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, July 29, 2018

A Seaham Hall Wedding, Mandy Charlton, Newcastle Photographer

It's been about 600 years since I last shared what I actually do for work, but a Seaham Hall wedding with Jimmy Choo's and Vera Wang rings, everything at this wedding last week was just too beautiful not to share.  Last week I found out I'd won "Best Wedding Portrait Photographer UK" in the global wedding awards run by my favourites Lux International magazine and so today is the perfect day to share this.

I'd been to Seaham Hall for lunch but I'd never shot a wedding in their hallowed halls so it's another place I can check off my list, in my big list of venues from 12 years of being a photographer in Newcastle covering not only the Northeast but also lots of special weddings around the UK, I shoot weddings because I love weddings, they'll never make me rich and I believe that you should have really high quality wedding photography at your wedding, even if that means spending just a little more for a couple of hours than having a bland 8 hours of multiple samey photos of the back of people's heads.  I've always said that each photograph on it's own should tell a story and if it doesn't, it doesn't make the cut.  I believe in quality over quantity and I pick my weddings carefully, not really based on venues or budgets, I simply get a feel of a couple and go with that and in the last few years my instincts have never let me down.  I collaborate with laid back couples who are deeply in love, often they have their own stories to tell and they trust me to tell their story and when all is said in done, at the end of the wedding you are left with your dress and the images, you deserve to cherish the memories which will last forever.  I'm not about faddy filters and when I mentor I simply say, work on producing a beautiful colour image and a gorgeous black and white and it's all you need for with that you are creating timeless images.

Seaham Hall is the most divine location for a wedding, it's intimate, it's high end and it is timeless, I'd say it's a classic venue which isn't pretentious, the staff are helpful and courteous (thank you so much to the barman who filled my water bottle and added ice on the hottest day of the year).  I'd have no problem recommending it as a venue even if you're only having a small wedding, sure it's grand and can fit in a lot of guests but it's also got smaller rooms which really do suit an intimate gathering.

When Mike got in touch about his wedding I couldn't say no, I instantly got a feel for a couple who had such style and grace and he and his now wife Michelle definitely have a story to tell, plus Mike actually signed up for my newsletter a billion years ago and loyalty is a beautiful thing.  I met them a few weeks before their wedding along with their darling boy and I knew the wedding really would be a beautiful affair.  I have to admit here and now, it's one of my favourite I've shot in the last few years because they simply gave me carte blanche and permission to tell their story in my own way and so along with the help of Stacey that's exactly what we did and here now, are some highlights of the story of their wedding day.

I photograph weddings mostly in 2, 3 or 4 hour bookings but if you want me all day I'm yours, prices start from £450 for 2 hours, I have bookings in my calendar right up until May 2020 so do get in touch to secure your date, all you need is a £250 retainer and you'll even get a pre-wedding shoot worth £325 included if you book before the first of September 2018.

Send me an email and let's have a chat about your beautiful unique wedding.


Field View Cottage, a dog friendly cottage on the Solway coast

self portrait, pixpro AZ527 Kodak, dumfries and galloway, mandy charlton, airbnb

Last weekend feeling rather numb and overwhelmed with life, I booked an Airbnb dog friendly cottage on the Solway coast, waiting until the last minute paid off as we ended up paying just £187 for 3 nights at Field View Cottage in Port Carlisle, a small village on the Solway coast just 4 miles away from where Hadrians Wall ends.  The cottage had only been a holiday let for around a month and was one of those properties that really justifies just how wonderful an Airbnb stay can be.  To be fair I've only had one really unhappy experience of Airbnb and it wasn't anything to do with the site, it was the horrid owners.
a dog friendly airbnb cottage on the solway coast, field view cottage, mandy charlton photographer, writer, blogger

Not the case with Field View Cottage though, it had been sensitively renovated keeping all of that beautiful character a cottage is supposed to have and then to add to that it was a two minute stroll down to the banks of the estuary, a village so quiet that Holly Bobbins barely had to be on the lead and she was free to pop outside the cottage for a wander into the small lane without fear although she did find one or two people to "Arooo" at but really, that's kind of obligatory if you are a beagle.

