Photoshoots for bloggers

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Bloggers have better photos these days than glossy magazines and online shopping sites. I was recently browsing inthefrow.com at work with a colleague while we were discussing a presentation on blogging and he thought I was showing him a designer shop. Having better cameras, editing skills and posing locked down is pretty much part and parcel of having a blog now. Outfit posts have enormously taken off because the combination of fashion inspiration, trend alerts and having a nose into what others are wearing is a winner, no doubt about that.

I’ve become quite obsessed by photography lately- taking photos, rather than being in them, and it’s turned into an actual hobby, which is good because I don’t think staring at an iphone or sampling gin mixers can really count as hobbies.

I’ve been trailing around after my boyfriend on photoshoots on and off for the past few months to learn more (I’m mostly in it for the VERY cute babies he gets to photograph) and I’ve arranged several blogger shoots which have been really fun. Massive thanks to Sasha and Bonita who feature in this post from past shoots. Blog photography is serious business so it’s been quite nice to see photos he’s taken (and I’ve had a go at) being used in posts and popping up all over social media.

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Photography is such a useful skill to have in the digital age. Before I laid my hands on an DSLR camera I thought it was all in the eye- if a shot frames up nicely you just take it and you’ll have a lovely photo. IF ONLY. There’s so much to learn when it comes to making the most of cameras, and then on top of that there’s the editing and all the technical terms. Histograms, ISO, shading, bouncing the flash etc etc.

If you have recently got a flashy DSLR, there’s a few tips on what to focus on first here.

The shots below are all from blog shoots, all around London. If you’re interested in having some photos done (for a blog or anything else), drop me a line- laurenrellis010@gmail.com or you know, tweet me or whatever. The more the merrier (glossier). Bloggers in London- get in touch for outfit shoots!

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Health- frustrations and explanations 

  
There are so many trivial things in life to be frustrated about that it’s a wonder it isn’t our main emotion. It’s possible everyone else just has more patience and understanding than me, but I doubt it much. Like on Monday for instance, I was frustrated about horrific train services, rain, the economy (hello I’m an adult), the tape over mini egg tube lids and 4G not working properly. Apart from like how hard this country makes it for young people to be financially stable, the rest is just a big pile of whatever.

I should probably try and be less frustrated about unimportant things, but I’ve tried really hard and I can’t help it. There’s one thing that makes my frustration pretty much boil up and explode and will probably be the cause of the many frown lines I’m working on daily- explaining a health condition to people repeatedly. So new people yeah, you meet them and they know naff all about you, so I can appreciate they might need a little filling in, but it’s when you’ve already laid it out several times, in many different circumstances that I just get a bit blurry eyed and angry.

It’s not just having a chronic painful condition like me, there’s loads of similar inflictions that mean people are limited and not ready to take on the world on a daily basis. I know plenty of people who suffer with anxiety, bad backs, endometriosis, IBS- they’re all limited because of it in one way or another and while most of them wouldn’t go on about it, it’s helpful to have people that remember. I’ve discussed this exact thing with two friends in particular who get the same problem- people think they’re flakey or boring or ‘getting old’ if they turn down plans or can’t commit to things but that’s just not it. 

That’s not it at all. 

Health is health and it isn’t like you can wake up, sit it down and politely ask if it will behave and do you a solid. 

Besides scratching it into your forehead or wearing it emblazoned on a jumper everyday there’s not much that I or anyone who feels the same can do. I don’t want to talk about health woes or bring them up but having a long term condition does get in the way at times. It does ruin plans. It ruins fun. It doesn’t want you to go out and dance and eat 2am McDonalds and some days it doesn’t want you to go to work or get out of bed. 

I know the frustration when someone who you’ve explained your problem to time and time again doesn’t get you. Or asks why when you feel like it’s obvious. Or tries to talk you into like it’s just a ‘too tired’ thing. It’s hard and tiring but chances are it won’t get much better so you’re doing a good job at putting up with it. I feel you. I feel you a million times over. Chances are people don’t mean it. They don’t want to make you feel angry or misunderstood.

It might just be something to try and make peace with. It might be something that causes you to rage. Or comfort eat sometimes. Or feel like hitting your head off the wall. But you’re pretty much a hero. ❤

19 things you start doing when you finally have a bit of spare cash because you’re sort of an adult 

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1) Paying more than £5 for a bottle of wine.

