Living with the stages of isolation being self employed
Whether you seen it coming or not, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnston announced that all citizens had to stay at home in a bid to curtail the spread of Coronavirus on March 23rd 2020.
2020 didn’t get off to the best of starts with the Bush fires in Australia, Brazilian floods and locust infestation across Africa and Pakistan. There was leaking footage emerging from social media sites of a deadly virus in China. Some listened, some called it fake news. Some countries acted quickly and some laughed it off.
As the weeks turned into months, the looming fear began to set in that this could happen to us. But we were assured, it’s just the elderly, the already terribly ill. If your young, you will be okay. We were afraid, not only for our families but our businesses. As a Newborn photographer, I knew I couldn’t work and practice social distancing. All the training I had didn’t prepare any of us for a Global pandemic on this scale. Suddenly you were seeing businesses closing around you, your competitors and your friends. We asked each other would this day be okay to take this client and would that date be okay to do this job? Deep down we knew from March there was no risks worth taking on a child’s life for photographs. So we closed before Lockdown.
But still people weren’t getting it, the old Belfast saying “…aye sure be dead on”, rang in our ears as we tried to believe it wouldn’t come here. Many said …”sure we’ve been through worse.” And as a child myself conceived in The Troubles, I thought we had put hiding in our houses past us. But this was an enemy you couldn’t see. Didn’t care about your Religion, your gender or your net worth. We gradually came to accept it could come for any of us. It wouldn’t give you a chance to have a funeral or comfort love ones, it took away hugs and tore Grandparents away from their Grandchildren. The Easter baskets they so carefully created remain undelivered as we entered the stricter phase of staying at home.
We filled those early days updating websites and did some blogging and caught up all work outstanding. For the first time in my life I had no editing pile. Nothing to create, nothing to do became my day to day life. Next we panicking about Rent and paying phone bills, cancelling debits we didn’t really need and some of us bought enough toilet paper to last to Christmas. We played the meme game and we played it well. We deleted Facebook, reinstalled it, doing this a few times a week. Suddenly what was valuable in the world became hand sanitizer, rubber gloves and pasta. The most valuable members of our society became Nurses, Doctors, Supermarket shelf stackers and Bin Removal staff.
The next phase is what I like to call the ‘Sadolin Phase’. If you weren’t out your back painting your fence, your furniture or your cat, you were failing at isolation. Your car was clean for the first time in forever and your windows and gardens got some much needed TLC. You painted rainbows on your windows and argued over the correct colour order of these rainbows. Then came the power hosing, if that wasn’t already done before the paint began. And now we’re in the hot tub phase that all the work is done physically possible to your garden, for us that has money to do so.
It’s now the peak, about to peak or just off peaking. No-one really knows. You can’t concentrate on that book or have the patience for any TV show. You give in and watched Tiger King and now all you can think about is who is looking after all the animals we’ve put in cages for our amusement? You start to feel like an animal in a cage. You couldn’t find anything to watch on Netflix the best of times so you try Disney Plus but you’ve seen all that so you turn the T.V off. You make lists. You walk. You try to run. It is Wednesday. Thursday, your delivery has came so you try Yoga. You get excited for dinner time as you count the days away until the weekend family zoom quiz call that you kept meaning to exercise your brain for. You clap for the NHS and talk with neighbours, the highlight of the week so far. At least it is the weekend now and someone in your house won’t be working from home and you won’t be as lonely. And then it’s Monday again and your all alone again. And repeat.
It truly is a bizarre and depressing time for all of us. I worry what life will be like for us after this, will we be the same again? Will every member of our family be around the table for Christmas and will the children remember us? More like will there be enough stuffing and wine if your house is anything like mine!
