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  • 7 Reasons Why You MUST Consider An Engagement Shoot

    1. Engagement shoots with photographers are FREE

    Many photographers offer free engagement shoots, or ones that come as part of a package. Take advantage of this wonderful incentive offered by photographers (who onviously, will hope that you like their work enough to book them for the wedding day, if you haven't already) and use the opportunity to have some beautiful, professional images taken of you both at little or no cost.

    2. Get to know your Photographer.

    The more of a relationship that you build with your photographer, the more relaxed you will feel about what they are doing. Even for the biggest cam-lovers around, it can still be a little intimidating and uncomfortable to have one person watch you while you kiss with your beloved, for example. The more you know and feel comfortable and familiar with your photographer, the more it will (or should) feel like having a lovely friend attend your wedding, resulting in beautiful, natural, relaxed images because you feel comfortable with them and trust in what they are doing.

    3. Practice Makes Perfect

    This advice is perfct for the camera shy or for those of us who don't think that we are photogenic, or if you simply just don't like having their photo taken. The more practice you have leading up to the big day the better. You can discuss with your photographer flattering angles and lighting, what you like about yourself / or dislike. Think of your engagement session as a 'trial run' which, with the added bonus of more absolutely gorgeous photographs of you both!

    4. A Precious Time

    Being engaged is a really special time for the two of you together. Your married life will go through ages and stages together but being engaged only happens the once, and you will only ever be engaged at this point in your life- at this stage in your life, this age. Engagement sessions capture this magical, precious time before it slips away, and celebrates it and the life that you have together as it is right now; full of excitement for your wedding and future.

    5. All Dressed Up

    An engagement photoshoot is another reason to get dressed up, look and feel your best. You are a bride-to-be and you deserve this time!

    6. Celebration

    Engagement shots are like the part where you have found your ideal dress, and so you go for cake or lunch with your mum / girlfriends to celebrate and discuss it. An engagement session is another of those lovely ways to celebrate and remember the run-up to your occasion.

    7. Cards

    If you are looking for a unique way to offically announce your engagement, or perhaps you would like to design some beautiful and memorable save the date cards, cards bearing a photograph from your engagement session gets the message across in a classic keepsake that your loved ones will keep on view. Keep an eye out for my Save The Date cards, coming soon- beautiful, personalised Save The Date card designs created especially for you.

    For more information on my Engagement Sessions please do email me, I would love to hear from you.

    Charlie x

    photographybyckb.co.uk

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  • What Love Really Means

    The word Love is many things to many people, but for me one of the biggest things that true love involves is sharing.

    Think about it. We are all selfish, really. So learning to share- our thoughts and feelings, our skills and talents, our time and devotion- takes real time and patience to master. Particularly before we are married- (but not just then- also before we become parents, for example), we are selfish, really. We do what we like, when we like. We often may consider the needs and wants of others, and may even try hard to please them, but ultimately, being in a happy marriage really does involve little acts of continued sacrifice of selfishness. It is definitely not easy, but it is definitely worth it!

    Last weekend we watched the film Julie & Julia- have you seen it? The only way I can describe this film is enchanting- you should watch it when you get the chance. I won't spoilt the storyline for you, but it concentrates on Julie, who decides to cook every single recipe in a French cookbook written by Julia Childs, in the 1950s. She blogs devotedly each day about it and gathers a lot of followers- though it begins with her Mother being her only reader.

    This really got me thinking. I love that Julie documented her efforts in reproducing these recipes and that she became an inspiration and a motivation for thousands of other people. I love that she shared her passion with the world. After all, isn't it what we love, what we are passionate about, that makes us different, makes us unique?

    I truly believe that we should all share our talents and our skills with the world, if for no other reason that you might just inspire and help just one other person. That to me, is what love is.

