this is not the 'about me' info you are looking for.

OK, so I’ve probably been holding back from this big old rant because it’s gonna be brutally honest and it makes me feel vulnerable but I just need to find my baws and bash on because it is totally honest and there’s no wee ‘oh hey, I love pizza and beach walks’ bullshit that really matches just spewing out the truth so you can really see who you get when you work with me. I ask you to be your authentic self in front of my scary camera lens so I’m gonna do the same here…grab a tea, this will take a while…

I’m currently sitting at a very different place for me than ever before. I’ve come out of the other side of total burn out - work-wise, mentally, physically too. I’m doing a lot of reassessing, figuring out what my honest goals and wants are, looking at the big picture. The last 3 years have been a proper rollercoaster and I’m gonna overshare about that in the hope that it maybe explains who I am a bit more honestly.

IMG_4176.jpg

3 years ago my kid’s dad and I split after a very unhealthy and unhappy time. I’m pretty sure I went through undiagnosed post natal depression. I’d had to have a planned C Section because of previous surgeries and my milk didn’t ever come in although I spent the first couple of months of my kid’s life attached to breast pumps while trying to project manage a renovation and keep my business going from my mum’s spare room. I grew very resentful of my body which I’ve never had much confidence about but now I didn’t have any in it’s abilities either.

I left that situation with incredibly low self esteem, lots of unnatural anxieties and stress, I’d lost sight of who I am and was working at avoiding dealing with anything. Initially, I felt a huge sense of relief paired with a bunch of anger at some of the fallout and isolation I found myself dealing with. I felt pretty lost and I was also stuck in the house we’d renovated for around a year afterward, surrounded by failure and memories I was desperate to move on from, while we had a ridiculous and incredibly stressful legal battle. That winter my kid had recurring and terrifying nosebleeds, waking up covered in blood and needed blood tests for Leukemia and all sorts. Thankfully, he was fine. It was not a relaxing time, everything was feeding my fear of loss.

The following year my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and began chemo. This was sandwiched by my dad having emergency treatments in hospital. I shot a whole heap of wonderful weddings that kept me going but I was struggling to keep up with all the other parts of running a business. I shot 10 weddings in the 6 weeks between selling our old house, buying a new flat and packaging up/unpacking with the ‘help’ of a 3 year old. Then, a few months later, just after my mum’s treatment ended with positive results we lost our friend, Scott, to suicide.

I really lost it when he was missing. Kind pals drove me around the coast road trying to find him, texting some pals who were doing the same, desperately hoping it wouldn’t turn out to be true. He had been there for me over the last wee while and was honest, hilarious, cheeky as fuck and supportive despite his own struggles. He means a great deal to me and many of my pals. I have never allowed myself to grieve before. I suppressed most negative emotions. I’d sometimes sink into a dark place and either isolate myself or go out and get wrecked and lost being busy with work or whatever else I could do to avoid just feeling those feelings. However, this time around I didn’t have the choice. All of the things that had happened all hit me at once and I just buckled underneath them all. I had really pushed my own resilience past my limit. Being a self employed solo parent pushed me into asking for and accepting the help I needed. I had to be ok, I had no choice other than to face everything and work through it. And it has saved my life and is making me a happier, stronger and more confident person. I’ve learnt so much from these past few years.

Therapy has taught me so much about myself, my patterns and where they came from. I’ve always struggled to really feel my emotions in my body, if that makes sense. I have had suspected Crohn’s disease in the past which lead to several emergency operations. Those happened at a time of great stress. Since therapy, I can feel when there are knots in my stomach, tension in my back and neck. I notice when I’m clenching my jaw. I hadn’t really been very aware of that before except when I was very ill with Crohn’s. I’d tried very much to avoid it. Sea swimming was a wee epiphany for that. I’ll go on about that in more detail soon.

