Travel in Switzerland: Mount Pilatus

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Travel in Switzerland: Mount Pilatus

We made a split decision one day to visit the beautiful Mount Pilatus in Summer last year. I only just realised i never blogged about my experience. I have many friends visiting beautiful Switzerland and I always recommend a trip to Mount Pilatus as we just had an incredible experience here. So here’s my run-down of our overnight stay.

Getting there

As with all the mountain tops in Switzerland, i recommend going on a clear day, which usually means a last minute booking. However i would much rather this, than spending a whole night looking out on to complete white nothingness of clouds! We actually booked to go up there at christmas time last year, we were packed, bought our train ticket and was just sipping on our Starbucks at the train station when we received a call from the hotel telling us they had to cancel the reservation as the winds were too stong and access to the peak had been closed. At the time I was pretty sad we had to cancel our trip, but in the long run it was better as we visited in the Summer when we had beautiful views out.

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Mount Pilatus is very close to Lucerne so we first took an hours train ride there from Basel. From Lucerne, there are two ways to access Pilatus-Kulm - Cogwheel train or Cablecar/Gondola. We decided to go up via the cogwheeel and down via the Gondola the next day. To get on the cog-wheel you have to first make your way to Alpnachstad - which you can do via train (about 20 minutes) or by boat. We went by train, but I think the boat could have been a really great experience.

Once at Alpnachstad, we purchased our tickets - the price is CHF72 for a return ticket (36 with the half fare card). You can take a cheesy tourist photo pretending to be on the little red train here too. See right for my cringeworthy moment! There is also a cafe at the base to enjoy some food and a cup of coffee too.

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I recommend trying to get in the lowest level of the cogwheel, from here you have a very nice view out of the bottom of the train as you go up. You do have to change trains half way up so it’s a good opportunity to switch position on the train if you want. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the top on a gradient of 48% which makes it the steepest cog-wheel in the world! The views are really beautiful so its a pleasurable 30 minutes.

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At the top

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When we first arrived, we actually checked in to the hotel straight away so we could put our bags down and have a look around. We chose to stay at Hotel Pilatus Kulm in their standard double room. There is a cheaper hotel on site also called Hotel Bellevue. We were really pleased with the room, it was nice and large, clean, and had beautiful views out onto the mountains. The cost of the hotel also includes dinner and breakfast in the price, which i’ll touch on more later.

We set back outside to have a look around. At this stage it was about 5 or 6pm and still bright outside. One side had clear views, while the other side was covered in white clouds making the view a complete mystery to us until morning. Apart from a large viewing platform, there are about 3 different paths/hikes you can do. It was much bigger than I anticipated. We set off on a hike on the side we had the clear views. The pathway was all level making it a pretty easy walk. Heights make me a bit nervous and there were definitely parts that made me a little anxious - mainly because all that was between you and a steep decline was a flimsy little wire fence! The hiking trail was virtually empty as most people had to catch the last gondola and train down the mountain. We maybe came across 2 other parties walking back. Aside from the breathtaking views, there were many alpine flowers in bloom and we saw a few Ibex drinking water very close to us.

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We actually didn’t reach the end of this hike as we decided to head back after about 40 minutes so we could get some dinner before watching the sunset. Our walk was definitely at a leisurely pace - we probably stopped for about 15 minutes just to watch the Ibex alone!

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Dinner at Hotel-Kulm

There is a set 4 course menu at dinner - you have a choice of two main dishes. I’m not sure how they handle allergy requests but i’m sure they would have a process if you mentioned it at the time of booking.

I could not fault the dinner. It was of really high quality, especially as this was included in the price. We ordered a glass of wine each that we had to pay on check out. Totally worth it though - it was a really relaxing dining experience in a beautiful room and it wasn’t too busy either. I just wish the windows were lower to you could take in the view from your seat. All i could see was a tip of a mountain and blue sky which i guess isn’t so bad.

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Sunset

The best thing about staying at one of the hotels is that the whole place empties out quite a bit - so you feel like you get the place to yourselves! We decided to hike up one of the lookouts to watch sunset. It is a steep short ascent but you are rewarded with absolutely beautiful 360 degree views including of Lake Lucerne.

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Sunrise

We got up very early in the morning the next day to catch the sunrise - totally did not feel like rolling out of bed before 5am, but I also didn’t want to miss an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often. I am so glad i did get up because we had such a magical morning. The clouds that were covering the other side of the mountain had cleared too. We hiked up to the other lookout this time and we were the only ones there. It was so quiet, with only the sound of these big bees and cowbells ringing in the distance.

