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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Project - 1 year on, what happens now?

You know I was talking yesterday about our digital legacy and Timehop ect, well just lately my Timehop has been filled with the images and adventures I had when I embarked on the project a year ago and every day I dread opening the app as I suppose I had kind of shut it out, I've spoken about it privately with various friends and I have blogged about it in amongst other subjects but as the one year anniversary approaches with the project stagnant at city number 24 I thought it was time to publicly state where I am with this all.  This week marks 9 months since my husband walked out of our marriage as we knew it and a month later Abigail went to live with him, I don't really talk much about it now in public because we just kind of get on with it but I can tell you that there are things we have been through in the last 9 months that I didn't ever imagine I would have to endure again.  The hardest thing has been going from a 2 income family to a 1 income family, single parenting changes everything, how you live, how you work, your whole life entire becomes something other than that which you knew.  I hadn't for a moment thought when I embarked upon the project that Paul and I would separate, it was my worst nightmare, it still actually is, I still to this very day love him with all of my heart.

I'm not someone who likes to let people down and I'm also not someone who likes to leave things unfinished and I have had many sleepless nights trying to think how I could go forward to the future and finish the project but at this point it's not even vaguely possible, I don't have the income, the business infrastructure or the family support I would need.  I was so used to coming and going as I pleased, I knew that if I wasn't around Paul would be there to tend to the kids and it had always been the same the other way around but you can't just do that as a single parent, I'm not questioning Paul's parental skills, he's a great dad to Looby but Looby has needed me so badly over the last 9 months that my whole life has revolved around her pretty much, and Iain, who has no other family in the whole world apart from me (he tells me this and it makes me so sad, he's said even at the age of 18 all he would really love is a proper dad) still needs me to be there.

When Paul left I tried to maintain my business but my head and my heart weren't in it and something must have gone amiss because in January I saw a huge decline and by March I was living on  batches of cous cous being unable to pay even the most basic of bills.  I haven't had a public mental breakdown, perhaps because I'm too stubborn to fall apart although there've been times when I've certainly been on the edge but luckily every single time I've fought on even further for the sake of the kids and I.

To this day I am now regaining control of my business and have fallen in love with it again, not just portraits but also weddings, something I had previously decided to give up but now I continue onwards for perhaps another 10 years.  It's still very early days where that is concerned though as mostly you're always booking a year or two in advance so whilst we're pretty much out of the woods and I'm being able to invest in my business again we're not exactly ready for a tropical beach holiday. 

I want to say today that I have not given up on the project, one day I intend to finish it, I'm just about to start selling quite possibly the largest collection of life stuff that I have built up over the last few years,  Once I have a large savings pot then I can take the time off to go travelling with Looby and Holly and via air bnb I think it's quite possible that I can finish the project one day.  I think it's about being able to take chunks of time out of my diary and then renting a house for a few days in the south whilst I tackle those cities.

I've questioned myself so much over this, I've had one or two unpleasant emails which have shaken me up, I would not have gone into this if I didn't think I could finish it, I have hated myself for not being able to deliver when I thought I could and I constantly beat myself up that I have let people down.  My business investors continue to be present in my mind and on my blog and they'll remain forever because it's the least I can do.  I'll never ask anyone for any help ever again although I still hold out hope that one day a publisher will think it's a brilliant idea for a book and help me to complete it, obviously even then it would be with Looby and Holly at my side and never being away for so long that Iain feels alone, he often says if I'm away for too long it drives him crazy because he doesn't see other people, he goes out once a week to his friends and he goes to college 3 days a week although he's just about done until September now.

I wish I could go back to the beginning knowing the things I know now, for one thing I didn't even scratch the surface of the cost of the project, I invested every single penny of savings I had and my accounts for last year are going to be so awful that it's probably better to laugh about them than cry. One thing I do know is that I absolutely underestimated just how much the breakdown of a marriage can affect you when you have a business or if you think you are financially independent even within a relationship try taking one half of that away, it's beyond all reasoning and some things I still don't understand.

So thank you if you have stuck around with me, continue to support me with friendship and love and to those who doubt me, hate me or feel let down I truly am sorry, take comfort in knowing no one feels more like that than I do.  This blog has been coming for some time, I hope you'll excuse any typos or bad grammar but I had to just get myself into a space and write it straight off so that I wrote exactly what was on my mind, it's really the best way sometimes.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

There is no such thing as too many photos, curating our digital legacy

You know that moment when you're photographing your own kids (or in my case this also applies to some of my clients children too) and they say "no, you've already taken too many photos"?  Well I don't think you can have too many photos of the ones you love and here's why...  What if tomorrow you woke up and for whatever reason you could never see the people you love again, all that you have left are the moments inside your head, the memories and perhaps the photos, I think people faced with that dilemma would agree that there's no such thing as too many photos.  I have to admit to being someone who's collected thousands of photos of my kids, pets and the people I love, I have occasional clips of video from when Looby was little and they're on Youtube, Looby and I were watching them the other day and it's just a magical wonderful thing to be able to relive those gorgeous moments.