While I started therapy and had to allow myself to sit with and experience all those negatives I was still trying to work, get my kid sorted for his first year at school (not lose it too hard in front of him), and work as best I could. I talked a lot to friends. I am lucky to have some very very good friends. But most of the time I spent with them involved sitting in my favourite bar drinking too much wine as I wept through my feelings and stories. Acting like a real prick to someone kind when I’d had too much to drink one evening earlier this year made me realise just how unhealthy some of my ways of coping or unwinding had become. I think we can all be guilty of allowing what start as fun ways of de-stressing to become unhealthy and toxic patterns. That just helps us avoid negative feelings instead of processing them and seeing that they too are transient and hold value. I’m going to write more soon about how much I’m loving finding some self confidence and feeling more present through being sober.

IMG_7518.JPG

It’s not an easy process going through therapy and some times it is dark as hell and quite lonely. But I would recommend it to everyone. We all carry so much crap around with us, which we project onto those we love or we people please or we isolate or overcompensate or fall into habits, addictions or have thought patterns that are unhealthy and hold us back from really living. I’d say to anyone struggling with anything, whether it feels like a small recurring thing that niggles at you or you know you have some brutal trauma that you haven’t worked through, ask for and accept the help you need. It won’t be easy but you will never regret it. Research, read up about your feelings and experiences, learn that you aren’t alone in any way, challenge the patterns you rely on, talk to people you trust, change your experiences, process why you feel shame for just being human, give yourself time and rest to process it all gently, don’t pressure yourself to think whatever it is will resolve instantly. Don’t put it off until you reach crisis point. Therapy can be preventative, confidence building and explorative, it’s not just for those in the real shit.


When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up and say, ‘Damn, that really hurt but this is important to me and I’m going in again’ my gut reaction is, ‘what a badass’.
— Brene Brown

That quote above, I read it recently and I thought ‘I love that and those kinds of people, I totally agree’ but didn’t even think to apply it to myself. So i’ve written this and now maybe I can!! I hope I don’t sound like some smug preachy asshole, I very much don’t feel like one. I’m saying all of this because the whole process has made me reassess everything, including my work. it has made me face most of my deepest fears and I’m still here. Not perfect but growing, accepting and trying. I am also still guilty of sometimes sabotaging myself and holding back. I want to involve the positives I’ve learnt in my work, to grow communities, to share the dark so we can really value and enjoy the light. It all goes to inform how I live and work. Tiny changes. Here’s my manifesto for the future.

I want to share as I rebuild - I want to keep exploring my own creative voice. I won’t reduce myself for anyone - I am not too much and I don’t feel too much. I am passionate about the things I love and that is a wonderful thing. I want to enjoy my work and to feel really enlivened by and grateful for all my shared experiences. I want to keep sharing the hard stuff incase it helps support someone else in kick starting whatever they’re blocking themselves from. I’ll keep on sharing my experiences and lessons with honesty, try to quit sabotaging myself, manage my time in healthy ways. I’m gonna keep on talking about having body confidence, trying to live in a more sustainable and kind way, what I’m learning from the self care my therapist and experiences are teaching me, the books and resources I find helpful…


I feel really positive and calm just now. I know that I’ve still got plenty of battles to fight - rebuilding a business that’s been a little neglected while I work through all of this, learning healthy ways to manage time, finding a space to work from out of our home so I don’t feel isolated and making sure I don’t fall back into old patterns…but I feel a new confidence that it’ll all work out how it should. I’d love it if you came with my on my wee journey.

I’ve left comments on incase there is anything you want to share directly here. And my unhelpful words project is still open to anyone. Just email hello@solenphotography.co.uk to arrange to take part. See my previous blog posts for more info on that.

Thanks for reading and I really do love pizza and walking along the beach.
x

do the earth a favour, don't hide your magic

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to Alice, Gareth and to Heather at Braw Brides for today’s feature. Click here to see Alice and Gareth’s ace day at Colstoun House last Spring, featuring a ‘surprise’ performance of The Book of Love by our groom, shit table football and totally lush loved up times in amongst the fig plants.


Wedding couples, don’t forget you can come say hi to me and the gold star top wedding creatives of all the lands on the evening of Thursday July 18 at The Engine Works in Glasgow.

Ticket info here.

