From the heart

My Life
June 28, 2011

Just recently it struck me that I’ve been blogging a long time now.

When I started this blog, back in 2007, I was working as a designer on a Wedding magazine. I’d been a designer for 12 years. There was no way I could have imagined that I’d end up being a full time photographer. It wasn’t a thought out plan. I’d just taken some leave from work to have my baby Niamh. I wanted to fill the creative vacuum in my life, so I started taking family pictures and blogging them, talking about my experiences as a new mum and enjoying what the camera revealed to me about my children. Just having fun with it.
When I went back to work, my boss, the publisher asked me to take pictures for the magazine. Thanks to her, and her faith in me, things kind of snowballed from there. She even got me a Wedding and told me I was doing it. Haaa!! I decided to accept every challenge that came my way even though I was really scared. Before I would not have taken those risks, the fear of failure being too great. But maybe having kids changed me. You learn to consider others more, and think less about yourself. Being a mum gave me a new courage that I never knew I had. Although I will never get on a rollercoaster again. Ever.

I realise now how much the blog has become a part of my life. Late at night, when my husband is snoring and the kids are asleep, when the emails stop bleeping and I’ve finished my editing, I blog. I’m lucky that I can survive on about 5 hours sleep at night. Although I’m sure some of the parents who see me at the school in the morning would disagree.

Lately, I haven’t had much time for personal posts. Over the last few months I’ve edited thousands upon thousands of Wedding photos. As much as I love my work, and the honour it is to capture those beautiful moments, sometimes, it can be overwhelming. And I need to return back to the early days, when it was just me, the camera, the kids and the love in my heart.

Drawn to take pictures purely for love of it, and for the love of the ones you want to remember.

Blogging is a long process. It takes alot of time to create a blogpost for a Wedding or a newborn session. I blog every single session because they have such meaning to me. Peoples lives their joy and their love, it’s such a precious thing and I have marvelled at every one. It’s enjoyable to share and this is my the studio. Everything you could possibly want to know about your photographer and the work is on here. For the most part, it suits me to work from home. It’s part of the reason I decided to do this kind of work. But sometimes I think having a studio would be lovely because you know who is coming in and out. I often wonder who reads this blog. When I started blogging, nobody was reading, so I just talked about everything and anything, with little self-awareness. But now I feel like I’m holding back. Because you are listening and the fear of rejection is creeping back in. I’m a serial people-pleaser. It comes from being a middle child in a family of five!  And in my thirties, I’m still dealing with the issues I had in primary school. I guess I’m afraid of being myself, my true self, and people not liking me. I was never the popular kid at school. Not noticeably a loner either, but always in the middle somewhere. Buzzing about. It’s the same ME at Weddings now. I’m in my comfort zone buzzing around,  in the middle of things, trying not to draw too much attention to myself, casually shooting events as they develop. Still in the middle after all these years. I’m much more comfortable observing than participating. With the camera, I’ve found that in the middle was right where I needed to be. I’ve found my happy place, somewhere that fits me. Maybe lots of photographer’s are like this.  The only difference between primary school and now is, I recognise my fears and I can choose to confront them. So here I am, being my big scary self.

Blogging is like talking into a dark room full of people. You know there’s an audience but you can’t see their faces. You can’t see if they are smiling or frowning.

I’m not a natural writer. I struggle with descriptions for emotions. But pictures move me and give me a voice. It’s like people who love music so much, and lyrics. That’s how they express themselves. And when you put the right music and the right images together, it’s even more powerful. You can only hope that others are moved too.

This is the most I’ve talked in ages about myself! I’m much more comfortable talking about others. So I’m hoping after this heartfelt post, that if you stop often, you’ll say hello. Let me know why you visit, what you enjoy on this blog. Is it Weddings, newborns or family sessions? Are you a new photographer and would you like to see more helpful tips or encouragement? Are you a new mum or a bride to be? Maybe a friend or relative. I want to know more about YOU.

Tonight I went for a walk with the children. I brought along the camera and took some pictures, just like back in the days when it was just me and them. I wasn’t much caring if it was very good photography. I just wanted pictures of them being themselves. The kind of thing mum’s like to remember.

If there are flowers, Niamh will pick them. It’s her absolute favourite thing. I have lots of wilting flowers on my desk.

Seanan loves this dog.

Pictures of Molly running…

… and running.

I came back with tyres and flowers in the backseat. Seanan’s words: “This one’s for a swing in the garden.”

And, of course, one exhausted dog.

