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30 April 2017

A day in the life of an animal photographer

Yay, it's time for another 'Day in the life' post where I share what an average day at work is like in a job that people are less familiar with. And this month I am so flipping excited to share a day in the life of one incredible, talented and inspiring girl boss, Debra Bardowicks. Debra and I have known each other since university and honestly, I'm not surprised she became one of the first pet photographers, who travels all over the world taking the most incredible photos. She's not only a very dear and wonderful friend (who I wished I lived nearer to) but someone who I greatly admire and who motivates me with her hard working attitude and confidence travelling all around the world on her own. So, this feature is a very special one to me and I hope you think so too. Read on to find out what a day in the life of animal photographer, Debra Bardowicks, is like.

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

Hello, I’m Debra Bardowicks and I am an animal photographer based in Frankfurt, Germany. I feel very fortunate to have a job which I really enjoy, combining my passion for photography with my love of animals. 

I have been a freelance photographer for 10 years now. I hadn’t actually planned on becoming an animal photographer, just somehow working with animals. I studied Biology with a focus on Animal Behaviour and Environmental Science. I took photography courses at school but never actually thought of this as a job option. While completing my BSc I came across a Masters course in Biological Photography and Imaging at the University of Nottingham, which sounded perfect. It did turn out to be a lot of fun and taught me a all kinds of things, ranging from basic video production to more detailed photography skills and various design programs. After graduating I didn’t find a "visual" job straight away, so took on a job as a researcher for different publications at a big publishing house. 

When my contract ended I came up with the idea of being an animal photographer full time. I knew that wildlife photography was a very difficult area to get into, which would involve a certain amount of luck as well as finances to build up my portfolio. As I have always had dogs and am a horse person as well, I decided to move into the area of pet photography. As this was in 2006 and professional digital cameras were not really that great yet, pet photography was a rare occupation and I was lucky to be one of the first, at least in Germany, where I was living at the time. 

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

In the years since I have built up my reputation and spend quite a lot of time working abroad, working for various publications as well as advertising and private clients. When people think of a pet photographer, they usually think of taking fairly classic photos of people and their pets. While I do this sometimes, I am lucky to have a range of clients, making my jobs very varied.

I have so far worked in about 40 countries and with all kinds of animals, ranging from snakes and scorpions to elephants and apes and of course lots and lots of lovely dogs and horses. I also volunteer for animal charities on a regular basis and have just come back from Russia, where I worked on a reportage for a dog magazine, as well as volunteering for a dog rescue in order to help them find good homes for all the dogs looking for homes. So, writing what a typical day in my life is like is a little difficult. Really there are two types of more or less typical days. One type would be at home and one would be travelling.

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

When I am at home and not out on a photo shoot my day starts with a nice long walk with my two dogs, otherwise they would never let me get any work done. Then I will check my emails and reply to any enquiries about photo shoots and maybe do some research regarding topics for reportages . There is generally always editing to do too, either post production for photo shoots done in the studio or selecting photos for publication. Then it’s out with the doggies again and in the afternoon generally more computer work or preparation for travel or the next day's shoot.

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

When I am travelling the day quite often starts off with an early start to get the best light, so I will either drive or walk to wherever I am taking the photos and meeting the people and animals I will be photographing. Depending on the type of shoot we are doing I will either just follow along and document what is happening or I will actually direct the shoot and ask people to do certain things. As it could be a portrait of a certain dog breed, or a reportage about an animal charity, or a shoot to advertise a product, all the details will of course vary widely. 

I could have woken up in a hammock, or a tent, or a beautiful hotel and could be wearing outdoor clothes and hiking all day, or something more smart and have a driver. That is really one of the things I love about my job, it never gets boring and as well as meeting lots of different animals I get to meet people from all walks of life and we always have something in common and generally have a lot of fun. I consider many of my clients and models friends. The only disadvantage to the travelling is leaving my dogs at home, but luckily they are truly spoilt when I am away, so I don’t really need to feel bad. And they’re always happy to welcome me back.

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

Thank you so much, Debra, it's been truly wonderful hearing about your animal photography world. Keep up the incredible work!

I hope you've all enjoyed finding out what a day in the life of an animal photographer is like and don't forget to check out Debra's work on her website and follow along on Facebook too. If you'd like to catch up on more 'Day in the life' features, you can read them all here. Thanks for reading folks!

28 April 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Hey, how's your week been? Did positive stuff happen? What were your highlights?

It's been a mixed old bag here at Adventures & Tea Parties HQ. There were frustrating parts and really exciting, jaw dropping parts. Reckon I'll just acknowledge the annoying parts, pop them in the bin and focus on the good stuff. Actually, I can't mention the jaw dropping stuff yet but the other highlights were...

/ Finished knitting my mustard yellow chunky bobble hat....just in time for summer, ha-ha!