We will hug and kiss again, we will fight for our economy and support our local businesses again. We will sing in the rain and not complain about it, we will dance in the bars like no-one is watching and we will have our roots fixed and hairs cut! We are Northern Ireland, we are neighbours and we are in this TOGETHER and we will get through it TOGETHER!!! So stay in your homes and hopefully this nightmare will end soon. I live for this day and so does everyone on this planet <3
The Newborn Prep List – What to bring…
Okay so you’ve booked your Newborn shoot, as many of you do as soon as baby is born. You are busting to show the world your new bundle and get to me as soon as possible for your professional experience. The leading question at this stage is…”Baby’s here, when can you fit us in and what do we bring…?”
Whether you’ve booked a Newborn full session or the mini, the prep is the same. I usually time all sessions around 10 or 11am as this is roughly just after most morning feeds. I ask that you bathe baby in the am of your shoot, this will help relax baby and it really does work. Try to not overdo the moisturizer as it can make the textures I use stick to skin easier.
Secondly, give baby a full feed and if possible dress baby in a easy slip off outfit or babygrow. Pack extra wipes, nappy bags and nappies. If your feeding yourself grand, if bottle feeding bring extra as baby may need a top up. Bring a packed lunch for yourself especially if your breast feeding to keep up your energy. I have a coffee machine and microwave if needed. On arrival if baby is still settled we will begin some wrapped shots using all desired props and beanbag. We can do some family portraits and individuals at this point. We will end on the beanbag with more posed styling. I will attach examples throughout this blog of how this all looks. I would love to have all the family at the shoot, however due to space limitations I only recommend Mum and one other adult attends unless siblings have been confirmed at the booking. Everyone is welcome at the viewing stage approx 1 week later.
My address is 507 Crumlin Road Belfast Bt14 7GA, accessible only via side door of The Nail Lounge. The stairs to my floor are steep, so recommended that you carry baby in their car seat and leave the pram in the car or at home. Apart from that, come spend some of the most memorable hours of your life watching your baby shine. I will go above and beyond for any requests so let me know ahead of the birth if you would like something personal.
Looking forward to meeting the latest addition to your world <3
My full newborn portfolio can be found here:
If you would like to invest in one of my packages they can be found here:
Carrie McKee is Belfast’s leading Newborn Photographer and Printer. Timeless family portraits and newborn details captured in friendly Belfast Studio. Free Parking available. Pick up the phone for a chat and to book your session now. Call now on 07590368295. 507 Crumlin Road. Belfast. Northern Ireland.
Find us on facebook for reviews and up to date Weddings, Newborns and Cakesmash sessions. https://www.facebook.com/carriemckeephoto
The Paris Wedding
If you know me well, you will think I love travelling. If you know me really well, you will know my partner Paddy does all the work booking and physically getting us from A to B. I’m not a bad flyer as such, just make sure I’ve wine, chocolate and a good show and that’s me. But physically I have not traveled alone since 2012, when I was going to Blackpool for a story for the Guardian. Fast forward to Jan 2019, I have been asked to photograph a wedding in PARIS.
In saying that, it is not the first time I have been to Paris, I have been to Paris Photo on two occasions. I have been to Disneyland Paris on three occasions. And many times visiting my Brother Chris when he lived there and was married there, twice. But that is another story!
This is every photographers dream, a Paris wedding. And I have photographed two weddings in France before. The difference it was an English speaking couple. This time I have been asked to photograph a French couple that I met through my brother. The couple Eric & Amandine have one daughter, Lena. And at this point I should mention I don’t speak ANY FRENCH. I wish I listened in school instead of beaking off to the art department everyday!
So I packed my bag and off I went with my Minnie Mouse suitcase. I was sad I wouldn’t have time for Disney on this trip but excited to see my brother and his family who had made the trip from Germany. He has also promised to translate and help with arranging group photos, an unofficial second shooter if you will. Here is a photo of me before I boarded, thought I’d do a selfie instead of the usual pint photo from the bar. I was nervous but up for the challenge!