    You can blog about absolutely anything. I have one friend who is a BRILLIANT baker. She makes cakes that are out of this world- I am desperate for her chocolate truffle recipe. She made them for my wedding day and everyone loved them. Who wouldn't want to read about an easy and brilliant chocolate truffle recipe?

    Another friend of mine is brilliant at business and is currently setting up her second. She just has a naturally enquiring mind and is always seeking out new ways to grow and expand her businesses. Again, things I personally would LOVE to read about- her trials, tribulations, and successes- what has worked and what hasn't.

    Another friend is at the world's most prestigious fashion college and has just got back from a research trip to Florence, and has just won a placement to design costumes for the Rio Carnival- in Brazil! She should so be sharing this!

    I am going to continue to blog about developing photography skills (both yours and mine) but also about growing photography businesses and creative businesses, as I LOVE photography, and helping creative women to live their dreams is becoming a definite passion of mine too. I am learning so much through my own business I feel that I should share it!

    Everyone has something to blog about. Last year I was desperately surfing the internet for tips and advice on being a 'natural' mummy. I wish there was a blog on Cafes in The Cotswolds. Just find something you love, or are good at, and write! And if you think that you REALLY can not write, why not set up a photo-blog?

    Blogging is a way of sharing stories around the campfire. We might now sit in front of computer screens but all that means is that there are more people out there desperate to hear your voice, your experiences, your opinions. Our love for stories has not changed, and despite the cynical amongst us, I truly believe that beneath all selfishness lies a great capacity to love, and share, with one another.

    If you love something, don't keep it to yourself- share it!

    Happy Valentines

    Charlie xx

    photographybyckb.co.uk

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  • Does Your Photography Business Look Like You Care? Branding and Packaging by CKB Photography

    I am a huge stationery fan! I absolutely love anything and everything to do with stationery, from beautiful old writing desks to pretty little notelet sets. I think my obsession started when I was in my early teens, when I discovered Smythson of Bond Street, and I think my mum bought me a paper and envelope set for my birthday. It was absolute luxury stationery, thick cream paper and envelopes beautifully packaged in a light blue box.

    While my tastes have changed a little since then (though I still love Smythson) I still adore pretty stationery and packaging that is detailed and thoughtful, and think that it says a lot about your business.

    With so many photographer's out there, it is crucial to stand out in the crowd. Showing clients that you really care about them through taking time and effort with presentation and packaging is one way to do that. It also helps pull together your branding into a visually cohesive style, ensuring you remain memorable, as well as looking ultra-chic and professional

    All of my contract and documentation is printed on thick luxury paper, I have customised thick cream envelopes and thank you cards (thank you cards are super-important) and I am on the hunt for the perfect shade of lavender ribbon (no easy task I assure you)! As well as that I have personalised stickers with my logo and 'thank you' wording, an address stamp for the envelopes, and other little bits and pieces that I hope adds up to a special little parcel for my clients to receive both after their sessions with me.

    This is an example of what I send to my clients after their engagement shoot- I know that I would love to receive something like this in the post!

    Of course these little touches eat into my profit margins slightly more than the average photography (or worse, ipad presentation), but my lovely clients are definitely worth it!

    How do you stand out with your branding and packaging? If you know that you need to improve, use your colours fromm your logo as your starting point, and then brainstorm different ways that you can make your packaging stand out. It doesn't have to cost a lot either- for example my personalised pen (haha! I think it is funny that I have a 'personlised pen', but I do love it) was free from Vistaprint.

    And one more thing to help you on your way, here is a 10% discount code for Moo.com, where I order my stickers and postcards in my signature colours and style.

    Charlie x

    CKB Photography

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  • 7 Simple Ways To Improve Your Photography

    Everyone, from beginner to pro, wants to improve their photography. I think it maybe has something to do with our competitive nature (keep an eye out for the guy who manages to pop up at every wedding with a bigger camera or lens than even the hired photographer), but I hope that it is mainly to do with the fact that we want to capture our memories perfectly- that is, as we remember them. Or how we wish to remember them!