Kate 00:20 June 29, 2011
I'm here Paula, in the wee small dark hours, I'm here. And listening, and looking and being inspired by what you create and how you communicate it. And it really is listening, because I think the very best writing comes from a sense of the spoken word, an oral tradition that sits as comfortably on the ear as it does the eye. You're my midnight blogger and I love it, because I know, if I'm lucky, you'll have something delicious for me to feast on. You're right, I'm sitting in a dark room with the fan blowing the heat away and just the computer screen for illumination. But I am smiling Paula. Promise.
Brian 00:28 June 29, 2011
Paula, from another of the midnight club, excellent article. Don't under-value your powers as a word-smith. Your blogging and that of other pathfinding photographers like Jasmine Star, provide not only assurance of your genuine love for this game and your clients but also a valuable source of insight and education for up and coming togs. For me, I always look on enviously at the quality and innovation of your work. Keep it up.
admin 00:32 June 29, 2011
Oh thank-you so much Kate. Your words, your communication moves me. To know that your there, listening. Because that's what it should all be about. That two-way thing. Blogging seems like a long one-way road sometimes and this, your words mean the world to me right now. I've been questioning the whole blogging thing lately. I need to know who's out there, friends that keep me going. I almost deleted this post quite a few times for fear of revealing too much. I'm so glad now that I didn't.x
Nicola 00:35 June 29, 2011
Hey Paula, like you I'm sitting up far too late editing a session knowing that 5.30am or so will come all too soon when Emma, my almost 2yr old will yell out to get up, unlike you I do not function well on 5hrs sleep and wake up regretful most mornings lol! I pop by your blog every now and then but mainly see your beautiful work coming through on was really lovely to read this post and hear a little about how you got into all of this. I really admire that you have two young kiddies and manage to find time to juggle such a full career and consistently produce images that are of such amazing is seriously impressive stuff! x
admin 00:36 June 29, 2011
And to you too Brian. Thank-you so much for the encouragement :)x
John 00:40 June 29, 2011
Paula fair play to you for putting up the blogs they really are very creative and capture so much, the best thing is how natural they always are! I think Molly would love our 2 (Misty and Daisy) Cheers John
admin 00:47 June 29, 2011
She definitely would John! Thank-you. There is a little westie right next door and they look at each other all day long. I think we might have to arrange a play date!
John 00:55 June 29, 2011
Definitly I think we'd have our hands full though!
admin 01:01 June 29, 2011
Thank-you Nicola. I'd be telling fibs if I said it was easy. When your a photographer and a parent you can bet there are going to be sacrifices to make somewhere. For me, I feel I don't socialise with friends as much as I would like to. And also I tend to neglect the 'ME' time. I'm working on that. But the worst thing would be to regret not having enough time for your family. Thats more important than all the blogging and work in the world. Hug your kids tonight and enjoy your 2 year old. She'll be all grown up too soon.x
Ciaran 01:06 June 29, 2011
Hi Paula... yours is one of the few blogs I make the effort to read, often last thing at night before I switch off the computer. Being a photographer can be a very solitary business, but your blog gives me a lift every time..keep on writing! You have a gift for writing as strong as your gifts as a photographer- Your words inspire as much as your images. I admire your honesty in all you write, so don't hold back! I found your blog only a month or so ago, and wish I had found it earlier. And if our paths ever cross, I will definitely say hello. Me? Three years into self employment as a tog after a long time in another career. I still have a long way to go, but I know I will get there. Oh, and I love all your images!
Paula 01:09 June 29, 2011
Hi Paula. I've been following your blog for nearly a year now. I've never left a comment but felt like this was a good time to start. I'm a new photographer and your blog is a great inspiration to me. I graduated from viscom last year and have decided to leave my designer days behind me because Ive realised I'm a photographer at heart. So thank you for your posts and your story. I'm a people pleaser also. It might be a Paula thing! Haha
Paula 01:10 June 29, 2011
Hi Paula. I've been following your blog for nearly a year now. I've never left a comment but felt like this was a good time to start. I'm a new photographer and your blog is a great inspiration to me. I graduated from viscom last year and have decided to leave my designer days behind me because I've realised I'm a photographer at heart. So thank you for your posts and your story. I'm a people pleaser also. It might be a Paula thing! Haha
Rob 03:35 June 29, 2011
Paula, your images and words always move me. You have such a talent for writing! I love to see your personal photos, Seanan & Niamh are getting so big! It is great to see them grow through your eyes. And I want you to know, I do listen and eager for a new blogpost from you! Every morning I go into work and the first thing I do is check for a new post from you. It helps brighten my day. I know I have told you this before but you have become such an inspiration for me, not only in photography but in your writing as well. I am new to posting my own blogs and I too wonder if anyone is really out there. I do not have a knack for writing. I often times write an entire article just to delete it and start over from scratch. I guess words just don't come easy. I am hoping the more I post the better I will get. Thanks for all your hard work Paula.
Michael Toman 07:45 June 29, 2011
I was wondering where that tyre went! Great post Paula, and from your brothers viewpoint, it expresses more of who you are. Don't forget I had faith to let you capture your first wedding for the magazine - my own!! Luckily, you done a great job.
Rachel 08:34 June 29, 2011