So the couple had booked Domaine des Lumiéres, just outside of Paris city. They had a beautiful outdoor ceremony in the sun beginning at 3pm. The food was provided by their neighbors and the music was a team effort within the family. After the service we casually did some photographs in and around the venue, and although I speak no French, I generally managed very well. I even managed to get the bridal party on the bouncy castle, which should be noted no children were harmed in doing so. Another highlight would be the African meal and native dancing, that went on past 3am. The main similarity with this Wedding to an Irish one, is dancing. Much like in Ireland you may see traditional Irish dancing, harpist or a band, I can honestly say there was a packed dance floor all night. In fact I wore my flip flops out trying to keep up photographing everybody. Lastly, I would like to thank the wonderful Bride Amandine for asking me to be part of their special day. Never have a met a wilder Bride but I absolutely love your energy, even if we have no idea what each other is saying. Eric, handsome Eric, you did well my friend and looked the part. And well done learning that first dance it was very memorable. I wish you all the luck and love in the future and I hope to see you soon :)
Here is a quick highlights video of that very special Wedding in Paris… <3
Photographer or Baker?
I get asked so regularly how I came to be in the business that I am, a photographer and baker. I often ask myself the same, having to stress about the photo end of things can be bad enough. When I started the revelation that is a Cakesmash, I had trouble with finding the perfect cake. It had to look amazing, taste amazing but also be cost effective. It also had to be small enough for a baby and hold as little risk with allergies as possible. As my style progressed, so did the cakes have to. So I thought about making my own.
I know some of you would think ‘who cares it’s getting smashed by a baby’. But like all things for your baby, you want the best and so I try and do that for each of my clients and the babies that have came to me on the biggest day of their life thus far, the mighty first birthday. It’s a big deal, it can’t be redone. You will always have those memories and for some busy Mum’s/ Dad’s organizing a suitable cake wasn’t a worry I wanted to give them on-top of everything else.
So I started from scratch, literally. YouTube obviously was a gift in teaching how to make a basic sponge. From there I picked up bits and pieces, rolling pins and baking pans. Now sadly I’ve acquired a massive corner in my garage with storage boxes of mixers etc. I’ve always been creative, that wasn’t a problem and a semi decent cook. So in actual fact I have came to love baking. My favorite show is the Great British Bake Off naturally and recently have raised £300 for STAND UP TO CANCER linked below.
We can always put our heads together and teach ourselves a new skill and without a doubt the biggest compliments come when family and friends beg me to make them a cake (often totally last min). Everyone has been so supportive, especially my Mother, Mother in Law and partner, often left to help with the clean up. When I look back at myself then, flicking through the internet asking a million questions, I’d tell myself to be patient and you’ll get there. Anything is possible and worth doing it even if just for fun, learning never ends. I’d like to finish with a few photos of my favorite bakes and to please ask you to donate to the page if you can. Happy Baking….and thank you for reading <3
Carrie McKee is Northern Ireland’s leading Cakesmash Photographer/ Baker. Drop her a message now to plan your little one’s big day.
Cakesmash – Belfast – Northern Ireland – CakesbyCarrie – Themed cakes – Great British Bake Off – Photographer – First Birthday – Smash & Splash. 07590368295.
Behind The Scenes- Cakesmash
So it’s been over a year since I last blogged and thought I would share some insights into my business and how I do things. Hopefully this will be educational for parent’s and photographers alike. Firstly when booking a cakesmash with myself, people will always ask, what does that include, what do I get etc?? Well what you will get is a guaranteed an amazing experience to bring in your child’s birthday. Each session is specially designed and unique to the last. I’m perhaps the only photographer in Belfast if not Northern Ireland doing custom made cakes in any theme. You won’t be just another cake smasher with me.
Often people don’t realize the work goes into a cake shoot, so let’s explain. The day before your shoot I will go to studio and set up for the following day, this can take anything to up to an hour depending on the theme. Then I will return home to bake and prepare the cake. So that’s a full day gone one the prep already. Here’s some behind the scenes of a recent cake I made.
*TOG TIP* Link for backdrop remote system (will make your live so much easier)
So for this theme, Dad asked for In the Night Garden. I had no clue who he was…but after researching the show, I decided on this first scene. This is another aspect of being a photographer, research and knowing what your clients want. I knew I wanted to make the cake navy, like the ocean at night. Easier said than done. Here’s some images to show what I used making this cake.
