I’m writing this blog in retrospect. Almost a year to the day of my daughter’s photoshoot with a very talented photographer called Carli Adams of Bailie and Belle. You may be wondering two things – why I’ve left it so long to blog about this shoot and why I’m even bothering after a year has gone by.
Firstly, I have always been the kind of person to rant and rave about both good and bad experiences. This was an exceptional experience which I feel obligated to share. Secondly, when I commit to doing something, I will do just that. Unfortunately, being a stay-at-home-mum whilst growing a small business; doesn’t always allow for me to complete tasks in a timely manner as you can see, but never-the-less, I always get there in the end.
Let me tell you all about how I met the lovely Carli Adams and her husband Dan.
I can clearly remember the first time I clapped eyes on Carli and Dan at The Jelly. I was sat at the back of the King Harry Pub juggling my MacBook, Filofax, pot of tea and a plate of chips feeling very self conscious. I really wasn’t sure about the etiquette at these kinds of events and although I had absolutely no need for my Filofax or even my MacBook, I thought if I just sat at the back of the room ‘stuffing my face’ with cake I would seem inconspicuous, just a random person in the wrong part of the pub having a mid morning snack.
I was introduced to Carli and Dan by a lovely lady, Jenny Soppet-Smith, in a rather unusual way. She in fact designed my website. It was at the Jelly on that cold winter morning that Carli and Dan were spoken to across from me by Jenny. Incidentally, this is how we introduce and recommend each other within our group – by shouting across the room or messaging individuals who you feel would connect or work really well together. It’s a bit like speed-dating but for your business as opposed to for your love-life. Networking at its finest!
I thought Jenny said their names were Cary and Hans and so when they came to chat to me that’s how I kept addressing them. Carli and Dan either chose to be really polite, (to save my embarrassment) when I kept calling them by these names or, they have really bad hearing and didn’t even notice. For the first 20 mins that I chatted with Carli I thought she was a friend of Dan’s with a mutual business interest. Most people that know me either on a professional or personal level, will agree that I’m a very direct person, (about as subtle as a brick!) and I don’t waste time getting to know someone and connecting with them. It didn’t take me long to find out that these two talented photographers were in fact a husband and wife team with very strong family ethics.
After getting to know Carli and Dan, I came to the realisation that Carli specialises in maternity, new-born and cake smash shoots whilst Dan focuses on family portraits, weddings, head shots and pet portraits.
Fast forward four months after I initially met Carli and eventually found a date that I could keep to, (Carli was so flexible with her availiabilty and even more gracious when I had to reschedule on three occasions) the shoot was booked for a Monday morning in May.
My then 16 month old – Bea, had only started walking a few weeks before the photo shoot so I didn’t know what to expect from her in terms of her behaviour in an enclosed studio. Furthermore, despite the fact that she had always been a good sleeper, we both had a really difficult night as a result of her teething. Carli had emailed me lots of really helpful tips on how to prepare for the day but I woke up that morning so disorganised and anxious about how Bea would react in a new environment, especially as she was so tired. I messaged Carli in a panic and she was incredibly calming and clear in her instructions as to what I should do in preparation for the day.
Not always one to take advice verbatim, I did on this ocassion and we both arrived at the studio looking and feeling like the muppets from Fraggle Rock. I was on my phone to Carli informing her of our arrival when I looked up, and as if by magic, she was at the car door and before I knew it we were whisked off to the studio.
I was delighted to be able to make myself a hot cup of tea as soon as we walked into the studio while she showed Bea around.
What I remember is me sat on the floor downing a mug of tea whilst wiping sick off my trousers with baby wipes. Carli on the other hand was casually walking Bea around and letting her explore the studio (See picture on the left). If I had any anxieties about how Carli would manage to contain Bea in her studio they immediately melted away after seeing how in tune she was with her. She seemed to have quite a calming effect on Bea. That’s not to say the the photoshoot didn’t have hilarious and laugh out loud moments. Anyone that knows my child would describe her as very spirited and energetic. We both made the comparison halfway through to that of a Zumba class with a toddler on speed. I definitely felt like I’d done sit ups and squats the next day. I had achy muscles in parts of my body that I didn’t even know existed!
The Studio is in Wheathamsted – four miles north of St Albans, on the River Lea in the heart of Hertfordshire. A beautiful and picturesque village with plenty of parking outside the studio.