These evening Wedding Collective markets are always a brilliant place to get totally overwhelmed with love and ideas and creative outpourings of awesome so just do yerselves a favour and come and get the pros to hug you through the stresses and strains of wedding planning.


Families of all shapes and sizes -

Sign up to my mailing list for 20% off a cheeky wee summer family shoot. More info on my last blog post here.

We go for a wander and you do what you do and I creep about and it’s fun, honest! July/August times available for the ‘summer’ school holidays so subscribe and noise me up with some dates.

You can read a little about what the images in the little slideshow there meant to Kris over on her Bon Tot instagram page here and here.

I’m guilty of always putting this off as I hate being photographed but having shot with Kris, Graham and CC, it made me really wish I’d sort my shit out so I can keep these little memories for my boy and I. CC has just the most expressive wee face and it’s a treat to have those captured to keep safe as she grows up.

So, aye. DAE IT —————>


do the earth a favour, don’t hide your magic
— yung pueblo

So last time I started a wee introduction to sharing some stuff from yer actual genius wedding industry suppliers with a wee bit about how Cori from Makeup by Cori deals with anxious times. Next up is Audrey Barnes.

Audrey and I worked together in a previous life at Electric Circus. I’ve photographed her beautiful face while chatting to her beautiful soul many times too. So it is really great that she is one of the first few folks to participate in my Unhelpful Words portrait series.

When i asked Audrey a few questions about dealing with anxiety and stress when event planning, inclusivity at weddings and the like, she sent me just the best answers that she’s going to have to be a blog post all on her own cos (although she said I should) I don’t want to edit that shit down….so for now, here’s a wee introduction to what she does now and why she took part in the portrait series. Her super helpful and insightful event chat will be coming soon and you’ll find it totally useful, I promise.

Hey! I’m a wee tech and creative industries nerd, with a background in events, content creation, design, organisational strategy, and intercultural communications – championing equality and inclusion where ‘ere I go!

You can find me at workshops and events, as an organiser, facilitator, and/or visitor. Or, hanging out in the digital space, writing about, cheering on, and celebrating the ways we can bring joy to more folks in the world.

My unhelpful words portrait – aside from being a wonderful opportunity to collab with one of my favourite creatives – was a message for us all on being gentle with ourselves, in world that pushes us for constant productivity and perseverance. That’s why I chose the word ‘Resilient’ – a word that gets thrown around a lot by “motivational” folks, and those congratulating others when they accomplish great things despite the odds.

While often there’s good intentions behind comments made to those who have been resilient, there’s a wide-spread neglect that accompanies it. A neglect to explicitly recognise the dark side of resilience. That is, the impacts of keeping going without rest, and experiences of trauma – whether they be rooted in internal or external sources.

For example – you may know, or be, someone who experienced bullying. Yet, kept going, and made a life. Perhaps succeeding spectacularly (in whatever way success manifests for you/them). People who know what was overcome may shout “Wow! So resilient!”. Seeing you as strong, and a person to turn to for advice and/or support, since you come with wisdom as a result of your journey. This can be very unhelpful when we don’t slow down to check in, recognising that the memories and impacts of things remain, weighing down possibilities for genuine joy and health.

If you have a resilient friend who you can turn to, that’s so friggin’ wonderful! But make sure you recognise the cost for them – they need rest, compassion, and a person to turn to, too. If you are that person, be kind to yourself. Remember “don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm” – good boundaries and the timely saying of “no” is a gift to all around you.

We all have mental health, we all have times of struggle and I think the more we make discussing our mental health commonplace the better for everyone, wherever they’re at. Aye, so…email me on hello@solenphotography.co.uk if you’d like get involved in the portrait project.


Busy times around here with stuff and things…But what Audrey says about stepping back and slowing down to check in with things is totally true and something I’ve been making a wee bit of time for in amongst all this photographing and typing and pacing about my beach as I do…I’m reading Inward by Yung Pueblo just now and it’s blowing my tiny preoccupied mind. So insightful and I feel zen as heck after a few of his words about letting go of past emotional pain and learning to fully understand ourselves. Follow him on instagram and get in about his stories as he posts daily ‘3 thoughts’ stories which are just the bees knees.