2) Turning up to events with an offering- wine, chocolate, flowers, shots, cheese.

3) Not immediately filtering ‘price low to high’ when online shopping. 

4) Considering ordering from the full menu in restaurants but still fully appreciating 2 mains for £12 because life.

5) Branching out to a high end face wash and feeling like a beauty guru. 

6) Adding things like chutney, marinade, just-in-case-you-need-it-wine and flowers to a quick food shop. 

7) Daring to step inside TopShop. 

8) Experimenting with vodka mixers that aren’t just Supermarket own brand lemonade or orange squash. 

9) Realising just how many brands of gin actually exist once you stop picking up Tesco Value on autopilot. 

10) Wanting to pay out more to stay somewhere that will likely not have high cockroach risk and a better view on holidays. 

11) Buying tights from somewhere other than Primark. 

12) Going out for meals that involve starters, wines and adult things like coffee and proper tips.

13) Getting really into throwing your money at candles and insents and other things that make your home smell nice. 

14) Brunch as a hobby.

15) Taking great joy in not having to immediately go to the outlet on ASOS. 

16) Having your eyes open to shops like Lakeland and Dunelm and basically anywhere that sells nice, soft bedding. 

17) Spending more on clothes because “they’ll last longer” and because you’re old. 

18) Drinking prosecco at every occasion you get invited to. Sometimes with a berry chucked in. 

19) Buying food that’s really good for you and costs loads because wellbeing and kale and whatever. 

Travel inspiration- Galway

  
For the past few years I’ve spent Easter weekend away or booking to go away. This year I’m spending it with a chest infection, and I definitely won’t be booking a holiday. Sad times for me, but if you’re looking for travel inspiration for a trip this year, I found my photos from Galway last night and it reminded me how bloody glorious it was. 

I spent some time in Ireland last September doing a bit of The Wild Atlantic Way, which is basically driving up the west coast of the country. We stayed in a few places but spent the longest time in Galway. If you make a trip to Ireland and manage to escape the clutches of Dublin, please go to Galway. It’s the most beautiful, colourful, quaint city with rolling countryside all around it. It’s also home to hands down one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been- Connemara National Park. This place reminded me a bit of rural Sri Lanka, which wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but is no bad thing. 

In the city there’s loads of places to eat around the Latin Quarter including a famous fish and chip restaurant called Mc Donagh’s, and there’s also the most adorable tea shop. Cupan Tae is like stepping back in time in an Irish fairytale. It does all sorts of cakes and coffees and afternoon teas but basically you just need to go in and get a mocha and their chocolate digestive cake. It’s a calorific dream come true. 

   
 The best part of the city though is the pubs. So many pubs. So many GOOD pubs, as is expected. We weren’t staying in that close to the action though, we had an air B&B about half hour out so we spent a fair amount of time roaming the countryside. We only had one sunny day there, and we spent it in the absolute best way possible (after we switched our broken down hire car)- CONNEMARA. 

Insanely beautiful isn’t really enough to cover this place. You really should go on a sunny clear day but I can’t imagine any weather making it less epic. Kylemore Abbey and the ancient gothic church are the first stop off before you enter the full glory of the park. 

   
  

You can actually stay in Connemara, which I fully intend on going back and doing one day. There are a few scattered hotels and b&bs especially as you first drive in. When we entered I felt a bit like we were in the Safety Dance music video (if you don’t know what that is you need to get on it immediately). 

 
If you can bring yourself to leave Connemara then spending sunset at Galway Bay is worth an hour, even on a grey day when it’s raining. 
 
It’s a massive county so getting out to some of the villages and coastal areas is a must. The Flaggy Shore was my favourite spot we visited, partly because we also stopped off in the most colourful little village for French toast.

   
 
I could sit and upload about 50 more photos of Galway but I’m scared my post won’t load, so please just put it on your travel list and go see for yourself. Everything, from the people, to the live music, to the scenery, is pretty much perfect. 
 
   

A friendship round-up

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The last couple of weeks have been a really gross time. You know when you’re already down and your health kicks you? Well yeah, that. I’ve basically had a stubborn and really hectic cold that developed into a chest infection and of course, true to form, I had a holiday booked in the middle of it. My body loves to coast along and then dump as many germs as possible on me when I have nice plans. I still went to a lot of beaches and got fully involved with wine though so FU bacteria and viruses and life.