Carli’s love for family and children is very apparent. If you should visit her on social media, you will see that her love of all things pregnancy and child-related stretches much further than her own personal interest and photography business. She loves to delve into difficult subjects too. I think this is probably one of the first reasons I connected so well with Carli as she does not have any taboo subjects and she is so open-minded about life in general. We’ve had some really deep chats about health and wellbeing, natural products for your body and home, mindfulness, the power of being a positive person and how to truly feel happy in your own skin.
She strives to be at the top of her game by keeping on top of training, and making sure that health and safety are always a priority in new born photo shoots. I particularly liked her blog on Things To Ask Your Newborn Photographer.
There are numerous props that will appeal to a wide range of individuals. This includes beautifully handmade hats, shawls, wooden toys and baskets. You will walk into her studio and immediately feel safe and cozy. Carli really has thought of absolutely everything to make a baby feel safe and comfortable.
There is just the right amount of things in the room and the different areas are well thought out. Immediately to the right is where you can sit down and have teas, coffees or feed your little one. It’s also a perfect set-up to view your pictures. I was lucky enough to have Carli come to my home to show me all the pictures on my TV. All because I couldn’t find the time to come and view them at the studio and Carli knew how desparate and excited I was to see them.
The changing area is also really well laid out and she had supplies of nappies, wipes and every other baby paraphernalia needed. Having said that though she was more than happy for me to change Bea on the carpet as she was slightly bigger than her average new born client!
Carli has a story behind everything in her studio. Not one single item in her studio has been selected at random or in haste.
Carli puts so much care and thought into making the right purchase according to recommendations and her own personal experience. There isn’t much this lady doesn’t know about pregnancy or babies.
This is a very tired Bea after the shoot had finished. This picture has picked up the one corner of the studio where it didn’t look as if a hurricane had hit it. Carli refused to allow me to tidy up and instead helped me pack up all of Bea’s things and get me into the car. Clearly all in a days work for this professional lady.
Reflecting back on the day gives me such a warm feeling as it was honestly so much fun! Carli is a true professional and is really laid back in her approach to helping you as the parent to make the shoot go as smoothly as possible. One of the things that she strongly advised was that I joined Bea for a few pictures. I was resistant at first for various reasons but mainly because I felt under dressed and I knew how knackered I looked from lack of sleep. I think that because Carli is so diplomatic in the way that she puts things, (she would never force a suggestion on someone) I went with this idea and I have to say, when I viewed the pictures afterwards I was glad that I did. Fast forward a year and looking back at those photos I’m so thankful to Carli for making that suggestion as those pictures are so precious now that she is a year older and I have so few pictures of us together bar selfies.
When I viewed the pictures the first thing that I noticed was that in nearly most of the shots Bea was busy doing something as opposed to looking at the camera. Carli really captured her personality and I just adore the ones of Bea concentrating with her special toys that I brought along. They look so natural and not at all staged.
It was certainly tricky to choose just one to frame even for someone as decisive as me but I got it down to two and in the end my husband chose which one he preferred being as he wasn’t part of the photo shoot.
I can hand on heart say that the whole experience from start to finish was so special because of the attention to every detail from Carli. I was so grateful to her for allowing me to view the pictures in my home instead of at her studio and she went one step further and had her husband deliver the framed photo personally to me at my home. It arrived in such a big box I remember thinking that I’d ordered the wrong size picture again – I once ordered a wardrobe sized picture instead of an A4 size in a hurry!
The picture frame was so exquisitely wrapped, I felt like a child on Christmas morning opening a long awaited gift. Then to add to the anticipation there was another small gift box inside the package and when I opened it I was looking at a beautiful mini canvas picture of Bea on a little box. Inside the box was a memory stick with all the digital pictures. I was completely blown away and it didn’t escape my notice that it was the picture that I had initially chosen for the frame.
Carli really knows how to treat her customers and all the little added extras and special touches are what truly sets her apart from other photographers.
My only regret is not having met Carli during my pregnancy for a bump photo shoot and also the new-born photo shoot. The only pictures I have of myself during my pregnancy are selfies and although I may have thousands of my Bea, (this is not an exaggeration) I would have loved to have seen her in some of the little baskets wrapped in the crocheted scarves and bonnets.
Don’t just take my word for how amazing a photographer Carli is, as some of her testimonials have called her the ‘baby whisperer’. One reviewer even said that the atmosphere was so calming and relaxed that she nearly fell asleep!