We are the curators of our own history, never more has that statement been true, we live in a truly digital age where our children have a digital footprint so big that they will be able to look back to (in some cases) nearly every single day of their lives.  Imagine when they're older and they have their Timehop app, we all think it's amazing because we can see what we were doing 5 or 6 years ago but in some cases our children will be able to go back to the moments they were born and announced to the world and then every day since.  I understand why we worry about the digital footprints of our children but I also marvel at this wonder of the legacy we create in a truly digital age.  I do at times I confess, worry about the lies we tell ourselves with the digitally curated history, will our descendants think we all had perfect houses/lives/relationships setting themselves up for failure by comparison or will they be so in tune with us digitally that they in turn curate an even more perfect digital legacy.  I'm not one for photographing food but some people photograph every meal they have so in addition to the history of their family they're also building up a future history of the foods we ate and loved, a future almanac of sugar in some cases, haha!

I was in Edinburgh this week with Looby, a breakaway from all of the stress that surrounds us in our modern lives, time spent being able to switch off (well sort of) and time spent just being able to have fun and enjoy time with each other, I dread the day that Looby doesn't want to go on adventures with me, whilst she says she'll always take time for time out with mum I see her growing and changing with every day that passes, I see the beginnings of those teenage traits and I know it won't be too long before the teenage years step in and separate our minds for a while so I take each day as a precious thing and even during dinner on Thursday I managed to take just a few photos of Looby being Looby.

I'm lucky that I'm a photographer and I get to help others curate their own digital legacy, I've had people contact me and ask if I only photograph well behaved kids but it's not true, I just curate a gallery of images so lovely you'll think you had the most well behaved family in the world!  (this also applies to misbehaving daddies).

This weekend I am offering mini session vouchers for just £20 instead of £25, they're valid pretty much forever so you can buy them now for yourselves and for presents for anyone else who might like to capture some memories and you can use them during summer or maybe in Autumn when the whole world entire seems to have photo shoots, the important thing though is just that half hour session will lead to beautiful precious memories you can save forever, the offer is valid until Midnight on Sunday and if you would like one or maybe more than one then all you need to do is contact photographer newcastle/email me/visit my facebook page


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Catching Up....

Don't you hate it when bloggers go missing for an entire week or something?  Every day since last Tuesday I've sat down to write without any success whatsoever because I had too much going on so here's a little catch up of exactly what's been going on, going down, coming up ;)

So a week ago, I went with Looby to the RTS Young Peoples media awards, there was a red carpet, there was a buffet (probably from Costco if I'm honest) and I even chatted to celebrity superstar Rachael Teate, that's Kara from Wolfblood, she's lovely in real life and she presented the awards with style and grace and I am pleased to report that Benton Park Primary school went away with a special commendation award for their short film "Home" and it was another red letter day as Looby wore heels for the first time ever (barring the times when she stole mine from the cupboard to play shoes shops and models and....)

My gorgeous girl gets more grown up and beautiful by the day and can I also say that she managed in heels far better than I ever do!

Wednesday and Thursday were Thinking Digital Conference 2015 and I'm in the process of writing about that so more later but it was 2 full days of not only inspiration and learning but also of connecting with the community that I love, it encapsulated everything from particle physics to artificial intelligence to social media and art and data collection, to say it's wide ranging and educational is quite an understatement and the reason there's no official blog about it yet is because I still have to get my head around some of the information which I literally found to be life changing and mind blowing.  So I do hope you'll come back in the next couple of days to read about my snippets of information I'm taking away and using in my own life and business.  I actually wrote the blog in my dream last night and I remember thinking it was the most inspirational blog post I'd ever written, it's just a shame I can't remember a single word of it this morning.

Friday and it was time to catch up with a little one I've photographed 3 times now, she's utterly adorable and at 2 I would have to say very independent and strong willed, perhaps I think she's going to be a world leader in the future or maybe a fashion icon, you can never really tell can you?

One joyful thing is that in Jesmond Dene at the moment the rhododendrons are in full bloom so it's a great time to have a really pretty photo shoot with lots of bright happy colour in it.  If you would like a photo shoot this weekend I have availability in Jesmond Dene or Tynemouth Longsands on Saturday or Sunday.  Mini Sessions are £25 and regular 1 hour photo shoots are £40, both come with a complimentary print, web gallery, 15% off for the first week your gallery is live and can be used for any occasion.