    Here are seven easy ways for absolutely anyone to improve their photography.

    1. Carry Your Camera Everywhere.

    This is often said but never done. The good thing is, you can use your phone for this- but you do need to get into the habit of whipping out your phone to take photographs of things you wouldn't normally take a photograph of. The more you photograph, the more images that you will have to be able to look at critically and see where you have room to improve.

    2. Find Beauty In The Everyday.

    The first photography project I ever set myself was taking beautiful photographs of other people's rubbish. I took grainy black and white shots of cigarette butts hiding in long grass, abandoned fridges, a forgotten 1950s diving board. The everyday is where our real memories live; that tiny hand as it reaches for yours, that ladybird that reminds you of the one that fell on to your cheek when you were nine, the toast because you always had toast for breakfast at your Nan's house. Our collective memories are shared, they are what we all have in common- and so often they are overlooked for photographic opportunities in favour of the big monument, the big occasion, the first steps. Not that these things aren't beautiful too, but the real beauty is the stuff of the every day. Photograph it, remember it. Start small and photograph pieces of your daily routine- the washing in the corner, the sun in the window, your child brushing their teeth. Look for unusual perspectives, pretty light, or anything that catches your eye. Travel through your day as if it were the first day you had lived this way, with your eyes open and your camera on.

    3. Print Your Pictures

    I am forever be told by people that they need to print their pictures, that currently live on their laptop / desktop / phone. I include myself here- I too am guilty of this. PRINT THEM!! Being surrounded by photographs will inspire you, motivate you, and enable you to actually SEE your photographs- and what decoration could possibly be more beautiful for your home?

    4. Experiment

    Whether it's with posing, dressing up, the type of camera that you use, visiting a new place or trying new effects in your photo-editing program, you have nothing to lose here and everything to gain. Experimenting yields improvement in your technical and creative abilities, and you might even be able to develop a style, or expand your current 'signature style'/ add to your repertoire if you're a pro or semi-pro.

    5. SHARE Your Pictures.

    Show people them! I don't mean lump them all into one facebook album containing three thousand and three images- no one wants to see that. But to get feedback, you need to ask for it. Use the people that surround you- ask them what they think of a SMALL series of images (if you start to get the is-this-like-looking-at-holiday-photographs glazed stare, you know you've shown them way more than enough), I suggest around 5-6. Ask them which one they prefer and why. Use facebook or twitter to ask similar questions. Sharing your work in a blog or a scrapbook (great for those prints which didn't quite make the wall / album display) help you to record and evaluate your ideas, dreams, memories AND your photographic progression.

    6. FIND TIME.

    Whether you 'like' photography as a hobby or interest, or 'LOVE' photography as a professional, find yourself just ONE hour in your entire week to 'be creative' with your camera. This includes following the above tips and experimenting and recording your findings. Do this every single week and your photography will develop and grow, and you will have a record of it to look back on in a year's time to see how far you have come. What could feel nicer than that!

    7. Educate Yourself.

    No yawning in the classroom! Whether it's a short online course, an evening college course, one on one tutorials or attending a photography workshop, photography education is really fun. Trust me! You will meet like-minded people whatever your level of interest, people who will inspire and fuel your enthusiasm and imagination. Plus it's a chance to break out of your everyday routine, to stretch and challenge yourself. You will leave feeling refreshed and inspired, and GREAT about your new skills, talents, and above all; about yourself. There is nothing like a sense of achievement that leaves you feeling proud, blessed, thankful, and excited, all at the same time.

    So that's my list of 7 easy ways to improve your photography. Which one/s will you be working on? Choose one and start right now!

    If you liked this, keep a lookout for the very first of my 'Improve Your Photography' downloadable guides coming soon! The first guide is currently top-secret, but I promise you, that for those of you just beginning, or looking to improve upon your photography- you will absolutely love it. And best of all it is totally FREE. To make sure that you don't miss the official launch date, subscribe to my email list, using the box at the top of this page.