Jeezo, I could rant on, I have much to say and share but I need to pace myself cos we only just talked about that.

x

vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage

HIYAS

So you might have seen some of these family shots I did recently with my lovely neighbours. I’m so glad Kris asked me to do these. It’s something, as a solo parent always behind the camera, I often mean to do myself for my wee guy and I but typically haven’t got round to doing yet. I think family shoots still have a bit of a bad rep and I hate having my photo taken but having spent 90 minutes just hanging out with these guys as they did some of their favourite things it really made me wish I’d get it sorted for myself too. It’s a lovely memory to hold on to. Especially when your kid starts school and suddenly you feel like they’ll be a teenager in a sneeze. My wedding work is all about human connection so it’s a natural thing to also look for those wee moments for families, whatever combination of humans (and animals) that might involve.

Anyways, I’d like to do some more of these. I’m also getting my shit together (slowly) and working on a mailing list to send out print offers, photography discounts for new things I’d like to try out and event news so if you fancy a (Central Scotland) school holiday time family wander with me and my cameras, sign up to my mailing list at the bottom of this rant and you’ll receive a wee introductory discount for being an ace human who pays attention.

Also visit Kris’s store, Bon Tot, if you haven’t. It’s full of ridiculously awesome things for little and big folks.


WEDDING COUPLES, come see me at The Engine Works, 18 July as part of the latest evening Wedding Collective market.

These are the only wedding fair type of guy that I like to get involved with. They’re always overflowing with creative ideas and they’re a lot more gentle and interesting than the conference centre hard sell kinda things which just give me the fear.

It’s always a treat to catch up with the rest of the collective cos they are a lovely talented bunch of folks and they inspire my face greatly. Prepare for a love and creativity overwhelm…I’ll bring my best patter and some photos.

tickets here


Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable but they’re never weaknesses.
— Brene Brown

edinburgh portrait photographer

Let me introduce you to a very special human. This is Gemma Bromley. We met recently and are about to work on some wee creative ideas together. We are going to photograph invisible things. We are magical wizards.

Gemma is writing a book. She has recovered from a serious brain injury and has been through a bunch of trauma and come out the other side as just an incredibly inspiring graceful and kind woman who I cannot wait to work with. Gemma’s book is going to discuss how she has coped through her tough times as she wants to help others do the same, especially those who have lost a part of themselves through their trauma. Give her a follow on social media so you can keep in touch with her progress and to learn a bit more about her work.

Some of the photographs we’ll make will be based on my unhelpful words project which is open to anyone. We all have mental health, we all have times of struggle and I think the more we make discussing our mental health commonplace the better for everyone, wherever they’re at. Aye, so…email me on hello@solenphotography.co.uk if you’d like get involved in the portrait project.


edinburgh portrait photographer

I am the segue master. Just watch how smooth this is….This is Cori of Makeup by Cori (highly recommended FYI) taking part in my ‘Unhelpful Words’ project…Beat matched it.

Cori is a big fan of Bill Murray, puns and she tells really very incredibly lame jokes. These are facts.

I promised to gather the troops and launch an attack on the stresses of wedding planning. I think all makeup artists and hairdressers are therapists as they tend to have heard it all before and have great advice. So we’re easing in gently to this whole sharing thing with a wee bit from Aunty Cori about self care in the planning stages and the nervy hours before the ceremony.

“In terms of self-care, if you’re feeling that things are starting to get on top of you then take some time to work out what’s causing you to feel like this. If I’m feeling low, stressed or overwhelmed then I find that it really helps to remove myself from a situation and take some time to myself and try to remember what’s important. Also, talking to people helps.

I’m currently working hard on not feeling guilty about taking time to relax (even though it’s my favourite thing to do)! It’s ok to do nothing and you should make time to do it, whether it’s just having a lie down, reading a book or sitting in your pants all day eating ice-cream and watching trashy TV – don’t feel guilty!

