The Magazine of a Northern Ireland Photographer

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Celebrating our Customers! with Rosie

This week we’re celebrating a really interesting customer – Rosie! Rosie came in with her two beautiful dogs, Fenrir and Luna, and we were delighted to learn that they were Search and Rescue dogs.

They were such a pleasure to have in the studio that we had to find out more about them! Check out her story, her very obedient dogs and ways to get involved with Search and Rescue dog training:

Experts estimate that a single Search and Rescue dog can accomplish the work of 20 to 30 human searchers.

Hey Rosie – tell us all about your two dogs!

“Fenrir is a 19 month old Dutch Herder born here in Northern Ireland, he’s a Trailing Dog in training for SARDA IN (Search and Rescue Dog Association, Ireland North). Fenrir works by being given the scent of an article of clothing belonging to a missing person and uses his nose to follow the trail. We are hoping to get him qualified this year.”

Luna had a difficult start, but she has quickly become a confident little girl.

“Luna is a 1 year old Dutch Herder. She joined us from a rescue centre in England where she had a difficult start, but she has quickly become a confident little girl. Luna has just started her training to become a victim recovery dog for SARDA IN. Once qualified, she will be used to help find those missing persons we believe to already be deceased. She also competes in fun scent work competitions run in Northern Ireland. 

As Northern Ireland’s only official dog search and rescue team, we can be requested by the PSNI to assist in searching for missing persons. We are all volunteers and all the dogs are pets first.”

SAR dogs’ sense of smell is up to 100 million times stronger than humans!

I had so much fun… and it looks like the dogs did too!

How was your photoshoot?

“I had so much fun at the photo shoot – and it certainly looked like the dogs had a blast too! I was made to feel so at ease, even with two crazy dogs who were just desperate to get hold of their ball!”

How could people get involved with SARDA?

“Some ways to get involved with SARDA IN can be through donations made through the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/sarda.irelandnorth

Or you can contact Neil Powell at contact@sardairelandnorth.co.uk about volunteering as a Dogs Body. Dogs Bodies are volunteers who come along to our training sessions each month and hide in locations around the Mourne Mountains for qualified and in-training dogs to find”


The Peter Thomas Photography website is peterthomasphotography.com

Celebrating our Customers! with Ciara

This month we got to celebrate Ciara! In chatting with Ciara, we learnt that she runs an amazing little Etsy store that we simply had to hear more about!

Hey Ciara – tell us about yourself!

“My name’s Ciara, I am an NHS Dietitian and a mother of two beautiful children – both under 3 years old. My auntie taught me how to crochet 5 years ago. I started off with blankets and then quickly progressed to crocheting cardigans, crop tops, dresses, skirts – you name it!

When my son was born I started crocheting funky hats for him, such as dinosaur or monster hats. I received so many comments about how unique and quirky the hats were that I started up my own little Etsy business CrochetedByCiara.”

I’m very proud of my little business!

Sleepy Owl, Minion, Bucket Hat and Highland Cow hats

“My Etsy business has been running for over one year and has over 380 sales worldwide! My hat line now has 64 different styles in sizes newborn to adult, all of which are handmade by myself in my living room! I’m very proud of my little business. 

My latest hat design is a Ukraine-inspired hat, with 25% of the hat price going to charities that aid the Ukrainian people.”

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The photographer was so patient and joyful with my two children.

How was your photoshoot?

“My family and I loved the photography session! The photographer was so patient and joyful with my two children. We got so many gorgeous photos and it was so hard to choose which ones, I wanted to buy them all! The images will be going above our fireplace.”

How can some of our readers check out your hats?

“You can order my hats on CrochetedByCiara on Etsy. Thank you so much!”

Personal Brand Photoshoot

Our personal brand photoshoots or ‘lifestyle’ shoots are made to show people who you are and what you do.

These photography sessions are more personalised than simple headshots. We work with you to tailor the shoot specifically for you and what you want to show the world.

You can either get awesome shots on location or come into our studio with where you have an unlimited choice of backgrounds, outfits and lighting setups.

As an entrepreneur or small-business owner, these photos allow people to connect more deeply with your brand and feel what it’s like to work with you.

Our personal brand photos are perfect for use on LinkedIn, Facebook or even dating sites!