Oh yes, I think I might have just said that....

On Saturday I went down to meet a gorgeous family at Dunston Staithes, now that is a great place for a photo shoot, I think it would particularly work well for a couples session, the intention with kids is always different to what actually happens on the day, we know that by now though, right?

I shan't give away the location of the secret flower meadow down there because you'll all rush off to blow those dandelion clocks and then it would spoil it the next time I want to use it.  I loved shooting down at the Dunston Staithes because it meant that I could walk down, it's just under 4 miles and takes around an hour and it's such a pretty lovely walk, keeps me fit and out of mischief!

Sunday/Monday were more along the lines of relaxation days, I sorted out my very messy bedroom and cleared away the very last my little pony, I have my bedroom back people, I have wrestled one last barbie and the scary welsh doll and Looby is happy to be in her own space upstairs, well except for the fact that she's always doing things in my room, in fact i'm sitting on the bed with that Stampy Cat right in my ear, I don't know why she always wants to be within 3 foot of me but I don't intend to complain as I suspect one day she'll scream and shout at me as much as Abigail does!

So, here's the rest of the week and there are a lot of photo shoots in there but that's not a bad thing, in fact it's a very good thing and so you too could nip in and take advantage by also having sessions so...

Today I'm going to be in Jesmond Dene for a session at 4pm, probably it's too late notice but hey, before or after always works if you have the urge.  Tomorrow I am on the beach for a session from 11-12 so I could fit you in before or after if you fancy coming down to Tynemouth Longsands. Thursday I have nothing in my diary so you could have a photo shoot anywhere and Friday is looking like photo shoots in Heaton Park if you fancy one there!  

Oh and just 1 more thing, I currently for a very limited amount of time am offering 30% off all weekday wedding packages which makes them so reasonable you might jump up and down with glee and I'm also offering 15% off weekend wedding packages for this year only until my diary is full so if you would like to speak to me about booking your wedding or shooting your portraits you can do so via -   Email/Website/Facebook go on, contact me now, it might just be your favourite thing you ever did!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

10 reasons you should come and live in Heaton, Newcastle Upon Tyne

For anyone who reads my blog but doesn't actually know where I live you would be forgiven for thinking I step out of my door and I'm in the middle of Newcastle city centre but actually I live in a village, it's got a village store, a village shop and our village church, sadly that sounds a little more romantic than the actual reality because whilst we are technically Heaton village we're also 15 minutes brisk walk from the city centre and it does feel quite an urban landscape, well until you walk 5 minutes from my house and you're into the beautiful park lands of Heaton Park, Armstrong Park, Jesmond Vale and Jesmond Dene, it's my bit of pretty in the city and I can't actually imagine living anywhere else so when the lovely people at Walton Robinson approached me to write an article about where I live I couldn't wait to tell the world about my wonderful little village. Walton Robinson are letting agents, estate agents and they also offer investment in the many buy to let properties in Newcastle upon Tyne.

So here's my 10 reasons you should come and live in Heaton Village

  1. As I mentioned above, when you're in Heaton (or Shieldfield or Jesmond or South Gosforth for that matter) you're only ever a few minutes walk from the series of interconnecting parks taking you from one end of the Ouseburn river to the other, you can spend the whole day walking through Freeman Park, Jesmond Dene, Armstrong Park, Heaton Park and Jesmond Vale, it's one of the greenest cities I know of having had the parks donated to the people of Newcastle by Lord Amstrong.
  2. If you love vintage and bargains you'll be at home in Heaton, Heaton Park road is home to Small Change Vintage, Under the Bridge, Heaton Used Furniture and the Rummage clothing agency, and if you fancy a walk down Shields Road in nearby Byker you'll find a plethora of charity shops which will keep you very happy all day long.
  3. There are a plethora of friendly coffee houses and tea rooms in Heaton ranging from my personal favourite Teasy Does It which is both child friendly and dog friendly, if you like great cake you should drop everything and go there immediately.
  4. Heaton Road is home to one of very few organic supermarkets in the UK, The Honey Tree was even named as a local food hero by top chef and foodie Rick Stein
  5. As well as being never very far from a beautiful park there are also 7 churches on Heaton Road and they all get involved in the local community, lots have activities like Youth Clubs, Brownies, Girls Brigade for the kids and there are also things for adults, I actually go to Slimming World at St Theresa's church on Heaton Road and I'm not afraid to say it!
  6. We have a huge sense of community in Heaton, the people are quirky, lovely, friendly and we love a good get together, don't miss the Heaton Festival if you're in Heaton during the summer months.
  7. We have the most amazing (and very reasonable) quirky little restaurant right in the middle of Heaton Park, Sambuccas in the park arrived a couple of years ago and has taken Heaton by storm, the best part for me is that you can go down in the evenings during summer and sit outdoors surrounded by beautiful parkland and they'll make a fuss of your dog too, although dogs can't go indoors Holly has been known to sample tasty morsels sitting outside with me.
  8. if you have a dog you should definitely come and live in Heaton, on Saturday and Sunday mornings you'll find a huge sociable community of dogs and their owners congregating in Heaton Park, from Huskies to Beagles to Corgis you'll find many charming doggies and puppies all playing together around 10ish on weekend mornings.
  9. Did I mention just how near we are to the city centre?   From my house in Heaton I can walk down to the Baltic centre for contemporary art in 20 minutes and I can walk back from the centre of Newcastle via every pub on the way without ever needing a taxi, the same can again be said for Gosforth, Shieldfield, Jesmond all of which are charming suburbs of Newcastle.
  10. We have a thriving area filled with creative people around the Ouseburn Valley which is 5 minutes from home, musicians, artists, photographers, talented students have all moved into this area and it's an area being currently regenerated to make it even more of a thriving community.