Being really ill was actually made a bit easier by something that sounds bad and I wish it didn’t happen, but all my friends have had a terrible couple of weeks too. Sharing the bad times made them a lot less bad. Eight of us (my uni friends) went to Wales for four nights and in that time we frequented A&E, an emergency dentist and spent a lot of time on NHS Choices. Between us we had two chest infections, a burnt hand, a sore throat, a cold and the lovely little sexy surprise of shingles. I shit you not. My friend actually got diagnosed with shingles.

HOW DO THESE THINGS HAPPEN?

It went from just me feeling like crap, my friend with some suspect mouth ulcers and feeling run down and once black filter coffee accident, to full bodily chaos. We survived the trip and did everything we wanted through sheer perseverance but seriously, what is the universe doing?

I’m just glad I have the sort of friends that instead of getting angry about me spreading a cold around, just started making puns and pouring flasks of hot whiskey. I’ve said it so many times before but choosing your friends carefully makes an enormous difference to life in general. Even when we’re all suffering, irritable, snotty, sore and utterly grim looking, my friends still come through and bring the good times.

Examining your friends infected mouth (shingles can be brutal yo) is not ideal weekend away times, but life happens. I’m glad that I feel confident enough in my mid-twenties to know I have friends that will ask if my nose is leaking ‘a nicer colour’ and top up my wine while they’re at it and still eat food I helped make.

I had a crap time with friends when I was a late teen and it took a while to work out what kind of group, and now groups, I wanted to be part of. I’ve done a pretty good job. I’ve found some good people. I’m smug about it. In the last five years I’ve made friends for life, met people who have impacted on me hugely, made friends abroad, friends at work and I’ve also culled friends and cut people out. Not in a horrible bitchy way or because I think I have a right to dump people, just because there’s little point in keeping people around who give you nothing back.

Some of the stuff about friendship on this blog has been the most read and most shared, so it seems to be a topic people can relate to:

Culling bad friends 

The kind of friends we all need

Unideal situations with friends

You get the point. I go on about friends and support a lot, but it’s when you’ve been reminded how lucky you are and how much friends matter that you may as well go on about it a bit more.

 

10 reasons Wales should be your next mini-break


I’ve become a bit obsessed with seeing as much of the UK as I possibly can in the past year. I spend a disproportionate amount of time on Air B&B looking up cottages and googling ‘most scenic beaches’ because why the Hell not? It’s all here and it’s all a car journey away (unless you go to Skye which I class as a MEGA car journey).

Last week I hauled myself and 7 friends to the most insanely beautiful converted barn in Pembrokeshire, Wales. We went armed with a magnum of prosecco, trainers, Biscoff and erm, a drone.

I can’t exactly say the four days went entirely to plan (I’ve now experienced Welsh A&E and been supportive in a Welsh emergency dentist) but it was bloody lovely anyway. I’d only ever been to Cardiff before for a ‘how many jaeger bombs can we drink in 48 hours’ sort of affair, so it was well and truly time to see some countryside and go to some of the beaches my mum has been telling me about for years.


I mean, Wales really does know how to do a beach. Between walking across sand freezing our limbs off, shouting “AWWWW” at lambs, marvelling at the price of a pint and breathing in a lot of fresh air, I decided I need to live by the sea at some point in my life. For the time we were on beaches, it was the sort of cold where your start to wonder if you still have a nose and how you’ll ever be able to grip anything, but I sort of kind of like cold beach days. I don’t know who I am either.

So yeah basically, two big fat thumbs up to Wales and you should totally go and actually stay in the exact adorable barn complex we were in. It had UNDERFLOOR HEATING and the dining table of dreams. Eat your heart out Cribs. If you like really nice photos and being super nosey this photo blog of the whole trip is here.

Here’s a few more reasons to get booking a dreamy little country break:

1) Beaches that look like something straight out of your dreams with no litter, no crowding, no pollution and the cleanest, bluest looking sea. Barafundle beach should be advertised as somewhere to go and clean out your soul and mind and become a better a person. It’s better looking than any Kardashian and you have to trek down a sandy cliff path to get there after passing through a stone arch. Life.


2) Daffodills. Everywhere.