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There is a place around the back of the hotel that you can exit on to the mountain and climb to a photo spot. It is very dangerous as the pathway is very narrow. I know i couldn’t have done it myself, however Patrick had more courage than I and did it for the picture… all while i was begging “please do not fall and die!” bUt with that beautiful morning light, it created a pretty epic picture in the end!

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Going Home

After our leisurely walk basking in the golden morning light, we packed up our things and got some breakfast. The breakfast wasn’t incredible - stock standard croissant, eggs, and meusli. We have had better at cheaper hotels to be honest and I was expecting a little more considering our wonderful dinner the night before.

We had one last leisurely stroll to take in the views before getting one of the early gondola’s down the other side of the the mountain. The gondola down is a new panoramic one that fits quite a lot of people but we were so lucky to have the gondola to ourselves. The trip down was honestly so amazing! The views were incredible - i wish it went a little slower! You can see some of these views in my video below. On the way down in our spacious huge gondola, we saw one going up the other way which was packed out with tourists. I felt so grateful to not be in there!

After the panoramic gondola, we had to take two other smaller gondola’s down toward Lucerne. We didn’t stop at the changeovers but they had playgrounds for kids to play on there.

Final thoughts

I felt like we did Pilatus right - going in the afternoon and spending the night. I really don’t like crowds and being squashed in gondolas and I feel like we escaped all of that doing it the way we did. I would recommend anyone visiting Pilatus to consider staying overnight. I’m glad we did it before kids as there really wasn’t any playgrounds or entertainment for kids that i could see. But for us, It was peaceful and relaxing. I got that feeling I always sought when travelling - that awe of how big and majestic our landscapes can be. It humbles you.

I put together a little video that strings together all my little iphone clips. It’s not artfully or professionally done but thought it gives a good idea of what its like for those thinking about going.


**Just in case you were wondering - this post isn’t sponsored, we paid full price for everything so this is my honest review.



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January Favourite Things

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January Favourite Things

I’m continually finding awesome stuff on the web that I thought i would share with you each month! These are my new discoveries for January! Feel free to drop me a comment with the best thing you’ve found in January - could be art, a recipe, a new clothing piece, a book… whatever! Please note that the images in my favourite things are not my own and belong to the companies with products i’m featuring.

Feeling

Morgan Harper Nichols poetry - Think I might add some of her words to baby’s nursery.

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Shameless Podcast - these girls are my favourites to listen to while photo editing. My sister got me on to them (thanks Beth!) and I love listening to the familiar aussie accent to make me feel i’m not so far from home.

This song - Gives me old TLC vibes. Happy place.

Home

How gorgeous are these coffee cups from It’s a Public Holiday. It’s funny how now that I DON’T live in Australia, I seem to only find things from Australia that I love. Why is that? Am I sub-conciously drawn to products aussie-made? Hmm…. jury’s out.

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I absolutely adore Design Love Fest and lately she’s really gotten into food and making fresh, tasty colourful food - the type of food I like to eat!! I’m on a lower carb diet right now to keep my blood sugar controlled, and I came across this delicious chopped salad which still has plenty of yummy fats and protein in it.

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Baby/Kids

Susukoshi Clothing - again, Australian brand, but couldn’t resist picking up a couple of their gorgeous Terry Towel onsies.

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Alma babycare - beautiful organic bodycare for mothers and babies. Love their packaging too.

Maybe it’s the hormones, but I can’t stop gushing over these baby headbands at Little Daisy Dot. No… pretty sure i’d still find these absolutely adorable without the pregnancy hormones!

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Currently reading “Expecting Better” by Emily Oster. She talks a lot about the specifics on all the rules you have to abide by in pregnancy - breaking down the real risks of these seemingly arbitrary rules such as “you cannot eat sushi in pregnancy”. etc. It’s a pretty good resource for those wanting a bit more explanation when your medical professionals don’t really explain it to you.

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At home with the Haüsler's

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At home with the Haüsler's

This sweet family shoot has stayed on my mind for quite a while. They have a beautiful home in Oberägeri, Switzerland that overlooks the beautiful Ägerisee and mountains. Their home was nice and bright but cosy and full of love. And Ursi is one home decorator! Just beautiful! We took the photos in their home and then finished the shoot walking back to the town and lake.

I really love these home shoots as they really show life how it is… comfy clothes, in your own home, just spending quality time with each other doing the things you do every day - snacks, reading books, lazing on the couch and going for walks in the park. I’ve put soo many photos from the shoot up here because i just can’t narrow it down any more! But i hope this gives you a great glimpse in what sort of images to expect after a home shoot.