/ My sample designs came back from the laser cutters and that's what the photo above is! Well, it's a sneak peek really because I've decided to tweak the design as it wasn't quite right. I'm now "patiently" waiting for the amended samples before I can move on to the next part of the design process.

/ I made progress on my 16/17 tax return. Yes, that's rather boring news but it's a relief to be nearing the finishing line with it. Working on it I reminded myself I'm definitely the type of person who when starting a job, likes to blitz through and finish it. If I chip away at a job slowly it irritates me to hell. I just want it done, so that I can start on the next task!

/ On Wednesday I went to the monthly Somerset Etsy Team meet up, which was so good! We did shop critiques i.e. gave a fresh pair of eyes to everyone's shop, which is such a useful exercise. I came away feeling so inspired by everyone. It's such a wonderful bunch of creative people! 

/ Got to hang out with two very adorable border terriers, one of which caused much hilarity with his jumping in the pond antics. He didn't amuse his lovely owner but I couldn't help but laugh!

/ Shared my latest Blog Gem interview with a fab creative blogger. Check it out here.

And as ever, throughout every week music is always a positive feature. These particular songs stood out, so go grab your Friday feeling shoes, pop them on and have a dance around the kitchen!

Tiger Rag by Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Boom Boom by John Lee Hooker
Percolatin' Blues by Smoking Time Jazz Club
When I get Low I get by Ella Fitzgerald
Got My Mojo Workin' by Muddy Waters

Happy weekend everyone, hope you have a fun one!

23 April 2017

Blog Gem - Holchester

Yay, it's time to meet another awesome blogger! This month I have the great pleasure of sharing a blogger with you who I'm a big fan of. Not only is her blog an absolute joy to read but she has the most fabulous shop, sews beautiful things and always makes me smile with her photos on Instagram. So, without further ado, lets dive on into the interview!

Hello there, can you tell all of the Adventures & Tea Parties' readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Rachel, a mum of one, and I’ve been in Bicester, near Oxford, for 5 years now. I’ve always been creative, my degrees in Art History and Art Gallery and Museum Studies led to a career in HR (total accident) but I left that behind me when I had my daughter, Thea. I started by business in November 2015, Handmade by Holchester, and alongside that I’ve now got the blog and my newest venture Holchester Designs. I also run Create! Craft Kits and a monthly local craft night, Make and Meet, with my fab friend and collaborator Emma from Em Makes and Bakes.

I’m a have-a-go-at-anything crafter, but a common theme is fabric and that’s what my blog and business have honed in on. 

Where do you blog? 
I’m very lucky that I’ve got a whole room to myself in our house where I do all my writing, sewing and most other things. It also means I’ve got somewhere to keep projects away from little hands.  It’s got 3 doors and no window of its own, which isn’t great for #wip photography but I can spread out around the house when I need to, so it’s not a problem. The thing I love the most is my inspiration wall. I put up the string and pegs as I couldn’t afford enough cork to cover it all like I wanted, and I just love how much I can change things up with it. And as I’m based at home that means I’ve got the kitchen, with the kettle and the nespresso machine on hand too. 

If you had to take only one tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
Sketchbook and pencil/coloured pens. I realise I’m pushing the ‘one tool’ a bit, but they would keep me happy, help me record my thoughts and all the really pretty things I’d see on the island too.  I’m presuming the island already has a kettle……?

How do you get inspired to blog? 
I’m lucky that my blog and business are intertwined, so often one can inspire the other.  Also doing something totally different, like cooking or playing with Thea, usually helps make space for a random thought to spark something else. What actually first made me want to blog is that I felt I had things I wanted to say and share, which weren’t really my husband’s thing and, even though he was very supportive and did listen, I needed an outlet.  Although, my blog now is very different from my first (new-motherhood and using creativity to get my head round it all!) but that sense of wanting to share something that I find exciting is still at the heart of it all. 

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog?
Just start and never think that no-one’s reading. Some posts will do better than others and it might feel like the growth is slow but it’ll be found. Also, know what you might want to get from it. With my first blog, which I only had for a short time, the act of writing helped me massively so, regardless of the readership, I was still benefitting. My intentions for Holchester.com are different now but without starting I wouldn’t have got anything from it. 
Is there a story behind the name, 'Holchester'?
Yes, it’s actually quite simple. My parents are a massive inspiration and source of encouragement and I wanted to acknowledge that. The ‘Hol’ comes from Holt, which is my mother’s Maiden name (mine is Heatherington, which was trickier to fit in) and the ‘chester’ comes from my surname, Winchester. I knew I wanted something personal and I was just playing around with sounds and when I said it I immediately liked it. It felt  unique without being unpronounceable! 