We're smiling. In fact I find myself smiling every time I look at your images (on your blog, in our album...), or laughing, or even the odd time when a tear slips out. Your images tell wonderful stories and capture and stir so many emotions. The words you write add that other crucial dimension....the emotions that stir in you. That's what makes your work so wonderful....we know it comes straight from your heart. Thank you Paula.
rosie 09:33 June 29, 2011
I'm here Paula! I love reading your blog. It's in my top 10 favourites to go to and that's because of your beautiful, inspirational images and lovely words. I really love your photography style, the way you see things and the calm beauty and serenity you bring to all your images. You were so helpful and kind to me when I contacted you as I was starting out on this photography lark and I am so grateful to you for all your advice and encouragement. I love your personal posts too and am always excited to see photos of your dog, I love gorgeous Molly!
Tina 09:59 June 29, 2011
Paula......We don't need any introductions but from a previous bride-to-be I was so bored looking through the websites of photographers, the same thing over and over, until I came across yours that is, I said to John lots of times before the wedding that I couldn't wait to see our photos after cos I knew before the day even happened that they would be something special. First thing I did in work today (ssshhh don't tell the boss!) was log onto your website to cheer myself up, and who did I come across leaving a comment was my husband!!!:) Now that says it all. We rave about your work to our friends until they see for themselves & I know quite a few of them log on regularly to read your posts. After nearly two years looking at your blog it is definitely one of my fav things to do, so we're all here smiling, laughing and saying awwww at all the yummy newborn sessions!
admin 15:31 June 29, 2011
Thank-you so much to everyone of you for leaving me messages and encouragement. It so good to come on here today and know your all there. That dark room isn't so scary and now I'm smiling too. I'll not be so afraid the next time to speak truthfully about everything. And I'll continue to work on into the wee small hours of the morning blogging away as often as I can:)
Claire 16:38 June 29, 2011
Hey P You know I am always here, smiling in the dark! I often see a Facebook or Twitter update from you and it kinda hits me how far you've come and how different your life is since we first met. You're really doing it. Your bravery in striking out alone to do something you are passionate about is inspiring to me :) C x
tim 09:17 June 30, 2011
hi paula unlike you i am defo not a writer i haven't the patience for it my hands don't go as quick as my mind and i often leave words out. I too am a middle child and i don't like to draw attention to myself. I feel very self conscious when i take out my camera even now as i think people are looking and laughing at the big lens. what i will say is that i absolutley love your work I could look at it all day and check it out most days to see if you have anything new on, which thankfully you often do. Please keep up your fantastic work and know that there are people out here who would love to be able to do what you do. and by the way that offer still stands for a coffee and a cupcake any time your feeling lonely. P.S love the shots of the kids
Bec 01:21 July 1, 2011
Hi Paula, I'm here too, as regular as I can be, all the way from Australia. I love your images, and I think I started following you on Flickr. I think. This post will reach alot of other photographers especially, as I think we can all feel this way from time to time. Our images and thoughts being on the big wide world of the interwebs, it's hard to know if anyone is reading/looking or feeling what you think they are meant to from looking at your work. I'm in love with your Wedding images especially, but i particularly love the posts about your children. i love the way you write about them, and I must admit, they are gorgeous!
admin 22:44 July 2, 2011
Thanks again for leaving your messages. Such beautiful messages of encouragement and 'hi' to Bec in Australia. If this post has offered encouragement to other photogs who feel the same from time to time it's worth it. I hope to have the time to post more from the heart when the Wedding season passes. Tim, I'm sure I would love coffee and cupcakes sometime soon:)
Jacqueline 13:50 July 4, 2011
fantastic blog paula - you've reduced me to tears - think you hit a nerve - it takes a brave woman to be honest about her feelings and insecurities. especially in these days when we are all meant to resemble some type of wonder woman! your honesty and humbleness has really touched me and has given me hope. my camera has gotten a bit dusty of late - think its time to give it a wee dust down and get snapping again - the quote you posted has so much truth in it. keep up the blogging Paula - you just never know whos live you may be touching
Leah 14:18 August 10, 2011
Much belated reply but just wanted to add that I may not catchup with your blog every day, sometimes its weeks before I can check out your most recent shoots but I adore the blog and your work. I know I've gushed about your work many times on twitter and I still want to kick my cousin for not getting engaged earlier to be able to book you for her wedding! I know the pics would've been amazing. I cannot put into words what your pictures do to me. They never fail to move me, it's like you've literally captured the emotion of that moment and are able to transmit it directly to me via the image. Its the only way I can explain it and it probably doesn't make any sense at all but your images truly do emote like no others I have seen. In terms of your blog I like the style and form that you have, the variety of shoots means it never gets stale. I love personal posts interspersed with a bloggers work as I like to know the person and why they do what they do. I'm still trying to find my blogging feet, I don't let doubts consume me purely because I think there might only be 2 or 3 people (other than family) reading my blog! I suspect if my readership increased I'd be a lot more wary of sharing myself there. Thanks for sharing & I look forward to many more years of pictures and perhaps if I book many years in advance a photoshoot of my own to treasure :)

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