P.S.Anyone thats had a shoot with me generally knows i see famous people in my clients all the time and couldn’t stop seeing Kaley Cuoco in the gorgeous Ursi, What do you think?

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Fasnacht Mini Sessions 2019

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Fasnacht Mini Sessions 2019

Basel really comes alive during Fasnacht and is one of the most unique experiences to have while in Switzerland. Is this your first Fasnacht? Check out my guide to Fasnacht here. This year, I’m offering Fasnacht Mini Sessions for all those that want to remember this fun and crazy time in Basel! These sessions are perfect for families who have kids participating in the festivities and have a costume, or lovers of the Basler Fasnacht and want to have photo reminders of this unique event.

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Fasnacht Mini Sessions

290CHF

Inclusions:

  • 20-30 minute photo session

  • Small bag of confetti to throw around during your session

  • Quality time with your loved one/family to have posed and action shots amongst the colourful and crazy Fasnacht atmosphere.

  • A minimum of 15 digital high-resolution images for you to download in high resolution

  • For an extra 70 CHF, you can also receive two copies of a custom designed 16-page magazine. Design your own magazine using my easy-to-use online gallery. To fill your pages you can use the images from your session plus my personal library of Fasnacht pictures to truly capture the essence of Basler Fasnacht.

LIMITED sessions available on Tuesday 12th March 2019. I have chosen this date as it is the kids parade and streets are a little less crowded. However, If you would like to have your photo session on Monday or Wednesday, Please let me know so we can discuss options.

Enquire Now

These spaces won’t last, so please enquire using the form below and I will email you the times available. Please write in the notes if you want a session time outside of Tuesday 12th March.

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Hello 2019!

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Hello 2019!

I know we’re already over 2 weeks into the new year but i’ve been taking things at a leisurely pace. It’s been a pretty good start to the New Year. On January 1st, I told the world (or maybe just my followers) that i’m pregnant. I’m nearly half way now and it’s kind of scary how fast the time goes. I was pretty sick in the 1st trimester but now that it’s calmed down i can enjoy it a bit more - Like seeing the baby wave to us on the ultrasound, the little bubble kicks i’m feeling and browsing the internet for cute little clothes and nursery items. I know that soon my tummy will grow uncomfortably big so i’m trying to enjoy the now while things are great.

We had an awesome session with Amanda Joy Photography (fellow Basel Photographer - Thank you Amanda!) at the christmas markets. I used these pictures to give to our family’s and announce our pregnancy. Here are my faves:


I’ve had time to organise our home a bit (Marie Kondo anyone!?) and set some goals for the year - even though that’s probably naive given we will be first time parents and people always underestimate the challenges that will bring. But all in all, I’m feeling good about 2019.

Photography-wise, I’m hoping to explore video - taking on a few clients at a discounted rate while I build my portfolio. I want my sessions to really focus in on family and motherhood and how precious and fleeting time can feel. I want to freeze time for you so instead of saying ‘don’t grow up’ to your littlies, you can continue to enjoy every day knowing you’ve captured this time in their (and your) life. Feeling free to revisit these beautiful memories any time you want. If you’re interested in a family film or photography. Please get in touch, I’d love to work with you!

I’ll be blogging a little more about my own journey to motherhood, some material things like the ultra cute baby items and some more reflective thoughts on this shift in my life. Having a baby is this weird mixture of feeling terrified and excited but for me, an overwhelming sense of being ready for this new chapter. I know i’m not the first person to have a baby, but I feel this is a great place to share what i’m learning along this road. So stay tuned if you want, and if you’re not interested, it’s okay for you to just scroll by!

I hope you all have a wonderful 2019 and I hope you are all taking the time to capture your life so it won’t forgotten! Treasure the good times.


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Motherhood Story

I had the most wonderful opportunity to meet Dee and her baby girl Nara for a special motherhood session at sunset. This session launches a whole new segment and journey for me - celebrating a mothers journey - from maternity to growing as a mother. It is such a BIG moment in a womans life that brings so much beauty, transformation and memories - i want to honour that.

Soon this session will be turned into a beautiful storybook accompanied with Dee’s words and thoughts on her motherhood journey. I can’t wait to share this with you soon.

I was lucky enough to have the amazing Sandra from Boholicious who took care of Dee’s hair and Make-up. She is worth every penny and i love the way we work together as a team! Be sure to check out the little video on the makeup/photoshoot experience Dee had (at the bottom of this post).

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Romance in Bloom | Basel Photographer

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Romance in Bloom | Basel Photographer

I had the most amazing opportunity come my way to collaborate with some local vendors (who I absolutely love) for a beautiful shoot. I’ve been dying to share these with you for some months, but have had to keep them secret as we’ve been waiting patiently to have this photoshoot featured on the popular Hochzeit Guide. You can read the publication here.