These sessions aren’t just for entrepreneurs or small business owners telling their story – they can be a great way to celebrate an important event or milestone.

For example, Caoimhe came in for a shoot to mark her 21st birthday and got some stunning shots that express her vibrant, creative personality!

For more information about our personal brand photoshoots or to book in, follow this link: https://www.peterthomasphotography.com/headshots.aspx

Celebrating our Customers!

This is the first of what we hope will be a great way of celebrating amazing customers. Every portrait experience is as different as the family that walks through the door. Some are excited about their session, others have apprehensions that the children won’t be in good form. We got a chance to hear about Amy and her three kids with autism and ADHD and how the world of Ju-Jitsu changed their lives for the better.

Hi Amy! How was your photoshoot with the kids?

When we visited your studio I was worried that the kids would not settle well. All three children have either autism or ADHD and don’t always cope well in new environments. To keep things as normal as possible we attended our normal Ju-Jitsu class that morning to burn off energy! 

Once we arrived our photographer was absolutely fantastic. While some of the kids did not want to be photographed, she worked with the child that did and used toys and games to help the other two feel at ease.

Once we arrived our photographer was absolutely fantastic. While some of the kids did not want to be photographed she worked with the child that did and used toys and games to help the other two feel at ease. In between shots the kids wandered through the studio asking questions and touching everything – something they do often which can cause me a lot of stress as not everyone appreciates their curiosity! However the time and patience the photographer had with the kids was second to none. 

All together it was a fantastic, stress-free experience which is not what I had expected. The shots taken were amazing considering 2 out of 3 kids were not really interested in having their pictures taken! 

That’s great to hear! Tell us more about you.

In 2020 I was a finalist for the UK Coaching Hero Award for my work with the World Ju-Jitsu Federation Ireland. I was engaging children in activities throughout lockdown, designing at-home zoom programmes and a Ju-Jitsu themed at-home camp. I was the only female martial artist in the top 75 and the only martial artist that made it to the top 4!

Congratulations! How did that come about?

I first designed at-home ideas for my scouting group – 7th Dromore Scouts, Scouting Ireland. I ran weekly zoom sessions and WhatsApp groups to keep kids busy and happy throughout a frightening time when many of our kids could not completely understand why their worlds had been turned upside down. 

I was supported by the parents in my group and their excellent feedback. I then adapted it for the youth of my Ju-Jitsu Federation. Ju-Jitsu is something I have been involved with for almost 6 years. It has helped my kids with discipline, balance, self esteem and their social skills. 

And I believe not only the kids benefited from it?

Before I started training I was a diabetic with 2 autoimmune diseases and as a single parent of 3 kids with special needs, found life draining. Now my diabetes is under control and I haven’t had a flare up of my other illnesses in 3 years. 

Ju Jitsu has become a huge part of my life after I joined a year after my son did. It has helped my mental health, self esteem, balance, fitness and weight (to date I’ve lost almost 4 stone)! 

I have energy and patience for my kids and our quality of life as a family is 100 times better. A lot of this is to do with the people at Ju Jitsu- it is a community where you can always find help and support. 

 I was honoured when I was asked to use my background in youth work to help during lockdown and I gained the confidence to complete my coaching qualification. I received so much support from my own coaches and the Head of the World Ju-Jitsu Federation Ireland, sensei David Toney. As a result of the confidence placed in me, I have begun coaching in several clubs and enrolled in some more qualifications to help me work with kids with special needs or challenging behaviours. 

How can other parents get involved?

To get started with Ju-Jitsu, there are a list of clubs on their website (www.jujitsuireland.com) with the names and numbers of the head coaches for each area! 

The Scout Foundation Northern Ireland office (sfni.org) will be able to point you in the direction of your nearest scout group.

The Peter Thomas Photography website is peterthomasphotography.com

A real life wonder women!

I met Suzi a number of years back and have enjoyed watching her inspiring story unfold! Last week I had a wee ‘virtual’ chat with Suzi and asked her to divulge a little about herself!

Explain a little about who you are and what you do?
I’m a mindset coach who helps women to heal from a lifetime of not feeling good enough, enabling them to tap into their personal power and transfom their self-belief, health, wealth and success. 