3) Spring will never ever be cuter. Wales has a lot sheep, you probably guessed. Lots of sheep mean lots of baby sheep and while I’m not one for trying to touch or hug farm animals, they’re pretty bloody adorable to watch from a safe distance with a latte.

4) You can go to Dobby’s final resting place. This was pretty much the most exciting part of the whole 4 days. I was looking up good places for sunsets and came across photos of Freshwater West beach. One of my pals googled it and it tuns out it’s where the HP crew filmed Dobby’s funeral. All of the feels. We went there at sunset and climbed all over the sand dunes and I’ve never been anywhere more peaceful. If you love HP and  you like sand, I can highly recommend.

5) There’s no end of amazing looking converted barns. I’ve never stayed in a barn before, but I will be putting it high on my agenda to do more often. I don’t know if saying I really, really like wooden beams is the lamest thing ever, but I care not. I really REALLY like them.

6) You’ll never find more pastel coloured houses anywhere. Why don’t more places paint their houses? It makes everything so much nicer. And much more instagram-worthy.


7) Tenby. Maybe the cutest seaside town I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

8) The amount of sand dunes. You can’t be unhappy on a sand dune.

9) Wales apparently has more castles per-square mile than anywhere else in the UK. I don’t feel like you can dislike castles.

10) The sunsets. I tried and tested and can confirm they’re solid, 10/10 sunsets.  

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Melting gel cleanser will save your face

  
I had a slight skin crisis two weeks ago when I woke up and half my face was peeling off. It’s probably just the time of year and all the cold and dry air but I’ve never had skin that dry. And I’ve never had so much skin trying to escape my body at once. 

Anyway it was gross and sore and I went into Boots and spent half hour staring at the skin section debating if I should just drop £40 on some Elemis products online when I spotted a little tube from No 7 called Melting Gel Cleanser. 

It’s miraculous. 

It comes out almost rubbery, turns into a soft cleanser when wet and then forms a milky texture as you clean it off. After four days I had pretty much serene, smooth skin with no gross patches and no dead skin parties happening in my T-zone. Joy. So much joy. 

I’ve never used a gel cleanser and I’ve never fought off immense dry skin so I have nothing to compare to but this stuff is crazy good. It’s so gentle. 

Big fat 10/10. If you have sensitive skin that’s packing it’s bags and sky diving off of your face get yourself to Boots. 

If your health is bringing you down…

  
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimised by you’re own health. 

I’m raising both of mine. If I had more hands I would raise them. I’ll even raise my feet. 

 For as long as I can remember I’ve felt like my health was a joke. Like someone out there was pushing buttons to make things worse for me. Maybe it’s a punishment. Maybe I’m just unlucky. Maybe I’m weak. Maybe I just need to man up and deal with it. Whatever it is though, it’s made my life unpleasant at quite frequent intervals. Having a chronic illness doesn’t help and I have to accept I’ll always feel a bit ropey, but even colds are out to get me. 

I eat well these days, I don’t drink that much, I exercise, wash my hands like we’re told to, use hand sanitizer on the tube…I do everything I can yet the germs can’t stay away. Basically, my milkshake brings all the germs to the yard and they’re like YAY PERFECT HOST BODY GIVE HER HELL. 

I’ve spent the last week trying and so far failing to fight off a really nasty cold with a killer sore throat. It’s still not gone. On top of that I’ve got joint pain, really bad fatigue, I’ve been limping, keep having nosebleeds and just before I got ill I had a mystery rash all over my arms. Just a standard week in my life. 

Well I’m bloody sick of it. I mean I’m seriously done. I want better health. I’m sick of feeling sick. I’m sick of being thought of as a ‘sick note’ and I’m bored of my health bulldozing it’s way through all the fun and good in life. 

If you feel like you’ve had a raw deal of it with your health then you’ll know how I’m feeling. It’s draining and tiring and unfair and makes me feel so angry. 

I’m determined that this year (once I’m over this gross virus obvs) I’m going to make positive changes. I can’t keep a mindset where I let the bastard keep me down. Health is so important and I feel like I do enough but I’ll do more. I’ll do basically anything to make it better. 

Chronic illness and all the other stuff in between, this is NOT your year. It’s mine. It’s March now. You’ve had your fun. You’ve done enough damage and now it’s spring and it’s getting lighter and warmer and nice things are on the horizon I’d like to ask you to F off. 

I’m going to get you health. You will be mine. 