If you could go to a Blog Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would you choose? 
This is such a tough one. My first nomination would have to be Em Makes and Bakes. She’s my crafty partner in crime, a fellow blogger and a really good friend so she’d have to come along for the adventure and the laughs! 

Kat Molesworth from Blogtacular would be on the list too. Not only would we make sure the music for the after-party was great, but I find her such an inspiration as a self-employed blogging businesswoman and mum.  I went to my first Blogtacular last year and I’m off again in June as I’ve found the community so supportive, helpful, motivating and incredibly knowledgeable too.  

Third on my list would be Es Devlin who’s a theatre and set designer and has worked on wonderful theatre productions, as well as big arena pop-shows (think Beyonce, Kanye and U2). I recently saw a documentary about her (Ep. 3 of Abstract on Netflix) and I am just totally in awe. Her work is so imaginative and immersive and, as well as personally being fascinated by theatre design, I think the way she has built her practice and brand could teach me a lot. 

Next is Marie Perkins, AKA Bowie Style, who runs the blog Print & Pattern. I absolutely love surface pattern design and Marie’s work and her blog are great inspiration and encouragement to someone who’s just about got their confidence together to try and get into that industry.  

And finally, I’d invite Henri Matisse and if he’d like to bring Picasso with him too that would be even better! It might seem like a left-field choice but as a student I was always drawn to his use of colour, especially his Cut-outs, I just find them so mesmerising and powerful.  I could sit in galleries, preferably in Paris, looking at them for hours and I think the stories they could share would be awesome. 

And finally, if you had to choose one song to represent 'Holchester', what would it be and why? 

I absolutely love my music and 99% of time it’s on when I’m working/making. But I’ve also got very eclectic taste so I wasn’t sure what some of my favourites might say about me.

In the end I’ve gone for, ‘I bet you look good on the dancefloor’ by the Arctic Monkeys. I’m not sure it 100% represents everything Holchester but it’s a great track with happy memories, a good beat to encourage dancing and it references the wonderful year that was 1984, the year I was born.  My favourite memory is bouncing up and down and spinning round and round in my wedding dress at our reception to it like a total loon and it’s that sense of fun, energy and carefree attitude that I like to think it stands for! And at the very least, it will give people a funny mental-image and raise a smile, even if it’s at my expense, ha! 

Thank you so much, Rachel! It's been fascinating hearing all about your creative world and your future plans too - surface pattern design, woohoo! Best of luck with it and thanks so much for being a fabulous Blog Gem interviewee!

I hope you've all enjoyed reading about Rachel's wonderful creative and blogging world and are heading over to Holchester right now to read more! And for those of you that want to discover more inspiring bloggers, you can catch up on all my Blog Gem interviews here.

21 April 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Yay, it must be nearly weekend o'clock if I'm writing this post, woohoo! It's been a fun type of busy week with my head going a good kind of crazy over ideas for designs, blog posts and product development. I actually want to burst with excitement and create all my ideas NOW! Do you ever get that feeling? It sure is a good one to have. 

As well my head exploding with ideas, I've actually been working on new designs too and I'm now waiting on some samples to arrive of one particular creation. I'm crossing fingers and toes the samples work, eek! Also this week, I was interviewed by the fabulous new shopping marketplace, Look Lane, about my business and design process. You can read the full interview here.

Talking of which, I also shared my own interview with the incredible Sarah of Geo Heaven on the Simple Stylish Makes blog  and on my own blog with Hastings artist, Erin Veness, as part of my 'Meet the local artist' series, which you can read here. AND my next Blog Gem interview goes up on Sunday, so do pop back for a read because the blogger I'm featuring sure is a goodun'!

On Instagram this week I've been exploring colour and really looking for it in my every day life. You can check out my musings about it here and here.

Outside of work I've met new people, signed up to volunteer at a local park run and possibly, just possibly agreed to train for a 100k cycle ride?! I'm not sure if the latter is a joke or not but if it means an upgrade to my current Call the Midwife style bike, then that's got to be a good thing, right?

Keeping me going through the week has been music, with these tunes standing out. Pop them on, have a listen and a dance around the kitchen because the weekend is here. Enjoy everyone!

L.O.V.E. got a hold on me by Demis Roussos
Behind the Scenes by DJ Format & Abdominal
Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
Hot Dogs by Wild Willy Barrett's French Connection
Some weird sin by Iggy Pop
No fun by The Stooges
When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman by Dr. Hook

20 April 2017

Five minutes with Geo Heaven

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing my interview with jewellery designer, Sarah of Geo Heaven. Pop on over here to find all about Sarah and her indie biz!

19 April 2017

Blog Feature: Look Lane

I'm delighted to say that I've been featured on the fab Look Lane blog! Head on over here if you want to find out what inspired me to start Adventures & Tea Parties, what my design process is like, which designers I'd recommend and what's on my studio playlist!


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