I offer 1:1 coaching to empower and equip my clients with the skills and knowledge to move beyond fear, guilt and self-sabotage and truly thrive in all areas of their life. 

Prior to starting my coaching practice, I’ve had a successful independent Speech Therapy practice and worked as the lead allied health professional on a service for young people with acquired brain injuries supporting them with memory, mood, wellbeing and goal attainment. 


Sounds like you are a busy woman! You talked about mindset coaching – what exactly does that mean?

A mindset coach uncovers the blocks, behaviours, beliefs and habits that are blocking the client from getting to where they want to be. Rapid transformation and sustainable results are created by employing a range of reprogramming techniques that positively serve the client.

The key to achieving any goal is working with mind, whether that goal is to be more confident, to lose fat, to improve health or fitness, to achieve academic or business success or to kick an unhealthy habit.

…We’ve all got bad habits!

For sure! My approach combines elements from my clinical, personal and academic knowledge and expertise in neuroscience, psychology, CBT, adverse childhood experiences, counselling, health, behaviour change and hypnosis.

I get to the root of the presenting issue and support my clients to take back control of their lives and become the person they desire to be. 


Great – so how did you manage to find yourself as a mindset coach?

I suffered from low self-esteem and post-traumatic stress related to childhood and adolescent abuse and trauma. This peaked in my early 20s when in quick succession while I was at University, I was injured in a car accident causing arthritis in my spine, my marriage ended, my dad died, my home was vandalised and I spiralled into debt and depression and turned to food and alcohol as my comfort. I was at my absolute rock bottom and felt like I had no control over my life. 

I would read inspiring stories of how people had turned their lives around, and I would think ‘that’s okay for them but that wouldn’t work for me.’ 

But then my own turning point came when I realised, I could continue to dwell on the past and keep my grief alive by mourning my imaginary future or I could turn my pain into my power and one day inspire others.

That’s exactly what I did. I lost 60lbs and was featured in Women’s Health magazine, I came top of year at university, achieving a First Class bachelor of medical science degree in speech science and 3 prizes at my graduation, I renovated my entire home with the help of 1 builder, I set up my first business, I found love again and I learned to finally accept myself. 

I now have the privilege of empowering others to tap into the innate power of their mind and transform their lives. 


You mentioned weight loss there – In the photography business, it seems that people always want you to photoshop the pounds away! You once posted a picture of yourself at your lowest weight – yet you commented that you weren’t happy?

Yes, such an important point! I lost 60lbs in 8 months during my final year of University through trial and error of improving my health and fitness. I was really happy during my Women’s Health magazine photoshoot; I was healthy, curvy and happy. However, a few months later and another few pounds lighter I did some modelling for an activewear brand who heavily photoshopped my images to the point where I felt inadequate in real life in comparison to images of me that they were portraying. 

I shifted my focus from trying to be thin to be the healthiest and happiest version of myself. I threw out the scales and I’ve never looked back. 

Cool – I’ve a friend who’s slogan for his business is ‘strong not skinny!’. I think its a really great slogan! You describe yourself as a natural introvert – me too! What advice do you have for us introverted people?

To embrace your unique introvert qualities and recognise that nobody fits neatly into a box, your energy will ebb and flow. Sometimes you may feel like rescheduling plans to spend time alone and recharge, other times you will find your energy is topped up when spending time with family or friends. Be honest with yourself about what you need and give yourself permission to have it.  


Your story is very inspiring to both men and women alike. It must make you feel great when you see people move forward..

It is the most wonderful feeling to see people break through their barriers and step into their potential. I wake up excited every day to work with my clients and continue to share my message. I truly believe that struggle and stress is the greatest catalyst for strength and success.   

If someone wants to book some time with you, what should they do?

Pop over to my website and book a free, no obligation discovery call using my online scheduling app www.suziturner.com

This gives us an opportunity to consult and ensure that we are a perfect fit before deciding to work together. 

I am Dance

We kicked off 2020 by inviting young dancers into the studio. We had such fun – I simply wasn’t prepared for the breadth of dance practiced in N.Ireland. Everything from Irish Dancing to Hip Hop to Ballet – the range and talent was incredible!

We just loved using creative lighting to produce some really cool effects such as this silhouette…

… and these colour gels.

We had dancers of all ages – from 2 up to 18! How cute is this wee man?