I worked together with Carla from Festum Artis to create an incredible creative vision for this shoot. Carla designed all the floral pieces and dressed the beautiful table. Our brilliant makeup artist was Sandra from Boholicious. Can’t say enough about her beautiful artistry on our model - Paulina Urba.

The shoot took place in an old antique store in Basel. We were able to use a few corners of the house which was full of beautiful nooks and crannies. It felt magical being able to shoot there, amongst all the little treasures and aged and worn walls. It was sensual, intimate and romantic, soft and feminine yet strong and sexy.

It is my aim in everything I photograph to evoke some sort of emotion, to make the viewer feel like they are right there with me, taking a moment to pause and observe how grand the small moments are, how (sometimes imperfectly) beautiful it is. I hope you also take a moment to view this gallery and the beauty it holds!

If you ever want to be the subject of a beautiful moment - contact me for your own shoot!


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Raluca

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Raluca

This lovely lady is gorgeous on the inside and out.  I absolutely adore photographing her (who wouldn't!?). Raluca is someone I can get creative with, have fun and see some beautiful moments captured.  We were faced with some challenges on this day - a threatening storm and some seriously crazy winds!! 

I am so proud of this set of images.  These are the types of images i live for and the reason i love photography so much - it makes you feel something!  

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Musician Ellie Del Cashin

My great friend is also a super talented musician in Perth (Ellie Del Cashin) and one stormy afternoon we ventured to the river for a quick, moody, beautiful photoshoot.  It's been a while since we did this but today is the day I finally got round to sharing these beautiful pics of her.  

i love working with small business owners to create branding pictures which are heartfelt (and anything but cheesy!) . Get in touch so we can design your shoot. 

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Pirraca Family | Basel Family Photographer

I just love this family!!  Repeat clients - Raquel and Nuno are expecting their second bundle of joy and I couldn't be happier for them.  If their new baby is anything like their little girl Matilde, they're going to have one super sweet family!  

This session was so vibrant and summery! The flowers were in bloom and it was the perfect backdrop for some family time spent together.  Even Matilde got a little present surprise from her parents and I feel so lucky to have been able to capture them.  As she was opening this gift you see not only the joy from Matilde receiving the doll she wanted, but also the happiness it brought the parents.  The true joy of giving!  

If you want your own sunflower session - get in touch today! 

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Travel in Switzerland: Niesen

I've been working on a couple of shoots I can't post yet, however i've also been taking advantage of this beautiful summer weather by making a few short trips here and there!  I have a friend over from Australia so we thought we'd venture to the top of a mountain.  The Niesen is a mountain which i first spotted in Spiez - Patrick an I thought "what a perfectly shaped mountain!"... It's featured in many of my Spiez photos. like this one:

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its been dubbed the Swiss Pyramid because of its beautiful shape.  We went up on a gorgeous day in June first thing in the morning.  We left Basel at 7am and were on the funicular to its peak at 9am.  I like being the early bird so its a little quieter.  The funicular is red (in true swiss-style) and takes about 30 minutes - you have to change train half way.  Tickets were quite expensive - its CHF57- return but with day ticket on the trains or a swiss pass its CHF28.50.

The views are pretty spectacular at the top - it has 360 degree views, a cafe/restaurant (apparently also a small hotel) and a pretty cool playground for kids. We stopped for a coffee and took in the views, snapped a few pictures and went back down around 11/11:30am. 

If you're thinking about going here are my tips:

  • Choose a clear day - it was just starting to cloud up when we went and it's pretty pointless going up if all you can see it white... unless you're into clouds...

  • If possible, get the lowest row in the train on the way up, you'll get beautiful views! Second best is close to a window.

  • Have a hot drink at the top and soak in those views!

  • There's a particular point on the pathway that doesn't have a fence. Sit for a picture here and it looks like you're right on the edge of a cliff (in reality, there's a steep hill but you can still put your feet on the ground.

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Travel in Switzerland: Laufenburg

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Travel in Switzerland: Laufenburg

I was on the train to a client in Schaffhausen when I noticed the most gorgeous little city with a bridge in the middle of it.  It was leafy green with terracotta roofs peeping out and the beautiful green Rhine flowing at its heart.  My eyes literally bulged out, I quickly got out my phone to open maps to find out exactly where I am, but because I was in Germany at the time, my phone didn't have any internet so I couldn't work it out.  