What you will need:
A large base cake, I used 8”x 2 sponge for this.
6”x 2 sponges for middle
Icing sugar, Ready to roll icing, Wilton food colors, Rice krispies for boat and various cutters and baking tools.
For the base I mixed 3 colors to achieve what I wanted, the splashed with icing sugar to give the water spray effect after I rolled it over the 8” sponges. I now have a base. Very rarely touched by baby so you can use a dummy cake and I sometimes do this based on the time I have.
Then I layered navy icing over the middle to create waves for the boat to sit on. This is easily achieved and rather quick to do. Then I made Iggle Piggle, achieved by attaching a light blue and darker blue icing, just molding with your hands. A bit fliddly but looks great when done. Use cocktail sticks for the red bits but don’t let baby go for this.
Next I made the boat with rice Krispies and melted chocolate that I molded into a boat shape and let sit in fridge. While this set I made the wood planks.
After I assembled the boat and added the character, all I had to do was place the character in the boat and add the little yellow light which is just icing. Done!!
This took a few hours but was so worth it when parents seen it. This is why I charge a session fee as so much work and time has already went into the shoot before I even lift the camera to take a picture. This is why the prints and products are separate. The following day I will take portraits of baby before, during smash and then finish in the bath. I then clean up the studio, which can be messy. I then upload the pictures and begin to edit them down to show parents. Parents usually go for a large frame as it best shows off the 9 photographs included. This is the missing piece of the story. I get more excited seeing the images framed than I do about anything else. It’s an amazing investment for your home and they just keep getting better. Finally I will blog on social media, announcing the babies birthday for friends and family.
Hope you enjoyed reading and promise will try to blog more behind the scenes throughout the year as everyone loves a nosey, Carrie xo
So today I can finally share with you all the recent work to the website and new premises. I can honestly say I don’t want to do another studio move in my life, but I guess nothing in life is ever for forever. Couldn’t have done it without my family, friends and my partner and I’m forever grateful. Moving is tiring and draining but it’s also exciting and with such a sense of accomplishment when it all comes together. Finally I can have a space that I can have to my taste and needs. It’s also closer to home so that’s good on the petrol.
Let me share with you all some snaps, just from my phone for now. Bearing in mind we did this in just 2 days in-between shoots!
New address is 507 Crumlin Road, Belfast. Appointment Only.
Carrie McKee Photography. New Address. Belfast. Northern Ireland.
These little heart breakers need little introduction, with their long blonde hair and slightly faded summer tans, these boys have it all. Best part is, they come with a little white bundle of fluff, Ozzy the dog. Can you imagine the girls stopping in the street as they walk past in years to come?
This family session was non-stop cuteness, as you will see. Caden and Ryan, don’t grow up!!!
And here is the behind the scenes video of the session. Directed and edited by the Carrie McKee Inter Team.
For more information on family sessions, visit the website www.carriemckee.com or call 07590368295
Happy Birthday Sophia
Today we have a super cute princess making an appearance at the studio for her Birthday Cakesmash. Accompanied by dotting Mum & Dad, we had a super session with this little cutie. We began with some portraits, which is a great way to gauge how baby will sit with a cake. Thankfully it was only to get better.
Looking initially quite confused at what we had put in front of her, after a few nibbles, Sophia got the hang of it. It didn’t take long to demolish the scrumpy cake. After it was reduced to a pile of crumbs, we quickly whisked baby into a warm bubble bath.
Sophia was a huge fan of bubbles, like most of our babies, so she had a blast in the bath. After doing her best mass flood impression, we got her dressed and ready for her party in the afternoon. All in a day in the life of a 1 year old!
Happy Birthday little one, hope your family at least got a bit of your Teletubby cake, for you weren’t for sharing this one :)
Carrie McKee Photography. Cakesmash. Belfast. 07590368295