One common theme across all the genres of dance was the commitment of the kids and their parents. Everything from meticulous outfits, to stories of far flung competitions – and lots of awards!

The talent was simply amazing. We are so blessed in this country to have such talented and dedicated young people.

And I particularly loved all the urban themes that came through!

Thanks to everyone who came – keep practicing and we look forward to photographing many of you soon!

CAPOW!

Every now and then we love to add something totally different into our studio portfolio. In the last few years we’ve added in The Little White Box and Babyface sessions – both have been amazingly popular.

So what should we do next? Something that no one else in N.Ireland is doing, something fun and unique. After more than a little head scratching we came across CAPOW!

Everyone loves to dress up, and everyone loves superheroes!

So out we went, bought a movie grade set including backdrops, boulders, metal beams, chains and more! Just when the credit card couldn’t take any more, we bought 30 superhero outfits – from superman and super girl to deadpool and flash!

Somewhat worried about how this might go, we decided to a soft-launch first. Three days of CAPOW shoots later…and the results were amazing!

Here’s our first ever CAPOW family!

One child came into the studio, superhero music blasting. He slipped on his Iron Man outfit.

“Mum, I’m really Iron Man. I’m really him!”

Adults get to join in too. Mums and dads have really enjoyed the experience – we’ve noticed a real Marvel vs DC rivalry. Almost as bad as the Man Utd vs Liverpool rivalry in my house!

One unexpected consequence of the CAPOW shoots were the (sometimes heartbreaking) stories people shared. One child who is ill with Leukaemia had a blast. “We would love to do this shoot with him as he is our hero!”. Another child with autism really got into character.

“I’m so amazed he has done so well. We never get photographs normally!”

We are planning to run the CAPOW shoots once a month – you can book here.

The day I photographed a proposal!

It’s not every day you get to photograph a marriage proposal live! 

I arrived up at Dunluce Castle ahead of the couple. I must admit I was a little apprehensive – what if she said no! Raj assured me that was unlikely (very reassuring!) and so I went to work setting up the sign Raj had sent me and some flowers collected on route.

I must admit Raj had gone to some considerable effort! He’d organised a custom made sign and had it delivered to the studio. He’d also requested a bunch of flowers to be on site. Every little detail was organised on a spreadsheet to military precision! We must have had about 10 Skype calls before the big day organising every precise timing and detail.

I was receiving live updates from Raj as he approached – and so the tension was building! I could see them approaching so I lay in wait, hiding the sign and the flowers from the view of other tourists!

Raj wasted no time – straight down on one knee. Harina seemed somewhat surprised to say the least – but after a few moments of shock she said yes!!

So after the big deed was done, we set about marking the occasion with some photographs. The couple live in the US, so I was pleased the weather held up for some scenery photographs!

We visited Carick-a-rede rope bridge and Ballintoy Harbour too. Beautiful locations. By this stage we had got to know each other – and I realised that this couple where full of ‘craic’. They were really great fun to be around.

There you go – a live marriage proposal on the North Coast of Northern Ireland. Raj & Harina – thanks for trusting me with this special moment!

Cheryl & Lloyd are married!!

Cheryl & Lloyd are married! Wohoo!! Cheryl is always smiling – and no more so than on this day when she got her man!

I’ll talk you through the day, starting at the bride’s house:

 

Like the next two!!

 

Arriving – and I managed to get Lloyd’s dad to smile for a photo :-). This photo is proof! 

Love the next two!
      

Over to good old Cookstown for the reception. The grounds at the Tullylagan are great…

Oh la la..

Lovin the next two:
  

Michael & Denay – Balmoral Hotel

Michael and Denay have been facebooking from their honeymoon in Turkey – i’m more than a little jealous!
The wedding was great – nice folks, nice detail, nice service…the same can’t be said for the weather which was unbelievably wet – but we all just ignored the weather and enjoyed the day!

So here’s the bride’s preparations:

 

I’m glad Michael added the ‘not’ in 🙂

At the church..
   

The weather looked to be improving a bit – so we chanced Lady Dixon park. I got literally 2 mins and then the heavens opened!
So back to the Balmoral for the photos 🙂
 

Love this next one:
  

And also love the next one:

 

You can see more at http://www.peterthomasphotography.com/clientarea.aspx

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