On the wedding day, delegation is the key! You want to sit back and relax so make sure your bridal party know what the schedule is and what tasks they need to do before you walk down the aisle. It’s really important everyone knows when they’ve to be in the makeup chair and when they need to be ready.”

Things that help me when I feel overwhelmed include taking some time to scribble down how I feel to help process it as it often turns out to be past experience triggering stresses. I like making crap collages or printing photos as cyanotypes as I find tactile things calming and they usually end up sketching out my anxieties. I also go for a wander on the beach, jump in the North Sea, go to the modern gallery to stare at some paintings for a bit, make a list of small achievable tasks and pick 3 for that day and leave everything else to later. I’m planning on getting better at naps.


There’s a whole heap of other advice and some chats about sustainable wedding planning, body positivity and all sorts coming soon from some ace humans, so sit tight…In the meantime, here’s some stuff I’ve been watching/reading/listening to lately that’s helped me chill the fuck out…

I’m obsessed with Brene Brown. I recently revisited her original tedtalk on vulnerability and there is a Netflix special about her, go watch and tell me her earrings aren’t prawn crackers…Anyway, I’m deep into her book, Daring Greatly, which I’m loving. It’s like having a coach with a spit bucket and towel by your side at all times.

Raw Milk : A podcast which is great for self employed creatives but I think also has some really useful episodes for helping those navigating the stresses and anxieties of planning a major event like a wedding. In particular, there is some great advice about prioritising when you are facing burn out or your mental and physical health are struggling to keep up with deadlines.

The episodes Navigating Anxiety, Depression and Procrastination as a creative entrepreneur and Connecting to your Spirit through creativity with the painter Satsuki Shibuya discuss learning to say no, learning to recognise your own patterns and what you need to do to cope, how to organise around your strengths and reverse engineering the big goals into small achievable tasks as a way of dealing with overwhelm. I’d recommend these to anyone, they’re not as dry as they sound!!


Also, if you enjoy comedy gold featuring pop stars from the naughties I’d recommend paul _ danan _ official on instagram cos it’s actual genius.

And dinny even get me started on my new addiction of swimming in the Firth of Forth cos that’s a whole big rant in itself…so I’ll no doubt write that soon.

x

beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all...

we fell in love wedding blog solen photography alternative wedding photography
 

First up, HUGE THANKS to Christina and the team at We Fell in Love for the cover feature with my beautiful brides, Chloe and Kim.

These ladies are the real deal, they just have this very special connection with each other that you can see and feel and it’s lush as fuck. Seeing that authentic love in couples is one of the very best things about doing this as a job, it is such a privilege to sense.

Anyways, you can see the wee feature online here.

 

Wedding season has kicked off already and it is so good to be back to shooting with our happy couples. I’m taking things a lot slower this year so I’m really enjoying the pace and freedom that a bit of time to get creative allows. I want to connect all the things that have been going on and inspiring me. One such thing, which has arisen from starting therapy last year, is a portrait series about unhelpful words.

I’ve always been a bit crap at self care but I’ve been learning so much about who and what I am and it’s just starting to connect everything for me. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing….Anyways, the unhelpful words photos came from the thought that I carried some really horrendous things that I say to myself or that people have said to me. I internalised some really miserable banter and carried it around for a long time. This last year has helped me to begin to let it all go instead of overthinking everything…therapy is amazing, I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone. It’s just self care and is so vital. Free up time for dreaming…

Why am I banging on about this on a wedding photography blog? Because I really believe that to fully love each other we have to understand, accept, forgive and learn to love ourselves. We just repeat bad patterns and harmful behaviours otherwise. Kinda obvious but it’s taken me years to properly get it. Weddings are a celebration of a partnership that is made with the good and the bad and that’s another thing I love about shooting them, we get to peek in the window of the journey that brought our couples together which is always inspiring to me…anyways, back to the unhelpful words portraits.

These are words with negative connotations that my lovely portrait sitters have carried in the past and were well ready to say cheerio to. So we told them to GET TAE and it’s really really good fun to shoot!! It’s already evolving as a project in the way I’m shooting and I’m loving it.