Fast forward some months and I took Patrick back to Schaffhausen to see the Rhinefall.  I told Patrick about this little mysterious city i saw... I didn't know when it would pop up but I told him to keep an eye out... Together with his Swiss knowledge and my investigative-reading-road-sign skills, we worked it out to be Laufenburg!  

Fast forward some more months later and we finally got our act together to make a day trip of it. We went on a Sunday so the city was quiet and quaint - we hiked up a mountain (okay, it was a hill) to reach this gorgeous lookout (okay, it was someone's driveway) overlooking these cute goats and picture perfect views of the city.  The bridge in the city acts as a border between Switzerland and Germany and a border control office sits on the Swiss side as a reminder.  

This town has to be one of my favourites I've seen so far... so picturesque - I definitely recommend a visit!

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Fisher Family | Perth Family Photographer

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Fisher Family | Perth Family Photographer

This session, is of course, very close to my heart as it features some of my favourite people! This is my sister, her husband Shane and my niece Caitlin, and nephew Lachlan.  I was also lucky enough to style this shoot and choose a gorgeous location, so I went with the beach and chose all the outfits (except Shanes') from Rylee and Cru - they have the most gorgeous clothes.. I can't get enough!  

I love this session because it was all just in the moment - there was lots of laughing, cuddles, dancing, picking up shells, making patterns in the sand... and my niece might have shed a few tears because she was suddenly scared of waves...  (expect the unexpected with 4 year olds!)

I am so proud of this work, and feel like this result comes about with less posing, and more natural lovely moments.  I would love to shoot more unposed sessions - please get in touch if you would like me to capture a special session for you.  

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The Barber Shop

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The Barber Shop

While we were in Perth, we stumbled across the coolest barber shop in the Treasury buildings! I have to say i've always wanted to take pictures of Patrick in a cool old-school barber shop, so I seized the opportunity to tag along and take some pictures.  Luckily the staff there at 'Ugly Men's' were super nice and let me click away.  I loved everything about the shop, the magazines(I thought it was quite coincidental that the monocle magazine they had on display was featuring Switzerland!), the clippers and tools all laid out, the whiskey bottles, the red brick, the deers head (although totally hoping it's not real), and the fact that they made this simple act of getting your hair and beard tended to an awesome experience. This would be a great treat for all the exhausted dad's out there who need a bit of pampering.  I also thought what a great location it is (right next to Como Treasury Hotel) for grooms to head there before their wedding - it would make such cool shots right!?

Anyway... I wanted to share with you the pics I took of Patrick while getting his beard trimmed. I love that these photos capture something ordinary... going to the barber, but the location has made it a bit special.  I can just imagine us going through these photos when we're old and grey (maybe with our future children) and pointing out how brown his hair was, thinking how dated the decor was, or just marvelling about what cool people we were! hehe.

 

 

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The best gift you can give your kids

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The best gift you can give your kids

Hi Super-mums!

You know better than anyone, how quickly the time passes.  It feels like yesterday that you spent hours just staring into your precious newborns eyes.  You’ve been excited for them to grow up while at the same time wishing for time to stop so you can enjoy them at this age a little while longer. 

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In the pursuit of the perfect childhood for you kids, you’re tirelessly and selflessly making it happen. You’re up late at night sewing sequins on to ballet costumes, you’re cutting out shapes in their sandwiches to make mealtimes fun, you cave and spend another 20 minutes pushing your child on the swing because they keep shouting ‘more!’, you’re reading multiple storybooks before bedtime and you’re kissing their scraped knees to stop the tears.  Your little ones rarely notice in the moment how much work it is to give them this adventure-filled and beautiful childhood, and that’s okay.

It wasn’t until I was an adult, looking back on my childhood photographs that I said to my mum:

 ‘I don’t know how you did it all!’. 

My wonderful memories aren’t of my mother putting in all the effort, but they are because my mum put the effort in! Toasting marshmallows on family camping trips, getting to wear sparkly costumes for dance concerts, and collecting freshly-laid eggs from our chicken pens.  I remember my mum making a ‘pouch’ out of a sweater so us kids could hold and feed our baby kangaroo - Yes, i am that Australian.  These were the days that I had not a care in the world - our days were filled with adventure, fun and opportunity.

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These photographs, that hold all these special memories (even the ones I was too young to remember) are priceless and if I take good care of them, they will last even longer than me.  After my care-free childhood, my childhood photos are the most precious gift my parents have given me.