I'd travelled to cumbria to really give a roadtest to the Kodak Pixpro AZ527 kindly given to me by the lovely Kodak folk, I knew I wanted to put it to the test somewhere really special and somewhere it would be given a run for it's money for Cumbria, The Lake District and the Southwest coast of Scotland are some of the most beautiful areas on earth, if it couldn't do a good job there, it wouldn't do a good job anywhere.

Now I should point out if you've just landed here for the first time that I've been a professional photographer for 12 years, the last bridge camera I owned was circa 2005 and I'm pretty used to doing everything manually and the longest zoom I own is 24-70mm, I had to remove everything I knew from my brain to put myself in a position where I could really gauge who would buy the AZ527,  for one it has a 52x optical zoom, AZ stands for Astro zoom and although I didn't have my tripod handy in Cumbria, I did test it on the big shiny moon one evening and yep, it certainly works, it's the closest I've ever seen the moon, I've promised myself an evening with a tripod over the next few weeks to try and get something close up because at 52x zoom, even with optical stabilisation, you really can't handhold, once I got over about 5x zoom I couldn't hand hold.

So, back to the beautiful lazy cottage stay, my brain was furiously working overtime when we left Newcastle and I felt I hadn't breathed properly for weeks, the virus I'd had plus a busy time for photography and running Inspire, suffice to say I was a huge ball of anxious energy, luckily within hours of reaching our destination I felt my shoulders relax, now it may have been the beautiful scenery or it might have been the smell of biscuits in the air as we picked up some shopping at Sainsbury's in Carlisle, for anyone who doesn't know, it's next door to the Mcvities factory and the air is thick with the scent of sweet biscuits, every time you breath it's just delicious.

We'd decided that we would have a day exploring the Lake District and a day exploring the southwest coast of Scotland, and we planned to spend the hottest day of the year in Scotland because the temperatures rarely made it over the low twenties, perfect for Holly Bobbins although she was super grateful to be travelling in a car with gorgeous 15c air conditioning, a happy girl she was only out for short strolls in shady places or a trip on a boat or a quick tasty lunch at a pretty cafe out of the glare of the sun.

For 3 days I managed to completely relax, I took late evening sunset walks with Holly along the estuary, I explored our chosen destinations with Abigail and Harriet and I laughed with them a lot, much more than I usually do because with chronic anxiety, I'm often scared of laughing too much, it induces asthma attacks so i've learnt to try and not let myself truly laugh or indeed relax but for a couple of days at least I tried not to worry so much and just let myself go, I ambled around villages snapping everything in sight, I tried pet mode, beautify mode, landscape mode, all of the things I'd never usually do with a camera although I stopped short of testing the pop up flash, on board flashes are the work of the devil!

The Kodak really handles most situations well, I hated the fixed screen, even with the brightness turned up, I think we're now in the realms of the adjustable screen although it does have wifi and an app you can connect to if you want to shoot remotely or maybe you want to film yourself and you're a budding Youtuber, it does output full HD after all.  I think this is the perfect camera for beginners, teens who want their own camera or people who love simplified processes, although it does have a manual mode I'm not sure you can push it to any better results than the myriad of scene options, it's always a little weird for me using camera's which don't have an eyepiece and that's where an adjustable flip screen would have been a real boon but perhaps this is a consideration for the future.  You know, Kodak were the pioneers of photography so it's a shame that they don't have a professional level camera currently and if they ever release a DSLR I'd certainly love to compare it to my CSC Fuji's and my full frame DSLR Canon.

As soon as we arrived home from our trip the anxiety made it's come back and yesterday I had a full on anxiety attack leading me to believe that I am so much better when I am in remote and relaxing places.  I try to get away around every 4-6 weeks just to keep myself sane and I know I'll return to cumbria time and time again just because it offers that life of calm and idillic living that I crave.  For someone who lives on the edge of the city but craves to be a rural living lady, Cumbria is only a short distance away, I'm not sure if I'm trying to constantly escape or if it's just that I need to calm my psyche often so that I do stay sane.  My life at home is demanding, filled with questions and queries, strategies and way more numbers that I'd ever envisioned and yet when I am away I come up with the most brilliant business strategies and ideas, perhaps because I'm not overwhelmed with the constancy of it, the email pings every 3 seconds, the perpetual messenger alerts (I've had to switch those off as they had gotten too much) and really it's not that I'm scared of hard work but I do acknowledge that life with chronic anxiety is a constant battle when you seek success.