Are you packing your belongings up yet or thinking of coming to live or invest in some property in Heaton?  I cannot imagine living anywhere else, I've been utterly content since moving here over 10 years ago, I do have days where I hanker to be beside the sea but then I just hop on the metro to Tynemouth and I'm there in 20 minutes, when you live where I live you're only ever a few minutes away from beautiful places.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Faffing with flowers, in association with The Flower Studio

There's something amazingly uplifting about having beautiful flowers adoring the spaces and places in your home don't you think?  For many years I'd always bought the occasional bunch of flowers to cheer me up but since I've lived on my own I make an effort to always buy myself a bunch (even if they are reduced to 19p a bunch in the supermarket) at least once a week so when the wonderful people at The Flower Studio in Marlow Buckinghamshire asked me if they could send a beautiful luxury hand tied bouquet from their garden flowers range I was so excited!  I waited patiently and then last week one very early morning there was a knock at my door, now I should state this 7am door knocking reduced my beagle to some kind of bonkers puppy and we had quite an adventure whilst the post man and I chased her around the front of my house when she wandered off barking at his high visibility jacket!

The flowers arrived in their own little box to make sure they were safe and well travelled on their journey all the way from Buckinghamshire and I couldn't wait to unbox them any longer.

I couldn't believe the sight that greeted me as I peeked in the box, that Hydrangea, I really didn't want to put them in a vase or take them out of the packaging, I think if you are planning a wedding on a budget you could simply remove them from the cellophane and voila, a bouquet which looks like it's cost significantly more than £39.99 (use the code WELCOME) at the checkout and get an extra £5 off your first order.

Feel free to use any of the above as wallpaper for your desktop or smartphone, I know I have!  On Thursday morning I decided to have a go at changing them around and I sat in the garden for a couple of hours just faffing with flowers feeling the wonder of being so connected to nature, I used an old vintage jug that I found in a charity shop and it really shows off the glorious messy arrangement I made, let me at this point of course state that I am no florist, floristry is a form of art and takes years to learn, I would adore a trip to flower school at some point in the future but like many branches of art it's never going to be something I am an expert in.

I got to thinking that again if you are planning a wedding there are so many different ways you could use this one bouquet and came up with a couple of ideas for simple table arrangements which would cost very little to produce and would look amazing at any vintage style wedding.  I should also state that I'm writing this blog post a couple of days later and the flowers are still wonderfully fresh and adorning my hall console table cheering me up every time I see their pretty little heads smiling at me, I adore that the flowers in the garden flowers range are all ones you could grow yourself and in fact I am currently cultivating many of them in my small back garden.  One thing though is that I always remember a huge hydrangea in my grannys garden when I grew up and I never really could see the beauty in it but I have a whole new appreciation for the delicate flower heads of the hydrangea, I plan to grow a couple in pots (because of their need for special conditions so they don't all end up the same colour) my only fear is they'll never last very long in the garden because I'll be cutting them and putting them around the house.  maybe I should just treat myself to Flower Studio bouquets once a month?

I want to say a big thanks to the lovely people at The Flower Studio for sending me this beautiful bouquet, it's a very rare occurrence that someone sends me flowers, in fact I would say I could count on one hand the number of times I've had flowers sent, feel free to send me lots of bouquets in the future because they will certainly be appreciated, for one flowers connect you to nature in a way you can only understand when you handle them and point two is that as a photographer there's always a delight to photograph truly beautiful things.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Indigo Herbs Raw Chocolate Making Kit - Chocolate Heaven!