So much love goes into giving your child a great childhood and I know you are pouring in all your time, effort and love into doing just that -  but you can leave the capturing of that love and those memories to me.  My ‘Real Sweet Life’ sessions capture the moments that sometimes go uncelebrated and I will make it easy on you - I’ll join you for a morning where you don’t need to get all dressed up, or make your house look like a show-home, you can even carry out your normal daily routine of breakfast, walks in the park, story-time and naps.  I will document all the beautiful, small moments that happen every day.  It will reflect the crazy, beautiful, love-filled family you have and will be the same images that your kids look back on one day and say

‘Mum, I don’t know how you did it all!’

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Let’s capture your Real Sweet Life together!  You can find out more and book your session HERE.

Love Suzy

P.s.  The photos in this post are some of my treasured memories from my own childhood!

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Documenting your life: Part 2

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Documenting your life: Part 2

Here we are on Part 2 of Documenting your life and today I wanted to talk about a great way to prioritise this (and make it easier on yourself) to capture your life regularly.  If you missed Part 1 about how to flex your beauty seeking muscle - you can read it here

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A great way to make sure you're capturing your life from year to year is to create family (or couple) traditions.  Make something fun that you do every year - it could be camping, an annual all-out big family picnic, taking your family to the mountains, a board-game night, making a big deal over the first day of school, or taking on the local festival as a family.  Whatever it is - make it fun, make it special and capture it.  Another option is to have the tradition BE the photoshoot.  Every Springtime, you could do a professional photoshoot and hold it in a different location - a city adventure, amongst the springtime blossoms, or bundled up for an in-home session!

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You could make a small album of this special day every year.  How cool will it be to look back on in 5, 10 years time - memorialising this same event every year - seeing how you've changed, how much you've grown with the same constant theme running through it (your tradition).  

Creating family traditions makes time for the important things in life - time with your loved ones!!  I remember one of my close friends used to have one Friday night a month where they would have a 'family night' where they used to do all sorts of activities together - from board games, to going to the cinemas, to a dinner cooked by every one together.  No matter what, they all had to be there (they were older kids).  They all looked forward to it too, it wasn't a chore.  I was a little disappointed we didn't have something similar in our family at the time, but I vowed I would create something similar in my  own family one day.  

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Do you have any family traditions?  Would love to hear them in the comments below!

I am now available for Spring Family sessions in Switzerland!  Get in touch if you want me to capture your first family tradition!

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Zivilstandsamt wedding

Luis and Silvia approached me to take some romantic portraits of them during and after their civil marriage ceremony in Basel.  These two were doing a low-key legal ceremony ahead of their big catholic ceremony but still wanted to remember this special day.  I have to say that Luis and Silvia were such a pleasure to know and photograph.  They were full of life, so relaxed and happy. It was a joy to be around them. It's when I get clients like this that I feel like i have the best job in the world.  

Weddings isn't something I usually offer, however this was more like a couple shoot with a ceremony at the start.  It's the parts of a wedding I love shooting the most so this was a pleasure to take on.  Here are my favourite shots from the day...

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Product review: IXXI

We haven't lived in our new place long - it's coming up to a year now, and I'm only just getting around to getting some art on the wall!  We only took one special art piece by talented Shirley Fisher (pictured below) which also reminds me of beautiful Western Australia.  

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I ordered a couple of prints from Society 6 (which haven't been hung yet) and I was looking for some affordable ways to hang some of my own photographs.  Don't get me wrong - I think spending the money on quality prints and frames is SO worth every penny, however I am the worst decision maker when it comes to hanging pictures, so was looking for something that looks great and doesn't break the bank, easy to hang and arrives quickly (as we're having guests in our house in April.  That's when I stumbled across IXXI.  

Ixxi is a dutch company which prints your photos (or one of their stock images) into small 20x20cm squares which can be clipped together using plastic to create big pieces of art. You can choose to have one image spread across multiple squares, or individual pictures for each square to create a collage/instagrammy feel. I took the plunge and designed and ordered a 140cm x 100cm piece using my own photos....  Here's the result:

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In case any of you were wanting to order you own, I wanted to share my thoughts on this products.  First with the downsides:

  • The print quality wasn't fantastic.   It has an option to use instagram photos and I actually used a couple from my instagram (to save me the heartache of trying to find the originals on my hard drive). I first thought it was because of this that the quality wasn't great.  However 70% of these photos were high resolution from my DSLR camera and the quality was still terrible.  It looks as though they have over sharpened the images.  Close-up it bothers me, but from a distance you can't tell too much.  My husband said he thought it looked fine and that I only notice it because i'm a photographer.  Maybe, but still I expected a bit better quality print.  
  • The way you hang it up is relatively straight-forward and is pretty 'DIY'.  It probably took me about 40 minutes to put it together and hang. Putting the pictures on the clips was easy with the tool they provide, however there is a step where you have to put the clips on a clear piece of plastic tape.  The tool didn't work for this (as the plastic bends) and it really hurt my fingers to get it on without the tool.  
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As for what i did like?

