly and owned by English Heritage, I'll probably plan to do both in the same day but we'll see how long it takes to persuade the girls to come with me.

The Audela restaurant looks amazing and checking on trip advisor offers good reviews and confirmation that it is dog friendly, something which the website doesn't say, it looks like they do some really great British classics and a lot of the food looks healthy and sugar free so I don't think it's going to take much to persuade the girls or Holly to check it out.

The Queens Head hotel also seems to be dog friendly going by reviews on tripadvisor, I just wish that their website would confirm.  I do think I will be checking it out as it looks like a really lovely place to go for coffee with the girls

One thing I have just done is purchased a murder mystery treasure trail around Berwick from Treasure Trails Northumbria now that's an interesting dog friendly and family friendly activity which will hopefully pique Abigail and Loobys interest and it should hopefully fill in a couple of hours, you can get a pdf version but I chose to get the postal version because I love real life things you can hold in your hand.

So that's the first 5 places/things sorted out and if you have been on a dog friendly holiday in Berwick-upon-Tweed please do suggest some places I should go with Holly, I of course can't wait to be down on the huge expanse of sandy beach which lies down some steep steps from where our Caravan is situated.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On finally finding balance and Easter Holiday plans and photo shoots,

Thanks to F H Hardy Florists in Morpeth for some beautiful Ranunculus I've been playing around with this week

I don't know about you dear reader but I've had one of those weeks where I've actually stopped myself from procrastinating and actually worked through the to-do list to the point where it's to-done!

I'm actually at a point for about the first time in 10 years where I can see the future and where I think I might actually have some balance in my life and it's only taken me, an associate, an assistant, a cleaner, an accountant and a gardener to get me to the point where I can see the middle of the washing pile and in business where I'm not obsessing about being only a few weeks behind.

It's an amazing thing when you realise just how many things you undertake not only as a business woman but as a mum, all of those roles you undertake without question and there's a stark realisation that if you categorised them all you should be on a much better hourly rate!

I think one of the most important things I've learnt in business is that you can't do everything yourself and some of the most successful business people I know have the skill of delegation.  

I'm finally at a place where I can plan and strategise about my personal future and the future of my business, I'm really not sure what conclusions I'm going to reach but it's lovely to have a bit of space and time to ponder these things.

I do believe that last night I should have had the best nights sleep, I still didn't but that was mainly down to the realisation that I'd forgotten to take all of my daily meds at 2am!

So here we are on the dawn of a new horizon and the verge of the Easter holidays, now you may be wanting to have a photo shoot over the Easter holidays and we have the following remaining availability - 

Good Friday - Saltwell Park - 10, 10.30, 11, 11.30, 12.30, 1, 1.30 and 2pm
Easter Saturday - Jesmond Dene 11, 1pm, 1.30, 2pm
Easter Monday  - Tynemouth Longsands - 10, 10.30, 1, 1.30 and 2pm

Half hours are £25 and if you have a larger family 60 minute sessions are only £40 and they all come with a complimentary print, web gallery and 15% off for the first 7 days your gallery is live.

The Saturday sessions are with me, the Friday and Monday are with Stacey.

I'll also be available from the Tuesday to the Friday and then Saturday 11th April, Stacey will be available on Sunday 12th and then I'm away from 13-17th April, we've a wedding on the 18th and on the 19th Stacey will be available in Saltwell Park with availability from 11.30 onwards.

It's a brilliant time for photo shoots as by Saturday it will be spring and I for one am delighted about that!

This weekend I'll be on the beach at Tynemouth and I can fit in people at noon or if you fancy Jesmond Dene then Stacey has 1 session remaining at 10.30am in Jesmond Dene.

If you would like to book any of the sessions or you want to get in touch about anything else just drop me a quick email and I'll look forward to chatting with you.

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