If you’re out there feeling like your poor health is crushing your soul and leaving you depressed, I feel you. I feel you so much. If extreme positive thinking and positive changes make a difference that’s big enough to measure I’ll let you know. 

It’s about bloody time spring

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I really like weekends where you do a lot of one thing like sleeping for 25 hours or the polar opposite- being outdoors and full of beans for 2 days  But there’s nothing in life like hitting the nail directly on the weekend head and having the perfect amount of everything to lift you out of a massive rut and make you feel like a better, healthier, happier little human. AND FINALLY ITS NOT  DEEPEST WINTER.

We’re coming out of quite a shit time of year. It’s cold out, you probably don’t have masses of fun planned, you have to go away if you want warm weather, everyone’s got a cold and it’s just a bit Blergh. Although leaving work at the end of last week in the light made me feel much better about life. I’m so over the dark and the cold and feeling like I’m blindly trying to climb out of some wintery, lazy hole I’ve fallen in. I want to feel like one of those super cheery people you see on Facebook checking in at parks and picking daffodils and going on runs through fields (who are they though) because SPRING.
Tbh Spring, you could have come sooner. It’s been a long old winter and I’ve never felt so lethargic and lazy as I have done since January landed. Hibernation has been high. Procrastination has been strong. It’s time for longer days and sunnier weather and more time outside. I need vitamin D and I don’t know about you, my skin is about ready to just fall off and start a new life abroad without me. Dry, flaky and so dull and grim.
Thanks to two days of sunshine and despite a deathly sore throat I did the perfect amount of everything this weekend and finally feel like I’ve stepped out from under my grumpy, miserable rock.
I spent a couple of hours strolling around shops and a long old time in Boots finding something to undo the damage winter has inflicted on my face. We also walked the two miles home because the sun was out and it wasn’t freezing and it wasn’t raining and what a miracle. Then I saw loads of friends at the pub, talked about rubbish, watched rugby, got a bit drunk, went on an epic dog walk the next day, showed a friend my favourite park in the world, had a long bath, did loads of body admin and laid under a blanket reading. The park btw, in the photo at the top, is called Morden Hall and it’s buried in deepest South London and you’ve probably never ever heard of it but it’s worth seeking out on a nice day. Oh and a certain genius pal of mine made slutty brownies and brought them to the pub (they’re apparently called slutty because they’ve got everything in them, ahem) with cookie dough and Oreos and ALL the chocolate.
The nicest weekend I’ve had in a long time and I’d like to give a big shout out to the sun and Spring and seasons and weather and lighter mornings and longer evenings. If this were a tweet it’d be finished off with a load of the ‘hands in the air praise be’ emojis.

 

 

My favourite blogs

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I use blogs to research everything these days. Mortgages, travel, make up, face wash, bedding, shoes, exercise, food- you name it, I read it. I never used to actually read blogs at all apart from the odd one if I saw it on Facebook, but when I changed jobs last year and had a week off I did some serious blog reading, and I have done ever since. I trawl through Twitter most evenings before bed looking for something to read, and these are my most visited:

The blog I’ve been reading for longest is Hannah Gale, number one because her nostalgia lists are top notch and always make me chuckle and number two because she let me sleep in her bed A LOT at uni and we once learned to rap every word of Eminem and Rihanna- Love the way you lie. Of course.

Sophie Cliff’s blog is another firm favourite. It reminds me of reading a life diary parallel to my own life and I like it a lot. The travel posts are really, really good and there’s always stuff about good food and drink that makes me want to up sticks and move to Leeds.

For general lols and all the gorgeous photos, sharp wit and bluntly honest opinions I read Nettle and Blackberry by Imii.

Queen Beady is the second blog I ever read and now I read all the fashion posts and all the stuff about life, homeware, working, aspirations and the lovely looking north!

Lily Pebbles, because she tries all make up that exists so I don’t have to.

While I’m Young and Skinny is my favourite travel blog and Danielle has the kind of life I’d love right now- she’s living in Dubai and is sun-drenched and having what looks like a right time of it. There’s loads of good travel posts about Asia and I LOVE her New York stuff.

If I wasn’t saving all my moneys I would be out buying everything Robyn wears and posts about on Phases on Robyn. Like, ALL of it.

I’m always looking for news reads so leave me so links for my Sunday bed blog situation that I’m really excited about.