Huge thanks to Danni from Chachi Power Project for being my initial guinea pig and for introducing me to Lily from Real Talk, who is also a total inspiration. Check out their work people, follow them online etc etc. Much love to everyone involved so far.

We all have mental health, we all have times of struggle and I think the more we make discussing our mental health commonplace the better for everyone, wherever they’re at. Aye, so…email me on hello@solenphotography.co.uk if you’d like get involved in the project. I’m also aware that wedding planning can be STRESSFUL AS FUCK. I have some experiences/supplier pals to help with that. I’ll share at a later date. Everything is connected, see.


These have been making me laugh of late. Let me know if you know of more of the lols that I’d like….

This Time With Alan Partridge - how creamy and awkward is this to watch?
Athletico Mince podcast
Scottish Patter on instagram

This is Clive. Some of you have met him before. He’s my dashing & handsome quiet librarian…

This is Clive. Some of you have met him before. He’s my dashing & handsome quiet librarian…

Things I’ve been reading lately that you might like too…

After the Quake, Haruki Murakami - I’m shite at reading novels, my mind wanders off, I read the same page 10 times then give up. This is a series of linked short stories which I read and wept about on a train and it’s lovely.

Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk, Danielle Krysa - I get stuck all the time with ideas and I just need to shut the fuck up and DO them.

Deliciously Ella, the Plant Based Cookbook - THANKS to my pal The Hypnobirthing Midwife for this…I made 3 things from this book last week and they were all banging.

Care Package, Sylvester McNutt III - I’ve become slightly obsessed with Sylvester McNutt III and not even just for his name. He writes so succinctly and is pretty much bang on about EVERYTHING. I’ve recommended this book to a bunch of pals. It’s great for anyone working through anything of whatever magnitude that has troubled yer mind and soul. It’s just some thought poems as he calls them, along with a few short bits of wisdom.

Nadja, Andre Breton - a wonder of a creepy wee reverie, a surrealist story of the romantic muse or who knows. It made me think of the 70s French film, Celine and Julie Go Boating, which makes me think of Desperately Seeking Susan, my favourite film as a kid. Anyways, it sent me down an inspiring rabbit hole so I think it’s magic.

In Nadja, Andre Breton writes, “Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or will not be at all” which, for me, links to my whole point about loving, starting with ourselves, in the fullest honest sense and here we are full circle. Told you it was ALL connected.

Special bonus prize for making it this far.
xx

hot features

Alright?

Incase you missed stuff, here’s a wee note of some recent features on yer favourite wedding related blogs:

Molly and Tom’s amazing wedding at BAaD by the Barras on We Fell in Love

Sophie and Phil’s ridiculously fun day at The Byre at Inchyra on Plans and Presents

and just me blabbering on Wedding Collective in a wee supplier spotlight thingie

Thanks everybody who took part in these, always nice to see the photos again.

alternative wedding photographer scotland

I also wanted to bring 2018 thank yous for everyone I worked with last year with me to this new website/blog so here’s the slideshow again too…


In a couple of days I’m off for a wee trip to Budapest. There’s a photo festival on with real actual DAVID LYNCH photography and I’m pure jonesing to get there so I can stare at them for a bit too long then have mad fucked up dreams…but yeah, it might take me a bit longer to get back to any messages but I will when I get home. I’ve never been to Hungary before so if you’ve got any Budapest recommendations then slide those bad boys into my inbox.

Egészségére!

x

welcome, traveller.

 

HIYA

I’ve been a busy wee beaver backstage, tuning up and doing my deep lunges in prep for showtime. I put you on the guestie with a fancy tour laminate and here we are - a brand new website for your perusal and delectation. I hope you like it. The show is peppered with some new material but hopefully your old favourites are still on the set list.

So aye, please have a good swatch at the site and let me know what you think. Report back anything that doesn’t work. I’ve left the comments on to see if anyone swears at me or sends me links to weird shit on the dark web. ..

Here we, here we and all that.

I’ve got actual patter for you soon - some wedding photo features, some new projects etc etc but as pop legend Luke Goss would say ,“Rome wasn’t built in a day"' and the like so don’t go too far.

xx