There's something amazing about chocolate isn't there, we all know we're hard wired to love the delicious feeling of ecstasy as it melts in your mouth and the tryptophan flows through your synapses giving you those feelings of warmth and happiness, it's no wonder we spend so much money on chocolate in the UK! The only problem with chocolate is the fact that it's often loaded with sugar and if like me you're generally sugar free then the chances are you might be weeping into your lap by now.  Hang on a moment though, the lovely people at Indigo Herbs asked me if I would like to try their RAW chocolate making kit, described as a healthy and nutritious snack, no roasting of the cacoa and using agave syrup known for it's low GI I nearly snatched their chocolate stained fingers off.

Indigo Herbs are a health, nutrition and wellness company based in beautiful Glastonbury

Obviously there was great excitement when the beautiful kit hit my doormat (actually it was handed to me by a friendly postman but you get the idea).  I waited a while for the time to be right, a.k.a. a time when the children would all be out and then I set about getting to grips with my new best friend, i.e. the raw chocolate.

The box contains everything you'll need to make around 20-25 chocolates and it's such an easy process to make them, I literally couldn't believe how easy, each stage was described in their little pamphlet so well that there was zero head scratching and I think in all it took me around 20 minutes from start to finish and maybe another 15 minutes of freezing time for me to be able to eat them.

Now I've never been a fan of the Goji Berry but can I just say that this chocolate was born to go with them, now I know what to do if I want to eat some goji berries, chop them, combine them with some chopped brazil nuts (my favourite nut) and add to raw chocolate and hello Heavenly!

Melted gloopy chocolate heaven, that's what that is, do try and at least let them set before you eat them, do not be tempted to simply put your face in the bowl.

I decided to be a little freestyle (get me!) and made some using the petit four cases and then I made a batch using an ice-cube tray (just warm the bottom over a candle/glass hob when you want to remove them from said tray)

and of course Pyracantha the cat stopped by to examine them when I was outdoors photographing my tiny finished chocolate meditation clouds as I've decided to call them.

Just then a friend arrived and I managed to send them away with several of the chocolates for fear of eating them all in less than 30 seconds, they keep in the fridge for up to 8 weeks apparently, 8 weeks, fat chance, they only lasted a little longer than 8 minutes... actually they lasted 2 days but I did give more than half of them away to an utterly appreciative friend who also confirmed that they were actually the best chocolates on the entire planet.

I can't actually find enough amazing descriptive words to exclaim just how marvellous these little beauties are, absurdly plump and scrumptious maybe?

The Raw chocolate tasting kit costs £19.99 and Indigo herbs even give you free postage on orders over £30 so there's simply no excuses not to give them a go, that's going to make at least 4 presents for friends (or a delicious treat for 1) and imagine the fun you could have with the girls on a Friday night making these with a glass of red wine.  I can honestly say that I'll definitely be buying this again, I'd like to say that it would be for friends birthday treats but I think we can safely assume I'll just be making them for me, me, me and if you happen to be passing and find me with chocolate upon my lips say nothing, tell no one and I might just give you one or two to take home with you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

For The Love of Dad, Fathers Day Mini Sessions available now

Every year for the last couple of years I've offered a day of Mothers Day mini sessions and it's always been really well subscribed to and lots of happy families have captured moments celebrating the relationships they have with mum.

I think though that we don't take enough time to celebrate the love of dads.  I mean every little girl adores her daddy, he's the constant in her life, always looking after her, giving advice, protecting her until that fateful day when he gives her away on her wedding day, this of course doesn't end the relationship, daughters always have a special affection for their daddies no matter at what stage they are in their lives and when dad becomes a granddad it's an even more special relationship, Granddads are special fun filled people, you can get away with anything as long as you smile at granddad, they're often the ones who sneakily give you sweeties when mums not watching even though she's told you that you can't have them or you'll spoil your dinner.  Granddads are their for game playing, tree climbing, swing pushing, and generally acting the same age as the kids,  embarrassing grandmas, and of course we wouldn't have it any other way.

So I'm going to be celebrating dads this week on my Facebook page and on June 20th I will be in Jesmond Dene offering mini sessions from 10am - 2pm so you can celebrate the dad or grandad in your life.  Mini Sessions are only £25 and include a 7x5 print, web gallery for 30 days and 15% off for the first week your gallery is live.

Early booking is advisable as these special mini session days always seem to sell out very quickly and  so all you need to do is email me with your preferred session time and lets capture images which sum up the love we have for our dads and granddads.
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