Life With A Lens ...

Hi, I am Sheryl. Mum, award winning photographer and friend.

When I’m not dashing around the countryside, hopping over stiles with camera in hand, my favourite role (even in front of being a pro photographer!) is being Mum to Alexis, aged 8 (going on 18!). I have learned through being a mum many, many things about babies, parents and family life in general. About patience, quality time and enjoying the little moments that make memories. Becoming a mum gave me a renewed perspective on the value of simple things in life. This new, enlightened take has inevitably merged with my work. Naturally, Alexis has provided me with many opportunities to try poses, sets and locations out on her – Its like having my own in built model – as the years go on the eye rolls from Lexi get more exagerated! I’m starting to get that “oh no, mum’s got her camera out AGAIN” vibe from her! Documenting Lexi’s childhood is my longest running project to date. Each year I have tried to capture her in my unique style to build an heirloom book for her for her 21st birthday.

Alexis was the catalyst behind my fairy experience project.
“Can you make me into a REAL fairy Mummy?” was the question she posed – The image, right, is the outcome! Once people started to see this image of Alexis, Lots of people wanted one made of their daughter.

In august 2009, Newport charity ‘Sparkle’ reached out to us to join forces with another of their supporters, Hilton, to stage a weekend long fairy portrait ‘roadshow’ in aid of their charity. The South Wales Argus and Free Press series were quick to pick up on the very unusual event, (allocating it front page space!) and soon, we were fully booked and had a waiting list of people wanting to take part! It was a great success and we were very pleased to donate all £500 of the booking fees from the event to Sparkle.

The success of this then saw my studio team and I touring the UK during spring and autumn making little girls dreams come true in a series of limited edition ‘roadshow’ fairy portrait events.

A few weeks after that first roadshow, I had a phone call from South Wales Argus reporter Mike Buckingham asking to write a centre page spread about me entitled ‘Life’ – Which was very nice! Of course I jumped at the chance.

I’m not really a stranger to being in print but its still very surreal to see and pick up a copy of yourself in your local Tesco!

In 2008, PhotoPlus magazine (national glossy publication for enthusiastic amateur Canon camera users) sought out my website and asked if I would mind, if they brought a reader up to my studio in Tintern so that I could show her how to photograph her own child in natural light – My answer was ‘not at all’! … Oh … and they were going to write an TEN page feature on the days happenings! The article has since been republished more than once in a number of different magazines. Other photographers who have read the feature, have linked to my website under the heading ‘inspiration’ (bit embarrassing huh!?). The day I read that rave was a VERY good day! Since then, PhotoPlus have commissioned me to write an article about photographing in the snow, and also invited me to join their panel of experts critiquing reader’s pictures.

More media endorsement followed from the most unlikely of sources. In late 2012, I was asked by Clearwell Castle, Gloucestershire, to donate my time and expertise to document a very special little girl’s ‘Make-A-Wish’ day. Ellie, who was just four at the time, made her ‘wish’ to be a real princess for the day through the ‘Make-a-Wish’ foundation UK. Never one to turn down a charitable request, Fran & I pulled out all the stops during Ellies magical experience to give the family involved the best possible record of Ellie’s day for them to treasure. At the time, we did it purely for the feel good factor. No one could foresee that the Make a wish foundation would then go on to love the images I shot so much. Out of the 1000’s of images they are sent of children’s wish days, they have chosen mine to feature on their UK homepage and facebook sites. I was very touched and have granted them, with my compliments, a full commercial license to use the images from the day, including using them in ‘Best’ magazine to accompany a full page article about Ellie’s story. I’m pleased to tell you that Ellie is doing well. I’ve penned a separate blog entry all about Ellies day and what happened next here

Sheryl is presented her British Professional Photography Award of Excellence in 2004 with then Chairman of the Welsh MPA, Derek Booth. Only 3 were awarded in the Mother & Child category internationally. Also in 2004, Sheryl was named Welsh Photographer of the Year (Mother & Baby).

One of my personal favourite shoots was at Berkeley Castle for the Berkeley family. Rob and I set up some complicated lighting in the drawing room of the famous family home for a portrait of all 3 generations of Berkeley’s for inclusion in their 2013 guidebook for the prestigious house and grounds (a FAB wedding venue if you’re looking!). Rob and I had to keep our wits about us with so many important heirlooms and significant artefacts in the room itself but the resulting image is lovely.

… In fact, The journey I have been on with my camera so far, with all it’s suprises, hilarious happenings and bizarre stories would make a good book! And, whilst we’re on the subject of books … I’m very excited to be launching a very special project to document the children of Monmouthsire over the course of a year using the county’s features and landmarks. The resulting coffee table art book will truly showcase what a glorious part of the world we live in and become an enviable keepsake for the families involved in the making of the title.

I am the photographer for people who are serious about their art, that want something more than a ‘photo’…. that want stunning, heartfelt images of their children. Art that evokes an emotional connection with the heart of anyone who views.

This is what I call ‘interpretive’ photography… sometimes it’s what’s not in the picture that counts. Perhaps the image stirs a memory or captures a feeling… or a secret bond or shared emotion between you as a parent and your children… It’s how an image FEELS not necessarily what it shows.

Anyone can operate a camera… but it takes more to be a photographer. The main difference is LIGHT…. how light works and how it can be manipulated to give stunning effects. ‘Seeing’ light is very different to recording it. Sometimes you can see an image and love it… but you don’t know why it’s different… It’s the use of light. It gives pictures a depth and a soul.

How do i do this? By using and directing natural light as much as possible in my work and more importantly, by getting to know you. It seems a simple enough idea, but increasingly in today’s fast paced society personal relationships are often overlooked.

When you commission me you can be guaranteed that you will get me, from start to finish, through all stages of your experience. It will be me shooting, viewing and printing your photographs to the highest of standards.

I hear so often that ‘normal’ photographers make their customers feel like a statistic and that ordinary photography is almost like a ‘sausage machine’ which you go through and come out the other end with some photos … perhaps the same poses and set-ups as the next child. I am proud to say that each sitting with me is unique. Energy, diversity and individual creativity for each client. But ultimately, my own personal ethos is that everyone that comes to me deserves a level of personal service beyond their expectations. To be treated with respect, without pressure or prejudice. We have fun too! My passion for my work is impossible without your input. We’re a team!

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