    If you have liked this article please do your good deed for the day and SHARE it on facebook, and leave a comment below. I am truly grateful for all comments received.

    Charlie x

    photographybyckb.co.uk

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  • The Most Expensive Photographs I've Ever Taken (and why I can't wait to take more)

    Yesterday was a really happy day for me. For a while now I have been in two minds about whether or not I should shoot on film. Yes, the old, practically-extinct-for-most-people, film that you buy and have to put in your camera and then get it developed to produce pictures.

    I have always loved film and feel it suits my style of photography perfectly. It is soft, light, and pretty, and has a beauty that I really do have yet to find matched by digital. However, it is also hugely expensive in comparison to digital, and to tell you the honest truth? As some of you know, I really lost my confidence in my photography skills while I was at university, so film, where I can't always control the results and argh!- no delete button!- freaks me out.

    However, for the reasons mentioned above, and encouraged by the fact that almost ALL of the top wedding photographers whose style I like shoot ONLY on film, I gave it another try.

    I don't believe in doing things halfheartedly, so I invested in doing it properly. I bought myself a 'proper' film camera, (a canon eos 1v-hs), some good film (fuji pro 400h), and sent my film to the best lab in the world for processing- all the way to Richard Photo Lab in Los Angeles. My one, lonely, little film travelled all the way to the States to be processed. I figured if my film photography was terrible and if I really did have no talent I could always sell the camera again.

    The subject? Baby Istria got her first pair of real shoes. We took her to Clarks for her first shoe fitting. (I admit to crying when her little feet were measured. Yes, I know, what a sap)!

    So we took her home in them, and popped her in the garden for a few minutes- but not for long. Don't be deceived by these pictures- it was FREEZING outside, it was two days before the snowfall, and a very grey, dull day.

    I admit to being completely and utterly in love with the results. The beautiful colouring produced by Richard Photo is unbelievable- you should have seen the weather here! It was a dull grey day, of the kind that only a January day in England can produce, yet it looks like a warm autumn morning.

    And the best thing is, I have done ZERO editing on these images. Not one single bit. Which means that I have extra free time to cuddle with my baby girl and my husband!

    I am SO glad I decided to try film again- these images are SO precious to me in so many ways. I am also glad I decided to give Richard Photo Lab a try- I will never again use anyone else! Thank you RPL x

    I cannot wait to use my film camera on brides and at weddings this summer - can you even begin to imagine what the results will be like? Stunning! Pretty, light, naturally beautiful- exactly what I want my brides to feel like.

    I'm not quite at the stage of throwing away my digital camera just yet, but who knows what the future holds... right now I am so happy to be able to add film photography to my photography services, and to feel so happy and confident in my photography again is such a wonderful feeling. Add to that I have some priceless images of my baby girl, and added time with my family, and the cost of film and processing becomes to me, almost zero.

    Now if you scroll down to underneath the photos, I am going to reveal to you what my next blog post is about- and if you like photography, you will like this!

    Did you like my images?

    I think that half of the reason I love these images so much is because of what they represent to me personally. I have overcome my confidence issues with film, and I feel triumphant and excited that I have reached one of my goals, which was to really play around with photography and have fun with it.

    After all, isn't that part of the reason why people who like photography do it- because it's fun, creative, an artistic expression? If you agree, then you need to come back and visit my blog this Saturday.

    This Saturday I will be publishing a post on how ANYONE can become a good photographer. This post lists the seven easiest ways that you can improve your photography, no matter your level of experience, or whether you are just starting out- this post has something for you. I will be passing on my new-found feeling of confidence and happiness, and showing you how to take great images in just seven easy steps.

    See you Saturday!

    Charlie x

    ps if you liked these images or anything in this post, please leave a comment below!

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CKB Photography Cheltenham - newborn and toddler portraits and mini sessions

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