And as for the Kodak, would I use it again?  I would, I think it's a great camera to pop in a bag if you want a day without too much thinking knowing that in landscape mode it'll deliver as well as thinking seriously about your DSLR and all of it's manual settings.  I think this particular camera is going to find a home with my son or my teen daughters who love it and find it super easy to use, much like life, overcomplicating things is never a good idea so it's nice to have a camera which will do the thinking for you and whilst you might not be able to have the moon on a stick the AZ527 will certainly let you capture a photograph of it.

Disclaimer -

I was given the Kodak AZ726 in return for an honest review and this is exactly that.


Monday, July 23, 2018

When life smacks you in the face...

Today is my first day back at my desk after being overcome with germs last week, I'd not been ill for nearly 2 years but boy did those germs smack me in the face, it had started with weird dreams and just after I wrote that post, I ended up in bed sleeping for practically 24 hours.  I managed to find the energy to work over the weekend but slept a lot in between. Oh and we also had all 3 dogs from last Thursday until today, that's a whole lot of energy, it also makes me realise just what an easy dog Holly Bobbins is, much like babies, I like my sleep too much to have a puppy!

It's my own fault, I'd been working relentless 15 hour days and pushing myself harder than one should, it's understandable though, working on a new project and getting that off the ground is hard, especially when you are risking your own life's work on it.  I am pleased to say it's all been worth it though and as those hazy lazy days of high summer come into play we are settling into calm with The Inspire Network, we took in so many members last week that we've temporarily closed our membership program to give us time to catch up, we relaunch on the 1st of August though and it's going to be big!

I'm a huge fan of vitamins to keep me going and I'd completely forgotten to stock up, another reason I think contributed to the sudden downfall of my health so when the postman knocked I nearly snatched his hand off.  Lovely company Care have just launched 3 new supplements and they're all for women like me, in our prime, in our forties, you know when you still feel young enough to conquer the world but your body says "hang on a minute, you're not 20" . Suffice to say I'm now taking their Advanced Immune Support forever, it's definitely something I need, I have no time for sick days, I have too much I want to achieve.

I'm also adding in Care collagen beauty formula because I want to keep my youthful complexion for as long as I can and it's not all about Botox and fillers you know, even though I'm a convert to those too although I think that's more often about you doing you, shouldn't everyone invest in themselves as much as possible?

I've also started taking the Care collagen joint formula because, well I walk a lot and it's in your forties when you start to notice those joint aches and pains.

I think between the 3 products I should be good to go although I have been taking a high strength Vitamin D3 and a magnesium tablet for quite some time now, they keep my brain in order and they keep me sane during the dark winter months.

Tomorrow I have 2 meetings and then we're off, Me, Harriet, Abigail and Holly Bobbins, Looby double booked herself with riding competitions which is a shame but I'm so ready to completely switch off and that's what I am actually doing this time, I've removed Messenger from my phone, I'm going to stay away from Facebook unless it's for checking in and sharing lovely holiday photos, that's totally allowable isn't it?  No work though, in fact the lovely Airbnb Cottage we're going to doesn't even have wifi.  We're having adventures in the Lake District and more adventures in the Southwest Coast of Scotland as it's smack bang in the middle and right on the Solway Estuary, it actually looks to be about a 10 minute walk from the banks of the estuary so for me, that's bliss, whenever I'm by the water it calms my soul.

To be honest the next 6 weeks will have a more laid back feel to them, our ladies at Inspire all holiday during the summer and my photography calendar isn't too overwhelming, I could take on extra work but I'm being really selective about what I do take on, it's a great feeling to be in that position.

In all probability this will be my last blog of the week, I'm aiming for once a week during the holidays, I have adventures and family time I need and want and I have no doubt at all that you'll all still be around in September when we'll all be revived and reinvigorated.

Happy Summer everyone, go make some memories!

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