  • The overall effect is quite cool.  I love that you can create big pieces of art that has impact and is really affordable for the size.  
  • I love that you can swap out some tiles and get new ones printed. This would be great for a family where you want to replace family pictures with new/different ones.  
  • The price - I complain about the print quality and that it was a little difficult to set up, however for the price (I paid about 120 euro), I understand the quality might not be as good as I hoped.  It is very affordable and a good option for many.  
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Just in case you were wondering - this post isn't sponsored!  Just wanted to share my experience with this product!  Have you got an IXXI?   Let me know how you like it below.

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An expats guide to Basel Fasnacht

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An expats guide to Basel Fasnacht

Even though I had been in Basel for three christmas's, I'd never once seen Fasnacht.  Patrick had, of course, known and loved this festival since he was a child. I am so proud of him as this past year he has learnt to play the trombone to take part in Fasnacht with Grachsymphoniker.   I remember even in the years we were in Australia, he would be up in the middle of the night watching the live stream on the internet.  I didn't quite get it!

Now I do.  Basler Fasnacht has made the UNESCO list for Intangible Cultural heritage and it is referred to as die drey scheenschte Dääg (the three most beautiful days). The only way for me to describe it is an explosion of colour, music and art.   There are many similar festivals nearby in Switzerland and Germany however the Basel Fasnacht is the most well-known.  It also has its own unwritten rules (i'll detail some of them below) and 'Baseleans' can always spot (and frown upon) the outsiders when they don't follow the 'rules'.

Fasnacht begins with people pouring down the streets of basel early on Monday morning making their way to the city for morgestraich.  This alone was quite a surreal experience. Getting up before 3am to cram on a tram with adults and children alike dressed up in their festive costumes and then walking over the mittlerebrücke with hundreds of others, wishing each other 'schöne morgestraich'.  You can feel the buzzing energy as people anticipate the start of the carnival. At exactly 4am, the city lights go out.  Even stores which are open have to block out their windows.  All you can see are the colourful lanterns and all you can hear the sound of piccolo's and drums as they parade in the old town of Basel.  Each of the Fasnacht groups, called cliques, choose a theme which is conveyed in their lantern artwork and costumes.  They comment on social and political issues and are usually highly satirical. I heard someone say that Fasnacht takes the dark and turns it into light!  This year we saw the 'Ballistic Games' featuring North Korea and USA in an olympic style parade and also a few featuring 'bugs' commenting on the newly opened restaurant that sells a burger made from insects!

The carnival lasts for exactly 72 hours - finishing on Thursday morning at 4am.  I spoke to a band member who said Fasnacht has so many elements of life in it - It has joy, music, love, colour, humour and celebration, but because it runs through the night, you can feel exhausted. It also highlights some pretty grim themes happening in our world (even if it is in a humourous way).  It was incredible to hear some of the members of Grachsymphoniker had injuries (or injured them self during the carnival) yet continued through pain to be part of it.  You witness great loyalty and team spirit amongst the bands. 

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A parade (Cortège) of all the groups happens Monday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon.  All the shops close so everyone can enjoy the festivities.  It consists of the guggemusik (brass bands), cliques (pipers and drummers) with their lantern floats, and waggis wagen.  People (mostly kids) will hold out their hands and call after the waggis to give them treats - they hand out flowers, fruit and vegetables, drinks (even beer!), lollies and loads of confetti!  Most of the kids are after the lollies - I witnessed a child get quite disappointed when he put his hand out and received a carrot!

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If you are a Fasnacht first-timer, you might want to follow these unwritten rules of Fasnacht:

  • Confetti (Räppli) is only sold, bought and thrown in individual colours. This was put in place to stop people reselling 'used' confetti. You also should not pick up confetti from the floor and throw it again - make sense... who wants confetti mixed with dirt thrown in your face?

  • Confetti should not be thrown at masked participants of the carnival - I suppose this is a sign of respect for those taking part

  • Everyone should buy a Fasnacht Blaggedde (badge) - they have 4 'levels' of badges ranging in price. The proceeds go to each of the groups to help them cover expenses of the carnival. If you're not wearing one - expect to get dumped with confetti a few times! They say if you don't buy one, you are harming Fasnacht

  • Fasnacht is renowned for its masks, not painted faces as it is in other carnivals. You'll stick out like a sore thumb (perhaps not in a good way) if you paint your face rather than wear a mask.

  • There may be times you have to cross the parade route to get to another location - its is disrespectful to cross through a band, you should wait until it has passed and cross between bands. On this same note, you should always move out the way for the bands. More than likely, they will not stop/move for you anyway, so if you don't want a drumstick in your face - make way!

  • If you speak German, you should know that everyone is on first name basis at the carnival, which means you'll be saying the informal 'du' instead of formal 'Sie'

  • Guggemusik don't perform at Morgestraich as this is reserved only for Clique groups, but in return the Tuesday night concert at Marktplatz is only for guggemusik

  • When they turn the lights off at 4am for morgestraich it should be be dark - photo flashes are frowned upon!

A couple of other things you should know is that Fasnacht is loud and crowded and takes over the entire city.  The trams don't run through the city which means you'll have to put on your walking shoes.  Due to the close proximity to the smoking-loving swiss, you'll probably inhale quite a bit of smoke too (and thats not including the smoke bombs they often let off).  But the joy, music and celebration is worth the inconveniences. I definitely think that everyone going through Basel should experience it!

Guess what!? I’m running mini sessions in the 2019 Basel Fasnacht. Check out this post for more info.

 

 

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Documenting your life: Part 1

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Documenting your life: Part 1

It makes me sad that we know very little about those that have passed away some time ago when technology wasn't as readily available and we didn't have the fortune of having a camera with us at every moment of the day.  Maybe ancestry websites can tell you bits and pieces such as date of birth, date of death, cause of death, marriage details etc, but these tell us very little about who a person was.  How he smiled at his loved ones, the singing club she was part of that she loved so much, the thick-rimmed glasses that all his friends and family knew him for, the fact that after a glass of wine she always wanted to dance... all these little details is what we love people for.

We are in a new era!  Generations after us will know so much more about us.  There will be so many photographs and videos and Facebook status updates (*cringe*) that they can hopefully access.  I often ponder on this idea and feel such a strong desire to give them incredible images.  I'm not talking about a million mediocre, mindless iPhone snaps... but REAL, EMOTIVE, BEAUTIFUL images that reflect the stuff that matters like how madly we loved one another, the laughs we shared together, the way we grew up and learned.  

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Because this is so important to me (and hopefully you too), I'm starting a series on my blog to give you the knowledge and inspiration to document and capture your life in a thoughtful way.  It's almost like you're writing you'll be recording your autobiography as it actually happens.  My series will focus on a diverse range of topics from how to organise your photos to overcoming self-consciousness.    Today's topic is:

And above all,
watch with glittering 
eyes the whole
world around you
because the greatest
secrets are always
hidden in the most
unlikely places.
Those who don’t
believe in magic
will never find it.
— Roald Dahl

Finding the beauty in everyday

I think most people will be thinking:  "I have nothing to photograph on a day-to-day basis, nothing out of the ordinary happens".  

Nobody's life is unicorns, glitter and adventure 24/7.  Even the glamorous personalities you see on Instagram still do all the 'normal' activities you may see as nothing special.  However there is magic in the mundane, and stories to tell in the repetitive tasks - you just have to look a little closer.  

How to exercise your beauty-seeking muscle

  1. Select a part of your day that you usually just gloss over - it could be getting dinner ready, or your daily walk in the park, the first half an hour on a Sunday morning, or getting the kids ready for bed.  Approach this moment with the purpose of finding the beauty in it.  Look for the little moments and how you feel about them (and they don't always have to be happy to be beautiful). 
  2. Be observant of facial expressions and the movements of your/their body - particularly reactions to what is going on. 
  3. Observe how the light looks - is it harsh, or soft, or a glow from a lamp. What colour is it?  How does the light make you/your loved ones look?  
  4. What sounds do you hear - laughing, birds singing, the kettle boiling, how does your loved ones voice sound?
  5. Express gratitude - think about what makes you grateful in this moment, maybe its the fresh air, seeing your child's joy, the peaceful morning light.  There will always be something to be grateful for - even if you're staring at a pig-sty of a house - you can be grateful for all the living that created the mess, the joy it has brought you, the fortune of owning so many wonderful things!
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The way I express gratitude is by taking a photo of it.  I look at the whole scene, but consider what is it I want to highlight or express in my photo.  Is it their hair, or the details of their hand, the emotion, or are you telling a story by taking a few steps back and showing an entire scene. 

Seeing the beauty in the everyday is a bit of optimism and a bit of mindfulness.  You need to be in a positive frame of mind and be living in the moment.  No matter how 'boring' the moment may be - see the beauty and capture it!   A great way to practice this is by participating an a 52 week or 365 (daily) photo project - you can either just take a photo each day/week, or find a prompt list that you can follow. 

Happy beauty seeking!

 

 

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